Pre-Race Day for the Blue Ridge Marathon

As the days and hours started their count down before the marathon, I started doubting myself. Could I really do this? Not only run my first marathon to the finish line, but run a tough hilly course?
I needed reassurance. So on the road trip I brought along my running book: Asheville Trail Running: Taking Bent Creek and the Mountains to Sea In Stride. I flipped through the pages on our way to Roanoke and I found my strength in it. I could do this. I had done some tough training runs already. I could do this.

I had been set on my outfit: my black Lululemon speedskirt, my fairly new grey Lululemon Race Tank, Saucony Guides 3, trail running socks and all. But then on Wednesday I received an email from my local Lululemon store  and found out they had a special edition of the same tank out. You see I had had to order the grey one online because they didn’t carry it in the store. Online the only one in my size was grey. I wasn’t too excited but I wanted a tank top in case the day was to be warm. When the email came out I said to my husband “I wish they had had it two weeks ago”. His answer was “Well get it then”. We were Thursday and I had to go to work. I told him if he wanted to get it for me that was fine. He didn’t. But then we talked about it again the next day. I didn’t think I would get it because the store opened at 11am and I was hoping to leave before that. Well we left late and it turned out the store had it in my size… I was probably the quickest purchase I’ve ever done. But hey, I figured it would be more visible for my family on the StarCam. No regrets there. I can already tell you the tank worked out great.

Unfortunately on my last two training runs (the 13 miles and 9 miles one, not the 22 miles) I started having chaffing issues with my bra. I hesitated a while on that one. But ultimately decided to take the risk to chafe in a new spot with the same bra but new rather than chafe where the old tag had been.

I had been nervous on the way to Roanoke, but our drive through a small section of the Blue Ridge Parkway put me at ease. The beauty of it soothed my fears and gave me energy. I am so glad we drove that way on the way up, it was beautiful and not too much of a detour for us.Mabry Mill, Blue Ridge Parkway

We got a little lost getting into Roanoke. The signs were not all that clear to be honest. So we turned up downtown instead of the hotel and decided to go ahead and get me all set up for the race.

Packet Pick up was at the Taubman museum. With some roads already closed for the marathon it was a little tricky to find our way around. But in the end we found a great spot by the Visitor Center and only had to go across the railroad walkway to get to the packet pick up.

Now there wasn’t much of a pre-race expo there. Mind you the race is still young, this was only it’s third year. I’m assuming they don’t have that many people aware of the race yet, because I would think it’s a great opportunity to promote your products. This is a great unique race and it attracts some tough runners!

The pre-race pick up took place in the museum lobby. To the left was the bib pick up itself. No wait there at 5pm. Then they had the shirts. And here is going to be my one and only disappointment with the race. The shirt was 100% cotton in men sizes.
Mind you my entry to the race was free due to wining it on Lil’s Runner’s blogs. However… with an entry fee of $80-100 I would expect at very least a tech shirt and hopefully women sizes. When are race organizers going to realize how many women runners are out there and that a lot of serious runners are not that big? Their shirt is going to turn into a garnering shirt or sleeping shirt at best. It’s a shame really because I would have been proud to wear a shirt of my first marathon. Proud to wear it on the run.  I also think that a shirt of the race is a great way to trigger conversations on group runs and therefore advertise the race. Heck I’d be willing to have a $5 extra option to get a tech shirt rather than a cotton shirt.

Other than the race tables itself they had a table selling Gu, Honey Stingers and Body Glide. Good in case you forgot something at home. They did have volunteers handing out some great race-bags stating “Conquer the Blur Ridge” which I loved and some awesome stickers with a skyline of Roanoke and the mountains and either BRM26.2 or 13.1 depending on which one you were running. That one is going to go on my car for sure!

They also had a table from the National College handing out calculator and pens, an area with their main sponsor Foot Levelers by which Bill Rogers was signing books and a table with Roanoke information with a downtown restaurants/shops discount card and course map. So we didn’t stay long but got enough information to be ready for the race.

We then checked in our hotel: the Cambria Suites, recommended by local runner Lauren from Sweat Junkie. I loved the place. While it was a little outside of downtown, it was right by mile 15 and 22 so a great spot for my  husband. The room layout was also perfect with a separation between the bed and living room area which allowed me to go to bed earlier while my husband watched TV.

