Running Into Spring With Brooks

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Guys I have a thing for neon this season and I’m 100% okay with it. Every workout and running outfit I’ve worn lately has had at least a few pops of neon. When the 5:15 alarm goes off each morning there are only two things that help me wake up – coffee and neon. Bright pops of color make me smile as I trudge out the door for a workout and luckily the gang at Brooks fully support my plan to wear at least one piece of neon gear for every workout!

Two months ago, the team at Brooks Running reached out to me, inviting me to join their Brooks Run Happy Ambassador program. Since I actually wore brooks from 2008-2011, I was already familiar with the brand but before agreeing to join, I asked for a few samples of their latest gear to ensure that their gear and shoes would be something I could feel confident wearing for training runs and races alike.

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As soon as I slid my foot into the new shoes, it was love! I’m still in shock that Brooks is interested in having me, a 2-hour half marathon runner, as part of their ten person Run Happy Ambassador program but I couldn’t be more excited! The other ambassadors are familiar faces you may recognize – Meghann, Tina, Anne, Emily, Janae, Jessica, Dorothy, Kristen, and Lora. The other night I joined the other ladies for my first official event, a gear gab chatting all things running gear!

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Today I wanted to share with you my four favorite pieces of gear I’ve tried this Spring. If you follow me on Instagram, they won’t be a surprise as they’ve been in almost every running or workout picture recently.

I’ve worn the Brooks Women’s LSD Running Jacket for races and training runs alike over the past few weeks and have fallen in love with this lightweight running jacket. It is windproof and water-resistant but the two features I really love is the fact that it’s reflective for those early or late runs and it packs into itself so if you get to hot you can easily carry it! Many running jackets cost over $100 but this one is on sale for $47!

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The Brooks Women’s Neuro Running Shoe doesn’t necessarily look like a running shoe made for speed, with the wide size and crazy pods on the bottom but this shoe helped me achieve some great speeds during NYRR speed workouts last month. The performance-enhancing shoes have a neutral fit but the pods help give you energy back every time your heel and foot hit the ground. They only weigh 7.9 ounces, making them lightweight versus my other running shoes but the sole still provides enough support for my high arches. I will say, after the first run in these shoes I wasn’t sold as they felt so different than my other running shoes. But, by the third wear I was a fan and have now worn them for at least two runs each week, typically five miles or less.

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As my travels have taken me to warmer weather, I’ve fallen in love with the lightweight Brooks Ghost Racerback Running ShirtThis ultra-lightweight tank is so light I barely feel it when running or working out. The loose cut allows me to move freely through yoga poses or runs.  It is available in five colors including the one I’m wearing below and hot pink, which I just ordered. Even during last week’s hot yoga class the material wicked the sweat away so I stayed cool and comfortable! I can already tell that I’ll be living in this tank during this Summer!
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Last but not least, the Brooks Launch 3 have become my mid to long distance running shoes over the past two months. This neutral running shoe provides the perfect combination of comfort and support for those longer runs while also having a unique midfoot transition zone, which looks like an X, allowing for faster heel-to-toe transition during runs. Available in eight colors, I personally love the hot pink and blue pair which I’m wearing in the pictures.

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So there you have it guys – these are my four favorite pieces of Brooks running gear this season. As always, I’ll keep my reviews honest with you all as I know that not everything I order or receive as part of this partnership will be a perfect fit.

What is your favorite piece of running gear right now? 

I received this gear either at a discount or complimentary as part of my Brooks Run Happy ambassador partnership. 

The top images were shot by the lovely and talented Lydia Hudgens.

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Five Workouts That Improved My Half Marathon PR by 35 Minutes

Five Speed Workouts for Half Marathon PR

Did tracking your friends or favorite bloggers during today’s Boston Marathon inspire you to run faster? While I may never qualify for Boston, running this race remains an item on my race bucket list and seeing friends fight through the heat and headwinds today, inspired me to push through this week’s workouts. After a few Epsom salt baths (these are my favorite), a deep tissue massage and lots of stretching, I’m looking forward to tomorrow morning’s run! Fingers crossed my body allows me to continue training to run stronger and faster!

Brooks stretching pic

Jacket Shirt Socks Shoes 

If you have your eye on setting a new PR (personal record) or becoming a faster, more confident runner, the number one tip I can give you is to run faster during training. I spent far too many years training at a steady state or comfortable speed, never pushing outside my comfort zone. Then, on race day, I went into panic mode when I felt that heart pumping, sweat inducing, energy rush and short of breath feeling that comes with racing. The more often you run at previously uncomfortable paces, the more accustomed your body will become. Here are a few of my favorite workouts that have helped me improve my half marathon time from 2:36 to 2:00 over the years.

Benefits of Speed Training

  • Improve your running form and efficiency
  • Help your body become accustomed to quick feet and stride
  • Burns more calories than steady state running
  • Increased cardiovascular benefits than steady state running
  • Can be performed on the treadmill or outside

Five Speed Workout Posts I Reference Often – Since I am not a certified running coach, I look to other bloggers and resources for advice. These are the ones that I have used, recommended and referenced multiple times for both tips, tricks and the workout included. 

