Now that races consume my (almost) every thought (ok, so I think about them probably once a day) and running/workout gear has taken over my wardrobe/life, I thought I would share a few of my favorite things (cue Sound of Music soundtrack and Julie Andrews love!)
These are in no particular order, since i love them all to pieces:
Nuun has been hydrating me full of delicious electrolytes since January 2011, at the beginning of my second season of Team in Training. Thanks Nuun for being a national sponsor! All the Nuun I can drink during training runs?! Yes please! My favorite flavors are Fruit Punch, Tropical and Grape, and I go through tubes faster than my wallet likes, but it’s oh so worth it. It’s the only thing I can drink pre-, during and post-race/run that doesn’t make me sick. I had some ROUGH races (and the remaining hours of that day) before discovering Nuun. Tip: it’s also good for the morning after a really rough night, if you get my drift 🙂
These socks are amaze-balls. When I was a kid, I loved toe socks, even though I hated socks. If I had to wear socks at all, they better be funky toe socks! When I started running after college, I wore cotton (gasp!) socks, and during my first 1/2 marathon, was wearing a moisture-wicking running sock, and blistered like no ones business. Seriously guys, it was ugly. I could feel them starting to form at mile 6, and by mile 8, I was dying. Miles 8-13.1 was spent running/limping mostly on the outsides of my feet because the 2 giant blisters I had on the balls of my feet were hurting so bad. When I took my socks off after the race, I had identical quarter-sized blisters on the balls of my feet, just below my big toe and 2nd toe. They were giant, squishy and painful. I was walking funny for days. Then I saw Injinji socks in REI (and they’re from San Diego, bonus points!) and decided to give them a try. I ran my next 1/2 marathon (and every one since then. #8 is scheduled for June) with no blisters! I’m pretty sure we’re sole-mates 🙂 I use RRS and Swiftwick socks for any practice runs/races under 5 miles, but anything over 6 miles (or whenever I feel like some fun!) it’s Injinji all the way! They are fabulous life savers.
You guys will have to deal with stock photos because I didn’t want to put the ladies on display on the internet 🙂 I was a late bloomer and had no idea what to do with the girls once they came, so I did the oh-so-typical double bag ’em style. Wear 2 (and sometimes 3) cheaper sports bras to attempt to tame them while doing high impact activities like running. Trust me, this gets old fast. I would periodically see the expensive sports bras, but couldn’t fathom spending that much on one bra! One day I sat there calculating how much I was spending on replacing and wearing 2-3 cheap bras, and it was pretty much the same as buying a really good sports bra! And I could reduce my uniboob moments, which is a definite plus. After being properly fitted (who knew?!) at Road Runner Sports, I bought a Moving Comfort sports bra and that’s all I own now. They have some for smaller ladies, and some made for the lock-and-load type like myself. They don’t give me uniboob, are flattering, SO comfortable, come in cute colors (that’s totally important), come in racerback and normal bra strap type, and don’t look like most granny bras do when they’re a DD. SOLD! Moving Comfort probably saved my ta-tas for the long haul.
I can’t say enough good things about Brooks. Their products are amazing, fun, functional and their customer service is phenomenal. It’s a company for runners, by runners. How much better can it get than that?! They really care about the customers and it shows. And have you ever seen their Cavalcade of Curiosities? HILARIOUS. I’ve been lucky enough to volunteer with them at 2 Rock n Roll expos and had an absolute blast (and lost my voice both times!) All of my running shorts are Brooks (except for my very first pair, which are New Balance and uber comfy, and a pair of tight RRS shorts, that I love for running and yoga). It’s my shoe of choice (over and over again), and you can see me running around town in them, at the gym, running errands, hiking, you name it. Fabulous footwear! If I had the income for it, I would live in their clothes! Ultimate dream would definitely be to be able to work for them.
Road Runner Sports
I’ll admit it, I was spoiled by RRS. When I first started seriously running, this was the big running store (San Diego). Not only were they the big guys on campus, they were so supportive of Team in Training, let us have one of our Saturday sessions with them, opened early for us, gave us a shoe and sports bra clinic and were generally awesome. I’ve been to a few other RRS locations, and San Diego is by far my favorite. It’s HUGE and has everything you could need. Not only that, but since they are RRS Headquarters, they are also the customer service center, shipping center, and have my all-time favorite, the Clearance Center! Where else can you get a pair of twice-worn shoes (that look brand new) for under $30?! Score. It’s where I found fabulous RRS socks (love for running and just wearing period. They are super comfy, keep my toes warm on cold days and are cushioned enough for my sensitive, boney feet!) and Swiftwick socks – fabulous if you haven’t worn them. They want to create fabulous socks, while also thinking about social responsibility, environmentally friendly means and great customer service. Oh, and they somehow keep my feet from getting extra smelly. You can’t get better than that!) Also, RRS has their Thursday Adventure Runs at some of their locations. Get a huge group of runners together, mix in TONS of fabulous prizes, vendors that we use, local businesses and free beer. YES YES AND MORE YES.
