Fueling with Island Boost

Its not secret on the blog — or to anyone in my life really — that I have had an insane amount of stomach issues while running.  Back in July it killed my dreams of a 42-43 minute race at Wharf to Wharf (which I just realized I never recapped…), and in February it dashed by dreams of a close-to or attempt at a sub 1:40 half marathon at the San Diego Women’s Half Marathon.  And those are just two of the most recent downfalls of my stomach woes.

Since then, and I’ve made it my mission to discover different fuel options that will work for me in my long distance PR quests in 2014.  As I’ve embarked on this mission, there has been one name recommended to me over and over as I’ve explained to runners from all walks of life the massive amounts of stomach unhappiness that I get on raceday — and during long, hard runs in general: Island Boost.  So, for a while, I’ve been dying to try out Island Boost but just because everything has caused me problems, I’ve been hesitant to try out something new.

IMG_1495After receiving an email about Island Boost attempting to get a new flavor (Chocolate!) FDA approved, I knew I needed to try it, especially with the hopes of chocolate coming out in the future, so I reached out to them to see about getting a sample of the chocolate. Unfortunately, the chocolate samples were all out, but they did graciously give me a few samples to try out.

It’s different from your average gu or gel because it’s not a gu or gel.  Its more the consistency of Gatorade, but its got more calories than Gatorade in a small little thick liquid.

I was pretty excited to try it, and I’m not going to lie — my first taste was a shocker.  I mean, its like really, really over powered Kool-Aid on the first sip (note: this is coming from someone who doesn’t drink sugary drinks or juice because I don’t like them, and who thinks the Gatorade generally made at water stations is faaaaaaar too potent).  However, by the end of the first pouch, I got over the intensity and the flavor was actually pretty darn good (Passion Fruit Flavor).

IMG_1496I was given three flavors to try, and of the three, Passion Fruit was by far my favorite, but the Orange wasn’t far behind.  I just couldn’t get behind Blueberry-Pomegranate flavor, but then again I’m a fresh wild blueberry girl from Minnesota, and anything made with blueberry flavoring, just doesn’t cut it for me.

The real test, though, was how the Island Boost functioned for me on my runs.  Although I was only able to take them on one run (I’ve only run one run long enough to require fueling in the past few months), I was stomach problem free.  I can’t say it was my hardest run or my longest or that I had anxiety associated with race day, but it settled nicely in my stomach.  Maybe its because I can read and pronounce pretty much everything on the back of the nutrition label?  Or because it has coconut water in it (cue automatic swoon)?! Those both definitely made me happy — oh and its gluten free and dairy free!

IMG_1501So would I buy them for training?  Definitely — I’m actually putting in an order this weekend.  I’m still playing with a few other options for long runs and hard runs, but I am definitely keeping Island Boost in the mix — and if they can come up with the funds to get the chocolate through FDA testing and production, you bet your buns I will be all over that like a runner in a self serve fro-yo joint.

If you’d like to try out Island Boost, or just help them get chocolate into production, there are 10 days left in their fundraiser — if you give money, you get fun things back – for example $25 gets you a 10-pack of Island Boost to try; $40 gets you a 10-pack of Island Boost + a runner’s hat/visor.  When I get paid on Friday I am definitely jumping on that — every little bit helps, and it gives a great company run by wonderful people with a good product the chance to make it against the big guns.  Check it out here.

IMG_1502(I’m excited for all the temporary tats they sent me! — the inner child in me rejoiced!!)

Have you tried Island Boost?  What’s your fuel of choice?

***While Island Boost gave me the samples to try, they did not compensate me in any way or ask me to write a review.  As always, all opinions are my own.

Running with Brooks

Sunday night after my 10k PR, I had the opportunity to attend a Brooks clothing and shoe education night for employees at the running store I work at, put on by Brooks.
[Full disclosure: while I was given the clothing to try out for free as a part of our employee event with Brooks, I was not asked to review the products on my blog nor am I being compensated in any way.  All opinions, as always, are my own.]

Basically, Brooks likes to come out and talk to the running specialty stores that sell their clothing and get the employees in the clothing, running it in, and then have an open forum to get feedback to improve their product for future iterations.  (Points which I will highlight below when I review the products.)

Then we talk about selling points – different features of the products, and why things cost what they do — what I learned at the end of the day?  The majority of the cost is the fabric, technology and R&D — there is very little that is actually made on a product.  For example, on a $100 pair of shoes?  The store selling it makes about $10, and Brooks doesn’t make much more (if more at all). Talk about a small profit margin.  It makes me feel better about buying slightly pricier clothes and shoes that are of a higher quality.

But enough about that…onto the good stuff — the clothes!

For our 5k run, I got to try out (and keep) the Brooks Infinity Capris III and the Women’s Essential LS 1/2 Zip. I was a little hesitant to wear capris and just a fairly thin long sleeve since it was pretty cold out (I did wear a tank underneath it, for full disclosure), but the Brooks reps assured me I would be fine.

