Monday, April 8, 2019

Publix Savannah Women's Half Marathon - Race Recap

Disclaimer: I received free entry to the Publix Savannah Women's Half Marathon race as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review find and write race reviews!



Oh WOW what an incredible weekend!! 


As you know I have been not so well since my marathon weekend in March. I have had some asthma related bronchitis with a cough that has just settled in long term. Seriously I am going on almost a month now. 


With this going on I decided before I left town that I would take it easy at this race. I really wanted to experience all of Savannah and enjoy every minute. *Spoiler: Somehow of all the things I enjoyed I totally missed Forest Gump that everyone else got pictures with!!!! HOW did that happen?


Tess went with me which was an added treat!! A little mommy daughter time is always super special! 


We loaded up Friday morning and hit the road! We didn't leave quite as early as planned, we were on the road around 7:40 and we had steady rain almost all the way there so we took our time, had a few pit stops along the way and made it into Savannah just before 2pm.


We drove straight to the expo. The expo was located at Kehoe Iron Works which is a cool venue location in Savannah (would make for a beautiful wedding venue). Compared to other races I would say this was a smaller expo. There were several vendors and all the most important things were there so I thought it was great! We checked in, got our bib and headed down the stairs to get our gift and then move through the vendors there. 



This is the first half marathon I have done that you did not get a race shirt. I am on the fence with how I feel about it... One one hand I have several race shirts that I never wear so maybe it would have just gotten lost in that pile, on the other hand, I just feel like I have to have a race shirt lol!! They did have shirts available for purchase so if I really wanted a shirt I could have easily picked one up. 


They did however have a very nice participant gift! We were given a great duffel bag which will is certainly much more usable and most half marathons I have done don't do give aways quite like this so that made up for the lack of shirt for me!


The expo also had several other vendors giving away 13.1 stickers, cups, makeup remover wipes, and so much more!

Tess and I left the expo and had some time to kill before we could check in at the hotel so we drove around and checked out one of the historic cemeteries and then headed over to Tybee Island. 








The beach was rejuvenating for these water sign girls!




We then headed back to downtown and got all checked in at the hotel and freshened up! We stayed at the Hilton Garden Inn and I was very happy with the location and the hospitality! I was 1.3 miles from the start line of the race.

Tess and I headed to dinner around 6pm. We planned to go to the Pink House and I called ahead to make a reservation to find that they were closed from renovations until Monday. We found our plan be at Garibaldi's! I highly recommend! I also highly recommend reservations... We didn't have any but they just so happened to have a table for two nestled in a quaint window in the corner of the restaurant and it was perfect! I loaded up on cheese and pasta and Tess had a steak! 



We then walked around just a little in Savannah after dinner then headed back to the hotel and made sure I was ready for race day. 


I slept well and got up at 5am to get dressed, have coffee and head to the start. I had planned to leave the hotel at 6:15 to walk to the start. Luckily I met some other runners heading to the start as well and walked with them and got to Forsyth Park with time to spare.

*Insider tip - Bring or wear bud spray. That didn't occur to me and luckily I was not super bothered by bugs but some runners were and most locals had bug spray and/or wipes!



I meet up with some Skirt Sisters at 6:50. 


I met up with my friend Crystal from home.



I then meet up with my fellow Bib Rave Pro Samantha for the race start! 


The energy was so beautiful there! So many women gathered together in this gorgeous city was incredible. 

I decided since I was still under the weather I would start with the 2:30 pace group. I wanted to take it easy and settle into a comfortable pace and not feel pressure to keep up with anyone. 

I took two puffs from my inhaler about 30 minutes before the race. We then lined up and were off!

I pulled away from the 2:30 group within the first mile but I figured they were just a few steps behind me. I again decided not to look at my watch at all during the race. This is my new magic trick/secret super power I think.

I kept a comfortable pace to keep my breathing under control. I was still coughing a lot and still wheezing even after using my inhaler so I did not want to exert myself. 

The course was breathtaking (no pun intended). We ran through the live oaks with Spanish moss draped across the canopy, we ran on the old cobble stone streets, we ran through quaint neighborhoods and through several parks. 


At about 5 1/2 miles in I saw my friend Crystal. I knew she had planned to start with the 5:15 group so I thought I would settle in and stay back behind her. As I got closer to 6 miles I was gaining on Crystal and so as I pulled up beside of her I told her I couldn't talk and breath easy but I was going to run with her for a bit. Somewhere between miles 7 and 8, maybe at an aid station I lost her. I have later learned that she was dealing with the worst case of chafing I have ever seen. She wore a skirt that did not agree with her at all!! After seeing the pictures I am surprised she was able to keep running. Ouch!

