#Spring4Prana: Spring 2017 Review & A Discount

I’ve been really fortunate to work with prAna and FitApproach for the last few spring & fall seasons to try out some of their new line and share with you some different looks from my normal running gear ;).

In the past I’ve reviewed the Meme Pant, the Prism Yoga pant and last fall the London Jean (which I wear all the time they are so comfortable) and the Devan Henley.

I was super excited to receive my new prAna gear last Monday, right before I was heading to Miami for work.  I choose to try the Mantra Pant & the Liana Sweater.  These pieces seemed the most me & were a few pieces that I fit my fitness aesthetic, especially the sweater.

I immediately had to try everything on, over the clothes I was wearing lol.  And it all fit perfectly. I got a size small in both pieces.

I really like the Mantra pant, it’s casual, but yet still nice enough I can wear them for work.  I wore them for a nice dinner and felt super comfortable.  I’ll definitely be adding them to my rotation for work trips.

The Mantra Pant comes in 5 colors, I picked Oatmeal and Smitha picked the Black Herringbone, which is also very nice and something you could wear in a biz casual environment as well.

From the prAna website the Mantra Pant is Soft hemp is blended with stretch fabric and trimmed with organic cotton, creating a naturally versatile pant. A relaxed fit, mid-rise, and straight leg are classically styled.

For the top, I chose the Liana sweater because it’s a nice, light weight knit top that I feel like I can wear over a yoga or run tank before or after a workout to kind of dress things up.

The Liana sweater comes in 3 colors, I picked Bora Bora because it was a nice springy color.

From the website, the Liana sweater is naturally beautiful. A wide neck, angled stripes, and asymmetrical hem create a casual feminine silhouette. A lightweight blend of soft hemp and organic cotton is conscious, comfortable, and moisture-wicking.

I do like this sweater and it looks cute on, but I do have to mention that I have already gotten a few pulls in the knit from my ring and there is no way I can wear this around the kitties or I’ll have so many pulls.  I think the asymmetrical hem is a little odd, but overall it’s cute.

Have you tried prAna?  What are your favorite pieces?

They have a lot of cute things out this spring, including some running shorts and yoga gear.  You can use code S.4P17RLB to save 15% on www.prana.com until Mar 28, 2017.

My Road to SD 100: Stop 2 Black Canyon 100k: A bump in the road

Last weekend, Sean & I headed to Arizona to run the Black Canyon 100k.  We signed up last year expecting a fast and mostly downhill course with a long time limit (which appealed to me since I know I’m on the slower side).

Unfortunately Mother Nature intervened and the week of the race, the race directors at Aravaipa Running had to make a decision to change the course to an out and back due to a forecast of over an inch of rain on race day.  They made the right decision because the original course crosses the Agua Fria river several times and the river was too high & too fast for over 500 runners to safely cross it.

So, the course went from having ~9,000+ feet of descent to being an even up and down of ~3,500.  Once you got to the turn around, you would start making your way back up to the start.

The race directors did an excellent job of communicating the change to us runners.  I saw it posted on the Facebook event page, on their website, received an email via ultrasignup and also even watched a live Facebook video where they discussed it and answered questions.

We got to Phoenix late Thursday night, we were staying with my sister, who lives about 15 minutes from the Anthem Outlet Mall, where the shuttles were originally supposed to pick us up to go to the start line.  Since the race finish was at the start line we didn’t have to take the shuttle after all so it was just a 45 minute drive to Mayer High School.

We headed to the expo on Friday afternoon, got our bibs and shirts.  We chatted with Ben & Zach Bitter at the Altra booth for a little bit, I got to try on the new Escalantes, which are so nice! I can’t wait to get a pair and then headed back to my sisters.

For Christmas, I had gotten my sister a pasta maker so she made us a yummy pre-race meal with fresh pasta and baked chicken.

While she cooked, Sean & I got our flat runner photos done and backed our drop bags.  Since it was going to be wet & rainy, we packed everything into 2.5 gallon zip lock bags to keep everything dry.

Since we only had to drive to the start line in the morning, we were able to sleep a bit longer.  I think we left the house around 5:20am and made the 45 minute drive up to the high school.

