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Posts tagged ‘half marathon’

Rockin’ & Rollin’ in San Diego

Disclaimer: I received a free entry to the Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon in San Diego 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!”
Hopefully you’ve already read my recap on the Rock ‘n’ Roll San Diego race expo and 5k!  So here we go with my 4th half marathon adventure!
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Parking: Parking was pretty complicated.  The race website listed which roads would be closed off and suggested parking plans, but it was a little hard to follow.  I had a friend pre-pay for parking in the finish line parking garage only to arrive early and sit in a parking line for over an hour.  Then she ended up missing her pre-paid shuttle because of the delay and had to run 1.5 miles uphill to the start line and almost missing the race altogether.  We ended up finding street parking near North Park around 5:30am and walking two miles to the start line.  Basically, all of the streets around the race were shut down by 5 am so if you didn’t arrive by then, you were walking at least 1.5 miles.  Overall, the parking situation was a total mess and really needs to be re-evaluated.
Race Morning: The half and full both began at 6:15am from the same location.  It was more “June Gloom” weather which meant is was overcast and in the 60s.  There were close to 40 corrals and I was in corral 32.  The waves were pretty well organized and were released about every two minutes.  This meant my wave was released around 7:20am.  We arrived to the race area around 6am so I had plenty of time to prepare for the race.  There were lots of porta potties and crazy long lines, but I waited until about 7am to find one so the wait wasn’t too bad by then.  Gear check was simple – it was organized by last name and divided up among UPS trucks that transported the bags to the finish line.  Pre-race also included a water station, info area, and medical tent.
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Miles 1-5: The first 5 miles were a little hilly, but nothing too crazy.  I watched a woman throw up on the 2nd mile and another woman trip and fall pretty hard around the 3rd mile.  A few runners stopped and helped her up and it looked like she kept going.  Then apparently their bad luck rubbed off on me because I rolled my ankle (the same ankle I had rolled a week before) on the 4th mile.  I’m not sure which hurt worse, my ankle or my pride because now I knew I couldn’t PR.  Luckily my friend was also running with borderline pneumonia so she wasn’t planning to PR either and ran with me the rest of the race.  The spectators and crowd support were fantastic though and they even had a bar set up at the 4.5 mile mark!
At this point in the race we had seen a couple of small bands, lots of cheer squads, and some clever signs.
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I even saw my old pal, Forrest Gump! This time he was bouncing a ping-pong on a paddle! 😉
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The 5th mile was the Wear Blue mile and it was quite emotional.  American flags lined the streets along with names and photos of fallen service members.  I knew a couple of the ladies volunteering and holding the flags so it was nice to see some familiar faces during this emotionally tough stretch.

Miles 6-10: This part of the course ran through more small districts and some residential areas.  There were a couple of more bands, water/Gatorade stations, spectators, and plenty of cheerleaders.  The terrain was a little rough since this is a heavy-traffic area – so there were lots of cracks and holes in the roads, not to mention slanted streets.  These are all horrible things for running on a sprained ankle. 😦   Also, the full marathon course started to split off sometime around here so things got a little less crowded.

And I always appreciate a good reference to Da’ Dip 😉

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I even got a fun pic with this guy! 🙂

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Miles 11-13: Despite my injury, I think these miles were the most entertaining. There was a stretch of the course where there weren’t many spectators, but then there were fun drums and more fun people!  They even had signs with inspirational quotes from the participants lining a long stretch of the course.

 

Then came the disco tunnel!  Complete with a DJ!  I was sad that the marathoners didn’t get to experience this part of the course.

Then we started making our way through more of downtown and towards the Waterfront Park.

Finish Line: Yay!  I made it! Injured ankle and all! But the finish line was kind of a mess.  They handed us our medals…followed by water, Gatorade, chocolate milk, and various snacks.  Notice anything missing from that list?  Bags…there were no bags.  On top of having to carry 20 items, we had to walk a block down a hill, through an intersection to the finish line festival.