Sal's BrushettaDinner wise we went to Sa’ls. An Italian restaurant a bit out of the way, located in a strip mall. It was recommended on Tripadvisor.com and I knew I wanted pasta before such a big race. The brushetta was amazing, very fresh and flavorful. My Pasta alla vodka tasted yummy,  Hubby enjoyed his Stuffed Shells and the Garlic Knots were perfect.

I went to bed full and ready to tackle my first marathon the next day.

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Saucony Xodus 2.0 Review

I’ve had those trail running shoes since the spring and I’m absolutely in love with them. I love them so much I now own two pairs of Saucony Xodus 2.0. I’m petite: 5’1 and my feet sure match that. When I got fitted for trail running shoes the salesperson commented on how tiny my feet are. As a result there were limited options to what would really fit me, this was one of them.

Well let me tell you those Saucony fit me like a glove. I wish there was a road version of those. The narrow version of the shoe is just right for me. I usually go for 6 1/2 on city shoes, 7 is a better sizing for the running one.

I run with them on all sorts of trails: muddy, dry, rocky, gravel, gravel road, trails full of roots. I’ve never had a problem, they really do have a great grip.

If I remember correctly they are neutral shoes. In any case when running on trail it’s best not to have too much support. A trail running shoes is best when a little more rigid so you’re less at risk to roll an ankle or twist a knee by bouncing off.

They are also very comfortable, no odd pressure point anywhere and that from the very beginning. I honestly can’t find anything wrong with them. I have not tried running in snow or ankle dip in a creek, but my feet has not gotten wet so far neither humid from sweat. I’ve run anywhere from 5-14 miles in them with the same feeling of comfort.

After 200 miles on them the blue has washed off a bit, but they don’t stink and other than the mud they are not showing any wear and tear.

What Saucony says:

  • Durable running shoe for the most aggressive trails
  • 10.8 oz
  • An internal fit system that hugs the foot to handle various terrain
  •  Breathable, moisture wicking, anti-odor and antimicrobial Ortholite® insole
  • Heel ProGrid™ to absorb impact
  • SRC(Super Rebound Compound) Impact Zone and  Forefoot Cushioning
  • Vibram Trek Outsole

What I say:

Pro:

  • I don’t get any blister issues with them.
  • They have a good grip. I have yet to fall with those (hoping I don’t jinx myself here)
  • The support is sufficient to be comfortable but not too much that it throws me off balance on the runs.
  • I love the lace pocket at the top. My laces stay attached no matter how long I run.
  • There is a metal loop at the front to attach gaiters if needed.
  • Reflective material on the front and back, although I don’t really run on trails at night so it hasn’t had much use.
  • I love the design and color but that’s very accessory.

Con:

  • I’d like the same shoes with a road version.

What is your favorite trail running shoe?

Spring Gear

I went on a shopping spree in the spring. Along with my new shoes I also got new socks, a running water bottle, a running tank top and some Gu.

J’ai fait plein de shopping au printemps. En meme temps que mes nouvelles chaussures je me suis équipée de chaussettes, d’une bouteille d’eau pour courir, d’un débardeur et de Gu.

The best thing? The things on the picture below were free. I won a $25 gift card at the Biltmore Kiwanis 15K to redeem at Foot RX, a local running store. It was perfect because I needed running socks. I got a pair of trail running and some regular ones. I’ve heard a lot about the Drymax and they are indeed pretty darn good. Not wet feet even after 12 miles of running on the trail, and no blisters either. The regular ones are nice and light. The trail socks are thicker and go higher but have a thick elastic band to protect from getting anything into the socks. I’m pretty impressed.

Le mieux? Les achats de la photo ci-dessous étaient gratuits. En effet j’ai gagne un bon d’achat de $25 a la course de 15k de Biltmore Kiwanis pour utiliser a Foot RX, un magasin local pour coureurs. C’était parfait car j’avais besoin de chaussettes adaptées.  J’en ai pris pour les sentiers et une normale. J’ai beaucoup entendu parler des Drymax et elles sont en effet super. Pas d’humidité même après 19km de course sur sentier, pas d’ampoules non plus.  Les regulieres sont tres legeres et celles pour sentier sont plus epaisses et monte plus haut avec une bande elastique qui empeche les debris de rentrer dans la chaussure. Je suis assez impressionnée.

I tried the mandarin Gu a couple runs ago. It was pretty tasty but so sweet. I couldn’t finish the little pack and I had the rest of it at the end of the run. I think I’ll get more for my long run though because it did give me good energy, certainly due to the caffeine that don’t usually get. Texture wise it’s also easier to swallow since it’s a gel, compare to the Cliff blocks that have to be chewed.