We dropped off our drop bags, hit up the bathrooms and then headed to the track where the race was starting.  It all happened so fast.

I saw Rachel, one of my fellow Orange Mud Ambassadors & we got a quick photo.  I also met Tara, @runwithtara, saw Malia, @rnrgrl808, her son ran the 60k and came in 2nd overall!! I also saw Jen, @jenlaughlin_18, who was like 2/3 races we’ve done together have been in the rain, lol.

Sean & I got a quick pre-race photo and then we were off. It was already raining when we started.  The race started off with a lap on the track and then we ran through the town before hitting the trail.

The first part of the course was the muddiest of the whole race but I was wearing my new Altra King MT’s which were created specifically for muddy conditions.  They did not disappoint.  I felt so secure and was not slipping and sliding at all. There was only one small area where the shoes had some caking but it quickly fell off.  Sorry for the blurry pic, my fingers were already wet so I had a hard time even getting the phone to work. After this, I didn’t take it out again until after I dropped.

I felt really good the first 7 miles to the aid station.  In the last 1/2 mile I started to get a little bit of a stomach pain but kept moving knowing there would be a port-a-pottie at the aid station.

I got there, grabbed a few glukos gels from my drop bag and then waited a few minutes to use the bathroom.  The next section, I started slowly because of the stomach pain, but it eventually got better.  I enjoyed this section, it was absolutely beautiful single track.  I had a few close calls where I came  close to a few hard falls so I slowed down a bit and really started watch my footing.

Unfortunately tripping multiple times caused some pulling in my hamstring so I was dealing with that as I made my way into the 3rd aid station.  This is where Sean caught up with me.  I was not a happy camper, practically in tears, and not at all excited about running in the rain for another 12 hours.

After a few minutes of chatting with Sean, refilling my pack I decided to move on.  In retrospect, after I had heard some people talking about dropping to the 60k, which they normally don’t allow but due to the weather, they made an exception, I should have just dropped down at that point.

I slowly made my way up the fire road to the single track.  I was following 2 girls for a bit.  During this section, I was having a lot of pain in my right foot under the midfoot.  Literally every step was excruciating. Seriously this race was just full of rando physical issues.  It eventually went away but I was power hiking the majority of this section.

As I made my way to the aid station, I saw a photographer from Sweet M, who got this lone photo of me during the race.  I’m a little disappointed she didn’t get a full body shot but it does show how wet I was, my skirt was completely soaked.

Sean was waiting for me at the aid station and I put a few things in my drop bag, took way to long trying to get my bladder back in my pack, the bladder I was using wasn’t opening easily so every time I refilled it, I had to ask for help and we would fight with it to open.

We finally made our way to the turn-around, where I would have to sit down for a few minutes because I was feeling light-headed.  I had 2 cups of ramen and felt a little better.  We headed back up the hill and the rain just kept coming.  I was trying to move as fast as I could, but I kept feeling lightheaded and I wasn’t happy.

We got to the mile 37 aid station and I was super close to dropping but Sean convinced me to keep moving to the next aid station, which in the end was a smart decision.

This section was the last before it got dark and I was moving as fast as I could to get there. I was starting to get really cold and the rain just kept coming down.

When we got to the aid station, I told Sean he could continue on, but I was done.  I was so cold and it was just going to get worse as we got into the night, and into the windiest, most exposed sections of the course.

I walked into the aid station saying I was freezing and they directed me to the heaters to warm up.  One of the volunteers, who I would later find out was the founder of Squirrel’s Nut Butter, Stacy kept asking me if I wanted to get out of my wet clothes.  I didn’t have anything dry to put on so I said no originally.

Finally after I officially dropped, she told me that she gave me a dry Squirrel’s Nut Butter sweat shirt I could wear and pretty much made me get out of my wet clothes.  Sean asked me for my waterproof jacket to put over his other clothes because he was going to continue on.

I hung out in the aid station until they closed and I was able to get a ride to the finish line.  There was a cute little boy who asked to play some games on my phone so I let him play for a bit.

Once I got back to the High School, I got changed, even after getting into dry clothes, I couldn’t warm up.  I think I had on 3 sweatshirts.  I hung out with Ben at the Altra table chatting and interacting with runners who had questions about Altra.  I met & chatted with another ambassador, Kim while waiting for Sean.

