Guest Post: Have Your Best Run Yet!

I love Clever Training (send me an email to get a code for 10% off!) and buy lots of my training gear from them. Many people know about their awesome selection of running, triathlon, and training gear, but most people don’t know that Clever Training also hosts a great blog with training tips, fun stories, and information about the latest gear. When Ron, the CT Blog guy reached out to me about doing a guest post, I was super excited. I love reading the CT Blog and thought that you would, too. Here’s his post, a set of great tips for having your best run yet. Thanks, Ron!

Have Your Best Run Yet

Any dedicated runner knows that the key to having an amazing run depends on many factors. Perhaps most importantly, it starts with your mentality. Here are a few ways that you can pump yourself up and prepare yourself for your best run yet:

Recognize Negative Thinking

Many runners know that the body can be perfectly capable, but if the mind is not thinking positively, it can have a huge impact on the quality of your run. The trick is to recognize negative thoughts and remember that you have control over them. When a negative thought wanders through your mind, call upon a cue word or song that replaces the negativity with something positive. Focus on the pumping of your arms or your breathing, and you might be surprised at how much easier your run becomes.

Wear the Right Gear

Those shoes you bought for 20 dollars may have been a steal, but you aren’t doing your feet any favors. In order to keep your feet going for long distances, you will need to spend a little more to find the right shoe that is properly insulated. In addition, consider switching from cotton shirts and shorts to moisture-wicking workout clothes. This will help keep the sweat from sticking to your body and turning cold quickly. Having the right workout gear for your runs will allow you to go further distances in comfort.

Learn Proper Breathing

Many long-distance runners make the mistake of breathing too much. This deprives your lungs of oxygen because you are not getting all of the CO2 out of your lungs. Your lungs need oxygen to power you through those distances, so slowing down your breathing will relax you and fully give your lungs the oxygen they need, making running slightly easier. If you get a stitch in your side, matching your stride to your breath will help ease the pain.

Stop Setting Rigid Goals

Setting goals can be good for running, but if your goals are too rigid, then it can fill your mind with a defeatist attitude when you know you are failing to hit that goal. If this happens, don’t focus on the failure to meet your goal. Instead, have back-up goals. For instance, if you set a goal to run nine miles and know that you won’t make it by mile four, set a mini-goal of reaching eight miles instead. Change your self-talk be more positive, and it will help keep you motivated rather than having you want to give up in frustration.

Use Others as Motivation, Not Comparison

Theodore Roosevelt once said that “comparison is the thief of joy,” and this is true in the running world. There is always going to be someone faster than you or who can go longer distances, and this is something that everyone should accept. Instead of getting down about this, use that person as a source of motivation for your next run. Acknowledge that you are only competing against yourself, and that’s all that matters for your enjoyment.

Gear Review: Lock Laces

Recently, I was approached by the nice people at Lock Laces about doing a review of their unique laces. In truth, I had been thinking of trying Lock Laces for some time, ever since a fellow triathlete recommended them as a way to save time in transition. I was delighted to have been offered the opportunity to try the laces.

Lock Laces are tie-free stretchy, elastic laces. The laces are one size fits all, 48 inches in length and are cut to size for each shoe. The laces are made of a polyester-covered bungee cord and the lock itself nylon with a little tiny spring inside. Lock Laces come in a variety of colors and are shipping in a little plastic baggie with the instructions printed right on the bag.

Lock Laces

I got my Lock Laces and was eager to try them. I followed the simple instructions (lace, cut, lock) and was laced up and ready to run within five minutes.

Lock Laces in use

Lock Laces close up

The laces seemed stretchy, but as soon as I got my feet in my shoes, I noticed that they felt secure. I did a few awkward, 80’s-calisthenic style stretches to see if my feet would slip in my shoes. Nothing. My feet were totally secure with the Lock Laces on my shoes.

My first run in Lock Laces was totally uneventful. I actually forgot I was wearing a test lace in my shoe. I suppose that’s what you want from shoelaces – they were so good they were unnoticeable. My feet were totally comfortable throughout the run. The next step was to try Lock Laces in a triathlon. I had seen many other triathletes using Lock Laces and imagined that they might cut down on transition time. I was right. I used Lock Laces in a sprint triathlon and shaved a few seconds off my transition time. It might not seem like much, but those few seconds can make a big difference. What’s more, as my feet started to swell from the transition between bike and run, the laces expanded, leaving my feet comfortable and secure. I was impressed.

