Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Apera Bag Review and Winter Training

This review is a long time coming, but I wanted a chance to get to really use the bag before I wrote my review. Sometime before the holidays, I was asked to review an Apera Bag. I love bags. I remember when I was a child, I saved for MONTHS so I could buy this awesome pink backpack that I HAD to have with tons of different zippers, compartments, and pockets. And it was as awesome as I thought it would be. So, when I was offered an Apera Bag in return for a review, I jumped at the chance!

The bag I requested was the Active Pack, aka backpack. Anthony and I are always looking for backpacks when we're traveling so I was thinking ahead to our honeymoon (wherever we end up going!) and thought this would be perfect for hiking/trips to the ocean, etc. However, I also thought it would be great to traveling to races. The bag can hold a lot of stuff and has many different compartments, including a removable bag (not pictured) that would be great for sweaty clothes or wet bathing suits.

As you can see, it has gotten a lot of use! Also I should have picked another color...

This could easily expand much more to hold many more items

This bag boasts that it has antimicrobial properties. I'm not exactly sure what this means, but it sounds clean & healthy so it must be a good thing! :)

My only issue with the bag is that the straps often don't stay in place. The material of the part where you adjust it (technical terms!) must be too slippery for the grip to catch. Maybe a knot would help keep it in place? 

The bottom is great because it's water resistant so keeps your belongings dry.

All in all, a solid bag! It has already come in handy for the gym and other day to day activities and will be making an appearance on our honeymoon as well!

Thanks to Apera for this great bag! If you want to win one of your own Apera bags, enter the February giveaway for a chance to win the Yoga Tote. (This one looks awesome- especially in pink!) To enter the giveaway, all you need to do is sign up for their newsletter. There's a spot to easily enter your email address at the bottom of their website

Good luck! Now, on to running!

Since I've been blogging so sporadically recently, I decided I should keep going while I'm already here!
I'm now in week 6 of Ottawa Marathon training. Yes, this will be a super long cycle, but if I'm not mistaken, I think I (accidentally) trained for the Philly Marathon for 21 weeks too! Derek has been making me awesome plans that leave me excited for the next run, not feeling burnt out. In February, I won't go above 14 miles, but will hopefully gain some speed, strength and even more determination! March will bring the NYC Half (and hopefully a PR!) and longer runs, I'm sure. 

Week 3 (January 12-18) included some mile repeats for the first time in a while, and an awesome long run along Kelly Drive in Philadelphia. It was so fun to run in Philly again! It was a cold and windy day but is so runner friendly and pretty. 30 miles for the week.

Week 4 (January 19-25) had speedwork that I was excited and scared about at the same time. My basic summary of that run is "nailed it!" and it felt freaking awesome. I think that was the morning of snow storm #98901823 that we've had this winter. Don't even get me started. 32 miles for the week.

Week 5 (January 27-February 1) included a treadmill run where basically the only thing I wrote about it was "BORING" The treadmill and I have (sort of) become friends, because the only other alternative this winter seems to be skipping ALL your runs. And really, that's not an option while marathon training! 34 miles for the week.

I did some mile repeats on the treadmill yesterday and didn't want to poke my eyes out, so I'll take that as a good sign! I also ran on it on Monday. And will probably have to use it again tomorrow. And maybe Friday and Saturday. Really, I'm very grateful that NYSC has a 30 day for $30 deal but WHERE IS SPRING?!?!?!?!?! I'M OVER THIS CRAP. But, I haven't missed a run yet! (knock on wood)

Happy training and here's to outdoor running!

How's your training going? What are you training for? What's the longest marathon training cycle you've ever done?

Monday, January 13, 2014

Ottawa Marathon Training Weeks 1 & 2 and Race Recap!

Woah, I'm already done with two weeks of Ottawa Marathon training!

Let's back up a bit. After the Wineglass Half in October, I had a hip flexor and adductor issue- it wasn't really painful but everything was really, really tight. After thinking it would go away on its own with rest and some anti-inflammatories (and it not getting completely better), I finally started going to PT and noticed immediate improvement. I was able to still run, fortunately, but my mileage was really low for a few weeks. Finally in November, I was able to get my mileage back up to 15-20 miles a week and 20-25 in December. After getting a solid few weeks of base mileage in, Derek sent me my training plan for January and off I went!

For now, I'm just building up my base a bit more and getting back to tempo runs and speed.  Week 1 (28 miles) occurred while on vacation from work so I got to ease back into it. Week 2 (30 miles) was a bit of a challenge with the ridiculously cold temperatures in NYC, but thanks to Jen, I was able to get my Tuesday easy run in on the treadmill in her building. Lifesaver!!

In addition to running, I've been trying to be better about doing core work and little maintenance things- even if it just means doing 5 minutes of exercises while watching TV at night. I've also come to terms with the fact that I'm not good about going to strength or cross training classes, so I need to take advantage of things that I WILL do, like some shorter strength workouts I can do a once or twice a week at home.

I have another person on my "team" this year- Kim is helping me make sure that I'm eating well and enough to support my training. Even just having someone to report back to makes me eat better. I don't think I focused nearly enough on nutrition during Philly Marathon training so that's a much bigger focus this time around and I'm glad to have Kim to help me!

On Saturday, I ran my first race of 2014! I ran the Joe Kleinerman 10k with some friends before going out to celebrate Steph's birthday with a boozy brunch! Happy birthday, Steph!!

I really wasn't expecting much from this race. 7:45 felt hard during my tempo run earlier in the week, so I figured that I could probably average around there for a hilly 10k. I was pleasantly surprised that the race went much better than that! Derek thought I should hold back for the first 3 miles then pick it up. I knew I wasn't going to PR this race, so my goal was to run sub 48:00 (7:44 pace).

The first mile had a big downhill and a big uphill and it was slippery in places. Fortunately, only one of my feet slipped once, but I saw a lot of people in front of me that were sliding around.

Mile 1: 7:47

During mile 2, I found that I was trying to hold myself back a lot and finally just let myself go after that.

Mile 2: 7:47
Mile 3: 7:23
Mile 4: 7:23

I was totally shocked every time I looked down and saw 7:2x. I hadn't run these paces in so long but yet they still felt comfortable. At least while runinng a race with 5000 of  my closest friends. I'm sure if I had been out there doing this as a workout on my own, it would have been awful!

Mile 5: 7:17
Mile 6: 6:49

Now, mile 6....where did you come from?! I don't think I've ever seen a 6:xx during any race longer than a 5k before. Maybe I just really wanted to be finished?! I also realized that I was going to run sub 47:00 so I think that motivated me as well. It felt fast, but not like I was going to blow up at any second, which was good for my confidence!

Mile-I-overran-the-course-AGAIN-0.28: 6:26 pace

Official time for the race: 46:18, 7:29 pace

Post race with Steph and Beth, after Steph paced Beth to a sub-60 10k PR! CONGRATS!!!

This leaves me really excited for training this Spring. Fingers crossed that everything goes well and that I get to the starting line healthy (hmm, guess I should also officially register for the race!) and feeling good! I have a few other races on the schedule before the Ottawa Marathon so I should be able to get a good sense of my fitness level. I have a bunch of numbers floating around in my head for "A" goal time, but obviously it's way too early to guess what I'll be able to run at the end of May. But here's to hoping for a PR & a BQ!

Happy training to everyone!!!

What's your Spring goal race?