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Women’s Essential LS 1/2 Zip

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Brooks Infinity Caril III

We went out on our run, and low and behold, my temperature was pretty spot on.  While it would’ve been nice to be in tights at first, after about a mile or so I did warm up (though someday I do want these – I mean, how cute are they?!).

My overall reviews of the Infinity Caprisl III?  I loved the wide waistband (and the color scheme on this pair!) It was cute and flattering.  I also loved that they weren’t black, since I have like 4 pairs of black capris.  I also really liked the rubber at the bottom of the capri to hold to the capri in place so it wouldn’t ride up, as well as the stripes on the side of the leg made of 3M ScotchBrite to make a runner more visible to cars.

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3M ScotchBrite strips and rubber at the base of the capris

What I didn’t love?  I have to take my iPhone out of its case (and I have a fairly small one – and the iPhone 5 – in order for it to fit in the pocket in the back of the pants (which, btw, is water resistant!), and as a woman who runs alone a lot, I don’t like to leave home without my phone for emergencies.  If you have a bigger phone, it definitely wouldn’t fit.

And the Women’s Essential LS 1/2 Zip?  The pink color was great – but for those who don’t like pink, it comes in a wide variety of colors.  I also liked the fit a lot – it wasn’t too tight or too lose. I also liked the positioning of the ScothBrite on the top as well – its on the arms and back at key points of movement to make you more visible while running on the street. It also has a nice pocket on the back (I <3 pockets).  Oh, and its nice and long, and doesn’t ride up when you run.

Back of the Women’s Essential LS 1/2 Zip

What I didn’t love? After wearing it one night, for one easy 3.1 mile run where I didn’t sweat that much, it smelled absolutely horrible (I really don’t sweat very much ever, especially when its cold out and usually don’t smell that much after a run either – maybe I’m used to it, but no one has ever told me that I do).  I wish there was something in the fabric that would help with the odor and to mitigate the smell, because that’s the only thing that’s keeping me from being 100% in love with it (luckily 1/3-1/2 cup baking soda added to the wash will take the smell right away).

I was also given another piece to try on a cool run (which I did on Monday night) – the Brooks Equilibrium Base Layer LS.  Its supposed to be perfect for temperatures between 40-65 degrees (according to the Brooks’ website).

Equilibrium Base Layer LS Source: www.brooksrunning.com

Equilibrium Base Layer LS
Source: http://www.brooksrunning.com

I’m not going to lie – the shirt looks weird, and I probably wouldn’t have picked it up on my own. My first reaction to it in the store was definitely that this had to be a mistake – it looked like it was either straight from the 80s, Vegas, or a strip club.

However, now that I have it and ran in it (7.8 miles in 42-45 degree weather with a fair amount of wind at night), I am in love with this top.  It is so innovative and light and useful.  I don’t know which R&D individual at Brooks who created it, but I would love to meet them and figure out how they came up with this.

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Equilibrium Base Layer LS – from Instagram

I don’t know how to better explain it than how the Brooks’ website does:

Like a second, smarter skin, this amazing baselayer helps maintain optimal conditions in both heat and cold. When teamed with a top layer, it works like insulation–blocking outside elements and improving your natural temperature regulation by keeping you incredibly dry and breaking up surface tension with air pockets.
(Source & see more here)
It was surprisingly amazing.  I was never too cold (save for my hands, but that’s because I didn’t wear gloves) or too hot.  I wore it with a short sleeve technical shirt over it, and loved that my arms were warm but could breathe, and that even though it was pretty cold out I didn’t have to wear super thick layers that after three miles I wanted to peel off because I was overheating.  I couldn’t believe it.  (FYI: If you get this top, I – and the others who tested it – found it best to tuck it into your bottoms, otherwise I found that the shirt rode up as I ran – but once I tucked it in I didn’t even notice it.)
IMG_1423And now I am a believer – and its really comfortable. So weird, but so good.  (FYI: they’re also coming out with a short sleeve version of it this spring.)  And I liked the Infinity Capris III enough to wear them on another run.
The final part of our Brooks event night, was seeing and talking about the shoes — and the one that I enjoyed hearing about the most was the Transcendence, which is coming out in February 2014 to replace the Trance.
The Transcendence!

The Transcendence!

While I don’t have all the details, its basically a considered a high cushion, light stability shoe.  It’s light, with a fairly straight shoe last, and has these ‘rails’ on both sides that are activated only when needed — meaning it only gives you stability when you need it.  And it can act with as much stability as an Adrenaline.  Haven’t tried it out yet, but it sounds pretty intriguing to me!

The other thing about it that sounded appealing to me was that neutral runners can run in it, supposedly, without too much problem.  One of their engineers/test runners ran in it for three months (and she is a neutral runner) and she had no problems.  Also, if you’re running a long race as a neutral runner, and your form starts to deteriorate in a long run/race, it can give you the stability when you need it – and only when you need it.  Seriously, fascinating.  And now I’m 100% intrigued.