J’ai teste le Gu a la mandarine il y a quelques semaines. C’était bon mais un peu trop sucre. Je n’ai pas pu finir le sachet en une fois et ne l’ai terminée qu’a la fin de ma course. Par contre je vais en reprendre car ça m’avais donne une bonne énergie, certainement du a la caféine dont je n’ai pas l’habitude. Cote texture c’est aussi plus facile a avaler vu que c’est un gel en comparaison avec les blocks de Cliff qu’il faut macher.I also got this great tank top at Frugal Backpacker (discount sportswear). It’s by Moving Comfort, the same brand I get my running bras from. I really like it. I mean sure the color is pretty but I also feel good in it, the built in bra does it’s job well without being hard to remove. I love that it has a back pocket where I can store my car key and ID. It does take longer than I would have hoped for to dry but other than that it’s great for summer.

J’ai aussi acheté ce chouette débardeur a Frugal Backpacker (équipement de sport a bas prix). C’est de Moving Comfort, la même marque que je prends pour les soutiens-gorge de sport. Je l’aime beaucoup. Bien sur la couleur est belle, mais surtout je m’y sens bien dedans, le sous-tif intégré fait son travail sans être difficile a enlever non plus. J’aime la poche a l’arrière qui permet de mettre les clés ou la carte d’identité. Il sèche par contre un peu moins vite que ce que j’aurais pense mais en dehors de ça c’est parfais pour l’été.

A Shoe Fit to my Narrow Feet

Oh yes, you know what the box means. It means new shoes.

Oh oui vous savez ce que cette boite veux dire. Ca veux dire de nouvelles chaussures.

I have pavement running shoes. Asics that works great for that, but I’ve been hitting the trail enough that I needed new shoes. See I was running with the Salomon that my husband got me something like 3 years ago. They are trail running shoes but I used them for hiking way before I got into trail running. It was time for an upgrade.

I went to Foot RX (where I got my Asics and had my gait analyzed) and tried a few shoes. The Asics didn’t cut it. I didn’t even bother to lace them as the sole simply did not feel right. The Brooks where ok but my favorites there were the New Balance. I have pretty narrow feet and while it doesn’t make much of a difference on the road I’d much rather have a snug fit on the trail.

I also went to Diamond Brand, an outdoor gear store and happened to see Meredith, the leader of our DB running group. She measured my foot and agreed I have a narrow foot. So she had me try two pairs of trail running shoes. The Montrail Mountain Masochist (can’t make up that name) where nice but a bit wiggly in the front. The Saucony felt more snug, a bit like the New Balance, but she told me the New Balance wear out a lot faster. I also tried the new Salomon to see the difference, but now that I’m more used to running gear they definitely felt too big for trail runs.

J’ai des chaussures de route; des Asics qui sont parfaites pour ça, mais vu que je suis de plus en plus sur les sentiers il me fallait de nouvelle chaussures. En effet celle que j’ai sont des Salomon que mon mari m’a offert il y a 3 ans environ. Elles sont pour la course sur sentier, mais je les utilise pour la rando depuis des années, avant que je ne me mette a la course. Du coup il était temps pour une mise a jour.

Je suis allee a Foot RX (où j’avais acheté mes Asics après une analyse de ma course) et j’ai essaye quelques chaussures. Les Asics de sentier ne m’ont pas du tout plu. Même pas besoin de les lacer pour savoir que la sensation de la semelle ne me convenait pas. Les Brooks était pas mal mais mes préférées étaient les New Balance. J’ai un pied assez fin et si ça ne pose pas problème sur route, je préfère des chaussures plus ajustées pour la course sur sentier.

Je suis aussi allée a Diamond Brand, un magasin d’équipement de sport de plein air où je suis tombée sur Meredith, l’organisatrice du groupe de coureurs de DB. Elle a mesure mon pied et a acquise que j’ai un pied fin. Elle m’a fait essayer deux chaussures. Les Montrail Montain Masochist (ça ne s’invente pas) étaient pas mal mais avec trop de mouvement latéral a l’avant. Les Saucony étaient plus ajustées, similaires au New Balance. Or elle m’a dit que les New Balance ont tendance a s’user plus vitre. J’ai aussi essaye les nouvelles Salomon pour voir la différence, mais maintenant que j’ai un peu plus l’habitude de l’équipement pour la course elle me semblent trop larges pour les sentiers.

I can’t wait to take those babies out for a run!

Il me tarde de sortir ses chaussures pour une petite course!Saucony Exodus 2.0