Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Free Race Entry Winner

I know you’ve all been pins and needles and can’t take the suspense any longer! So I’ll only drag this out long enough to make everyone on FB click over :-)

The Winner of the FREE race entry from Renewal By Andersen of Detroit is…

MELISSA C.

Congratulations! Send me an email at runfastmommy@gmail.com and I’ll fill you in on all the details. If you’re just finding out about the contest now or you forgot to enter, be sure to like Renewal By Andersen on FB. They’re adding races and looking for runners to run them all the time. So keep one eye on their page.

Move giveaways to come in the very near future! Stay tuned…


'Til next time...
 

P.S.  I’ve still got that giveaway running for a copy of Train Like A Mother. Be sure to get in on that one if you’re interested and if you’ve already got your copy, you can help choose the winner by casting your vote for your favorite caption in our caption contest on FB here.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Rock The World Race Review

I know. This one’s long overdue. But I wanted to give the Rock the World race directors a chance to address a few issues and see how things played out. And I’ll be entirely upfront, I’ve got mixed feelings on this one and this may quite possibly be the toughest review I’ve ever had to write.

Before I do, there are a few things you should keep in mind though as you read on:

1) I’ve never run an obstacle race before and since I haven’t, I have ZERO experience on how these things are supposed to go down.

2) I did not pay an entry fee to participate. My fee was comped in exchange for a few posts prior and a review post after. My feelings might be a little less mixed had I shelled out $50-70 for the event.

3) This was THE first Rock the World Event. Ever. And as someone who planned TONS of events in her past life as a Recreation Coordinator prior to becoming a mom, I can tell you from a whole lot of experience, no matter how well prepared you are, or you think you are, there’s ALWAYS things that come up unexpectedly. Always. Rock the World was no different.

So let’s talk the good, the awesome, and the AMAZING about this race first. For those of you who are new here and missed my previous posts, Rock the World was billed as a family friendly landmarked themed obstacle 5K and live music event. And I give major props to the race directors for their efforts taking on such a HUGE event. It was no small feat by any stretch of imagination and the time, talent, and bucks they poured into it was no doubt enormous.

First thing I loved about this race was the how they handled shuttling. Parking was limited at the race venue, so participants and spectators were told to park at the local high school and then were shuttled by school bus to the start. I’ve done this before for races and usually at some point wind up waiting around, either on the bus waiting for it to fill or on the sidewalk waiting for a bus to show up.  So I was kind of nervous when we pulled in the lot because I saw a bus was in the middle of loading. When you’ve got three kiddos in tow, that’s a lot of gear DSCF1290that has to go with you. It takes some time to get it all together. I was dreading we’d miss that bus and be stuck waiting forever with a couple of mischievous little girls with nothing to do. Not ideal. And we did miss that bus, but to my surprise, just as that bus pulled out another one pulled in and it was pretty much like that all day. No waiting at all. Love that. (As did The Tiger love her very first ride on schoooooool bus).

IMG216 (1) The shirts were really cool looking high quality tech shirts (in fact my 6 year old, The Little Miss, likes my shirt so much that she keeps  swiping it from me whenever she sees it anywhere. “I’m gonna ROCK. THE. WORLD!” She sings). The medals though, I thought those were even cooler. They were dog tags. I remember reading somewhere too that the idea here was to have a different tag at each Rock the World event with each one featuring a different obstacle so you could collect them. I thought that was a neat, different idea, something you don’t see at every race. Ours was Victoria Falls, since that was the big featured obstacle what with the world record attempt and all.
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But the most AMAZING thing about this race was hands down the location, Fitzgerald Park in Grand Ledge MI. Oh. My. Word. I had no idea something so gorgeous was sitting so close to me. At one point during the race, we’re back running through these trails in the woods and my sister, yells “Look over there!” You guys, there were these rock formations that were just absolutely stunning. I WISH I would have had my camera with me, but I was worried I was gonna muck it up in all the mud. If I am being entirely honest, I probably WOULD pay $50-$70 just to run A race there, all obstacles aside. It was that beautiful.

The course in and of itself was challenging. Pretty much all trail, some packed dirt trail, some single track, some seemed a little more make it yourself. But the course was also a little confusing, there were a couple of points where we weren’t sure which way we were supposed to run because there were arrows pointing in both directions. HOWEVER, we were told at the start that the course was designed to make you think a little. I’m ok with that.

The obstacles I’ll admit I was a little bummed on.  Some were really cool, like the giant slip and slide (Victoria Falls)100_8820In fact, I liked that one so much, I stuck around for the world record attempt so I could do it again. See how excited I was…
100_8822 I also really enjoyed the Oregon Trail, where you clipped yourself to the obstacle and weaved your way through, and the Amazon Jungle which was like a giant spider web. And the very first obstacle, Great Wall, while not very tough, was still fun, especially because we were still in view of our kiddos so we got to throw a little mud at them…
100_8797 RunSis going over
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RunDad about to hop into the mud
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Me wading through
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Sharing the muddy fun with (or at) our kids
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RunSis climbing down (this one gives you a good view of the entire obstacle)
But other obstacles were not complete, like the Statue of Liberty where you were supposed to “traverse your torch along the cable strung across the mud pits.” There was no mud. What fun is that? It was just a balance beam with a cable above it that you were supposed to clip your carabineer (AKA torch) to and walk across, but even at that when we got there the volunteer just told us not to even do that, but to just walk across the beam and don’t worry about clipping our “torches.”