Not to mention, it was extremely congested.  It was crowded and confusing and gave me a bit of anxiety.  We finally made it down to the festival near Waterfront Park where we had some more room to breathe.  The festival included a medical tent, photo ops, a beer garden, live band, and medal area.  The medal area is where you could pick up any of the extra bling you may have earned.  Since I completed the 5k the prior day, I picked up my Remix Challenge medal!  All I had to do was show my wristband that I received at the expo and it was all mine!  There was also a marathon jacket table for all of the awesome marathon finishers!

I didn’t stay very long for the concert fun because we were pretty tired and my ankle was hurting. We were also a little chilly and were ready to get warm.  So we caught a Lyft back to the car (super easy and quick) and headed home!

So what was the SWAG?!

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Most of it is pretty much the same stuff I received in my 5k swag bag.  The tech shirt is slightly different and my bib was personalized which was nice.  We also got extra snacks at the finish line.  (not pictured: Gatorade, chocolate milk, and banana)  I also didn’t make it to the beer garden this time, but it was Michelob Ultra again and I saw a lot of people in there so I’m sure it was great!  My gear bag also came apart right before the race, so I was a little disappointed in the quality.

You even get cute little digital badges for reaching certain goals!

And of course the sweet medals!  The half marathon and remix medals spin!  Woo hoo!

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Overall thoughts: Things I really liked about Rock ‘n’ Roll: course support, spectators, hydration stations, medical tents along the course and at the finish line, race swag and medals, quick race photos at a decent price, race expo, beer garden, disco tunnel, photo ops, some of the bands including Naruwan Taiko, Forrest Gump, the Wear Blue mile, and running with @thehungryrunner_.

Things that could be improved: Parking, more upbeat bands – the bands were all great, but it would have been nice to hear more energetic music rather than blues types songs during certain points of the run; better quality gear bags – they were essentially grocery bags with strings; offer bags at the finish line; also offer mylar blankets – even though it’s June it was pretty chilly; a lower participant cap – I really think the event was slightly overcrowded and felt like the experience would have been better if it hadn’t been so congested.  Also, San Diego is such a beautiful city…I think the course route could be slightly altered to include some more scenic spots.

Another interesting fact: This was the first half that I ran without headphones!  I wanted to experience the bands and full essence of the race so I skipped personal music this time.  In doing this, I heard a lot of other people’s music in passing and guess what song I heard the most??  “CALL ME MAYBE”!! I actually forgot about this song so I was surprised to learn that this was a lot of people’s power jam.

Also, my D-tag malfunctioned and my time wasn’t recorded.  I’m not sure if it was a glitch or an error on my part.  Regardless, my time was unfavorable due to my injured ankle so it’s probably better that my finish time isn’t etched into the internet. 😉

Would I run this again?  I’m not sure if I would run the San Diego event again, although that could be my injured ankle talking.  However, I would LOVE to run Rock ‘n’ Roll in other cities!  I think it would be amazing to experience this event all around the world and rack up extra medals!  But I’m happy to say that I Rocked and Rolled (literally) in America’s Finest City. 🙂

What do you think about the Rock ‘n’ Roll series?  Which city is your favorite?!

Well I’m off to add Da’ Dip to my playlist. 😉

~SM

 

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Are You Ready to ROCK?!

Disclaimer: I received a free entry to the Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon San Diego 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!”
I can’t believe the Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon Series in San Diego is finally here!  I have been waiting patiently (or not so patiently) for this awesome weekend!  So before I get into the Expo highlights (there was a parade involved), I’ll fill you in on what’s happened since my last Rock ‘n’ Roll post.  Here are a few highlights!
I met MEB (again)!  Road Runner Sports held a “Rock ‘n’ Roll hype night” last month to get us all stoked for #RNRSanDiego.  Meb spoke some runspiration into all of us, we got to check out the RNR medals, and we had the chance to win some prizes!  Sadly I didn’t win anything, but I did get another photo op with my old pal, Meb Keflezighi. 😉

 