Two Speed Workouts for New-ish Runners from Mile Posts and Women’s Running

Speed Work for Distance Runners from Sublimely Fit

Three Workouts to Increase Pain Tolerance from Runner’s World

Mile High Run Club 30 minute workout for Runner’s World

Two Treadmill Workouts to Improve Speed from FITaspire

As my massage therapist reminded me tonight, both the warm-up and cool-down become even more important when running faster. Don’t forget to spend five minutes doing dynamic warm-up such as lunges, butt kicks, high knees, hip openers and grapevines moves before you start! 

All pictures courtesy of the talented Lydia Hudgens.

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Cherry Blossom 10 Miler 2016 Race Recap

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After having the Cherry Blossom 10 Miler on my race list for years, I was finally able to run it on Sunday with my friend and running buddy, Theodora!

This race is one of Washington’s most popular races with thousands entering the lottery each year. This year, thanks to Anne and the team at Cabot Cheese, I was able to run as part of their race team. Since they are one of the race’s sponsors they were able to provide Anne with 10 bibs for her friends, readers and fellow bloggers.  I had a wonderful time getting to meet these women and spend time with them on Saturday and Sunday.
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These ladies were so much fun! From left to right, Kathleen, Mary, Theodora, me, Sokphal, Rose, Turner, Mary, Anne, Sarah!

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After enjoying a delicious dinner with the rest of Team Cabot at the Cherry Blossom Ten Miler Pre-Race dinner, I woke up at 6 AM Sunday morning excited to run. Room service came to the rescue with pre-race breakfast of coffee and a banana which I paired with a KIND bar from our Cabot friends.

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Sunday’s race weather wasn’t exactly ideal with wind chills of 25 degrees and 40 mile per hour wind gusts forcing the race organizers to remove all course signage. They sent an email to all participants on Saturday evening, warning them of the changes.

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Based on this note and the weather forecast, I decided to wear every layer of running gear I brought with my to Washington, DC resulting in an unusual, unfashionable look that luckily kept me warm.  When we arrived at the start area around 7 AM, just 30 minutes before the race start, the area was still eerily quiet due to the cancellation of all pre-race activities. You could tell that people were either hiding in coffee shops, their cars or decided not to run.  After using the bathroom, Theodora and I headed over to the corrals where we proceeded to hug each other for warmth and laugh about the conditions. The prior day it was sunny and 70 degrees while suddenly on race morning it was frigid. Don’t mind my tired eyes or our very odd race attire. Theodora was lucky enough to have fleece lined attire since her amazing friend, Meg, brought all the athleisure gear for spectating. Me, on the other hand, I opted to wear purple Pro Compression socks paired with my Lululemon crops as well as my new Brooks running jacket, the Drift Shell.

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Right around 7:30 the corrals started to move forward and we prepared to run. After my half marathon disaster two weeks ago, I went into this race with two goals: treat it like a long run and have fun. It’d been more than two years since Theodora and I ran a race together so I figured I’d tag along with her for as long as possible since her pace goals were pretty close to my half marathon goal pace.  I don’t have any pictures from the actual race as I decided to keep my phone tucked safely inside my Spibelt after cracking the screen during the NYC half marathon.

The first mile was packed with people who were jogging or walking, forcing us to weave a bit before we found our groove in the middle of the pack. Theodora, who used to live in DC, served as my tour guide during the race pointing out bridges, monuments and other important sites. Most of the cherry blossoms were long gone after Friday’s rain and Sunday’s wind, but the few that remained were gorgeous!  I let Theodora set the pace for the race, since she hasn’t been training or running long distances during the frigid, Winter months. In fact, Sunday’s race was her first double digit race since the marathon!  The pace felt great the entire race, and was comfortable enough that I could make conversation without feeling winded or tired. I even had the opportunity to high five a few friends and readers who shouted hello as we passed each other. I couldn’t believe what a beautiful day it was, sans the wind chills and lack of appropriate clothing. Miles three through six were the most enjoyable, as we were warm and relaxed during these sunshine miles, before we were met with the horrid wind gusts of Hains Point.  Our only focus during the Hains Point miles were to keep moving and not let the wind deter us. It was definitely blustery and I felt every mile of the 40 mph gusts during this waterfront section in Potomac Park.

The paces below are from my GPS watch and include any water or walking breaks we took during the race.

cucb race resultsMile 1: 9:33 Mile 2: 9:13 Mile 3: 9:15 Mile 4: 8:57 Mile 5: 9:13 Mile 6: 9:27 Mile 7: 9:19 Mile 8: 9:36 Mile 9: 9:20 Mile 10: 9:16

post race 10 miler

Overall, I loved this race and would recommend it to anyone who is looking for a flat, fast, scenic course. Even with all the crazy weather, the race experience was wonderful and the volunteers and race organizers were responsive and supportive. They even had volunteers standing at the mile marker spots calling out the miles as you ran by them! If I lived in DC this would definitely be an annual race and I’m tempted to come back again next year, when the weather will hopefully be a little less breezy or I’ll just pack more clothes!

Thank you again to Anne and Cabot Cheese for making this race possible and to the spectators who cheered along the course, the volunteers who made it all possible and our friend Meg who cheered for us at the finish line!

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