Some obstacles were not as advertised. On the Swiss Alps for example, we were supposed to “Crawl across the sloping cargo nets suspended from high in the trees.” It was there, but when we got there the volunteer told us NOT to crawl across it and to just crawl underneath it. Huh? What was the point of going to all that trouble of stringing up the cargo net then? But I don’t necessarily blame the race for that. It’s quite possible the volunteer made a mistake and we just took her at her word. I mean, if you’re looking at a giant cargo net suspended by some trees and someone official looking says, “yeah, you’re just gonna want to go under that. Don’t try to go over.” I don’t know about you, but I listen.

Then there were some obstacles that were entirely not there or closed. Unsure of whether or not we just got a little confused on the course and missed some or if they actually weren’t there, I asked one of the race organizers about that. Turns out we didn’t miss them. They were nonexistent. Here was her response as to why:

Here is a brief breakdown on the situation with a few of the obstacles.  Each was for safety concerns before the race or during construction.


a. Eiffel Tower:  This design was solid but after standing the structure up, we felt that the overall safety of the obstacle was marginal and decided the risk was too high.


b. Mighty Mac:  A brief storm blew through the area where our ropes were to be anchored a few weeks prior to the event.  We tried to find decent supporting structure from other nearby tree’s but in the end could not do it.


c. Great Pyramid:  Our team transported all of the material out to the Pyramid site.  When it was time to construct the obstacle, a trained carpenter was brought in who noticed a number of design flaws with the blueprints.  The changes necessary would have been significant and would have required more time then was available.


Now, I realize leaving out obstacles that were advertised does not bode well for your race. BUT I appreciate that they didn’t just slap something together and call it good. I am GLAD that they had enough respect and concern for the safety of their participants to NOT include obstacles that weren’t safe. Was I disappointed? Yes. Mighty Mac & Great Pyramid were the two I was looking most forward to, but if they’re not safe, they’re not safe. End of story.

The “live music event” that was advertised was also a little lacking. Something happened and they didn’t end up having any bands except one, who didn’t start playing until after our wave, the last one on Saturday, had started. That made for a kind of quiet weird vibe at the start rather than a pump you up, rock the world sort of vibe you’d expect at the beginning of a race like this, or at least I did anyway.

The kids obstacle course that was promoted, could have used some official start times so that all the kids went at once (now I’m just being nit picky though). My kiddos were a little bummed that they were really just racing against themselves. A few trips through with mom though and they were good to go.
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All in all, we actually had a ton of fun. Here’s our little crew who ran including Speedy McSpeedster in the Middle. We had decided ahead of time, since this was our first obstacle course and we all had long runs to do in addition, we were just gonna take it easy. Not so for McSpeedster. He went full out and finished 7th overall, out of all the participants BOTH days. (Note the cooling station we apparently walked into when we stopped for the photograph.)100_8809 And I’ve got to tell you all the funniest thing thing that happened during the race.  About mid course we picked up a stray. He was on his own and kind of taking it easy like we were so we asked him if he wanted to join our little team. He said yes, and seemed like a nice enough guy. We had fun laughing and joking with him. Every once in awhile, he’d fall behind us, so we’d slow down and wait for him to catch up. Then, right when we got near the finish line, he just up and starts sprinting like man oh man, he was not going to let a one of us beat him! My husband, sister, and I all just kind of looked at each other and started giggling. But then it got better, because in his attempt to steal the title away from his adopted teammates of oh I don’t know, finisher number 457?, he totally ran the wrong way. Our buddy Speedy McSpeedster, who had finished a mere 20 minutes earlier was standing right where this guy THOUGHT the finish line was and kindly pointed him in the right direction. He thanked him and took off sprinting again. So funny.

Will I do this race again in the future? Sure! It may not be a risk life and limb to complete the obstacles designed by a 5th degree Navy Seal Ninja black belt with a death wish sort of course, but it was still fun and it’s a race I feel good about taking my kids too. It’s always a good time when we can make it a family event. And again, love that park!

The race organizers know they’ve got some work to do on the next one though. In fact, they’ve cancelled the Detroit event, which was supposed to be this fall in order to focus on making the one in Grand Ledge next year everything they had hoped it would be this year. I think that’s a wise move and I’ve got to give them credit for picking themselves up, dusting themselves off, using this as a learning experience and giving it another go. Isn’t that what we do as runners anyway? We don’t give up.

'Til next time...

P.S. Don't forget I'm running TWO giveaways right now! Win a FREE race entry here. And win yourself a copy of Train Like A Mother here.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Review & Giveway: Train Like A Mother


Before we begin, you should know, I did NOT want to read this book. In fact, I was dreading it. When the fine mother runners Dimity McDowell and Sarah Bowen Shea of Run Like A Mother fame, emailed me to see if I’d be interested in doing a review on the highly anticipated sequel, Train Like A Mother, I almost said “thanks, but no thanks.”

Why? I’ll tell ya why. The first one was so ridiculously fantastic (you can read all of my praises of that little gem here), that I didn’t want to be let down by the second. I mean think about it for a minute, be it book or movie, how often does the sequel live up to the original? Almost never. Am I right or what?

So reluctantly I agreed. But even once I had the book in my possession (way back in April), I couldn’t quite bring myself to crack that bright beautiful orange Crayola cover thinking, “really now, there’s no way this can be as good as the first. What else is there possibly left to say on the topic of mother running?” I wasn’t ready to handle that kind of disappointment and was afraid the fond memory of the first book might somehow be tarnished for all eternity if this book didn’t impress.

Finally though, one night, as rare as an uninterrupted trip to the bathroom (MOMMY! Are you in there?! I NEEEEED you!), I took a bath. (Just for clarification, I do take personal hygiene seriously and shower frequently albeit quickly. Lounging around in a bath tub on the other hand, that’s what I mean by rarity, not that I fail to scrub up on a somewhat regular basis).

