Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Mizuno Wave Rider 18 Review

I was very excited to be asked to review the new Mizuno Wave Rider 18. I had just come off completing the Grindstone 100 mile trail race, which I had been training for all summer on both road and trails, and I was desperately in need of some new road shoes! I had run in The Wave Rider 17 and also the Sayonara previously, and really liked both.
The Wave Rider 18 is a light, (9.2 oz for the Men's) neutral shoe, great for daily training. A few changes had been made from the Wave Rider 17, such as a updated sock liner and new outsole design. I thought the Wave Rider 17 felt just a bit "Boxy", but I knew the moment I slipped on the 18's that would not be an issue. They felt great right out of the box, and were light and comfortable. There was plenty of room in the toe box, which I really like!

The first few runs I took in the 18's were with some clients I coach. These were easy runs of about 3-4 miles. What immediately impressed me was that for a light shoe, the Wave Rider 18 provided some really nice cushioning. The drop on the 18's is 12mm, a bit higher than I prefer, but it did not take away from the overall performance of the shoe for me. After some of these easy 5am runs, I was ready to drop the hammer and see how the 18's did on a few harder intensity runs.

Ready to roll at 5am!

The first run was a rather "unplanned" 4 mile tempo run with some friends. After a nice easy first mile warm up at 12:06 pace, we went 10:04, 9:39 and 8:22 for the last mile. I really like the responsiveness of the shoe at the higher intensity. Great cushioning even with hammering the last mile.

The following day I made a 2 hour trip to Wilmington, NC to run with a client of mine who I train online but try to visit with once a month in person. She just so happened to have a 45 minute tempo run scheduled for that day! Off we went again. We got in a good negative split run, 9:33, 9:14, 9:06, 8:50 and 8:43. The beach, of course, was flat and fast and the 18's really felt good at the sustained pace.

I returned from the beach that evening and the next morning (Saturday) I got up early and ran a nice little 5 mile recovery run at zone 2 in the 18's.

I highly recommend the Wave Rider 18 for anyone looking for a light, neutral every day training shoe. They feel great and respond well whether you are doing a long slow run or running tempo or track workouts.

For more information on Mizuno and the Wave Rider 18, check out their website:

This is a sponsored post for Mizuno on behalf of Fitfluential LLC.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

August Adventures

I cannot believe we are heading into Labor Day weekend already. August flew by! I picked up a few more coaching clients this month, including an old client that has gotten back into running. (yay!)

I was on the road a bit as well. August 9th I went up to Abingdon, Virginia to run in my friend Jen's 10K race along the Virginia Creeper Trail. It is a memorial race to honor the memory of her brother, who died in a mining accident. We decided to camp out that weekend at Beartree campground, just outside of Damascus, Virginia. Leaving Friday morning, we drove up in the rain. It was still raining when we got to the campground, so I set up the tent in the rain. Then it rained all night. The tent held up great, but everything was just......moist. We woke up that morning to some additional showers but headed into town to stop at one of my favorite coffee shops, Mojoe's Trailside Coffeehouse, in Damascus. My large coffee with soy milk really got the day off to a good start! The 10K race did not start until 6pm that evening, so we had time to hang out in Damascus, ride over to Abingdon, then head over to Bristol to stop in at Mountain Sports Limited, another one of my "must stop" places on my visits to Virginia.

We returned to the campground early in the afternoon and rested up. We drove back out to Abingdon and arrived to get our bibs and shirts around 5pm. The weather had cleared up, although it was still quite humid. We would be running out and back on the Creeper trail. At 6pm we took off! The first three miles I felt really good. I was running at a good pace and my breathing was controlled, but I was also going out way to fast! By the turn around at 3.1 miles I was drenched with sweat. I could feel myself slowing down. The only good thing was that it seemed like everyone else went out too hard and was fading too! I was able to pass a few more people on the last two miles of the race, but it was a struggle. I staggered across the line with an official time of 56:11, which was good enough for first in my age group ( Thank goodness for small races!)