Throughout the entire race I had been following two girls and letting them pace me. They were a very consistent pace that felt very comfortable to me. For most of the race they stayed a few steps ahead of me. 

Do you do this at races?? I seriously always do. I find someone who makes the run look easy, I settle in behind them and just keep in step with them allowing them to pace me.

I had initially decided that since I felt good I would try to run to mile 6 without stopping. I had my watch set for the 3:1 intervals and so I planned to transition to intervals after mile 6. I did walk through the aid stations to get water but resumed running as soon as I had taken my sip. I was carrying my Nuun and Gu but I grabbed a water at each aid station. At mile 6 I decided I would get to 6.5 miles or half way before I'd take a walk and then I ended up not taking a walk break until about mile 7.5. 


These ladies I had been following, toward the end, were playing boomerang with me. I'd see them ahead of me, then I would loose sight of them, then I'd realize they had fallen behind me, they'd pass me then I'd pass them, and so on and so on. 

I didn't take all of the interval breaks but I did take about every other one. Just before the Mile 12 mark I took a walk break. I suddenly felt the creep of an asthma episode coming on. My chest was beginning to tighten and I was beginning to struggle to get air. Only. One. More. Mile. I thought. 


As I approached Mile 12 the ladies ran up along side me and asked if I wanted to finish with them. 


Runners really are amazing people. So encouraging, so motivational and this was the energy I needed at that very moment. 


I of course said yes and got back in stride. I ran beside them for a moment but my shallow breaths made it hard to speak and thus I couldn't explain that I was unable to speak as I had to choose speak or breath at that point. I told them I was going to settle in just behind them and I followed along for a bit. I believe they stopped at the last aid station and so I lost them again but I am forever thankful for the boost they gave me!



I finished strong with my second fastest half marathon 2:20!!



At the finish we were given our medals and a bag from Publix with a fruit bar, orange, banana and water inside. 

I was feeling frighteningly unable to breath, my air way was severely restricted. I moved through the finish coral and grabbed my inhaler. I took only one puff since it was still so early, normally I wouldn't use my inhaler less than every four hours. It really is a terrifying feeling not being able to breath. It's not like exertion and heavy breathing (I wish) it's not being able to inhale at all! After using the inhaler again I began to be able to breath. 

The after party was great there was music, Mimosa's, etc. 




I then headed back to the hotel to shower. Tess and I then went out for some post race pizza and ice cream!
 



We had an amazing time!! I am already looking forward to running this one again next year!! It is a must do!






Tuesday, April 2, 2019

Is it Friday yet??

Race weekend is fast approaching. 

Disclaimer: I received free entry to the Publix Savannah Women's 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!

I am blown away at how quickly it became spring! 

I have been on the struggle bus the past few weeks recovering from a nasty go round with Bronchitis and Asthma! 

The week before my marathon I was feeling a little under the weather. After marathon weekend I was feeling even more under the weather but still kinda ok. I assumed I was reacting to the changes in the seasons. We were getting all sorts of high pollen alerts. I was signed up for a 50k March 23rd and I showed up planning to crush it but within the first 5 miles I had a massive asthma attack! I couldn't breath and I couldn't speak! SCARY!! Luckily I used my inhaler and  was able to catch my breath. It was a perfect storm. I dropped the race at mile 7 and will get my 50k some other time! At the aid station my coughing non stop began and I coughed non stop for the next several days. On the Monday after the 50k I visited the doctor and was diagnosed with Bronchospasms as a result of my Asthma Exacerbation and Bronchitis. I was given a steroid pack, instructed to use my inhaler ever 4 hours and a cough syrup. I felt so terrible. 


I am still feeling bad. I have a cough that just will not go away! I have been able to run 3 miles on the regular so I hope this weekend I can knock out the 13.1! 

I am sooooo looking forward to this race! Savannah is gorgeous, there are so many amazing things to do and Tess is going with me!

My plan for Friday is to get up and go for my run at 5 like usual. When I get home I will jump in the shower, get ready and leave. Hopefully no later than 7am. We will get into Savannah about noon and head straight to packet pick up! Afterward we will grab some lunch at some cool local hot spot and then tool around town and see some sights, maybe even drive out to Tybee Island. We will then check into our hotel, maybe see some more sights or rest, whatever we feel like and then grab dinner at another local hot spot! Then we will head back to the hotel to get some good sleep!

Saturday I will wake up early and go through my typically race morning routine. I plan to walk to the start line. I looked over the course map and it looks like where I am staying is where most of the parking areas for the race are anyway. Looks to be about a mile walk so that will be my race warm up! 

