Disney Marathon Weekend 2014 – Half Marathon

What an adventure! I’m back from my whirlwind tour of all things Disney and I can’t wait to relive the fun by sharing it with all of you!

It all started out with a crazy suggestion. A running friend and I were talking about running Disney races together – her family lives in the Inland Empire near Disney Land. My family lives in central Florida near Disney World. We talked about running each other’s “home” races. One thing lead to another and we decided 2014 would be our year to complete the Disney Coast to Coast Challenge – and not just complete it, but to do the Disney Marathon Weekend and Tinkerbell, running both coasts in one week.

And, because I’m a little crazy, I thought why run just one marathon when I could run a crazy-lady challenge. It was settled. I was going to run Goofy. Side note – a lot of people have asked me why I didn’t run the inaugural Dopey Challenge. I didn’t want to get up at 2:45am four days in a row and Epcot is my least favorite park. The idea of getting up crazy early to run around Wide World of Sports and Epcot didn’t appeal to me. I wanted to spend more time with my family, and, honestly, sleeping.

Once I started talking about my intention to run Disney like a crazy person, more crazy things started happening. My two sisters-in-law and my brother decided Disney would be their first half marathon. Suddenly, we had a team of five people, all running the half marathon. We were all training for races and sharing the experience – it was so exciting.

I had a great time running the Disney Marathon in 2013, but I did it injured. I was hoping 2014 would be my year. I got to Florida well ahead of the races, ready to finish my taper and relax with family. Sadly, as soon as I got to Florida, I felt the first symptoms of impending illness. Wednesday my mom and I went to the expo and Thursday my California friend arrived. By Friday, I was sick and my family was arriving from out of town. I wouldn’t let a little sickness slow me down. We were all staying at the new Art of Animation. It was wonderful. Being true Disney lovers, we were thrilled with our Little Mermaid themed room.

 

Friday evening we held a team meeting and set the plan for the half marathon on Saturday.  My brother and his wife would start together, with him planning to speed up after the first few miles. My other sister in law and I would run together. She had an ambitious time goal and wanted me to help pace her to achieve that goal. My friend, having suffered several mishaps during training, would take her time and have fun along the way. We were ready.

Race morning dawned dark and early. We all got up, got into costumes, and took lots and lots of pictures.

Disney 2014 start

The bus ride to the start was quick and easy. We visited the port-a-potties and before we knew it, it was time to head to the start. I had warned my family about the long walk through the woods, so we quickly made our way to the starting corrals. It was cool, about 68 degrees, cloudy, and humid. Nearly perfect running weather. The race started with a flourish and we were off!

Disney 2014 Castle

My parents were waiting for us at Cinderella’s Castle and we made it to them right on pace. My sister-in-law was running well and feeling strong. I, on the other hand, was fading fast. My fever, headache, and general malaise were starting to get the best of me. I was determined to be a good pacer, so she and I ran on, through Magic Kingdom, and back out the gates.

The day stayed pleasantly overcast and the race course was the usual Disney fun. I enjoyed the on-course entertainment and loved seeing the characters out and about. We kept a strong pace right through mile 10, when things started to go downhill for me. I suppose, in retrospect, running with some sort of horrible cold/flu wasn’t my most brilliant idea, but I was at Disney. My sister-in-law was holding a strong pace and feeling confident. I was seeing black spots and feeling nauseous. Around mile 11 we passed my friend and I let my sister go. I fell in pace with my friend and we hobbled along together – her with sore ankles and me just trying to stay upright.

Disney 2014 half

Before I knew it, we were in Epcot and closing in on the finish line. It was a great feeling. We hustled across the finish line, though the self-treatment medical area for some ice for her legs, and over to the official meeting place to wait for my siblings. One after the other they came in sight, and finished triumphantly. Everyone had achieved their goals for the race. We were a happy group.

Disney 2014 after the race

After sharing stories, we headed back to the hotel. I suggested a rest by the pool and we all settled in for some well-deserved relaxation.