My King MT’s were awesome on this course!

Now that I’ve had more time to think about the race, I don’t regret my decision to drop, because I know I was pre-hypothermic and continuing on could have resulted in putting myself in a bad situation.

I also know that I could have physically finished the race, while I had minor aches and pains, I was not injured but mentally I was checked out, not having fun and let that take over.

Running is hard, running ultras is harder and I think that the mental part is the hardest.  As I continue on with my journey to SD100, I think I will have to train my brain the most.

Even with a DNF I learned something important about myself and what I need to do to get to the next finish line.

 

My Road to SD100: Stop 1 – Sean O’Brien 50k

The first half of this year is all about getting to the finish line of SD 100.  And with 2 races a month, I’m using races to train & get more comfortable being on my feet for a long time.

First up in my journey is Sean O’Brien 50k, which was my 5th 50k.  I went to Sean O’Brien with my Sean last year and ran/hiked the first 5ish miles of the course so I had a very small knowledge of the course, which is not easy.  The nice thing about SOB is that like with Keira Henninger’s other races with multiple distances, there is a long cut-off for the shorter distances which I like.  I hope not to take the full time, but I know I don’t have to worry about cut-offs, which I really like :).

Anyways, Sean & I drove up to Calabasas on Friday afternoon/evening.  We made it to packet pick-up in time to get our bibs and to try out some of Altra‘s new shoes.  I was super excited to get to try on the new King MT & the new Superior 3.0, both of which I can’t wait to add to my collection.  (I wish I had asked Ben, the SoCal rep, if I could have worn a pair of the King MT’s for the race, but more about that later).

We headed over to our hotel, got dinner at a very clubby Italian place that I felt a little under dressed at in my super comfortable Orange Mud sweatshirt. Side note: If you love super soft, comfy sweat shirts, this is the best one ever, I literally wear mine every day.

We got back to the hotel and got our flat runners set up before heading to bed.  With a 3:15am wake-up call I hit the sack as soon as I could.

That alarm sure came fast, I think I snoozed once maybe twice 😉 before getting up and starting to get ready.

It didn’t take us long and we were out the door and on our way to the start line.  The 100k started at 5am so we were trying to get there by 4:15/4:30 so we could get a decent parking spot.

We got Sean’s drop bags over to the start area & he headed out to start the 100k.  As I was listening to Keira’s announcement, she was talking about how lucky we were to even have the race because of all the rain we’ve had in SoCal lately.  She lobbied with the Parks department, reworked the course and we were all able to run!

The 100ker’s took off and I headed back to the car because my race didn’t start until 7am.  I decided to get a little more sleep before getting up around 6:20ish to get ready, check in and hit up the port-a-potties.  I met up with Emily, a (very speedy) fellow ProCompression Ambassador and a few of my fellow Orange Mud ambassadors.  We got a quick photo and then Keira was asking us to head to the start line.

Once we were at the start line, she let us know that the race was going to be muddy (I was like great, I left my poles in the car, oops) and that the 50k & marathon were the only races that didn’t have a course change.

Pretty soon after that we were off, I kept a steady pace for the first 2ish miles to the creek crossing.  I felt decent during this section.  The creek crossing was a lot higher this year than last year – it was knee high and the creek was rushing.  They had a nice strong rope to keep us safe on the crossing.  The mud we encountered just after the crossing was actually a bit more stressful.

And then up the hill we went and as we went up, we got over the fog and it was so amazingly beautiful.  I chatted with some other runners as we climbed and climbed.

As we made our way up to the first aid station, we were going up over these boulders, which were awesome and so different from the rest of the course.

It was in this section that I saw Howie Stern who got this photo of me.

I got to the aid station, had a few snacks and then crossed the street, a volunteer was advising us to be careful because it was slippery.  This initial section was pretty slippery because there was a lot of flat rocks.  But as we kept moving it cleared up.  I was following a marathon runner who picked up a friend at the aid station, don’t think that’s really supposed to happen, but I guess anyone can come out and run on the trails.

I finally passed them and kept moving.  And then I came across a crevasse taking up 2/3s of the trail, it was nuts.  I slowly made my way around it and kept moving.  This was maybe 8-9 miles into the race.