I am looking forward to meeting up with some other BRP's at the race and then I will likely take it easy for this run so as to not exacerbate my asthma again. I am no longer taking any medication nor do I want to lol!

I plan to take lots of pictures unless is pouring rain. It does look like there is a chance of rain but I am good with that! All those live oaks will shelter me I am sure!!

After the race the plan is shower then PIZZA! 

I can't wait for the weekend to be here already! Is it Friday yet?

There is still time to get signed up!! Registration Closes TOMORROW!! Use Code Use Code BIBSAV20 for 20% off registration!


Monday, April 1, 2019

A closer look at The Closer Bra by Handful



Disclaimer: I received The Closer Bra by Handful to review 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 was super excited to test out The Closer Bra by Handful


Truth be told I haven't bought a new sports bra in who knows how long. Mine have been ok or so I thought...

I know that we are told a bra should never have a birthday but I love birthday's so I just naturally assumed my sports bras did too! 

I tend to wear the compression style that keep everything in it's place. You know the pull over your head and good luck getting off after a long run kind. I have one front zip bra that is my least favorite to wear. Mainly because it is has very oddly formed cups and messes with my natural shape and it is super thick with kind of itchy fabric. Another sad truth I still wore that bra because it was expensive and so I was not about to just get rid of it. Instead I'd wear it on my easy days or short run days. 

Another sad truth. I always, always, ALWAYS chafe at the band line around my chest.

I actually have a permanent scar there from the years of distance running and chafing. This does not occur on a three mile run but anything up over ten typically creates a not so pretty band that burns like you know what around my rib cage. 

I have tried almost all the anti chafe products too like Body Glide, Monkey Butt, Vaseline, to date the best thing I have personally found is A&D ointment but even still I chafe, not as bad with the A&D but still I do.

I received my Handful the week before my Asheville Marathon Weekend Challenge Races where I would run a half marathon on Saturday and a full marathon on Sunday. 

What better opportunity to really give the bra a test drive than that right?? 

Ok OK so I am a teeny bit superstitious, nothing new on race day, so I did throw it on for a one mile run that week before so it would no longer be "new".

The first time I wore it I knew this was something special. It is completely different than any of my other bras. The material is so smooth, literally like butter, and feels so good on!

The bra does come with removable pad/inserts and after the first mile run I decided I did not want those in. I am just not a big padding girl and the material was doubled in the front and so I felt that was sufficient for coverage.


I wore the Closer for the half marathon and I was absolutely amazed to find my self back at the hotel getting ready to shower with NO CHAFE AT ALL!!! Nothing at all, no line, no burn, no nothing!! 


I was so amazed that I decided to hand wash the bra, hang to dry and wear it again the next day for the full marathon!!



The next day I wore the bra for the full and I did experience a little chafe spot where the bottom of the zipper met my body. I do have to share though that the spot was about an inch long not the entire width of my chest (side to side) and that for the marathon I wore my hydration pack which was tightened to my chest and was the actual likely culprit of this rubbed spot. I did not have on my hydration pack for the half marathon. 


The zipper does have the added fabric to keep it from rubbing your chest however with my pack chest straps pulled taught I feel certain it made it so the bra did not move as naturally as it otherwise would have. 
Still to only have an inch spot as compared to an approximately 8" chafe line is a win for me!!


I absolutely love the front zip, it really makes a difference getting out of the bra after a hard workout!! 



For sizing I am a 34DD and typically wear a small or medium top. I opted for the Medium Bra and it is perfect!



I highly recommend the closer bra. This bra has quickly become a race must have for me!




I have actually already ordered another handful bra and am planning to phase out some of my older bras! My sports bra drawer is getting an upgrade!!

You can try out Handful too at an incredible discount! Use code "BIBRAVE" for 10% off!

Sunday, March 31, 2019

My Runners High the Asheville Marathon Backyard to Vineyard Challenge Race Recap

Wow talk about a runners high!! I have always felt it, well often I have felt it I should say. The runners high, the feeling of happiness and accomplishment I feel after running. This is one of the main reasons I love running early mornings. I get my runners high and feel amazing most of the day. What good would that do me to get in the evening before going to sleep lol!  

The Asheville Marathon Weekend however was a high like no other!!



This truly is my favorite race weekend of the whole year and I really do spend the whole year in anticipation of this weekend!

Yes I am a race ambassador but that’s because I love it so much and have so much love for this race to share!! I want everyone to experience this at least once!

On Friday I spent the day at the Race Expo, helping other runners with questions they had about the race. 



I met up with several other ambassadors which is always fun! Many of them I keep up with on all the socials so I feel like I am a part of their life and so to get to see them for a bit in person is super fun!