 

And, for those of you who were wondering – yes. I ran with my hair and my Pascal for 13.1 miles. I wouldn’t do it any other way.

Disney Marathon Weekend 2014 – Expo Madness

There really isn’t a good way to capture the spirit of Disney Marathon Weekend in a blog post. It’s such a wonderful experience from start to finish that there is almost too much to say. Again this year, the happiest race on earth didn’t disappoint. In an effort to capture all the fun, I’m going to break up my race recap into a few segments. First, the expo and my quest to buy the commemorative shoes

I arrived in Florida on the Tuesday before the race, with plans to go to the expo Wednesday. I was determined to get a pair of the special limited edition Cinderella-themed runDisney New Balance shoes and thought that my best chance for success would be on Wednesday. I watched the videos and read online information about securing my special shoes. I was ready to follow the shoe signs and get my pair without waiting too long in a line, as promised. Wednesday morning came and my mom and I got to the expo just as it was starting. We immediately got into an already long New Balance line. The line was barely moving. It wrapped around and into the Champion Stadium, past vendors, and back outside. As the line moved along at a glacial place, mom and I began to take turns looking around. We visited a few vendor booths. We talked to cast members and found out that they had to stop the line from growing twenty minutes after the expo opened. It was madness. People were everywhere and starting to get hungry. Two full hours later, we got to the head of the line. Sadly, it was just the line to put our information into one of four (four, seriously!) iPads to be contacted when it was our turn to shop. We were told the wait was four hours. Four more hours. And, we had to respond to the text message within twenty minutes, so we were stuck at the expo. The Wide World of Sports complex is so far away from everything else, we had to stay put.

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Later, we would learn that this information wasn’t totally true, but it was repeated by three separate NB employees. We began what would be a long day of waiting. Mom and I visited every single booth at the expo. We entered drawings. We tried products. We killed two hours. With two more to go, we simply sat down and waited. We ate in the little cafe. We took lots of commemorative photos.

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Four hours after we put in our data we still didn’t have a call from NB. We decided to investigate. We went to the entrance and saw that there was a large display listing the current numbers being seen (like at a deli). Sadly, there were still more than 200 people in front of us. We talked to a nice young man from NB and he told us they were able to serve less than 100 people an hour and that things were moving much more slowly than expected. Dejectedly, mom and I wandered away. By this time, I was exhausted. I had been at the expo from 10am to 4:30pm. My legs were starting to hurt, so I got a new pair of my favorite Zensah calf sleeves. They helped.

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Finally, seven hours after we began our quest, we were called and it was our turn. I got my precious Cinderella shoes. And a Minnie pair just to be safe. It was totally worth it.

To be sure, the wait was worth the outcome, but I didn’t find it to be an improvement over last year’s strategy nor did I find it a pleasing process. The wait was ridiculous and the NB staff outside the store not as helpful or kind as expected. Mom and I found out in the store that we could have come back any time after our call time, something that would have been life changing a little earlier. Spending an entire day at the expo was not what I had in mind. New Balance and Disney could do a much better job of entertaining those of us who waited all day, or further limiting purchases (runners only first? An express lane for long time NB customers who know their size?). It would have helped to have had the correct information sooner and for the process described in the online information to have had more details. It would also have been nice to have had more iPads. Had I not waited two hours in the freezing cold just to put my data in an iPad, I might have been more cheerful. I wouldn’t have minded waiting at home for the five hours had I just gotten correct information. Despite all the hassle, I’m delighted with my shoes and am wearing them with a smile on my face.

Review: Vega One

Recently, my friends at Vega offered to send me a Vega One Pack to review in anticipation of the launch of the Vega One Change challenge . Vega One is a nutritional shake mix that’s perfect for runners on the go. Vega One is not only convenient, it’s plant-based, vegan, and completely dairy, gluten, and soy free. As an athlete who chooses to be dairy and soy free, I have a hard time finding a nutritional shake that meets my needs. Add in my distaste for all things peanut and chocolate, and I rule out most conventional shakes.