It wasn’t too far after the crevasse that we got to the mud.  It was pretty slippery but I figured out a way to run/hike through it and I wore my Superiors which really helped as opposed to my Olympus.  This is when I wished I had the King MTs to see how well they really worked in the mud ;).

This section felt like it took a long time for a variety of reasons, one, it was muddy, two, I was in a pack and at the start of the mud, I was behind a girl who didn’t have the right shoes on and she was slip sliding around like crazy and three we were stopping a lot and attempting to move to the side for the lead runners coming through.

After the mud, we had a very steep downhill into the mile 13 aid station.  I had to go to the bathroom so I lost a lot of time in this mile because there I had to wait for someone to get out.  Unfortunately sometimes you just have to wait, and in this case I made the right decision :).

It was about 2ish miles to the next aid station.  There was a nice down hill and then some climbing.  As I got closer to the aid station, people started saying BACON!  And you’re almost there, this one is good, they have bacon.  Ultra runners love bacon! Although who doesn’t love bacon.

I made it to the aid station, practically sliding into the table, refilled my pack and then turned around.  I saw a few friends and enjoyed running the downhill in this section.

I made it back to the halfway aid station, grabbed a few potatoes and I was out.  Now, I should have had some new shirts in my drop bag because I was soaked.  Note to self, put a dry shirt in your drop bag.

I headed up the hill and ran into my friend Tam, who was coming down to the aid station.  We got a quick pic and then kept moving.

I was anticipating a tough road with the mud.  I was pleasantly surprised to see the mud had dried a little bit so it wasn’t as slippery, but instead it was super sticky.  My heels were popping out of my shoes, I was a little worried at one point that I was going to walk out of my shoe, lol.

The first part of the next section went really well.  2 guys passed me and I followed them for a bit, down and through the small creeks – there were probably 11 water crossings during the race.  They ranged from the rushing knee deep creek to small puddles that you could hop over.  It was nice having these guys to follow for a bit.  I couldn’t really keep up on the steep uphill to one of the aid stations, but I caught back up and passed them on the downhill in the last section.

I finally got to the last aid station, a volunteer helped me refill my pack with CarboPro and water.  As I was getting a snack, I saw Sean run into the aid station!  How awesome was that.  He was at mile 40 and I was at 26.  We spent a few minutes chatting about how he fell and hurt his knee around mile 1.5 and then we went our separate ways.

It’s interesting how quickly you forget the course because the first part of the last section was a lot hillier than I remembered.  I ran walked and eventually our friend Josh Holmes, of RunItFast, who was running the 50 miler caught up with me.  We chatted for a few minutes before he took off.

There was a girl in front of me with arm sleeves that I was following down the hill.  This section was really hard on my feet, but I kept her in my sights and eventually a little before we headed on to the single track, I passed her.  We saw another girl too who was a little confused as to which way to go and kept moving.

This section was fun, a lot easier on the feet, although still somewhat technical.  It was made better by the fact that we were getting closer to the creek crossing and I knew then we would only have 2ish miles left.

I finally made it to the creek.  I started across and about halfway through I stepped off a rock (I wasn’t looking for rocks to step on – just holding on and walking across) and I could feel a sharp twinge in my back.  Fortunately it passed pretty quickly.  I got out of the water and kept moving.

As I moved on in this last section, my calves started to cramp.  I think that the combination of the cold water and a little dehydration was the case.

I trudged on again forgetting that once we get back to the single track had some more uphill.  The guy following me was saying the same thing, how did we forgot this?

Eventually we got to the downhill into the campground and I knew we were so close.  My calves were still cramping but I kept running to the finish.

Right before the finish, I saw Josh again, he got a few photos of me before I made the turn into the finish.


And then I was done!

Even with the weather, I had a great time out there.  I feel like I did decently with my fueling, although I did have a stretch of uphill where I was getting tired, I could have probably had a bit more electrolyte, but overall I feel like I did pretty well.

I don’t necessarily feel like the time on the clock represents my fitness as I felt pretty decent out there.  I think I could definitely do better with a little more training & no mud!

Thank you to all the volunteers for spending their day with us & to Keira for all her hard work in getting us all to the start line!

Next up, Black Canyon 100k!