And since I am now incapable of simply, sitting anywhere for any period of time without doing something, for fear of wasting precious seconds, I finally took a peek at Train Like a Mother. And just like a newbie runner finishing their first 5K, after just a couple of pages, I was hooked.

This book’s got all the same features I love about the original. Chapters that are not too long and not too short (they’re just right Goldilocks). Quotes from a TON of our fellow mother runners around the country. Stories and tips interspersed throughout. It’s just the focus is more on training for events this time around. Everything from a 5K to a Marathon. And what I love, love, LOVE the most is that there’s a training plan for tackling each distance for the first time, dubbed the “finish it” plans as well as the go on out there and grab a pr “own it” plans. And these are not your everyday average, here’s the mileage you need to run so just go do it training plans either. They’re super fun and totally designed for the super busy, over committed, totally fully life of your everyday average mom. (Seriously ladies, you are gonna LOVE these training plans!)

In fact, I like this book so much that when I first got it, I had this idea that I’d read it and then giveaway my copy. No way. No how. Not gonna happen! That book is mine all mine and sitting right at the very top of my favorites list to be read again. Fortunately for us though, those fine ladies of TLAM have agreed to GIVE away another copy to one of you! Aren’t they awesome?!  And because I just truly believe this book belongs on the shelf of EVERY mother runner out there, I’ve decided I’m going to go right ahead and match their generosity and buy another book myself to give away as well. So that’s right mamas! We’re going to give away not one, but TWO copies.

Now, pay close attention how we’re going to do this here because it’s not going to be one of the same old same old giveaways I usually run because for starters, I figure most of you have already joined the Another Mother Runner tribe by “liking” them on Facebook or if not you’re following Sarah and/or Dimity on Twitter. And if you ARE on Twitter or FB and you’re NOT doing one of those things, well, to be frank, you are SORELY missing out, not only on all things mother runner related, (inspirational, motivational, humorous, practical, fun, and sometimes just plain silly) but more importantly perhaps, you are also missing out on RUNNING GIVEAWAYS GALORE. So you may want to just go knock that off your to do list right now before you read any further. It’s ok….I’ll wait…Go ahead. :-)

Back already? Great!


Since this is a mother runner related giveaway, we’re going to give a mommy style caption contest a go. (Don’t worry. If you’re fully exhausted from a day of chasing around a 3 year old and feel sort of like you may be lacking in brain cells and/or creativity at the moment, trust me, I’ve been there. So I’ve got a way for you to enter too.)

Here’s the details:

Required
1) You must follow this blog somehow. You can do it via email (upper left), a reader (on the right), Twitter, or FB. But like always, if you’re not paying attention at least a little, you’ll have no idea that you won and it can be pretty complicated tracking people down. So this one’s a must.

2) Leave me a comment to let me know you want in the giveaway.
And that’s it! Do those two steps and you’re in the drawing for the first book! HOWEVER, if you’d like to better your odds of winning, leave me a caption on the photo below of The Tiger on our recent trip Up North (for those of you not from around MI, Up North is the official term we give any vacationable city north of the middle of The Mitten but below the Upper Peninsula. And for those of you who are wondering, travel to the Upper Peninsula is affectionately referred to by us south of the bridge as going to the U.P. See! Stick around and you’ll learn all kinds of cool stuff here).

Here’s the photo…

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You can caption it here or on FB here, doing so in either location will earn you 5 extra entries into this drawing for your very own copy of Train Like A Mother. But listen carefully this next part, for those of you who leave your caption on this photo of mine on my FB blog page, I will take the top 5 captions with the most likes and do a separate drawing between the 5 of you for the other copy. So I’d highly encourage you to leave your caption there and maybe let a few friends know you did so.
Deadline to enter this contest is Thursday, August 9th 2012, at 11:59:59 PM. I will let each of my little girly girls draw one winner the following day and announce the winners that night on my blog. AND I will tell you exactly what that silly picture was all about as well.

Good luck! Have fun!


'Til next time...

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Clean Bottle Winner

First of all, I have to say, I completely love that you all seemed to be as enthused about this water bottle as I am. We are totally cut from the same mold. :-)  And as such, I'm sure you've all enjoyed those Bottle Boy posts from the Clean Bottle folks on Facebook as much as I have.

Sadly though, we can only have one winner here. If that winner my 6 year old Little Miss drew out of a big bowl of names just moments ago doesn't happen to be you, don't panic. You can get your own Clean Bottle here for less than $10 or you can stop by your local Dick's, GNC, or REI, among other places, and pick one up if there's no time to mess with all that shipping nonsense (there's hydrating to be done gosh darn it!).

But without further ado, that ONE winner of our Clean Bottle is...

MICHELLE B.

So yes, Michelle B., to answer your question, you did post your very first blog comment right! In fact, I'd say you ought to comment a little more often. Congratulations! Send me an email at runfastmommy@gmail.com and I'll fill you in on all the details.

As for the rest of you, don't forget there's still time to get in on that giveaway for a FREE ENTRY to a MI race of your choice thanks to Renewal By Andersen of Detroit. You can find all the details on that here. AND I still have another review/giveaway coming, hopefully tomorrow, that you don't want to miss. (Train Like A Mother anyone?) So stick around., there's good stuff to come.

'Til next time...

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Sleep is winning

And I don’t like it, but I feel almost entirely powerless to stop it.

Marathon training is rough this time around ladies and gentlemen. ROUGH. And I don’t mean the ridiculous number of miles I’m running, or the sweltering heat that seems to be plaguing the nation. It’s finding the time to get those runs in AND meet my RDA of vitamin shuteye.

