Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Swoob Idona Racerback Bra: Product Review

The Product

When I picked up my newest shoes a few weeks ago, I also picked up a little something I'd had my eye on for a while: the Swoob Idona Racerback bra. I've been obsessing over this product for 3 reasons:

  • I purchased a pair of their Full Length leggings over the winter and L-O-V-E them. They are almost everything you dream of in a mid-weight tight (some reflective properties would be great, but in fairness I think they were designed for yoga, so, fine). Given how much I loved these tights, it seemed like a safe bet that other Swoob products might also be great. 
  • Swoob is a Utah-based company. Utah has a strong economic cluster in outdoor products manufacturing I know this because it's my job to know it, but it also makes good sense. We're a crazy outdoorsy bunch here, year-round. 
  • There are times when I would love to carry my phone with me on a run, and there just wasn't a great way to do this before. Wanna take a picture? Need my phone. Want to feel safer on a solo run in the dark or in a new-to-you place? Need your phone. 
Testing it Out

I've worn this bra twice now. There are things I love about it and things I'm less crazy about. Let's start with the pros:
  • I love the purple color. Not important. I know. 
  • It does a good job of keeping things where they need to be, and this is no small feat. They are serious when they say it's good for high impact sports. 
  • The material feels great and performs well. 
I hate to do this, Swoob, but, the cons:
  • Sizing is done by S,M,L, rather than by standard bra sizing. For me, from any store for any type of garment, this usually means that a medium is a tiny bit snug and a large is too large, as was the case here. I bought the Medium and it's been fine, but I will say that I've been hesitant to go long in it, for fear of chafing. Once it's been broken in a bit, this will likely be a non-issue. 
  • Uni-boob. 
  • By far, my biggest complaint is that my phone doesn't actually fit in the bra. Here you can see my LG G2 sitting above the front (inside) pocket of the bra. It's maybe a quarter inch too wide for the pocket, and the mouth of the pocket doesn't expand. This pocket likely works if you have an iPhone, or just a smaller phone. I don't think the LG G2 is a particularly huge phone, so I was disappointed. 

Even though the pocket doesn't work for my phone, I imagine I'll get some use out of it anyway, by cramming Gu or a credit card in there. There are also side pockets for those things, which is a nice touch. 

In Conclusion

In closing, I like this product, but probably would not purchase another one unless they addressed the items in my "cons" list in a redesign. 

* I have not been contacted by Swoob to conduct this review. The views given here are mine and mine alone, and were given with no compensation or product. I purchased the product out of my own pocket. 

Monday, April 27, 2015

Training 2015.2 Kick-Off

Last week, after the Salt Lake Half, I did not train. I did not cross-train. I slept. And ate candy. And drank beer. In fact, I ran exactly this many miles:

A whopping five. 
I'm not sorry.

I am, however, READY to jump back in, full force, for training 2015.2. I'm now in training for the Utah Valley Half, and I have 7 weeks of training in which to finish my metamorphosis into a fine tuned racing machine (ha!). A few things are different from 2015.1, where I was focused on building my base, using the Salt Lake Half as a motivator.

  1. I will do every workout on my schedule, for the distance and pace specified. I did most workouts during 2015.1, but did skip usually 1 per week in favor of sleeping, and didn't do the full distance some days. And if you've been following, you know it was a fight to get close to those speed work paces at first. 
  2. I have a concrete goal. Unlike this year's first bout of training, where I was base-building, I now have a specific race time goal: 1:45. I will use this goal to motivate me. I will imagine the finish line. I will sweat and I will love it. 
  3. I'm looking forward to race weekend with a friend. My friend Rachel who ran with me last year is coming again! I cannot freakin' wait!! Adorably, my just-turned-3-year-old has been asking about her since she left last June. That's high praise! 
  4. For the first time in 8 years, I'm not running in Brooks Adrenalins. About 2 weeks ago I switched to Mizunos, but, they didn't take. The Salt Lake Running Company was great working with me, and let me swap them out for a pair of Brooks Ravennas. I've put 12 miles on them now and they are doing well, so I think we have a winner. I won't know really until I get to a crazy high mileage week, but I think we're good to go!
  5. I'm not starting from scratch on yoga. And this, I love. I have a long way to go on building core strength, but I feel like I have a start in this department. 
This morning I got the ball rolling with a 7 mile easy run. It felt good to be back out, the sun already starting its ascent as I stepped outside. Summer. Miles. Sun. Friends. I love it all. 