I have wavy/curly, uncontrollable, mind-of-it’s-own, frizzy hair. Hair lottery, right?! Wrong. It’s ridiculous and it hates me. I went through wearing my hair a few different ways (and lengths) while running, trying to figure out what worked best to keep it out of my face, out of my eyes, out of my mouth, not sticking in my armpits (gross, right?) and not getting ridiculous tangled by the end. Final result? Either a tight messy bun or a ponytail with a braid. Pair both options with a headband and you have an instant winner (since I’m not going to win the race, I might as well be a winner here). I have quite a few headbands that I love including Bondi Band, Brooks Running, random Nike thin ones that don’t really stay on my head unless I bobby pin them, and an Active Bands one. I’ve been DYING to try some sparkly headbands out because, let’s face it, if you’re gonna look nasty at the end of the race, might as well sparkle, right? (Sorry for the neck cramp you’re about to get… it refuses to flip!)
Remember watching the Beijing Olympics and Kerri Walsh and Misty May killing it on the beach volleyball courts? And then wondering what the heck Kerri was wearing on her shoulder/upper back? Kinesiology tape! I’m pretty sure she’s a spokesperson for KT Tape, but I love me some RockTape. I tried KT Tape but it didn’t stay on like I would want it to, so I have no idea how it stayed on her for so long without even lifting. Hmmmm. I’ve had my share of injuries (mostly shin splints and knee pain from a Baker’s cyst), and have used RockTape whenever I need some pain relief. It’s pretty amazing and if you like people staring at you, I definitely recommend the printed tape 🙂 And if you watch the Crossfit Games, you know they swear by it. They could easily give me a beat down, so I’m pretty sure I’ll trust them on this one!
I have a pair of CEP compressions sleeves as well as a pair of Zensah sleeves. I had started running in compression socks to help with calf cramping and shin splints, but blistered in the socks, so I had to switch to the sleeves. They are also great for post-race recovery and long flights. After flying to London this past summer, my legs were extremely grateful that I remembered to pack a pair!
Stands for Small Personal Item belt. I’m one of those runners who needs to bring stuff to long races. I can’t drink the course-provided drinks or eat the Gu’s they hand out, either. Not only did I win the hair lottery, I also won the GI lottery as well! Double score. I need to pack my own fuel and this little belt is amazing! I can store my cell phone, ID, 2 Honey Stingers (another personal favorite. It’s the absolute only thing I can eat during a 1/2 that doesn’t make me sick), a couple salt capsules and chapstick. It stays put and doesn’t bounce around. It’s also great for travel when you don’t want to get pick-pocketed left and right.
Ever enter a huge race and feel like just a number? I’ve been in quite a few of those. You have questions and/or concerns, but the company that puts on the race doesn’t really seem to care, and it’s all about the money, money, money? If you find yourself in southern Virginia, PLEASE sign up for one of J&A’s races. You will not be disappointed, and I’m pretty sure it will become one of your favorite races ever, and you’ll want to do all of theirs! I was lucky enough to spend a few months last fall in Virginia, and wanted to make the most of my new running community. I found J&A Racing and immediately signed up for the Peroni Crawlin’ Crab 1/2 marathon, 2 weeks after I moved to VA. It was cold, raining and I was sick. But I PR’d and had a BLAST while doing it. They really know how to put on a race, take care of the runners and throw an awesome party afterwards 🙂 They care about what you ave to say, and they actually listen! You can stop by their offices and hang out with them in the middle of the week. After my great experience with Crawlin Crab, I immediately signed up for their next race, the Blue Moon Wicked 10k – sensing a theme yet? 🙂 Wicked is held around Halloween and runners are encouraged (and do) to run in costume. It’s an absolute blast and they provide chili in bread bowls and Blue Moon at the Finishers Party. Unfortunately Hurricane Sandy decided she wanted to party, too, and made her presence known. Because of the impending storm, J&A employees worked long into the night (the night before the race) to take down all the tents and move the Finishers Party from the beach/boardwalk into the convention center. They care about your safety ya’ll! I really wish I was still in VA so I can do the Virginia is for Lovers 14k and the Shamrock 1/2.
And I’ll finish my list with the people that started me in my running life: Team in Training, the San Diego chapter and the Green Team. Viva los Verdes!