Sunday, January 22, 2017

lighting up my run -- Knuckle Lights

Disclaimer: I received Knuckle Lights as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out to review find and write race reviews!

As it is winter time, many of our runs especially on work days occur in the dark.  Being visible is super important as well as being able to see where we are running.  As an ultra runner, I also use various types of running lights during my own races and when crewing/pacing.  Therefore, running lights are super important to me and I like to have lots of them.

The knuckle lights are something different than anything I've tried as far as things to light my run.  I've used many a headlamp and a few things that clip on but never a handheld light.  To me having to carry a light might be annoying or take up space in my hands that I might need for water, fuel etc but since I was given the opportunity I wanted to check these out.
I was shocked when I first picked up the lights, at how light they are.  According to the website, they are less than 3 ounces each which when you hold them, definitely feels super light.  Probably one thing that helps with the weight is the fact that they do not use batteries.  They come with a charger that is very easy to use.  I LOVE this since we go through batteries around here like crazy between the dark winter runs and long ultra races we do for all our headlamps.  I definitely did not need something else that uses batteries.

The lights each have a magnet so they stay together. 

The lights easily turn on by pushing the button on top, it was not difficult to do even when on the run.  They have multiple settings including a bright light, normal light and flashing light.  I've used all three settings and like them all.  I was especially impressed how bright the lights were and the extensive area they covered when I was running.  Headlamps tend to light up a more narrow cone type of area where these lights, light up a very wide area.  I can also see this being really helpful so that I don't get that weird tunnel vision that can happen with the headlamps.

As far as having them in my hands while running, it didn't bother me at all.  They were easy to hold.  Sometimes I would put them both in one hand which since they were so light, didn't make much of a difference.  The holders you slide your hands into are adjustable which is nice for all different size hands and if you want to make it more snug so they can just sit on your hands rather than actually holding them.  
 The only negative I could see was that some people might not like that the light they create does move while you are running since you are usually swinging your arms.  I didn't find it bothersome but I definitely can see some people might especially if they are wild arm swingers.

All in all I liked the knuckle lights alot.  I took them last weekend to Key West to do my pre-race run and I used them later this week on a night run with my sister.  I can definitely see myself using them in my ultras especially in conjunction with a headlamp, that trail will be so bright I'll trick myself into thinking it's daytime ;-)

I think they are definitely worth trying out and right now you can use the code BIBRAVEPRO and save 10% off your entire order. 

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Back to Paradise -- Key West Half

 Disclaimer: I received entry to Key West Half Marathon as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out to review find and write race reviews!

Best coffee ever!

I am not going to bore you again with how and why I decided to go back to the Key West Half, you can read that here.  What I am going to bore you with, is the fantastic time I had in Key West this past weekend. 

Miami Beach
Full moon at the beach
I flew into Ft Lauderdale Thursday afternoon and arrived at my Miami Beach hotel by about 3:30-4.  Since my #brf Angie does not fly, she was driving all the way from Iowa and would not be picking me up until some time Friday afternoon.  Not a problem for me.  I enjoyed some time at the pool and beach then some rooftop deck beers and found a cool bar for some pub grub.  Angie's long time friend Kate arrived about 1am so we spent all Friday together at the pool and beach waiting for Ang.  It was really tough but we survived somehow. 

The drive through the keys was pretty uneventful since it was dark and we couldn't see too much.  Our hotel in Key West turned out to be super nice with a great pool/bar scene.  We hit up Duval street for some food and a drink.  We found a place having karaoke which was AWESOME. 

The next morning Ang and I did our half marathon shake out together.  Every time we go on a trip together, I realize more and more why we are such great friends.  She just gets me and running is just as important to her as it is to me.  It wasn't even a second thought, just "when is our run gonna be on Saturday."  Her wardrobe also like mine consists of mainly running related apparel and like me I don't think I saw her apply makeup a single time.  <3<3

I found a new pet on our shake out run
Anyway after our shakeout which was on the hot side, we rented bikes from our hotel.  We cruised islandstyle all day long.  We hit up the expo which was noticeably bigger and better organized that in 2014 when I ran this race.  It was inside a brewery rather than outside.  There were multiple vendors including ALTRA! and acquiring our stuff was quick and easy.  Then we lunched and hit up a bunch of different sites on the island ending at Higgs beach where we stayed to watch sunset. 