Mercifully, it did not rain on us Saturday night at camp. We got up early Sunday morning and headed out to the Elk Garden Trail head to run some of the Appalachian Trail. We wound up running 12 miles on the AT, six out and six back. It was slow going. We had close to 3,000 feet of elevation and the legs were pretty trashed by the time we got back to the car.

On the rocks in the mist!

 We then drove back to camp, broke everything down and headed back home. More rain on the drive back made it yet another challenge, but we made it!

The next weekend was a much smaller road trip to Southern Pines, NC for the Gamelands 50K. The event was being put on by The Southern Pines Ultra Runners, and they did a great job! The course consisted of three 10.3 mile loops, along flat, sandy trail on private land. The goal was just to make this a nice long training run. Mid way through the first lap I hooked up with my friend Susan and we wound up running the rest of the race together. I was glad for the company. The first lap it was extremely humid, but overcast. By the second lap the humidity came down, but the cloud cover left as well. There were a lot of exposed areas along the trail, so by the third lap it had gotten really hot! Susan and I crossed the line in 6:51:27. I was soaked with sweat from head to toe! I must have ate 10 slices of watermelon after I finished. I stopped off on the drive home and treated myself to an ice cold Diet Coke. Heaven!

Grinding it out!

The next adventure was The "Running of the Camels" 5K at Campbell University the following Tuesday. I had been comp'd an entry by a friend who works at the university, so how could I say no? The race started at 8am, and it was already quite warm. There were several hundred people running, mostly students and staff. After a few opening remarks the gun went off, and I took off like a jackass.  My first mile was 7:56, then I came to my senses and ran an 8:27 and 8:28 after that. 25:30 for 5K.

The rest of the month has been a succession of hot, humid runs, gulping water with my Elete add-in and lubricating my moving parts with Red11Sport. I seem to be doing a load of workout clothes once a day, and my poor car smells completely like ass. I wound up with 179 miles of running for the month, which is high for me. I'll take it.

Here to a cooler, maybe not so humid September!!

Monday, July 28, 2014

Cold Front

This past weekend I was an absolute slug. Not by choice, mind you. I had started getting a sore throat on Thursday night, and trying not to panic I proceeded full force into my normal Friday routine. I had runners at 6:30am, 7:30am and taught boot camp class at 9:30am. By now you would think I would know better that screaming at people for a full hour in boot camp class is not a good cure for a sore throat. Undaunted, I promptly left the gym after class and went home.......And then cut the lawn. Because let's face it, what is more soothing to the throat than dust and flying grass particles?

Needless to say, Friday night was an early night for me. I knew I was sick, I just didn't want to accept it! I received full confirmation of this upon waking up on Saturday morning. Thankfully, the two women I coach on Saturdays were both out of town and I had no classes to teach at the gym. The sore throat had morphed into a searing sinus headache and congestion. Awesome. I sat around and drank coffee and watched the Tour de France time trials during the morning, then spent the rest of the day napping, which would have been an awesome day if I had not felt like shit!

"I am NOT sick!"

 Sunday was basically a repeat of Saturday, only now the nose was running non stop and I had picked up a bit of a cough. I was a COMPLETE sloth on Sunday. I realized this when I found myself watching an entire NASCAR race, from start to finish. Yikes.

This morning I awoke feeling somewhat better, and now that the day has progressed, I am starting to feel much better. I had been going pretty hard with my own training recently, on top of teaching multiple classes a day and coaching various runners in between. So I am taking this illness as a sign. Initially I was freaking out about not getting in a  long run  this weekend, but I think the rest was just the thing I needed. It came at a good point also. The next two months will be focused on some high quality training for the 100 miler in October, so I consider this past weekend a "Reset" of sorts.

In the midst of all this sloth I did receive some good news. I have been selected to be an Ink n Burn ambassador! I am looking forward to working with this awesome group of people! I will be posting more info soon, including a discount code to use on their website.  Check them out here:


Friday, July 18, 2014

Freedom Friday!

Back when I was working my 3rd shift job in the restaurant service industry, Fridays would be a day of collapse. We worked Monday through Thursday, usually starting at 7pm and finishing most days around 5am or later. By the end of the week I was quite the mess. Then I would try to jump back into "Normal" time for the weekend, so Fridays would be my "transition" day. In other words, I didn't do shit on Friday!