I took to the lake!  I really enjoy doing training runs around the lakes in San Diego because I don’t have to worry about getting hit by a car and they include stroller friendly paths.  Also, ducks. 🙂
I scored FREE Lululemon!  The #morethanmilestour made its way to San Diego and I took advantage!  Basically you wait in line (length of time depends on location), pick out some shorts, pants, or a shirt to wear.  Try it on in their pop-up fitting room and run on a treadmill for 2 minutes – yep, exactly 2 minutes – you watch a video while you run.   You also may receive some free healthy samples while you’re waiting in line and might even do a sample strength routine led by an instructor.  And that’s it!  You get to keep the gear you try!  I scored a free pair of running shorts and they are sweet!  Check out #morethanmilestour and #thetesttruck on social media or visit the Lululemon website to find out if #thetesttruck is coming to a city near you.  The employees were super nice and the treadmill is glorious!
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Then, disaster struck 😦 During one of my surge runs, I rolled my ankle on a slanted driveway in my neighborhood (should’ve stuck to the lakes that I’m used to).  I hope you sung that TLC style.  Anywho, I had to R.I.C.E. (Rest, Ice, Compress, Elevate); however, I did rack up some miles on the stationary bike to keep up my cardio.
And as far as nutrition goes, I’ve been fueling up on oatmeal, sweet potatoes, bananas, peanut butter, veggies, eggs, and chicken breasts!  Love this gluten-free spicy coating from Aleia’s!
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So that brings us to Rock ‘n’ Roll weekend!  The expo was held yesterday and today.  I went yesterday because I participated in the 5k this morning.  The expo is held at the San Diego Convention Center.  The good thing about this is that it’s a HUGE space so lots of room for plenty of vendors.  The bad thing about this is that it’s downtown, which means – parking $$$$ boooo.  Parking at the Convention Center is convenient, but will cost you $15.  You’re good for the whole day though so essentially you could park here, hit the expo, and then go sightsee around downtown.  I had my daughter with me so I was just going to hit the expo and leave.  I parked at the Convention Center, but the parking meter thing was broke sooooo I parked for free.  There’s also some handy public transportation options available.
I arrived around 3pm which meant I just missed an appearance from Meb – good think I saw him last month!  It wasn’t overly crowded and there were tons of volunteers directing traffic and keeping things orderly.
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First, I grabbed my bibs, shirts, and gear check bag.  Then I let my daughter take some pics with overly sized props and we headed into the merchandise section.  They have a HUGE area dedicated to Brooks running shoes and then a big area of Rock ‘n’ Roll merchandise.  Then we headed into the vendor area to score some samples and SWAG!
This place was happenin’ to say the least.  It felt like a big party!  There was a DJ, photo booths, and even a parade with confetti, balloons, and glitter!  My daughter and I actually made it into the parade video.  Blink and you’ll miss us, but we were there livin’ it up!
I also liked that the café was open so you could snag lunch and drinks while you’re checking out all of the vendors!  And my favorite thing about the expo was that they had a gaming area complete with a giant Jenga set and Connect Four game!  This is a great idea especially for parents who have to bring along the littles.  Also, I’m sure adults enjoyed this, too. 😉
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Overall,  I felt like the expo really delivered!  Everyone was super nice and generous with samples and coupons.  I wished I had time to get taped from one of the tape booths, but maybe next time!  The only negative I will say is that there was only one way into the expo and one way out.  And they were pretty strict about this.  I’m sure it’s to keep everything orderly and safe.  I was just annoyed that I had to walk all the way across the expo hall to get to the exit.  It also looked like everyone really enjoyed themselves as well!

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Stay tuned next week for my review on the 5k, the half marathon, and of course, the SWAG!  And if you aren’t running in the event tomorrow, come out and party with the bands and cheer on the racers!

See you! 😉

~SM

Hill Yeah! (A La Jolla Half Marathon Review)

“Disclaimer: I received a free entry to the La Jolla 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!”