I miss the good ole days. You know, back when I had two wee ones who napped daily and slept through the night regularly making that 4:30 or 5:30 am wakeup call no big thing. I might have been tired when that alarm went off, but I knew that come 2:00ish I’d be snuggled up in bed making up some of those precious Zzzzzz’s. **Insert wistful sigh here**

Those days are long gone. Now, with 3 sweet little girlies ages 9 months, 3 years, and 6 years, it’s highly likely I’m not sleeping through the night without somebody waking up because of a nightmare or a potty trip or a bottle. I stay up late, probably too late, coaching my magnificent mama runners and trying to salvage what remains of my desperately cluttered house. And with 100% certainty I can tell you that someone is waking up tomorrow AM at the butt crack of dawn.

If I don’t make the million trips back and forth to their rooms, and rather succumb to their pouty faces letting them sleep in my bed, then I’m really in for it. I’ll spend the rest of the night scrounging whatever sleep I can muster on the teeny tiniest little sliver of bed you can possibly imagine with a 3 or 6 year old sprawled out diagnolly across it and constantly having one stray limb or another come out of nowhere to land across my face.  Not exactly restful.

Naps? Please. Perhaps if I’m lucky, the stars align, pigs take to flight, and a certain rather toasty location freezes over, two will go down for a nap at the same time, but even so my oldest will have a million things to tell me what with no one awake to share the stage with and all making the odds of my ever recouping up a little lost sleep mid afternoon slim to none.

On a good day, I’m operating on 6 hours of sleep. Usually it’s far less. And I don’t say all this to whine and complain that I’m not getting enough sleep, because yes, I fully realize that there are very noble people out there operating on far less doing amazing things. (Our troops overseas for one, every mother everywhere another). I only tell you all this to share a little of my training frustration at the moment, a little peek behind the curtain so to speak.

And it’s not that I can’t wake up early when my training schedule calls for it in spite of all this. In fact, I do wake up AND actually GET up every time. The problem is when I get up and start getting ready to go, I slide into this thought pattern, “Really? You are really going to go run these 18 miles on 3 hours of sleep. Do you realize what sort of grumpy ferocious monster you are going to be when mid-afternoon comes around?” Then I think of how those sweet little precious faces of those girls of mine are going to be so heartbreakingly sad when my patience meter is on empty later that afternoon and I snap at them unwarranted. They deserve better than that. So I go back to bed.

This means I’ve been running my long runs at 8PM or later on the treadmill in my basement. This is not only completely non-enjoyable by any stretch of the imagination and not exactly an ideal way to train (completely insane may also be applicable here), it’s also WAY easier to simply…stop. You just step off the treadmill and when you do, you are mere feet away from your couch, shower, or bed. As opposed to when you just stop out there on your favorite running route. You can stop running 8 miles out on your long run, but you’ve still got to get back. Might as well run.

And stop on a TM long run I have, at least twice, and called it a day making a bee line for my calendar to count out the weeks remaining for the Marquette Marathon to make sure I’ve still got time to make up whatever long run I bowed out of. So far, I’ve been safe because I always build a little “just in case” time into my training plans, but with 6 weeks left now. There’s no room for error. I either hit the rest of the runs on the training plan or Marquette is going to eat me alive. (No pressure or anything right?).

So, I need a little help my runner friends. Give me your best early morning motivational lines and maybe a few here’s how you can keep the kiddos occupied so you can rest tips would be helpful too. And in the meantime, I’m going to work on getting to bed BEFORE midnight in order to actually get enough sleep to make it through a day (so feel free to message me on Twitter, FB, or email and remind me to get to bed any random day between now and September 1st if you feel so inclined.) I’ll start tomorrow though. Tonight, I still have to go run :-P

 'Til next time...

P.S. Have you gotten in on my giveaways yet? Clean bottle giveaway here. Free race entry here. AND one more REALLY fun giveaway later this week!

Monday, July 16, 2012

Giveaway: FREE RACE ENTRY

Sound the alarm! This one’s a biggie!

Remember how I recently went on and on singing lavish praises about Renewal by Andersen of Detroit and their active role in the local running community? (No? Missed that one? You can read more about that and how to run races for free here.)

Well, now’s your chance to do the same and sing a few praises of your own! You see, I recently won a free race entry from Renewal thanks to you all and your many votes on my “favorite picture of me running” contest entry. (Woohoo!!! Brooksie Way it shall be!) One of the perks that came with this little victory of mine is a free running shirt, a tech t, that looks like this:renewalshirtPretty sweet right? The thing is, I already have one because I’ve run a race on the Renewal by Andersen team already. Here’s me with the fine looking group of runners I ran with (or way behind, whatever) at the Solstice Run back in June.

renewalsolsticeteam

(I’m the one with the hat and sunglasses on btw. I like to run in disguise like I’m some kind of really important celebrity mixing with the commonfolk at races. Or ok…maybe I just don’t like the sun in my eyes & the sweat in my face. That might be it too. ;-) )

So anyway, since I already have a shirt myself and since I’m always looking out for you all, I figured I’d see if the Brilliant Brandon Coats, brains behind the Renewal Running Team, would be game for sending one of you guys a shirt instead of me. They’re pretty cool after all. Really soft. In fact SO cool, that I actually had somebody run up next to me during the race to compliment me on my shirt. Can’t say THAT has ever happened before. But I really don’t need two. So why not share the love?

Do you know what the Brilliant Benevolent Brandon told me? He not only said sure, he’d be willing to do that, but he also said let’s throw a FREE race entry in there with it!  Can you say: chompin’ at the bit! I knew you all would TOTALLY dig that!