  Two years removed from that stage in my life, I realize how unhealthy that life style was for me. I did sacrifice quite a bit financially, but now getting up each day with the goal of helping others through running and fitness is much more rewarding on so many different levels. The financial thing is coming around as well, which is nice too!

Today I was able to sleep in (5:45am)! First round was a three mile run at 6:30am with Debra and Kelly. Kelly was one of the original members of the running club at the gym. She had taken some time off and just returned to the group runs this week, so it has been great to be able to run with her again!

Round two was some running at the track outside the gym at 7:30am with two of my beginner runners. It has been neat watching them progress. Carolyn recently ran a local 5K and told me that during the race she could "hear my voice in her head" which I always take as a compliment!

Round three at 8:15am was a 5 mile run downtown with Jessica. Jessica has been running less than a year and has really embraced the run. She is training for a 10 miler and a half in the fall. We took it easy on the run today and enjoyed a much needed break form the high temps and humidity that has been hanging around NC the past several weeks.

  Round three was a 5 mile run downtown with Jessica. We took it easy and enjoyed the lower temps and humidity. I know it won't last!

I made it back home (after a brief stop at Starbucks) and recovered with a  smoothie.

6 oz. Almond Milk
1/2 Frozen banana
1 tsp Bulletproof MTC oil
1 tsp Maca Powder
1 scoop Vega Sport performance protein (chocolate)

Put all ingredients in a blender and blend till smooth!

My afternoon will consist of laundry, (there's a shock)  other chores in and outside of the house and designing a training program. The training program is for the husband of a friend of mine at the gym, who is "surprising" her husband with a gift of me training him for his first 5K!

Tomorrow is 10 miles at 6am, then teaching spin class at 9am.

Happy Friday!!

Thursday, July 17, 2014

But it's a moist heat

Summer in the south. Nothing like walking out the door at 5:00am to 77 degrees and high humidity. We actually got a break in the weather today. When I walked out the door to a crisp 64 degrees I thought about grabbing my North Face pullover!

  You see, I have this race coming up in October, The Grindstone 100. I felt a big fall race would be great as I would not have to battle high temps on race day, totally forgetting I would be training in the Godforsaken heat all summer long! I am now at the point in my training where the long runs are heading North of 20-30+ miles, and I have foolishly put two 50K races on my schedule for August. I have never done well with the heat, but with each passing summer of training, I am able to handle it a little better.

Last week was a light week for me, so I met up with two of the girls I coach for a run on Saturday. Hannah had 13 on her schedule and Meghan had 6, so I split the route into two 6.5 mile loops. Meghan, the speedster that she is, dropped us early on the first loop, but cheered us on as Hannah and I went out for loop #2. The first loop felt good, but we could feel the heat beginning to rise and we had some more  hills waiting for us on this round as well. By mile 9 I was drenched from head to toe. I could feel my feet beginning to squish in my Hokas! Even though we had started at 7am, we were now starting to bake in the exposed areas. We stopped and power walked a couple of sections. We even made a "guerrilla" water stop at one of the local gas stations to fill our hand- helds from their sink. Thankfully the clerk was too distracted with other customers  to notice the dripping wet runners staggering through his store. We then ran past a guy selling watermelons on the side of the road. If I had cash with me I would have bought one. Hannah and I could have probably eaten the entire thing at that point. We had finished all the hills, and with 2 miles to go it was basically a flat run back to the gym. In the midst of all this fun, Hannah had dropped her car key. Meghan had told us she saw a key on the side of the road when we met up with her after loop one. Sure enough, Hannah was missing her key. We went back out the same way for loop 2, but did not see the key. Coming back in from loop 2, we ran past the spot again, but could still not locate it! After a call to Meghan for more specific info, we went back out and finally found Hannah's key.
The rest of Saturday I spent chugging water and laying about the house. I messaged Hannah later on in the day and was comforted to find out she was doing the same exact thing.