Last weekend I ran the La Jolla Half Marathon and it was quite…humbling  beautiful!  No really, La Jolla itself is a coastal town in San Diego and I encourage anyone who comes for a San Diego visit to make a stop in La Jolla.  You won’t regret it. So I decided about two weeks out from the race that I would go ahead and participate (stay tuned for a future blog post called, “How NOT to train for a half marathon”) because I love La Jolla and I love running so why not combine the two?!  Did I mention this is only my third half marathon?  Anywho, let’s see how this story unfolds…

The Expo: The Expo was held at the Hilton across from the Del Mar Fairgrounds/Racetrack and there was plenty of free parking available.  I attended Friday afternoon and it was actually pretty busy.  Inside there was a horse prop and photo booth along with some refreshing water and merchandise kiosk.

There were also plenty of volunteers to direct foot traffic which I fully appreciated because I hate not knowing where to go.  I grabbed by bib and tshirt with no problems and then walked around the expo to check out the vendors.  I snagged a free headband from Xracewear, a tasty acai bowl from Sambazon, and a couple of samples from Ultima. I also purchased a couple of Clif bars and Honey Stingers since I was already there.

Parking – There were two options for parking: Either park at the start line in Del Mar and then shuttle back after the race OR park at the finish line in La Jolla and shuttle back before the race. Either way the shuttle was free.  I chose to park at the start line because I like to sleep. 😉 I was really nervous about getting stuck in traffic the morning of the race since I heard parking can be kind of difficult, but I was actually parked and ready to go by 6:30 am so it wasn’t too bad.  I did notice traffic starting to back-up once I had parked so I imagine anyone arriving closer to 7am may have had a more difficult time.

Pre-race – The parking lot was only a short walk from the start line and there was a water station as well as a coffee cart on location.  There were plenty of porta-potties so I didn’t have to wait in line very long and the line for bag check was also pretty short so really the morning went pretty smoothly.  I took a quick picture with my fellow Stroller Warriors and hopped in my wave.  I was in wave #5 out of 6 and I was happy to see the waves moving pretty quickly.  I think the clock was at about 12 minutes when I crossed the start line.  Then we were off!

Miles 1-5 – The weather was great!  High 60’s with the right amount of sun and clouds and not much humidity.  The first 5 miles traveled through the quaint town of Del Mar so there wasn’t a whole lot to see as far as scenery.  The elevation wasn’t too bad at this point and then there was a big drop right before entering into Torrey Pines State Reserve otherwise known as “The Big Torrey Pines Hill”.  This is the hill people warn you about when you mention that you will be running the La Jolla Half Marathon.

Miles 6 (THE hill) –  I was doing pretty well and keeping the pace I wanted until the Torrey Pines Hill came along.  I’ve hiked trails in Torrey Pines before but never walked or run up the big hill before…because there’s a parking lot at the top so why would I torture myself?  Well here we are, mile 6 and I’m thinking back on all those times that I should have run the stupid hill in preparation for this race… But I only had 2 weeks to prep, remember?  Yeah, that’s my excuse.  So my morale pretty much dropped around this time and I gave myself a good pep talk to keep it going and not give up.  I did run a portion of it, but ultimately decided to walk the rest since I still had half a race to go.  Also to note, there are no water stations in the Reserve so I made sure that I had enough water to get me through the most difficult part of the race.  There were, however, some really sweet rangers and volunteers holding signs and encouraging us throughout the hill torture.  Although I think we have different definitions of  “You’re almost to the top.”

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Miles 7-10 – After the infamous hill, there are more rolling hills (yay) through UTC and other parts of La Jolla.  Luckily my solemate, @thehungryrunner_ was at mile 9 to cheer me on and give me a little morale boost!

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Miles 11-13 – Wow, the race directors really make you work for those views.  Because around mile 11.5-12, they decide to throw in ANOTHER hill! Not as crazy as Torrey Pines, but still a legit hill and at the worst possible location. Apparently many people refer to this as the “F U Hill” and I can see why.  There’s also a lot of downhill and big dips during this mileage too so I saw quite a bit of people walking this portion.  I felt okay enough to run during the downhill parts, but if you have bad knees or hips I would imagine you would want to take it easy during this section.  BUT…the views are absolutely breathtaking!