I liked my Lock Laces so much that I sent a pair to my mom. My mom logs more than 30 miles a week most weeks and works out in Florida. She often has to stop during walks and runs to retie her shoelaces after her feet swell. I thought Lock Laces would be the perfect solution. My mom had this to say:

I replaced my standard laces with Lock Laces following the simple instructions on the package.  I wanted to give them a true test, walking and all day.  I did my walk and was pleasantly surprised, I did not need to retie my shoes.  Usually I need to adjust the laces after about 5 minutes on my left foot (arthritis), but not today.  Hmmm I thought.  I continued to wear the shoes all day and did not adjust the laces at all. Not even at the end of the day when my feet are a bit swollen and need additional room.  I am usually continually making small adjustments, but not this day.  I am not going back to the standard laces, I’m sold on the ease and convenience of the Lock Laces.

Yay! Two satisfied customers. I have been wearing my Lock Laces for about a month now and love them for humid days and conditions where I know my feet could use a little “breathing room”. They are durable and have stayed locked in place. I love not having to tie and retied my shoes.

Overall, I highly recommend Lock Laces. Whether you are a triathlete who wants to save valuable seconds, or someone who wants to stop worrying about shoelaces, Lock Laces are perfect!

Race Review: The Danze Sprint Triathlon

I’m a new triathlete and I’ve been working on developing my skills. This summer, I’m taking swimming lessons to try to improve in the discipline. I’m getting faster and stronger and I thought it was time to test my skills. As a test, I signed up for the Danze Sprint Triathlon organized by Ocean State Multisport. The race featured a 1/4 mile swim, a 10 mile bike, and a 4 mile run. The run is a bit longer than a sprint distance, but I appreciated the extra mile on the run. It’s my best discipline and I might as well enjoy it.

The day was gorgeous, if a little chilly for a swim. It was 55 degrees, dry, and bright. I arrived at the beach and was instructed to drive to a local church for parking. The young man giving instructions didn’t realize that everyone wasn’t a local, so his directions were a little unclear. After driving a bit (and seeing some of the bike course, which was a real plus), I found the church and the parking. Packet pick up and body marking was at the church. I got all my gear together and rode my bike to the start line.

Triathlon

The swim was a beach start at a lovely lake. The quarter mile swim was well marked and looked manageable. Once in the water, I noticed that the water was warm and clear. It was great! there were quite a lot of aquatic plants, but I didn’t mind them. Most were broad leafed seaweed that could be easily kicked off. The swim start was a little chaotic, but the field thinned quickly and I had great underwater visibility.

Triathlon beach

After the swim, I ran the short distance to the transition area. I appreciated that the transition area was very close to the swim and in a blacktopped parking lot. I didn’t have to cross rocks or grass to get to transition, so I could run smoothly without worrying about my feet. The transition area was organized by number, so I was able to quickly get in and get my biking gear together.

The bike was hilly and challenging, with a long, steep incline at the start of the bike section. The bike course was very well marked, with white signs pointing the directions and a course that went along marked roadways. Police were present at all major intersections and directed bike traffic smoothly along the course. Toward the end of the 10-mile bike course, the course wound into a small residential neighborhood near the lake. It was hilly and challenging riding, but the views of the fields and lake were gorgeous. I was able to easily navigate on the bike course.

After the bike, I rolled smoothly into transition to prepare for the run. Running is my best discipline, so I was thrilled to be able to run. The run course started with a long, gradual hill which got my legs warmed up quickly. The run course then flattened with gradual, rolling hills through lovely neighborhoods. The course was well-marked, with huge white signs and volunteers with flags all along the course. Each white sign had the cell phone number of the race director just in case a runner was lost or needed help. I easily navigated the run course and found that it turned into the same neighborhood to finish as the bike course had. Since I knew that part of the course, I picked up the pace and was able to finish the run in a time that I felt proud of.