Enter Vega One. The Vega One nutritional shake meets my needs. It doesn’t have any dairy or dairy-derived product. It doesn’t have soy. It has 15 grams of protein, 6 grams of fiber, and is a great source of vitamins, minerals, and valuable omega fatty acids. With antioxidants and probiotics naturally occurring in the plants used to make the mix, it’s packed with healthy goodness. If that wasn’t enough, it comes in a vanilla flavor that actually tastes like vanilla. With no added sugar, the vanilla is vanilla-y without being sweet or overpowering.

I got my box of Vega One packets and made my first smoothie. I have to warn you – it didn’t look like much. Since Vega One is plant-based, the mix itself is slightly green. Don’t be alarmed. It mixes up with ingredients and disappears. My first effort with the mix was a simple one packet plus a glass of almond milk. It was surprisingly tasty. The vaguely brown color didn’t deter me since the taste was light and fresh. Vega One mixes up smoothly and doesn’t have a chalky feel. I liked it. The next day, I attempted a more challenging concoction – a Vega One fruit smoothie. I added one packet of the mix, almond milk, coconut water, and a bunch of frozen fruit I had on hand. The resulting smoothie was quite tasty. The vanilla mixed well with the fruit and created a milkshake like consistency. It was so good my husband stole it from me. He’s now taken custody of half of my box of mix. He loves it!

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Overall, I enjoyed Vega One and would recommend it to anyone looking for a vegan-friendly protein mix. Today, Vega launches their OneChallenge. This event challenges you to make one healthy change in your diet. Check it out here. As a runner, my biggest problem is snacking! I’m always hungry. For my one change, I’m substituting one late-night post run snack with a Vega One smoothie.

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Make your one change today! Join a great support group by linking up with Vega on social media and use hashtag #onechange

AdvoCare Spark Giveaway!

I have a sensitive running stomach and have looked for a long time to find a pre-run drink that gave me energy and valuable electrolytes without upsetting my stomach. I tried, and loved, Spark, a great drink mix made by Advocare. Spark tastes great, is easy to mix, and isn’t sweet or salty. It’s completely dairy free and gives me energy without that “I just had an energy drink” feeling.

Advocare products are sold by independent distributors. Recently, I caught up with Lindsey, an Advocare distributor to learn more about the products and her business. If you’d like to try Spark, read to the end and enter to win your very own sample.

1. What attracted you to Advocare? What attracted me to Advocare was the safety and efficacy of the products. The products are the foundation of the business and for me, it was important to find something that was safe to put in my body, but also find something that worked and wasn’t a quick fix. The 24 Day Challenge helped to jumpstart my health and fitness and really taught me how to eat right and make a positive lifestyle change. Once I did the research and saw the products worked, I was in. From there, my boyfriend Andrew and I were introduced to the business opportunity. Advocare found us at the right time. If we could make an extra $500-$1000 a month to get ahead of our debt and help other people at the same time, why not? This quickly turned into something very serious for us. After attending meetings, mixers and meeting people within the organization, we could see the value of the Success System and what Advocare could truly provide for us. We both are 25 years old and have short term goals, including getting ahead of our consumer debt, undergrad debt, not having to worry about rent or bills, going back to school for our Master’s and Advocare has allowed us to do just that through supplemental income.
Within Advocare, this is a common question that is asked- “What does Advocare look like to you?”. For us, we see this as a Plan B right now, but hopefully in the future we hope Advocare will become our Plan A and help us to design our lives the way WE want and enjoy life with financial freedom. That is what we see, that is our vision. However, to the person next to us, it could mean an extra boost to your day with SPARK or an extra $100 a month to help fund your kid’s school field trips. Everyone’s need or vision is different and it is all great. That’s what drew me to Advocare. There is no pressure, you go at your own pace, whatever works best for you and that is okay. I am not one to be forced into something and we all have that thought run through our heads “ is that one of those things?” I don’t know much about that, but what I do know is that in just a short 6 months, I have never felt better. I have energy throughout the day, like I have never experienced before. I’m living a healthier and more positive lifestyle, and earning extra income by helping people (oh and I forgot to mention—all part time, while working a full time job). For me, this works and I want to share it because who wouldn’t want to get in on all this?!
Lastly, the support and team that we are on in Orange County, CA, Team Momentum is something that is so unique. You are surrounded by people who all want better and that want to see you succeed. We have formed great friendships and have learned so much from our team. To know, that you can have any vision you choose, a supportive team to guide you and no matter what, always have your back, is the most amazing feeling. We look forward to 2014 and powering forward!