I love this race expo and I actually was given a lot of feedback from other runners too that it was awesome! There was so much to see and do with all the booths and brands there showcasing and selling their goodies! 

I generally always buy a shirt, a sticker of some sort and always a bottle of the commemorative wine!



The expo goes for most of the day so as people are getting in from out of town they can stop by and get their race packets and explore the event. 



The race packets this year consisted of the race bib, a pass to get onto the estate, a Lululemon bag full of goodies including a lucky buff, a beverage coozie from Oscar Blues, a fruit bar and fruit peeler from ingles, several coupons, etc. As you work your way through the expo you get your shirts at a table at the end. This year the half marathon shirt was short sleeved and blue and the marathon shirt was long sleeved and grey! I love them!

I stayed this year at the Residence Inn and when I checked in on Friday they had welcome bags made up for all the runners staying with them!! They were full of water, snacks, protein bars, details about the race and the information sheet from the race along with stickers and other fun things!! There was also a signed letter from the staff! Such a nice surprise!









At 6pm I picked up a fellow ambassador and we headed on the Biltmore Estate for the pre-event dinner. 


This year’s guest was to be professional runner Gabriele “Gabe” Grunewald. Unfortunately the US has been affected with some crazy weather and her flight was cancelled. Not to worry though we were able to video conference her in and it was like she was in the room with us anyway! What a ray of light she is! I am so honored I had the opportunity to hear her words of encouragement as she shared her very real story of her battle with cancer since she was 22 years old. Boy that hit me, I found myself with a steady stream of tears through most of her talk. My daughters will soon be the age she was at her diagnosis, they are so young to me, and she was so young. I cannot begin to imagine having to so quickly grow up and face cancer at that age. She has since fought cancer additional rounds and is currently fighting in her fourth round. Next month she will be a 10 year survivor which is incredible. She is however still fighting for her life! She made a huge impact on me and I was humbled to hear her encourage our runners for the race ahead of them. I hope she does know how many people wish to encourage her as well for the race that lies ahead of her.



The dinner was lovely, we had pasta and salads and bread and yummy deserts and I had a beer!


That night I headed back to my hotel and pulled out my stuff for the half marathon so that I was ready to go!


I wore Lululemon Leggings, a Lucky Running Shirt from ETSY, Lululemon Jacket, Lululemon Hat, a Buff and my Brooks Cascadia Shoes. I had my Aftershokz Headphones and I carried my Camelback hand held with me!

Saturday morning, the morning of the half marathon, I woke up super early as planned. I have found that for longer distance runs I need two hours of “up time” to get everything going so that I have a good run! I need time to just be as I wake up, I need to use the bathroom, brush my teeth, make some coffee, eat a small breakfast (bagel with PB), use the bathroom again, get dressed, brush my hair, use the bathroom again, sit for a bit and if needed use the bathroom again lol! It take some time and having two hours makes me not feel rushed. I grabbed my bib and estate pass and headed to the race. 


Ambassadors were meeting for a quick picture before the race. The barn does not provide the greatest lighting but whatever, we snapped our pic and headed to the start. 



Saturday it was pretty cold and super windy!! My strategy was to start behind Kim. I know I have probably said this a thousand times but she is the most perfectly paced runner I have ever met. I don’t think her pace changes from start to finish of a run. (This is not exactly true in a race, I have witnessed her run down a person before to pass lol.) This is sooooo helpful for me. I tend to start too fast and then have nothing left in the tank at the end. By starting out at the pace I want to finish with I am able to conserve energy.


I also decided to use the strategy that had severed me well on recent training runs of not looking at my watch at all the entire race! This is so freeing!! Sure I have a time in my mind I want to finish in but it’s so much less pressure not looking at my watch. If I look and see a 9 something pace I think, oh no I’m going too fast and I better slow down or I will hit the wall, if I look at my watch and see a 12 something pace I think, oh no, I will never pick it up and so I might as well throw in the towel. By not looking none of this enters my mind! There were a few times in the run Kim really wanted to tell me but I insisted I did not want to know. 



We ran most of the way with very, very, few breaks to walk and when we did walk it was only for a few seconds. As per the usual we did stop a few times to take pictures along the way! It was a gorgeous and super fun day!! I loved so much running with her! It made the morning fly by and made the run that much more enjoyable!





At the last mile, she asked me “What was your half PR again?” I knew what she was about to say…


I said “2:24” and she said “Well come on, we are going to beat that!” and so we kicked it into gear and ran to the finish with a time of 2:19!!!! I cried!! I could not believe it! I have dreamt of a 2:15 finish for years and this was the closest I had come!! Considering this is an Asheville Course with some hills and that we stopped several times for pictures I feel certain now that a 2:15 is in my future!! We totally killed it!!