Now, this free entry is for a race of your choice, but only out of the ones listed on their FB page here. And before you shrug this off at the sight of all the local metro Detroit races my out of state friends, you should note that this Brooksie Way race, the one I picked from Renewal’s list to run, was recently chosen as one of eleven most scenic fall half marathons in the good ole U.S. of A. by Active last year. Not too shabby eh?

You could totally make it your fall “destination” race and then shoot me an email and I’ll fill you in on all the other cool stuff to do around these parts while you’re in town!

So how do you win this FREE ENTRY and super sweet running tech shirt? Easy peasy…

Required for entry:

1) Follow this blog somehow. It really doesn’t matter to me how you do it, just that you do. And on your end, it’s a little easier to find out if you win if you’re paying at least some attention every now and then. So subscribe by email, follow with a reader, or on FB or Twitter. Any method will do.

2) Like Renewal by Andersen on Facebook here. Don’t panic my FB holdouts! If you don’t have a FB account, just go proxy your “like” by getting someone else you know to “like” Renewal for you. And if it happens to be a non-runner in MI, let them know that Renewal is at a LOT of really fun non-running events too. For example, they were recently giving away parking passes for the Howell Balloonfest which is SO fun, but parking is not cheap. I think it was like $20. So see! It’d totally be worth their while to like Renewal even if they DON’T run! Besides, non-runners could use doors and windows every now & then too.

3) Leave me a comment on this blog so I know you want in. If you have any trouble with the comments, then just shoot me an email at runfastmommy@gmail.com and we’ll get you entered that way, but remember, you’ve got to do the first two steps too!

And badda boom badda bing, you’re in! But I know some of you really really REALLY want to run Brooksie for free and you’d like to better your chances of winning, so I will give you one additional entry in the giveaway for each different way you promote the contest. You can tweet it, share this post on FB, write a blog post, add a link to your website, talk about it in your favorite online running communities, email your friends, whatever you can think of. Limit 5 additional entries. Just make sure you let me know in the comments what exactly you did to promote this giveaway.  (Only one comment is necessary per entry, unless you feel compelled to leave multiple comments. Then by all means, have at it. FYI: I read every. Single. One.)

All entries MUST be received by Monday, July 30th, 2012 at 11:59:59 PM. The winner will be randomly selected the next day from a big bowl of names by whichever one of my little girlies did NOT get to pick the winner of the Clean Bottle Giveaway (still up for grabs through the 24th btw!) so that life is fair and all is good in this little household of mine. You’ll have 48 hours to claim your prize that way the Brilliant Benevolent Bodacious Brandon can get on to registering you for the event of your choice (so start thinking of which race you want to run should you win, pronto!). If the winner does not respond, we’ll rinse and repeat until we find one who does.

Best of luck!

 'Til next time...

P.S. I’ve got ANOTHER giveaway, to post this week! Come on now, you can say it. Who’s your favorite blogger?

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Review + Giveaway: Clean Bottle

Runner ipod_665kb I know. A water bottle is a water bottle is a water bottle. Right? Except for when it’s more than JUST a water bottle.

This is really cool you guys. In fact, it quite possibly may have earned that prestigious title of “most favorite piece of running gear that I’ve had the chance to get my mitts on so far.” A title I’ve yet to award to anything. And yes, IT’S A WATER BOTTLE. I can hardly believe it myself. But you know it’s got to be good, when your husband swipes it from you just about every chance he gets even though he thinks it’s a little tight on his freakishly large basketball palming hands. And you scramble around the house yourself, risking missing your race start, just to find it (ok…that and my sunglasses. I was looking for those too. Do you sense a theme with me?). And to think, I almost passed on this review thinking really, how many water bottles does one need?! I have plenty.

Clean bottle is a non-toxic, BPA free 22 ounce water bottle unique in itsCleanBottle12 design because it not only unscrews from the top, but also from the bottom making it super easy to clean. (Can you believe it took so long  to come up with this idea? Why exactly this has not been a standard feature on ALL water bottles, I have no idea). It’s dishwasher safe, which is pretty much a requirement at my house. (Why hand wash when you’ve got a perfectly good appliance to handle that nonsense for you?) There’s a LIFETIME guarantee on it AND they are donating 10% of their profits to a charity of their customers’ choosing. (Voting is happening right now here.)

But it gets better. Well, technically, it first got worse THEN it got better. I’ve had this bottle for awhile now, a few months at least. After maybe half a dozen uses, I noticed that it started to leak around the nozzle. I was totally bummed and really dragging my feet to send an email back to Sarah from Smack Media, one of my favorite PR companies, who had sent the bottle to me in the first place and break the news to her that I might not have the most favorable review to write. I finally did, asking if perhaps I had managed to receive a defective one. Before she could reply though, my husband, after giving the bottle his first trial run, came home all, “Did you know?…” Some of it I did, but one thing I didn’t know is that the little tiny nozzle piece ENTIRELY COMES OUT! I gasped sensing immediately the engineering marvel that lie before me.

DSCF1504

The very small, but most troublesome part of all other water bottles I have ever used, the part that had always seemed so difficult to clean, had been perfected in such a simple way. Brilliant.

“Yeah, I noticed your bottle was leaking and I remembered from that episode of ‘Shark Tank’ when the Clean Bottle Guy (Dave Mayer) was on, that the nozzle came out. Yours was a little cockeyed, so I just turned it a touch and gave it a little shove. It’s not leaking now,” he told me. “NOWAY!” I shouted back unable to contain my enthusiasm. My bottle wasn’t leaking at all. I just failed to read about all the features before putting it to the test. Silly me.