2. What was the first product you tried? What did you like? Do you still use it? SPARK! I looooveee it and yes, I use it every day. SPARK helped me to wake up in the morning, feel energized and have that mental focus at work without the 3-4PM crash. I had never found anything like this, not to mention its sugar free, vitamin packed and delicious!

3. When and why did you decide to become a distributor? What do you like best about the company? I decided to become a distributor shortly after Andrew decided to, about 6 months ago. Once I completed the 24 Day Challenge, dropped 10 lbs, a total of 14 inches and had everlasting energy, I couldn’t say no to the products. I quickly saw the business opportunity and wanted to learn more. Advocare found Andrew and I at a time where making an extra $500 a month by simply referring products, was incredibly appealing. We jumped right in. What I like best about the company is the 20+ years of experience, Science & Medical board and the Sports Advisory board. This company has the top doctors and professionals in the field. You will not find the type of people, leadership and vision Advocare provides anywhere else. Advocare is a lifestyle; a way of life— feeling great, setting and achieving your goals, whatever that may look like to you and helping other people. In 6 months, we will be making an extra $1,000 a month to wipe out our consumer debt and help to pay our rent, so we no longer have to have a roommate.

4. What’s your favorite product? What are the benefits and uses? That is a tough question! I’d have to say my favorite product is Cataylst. Catalyst is great for anyone who is looking to tone up and slim out. We like to call it the “Saran Wrap” for your muscles. This product allows you to shred fat and protect lean muscle.

5. What is your most popular product? Our most popular products are SPARK and MNS. SPARK, a sugar free mental focus drink, great for Moms to help kick start their day and maintain it throughout the day or it is great as a pre-workout drink as well. MNS (Metabolic Nutrition System) is Advocare’s core nutrition and great for anyone looking to loose weight, gain energy or increase general overall wellness. There are 3 types of MNS to serve just that- MNS C (weight loss), MNS E (increase energy) and MNS 3 (overall wellness). Both products are what I’ve continued to stay on after the 24 Day Challenge to help maintain nutrition and energy.

6. I’m already using some Advocare products, how do I learn more about other products that might benefit me? That’s great! You can simply connect with the person who shared Advocare with you and they can help guide you to what is best for you and your goals or you can always visit that person’s microsite (for example, mine www.evolvefitadvocare.com) and research under the Shop section for each product’s Product Page, full of information regarding nutrition facts and benefits of each product. Lastly, which is one of my favorites being the HODO (highly organized detailed) person that I am, contact Advocare’s Research & Development Customer Service Department to get your questions answered.

7. I have food allergies. How can I be sure Advocare products are right for me? Reach out to the person who shared Advocare with you, contact Advocare directly or simply login to the website to view each product’s information and ingredients.

8. What’s a 24-Day Challenge? The 24 Day Challenge is a program designed to create healthy eating habits and facilitate a positive healthy lifestyle change. Best part? You get to EAT REAL FOOD throughout. The program is comprised of a 10 day cleanse (that is “gentle and uneventful” I might add) to clean out your body’s toxins and prepare to take in core nutrition with days 11-24 with MNS. And it is on sale for a limited time now. Please contact us for more information!