I felt great too! We did not want to push it for the half since we’d be running the full the very next day and I did not feel as though we had pushed it too hard! I was on cloud 9!





I left the race and headed back to the hotel to shower and get ready. I then headed back down the mountain for a special little girls first birthday!! My best friend Elizabeth’s little one is already a year old!!

After the party James, LeRoy and I headed back up the mountain, picked up Carabas for dinner and headed back to the hotel. We ate and then I got all my stuff laid out for the marathon.


I wore Lululemon Leggings, a Lucky Running Shirt from ETSY, Lululemon tank, Skirt Sports Spanky Skirt, Lululemon Hat, Crazy Compression Socks, Handful Closer Bra, Nike Sleeves, Zenzah Gloves, a Buff and my Brooks Cascadia Shoes. I had my Aftershokz Headphones and I carried my Nathan Hydration Vest with me!

Sunday morning, the morning of the full marathon, I woke up super early as planned and followed my same routine. I packed up the hotel room and we loaded up the car, I grabbed my bib, a day bag and estate pass and headed to the race. We were going to meet Kim and John at the entrance and I would ride with them in so the hubby and pup could head on back home. I no longer make him wait on me at races. I know how boring and long of a day that is. He supports me from home just as good as he can from standing all day at a finish line lol!



We met up with my other friend Kim who was also running again on Sunday, she did the Backyard to Backyard Challenge running both half marathons.


Ambassadors were meeting for a quick picture before the race again at the barn we snapped our pic and headed to the start.


Sunday it was warmer than Saturday I thought. The wind was not howling around so that made it feel much better. I stuck to my strategy of starting behind Kim and not looking at my watch. My only goal was to come in at least a minute faster than last year which I finished in 5:36.

Kim and I initially thought we’d start with the 5:15 pace group. We sought out the pacer to understand his strategy. He planned to run and walk hills so we decided to do our things and try not to get too far behind him.

We started out in front of the 5:15 pace group and felt pretty good. We took our time in the first half of the race. We actually walked A LOT more than we thought we would leading up to the house. We took a lot of picture breaks too along the way! I was not watching the clock but the 5:15 pacer did pass us and Kim mentioned that he had to be ahead a bit based on her calculation so we didn’t let that bother us. We kept our pace and kept moving along. Of course we stopped and took all the pictures along the way too!


 



The turning point at the marathon, the point where marathoners turn left onto the private part of the estate and the half marathoners stay straight is always emotional for me. We stopped to take in the vast river and snap a picture.



I managed to run down the 5:15 pacer at one point during the race, we chatted for a bit and sure enough he was a bit ahead. There was another girl with him that was running her first marathon. They planned to stick together to the finish and push for the 5:15 pace. We settled in to pace with them for a bit and then we kicked it up and forged ahead of them.



We figured we’d stay ahead of them as long as we could and if we saw them coming we’d try to hold on to the finish. 

Earlier that morning we had a brief conversation with Tom, another Asheville Marathon Ambassador who was also pacing the full marathon. He was pacing the 5:20 pace group so we were going to try to stay ahead of him. We kept passing him on the out and backs and in true Tom fashion he kept encouraging us telling us what a great job we were doing! Each time we passed him I thought “We are doing this”!

Toward the end of the race Kim needed to stop for a bathroom break and rather than go on without her I wanted to wait. I really wanted us to finish together. We only lost a few minutes and then we kicked it in to gear and finished those last five miles strong!



I finished my second marathon in 5:11!!! A 25 minute PR!! It was incredible!! Two PR’s in one weekend is unlike anything I expected! I still cannot believe I actually ran 39.3 miles in one weekend! 


I attribute this successful weekend to staying dedicated to a training plan.



We finished the race, got our marathon medals, picked up our challenge medals and a challenger zip up hoodie!







I love everything about this race!! The scenery is absolutely amazing! It’s pretty spectacular to run this many miles all on the beautiful estate of the Biltmore House. There is no traffic, just open fields, pastures of animals, blue skies, deep forests, a gorgeous castle like home, fountains, ponds, gardens, lakes, no noises aside from the sound of the river moving softly alongside sections of the route and the sound of feet and heart beats as other runners move alongside you. It's absolutely serene!

If you are looking for a half marathon or marathon that is truly one of a kind I highly recommend the Asheville Marathon!

I plan to be there again next year and most likely running the challenge again!!

Come run with me in March 2020!! I already can't wait!


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