Monday, February 26, 2018

Bringing home Medal #3 - The Festival Foods Granddad Half Marathon!

Disclaimer:  I received a race entry to Festival Foods Grandad Half Marathon as part of being a BibRave Pro.  Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave 
to review, find and write race reviews.

WOW!  It seems like it's been forever since I last raced.  And, in actuality - it's been almost 6 months!  To me that seems crazy and up until a few weeks ago, I didn't have anything on my 2018 race calendar.  To be honest, part of me didn't care all that much.  The other part, craved the finish line.  

My last huge race was Grandma's Marathon in June.  This was my redemption race; my 2nd marathon.  Same race.  Same course.  My finish resulted in a 23 minute PR and I was over-the-moon!  But, then came the runner crash.  The elation of not having to train with countless miles and hours on the road - the ability to just enjoy my running with no goal in mind.  

Life got super busy. I took on a new business opportunity that has taken my focus away from ONLY running and focusing on other areas of my health and fitness.   But, to my core, I am a runner.  I love it.  I crave it. 

Which brings me to the Spring racing season.  I went from no races on the calendar to three within only three weeks!  Normally, that would be too much but I start with a 15K in mid-April at the Allstate Hot Chocolate 15K.   I will then be in New York on a getaway with my sister and my mom and I absolutely CANNOT, I say that in big letters, miss out on an opportunity to run a 10K race through Central Park.  It's a no-brainer right?  

I will end with my hometown race.  The Festival Foods Granddad Half Marathon.  I am SO excited for this opportunity.  This race takes place in La Crosse, WI and touches on so may nice qualities about my little town.  The race starts on the beautiful bluff that overlooks the entire city. It then meanders 1 1/2 miles down the bluff, through residential streets with the finish along the river just past the iconic blue bridges! 

The post-race celebration will be sure to include beer and bratwurst and there is always activities for the kids too!  If you'd like to check out my last race review check it out here.

The medals are amazing and I'm very excited to add a third to my collection! 

I have been really focusing on my strength training over the last 6 months and I have definitely noticed a difference in my speed.  My comfortable runs are now in the 8:50's so I hope to push myself for this race and PR this course.  My best time for this race was a 1:59:00.  My half marathon PR is 1:54:45 - I think I can do it!  

If you want to join me, reach out!  I will have a discount code SOON for you at registration!  

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Super Connected, Zero Gravity! My review of the Under Armour HOVR Sonic

Disclaimer:  I received the Under Armour HOVR Sonic running shoes to use and review as part of being a BibRave Pro.  Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave 
to review, find and write race reviews.

Runners are a specific breed.  We like our running gear to be perfect;  especially our shoes.  After-all, it's our shoes that can make or break our performance in a run.   When we find a running shoe that works for our very particular feet it's certainly hard to get us to sway our opinion or even glance an eye at another shoe brand.   

Over the last seven years, I have been very loyal to one brand.  However, I must say, after wearing the Under Armour HOVR Sonic exclusively for 6 weeks,  I think I've found a new favorite!  

A few characteristics that makes a running shoes appealing for my tastes and specifications are: 

  • Comfort
  • Light-weight
  • Breathability
  • Cushion
  • Durability
  • Style
These shoes check off those boxes.   PLUS!  Later in the post, I will talk about the technology INSIDE these smart shoes that make them appealing! 

Upon receiving these shoes I was, in my 'girly-girl' fashion, very pleased with the color.  They are a vibrant coral color and look very sharp!  Don't worry if this color isn't your favorite, of course they have different colors to choose from.  I noticed that they were incredibly lightweight and the zero gravity technology helped me feel light on my feet.   They are constructed of mesh material and fit snug but not too tight.  I ordered true to size and I always size up 1/2 size.  These shoes fit perfect. 

I immediately took them for my first run on the treadmill and was happily surprised at just how comfortable they felt.  

What gives these particular shoes an edge up on the competition is the RECORD SENSOR technology inside the shoe!  Did you know that these shoes have the ability to give you detailed metrics of your runnning?  They sure do!  The idea behind this shoe is so that every runner can be connected with an individulized training plan that uses your own specific stats.  The shoe works hard for you so you can get your best results!  

With the UA MapMyRun application these shoes sync effortlessly and you are on your way to finding out ways to improve your running.  How cool is that? 

To get started, you are asked to perform a jump test.  The directions are simple and once your jump test is completed, you are given a detailed summary of your training options and your fatigue reports.  I found that when I was consistent with doing my jumping tests before my run,  the results for how hard I should push were spot on!    As you can see from the data below, I had a range of fatigue reports where some days I was told to run easy, and other days I was told to run hard!  

When my runs were completed, I was also provided with data that included my pace, cadence, stride length and distance.  This is the area that I would say does need to fine-tuning.  Although I'd like to tell people I can maintain some of these paces, I found that the data had me running about 15-30 seconds faster than I actually was.  I  didn't find this to be burdensome because I'm always relying on my watch for particular pace goals anyway. 

I DID however find the fatigue reports and training schedules a VERY helpful tool.  One feature I really enjoyed was your goal race time.  You can plug into MapMyRun your goal race and time and the shoes will help you train by giving you your own personalized training plan and adjust as necessary depending on your individual fatigue reports.  Now THAT'S smart technology. 

Now let's talk performance! 

Due to the insanity that is the Minnesota Winter, it's been bitterly cold with temperatures far below zero for most of the month of January and into February.  This left me with most of my miles on the treadmill this month.  However, I did get to test the shoes outdoors on several occasions.  A couple of occasions even after fresh snow!  I was pleasantly surprised at the traction control these shoes had and the road felt amazing under my feet.  No blisters, no hot spots, no rubbing.  A+ for comfort. 

My only negative is that once I took these shoes to the road, and with our sloppy conditions with snow and slush, the front toe box of these shoes became dirty quickly.  I'm someone who tries to keep my shoes as clean as possible for as long as possible, so this bothered me a bit.  In one particular run, the wetness did seep onto my toes.  A suggestion I would have is to increase the covered area of the toe box to help with splash-up during the run.  You can see this by my photo below.   

All in all, these shoes get an A.  I appreciate all of the extras but most of all the breathable comfort.  As you can see below, I was able to log a significant amount of miles and I will most definitely continue to run in these shoes often.  

In addition, the price point on these shoes in my opinion is accurate.  At $100 and FREE website shipping and returns, you can't go wrong with this zero gravity, super connected shoe!