But I’m not done telling you about this little gem. The one Smack sent me is the Runner. It’s got this little apparatus attached to it so that you can just slide your fingers through to keep it on your hand even when you get all sweaty out running miles and miles in the blazing hot summer sun. It’s adjustable and fits my hand comfortably. Now, on the other hand, RunDad says it’s a little tight on him once he gets running and his hand swells a little as they tend to do, but I noticed that hasn’t stopped him from using it every time he heads out the door. HA!

PLUS that same little nameless apparatus, also has a clear holder on the front of it for your phone or ipod or I suppose whatever you’d like to put in there. Sadly, my phone doesn’t fit. The holder is 2.5 by 5 inches and at this time there’s only one size. My husband’s Blackberry fits just fine though. But I did fairly recently drop my phone and crack the screen (Awesome. Just awesome.) and I can tell you this much, I am TOTALLY taking in my Clean Bottle when I go pick out a new phone. (Yes, fast talking phone sales person, that is an awesome phone with a million different unbelievably amazing functions, but can you fit it in my water bottle holder thingy, cause if not, find me something else. Thank-you.)

Still. Not. Done.

Do I sound like an infomercial yet? I was sent the bottle for free to try under the condition that I’d write a review. But I promise you, I have not been paid a dime to write it. These are purely my own gushing praises (although, if they want to send me some moola after this. I won’t turn it down. I’ll buy you all Clean Bottles ;-) )

One more feature I have to tell you about, then I’ll get to giving somebody one. IT HOLDS GU!!!

Runner_Gu

Or whatever gel you prefer. How sweet is that? No pockets, no belt. It’s all attached to your water bottle.

Initially, I didn’t think I would like holding something in my hand while running, but I’ve actually found after the first few miles, just like with my fuel belt, I forget about it and could really care less. I don’t even notice it’s there. It’s fast become my go to bottle of choice.

solstic finish That’s me in the green Renewal By Andersen Shirt crossing the finish line when I ran the Solstice Run a couple weeks back on their team. Notice what I’m carrying? No way, I’d carry it in a race if it bugged me even a little bit.

Want one? Who are we kidding? OF COURSE YOU DO!!! Well, the amazing Sarah of Smack Media is giving me one to give away! Woohoo!!! You only have to do 3 things to be entered into the drawing to receive one. And don’t panic, I’m SURE you’ve already done at least one of them, and even if you haven’t, all 3 things will take you less than a minute. Get your click finger ready.

REQUIRED:

1) You must be a follower somehow of this blog. Either on Facebook, Twitter, through a reader (look over there to the right where it says “join this site” click that to see what I mean), or by subscribing through email (upper left). Sorry to force you to in some way pay attention to what I’m doing here, but through many giveaways I have learned it can really be difficult to track down the winner if they’re not in any way paying attention.

2) Either “Like” Clean Bottle on Facebook here or Follow them on Twitter here. And that’s probably a good idea even if you already have a Clean Bottle or you’re just not really interested in entering the contest at this time because currently their mascot, Bottle Boy, is running the Tour De France. I. Am. Not. Kidding.

Bottle Boy at the Tour! - YouTube-1 So there ought to be some pretty interesting posts/tweets. (Sidenote: I laugh every time I think of this picture since Sarah emailed it to me earlier today).

What’s that you say? No FB or Twitter account. No problem. Just go tell that friend and/or family member that’s always starting conversations with “I saw he posted on FB…” or  “I heard through Twitter that…” to go do it for you. They can like them in your place. Problem solved.

3) Leave me a comment to let me know you want to enter. Because I don’t know you want in unless you tell me! I’ve removed the captcha’s to make it a little easier for you to do so and also because I had heard through the grapevine that they made it way too hard for you all to talk to me. Now, I get a ridiculous amount of spam comments everyday, (Anyone need any Viagra? Because there’s all sorts of anonymous commenters on my blog now who seem to think you do) but that’s ok because I cherish your witty retorts just that much.

And that’s pretty much it! Once you’ve done all 3 things, you’ll be entered to win your very own highly coveted Clean Bottle. You have until 11:59:59 PM on Tuesday, July 24th, 2012. I’ll put all the names in a hat (because that’s how I roll. Old school style.) and let one of my little girlies pick out the winner the next day.  I’ll announce it when they do. If you’d like to double your chances, in some way share this contest: FB, Twitter, your blog, a running community, email all your friends, upload a video about it on Youtube and make it go viral, write a ballad and sing it from atop a table at the lunch room of your place of employment, whatever. Just be sure to let me know what you did to help spread the word about this giveaway and I’ll stick your name in the hat twice. 

Best of luck!


'Til next time...

P.S. While you're tooling around on FB “liking” Clean Bottle and seeing what everybody’s up to, could you do me a favor? I’m trying to win a free race entry to a local half marathon this fall. Could you give my entry a big FB thumbs up by liking my “favorite picture of me running” entry here. I think it’s a fairly likeably picture. Pretty sure you’ll recognize it too. Thanks so much!

Monday, July 9, 2012

Epic Ice Bath Fail

There’s only three steps. Fill the tub with enough cold water to cover your thighs. Add ice. Get in. Not that complicated right?

And for those of you who are wondering why on earth someone would impose just such a form of self inflicted torture, it’s a quick easy way to ice all the parts that are going to hurt the next day following a long run (or other hard workout) thus reducing inflammation and a whole lot of pain. I swear by them. Any runs over 10 miles, I’m taking the icy plunge.

But leave it to me, to err at something so simple. Following my 16 mile treadmill run that ended at 11:30PM (that’s a whole other story to come soon), I turned the knob to let the tub start to fill and walked away for a moment. When I returned the water was at just the right level, so shut off the faucet and took the tray of ice that I had brought upstairs with me from the freezer and dumped it in.

It melted.