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Salt Lake Half Race Report

Half Marathon #11, the Salt Lake Half 2015, is in the books! Welcome to the race recap.

The Expo
On Friday afternoon I left work early to head to the race expo. I left myself plenty of time since the last time I ran an errand downtown between work and kid pick-up, I didn't arrive to my son's daycare until the absolute last possible minute (parenting fail #872). I found parking easily at the Energy Solutions Arena, and starting circling the building looking for Gate 3, which my foggy memory told me was what the race instructions email had said. I walked a bit. And kept walking. Then re-checked the email and realized I was at the wrong location. The race expo was at the convention center. D'oh! Fortunately for me, they're right across the street from each other. No biggie.

Home of the Utah Jazz...but not the race expo
Crossing the street took several minutes, but I immediately found an entry door to the convention center and went in.

Salt Palace Convention Center
At the end of the hall you see above, I found this sign pointing to an elevator. Except the guy getting in the elevator told me it was easier to take the stairs, so I started walking. And walking, and walking.

Not helpful. 
Then when I got to a long hallway overlooking a square mile of vacant space, I really wondered if I'd made up the whole thing. Race? What race? This is the zombie apocalypse! You've entered the maze of never-ending vaguely-industrial corridors! Good thing you're a runner, since zombies don't like fast food.
So this sign was actually helpful. Otherwise I'd have assumed I was lost. 
At long last I reached the race expo. It was much larger than last year, and bustling! I wove my way through to packet pick-up and got my bag and shirt. I stopped by the Salt Lake Running Company booth on my way out to ask some questions. Remember my new shoes?  It turns out I wasn't feeling so confident about them. My heels were slipping a lot, and I needed some input. The guy told me to try to get to the store before they closed at 7. So I went home, dropped off my younger son, and headed over the store.

Race Eve
At Salt Lake Running, they were so patient with me. A sales person worked with me to figure out what wasn't working and find a solution. So the question: did I dare race on brand new, never-tried shoes? After some back and forth with friends on Facebook, I decided against it, and stuck with my very old Adrenalins. Better to let them kill me slowly than have something horrific, acute, and unexpected from the new kicks.

Race eve: sweet & sour veggies and rice for dinner, and in bed later than intended, around 10:30, with my alarm set for 4:50am. Incidentally, while I was walking through the expo, I apparently pocket dialed an AT&T software update for my phone. So that happened. This largely meant that when bedtime came, I couldn't figure out my volume settings. Mr. Joanna figured out a work-around, and by morning had found the actual setting. I love being married to a tech geek. :)

O'Dark Thirty
I slept well and rolled out of bed on schedule, 4:50am, immediately thankful for being able to sleep in my own bed on race eve. I was out of the house on schedule, too, right at 5:25, toasted bagel with cream cheese in hand. My efforts to get to the nearest TRAX station were thwarted by race-related road closures, so I quickly found a path to the next nearest station, effortlessly found parking, and caught the next Red Line train to the start line. I chatted with a nice woman who was from out of town, and in no time we'd arrived.

It was cold at the race start. I hadn't brought a bag to check or any throw-away clothes, so I was just in my race clothes, which consisted of capris and a long-sleeved but light weight top. I was there almost an hour before start time, so I hit the porta-potties, then focused on energy conservation. I sat on a curb for a while, and when my but was 100% numb from the cold I got up and stood for a while.

Finally it was time to line up, and here was my only complaint about the race organization: they'd put our starting corrals on the gear check tag. You know, the one people had either torn off of their bib at home, or torn off earlier that morning to put on their drop bag? So like one of out eight people could identify their starting corral and the rest of us guessed. I put myself between the 1:45 and 2:00 pacers, which is kinda what happens at every other race anyway, so it wasn't a huge deal.