9. Is there anything else you’d like readers to know? I want the readers to know if there is something you are looking for whether it is a meal replacement shake in the morning because you are always on the run or looking to make a couple hundred dollars a month. We would love to link arms with you and help guide you to whatever you are looking for!

10. How can readers get in contact with you to place an order? Please contact me via email Lindsey.volpintesta@gmail.com or simply by visiting my website at www.evolvefitadvocare.com and connect with me that way!

Would you like to win a sample packet of my favorite product? Get your sample of Spark by entering to win!

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a Rafflecopter giveaway

Fueled by Donuts

For those of you who know me in real life, it will come as no surprise that I’m blogging about donuts. I’ve struggled with a sensitive running stomach for years. I’ve visited the “facilities” in woods and behind trees across three states. No matter how much time I leave between eating and running, some things just make me sick. I generally run completely fasted first thing in the morning. If I plan an afternoon run, I have to be super careful about what I eat before running. This sensitivity has posed a problem because sometimes I just need to eat. I can’t always run fasted and I can’t always eat one of the very few things I know are safe (a certain type of granola bar, strawberries, applesauce – see, limited). So, over the past year or so I set out to test my stomach and find new foods and strategies so that I could actually eat and run.

There were a lot of disasters. I learned that I pretty much have to have about three hours after eating before running and there are some foods that are never safe (dairy), or only safe after a 24-hour waiting period (eggs – discovered in a very unfortunate testing effort). But, there are some odd exceptions. The most important exception is donuts.

Somewhere along the line, I thought that a donut hole might be a safe food and, worst case, wouldn’t be that much food sloshing around in my stomach. I ate my little donut hole and ran. I was totally fine. I tried two donut holes. Success. It was time to move on to a real donut. I ate a tasty Krispy Kreme in the middle of a race. That’s right – a whole donut, mid-race. I felt great! From then on, when in doubt, I’m fueled by donuts. I can eat donuts while running, before running, pretty much any time. Filled donuts are not as great at the regular old glazed donuts. I know it isn’t very cool, or even very healthy, but when I need fast fuel on the run, donuts are my pick.

Fueled by donuts

2014 Resolutions: Running Coaching

Do your 2014 New Year’s Resolutions include running? Would you like to achieve a new fitness goal? Run a new race distance? Get a PR? If so, consider running coaching.

For a limited time, get 20% off running coaching services. Between January 1, 2014 and January 31, 2014, contract my coaching services (any service, including plan development) at a 20% discount. Just mention that you saw this post and let’s get running!

To learn more about the benefits of working with a running coach, read my post, Why Hire a Running Coach.

To learn more about working with me as a coach, click the “Coaching” tab, above.

The Best (Races) of 2013

It’s been a while since I last blogged. What better way to get back into the swing of things than with a recap. Yay! It’s the last day of 2013 and that has me looking back on the past year. I’ve decided to capture the year with my top racing events of 2013.

Number 5: Ragnar Cape Cod

I love relay races and overnight relays are the best of those. Running my first Ragnar with a great group of people was the perfect start to what I’m sure will be a long relationship with Ragnar. We’re meant for each other. I loved the scenery of Cape Cod and the companionship of my team. And I also really loved the best ham and cheese croissant ever from a French bakery in Duxbury.

Done with Ragnar Best food ever

Number 4: Frankenfooter Half Marathon

This October, my mom completed her first ever half marathon. I couldn’t be more proud of her and her amazing accomplishment. She picked a great race, trained for weeks, and finished her first half. She even pushed through calf cramps to a strong finish – and I was right beside her every step. It was a wonderful experience to share.

Frankenfooter half marathon

Number 3: Disney Marathon

Early in 2013, I completed the Disney Marathon. It was a struggle. I had dislocated my fibula during training and came into the race undertrained and in pain. I knew that finishing would be a challenge, but I was determined. I had great friends to run with, the support of my family, and beautiful running weather in the Happiest Place on Earth. I had to walk, and went much more slowly than I had hoped, but I finished. Given my state of injury, I was delighted. The 2013 Disney Marathon showed me just how mentally strong I could be.