**SIGH** I had only one shot at this since it was already so late. No chance I was leaving the house to go find ice somewhere. All I really wanted was to go to bed (not sure why though since I didn’t fall asleep until after 4:30 AM. Again, story for another day). I tried to get in before the little teeny remnants of cubes were totally gone thinking perhaps the water would be just cold enough to help at least a little.

It wasn’t totally warm, but I didn’t have to hold my breath any when I got in (a sure sign of ice bath success). I sat there for a couple of minutes, but figured it was pretty pointless so I just took a hot shower instead (because if you’re going to blow it you might as well go all out right?).

Following my “ice bath” I sat down to write you all on FB and answer a couple of messages. I was maybe 15 minutes. Then I got up to take the ice cube tray back downstairs.

I thought about crying for a minute. My legs hurt that bad. Ok…maybe I’m exaggerating a little ;-) But they WERE already sore. THIS is never a good sign. This morning, I was pretty sure stairs were out to get me. And there’s a good chance my kids were in on the plan since it seemed like I kept having to go up and down them a little more than I usually do for one reason or another involving the little rascals.

I’m happy to report though that it was pretty short lived. Just a slightly twingey right achilles remains, but today was an off day so no big deal. I expect by tomorrow it’ll be back in line with all the rest of my parts so that I can get in that scheduled run.

But for future reference lesson learned: Always. Check. The. Water. Temperature. BEFORE. Walking. Away. 

 'Til next time...

P.S. The first of those review/giveaways that I promised you all last night on FB & Twitter is coming tomorrow and I’ve gotta say, this might quite possibly be my most favorite piece of running gear that I’ve reviewed so far AND I’ve got one up for grabs! So don’t miss it!

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

11 Ways to Run Races for Free

Because let’s face it, entry fees are on the rise at the same time everybody seems to be tightening their proverbial belts. Even if you’re not one of the many who hold their breath a little as they click the link to find out what that super sweet looking race/mudrun/obstacle course/triathlon/duathlon is going to set them back, really, who doesn’t love a free (or very inexpensive) race?

Here’s a few ways you can still enjoy all the fun of a race for little to no out of pocket cost:

1) Run for Charity. Team in Training, who raises funds for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, are perhaps the most well known, well put together organization for doing this. With TNT, you raise a certain amount of money for a most worthy cause, and they pay your race entry and travel fees. The best part of their program perhaps though, is that you’re not alone in doing this. You’ve got all kinds of support from your team not only with the fundraising, but also with your training for whatever event you’ve selected to run.

2) Run Sponsored. FREEZE! DO NOT BLOW BY THIS ONE. You DO NOT necessarily have to be a running super star to run an event sponsored. Case in point: Renewal by Anderson. This year, in my area, Brandon Coats, came up with this genius idea to have his company, Renewal by Anderson of Detroit, a stellar window and door replacement company, sponsor local runners at various races. You don’t have to qualify in any way. You just have to be willing to run a race with their renewalshirtshirt on. That’s it. Period. (And it’s actually a pretty sweet shirt as you can see. First time I ever had somebody run up next to me in a race JUST to tell me they liked my shirt was at the Solstice Run I ran a couple weeks ago as one of their sponsored runners). Good for the community. Good for the runners. Good PR for them. It’s win win win all the way around!

And Renewal’s not the only ones with an athlete sponsorship program. 3D Racing here in MI sponsors triathletes across the state. Nuun has an ambassador program that sponsors athletes (although stricter criteria for that one, you do either have to be fast or have a following to be a Nuun Ambassador) as well. If these companies do it, surely there are more. Probably one near you. Take a look at what companies in your area are sponsoring races and are involved in the running community. Check out their FB pages, Twitter accounts, give them a call or even stop by their actual brick and mortar location to see if sponsorship is something they do or for that matter, would be something they’d consider. Perhaps you can be the one to light the fire under their sponsorship program!

3) Win an Entry. You might be surprised how often race entries are up for grabs. Not to keep tooting Renewal by Andersen’s horn but yeah, I’m gonna go ahead and do that. Why? They deserve it. Any company that will actually set aside a portion of their budget JUST to sponsor your everyday average runner at some local events is tops in my book. (If I ever need windows or doors, I’ll give you one guess where I’m going!), Since they’ve started getting so many requests by runners to participate on their team, they’ve also decided to run a contest right now on their FB page for some of the most highly coveted race entries in MI. If you submit your favorite picture of you running and are one of the three with the most likes, you get first choice of which race you’d like to run. (For those of you who are on FB and would like to show me a little love, here’s the link to my entry. And if you’d like to show a little support to Brandon for everything he’s doing for the MI running community, here’s his picture. If you decide to enter a picture yourself, be sure to let me know and we’ll send it out to the whole SOARM family to give you a like.)

But again, Renewal’s not the only one running a free race entry contest. Runningshoes.com just had one to the Falmouth Road Race in Cape Code (I’m a finalist. Wanna see my entry? It’s here.  Feel free to share it or like it, but I don’t really think that matters anymore. Staff decides who wins on the 6th. You know you’ll hear about it if I win & really you should all cross your fingers that I do because look at this silly elevation chart. HA! Fun times.) Detroit Runner is currently giving away free entry to the Griffith Park Trail Half Marathon & 10K in CA. I gave away a couple myself to Rock The World a month or so ago.

Sometimes you have to do something to enter a contest, like my “runspiration” for the Running Shoes giveaway. Sometimes it’s a simple as telling a blogger you want in or just “liking” a fan page on FB, but those entries are out there. Keep an eye out and don’t forget to give your highly sought after race + free entry a Google. You might be surprised with what you find.