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Finish Line – I finally crossed the finish line and received my medal, food bag, and chocolate milk.  The finish line area was pretty congested, but the volunteers kept the flow moving.  Then I headed over to the beer garden. Once I got to the beer garden I grabbed my IPA beer (we were allowed 2) and collapsed.  Not literally, but almost.  Never in my life have I chugged a chocolate milk and a beer within a 5 minute period.  This event was just full of firsts for me.  Then I picked up my bag from gear check, which was a cinch (pun intended) and checked out the vendors.

Course Support – Lots of volunteers and plenty of Race Guards on hand.  Also plenty of water, Ultima, and Vaseline stations.  There was even a lady handing out baby wipes around mile 8, which for some reason made my day.  There weren’t a ton of spectators at this race, there were people sprinkled along the course cheering and holding signs…but not as many as I’ve seen in other races.  Also, there weren’t any mile markers until the 8th mile so if you plan to run this and like knowing your times then you will definitely need a watch.

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Post-race: I didn’t hang out for too long after the race because it got windy and I was getting cold so I hobbled over to the bus line to head back to my car.  I only had to wait about five minutes before getting on the bus and the busses were nice and air conditioned.  It was also kind of nice not having to drive out of La Jolla since the streets are so narrow and traffic is pretty crazy on the weekends.  I even had a nice chat with a lady on the bus who told me that this was her 6th time running La Jolla.  She explained how she didn’t make her goal time but still enjoyed the views as always.  I explained how I didn’t make my goal time either but still had a good time.  Then we both agreed that running is great because you get what you put into it.  If you don’t train to PR, you won’t PR. Profound moments on a bus…which is why I love the running community!

So what was the SWAG?!

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Lots of yummy goodies! Not pictured: my acai bowl and chocolate milk.  I also received a free session at CycleBar in Hillcrest once they open.  Also, the tshirt is way better in person.  I love the fabric, color, and design!

And I love the medal! It displays the unique scenery of La Jolla!

Overall, I really fell in love with this race…hills and all!  I’ve talked to a few others that have run this and everyone pretty much has the same two reactions.  Either they absolutely love this race and would totally do it again OR they absolutely hate this race and never want to talk about it ever again.  I, personally, would do this race again in a heartbeat!  1. I always love a good challenge.  2.  The views are incredible!  3.  I would like redemption and to improve my time.

Also, La Jolla is part of the Triple Crown Series so if you want that extra bling then running this is mandatory!  I recommend doing some hill training and don’t get too stressed about the elevation, the views are all worth it!!!

And I didn’t forget about my BIBRAVE buddies!  There were a few other Bibrave Pros out there running, too!  I got to meet up with Mai (check her blog link below for photo proof), but missed Jeremy and Justin (next time, guys!).  You can also check out their thoughts on the La Jolla Half Marathon here: @once_upon_a_run, @runner_blogger_az

See you at the next event! 🙂

~SM

5 Dope Perks about the Carlsbad Marathon/Half Marathon!

It’s a been a while since I’ve run a half marathon (over 2 years to be exact), so I was really stoked to find out that I would be running the upcoming Tri-City Medical Center Carlsbad Marathon & Half!  Since I’m not quite ready for a full marathon, I’ll be participating in the half marathon on January 15th!  So what is sooooo awesome about this event??  Well let me tell you five cool things about this race and I bet you’ll want to be running right along with me! 😉

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(Photo courtesy of http://www.carlsbadmarathon.com/)

  1. Course Route – The Full and the Half have similar routes (with different start times) and both begin and end at the The Shoppes at Carlsbad.  Most of the course runs along the scenic Pacific Ocean and through the quaint town of Carlsbad with gorgeous views that cannot be beat!

Carlsbad marathon map UPDATED 2015

(Photo courtesy of http://www.carlsbadmarathon.com/)

And as an added bonus: The Half Marathon course is stroller friendly!  So all you moms and dads can load up the kiddos and bring them along for the ride!  *Strollers must begin in the back of the line.

