Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Ride Recap: 24 Hours of Booty

24 Hours of Booty Ride Atlanta, GA. October 5-6, 2013
Start/Finish:  Loop course open for 24 hours starting and finishing at Bootyville, located at Mount Vernon Presbyterian School
Fundraising: A minimum of $200.
Other: A 24 Hour cycling ride to benefit local and national cancer charities.  Participants ride as many or as few miles (0-250+) during the 24 hour period, while raising cancer awareness and celebrating loved ones who have battled cancer.
Ready to surrender my booty to my bike seat.
I have to be honest, one of my favorite events that I do every year is actually not even a running event. It's cycling. I know, I know.  I'm a runner! But there is something so special about the 24 Hours of Booty ride that it makes me look forward to it the entire year. It's a combination of the ride, the people, and the challenge of getting all my cross training for the month done in 24 hours that has got me hooked.

The Ride
Let me back up a little bit and tell you what the ride is all about. Though it may have a silly name, 24 Hours of Booty does an amazing amount of good.  In Atlanta, the ride benefits the Aflac Cancer Center at Children's Hospital of Atlanta, as well as the Livestrong Foundation.  The event consists of riders logging as many (or as few) miles on a loop course over a 24 hour period, all while raising money and awareness for cancer programs.  The start/finish is termed Bootyville and it is complete with space to camp out, an all night dining area (it could be renamed 24 hours of eating), and various organizations creating a summer camp kind of feel. In addition to cycling, there are many awesome events like the cyclists dinner, the survivors breakfast, and one of the most beautiful parts, the lighting of the glow sticks (each with one person's name on it), which one team does to honor of every single person they are riding for. It provides a inspiring glow throughout the night.
The glow sticks and wall of hope remind riders why they are riding throughout the night.
This year we rode a new 3 mile course through many of the same neighborhoods as the 2012 ride, but without the massive climbing.  The new course was wonderful and doable for all abilities.  In addition, the neighborhoods we rode through were incredibly supportive setting up aid stations and block parties to cheers us on!  There were several bounce houses for the youngest riders to visit (though some of us seasoned veterans took advantage of the bounce house with the pool).

The People
The people are what makes the ride. There really is no question about it.  Being my third year, it is almost like a family reunion.  Everyone, both riders and organizers, is super excited to see each other, swap stories, camp out all night, and log thousands of miles for a good cause. Sure there are teams in the event, but they are really in name only.  Once the riders get there, everyone is ecstatic to be riding together and catch up.  There are so many stories ranging from inspirational to heartbreaking as many of the riders are honoring loved one, are themselves survivors or even currently in their battle against cancer, but somehow the mood remains joyous. The top fundraisers are celebrated at the Cyclist dinner and stories of hope and inspiration are shared at the survivors breakfast.  I have so many powerful stories to share, that I could honestly write several blog posts on the people alone!
Some people had great fundraising ideas.  The bunny rode 140 miles in his suit and raised several thousand dollars. (source)
The Challenge
Back in 2011, the challenge of seeing how many miles I could ride in 24 hours was what got me to sign up, but since then I've found additional ways to challenge myself during the event.  This year I wanted to raise more money than I had in either of my previous years, and I was able to raise $1555 thanks to many great friends and family.  They inspire me with notes, stories, and words of wisdom to get my booty in gear and are often excited to see how many miles I can ride.  This year I rode 120 miles in honor of several family members, friends, and family of friends who have battled cancer. Having people to ride in honor of keeps my legs moving when I want to take a break and always seems to get me back on the bike for one more lap.
My honor rides and my bike's night flair (we are a pirate themed team hence the skulls).

Though it's not running, 24 Hours of Booty has captured my attention.  With a passionate group, a worthy cause, and a motivating challenge, 24 Hours of Booty proves that amazing events are often hidden behind funny names.

Do you have any non-running events you like to do? Are there any charity events you do every year?

Friday, October 25, 2013

Fuelin' Up Friday: Chocolate Island Boost

Ok, so I am sure you all remember when I waxed poetic/professed my love for Island Boost.  Well, I was lucky enough to be approached by the creator of Island Boost, Laura Mildon, to test out their new flavor, Chocolate, before it even hits the market. Not only did this make me feel super cool, but I was very curious. They did such a good job with the fruit flavored Island Boosts, I was a bit skeptical how the liquidy consistency would translate to chocolate.  Also, previous chocolate energy fuels I've tried didn't taste like chocolate, at least not chocolate I actually wanted to eat and let's be honest, I don't need another reason to hurl while running.  Laura assured me that Chocolate Island Boost was different, so I agreed to try it out and give her my unfiltered opinion.
The soon-to-be newest member of the Island Boost family.
Let's start with what makes it different. Keeping with Island Boost tradition, the Chocolate flavor contains only natural ingredients, and is vegan and gluten-free. Island Boost took these simple ingredients and made it work in ways other companies haven't.

