Monday, December 28, 2015

santa hustle indy half marathon recap

Disclaimer: I received a free race entry into Santa Hustle Indy to review as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out to review, find, and write race reviews!

I haven't been to Indianapolis in years, and so when the opportunity to go there for a race came up, I decided to take a road trip with my mom like the good old days. I've done the Santa Hustle Chicago 5k the past three years, and always had a good time, so being able to do a half marathon to finish out my 2016 race season, and in a different city, seemed like a fun time. If you want a short and sweet review, check it out on BibRave, but really, you should read my very thorough and personal recap here ;)

The event is held in a bunch of different cities throughout the end of November through December. Adrenaline Sports Management is the company that presents the SH in all of the race locations. They began on November 22 with a 5k and half marathon in South Portland, ME (New England), Chicago and Milwaukee 5k on December 5, Indy and Sevierville (Smokies) 5k and half marathon on December 13, and finishing off with Cedar Point and Galveston 5k and half marathon on December 20. 

They also offer a virtual race, which is still open for registration, and is available from November 21 – December 31. You can do 3.1 or 13.1 miles, your choice, your location, any duration of time, during those designated dates. All runners receive a shirt, hat, beard, and bib prior to their run, and upon completion and proof of run, half marathon participants receive a finisher medal and 5k participants receive a certificate.

Registration is through eventbrite, which ended up being pretty cool. In your confirmation email, you have a QR code that can then be added to your iPhone Wallet. At packet pickup, no need to have a printed copy, they just scan the code from your phone. Yay for the environment!

The course.

Since Indy is about a three hour drive, mom and I decided to spend the night in the host hotel. It was a little on the pricey side, especially when you added in parking fees, but I think it was worth it. When we arrived in Indy at about 5pm, traffic was pretty backed up to get to the hotel. On the hotel website it mentioned parking entrances on two different streets. Well, the first turn was so backed up I decided to try the other street, but it was a one way. This meant a bit of driving around to get back there, and to my dismay, that entrance was closed. So, I drove back to the other one. Traffic was very backed up in the right line, but I assumed parking would be on the left, and that lane was empty. The parking lot entrance said it was full, but I had seen some cars leaving on the other side, so I attempted going in anyway. Luckily, I caught some guys leaving and took their spot.

What everyone got in their packet along with a bib.
Half Marathon runners received a finisher medal.

We went to the front desk for check-in, and our hotel guy was very helpful and nice. I hadn't seen on the website (SH or JW Marriot) about late check-out for runners, so asked the gentleman if they were offering it. Now, the race didn't start till 9, and if you recall I am slow. I thought if there were corrals, we might not even start till 9:30, and then might not finish and get back to the hotel until 1ish. So when he said that we could do late check out, and if 1 was ok, I grimaced and asked if it would be too much to ask for 2. He smiled and said it wasn't a problem. Being able to shower post-race before trekking home made the hotel worth it, in my opinion. Especially when race day ended up being 60 degrees and 85% humidity. Oh Midwest weather, you so crazy.

Packet Pickup at the JW Marriott Hotel - in an Exhibitor Hall.

After bringing our bags to our room, we headed to packet pickup. This was being held in the conference rooms, so we took the escalators up (there was also SH signing directing you, which I found helpful), along with at table with hot chocolate near the escalators. Thoughtful.

Pickup was so easy. You headed to either the half marathon or 5k table, they scanned your code, gave you your bib, and then you headed over to the 1/4 zip jacket table where you got your jacket, santa beard, and hat in a red bag.

They also had their Santa Store set up, so you could purchase older SH gear (the different shirts over the years), or get a fun sweatshirt, t-shirt, etc. They had a lot of cute items. Pickup was held from 12–7 at the hotel, but they also had race day pickup (without that extra $30 fee other races charge), which I always appreciate. It was nice to know that if we got stuck in traffic and missed pickup, we could get our stuff on race morning.

After pickup, we headed next door to TGIFriday's for dinner. It was a bit of a wait to get a table, so we sat at the bar instead. I ordered a yummy pasta/chicken dinner. After dinner, it was time to get our gear ready for race morning. The temps were unseasonably warm, but I didn't know what the morning would really hold. I brought pretty much every option possible just in case - shorts, capris, pants, base layer long sleeve, t-shirt, tank, winter hat, gloves, tech hat, Buff, arm sleeves. Did I miss anything? I don't think so. 

Deciding on running clothes options, view from our hotel room,
dinner, flat Heather.

I took a shower and then tried to get to bed early, but I was basically up most of the night unable to sleep. That's par for the course when I'm not in my own bed. 