Definitely look for the Transcendence in February, 2014.  I know I’m going to at least try running on it for a while in the store — I am intrigued beyond belief and definitely impressed by Brooks in a way I didn’t think I could be.  I am extremely thankful for the opportunity I was given to test these products and hear all about the time, research, and thought that Brooks puts into each one of their products overall.  An experience I won’t forget, for sure.

What do you look for in your running clothes?  What features are must haves or deal breakers?

Run 4 The Parks 10k

Another weekend, another 10k.  [Last one for a while, promise.]

This weekend was my *redemption* weekend from last weekend’s mess with the port-a-potties at MCM 10k.  While I loved the course, support and overall race experience last week, I was ready to test my limits a little bit – I was ready to PR on November 3rd at Run 4 The Parks.

IMG_1436 A few snafus headed up leading to the race.  On Sunday/Monday of last week, the lupus flare I had been pretending wasn’t happening hit full on, meaning I basically slept for 16 hours a day M/T/W, and only attended classes, ate and did little/nothing else until the steroids kicked in.  Aka: I took M/T/W off from running.  Then, on Thursday I went out to run with the Thursday night run ladies. And a tree came out and attacked me and hurt my arch, so I managed about 2 – 2 1/2 miles before I took another two days of rest.

And then, race day morning happened I wasn’t sure if I was going to run – literally – until I arrived.  I decided I would go out “easy” and see how I felt.  So, we arrived around 7:40am (20 minutes before race start), picked up our packets and jackets, hit the port-a-potties (zero problems this week!) and then I jumped into the front area at the start line and said farewell to the Thursday night ladies and my sister who was visiting for the weekend – and who ran her first 10k ever – and the longest distance she’s ever run!

When the gun went off, I thought I was following my plan, I really did.  The pace felt easy and I was just enjoying the run, and listening to my body (it was also sliiiightly downhill, so that may have been why it felt so easy.

Mile 1: 7:05 (so much for ‘easy’)

I felt good after Mile 1, so I decided to keep going and once I realized my pace, knew I needed to pull it back a little bit.

Mile 2: 7:11
Mile 3: 7:15
Mile 4: 7:17

Pretty good, even paces and then was the run back, which is just every so slightly an incline, and I could feel that incline more than I thought I would.

Mile 5: 7:29

At this point I did the math and knew that if I kept it at a sub 7:30 pace I would definitely PR, and that depending on how fast I could push it, that a 44:xx would be possible.  However, there was a small hill in the 6th mile that kept me a little slower.

Mile 6: 7:26
Last .2(3): 1:44

Not my most flattering shot, by far...but the only one I could find.

Not my most flattering shot, by far…but the only one I could find.

Official Time: 45:27 – a shiny new PR by 41 seconds – and more than 2 minutes faster than my 10k last week.  That’s a win, for sure – especially after the lackluster running week I had.

And another bonus – NO TUMMY ISSUES AGAIN!  I think something is either starting to sync for me, or I’ve just been really lucky.  I’m hoping its the first one – because it would be amazing if I was finally figuring out pre race nutrition!

I thought the race was put on really well (these are my own opinions even though I work for Potomac River Running who put on the race – I did still pay for my own race entry).  There were plenty of port-a-potties great race day packet pickup (which is good for someone like me who doesn’t have a car and couldn’t make it to race packet pickup beforehand), and good food afterward (though a maybe a little short on some of the food items – either that or earlier runners were greedy as my sister didn’t get much to refuel with).

My only complaint would have to be about the race jackets/sweatshirts.  In the past years (I have seen my fellow employees wearing the jackets around), they’ve been nice, technical shirts jackets (like the ones you’d wear to the track to warmup in in the fall/early winter/spring), however this year they were basically glorified sweatshirts – and as they were advertised as $55 retail [and technical], I really felt like could have picked something up like this at Walmart or Target for about $25.  I know budgets are tight, but I felt like the jacket didn’t live up to the advertising, and I hope next year its a little higher quality, because I definitely won’t be wearing it except while working at the store.

IMG_1435At least it was embroidered and not screen printed on.  I will give them props for that.

After I finished I grabbed some water and my jacket, and headed back to find my sister who had just under a mile to go.  I ran her in most of the way and then sprinted to the finish to get some photos (when you can run fast after a 10k, you know you didn’t leave it all on the course.  Just sayin’…).  So proud of you, B!

Then we headed to a delicious brunch with the Thursday night run ladies, before I fitted my sister for new running shoes, worked and hung out with her and then headed to a Brooks event put on by Brooks and the running store I work at for employees – and we got to test drive some awesome clothing and get a sneak peek at the new shoe coming out in February!  I’ll have the deets and product reviews up soon!

Did you race this weekend?