Disney Marathon Mile 20

Number 2: Rock N Roll Providence

I love the Rock N Roll Providence course and I’m sorry that they won’t be holding this race in 2014. It was my PR race in 2012 and I loved the course so much I made it a goal race for 2013. I planned my training schedule around the race and had a great training season. I felt strong and fit going into the race and all that work paid off. I crushed my goal time and got a 10-minute PR over the previous year. I even ran a few miles at my pre-surgery pace. I felt amazing and it confirmed that I’m on my way back to my pre-surgery fitness.

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…and…

Number 1: Gasparilla Distance Classic

This February, mom and I participated in the Gasparilla Distance Classic. I signed up for the Ultimate Challenge – a crazy lady combination of a 15k, 5k, half marathon, and 5 mile race across two days. Mom signed up for a challenge that included the 15k and 5 miler. The 15k was mom’s first real long distance race. I stuck with her and together we beat her goal time. She ran with me across the finish line. I turned around right away and took a picture of my mom, arms in the air, triumphant. It’s still one of my favorite race pictures of all time. It captures that moment that we all run for – the pure joy of doing what you didn’t know you could do.

Gasparilla half finish

2013 was a great year. And, today, as I set my goals for 2014, I can’t help but think that the best running is yet to come.

Ultra Cold

This past weekend I attempted an ultra marathon with a great group of runners. Someone suggested it a few weeks ago and it seemed like a good idea at the time. Of course, at that time the daytime temperatures were comfortably in the double digits, with highs in the 20s and sunny skies. I needed miles for my Goofy training and hadn’t been having good weather-long run luck. After missing a long run to sickness and one to an ice storm, I needed miles badly. And an ultra seemed like the perfect way to get those miles. A group of similarly crazy people, running ten 5k loops around a park. An ultra sounds fun, I thought.

As is the way of many good plans, this one started to unravel early in the week. The weather took a turn for the worse, with temperatures dropping into the single digits. We were lucky to get a high temperature of 10 or 11 degrees. By anyone’s standards, that’s some cold running. By mid-week the winds had picked up, ensuring sub-zero windchills. The forecast showed a major snowstorm heading toward the East Coast. Just in time for my ultra.

For those of you who don’t know me, I get cold easily. I usually don’t run in temperatures below 20 degrees. I just get too cold and warming back up is an all-day ordeal. I have a boiling hot shower, a hot drink, and even sit under an electric blanket. No matter what I wear, I get cold. So the impending snowstorm was not welcome news. This winter I’ve had to suck it up and run in single digits and sub-zero weather, but I draw the line at blizzard conditions. The rest of the group was going to run. And if they were, I was. I spent the entire night before the race praying to the weather gods and imagining myself dressed as Ralphie from Christmas Story.

The morning of the ultra (Seth’s Fat Ass 50for the record) I woke up to 5 degrees on my thermometer. The one that is sheltered by the house. Sigh. I geared up in layers upon layers and microwaved my water to slow down freezing. I packed my little hand warmers and set off.

At the race start, it was 10 degrees. Double digits. Score! But the windchill had the real feel temperature at -3. Yikes. Being outside for even a few minutes was terrifying. It. Was. Freezing. But I was determined. I told myself I would tough it out for at least three laps. I could run 10 miles and be happy. The course was lovely. It was a series of 5k loops in a very nice park and adjoining neighborhood. The view was pleasant and the course mostly flat, so I really liked it. The loop set up was perfect for a freezing cold day. I overheard lots of runners plan their escape after a loop or two.

Three laps came and went and I was freezing, but knew I could do one more. About halfway during the fourth lap, it started to snow heavily and I started to think. I wondered what frostbite felt like. Could I have frostbite? I hadn’t been shivering or had any goosebumps for at least an hour. (Side note – I now know this is a pretty bad sign. Oops) I knew it was time to call it quits when I had difficulty stepping up a small curb. I couldn’t move my leg the three or four inches. It was simply too cold and too numb to move. I was done.