The finish line was clearly marked and finishers were greeted by helpful volunteers. There was a wide selection of fruit and plenty of water. Results were posted quickly and free massages were offered to all finishers. I had an amazing massage and enjoyed talking with some fellow finishers.

Overall, the Danze Sprint Triathlon was a lovely race. It was well organized and the course was well marked. The courses for all three disciplines were interesting, challenging, and beautiful. It was a great race to complete and I highly recommend it, and all of the OceanState Multisport events.

Triathlon success

 

Top 12 of 2012

2012 has been a busy year and it’s been the first full year of the existence of DrRachelRuns. This New Year’s Eve, I decided to reflect on some of the highs and lows of the year. My running life has been an adventure deserving of its own retrospective.  Here are my top twelve running memories of 2012:

  1. Hood to Coast – Hood to Coast has to be the best thing I’ve ever done as a runner. It was amazing. Challenging, crazy, hilarious, and downright unforgettable. Read all about it here and here.
  2. Gasparilla with my mom – I’m March, I participated in the Gasparilla Distance Classic with my mom. It was her first real race and doing it with her was something I’ll always treasure. We had so much fun that we signed up for the 2013 races on opening day – and we’re both doing multiple-race challenges!
  3. Fleet Feet coaching – This fall, I had the amazing opportunity to coach for Fleet Feet Sport’s half marathon training program. I loved my team, and I loved seeing new half marathoners succeed. The best part of the whole experience was pacing some of my team through a great first half marathon.
  4. Lucy started running – Lucy, my non-running dog became my running companion. I am delighted to have her as a running friend and I’ve loved seeing how much she enjoys running.
  5. First triathlon – In August, I completed my first triathlon. It was a wonderful experience. After nearly dying on the swim, and suffering from swim-related exhaustion the rest of the race, I learned that I could endure a surprising amount of pain and still run well. Triathlon has made me a better runner.
  6. Dartfish analysis – In January, I had professional gait analysis. It was one of the best things I could have done as a runner. I saw imbalances and potential for injury. I also saw what I was doing well. Learning more about my running, and working with my trainer on improving in key areas, has been wonderful. I’ve been healthy – thanks to catching problems before they were problems.
  7. I’ve traveled a lot! Which means I’ve run a lot, all over the country.
    1. Salt Lake City  – where I ran “at altitude” for the first time
    2. DC – once to run the Rock N Roll DC with a friend, and once for work
    3. Michigan in July
    4. North Carolina for work
    5. And I’ve been to Florida (where my parents live) a lot!
  8. Running with friends – I have some really wonderful running friends and I’ve had a chance to run all over with them. We’ve done quarter marathons, runs in dresses and skirts, relays, and races.
  9. I passed my two year knee surgery anniversary – I’m not sure why this felt like such a huge landmark, but it was. Hooray!
  10. Accidental PRs – It happened once at Rock N Roll Providence (August), and then again when I was sick at Cape Cod (October). Surely there’s a lesson to be learned in my habit of accidentally running well.
  11. Becoming president of a running club – I haven’t blogged about this one yet, but I was elected president of a running club. I feel so honored to have been trusted to lead, and revive, a club that’s faded in recent years.
  12. And, finally, growing as a runner. As I read through old posts and looked at old pictures, I saw how much I have grown as a runner this year. Not only am I inching toward my pre-surgery speeds, but I’ve tried new things (triathlon and overnight relays), and shared my love of running with my mom and true running friends. This year has been a wonderful year and I’m so grateful for the amazing things that running has brought into my life.

Connecticut State Report, September

In this Connecticut Race Report (also featured on Pace Per Mile), I’m highlighting some great events in Connecticut in the month of September. It’s starting to cool off and there are some really fun events coming up – including several half marathons and a new relay race in West Hartford. Here are a few you might enjoy:

Running Events:

September 15-16

Lightfoot Summer Series Half Marathon
Lightfoot Summer Series Half Marathon, Norwalk, CT, Saturday September 15, 2012, 8am – Presented by The Lightfoot Running Club & The City of Norwalk Recreation and Parks Department, this half marathon is part of a series. There isn’t much information online, but the registration cost is low ($15) and it’s advertised as having professional timing and an interesting course.
Free to Breathe 5KFree to Breathe 5k, Glastonbury, CT, Sunday September 16, 2012, 9:30am – This event provides an opportunity for lung cancer advocates, survivors and the community to come together to raise awareness and support in the movement to defeat lung cancer. All proceeds will benefit the National Lung Cancer Partnership’s research, education and awareness programs. The course will be run in Glastonbury on their rural streets. Registration is $28 in advance and $30 on race day.