2. Triple Crown – This race is also part of the Triple Crown Challenge!  Challenge yourself by running Carlsbad in January, The La Jolla Half Marathon in April, and The America’s Finest City Half Marathon in August and you will score yourself an extra rad medal and bragging rights to being a Triple Crown Champ! 🙂

3. VIP Experience– The Carlsbad Marathon & Half is also offering a Coastal Comfort Package!  Add some luxury to your weekend by adding on this package for only $195. This will get you lots of extra perks and will make your weekend super special.  Some of this includes: VIP parking, a heated tent, post-race massage, comfy flip-flops, and so much more!  But this is limited to the first 100 participants to register quickly!

4. Kids Marathon Mile – Make this a family weekend getaway and let the kiddos run in the Kids Marathon Mile at LEGOLAND the day before the Marathon/Half! The course will begin right outside the entrance of LEGOLAND and will run into the park and finish right outside! The kids will receive their very own t-shirt and finisher’s medal plus free admission into LEGOLAND!  How rad is that?! Marathon/Half Marathon Participants must pick up their bibs at the Health and Lifestyle Expo prior to race day, so why not make a fun day of it by letting the kids run in their own fun LEGOLAND race!

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5. SWAG – Of course the coolest perk about this event is the SWAG!! This includes: course support and entertainment, a long-sleeve technical shirt, virtual goody bag, finisher’s medal, mylar blanket, refreshments, a 1/4 zip pullover (new this year), and much more!  I can’t wait to see all of this amazingness in just a few weeks!


These are just a few of the perks that the Tri-City Medical Center Marathon & Half Marathon offers this year!  And if you are not able to run it yourself, consider volunteering or even coming to cheer on the other runners and bask in the positive vibes! 🙂

There is still time to register before prices increase again! And you can save $20 by using promo code “BIBRAVE20”.

I will see you next month with my full review of this event! 🙂

Note: I received a free race entry to the Tri-City Medical Center Marathon & Half Marathon as part of being a Bibrave Pro.  Learn more about becoming a Bibrave Pro and check out Bibrave.com to review and write race reviews!

~SM

Look Fly with a SPI(belt)

If you’re like me, at one time or another you have tried running while juggling at least three things in hand…and not like one of those cool running juggler people either.  More than likely, you probably look uncomfortable and not to mention inefficient. Which is why I was stoked to learn about the SPIbelt!

So what is a SPIbelt, you ask?  Well the name says it all!  A SPIbelt is a “small personal item” belt designed to hold all of your essentials while on the run…and you also kind of look like a rad secret agent with your handy belt. 😉

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I’m gonna go ahead and state the obvious…yes, it kind of looks like a glorified fanny pack at first…but I assure you…they are much cuter and less bulky than a fanny pack.  And if by chance you DO love fanny packs, then I am confident that you will also love this SPIbelt.

There are several SPIbelt options to choose from. I had the chance to review the SPIbelt Performance Series in pink!  Here are a few quick facts about the SPIbelt:

  • It holds most smartphones
  • It’s bounce-free
  • It has 4 loops for energy gels
  • It fits waist sizes up to 52″
  • It’s weather-resistant, but NOT waterproof

And it came with some SWAG! Yippee!

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These stickers are great to spice up boring hydration bottles! 🙂

It also came with some instructions, which is perfect for us visual learners.

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So before I tell you about my experience with the SPIbelt, let me tell you how I lived life without one.  Now, I usually push a stroller on my runs which normally blows cause of the extra weight, uneven terrains, hills, etc.  However, the one great thing about pushing a stroller is that you always have a place to store your things.  My Bob Revolution has cup holders, zippered pockets, and a huge storage basket.  It’s basically like the Cadillac of strollers.  But a couple of times a week, I do have the opportunity to run stroller-free and this is where I run into logistical problems.  Where do I put my keys, cash, phone, etc.?  Most running shorts don’t have pockets.  At best, there is a tiny inside pocket that will hold one key and maybe some cash.  I’ve had to run many races with my key tied to my shoelaces, money hidden in my shoe, all while holding my phone. It’s awkward and annoying.  Which by the way, phones are getting bigger so they aren’t as easy to hold for 3+ miles anymore.