The Race
Pre-recorded national anthem: check. Race sponsor shout outs: check. Hometown Hero gun count-down: check. A few waves, and about a minute and 40 seconds later, and I was across the start mat, right behind a woman running her very first full marathon. I love the excitement of a start line!!

Knowing the course from last year was a huge advantage. I knew that there were hills in the first mile and a half, and that it would pay to take them conservatively. I absolutely did that, easing into Mile 1 at 9:07, and mile 2 at 8:41. I think this was one of my most successful half marathon openings, actually. I warmed up, eased in, and didn't try to be a hero on those hills.

Dispensing with The Avenues, we moved into the descent through Memory Grove. Just stunning. Beautiful, beautiful in the early morning light. Easily the best part of the course! It didn't feel like work at all, but like being pulled along, down. We wound down and through the gates (see pic below), then turned east and headed into a long, gradual incline before turning south at 6.6 miles.
Mile 3: 8:10
Mile 4: 8:14
Mile 5: 8:09
Mile 6: 8:34
Mile 7: 8:24
I'm sure this thing has an actual name
Once we turned south, I was headed toward seeing my boys--yay!! I also knew I had a long, gradual decline followed by a relatively short but quite steep hill, so I settled in and enjoyed the downhill. The short/steep was rude, as was expected, and I was again thankful that I run this hill almost every day, which let me nail the pacing for it. We turned off the hill and onto level ground, and I in the home stretch for seeing my boys. At this point, I was a little tired, but very much aware of how much better I felt at this point versus last year at this point.

A few blocks down, I saw my neighbor and runner friend first, then my older son, then my younger son and my husband, all cheering. Love!! Seriously the best thing ever.

Mile 8: 8:46. I'm not sorry. That hill's a b*tch.

The stretch from here to the park is the tough stretch for me. Fewer spectators, less scenery, fairly flat and uneventful. I knew going in though that this would be harder, and I was ready for it. I felt ok, a little tired, but ok. When I got to Liberty Park, at mile 11.3, I knew it was too early to kick, so I made myself wait until I exited the park, which I knew well was in about .75 miles, and that would be fine.

Mile 9: 8:22
Mile 10: 8:32
Mile 11: 8:20
Mile 12: 8:32
I'd vaguely been targeting an 8:20 or 8:30 race pace, so I was good with this.

When I exited the park, I had about 1.25 miles to go, and I kicked it up a notch. Knowing the terrain of this course was such an advantage, because I knew what to expect and when and how easy or hard everything would feel. I knew it was a flat, straight shot from the end of the park to the finish line, so I had no fear about burning through the last mile.

Mile 13: 7:53

I could see the finish from about 0.4 miles out, straight down a major street about 4 traffic lights. I waited until the last 0.25 to add my last bit of speed, then came down the straight-away to the finish.

Last 0.28 mi: 7:28 pace

Unofficial Garmin time: 1:51:53.
(Office time: 1:51:54)
Placement: 537/3,122 overall
199/1,914 women overall
57/391 gender/age group

The Finish Area
The finish line was really well stocked and staffed! I got a Creamie (a Utah ice cream popsicle, gloriously available in chocolate, orange, or vanilla at seemingly all finish lines in Utah), a banana, and some Gatorade, had my picture taken, stretched and cooled down. And of course my medal!
I think you could actually wear this as a belt buckle. It's a bold statement. 

After I'd cooled down a bit, I walked across the street to the TRAX station to hop a Red Line train back to my car. I happened to board a train with one of my advisees, headed to the airport to go to a conference. I chatted with him until he needed to switch lines, hoping he didn't notice how bad I smelled! Once I was back to my car, getting home required a highly circuitous and slow route around the perimeter of the course--to be expected.

All told, it was a great race day. I shaved about 1:10 off my time from last year, and felt a LOT better throughout the race. I feel good heading into training for my A Game race for the year, the Utah Valley Half. I'll be taking a few days off then heading back to training. Can't wait!!