I got out of bed around 7:30 to start getting ready. I decided on my BibRave shirt, a pair of Oiselle shorts, and a Sparkle Athletic skirt. I left the arm sleeves at the hotel, figuring I'd take them off pretty quickly anyway. I also brought my Santa beard and hat. I filled up my water bottle and dropped a tablet of Cherry Limeade Energy Nuun, and put on my Orange Mud Hydra Quiver Vest Pack. This would be my first long run/race with the pack, so I was excited to see how it held up. (Post-race thoughts: Loved it. Plenty of pockets for all my stuff, and easy to grab the bottle. No chaffing or bounce issues.)

I'm really glad I brought my own hydration, seeing as it did end up being upper 50's-mid 60's at the start and finish of the race. I was pretty sweaty, so having electrolytes with me was a good call. I never would have expected to be so sweaty wearing barely any clothing in mid-December in the Midwest. It didn't quite feel like a Christmas race, since it was such nice (?) weather, but I think generally the mild weather helped people come out, be active, and have some fun.

Pre-race shots.
Bottom left: Caroline and I.

It was about a 10 minute walk from the hotel to the starting area, which was at Lucas Oil Stadium parking lot. There they had packet pickup (from 7:30–8:45 am), gear check, reindeer, photo opportunities (lots of cute little signs and those  funny photos that you put your head in... I don't know what they are called). They also had inflatable Santa and a snowman, which a lot of people were taking pictures with.

I met up with Caroline, a fellow BibRave Pro, and chatted a bit before race start. She was doing the 5k, which started at 9:30. It was so great to finally meet her in person! We laughed at how we were in our orange while in a sea of red. She ended up having a hilarious photo taken during the race, which made it look like Santas were chasing her. (You can read more about Caroline on her blog – check out her Santa Hustle Indy 5k recap; or, you can read the BibRave Pro Spotlight I interviewed her for).

A  volunteer/worked came up around 8:50 and let us know that runners should get lined up in preparation for the half marathon start in 10 minutes. I wished Caroline luck, and mom and I went over to the corrals. You didn't have to submit time, just line up according to the pace signs. They went up to 12m/m (I think), and then had a 'all walkers' sign at the back.

We always start towards the back, since we do intervals and are slower anyway. This race was much smaller than I was expecting. I'm so used to the giant races in Chicago (even the Santa Hustle 5k was a couple thousand runners), and that corrals would be sent off every few minutes. Instead, we were all let loose at 9:00am sharp. This was completely fine, because we were running on wide streets, so easy to keep congestion at bay. Even when the course thinned out in places (only one lane blocked off for runners), the racers had spread out enough that again, no problems.

There were SO MANY police officers working the roads, keeping us runners safe and traffic under control. I really appreciated how well they did stopping cars in time for runners to cross major intersections. Never once did I have to slow or stop to allow cars to get out of the race path. Not that I blame anyone when this happens, but just saying how amazing the Indianapolis (and surrounding burbs that we ran through (I'm not very clear on the area, so not sure who's jurisdiction/town we were in when, but pretty sure it wasn't Indy the whole time...)) officers were wonderful. I thanked them all as we ran by, and most heard/gave a 'you're welcome' response. There were plenty that even shouted out 'way to go' and other cheers to the runners as they went by. Fantastic people. There were also a bunch of signs pointing the direction, so I think even if you weren't in a crowd, it would be really hard to get lost. You'd have to be paying 0 attention for that to happen.

Mom and I in the start corrals, some sights during the
beginning of the race, signs pointing you in the right direction.

All of the volunteers at the stations were great too. Energetic, friendly, supportive. There was only water at the 5 aid stations, which again was fine with me because I had Nuun with me, but it was a little confusing because they had Sport Drink flags up. I think sometimes being in Chicago I get spoiled with the water stops, where 8 is usually the regular count for a half marathon. I'm a heavy drinker when I run, which is why I don't like to rely on the race - I like to have my own with me so I can drink when I need. I did take water at a few of the stops, since I fished mine haha. At about mile 1 there was a cookie stop (again, glad I had water to help wash them down), and then mile 5.5ish was the candy stop, which were little cups of mini m&ms. Yum.

Mile markers, Candy Station, fun signs.

The course was nice. It was a treat to get some new scenery. I'm so used to the Lake Front Path that, as beautiful as it is, can get a little boring. The course was mainly flat, with about three uphills, if memory serves correct.

Scenes passed during the race.