Sunday I got back out early to run at Umstead Park and got 8 miles in on the Bridle trail. Conditions were similar, but surprisingly enough I felt good and was able to run all the hills, including the rather long one on Reedy Creek that takes you back up to the parking lot. After running 24 miles out at Umstead the week before, 8 miles was a treat!

A few things that have really helped me keep going through the heat:

GenerationUCAN is my main fuel source for all my training and racing. Check them out!

Elete Electrolytes: These awesome folks really keep my hydration dialed in, proud to have them as a sponsor!

Red11Sport are the ones who keep me "safe and unchaffed"! A great product that keeps me going mile after mile with no chaffing or "monkey butt'!

one of my patented "sweat angels"!

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Leatherwood Mountain 50K

"There is an eagle in me that wants to soar, and there is a hippopotamus in me that wants to wallow in the mud." - Carl Sandburg

When I had told my ultra running friends I was running Leatherwood, those that had ran it the year before would always reply in the same manner. It was like I had announced I was having my first colonoscopy. "You enjoy that" they would say, with a wry smile. I had heard the stories. Unrelenting climbs and mud along some Godforsaken horse trails in the tiny town of Ferguson, NC. A real suffer fest. Being raised Catholic, I feel as though I can suffer along with the best of them. My knees are also in pretty good shape despite years of prayer in my younger days.

  I had made the very tactically sound choice of staying in a hotel the night before the race, rather than camping out near the race site. Good thing, too, because when I awoke race morning a nice steady rain was falling! It was about a 20 minute drive to the race start, and I was there in plenty of time for the 8am start. There were two other race distances. The 50 miler, which started at 7am and the 10 miler, that started at 9am. We gathered under a canopy, got some last minute instructions from the RD's Mark and Tim, then 50 of us schlepped off at the start of the 50K.

 The 50K course consisted of two loops. the first about 16 miles long, then the second one around 14 miles or so. We started out on some paved road, then got onto some "jeep road" and began our initial ascent. Conditions were not that bad along the jeep road, and soon I had fallen in with my friends Charles, Kelley and Lynne as we entered the single track section of the trail. This section was much more sloppy than the jeep road, but gave us a little taste of what was in store for us the rest of the day.
Soon after this, Charles bounded off down the trail leaving Kelly, Lynne and myself slipping and sliding along the single track. I pulled ahead of Kelley and Lynne for a bit, then they caught up to me as conditions along the trail declined rapidly. Every step became an adventure. The steep downhill sections you could literally "surf" the mud. The climbs were a different story. You had absolutely no traction. It was at this very juncture we knew we were in for a long day.
 It was also around this time that Kelly, myself and Lynne made a pact that we were going to stay together for the entire race, help each other and try to have some fun. A majority of the trail was not runnable. Even the flat sections were tricky because of the now ankle deep mud. The rain came on and off. We staggered, slipped and stumbled our way in to an aid station. A volunteer announced we were a third of the way through the race. We had been out on the course for three hours already. Somewhat stunned, we asked the man what mile we were at. Mile eleven!  Holy shit! 11 miles in three hours. At this point I was wondering if I was going to need a headlamp to finish!
  We soldiered on. We were actually having a good time. It had become comical. Poor Lynne could not stay on her feet. At one point Kelley was behind me when I heard her begin to cackle hysterically. I turned around to see her clutching a tree, desperately trying to maintain her footing while attempting to get up this hill. It was nuts!
 We finally managed to complete the first loop. The last portion of the loop we had been running with this kid Jared, who had come from Ohio with a bunch of other runners. When we arrived at the main aid station at the completion of the first loop, Jared announced he was calling it a day. We were stunned. Kelley tried to convince him to go out with us for the 2nd loop, but he said he was done. Lynne used the bathroom, Kelley drank a half can of PBR, then we headed out for loop number two. We were determined to finish this effing race!
  Loop two was hauntingly similar to loop one, a series of unrelenting climbs, slick downhills and flailing arms. I had somehow gotten ahead of Kelley and Lynne again as we came off the trail for a bit of actual asphalt road running heading into mile 21. Our friend Angela was manning the aid station at mile 21 and it was good to see a familiar face. We stayed on the road another mile before we had to cross a creek. The creek was where Kelley and Lynne caught back up to me. I was standing at the bank of what now appeared to be a fast moving river, with no guide rope, just a sign with an arrow pointing to another sign with an arrow about 20 feet across on the opposite river bank. I stood there pondering just how I was going to ford this "creek", wishing I had paid more attention to Bear Grylls when he had his " Man versus Wild" show on Discovery Channel.  Slowly, methodically, we made our way across the slippery rocks, through the strong current, and across to the other side. Kelley did take a bit of a spill, submerging herself about chest deep into the water. The cold water actually felt GOOD on our feet and calves, and briefly washed off large amounts of mud from our shoes. 50 feet away from the creek, however, and it looked like we had never rinsed off.
 We staggered through the marathon distance at around the eight hour mark, and Kelley turned to me and said "We are gonna make it!" We seriously were worried at one point that we would need a  headlamp to finish. (Which none of us had with us)
  We kept slogging our way along and became ecstatic when we saw the tennis courts and the paved road that led to the finish. Just as we were about to leave the trail, Lynne, who had not cursed all day despite numerous falls, caught her arm on a pricker bush. "You F*c*er!" she shouted as Kelley tried not to laugh too loud at her misfortune. We ran through one more patch of mud (where Kelley almost ate it!) and came to the finish line. We had survived! Of the 50 starters for the 50K, only 35 finished.