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Training Week 6: A Goth Locker Room and the End of an Era

Training Week 6 is in the books. As I write, I'm a week out from race day and feeling good. Here's the run-down of my week:

Sunday: Laundry Day
Which now has a new name in our house.
On laundry day, my husband calls our bathroom my Goth Locker Room. Ha!
Monday: 6 miles EZ
This early morning run was darn near perfect. A gorgeous sunrise* and I felt amazing.
* I feel like a broken record about the sunrises here, but honestly, every morning is this unimaginably beautiful thing, like 340 days a year. Maybe it's that I lived without mountains for 8 years. Maybe it's the dry, sunny climate that lets it be beautiful so often. I don't know. But I know it's amazing.

Tuesday: Yoga Power Hour
This class! Some weeks it's super hard, other weeks less so. Class was easier this past week. Plus I rode my bike to class, so I felt pretty awesome about that.

Wednesday: I slept in. It snowed. Like, all day. 
Yep, snow. We've had very little snow this winter (don't hate us, east coast--we would gladly have taken some of yours), then April comes and BAM. Snow. It was pretty and didn't stick, which is pretty much ideal if it's going to snow in April. Right?

Thursday: 10x400
Love--LOVE--that every week I'm getting closer to hitting all the paces, and every week it's feeling better during the workout. This week's workout was 10x400, with 200m recoveries. I hit 5 of them and came very close on 3 more. Here's how it came out (400s only):
1:48--always trying to find the right gear on the first interval out--actually started way too fast then over-adjusted trying to get it right
1:51--heading into the slightly elevated corner of the park again plus started out too slow and just couldn't recover the time
1:49--into that higher corner again--bore down on it but just couldn't get the time down

I paired this with a 2 mile warm-up and a 2 mile cool-down.

Friday: 5 miles EZ 
In the PITCH BLACK. I met my friend Tessa at 6am at a popular running trail that's about halfway between our houses. She thought to bring a clip-on light. I hadn't brought one, thinking it wasn't necessary since we were on a trail that isn't accessible to cars. I was wrong. We had a really hard time seeing other runners until we were very close to them, which is kind of creepy. Next time I'll take my light. Dark or not, it was great to see her and run together. It makes me think of last summer when we met all the time to run at totally crazy hours of the pre-dawn.

Saturday: 8 mile medium-long run
I'm a little torn about this. My schedule said to do 8 miles because my half is next weekend. But, I'm not trying to actually run a 1:45 at this half, or even PR it. This is all just base training for Utah Valley, in which case, I should probably have done more mileage today. But we had places to be, so I did my 8 and packed it in. It was a great morning for a run. Along the way I stopped to refill water and got to chatting with two older gentlemen about running. They were delightful, and both retired from prestigious careers here locally. It was one of those rare conversations where you feel like you've known someone for a long time, it's so comfortable, and you just met. How lovely!

In my afternoon errand-running, I hit up the running store. My feet and knees have been hurting some, and I realized that I probably hadn't replaced my shoes in a long time. Uncharacteristically, I didn't make note of it here on the blog, so I don't actually know how many miles are on them, but I'd estimate about 450. To the store! Time for new shoes.

For 8 years, I've been running in Brooks Adrenalins, size 102A*. I've loved them. But, last fall while marathon training, I learned that while my heel is somewhat narrow, my toe box isn't, and as a consequence of this, my shoes were causing the ball of my foot to hurt. I worked with the sales rep at Salt Lake Running Company today to find a solution. We decided on the Mizuno Wave Inspire, which is designed so that the heel sits in deeper than in most shoes, which helps to keep it from slipping. It's truly the end of an era, this not buying Brooks business. Wish me luck with the new kicks! I'm kind of excited to test these new waters.

My first pair of non-Brooks in 8 years.
* I wear an 8-8.5 street shoe. I realize that going up 1.5 sizes is not normal, but every time I try a smaller shoe, I lose toenails. The 2A means narrow. 