So I was overjoyed to finally try a SPIbelt!  It was perfect timing since I am training for the upcoming Carlsbad Half Marathon and I have been adding in some longer runs.  I couldn’t wait to ditch the kiddos so I could try this puppy out.

It was super easy to put on and adjust before heading out for an afternoon run.  It took a little time to get used to running with it the first time.  It almost felt like trying to run when your six months pregnant.  The extra weight on the lower part of your stomach feels awkward at first, but then you get used it after a mile or so. I was really surprised at how well if conformed to my body and didn’t bounce throughout my runs.  Even when climbing some pretty steep stairs!

I also liked that I had place to store my pepper spray!

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Another one of my running adventures was to Sunset Cliffs in Ocean Beach.  This is also a very hilly and windy area and I liked being able to store my keys and phone without the worry of my things falling off scary cliffs.

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Another great time to use your SPIbelt is when taking your dog on the run!  It’s a great place to store baggies so you can quickly clean up after your dog and continue on with your activity!

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And if your dog is big enough, they can rock the SPIbelt too! 😉

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So let’s talk about the functionality of the pocket and the loops.  I’m not a huge energy gel person just because I’m not a fan of most of the tastes and textures, but I like the energy blocks or anything that has more of a “gummy bear” texture.  The loops were kind of tight and I had to work to get anything in there.  Design wise, I imagine it’s to keep the SPIbelt as small and flexible as possible…but function wise, I wasn’t a huge fan mostly because I don’t have a ton of patience for that type of stuff.  Not a big deal though, because I can easily throw the energy supplements into the zippered pocket part.

And speaking of the zippered pocket, I thought it was great except for one thing – Getting the phone in and out was kind of a hassle.  I think if I had taken the case off (I have an iPhone 6S), it would have fit a little better.  However, due to my children I never take the case off.  I also run with Bluetooth headphones sometimes and I felt that at certain points during the run (mostly if I had to stop), the phone and the headphones didn’t sync as well – meaning the song would go in and out or completely stop.  But it was only if I stopped in certain spots and wasn’t a complete deal breaker.  The other issue is if you want to change a song or if you needed to pause your run (like when using a running app).  I typically run with a Garmin so pausing or stopping wasn’t an issue, but changing a song or declining a call was kind of a pain.  If you are going to keep your phone in there with a few other things, I suggest trying to keep it in there for the duration of the run.  Or else you will be spending extra time trying to squeeze it back in the pocket.

I think the SPIbelt Performance Series comes at a reasonable price as well – $25.99 with free shipping on U.S. orders.  And you can save 20% using code “BibChat2016” until November 18th, 2016.  There are also come nifty accessories that you can add, like a race bib holder (so you don’t put holes in your fancy race day shirts) and an H20 companion.

Overall, I really liked the SPIbelt and I know I will be using it more as the half marathon draws closer and my runs become longer.  I think it’s a great tool that all runners should check out and they make great gifts for a runner in your life! I know I’m grateful for mine!

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Don’t forget to catch #BibChat this Tuesday on Twitter at 6pm PST.  You will have the chance to learn more about the SPibelt and maybe even win one of your own!  Chat with you then! 😉

You can also read what some other BibRave Pros thought of the SPIbelt Performance series:

Erica’s Review

Carolyn’s Review

*Disclaimer: I received the SPIbelt Performance Series for free to review as part of being a BibRave Pro.  Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro and check out BibRave.com to review, find, and write race reviews!

Can’t wait to review the next product!

~SM

My First Running Coach

*Disclaimer: I received 6 weeks of online coaching from Ekiden for free in exchange for an honest review.  This is an awesome perk of being a BibRave Pro.  Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro and check out Bibrave.com to review and write race reviews!

So what is Ekiden?  Well the name Ekiden comes from a long distance relay race that takes place in Japan.  Relays are a team effort and require a great deal of communication to be successful, which is what Ekiden is all about – communication between coaches and athletes.