In classic me style, I tried out Chocolate Island Boost in the middle of a Marathon.  As Laura was quick to point out, I broke rule Number One of Racing (Don't try anything new on race day), but luckily I wasn't punished for this move.  Here is the nitty gritty (or not so gritty as it turns out).
Proper race prep includes fuel, sneakers, and flair.
Taste:  Um, Amazing.  I actually said "Holy Heavens*" out loud mid-race when I tasted it. I trusted Laura that it would taste good, but it's more than that. It's a flavor you actually want to taste and enjoy taking. To be honest, it would totally be acceptable if the Jayhawk gave me a box of Chocolate Island Boost for Valentine's Day. Totally fine.* Edited for profanity
Consistency: Liquid and smooth.  I was worried that the cocoa might make it grainy or chalky, but it didn't at all. The liquid consistency that I like so much about Island Boost works with Chocolate.  I'm not sure how they got it to work, but I am loving it.
During Run:  Similar to the other flavors of Island Boost, you don't need water which is great when you are on the course.  I take my fuel based on mileage to be consistent. I couldn't help but be near water in this weekend's marathon because of the 22 aid stations on the course, but I really didn't need it.  It was just squirt-squirt and keep running. My energy level felt very consistent throughout the race.  No low glucose blues or muscle trouble due to my electrolytes being off. Just running and more running.
After Run:  In addition to not vomiting my guts out while running, this is one of the biggest advantages of proper fueling for me.  In the past, I haven't been able to eat after races.  I am either too nauseated or too worried it will come back up. It usually took me several hours to feel ready to eat, which is a pretty poor recovery method.  I don't have this problem anymore.  In fact, I am rather eager to eat after races now.  Race Directors, you've been warned. You might want to up the post-race food supply when I'm registered.

Since Island Boost is a small, new company, they've ingeniously started an IndieGoGo campaign to help launch the Chocolate flavor.  If you want to learn more about it or pitch in, visit it here.  There are a lot of great perks for donating!  For example, who would want the opportunity to create their own flavor of fuel?

Do you prefer fruit flavored fuels or are you open to anything?  If you could design your own fuel flavor, what would it be?

Disclosure: I received a sample of Chocolate Island Boost for free in exchange for my honest review.  All opinions expressed are mine.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Race Recap: 7 Bridges Marathon

7 Bridges Marathon, Chattanooga, TN October 20, 2013
Field: A few thousand between all three races (5k, half, and full)
Spectators: Good for a small race. Most of the Downtown portions of the course had fans and even some of the outskirts along the river.  Chattanooga has a good bike-share program, so I saw a lot of the race fans riding bikes and popping up at several spots along the course.  A great idea if you are trying to spectate for your loved one.
Start:  Renaissance Park, right next to Coolidge Park where the finish was located.
Course: A mix of parks, Downtown, and some highways.
Schwag: Dri-fit shirt, water bottle, very large medal.
Other: I received free entry into the race by winning a blog giveaway.  Since I was due for a 20 miler this weekend anyway, I figured why not?!
See, there are a lot of Bridges in Chattanooga. Source.
On Sunday I ran the 7 Bridges Marathon in Chattanooga.  Though it wasn't originally on my race plan, a few circumstances made it fit right in (winning free entry, already planning a 20 miler, and being home alone for my birthday weekend).  Only in it's third year, I didn't know much about the race before getting a bib.  I did know I was going to run over 7 bridges and have some super views of the Tennessee River.  My goal for the race was to run a good training run for 20 miles and then finish without any time goal.
Ignorance is bliss. Smiles because I forgot that a marathon is really long.
I chose to drive up to Chattanooga on race morning.  It's less than 2 hours from Atlanta, and since they offered race day bib pick up (something that is awesome for a runner on a budget), I chose to take advantage of it.  Parking was a breeze.  I parked within about 200 yards of the finish line, giving myself an easy hobble walk back to the car as a birthday present. I arrived in plenty of time to get my goodies, visit the port-a-john, and stay warm in the car since it was only about a block from the start.  The start was a little chilly (40 degrees) and I haven't run in temps that cool since last February.  I was definitely a little under dressed (gloves would have been nice and perhaps not my mini running skirt), but I felt comfortable later in the race.
I really like the shirt and the medal is huge!
The race went well.  I wanted to run consistent, but not go all out.  My goal race is still 3 weeks away, so this was just another chance to gain confidence in the marathon, explore a new place, and work on some race day strategies for the marathon.  I came out of the gate a little faster than I wanted (I was excited), but settled into a nice pace for 20 miles.  After that, I didn't push much and took my time.
This is when I remembered that marathons are really long.
This had to be one of the best aided courses I have ever been on.  For the full there were 22 aid stations with water, powerade, and powergels.  At least half of them (in all honesty, I didn't count but many of them) had additional food ranging anywhere from bananas, oranges, and apples, to chips, candy bars, rice krispie treats and even pickles!  The volunteers were wonderful and eager to help in anyway they could.  I did not eat much at the aid station (a few oranges and a banana half) because of my finicky tummy, but having it available was awesome. I am happy to report that I did take 4 Island Boost packets at miles 5,10,15, and 20 with no trouble at all!  This is a new PR for fueling in a Marathon.  I even tried the yet to be released Chocolate Island Boost (full review coming Friday) and it was awesome.  It was so nice to have one less thing to worry about during the race.
In addition to fruit and fluids, they gave out snack boxes full of recovery foods at the finish. Perfect for the ride home!