4) Work at a Vendor Booth at an Expo. A lot of times vendors get free race entries for buying their booth and they’re quite often willing to share those with the people who do a little work for them at the expos. Now, before you’re turned off by the whole “work” aspect of this one (as if you already don’t have enough work to do with your kiddos right?), you should know that not only is working a vendor booth at an expo very unlike work (socializing with your fellow running peeps while chatting about some sweet running gear and the race at hand), but it’s also often a paying gig.

I worked the Monumental Marathon Expo a couple years back for Chica Bands. My travel expenses to a really cool city (Indy) were covered, I made a few bucks, could have raced if I wanted to, met some amazing mother runners AND I went home with a couple of Chica Bands of my choice. See? Very unlike work. And Chica Bands aren’t the only ones looking for some help at expos. I’ve seen the requests from a whole host of other companies. It’s highly likely if you’ve seen them at an expo, they could use a hand at a future event. And for some of the BIG events, this could save you beaucoup bucks.

5) Volunteer at an Event. Races take A LOT of people to make happen. They simply can’t go on without volunteers (and I thank you from the bottom of my heart if you’ve ever been so kind as to volunteer at a race). Race directors are often times willing to give free or discounted entries to people who volunteer to help before, during or after an event. Sometimes the discount or free entry is for a future race. Sometimes, you get a discount or free entry for the same event you volunteer for. Rock the World, the obstacle 5K I just ran, let volunteers register for just $20. That’s more than $50 off the price of the race. Pretty good deal if you ask me! Running Fit, a chain of running shops across MI, gives a $30 discount that can be applied to ANY of their many races if you spend a little time volunteering. It’s a pretty common strategy to get help to make these events a go. And hey! It’s always good to give a little back to the running community that gives us so much.

6) Win an Event. Yep, you’ve gotta be a fastie for this one! Some races or series of races will give their winners free entry into the next one. This is not something exclusive to big events either. I’ve seen it done on the local level as well. So if you’ve really got some get up and go in those legs of yours, be sure to check out what the awards are for the top runners and also as important, actually stick around for the awards presentation when your race is over so you can claim your prize.

7) Review a Race. If you happen to have a blog, this one’s for you! Since you’re probably going to write about your race experience anyway, why not fire off an email to the race director to see if they’re looking for a little PR? Or at the very least, make a little notation on your blog somewhere that you ARE willing to do race reviews. That way, should just the right person stumble onto your blog, voila! They’ll know that yes, yes you are willing to run for free and put in a few good (but always honest) words for them. Usually this works better with local and/or fairly new events, but hey if you can score yourself a big entry, jammin’. One major lesson I’ve learned since I’ve had kids is that it never hurts to ask. My 6yr old isn’t afraid to (politely) ask anybody for anything and more often than not, it works out for her. Be bold. All they can do is say no thanks.

8) Register Early. Most races offer early bird discounts, so if you’ve got that race on your bucket list and you’re fairly certain it’s gonna be a go, it may be worth forking over the cash early. I’ve run races as inexpensive as $10-15 just because I signed up really really early. BONUS: You don’t have to worry about it selling out!

9) Use Social Media. I know some of you are hold outs (ahem... RunSis!)But I can’t think of an easier way to find out about deals, specials and giveaways then with Facebook and Twitter. If you have privacy concerns, I totally understand, but did you know it is entirely up to you how much information you share? If you are concerned about privacy, set up an account, put nothing on it, accept and send out no friend requests. Just use your account to like various running blogs, companies and events and check it every once in a while to see if there’s something that interests you. Whenever I see a runningish promotion that I think you all might be interested I post it on FB & Twitter. If you do decide to take that leap, you can follow me on Twitter here of Facebook here and I’ll do my best to let you know about any contests I see. And if YOU notice one or you run one yourself that you haven’t noticed me post about, please don’t hesitate to let me know & I’ll get it up ASAP.

One other plus to Social Media is if you do become some kind of FB or Twitter guru or you already are, with lots of people paying attention to what you say, race directors may be more interested in having you at their event because chances are you’ll talk about it. Much like some people leverage their blog for free race entry, so too can you leverage your FB page or Twitter account. “Hey local race director, I’ve got 6,000 people following me on Twitter and I'd really like to run your race, any chance you’d be willing to pass on a free entry to me if I give you my solemn oath to tweet the snot out of it?” (“tweet the snot out of it” that’s correct Twitter lingo right? I have no idea. I stink at Twitter.) 

DSCF7181   10) Make sure your friends and family know you like to run races or at least that you run. You don’t have to annoy them with incessant chatter about running or anything, but if they don’t know you run, they can’t tell you when their friend had to back out last minute of some race and they’re looking for someone to take their spot so they can at least get their shirt. Things happen. Stuff comes up. Put yourself in a position where when it does, you’re the first person that pops to mind.

11) Sponsor an Event. Ok yes, technically this would cost you or your business money, but it might be a good investment to get the word out about your company and increase your bottom line if you sponsor a race in your target market. BUT even if you don’t own a business, this could still be an option for you. Pitch the idea to the company you or your spouse work for OR try to sweet talk a business owner you know. Perhaps they’d like the idea of improving name recognition by taking a larger role in the community and sponsoring a local race. Or perhaps they’d like to drop info about their company, maybe even a discount coupon of some sort, into the swag bag of a few hundred or a thousand runners. If so and the event passes on free race entries to their sponsors, who better to share those entries with than the one who came up with the idea!

So that’s all I got mamas. But I know some of you out there probably have more ideas, so please feel free to leave us a comment and share!


'Til next time...

P.S. Details/Review on my FIRST obstacle 5K, Rock the World, that I ran this weekend coming soon!