September 22 and 23:

Hogsback Half MarathonHogsback Half Marathon, Colebrook, CT, Saturday September 22, 2012, 9am – This great event is hosted by the Hartford Track Club, which usually means a well-run race. The course is advertised as super fast, with a 100-ft net decrease in elevation. The course will be run on country roads through the towns of Riverton, Pleasant Valley, Hartland and Colebrook. Long sleeve technical t-shirts will be provided for all pre-registered runners. There will be 10 water stations stocked with water and sports drink, GU available on course at miles 5 and 9, great post-race food, custom “piggie” finisher medals and electronic bib tag timing by Platt Systems timing. All this for only $40! Check them out on Facebook, too.
Niantic Bay Half Marathon & 5kNiantic Bay Half Marathon (and 5k), Niantic, CT, Sunday September 23, 2012, 9am – The certified Half Marathon course runs through picturesque Rocky Neck State Park and into Giants Neck and includes scenic views of Long Island Sound. The certified 5K course is mostly flat and will be run entirely in Rocky Neck State Park. There will be professional timing and water stations on the course. Registration is $40 for the half marathon, $25 for the 5k.

Relay!:

Interested in running a relay but not ready for a multi-day event? Try the new, Max’s West Hartford Relay!

Max’s West Hartford Relay, West Hartford, CT, Saturday, September, 22, 2012, 8am – This new event, sponsored by Max’s Restaurant Group, features 8, 5 mile loops. Teams of 2, 4, or 8 runners each run either one or two loops (non-consecutive runs for the 4 person teams). More information about the loops and the team structure is on their website. The registration fee varies by number of people on the team. A portion of the proceeds will be donated to the West Hartford Public Schools Physical Education Department. This sounds like a great event. I hope that some of you will try it – and report back to me on how it is!

Multisport Events:

Women’s Triathlon
Women’s Triathlon, Farmington, CT, Sunday September 9, 2012, 7:30am – This women’s only event includes a sprint distance triathlon and triathlon relay. The sprint includes a 1/2 mile in Dunning Lake at Winding Trails, 12 mile bike through Farmington and Avon, and a flat 5K run on the shaded, wide dirt trails in Winding Trails. This is a great event for first time triathletes and women of all ability levels. Registration is $75-100 depending on when you register and that includes a shirt, professional timing and photography, and USAT sanctioning.

Simply Du It DuathlonSimply Du It Duathlon, Ridgefield, CT, Sunday September 23, 2012, 8am – Enjoy a fast, flat loop run through a wooded residential area. Then transition to a very fast, scenic ride through Ridefield’s back country. The course is: run is 2.5 miles, bike 13 miles, run 2.5 miles. Registration is $75 in advance.

Connecticut Race Report, Late August

In this Connecticut Race Report (also featured on Pace Per Mile), I’m highlighting some great events in Connecticut in late August. It’s hot, hot, hot, and the kids are back to school, so there aren’t many races, but here are a few you might enjoy:

Running Events:

X-Treme Scramble #3HMF Extreme Scramble #3, Hartford, CT, Thursday, August 23, 2012, at 6pm – In this third installment of the Hartford Marathon Foundation’s summer series of X-Treme Scrambles, country music will be the focus. The course will be unpredictable but you’ll get Harpoon beer and Moe’s burritos at the finish line. The entry fee is around $30 and awards will be presented to age group winners. Full disclosure – I’m still mad at HMF for the 3.9 mile X-Treme Scramble #1 of 2012. These races are usually fun, but buyer beware – they are notorious for mis-measured courses and poorly marking the courses. If you run, be prepared.
Westport Road Runners Summer Series 9.3miWestport Road Runners Summer Series 9.3 mile run, Westport, CT, Saturday,  August 25, 2012, 8am – This is part of a 10-race Grand Prix Series hosted by the Westport Road Runners. The race is a bargain at $5 for Westport residents and $8 for everyone else. There is Grand Prix style scoring, so no prizes for individual events. The organizers promise a well-marked, interesting course with water stops.
Brooklyn Fair 5K Road RaceBrooklyn Fair 5k Road Race, Brooklyn, CT, Sunday, August 26, 2012 at 8am – Benefitting the Brooklyn School Cross Country Program, this race is part of a country fair. You can’t beat a fair for family fun. Come to run the race and stay all day to enjoy the country charm. Race entry is $14 in advance, $17 race day. There will be professional timing and post-race snacks. More information about the fair, along with a complete schedule of events, is here. 
Multisport Events:
Trifitness Women’s Triathlon and DuathlonTriFitness Women’s Triathlon, Duathlon, Norwalk, CT, Sunday August 26, 2012 at 6:30am – This great multisport event features several races suitable for everyone from seasoned triathletes to beginners. There is a Sprint Triathlon with a .5 mile swim, 11 mile bike, and 3.1 mile run; a Duathlon with a 1.5 mile run, 11 mile bike, and 3.1 mile run, and a relay option for the triathlon. Pre-registered athletes will get a women’s specific t-shirt and there will be awards and food post-race. The du is $55 and the tri is $65 in advance. Relay teams are encouraged and more information is on their website. Sorry, guys – this race is women only.
I hope you’ll consider one of these great events. If you’re looking for something else in the New England area, check out The Race Robot, a great site by athletes for athletes.

Let’s Tri!

I’m delighted to report that I can now add “triathlete” to my list of descriptors. I have been running a long time and always think of myself as a runner. But, in the past few years I have been thinking triathlon. It all started with my coach and friend. I saw him finish his first triathlon and have been hearing about his triathlon experiences for years. There was something oddly appealing about the combination of misery and accomplishment. I think it’s a sickness that runners have – that desire to push harder, do more, be faster, go longer.

In June I bought my very first grown up bike. His name is Bert and he’s a Trek commuting road bike. He’s not the fastest bike ever, but I love him. He and I have been going on rides here and there, trying to get comfortable with riding faster and farther. I started thinking that maybe I could do a triathlon. There was the tiny problem of swimming. I can swim and am a strong swimmer, just a pathetically slow swimmer. I had very good intentions of practicing swimming, but got an infection near my eye and had to stay out of the water. Undeterred, I signed up for a sprint triathlon.

Sandy Beach Triathlon

Before I knew it, Triathlon Day was upon me. I finished the Sandy Beach Triathlon in Morris, CT. It had a special “first timers” division, so it seemed like a good place to start. It was a sprint tri, with a .5 mile swim, 10 mile bike (advertised as “hilly”), and a 5k run. It was 90 degrees, sunny, and humid at race start. It cooled off to a balmy 84 by race end. The Sandy Beach area is gorgeous. The lake is a neat figure eight shape and has soft, brown sand.The seaweed was minimal and the water was very warm. I got all set up with my little transition area and didn’t even forget anything.

The race was well organized for a low budget operation. Everyone got their chip and got marked and were directed to select any spot in the transition area. The transition area was a free for all with a combination of very experienced folks with professional looking set ups, and a large group of first timers with our things off to the side. It was easy to get set up and helpful volunteers pointed the way.

Things got a little scary as soon as I saw the swim. A half mile is a super, crazy distance to swim. Add a bit of drifting of buoys and it may as well have been 10 miles to me. My arms were shot about a third of the way in. I have never been so happy as when I kicked the sand and could run into the transition. T1 didn’t go so well. I was dripping, sandy, and exhausted. I found my way easily through the transition area and there were volunteers there to point the way. Three minutes later I emerged on to the bike course. The bike course can only be described as a roller coaster. It was gorgeous, wrapping around the lake and past adorable marinas, lake homes, and forests. The roads were smooth and, although they were not closed to traffic, seemed safe. The course was very well marked and cheering volunteers were at every turn. Riding around the lake and through small communities was made for a pleasant ride. Had I not been racing I might have liked to stop at some of the lovely public piers. My bike segment went quite well. I was 144th place in just the swim alone, 59th place in the bike alone. I was pleased with my bike performance and even passed a few people. Coming into T2, I felt strong. That ended when I stepped off the bike. My legs were stiff, my arms were sore, and I was exhausted. I really felt like I had nothing left. But I had an uphill 5k in front of me, so I pulled myself together and, after a few minutes of walking, ran along. The running course was pretty much uphill. Luckily, there were friendly volunteers at a water stop halfway. It was a challenging run but an attractive road course through a forest.