At the finish line, you got your medal, bottled water, and then they had Clif bars cookies, and Clif trail mix bars. After a half I usually like to eat a banana, so a little disappointed there weren't any, but not a deal breaker. I knew we'd go out for lunch after showers anyway. I was very happy with our time – it was almost a PR! Only needed to shave off a little less than 2 minutes. I wasn't even trying for it (just there having fun with mom), so it's good to see some results from the training this year. Hoping to break that 3 hour mark (finally) this upcoming year.

Headed back to Lucas Oil Stadium to cross the
finish line and get our medals.

Anyway, we headed back to the hotel, grabbed some Starbucks (so glad they were still open), where I also got myself a Justin's white chocolate peanut butter cup, then took our showers and finished packing up, and checked out of the hotel.

Spinner medal, goodies handed out post-race,
Justins and Starbucks treats for myself before lunch.

We ventured out into the city in search of lunch. We ended up at Steak n Shake... their fries are so good. The service, not so much. I wanted to order a shake to go, but the waitress never came back to our table after taking our initial order. I didn't feel like hailing her down, so we just headed out. The drive home was a bit rough, it started pouring about 20 minutes in, and never stopped. Boo. We made it home safely, though. And my legs felt great, thanks to my 2XU compression tights. Anyway, it was a great time.

Top: The JW Marriot Hotel
Bottom: Wandering Indy in my 2XU 7/8 tights and my BibRave hat.

Santa Hustle Indy was a very well organized and fun race. I would recommend it to anyone that lives in the area, and even anyone willing to travel. I think it's good for a PR or if you are just starting out and getting your feet wet in the racing world – a good time can be had by all!

Side note: if you are interested in any Orange Mud or 2XU gear, I have discount codes to share with you!
Orange Mud: BIBRAVE = 15% off
2XU: BIBRAVE20 = 20% off (expires 12/31, so get on it!)

Friday, December 11, 2015

minotor review: 'performance you can feel'

Disclaimer: I received three bottles of minoTOR to review as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out to review, find, and write race reviews!

You guys know I love to test products. It's one of the many perks of being a BibRave Pro. I already have a hydration product I like to use, but I think it's good to continue the search, to see if there's something I like/works better for me. Every one is different, so what works for some might not work for others. Also, maybe your hydration needs are different – what do you look for in an athletic hydration product?

I personally like to avoid drinks that have a super sweet/sugary taste/flavor. Light flavor is my jam. There's a certain high-profile drink that is WAY too sweet/sugary for me. It's often on race courses, and if I don't bring my own hydration (I love using Orange Mud for storage and hydration during training runs and races - especially in the summer, but sometimes leave it at home), I have to water it down.  

minoTOR has a sweet taste, but it's more in line with coconut water taste than that super sugary taste, if that makes sense. The smell is cool and crisp, and there is no aftertaste, residue or coating, which are big in my book. I hate when other drinks leave a weird feeling/taste, don't you? Having teeth that feel dirty is a pet peeve of mine (I brush my teeth no less than 3x a day). So, drinking something while running that leaves an aftertaste or coating on my teeth is a deal breaker. minoTOR passed the test. My first try with it, I drank half the bottle pre-workout, and then the next day the other half post-run.

Other important factors for me, is whether it gives me more energy and helps in my recovery. minoTOR does both of these. 

It increases your energy: a synergistic (when supplements enhance or multiply each other’s effects when used together (by “cooperating” in the body).) formula increases energy through improved rate of perceived exertion, making activities 'feel' easier. 

It accelerates recovery: Sustamine™ helps to replace lost electrolytes and fluids, repair damaged muscle proteins, and refill the body's energy stores.

Other highlights? It delays muscle fatigue, improves endurance, promotes strength gain, and boosts your metabolism. 

I personally noticed higher levels of energy during my workouts (running and Jillian Michaels Body Revolution DVDs). Muscle fatigue and improved endurance were also seen. 

I generally don't have stomach issues, but just to note, minoTOR didn't upset my stomach at all. It's recommended to take 15–30 minutes prior to exercise (you know, to help with the endurance, energy, and muscle fatigue), but I also drank it post-workout to get those electrolytes back in and to help with the muscle recovery. I liked it both ways, but I'm sure if they recommend it beforehand, that's when it should ideally be consumed.

I really respect the foundation of their company and product: built upon passion, innovation, hard work, and proven nutritional science. They wanted to create a new health and fitness product with an effective formula that got results. Their core values include integrity, community, health, fitness, and education. That's the kind of company I can support.

They weren't happy with what sports drink products were on the market – they didn't help supplement their active lifestyles with effective, quality products (that they wanted to drink, at least). They had three keys they wanted to follow for success: great taste, effective, and it had to have mass appeal and intrigue. Mission accomplished, I'd say.

How did they come up with the name? It's a combo of two words - mino (from Amino Acids) and TOR f(from mTOR) = minoTOR. You can read more specifics here.