I’m disappointed that I didn’t finish. I know I could have on another day. My legs (aside from feeling like they might snap off from cold) felt strong and I was running well. But it wasn’t meant to be. It was simply too cold for me. And in retrospect, I know I made the right decision. I have broken blood vessels on my legs and it took me a full day to fell normal. It was definitely the right call to DNF. This experience has made me more determined than even to run an ultra soon. Know any good ones? The only requirement – temperatures that don’t begin with a 1.

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Review and Giveaway: My Race Ragz

When the nice folks at My Race Ragz contacted me about doing a review, I was thrilled. I’m a huge fan of personalization and I think that a personalized anything makes a great gift. Their offer was perfect timing for the holidays – and for me to get some awesome DrRachelRuns gear for winter racing.

My Race Ragz is a custom apparel company that offers printing and embroidery services. What makes My Race Ragz unique is that they will do your printing with no minimum order. Seriously. You can print just one shirt, 10 shirts, 100 shirts, with no small order penalty (if you order more than 10 you do get a nice discount). What’s even better is that all the printing isn’t your average screen printing, it’s done through a dye sublimation process in which the dye is applied directly to the shirt. This ensures that your shirt retains its sweat-wicking properties and that the design never peels off. Super cool.

All printing is done on technical, wicking shirts made of microfiber performance polyester. They offer a wide range of styles for men and women and three fabric types: a 100% Microfiber Performance Mesh, a 100% Smooth Performance Microfiber, and a stretchy 88% Microfiber/12% Spandex blend. The My Race Ragz website has a variety of standard designs available, and users can upload custom art for that one of a kind shirt. Never again will I apply my name to my shirt with electrical tape. When my brother runs his first marathon and I want a shirt that points him out, I won’t have to write on myself in permanent marker. My Race Ragz makes it possible to have just the shirt I want in just the quantity I need.

Creating my custom shirt was easy. I went to the “Create” tab, uploaded the art, centered it, and submitted it. In less than 10 minutes (no kidding), my shirt was off to the printer. I was delighted with what came back.

My Race Ragz shirt

The design was exactly what I had uploaded. The colors are vibrant and the edges are sharp. The design looks exactly as I had hoped it would. The graphics were clear, crisp, and have so far withstood repeated washing in warm water and several trips through the dryer.

My Race Ragz close up

The shirt itself is excellent. It’s a nice quality, a normal thickness, and wicks well. It’s comfortable to wear and easy to layer. The feminine cut and sizing were just right for me. Just a note – the shirt I selected isn’t seamless, so if you’re someone who’s bothered by seams on your running gear, be forewarned. I didn’t find the seams noticeable, but it’s worth note just in case. There are a variety of styles to choose from, including singlets and short sleeve shirts. Overall, I was very impressed with My Race Ragz and will definitely order from them again. The whole process was easy, the shipping was fast, and the shirt is a nice addition to my running wardrobe.

Want to win your very own customizable shirt? Enter to win below!

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Full disclosure: The folks at My Race Ragz offered my a free, customized shirt for the purposes of writing this review. Despite that, the review is honest and the opinions my own.

Gifts for Runners – On Any Budget

Is there a special runner in your life? Looking for a gift for a runner? I love my gear and I love running, so I’ve prepared a list of great gifts for the special runner in your life.

Under $25

Thorolo Experia Socks – Available in men’s and women’s sizing and cuffs ranging from no-show to mid-calf, these socks have an option for every runner. Coolmax fiber and padding on heels and toes ensures a comfortable fit. $14.99 and up

Road ID – Road ID keeps the runner in your life connected to loved ones in an emergency. Interactive options direct emergency personnel to a website; the original option allows owners to print several lines of text. We all hope we’re safe on the run. A Road ID is there for you in an emergency. Gift certificates are available if you aren’t quite sure what to write. The classic slim is $17.99 and a nice shoe tag option is $19.99. For furry runners, consider the Scout ID $17.99.