Bringing it home!

 10.5 hours on the trail. I really have to thank Kelley and Lynne for the company. I am not sure I could have finished without them! I am sure our laughter is still echoing through the hills of Leatherwood Mountain!

Big thanks go out to RD's Mark and Tim for putting on a great and challenging race! 

Trail Buddies!

My poor Balega Socks!

My Gear for Leatherwood 50K:

Salomon XT S-Lab 5 shoes
Balega Socks
Ink n Burn "Lust" shorts
Brooks Long sleeve base layer
GenerationUCAN Tech shirt
Ultraspire Hand Held and Spry Vest
Salomon S-Lab Light Jacket

Race Nutrition by GenerationUCAN
Hydration by Elete Electrolytes
Thanks to Red11Sport for keeping me "safe and unchaffed"!

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Winter Hours

  I know. It's been a while, so here an update. (Finally)

I finished 2013 by getting in 53 miles at "One Epic Run" 24 hour race in Spartanburg, SC on December 7th-8th. The course was great, a 3 mile loop of single track that was nice and muddy after several days of rain prior to the event!

One of the dryer spots along the trail!

    The rest of December consisted of mostly short training runs with clients, which worked out well because I was resting up a bit before the start of the 2014 Race season! I did get out to the annual "Boxing Day Madness"  6 hour Fat Ass run on December 26th and got in 18 easy and slow miles there.

Keeping track of my laps!
   January 1 I started training for the Black Mountain Marathon, which is on February 22nd. I ran this race last year, and it is quite challenging! I got out two weeks ago for a 20 mile training run along the course with my friends from Iron Mountain Trail Runners! We had a good time braving the cold and making our way through the snow and ice along the trail.

At the turn around and heading back down the mountain!
Elevation  for the Black Mountain Marathon

 Last week's training run was up another mountain, Morrow Mountain in Albemarle, NC for the "Fellowship of the Idiots" run. In keeping with the theme, you start at 5am in January and run from the YMCA in town, up to the top of Morrow Mountain, then back into town.

Cold and Dark at the start!
Catching the sunrise at the top of the mountain

Celebrating at the finish in true idiot style!
  2014 is shaping up to be the year of the mountain run. After Black Mountain comes the Umstead Trail Marathon, followed by the Leatherwood Mountain 50K in March.  I go back out to Umstead in April to volunteer at the Umstead 100 Mile Endurance Run, then I am hoping to run Promise Land 50K later on that month. Still deciding on what 100 miler to run this year.

  I am very excited to be sponsored  by Elete Electrolytes this year! Please check them out by clicking on their banner on the main page of the blog. I will be doing a complete review of their awesome products on the blog here shortly.

  My music pick of the month is a really great band from Charleston, SC called Southwood. Check out their FB page at Southwood. Here is one of their tunes I have been listening to a lot!