This is what an exhausted triathlon finisher looks like. Notice that everyone else has left. Time to work on the swim!

I’m pleased to say that I finished. It wasn’t pretty and it wasn’t fast, but I did it. Now I know what I need to work on and how I can improve for next time. Because there will be a next time.

Results from the Sandy Beach Triathlon are here.

Connecticut Race Report, August

In this Connecticut Race Report (also featured on Pace Per Mile), I’m highlighting some great race, a few triathlons, and one cycling event in Connecticut in early August.

Running Events:

50th Annual John and Jessie Kelley 11.6 Mile Road Race, New London, CT, Saturday, August 4, 2012, 9am –  Beginning at Ocean Beach Park in New London, this race is a unique distance, and a perfect opportunity for a PR. The race is free to enter – it’s even free to park at Ocean Beach if you register in advance. Mail your completed registration form along with a self-addressed stamped envelope to the address provided on the registration form. Your bib, which provides free parking and access to Ocean Beach, will be sent to you a week before the race. If you miss the mail in registration, race day registration is available but you may have to pay for parking.

Living Well 5k, Glastonbury, CT, Saturday, August 4, 2012, 8am – The Living Well in Glastonbury 5K is a summer road race that is hosted by the Glastonbury Chamber of Commerce. It begins at Smith Middle School and winds through the flat and fast streets of the Addison Road neighborhood. Registration is $25 through August 2, $30 day of the race.

Bolton Cross Country Classic 5k

Bolton XC Classic 5k, Bolton, CT, Saturday, August 11, 2012, 9am – This fun annual race is a great family event. The race is run on the Bolton Cross Country trail behind Bolton High School. The cross country track is mostly wide, smooth grass, but trails are possible. Proceeds to benefit the Bolton H.S. Cross Country program. Age group winners receive custom, hand-painted rocks as trophies. Registration is $15 through August 6, $20 on race day. Registration for students is $10.

Rhythm Race
Rhythm Race , East Hartford, CT, Saturday, August 18, 2012, 7pm – Walk or run this flat, fast 5k course while enjoying great live music. Stick around for a post-race party with DJ’s, a laser light show, and tailgating. The whole event takes place at Rentschler Field. Registration is $25.

And…the very last Bolton Summer XC Series event is August 8, 2012, at 6:30pm at the Bolton Rose Farm.

Triathlons:

Sandy Beach Triathlon, Morris, CT, Friday, August 2, 2012, 5pm – Flat, fast, and scenic course around Bantam Lake. The event features a 1/2 mile swim, 10 mile bike, and 3 mile run. There is a special division (and lower price) for first timers and a special youth race.

Lake Terramuggus Tri Series, Marlborough, CT, Thursdays at 6:15pm (also on Facebook, here)

Winding Trails Tri Series Race 10Winding Trails Triathlon Series #10, Tuesday August 14, 2012, 6:15 pm – This weekly triathlon features a 1/4mi swim, 8k trail ride, and 5k trail run, making it a unique triathlon. Please be aware that you must ride a hybrid or off road bike on the bike portion of the race – it really is a trail race.
Bike Event:
Steeple Chase Bike Tour
SteepleChase Bike Tour, Willimantic, CT, Saturday August 18, 2012 beginning at 7:00 am – With ride routes of 10, 20, 35, 50, 62.5, and 100 miles through scenic Northeaster Connecticut, this is a popular race for cyclists of all levels. Each ride features many rest stops with free food, beverages and snacks pre and post ride for all participants. Free Steeple Chase T-shirts are provided to all individual riders.