KT Tape – KT Tape offers targeted pain relief for a variety of conditions. It’s stretchy, reflective, and stays put for days, even in water. KT Tape can give muscles, ligaments, and tendons the support they need for healing and recovery of soft tissue injury. $19.99 for a roll of pre-cut strips.

KT Tape for fibula

Training Journal – The Believe I Am Training Journal is my favorite, feminine training journal.  This beautiful journal has original artwork and inspiring quotations on each page. Designed by professional runners, the journal tracks workouts, races, and has blank pages for sketches, clippings, and other details. For a unisex option, consider the Runner’s World Training Journal. Both are $19.99.

Believe I Am Journal

Bib Coasters – Reproduce a runner’s favorite bib on a set of tile coasters. Thoughtful, easy, and a way to commemorate an important race. $19.99

Lock Laces – A great option for keeping shoes secure. Check out my review here. $8.99 each or three pair for $19.99

SPI Belt – Need to carry gear with you on the run? The SPI Belt is perfect. It doesn’t bounce, comes in a great selection of colors, and fits everyone. I love mine so much I reviewed it. The original version is $19.99

SPI belt

Under $50

Saucony Ulti-Mitt – I describe these mittens/gloves as the best mittens in the history of mittens. I love them so much I have them in multiple colors and have recommended them to everyone. I even wrote a review and added them to my favorites. With a wicking glove base and a wind-resistent shell, the Ulti-Mitts are simply the best for cold weather running. Unisex sizing, so ladies, order smaller. $45

Ulti-Mitt

Run with Me Toque for her – This amazing hat is made of cozy, soft, cottony Rulu, one of Lululemon’s signature fabrics. It’s perfect for cold runs and running around town. The brim can be folded up for a close fit, or down for a floppy look. A ponytail hole at the back lets  hair fly free. $32 For men, consider the Sprint Beanie ($32) or Brisk Run Toque ($28). Same great hat, but a more masculine look.

The Stick – The Stick is a fabulous invention! With little bezels on a long rod, the Stick is ideal for self massage. Options range from a smaller travel version to the Stiff Stick. $34.99 and up.

Add a Day Roller - The Stick on steroids, this amazing self-massage roller is more intense. It features an extra-stiff rod and oddly shaped knobs that simulate the pressure of an elbow. I love mine! Retail prices vary, around $40

Add a Day Roller

Under $100

Base Runner Half Zip – Made of ultra-soft Rulu (a Lululemon fabric), this wicking pullover is crazy warm. With thumb holes and a high neckline, it keeps me warm on the run. An offset zipper adds interest and keeps my neck chafe-free. $98

Run: Swiftly Tech Long Sleeve - This Lululemon classic is great for every run. It can be used as a layer or worn alone. With an amazing array of colors, it’s perfect for every runner. $68. The men’s classic long sleeve, the Metal Vent Tech Long Sleeve is a great option for the lucky man in your life. $74

Swiftly at Cape Cod

Endorphin Warrior Bracelet – Endorphin Warrior cuff bracelets feature inspirational statements stamped in sterling silver. For women ($98) and men ($108) the bracelets are not only beautiful but inspiring. A leather-and-steel version is $20.

Allied Metal Display – The original stainless steel metal display company makes an assortment of metal medal racks. Custom racks are also available in any finish, pattern, and style. Prices vary and there’s an option for every runner to display his/her race medals.

$100 and Up

Fluff Off Pullover – With down filling, cuffing, and a water repellent shell, this pullover is perfect for whatever winter weather has to offer. Stretchy side panels ensure the pullover moves with you on the run. $158

PNW Jacket - (Men’s) Softshell fabric exterior and brushed interior make this jacket perfect for winter’s worst weather. Thumbholes and a hood keep hands and head cozy warm. $198

Happy holidays!