The creators of minoTOR were very into the science of it all. There's a TON of information on their website regarding all of this, so I suggest you check it out, but I'll give you a brief breakdown.

minoTOR delivers sustained energy through better body functionality. O2 is utilized more efficiently, lactic acid is buffered and reduces, and overall RPE is improved making activities 'feel' easier, promoting lean muscle gain and spurring fat loss. All of this combined allows you to train harder, longer, accelerate recovery, and get you back to the things you love faster.

They hand selected ingredients to make minoTOR. But what about the ingredients make minoTOR so great? It's created with BCAA's, Beta-alanine, B Vitamins, Caffeine, Chromium, Sustamine™, Taurine, and Zinc. Again, you can find a ton of information regarding the ingredients – definition, summary, science, research, benefits, and references are all there. It's quite interesting.

There are 4.2G Amino Acids, 50 calories per serving, and no artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives. 

Another cool thing for minoTOR was that it was recently chosen to represent Arizona for New Beverage of the Year at BevNet 2015 in Santa Monica, CA earlier this month. Chosen to represent AZ for it's innovation and ability to disrupt the current market. Impressive! 

You can purchase minoTOR on Amazon for $35.99 for a 12 pack (roughly $3 a bottle). It's an Amazon Prime item, so if you are a member of AP, then you get that awesome, free, 2-day shipping. Even if you aren't, no worries. I have a code for you!

BONUS: Use code BIBRAVE1 for 10% off + free shipping

Connect with minoTOR:
website | twitter | Facebook | linkedin | instagram

What did other Pros think?

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

bibravepro spotlight: amy

I took a bit of a break on the BibRavePro Spotlight posts. Life has been a bit hectic post-marathon, and I wanted to give the posts the time and effort they deserved. I'm back now, and hopefully will be able to stick with doing them at least twice a month. They'll always post on Tuesdays around noon (theoretically), so keep an eye out :)

Today we have another one of my #BRFs. I met Amy through the BibRave Pro program. We haven't had the chance to meet in person yet, but I sure hope sometime soon. She is a BEAST, in the best possible way. Other than being an ultra marathoner, she is also a mother of two AND loves craft beer. I love interacting with her, whether it's through Twitter or our Facebook group. She has an amazing attitude towards not just running, but life. 

She inspires and motivates me to be the best I can be, and I really appreciate her friendship. I don't have a ton of friends that get the whole running thing, other than the runners I've met through Twitter and BibRave/BibChat, who are now some of my closest friends. The friends I've had since before starting this whole running thing are still my pals, but they don't quite get it, so it's harder to talk to them about running. It's nice to have a whole community out there that can help with questions, are super friendly and helpful, and are so encouraging ALL the time.

I was so happy when Amy agreed to give up some of her valuable time to answer some questions so we could all get to know her better. Here she is!


Name: Amy Dedic
Location: Flourtown, PA

When did you start running and why? 
I started running in September 2010. I was always an athlete (swimming, softball) until physical therapy school took away all my time and energy. It was a year after I had my first child, I was so out of shape and didn't feel good. I wanted to be an athlete again but needed to be able to do my sport whenever I could fit it in between work and family. My husband had bought a treadmill the year before so that meant I could easily work out while my son was sleeping. It took a while to be able to actually run full miles and actually enjoy it but the rest is history! 

What is your favorite race distance? 
Currently 50 milers. I don't have to run as fast as I can like in a marathon and I don't have too much experience yet running further than that ;-) 

Do you have a favorite race? 
Born To Run Ultra was pretty epic. I ran the 100K but they had every distance from 10 miles to 100 miles and now they have 200 miles. It takes place in California on a ranch. It is just a huge weekend long running party. 

How about toughest race you've ever done (because of weather, distance, injury, etc.)? 
Velebit Ultra in Croatia. Partly because I ran it about 18 days after I had to get my appendix removed but also the terrain was the most difficult I've encountered so far. It was so steep and so rocky. Really super crazy! 

Do you have any race day traditions? 
must have my coffee and some kind of breakfast, usually a breakfast sandwich or breakfast burrito of some type. Other than that I'm flexible which I need to be with some of the types of races I've been doing lately with crazy start times and staying random places including camping at the race. 

What is the most important lesson running has taught you? 
That I am capable of so much more than I ever thought. Before I started running, I truly believed I could not run. I hated running my whole life. I struggled with running the bases in softball and would always take the short cuts when we were supposed to do our pre-practice run. So the fact that I CAN run ultras now just blows my mind. 