Total Mileage for the Week: 26.9
# Runs: 4
# Other Workouts: 1

I'm also happy to say that I'm making progress on my goals! I successfully journaled my food this week, and I did well with pre-run fueling this morning. For the coming week, I'm going to focus on hydration and rest, to prepare for the Salt Lake Half on Saturday. Stay tuned for a race report next weekend!

Saturday, April 4, 2015

March Recap

Total miles: 120.7

# Runs: 17

# Other workouts: 3. THREE! Hallelujah! I finally figured out a cross-training activity that I enjoy and that fits my schedule!

Most memorable run: The thing that stands out most in my memory from March is just that I gained confidence in speed work from week to week. The first time out was pretty brutal. The second time was better. The third time out was downright enjoyable. Sadly I missed both speed work and yoga this week as stress took over my psyche and meant that I needed sleep and wasn't getting enough. I'll be back at speed work next week and can't wait.

But this was my favorite picture--mountains behind me, sun on my face, beautiful day for a long run.

Current needs/wants: I honestly don't need a thing, but I have to say, running apparel & gadgets have come so, so far since I started endurance running back in 2007. I keep finding such cool stuff! For instance:

  • The Swoob front pocket bra for high impact sports (here). Need--no. Want--yea. Justifiable--sure. I'll be carrying a phone for safety purposes. 
  • The running tanks with built-in bras that actually claim to work for curvier runners while they are running. I've always assumed, by default, that built-in bras just categorically are not going to cut it....because they never have. But, light on the horizon, I think maybe, just maybe we're to an age where this might be possible. (option here) Has anyone tried these?
  • There are also running tanks now with side rouching. Anyone who has had a baby knows this as the sewing technique that hides all sins against nutrition. WANT this. Need--not so much. 
  • Pretty much everything available at Title 9. 
Training update: The Salt Lake Half is in 2 weeks. I'm not trying to PR. It's my warm-up training & race for Utah Valley in June, which I cannot wait to run with my friend Rachel!! 
Rachel & me, the day I left St. Louis
House projects: Since it's been a while since I did a monthly recap, it's been a while since I updated you on house renovation progress. Since we last talked, I epically painted the master bedroom and ceiling. It was epic because it took forever, first to find just the right color, then to apply enough coats, and finally to paint our dirty, awful ceiling. The paint looks great with the bedding I chose at West Elm back in December. I also then picked out some lamps and lamp shades, a side table to go with the chair, and some decor pieces, and we got new window coverings--some nice Roman shades. 

Sometime in February (I think) we had our windows cleaned, inside and out, by a highly rated professional window company. They did not bring their A game that day. They dirtied, badly, not 1 but NINE curtain panels, including 4 in my older son's room, 4 in our room, and 1 other. Then they came back (thankfully) to clean them, and in doing so ruined 1 panel, and installed 3 of ours in our son's room, and his in our room. They also scuffed some paint on the craft desk I took a millennium painting. So they came back a third time to re-clean one panel (one I'd sewn myself), uninstall and re-install the 6 misplaced panels, and replace the one they ruined. All for window washing! This is what I get for having windows washed! 

We've also added some art work throughout the house, and a few new light fixtures. I feel like we're getting closer and closer to a house that feels like its us from top to bottom. 

Other lovely things in life: My baby turns 3 next week. He's so happy, so sweet, so cute. Sometimes it's hard to let him grow up. My older son wanted to make a card for the Easter Bunny. I love him for this. He was so concerned about gluing everything down today, to make sure the glue had time to dry in time. So like me like that. Also, I'm using my newest toy to help make it--a Silhouette Cameo 3 die cutting machine. I had a Making Memories Slice for years and it just up and died on me a few weeks ago. I'd always liked that it was small and portable, but its functionality was fairly limited. And, while you can still buy them, they're not really supported any more. So I made the switch, and so far am loving it. 

At work, I've made some really cool discoveries recently, and have gotten most of it written up and sent to journals for review. And some of my articles from last year are starting to appear in print now, and I'm getting to share that work with networks locally and nationally and am getting some feedback on them. I love my life as a researcher. It's an amazing way to build professional networks, give students amazing training opportunities, and learn endless and new things about the world.