I have mixed feelings about the course.  There are several portions that I loved, but a couple sections that I wasn't so hot about.  However, the not so hot sections are necessary to get you to and from the cool parts.  The race starts out with a tour of downtown. Having never actually been to Chattanooga (I've driven by many times), it was fun to check out the city and surrounding areas on foot. I liked running through downtown (miles 1-6) and all of the bridges had fabulous views of the Tennessee River and the city during fall.  I also really liked running through the city parks along the river (miles 19-24) even though I was cursing running at this point.  However, there were a few segments of highway running and industrial areas, which were not so pretty or exciting, but were required to get you between other parts.  I've found that a few miles of not so pretty happens in pretty much every marathon and by far isn't a deal breaker for me.
A view from the finish line of bridge #7(mile 26). 

I wore a little extra flair during this race because it was my birthday weekend and I was using it as an aided training run.  Having flair always gets extra attention from spectators, but having birthday flair seems to get you extra attention from everyone.  I can't even count the number of happy birthdays I received from spectators, volunteers, and other runners.  Even after the race, runners and spectators who I saw along the course were coming up to me to see how the Birthday Girl did.  It was really fun and made the race a little more special.  The highlight had to be when the 4:15 pace group sang a full round of "Happy Birthday" to me at mile 15.  It was definitely a first for me in a race!!
Because a birthday marathon requires more than the minimum flair!
Overall, I liked this race.  It was well organized and extremely well aided.  I had a good race and was very happy with my 20 miler.  I slacked off a bit for the final 10k (big time positive splits), but that just gave me more time to enjoy the river views. I would definitely do the race again but probably just the half, mainly because I love the half and am only seeing the marathon on the side. 
26 miles for 26ish years.
Time: 4:25:45 (Half splits: 2:03, 2:22)

Lessons learned:
  1. Marathons are still really long.
  2. Marathons don't get easier with age.
  3. Never underestimate the power of flair.
  4. Fueling during a marathon makes life so much better!
  5. Cute Birthday socks can give you blood blisters, but it wouldn't be a marathon if I didn't have bloody feet.
How was your weekend?  Any fun races?

Monday, October 7, 2013

Marathon Training Week#11

Week #11 was a cut back week for me and it couldn't have been better time.  Life was a little stressful this week. Let's just say my workouts were effected by the shutdown, but I made sure it didn't shutdown my training.

Monday: 2 mile recovery run after Sunday's 19.5 miler.  Legs felt slow, but no pains/strains/troubles.  Overall, feeling good after a big day.

Tuesday: Rest. The legs deserved it.

Wednesday: Took another day off.  Nothing was wrong physically, just mentally a tough week.

Thursday: 5 mile run-commute.  It was a little hotter than expected when I left work, but I was able to keep the tempo up with out passing out on the way home. Legs are feeling good.

Friday: Resting for the weekend by drinking margaritas.

Saturday/Sunday: I didn't do my long run.  Yep, you read that right. Instead I went out and biked 120 miles with little training. Recap coming soon! That should take care of my cross training for the month.
In the words of Queen, I like to ride my bicycle.
Back on the horse this week.  I am determined to not let the shutdown effect my miles.  Thank heavens the weather is beautiful and making my runs fun.

Do you sometime go 'long' in things other than running (i.e. cycling, hiking, etc)?

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

September Recap

Miles: 101.98

Races: Two. They both went well! Not a bad month.

Current Gear Want: A personal Masseuse

Current Gear Love: Island Boost.  Yep, I am still going on about being excited to fuel without puking. It's kind of a big deal. They are launching an Indiegogo campaign this week to fund their new flavor.  I will keep you posted for those that might be interested.

Things I'm excited about next month: October is my favorite month hands down. There is a lot going on next month and a lot to be excited about.
  • Up first I have 24 Hours of Booty Cycling Ride to raise money for Local and National cancer Charities.  It's my third year riding and I couldn't be more excited. 
  • Some of you may have noticed another race got added to my list over on the sidebar.  I was lucky enough to win FREE entry into the 7 Bridges Marathon on my Birthday Weekend!  What more could a girl want for her birthday?  I was planning on a 20 miler that weekend anyway, so I figured what the heck.  I plan on running the full at training pace, to have fun, and take lots of pictures to keep it slow. Now, important question: What kind of birthday flare should I wear during the race??
I was thinking these from the Sox Box might be good.
  • I also have a little travel in store this month as well as no less than 2 birthdays at our house.  Plus, my favorite of all holiday, Halloween. Phew, I'm tired just thinking about it.  Oh and there is the final month on marathon training.

What are you excited for in October? Do you have a favorite month?
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