What are some of your favorite running products – for running or recovery?
Shoes, Altras of course. Zensah sleeves for during long runs and after for recovery. Garmin Fenix 2, Salomon hydration pack, Tailwind for fueling

What are you currently training for? 
My current main goal is to finish 100 miler. I'm signed up for several races over the winter and spring to help me prepare. I will likely run the C & O canal 100 on April 30th/May 1st but registration doesn't open for a couple more weeks so can't say it's 100% official yet.

What's one item you can't go on a run without? 
My Garmin! I'm so obsessed with all the data!

Do you prefer to run in a group or alone? 
I rarely get a chance to do training runs in a group since I have to just run whenever I can fit it in. I'm sure I would like it but I'm so used to training alone that it's become my "me time" I enjoy the quiet time to myself. But maybe that's why I love doing races so much because I get to be with other runners which is different from my everyday routine. 

Are you a morning runner? Any tips for those of us who have trouble getting it done in the AM? 
I have to admit that I'm really not a fan of running in the morning which is just because I LOVE sleep and if I know that I technically don't really have to get up, I will opt for the extra sleep. That said, with a family and a runner husband there are plenty of times that I need to run in the morning if I want to get my run in. 

My tips for getting it done are to definitely have everything ready, all your gear, anything you might want to eat real quick before you go. Get it all ready the night before. Sometimes I will even have a quick cup of coffee to get me going. I've also on more than one occasion slept in my running clothes. For me it's also a huge thing to know that if I don't run in the morning, I won't be able to run that day and missing a run is not an option for me. 

How many marathons have you completed? 
11 marathons. I know you didn't ask but 13 ultras ;-)

How did you get started/interested in ultra marathons? Any tips for those that are interested in taking on this new challenge? 
I really am not sure exactly why because I remember talking with Emir (my husband) frequently about how we thought people that ran longer than marathon distance were super crazy. But after running a few marathons, I guess we felt like we wanted more, to challenge ourselves in a different way. Our first ultra was TNF Bear Mountain 50K. We did it as an anniversary getaway weekend to celebrate our 9th wedding anniversary. Obviously we were hooked immediately. I would say anyone interested should just do it. Ultras can be easier in a way than shorter distances. The pace is usually much slower with walk breaks and AMAZING food at the aid stations. The ultra community is so welcoming and supportive that you are bound to succeed. The training for a 50K is really not much more than the training for a marathon so if you can run a marathon you can do an ultra :-)

You have two kids and both you and your husband are ultra runners - how do you both get in the training/balance life? 
(editor's note: I'm so impressed with these two - super family!) 
It's not always easy and it took a little time to figure it out. We basically plan things out for the week. Decide who's running mornings versus after work. Weekend long runs we take turns going out except for the occasion that they are doing something with my family and we can go run together. There are also plenty of times we do family runs with the double running stroller, usually anything 8 miles or less is manageable with the two kids. I have been known to take our youngest for runs up to 15 miles as she will take a two hour nap in the stroller. Now our son has started to get into running so we try to incorporate him into shorter runs. For the most part, we either try to include them or get our runs done at times that won't affect them like super early morning or nap time. 

What are some of your other hobbies? 
I'm a huge baseball/Phillies fan. I'm also a huge beach bum. We have a place in Wildwood, NJ and I spend a fair amount of time in the summer visiting my husband's family in Bosnia and Croatia (also on the beach)

What's your day job? 
I'm a physical therapist at Einstein Medical Center in Philadelphia. I work there 3 days a week plus 1 weekend day a month. 2 days a week I am a stay at home mom now just to Una since Niko is in first grade. 

Any big running/athletic goals for the future? (i.e. ultra, triathlon, etc) 
I always thought, and by always I guess the last couple years, that 100 miler was my big goal for the future, many years down the line but then all the sudden here I am on the verge of making that goal so I really haven't had a chance to think much past that. And even though I did get a BQ last year, it wasn't by enough to get into Boston so I still do want to BQ again so I can run Boston. 

How long have you been a BibRave Pro? 
about a year and a half

What's your favorite thing about being a BibRave Pro? 
I love being part of the Bibrave community. I love interacting with all the pros and with tons of runners during Bibchat. I've also made my two #BRF's because of being a BRP which I'll always be grateful for.

Make sure to follow Amy on her fun adventures!


Join the fun BibRave gang for BibChat tonight (Tuesday, December 8) at 8pm CT. The sponsor this evening is Plantronics, and if you're lucky, you might win a pair of BackBeat FIT Wireless Headphones. They are AMAZING. Check out Amy's review or my review. I've tried quite a few headphones, and these are by far my favorite. Still loving them months later and I don't go for a run without them. They're also great for house/yard work!