Ekiden is an online coaching program that pairs athletes with coaches and communication occurs through phone calls, text messages, and an online messaging system.  I’ve been running for several years, but mostly casually with a few races here and there.  I’ve run one half marathon about two years and recently decided that I would like to run another in a few months – The Carlsbad Half Marathon to be exact!.  Since I have two kids under the age of four, it can sometimes be difficult to map out a running plan and stay consistent with training.

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I was really excited to try out Ekiden!  I figured this was the perfect time to experience this whole coaching deal and I liked the idea of it being online so I didn’t have to worry about scheduling appointments with the kiddos.

I was a little nervous about getting started with a coach.  I wasn’t sure exactly what to expect and I was kind of worried that the coach would think I was too slow or just not coachable.

The first step with Ekiden is filling out a questionnaire where you enter in your running routine, past races, racing goals and overall goals that you have with Ekiden.  Then you are supposed to pick from three coaches chosen for you by Ekiden.  They apparently skipped this step with me as I was automatically paired up with Coach Fiona.  Then you wait for a phone call from your chosen coach and get to know each other a little bit better.  This is the number that will be used to text back and forth between your coach.  Note: the coach can call you, but if you try calling the number you will learn that it’s an automated system.  I’m assuming this is so the coach isn’t bombarded with phone calls at all hours of the night.

Coach Fiona and I spoke for about 10 minutes.  I let her know how many days a week that I wanted to run and that I wanted to run a half marathon soon.  She was very friendly and explained her running accomplishments and qualifications as a coach.  Then she loaded up the first week of my plan into the Ekiden scheduling system!

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The Ekiden coaches use Strava to keep track of your activity so you will have to create an account.  If you use a Garmin, you can also sync your activity automatically to Strava using Garmin Connect.  I liked that my coach not only scheduled my runs, but also my cross-training days as well as my rest days.  They also use a “blue dot” system.  If you complete your daily goal you get a blue dot, if you don’t then you get a red dot.  And much like grade school, nobody wants any red marks on their record.

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One unexpected thing came out of my coaching experience – I started to enjoy yoga!  I’ve never been into yoga before because it takes a lot of focus.  But since I was already sticking to a plan I wanted to challenge myself to a new activity.  I also knew that I would be doing longer runs and  I wanted to get in more stretching and breathing.  So on most of my cross-training days I chose yoga as my exercise.  The kids even joined a couple of times! 😉 I really felt like I was getting stronger throughout the weeks as I was able to hold poses for longer periods of time.

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Coach Fiona also wrote in some encouraging messages along the way and asked how I was feeling a couple of times.  She also adjusted my plan when I let her know that I was actually running a 10k on one of my scheduled off days.

After a couple of weeks she began adding in a few more challenging runs.  Like asking me to run my last mile faster than the previous mile or incorporating some interval training and longer runs into my routine.  I liked that this happened gradually so that I wasn’t overwhelmed right away.

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So how much does this whole shindig really cost?  There are different Coaching Levels and packages that range in price from $59-$199, but you could do a personal coaching plan for as low as $49 per month.  Would I pay this?  Meh..for me personally, probably not as there are many free running plans available online and on Pinterest.  However, if I were super competitive or just had no idea where to start with running, then I would be all over this.

There were also two things that I thought could be improved in the system:  1.  It would be more convenient if there was an “add to calendar” option when the coach texts the daily goal to you.  2.  The coach uploaded my weekly plan every Sunday or Monday.  I would have preferred to know my schedule more in advance – perhaps every two weeks rather than each week.

Did I enjoy my overall experience?  Absolutely!  I loved the accountability!  Some days I didn’t want to run, but knowing that Coach Fiona was “watching” gave me the boost to get it done!  I also wanted to see how many blue dots that I could get in a row and wanted as little red dots as possible.  I think this online coaching system is great, but just like any new program or product, there are always kinks that need to be worked out.  I’m just glad I was able to meet my goals while running with the kiddos! 🙂

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You can try Ekiden for yourself and save a little by using code “BibRave16”.  This will give you a free month of training when you purchase three months!  How’s that for swag?!

What do you think?  Have you tried a running coach?  Do you think online coaching is effective?

Can’t wait to review the next product!

~SM

 

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