Southern Most Point

Race morning was super early for me.  Since I'm currently training for the Austin Marathon, coach felt it was best to train through this race especially given it's in a very different climate that I'm not currently acclimated to.  That said, he wanted me to run a total of 20 miles including the race.  He was going to have me do a few before and a few after however I requested to not have any after due to the free post race beer.  I mean I do have priorities.  This meant I had to get 7 miles in and be ready for the 7 am start.  Ugh, early wake up for me!  But I did it and it was fine.  I did have to cram a lot of crap in my pack though which made for a little bit of annoying thing during the 7 miles.  I felt ok during the 7 but I was definitely sweating my ass off even though it was still dark.  It was definitely pretty humid.  I just kept thinking "How am I going to run 9 miles at MP like coach assigned during the race??"  But you never know until you try. 
using my knuckle lights in the dark
kinda hot after the warm up
I reached the race starting area with about 20 minutes before the start and Angie saw me right away.  I quickly checked ALL the crap I had lugged around and went to hit up the potty and get some more water and I ate some chomps.  I felt like I had hydrated and fueled enough but I still wanted to carry my handheld and had a few gels in my fuelbelt. 
Before I knew it, I was lined up and we started the race.  I was in the middle of the crowd somewhere so my first mile was on the slower side.  Lots of bobbing and weaving and getting stuck.  Miles 2-3 I ran pretty close to my goal marathon pace but it wasn't easy.  4-6 were a bit slower but about 20 seconds off so I was feeling ok with that.  At this point I had started chugging water at aid stations and dumping a second cup on my head.  I just felt super overheated but every time I did that I would feel better for a while.  As we came up on the turn around point, I was starting to feel better like maybe I would be able to do some more miles at MP.  Literally 20 feet after going around those cones,  an extremely sharp pain shot through my right hammy.  I was like "what was that?!" but I kept going but a minute later, the pain came again and did not subside.  I had to stop and try stretching it out.  I've never cramped before during a run but I knew this was what it was.  I walked a bit and stopped to stretch a bunch of times.  It wasn't getting much better so I limped to the next aid station to get some electrolyte drink in case the cause was dehydration.  I ate my gel, drank the orange drink they kept calling Gatorade but Ang insists was Ultima.  It felt slightly better so I started jogging a bit.  All in all, I probably walked a solid mile and slowly jogged half of the next one.  I think by mile 9 I was back to running a steady pace but was not able to pick up speed at all as I could still very much feel my hammy and it kept reminding me that it was on the verge of flaring back up any minute.  Finally I reached the last mile and just let myself relax and go since I figured if it cramped up too bad again I was close enough to just walk it home.  I ended up doing one of my faster miles that last mile and was just so relieved to cross the finish line.  There was a nice crowd cheering and TONS of water waiting for me.  I knew it would be a little time before Ang finished so I headed to the beer station.  They had tons of cups already filled just waiting to be drank, IPA and pilsner, ummmm what?!  AND it was unlimited refills.  BEST POST RACE EVER!!!!!

Eventually Ang found me sitting on my ass drinking beer.  First order of business was getting her some then we got some post race food.  We had a great time listening to music and obviously drinking lots of beer.  They also had some kind of raffle based on race numbers going on and I won a Hemingway prize pack.  It was a pretty sweet prize that included a beautiful water color, stone mug, a Hemingway book and some key lime coffee.  So despite my actually running not going as well as I had hoped, it was still tons of fun and I couldn't be more glad I made the trip down there especially to hang with Ang. 

We got to spend a bit more time together the rest of Sunday and then we set off early Monday morning so she could drop Kate and I back off in Miami.  Then she carried on driving back to Iowa (yes we reminded her ALL weekend how much easier flying would have been, haha). 
Key Lime Pie Cruisers

Love these girls!!!
<3 my angie <3

All in all, I thought the race was well organized, with a nice, scenic course.  There were a few changes from the 2014 race however I felt they were all good ones.  The expo was much improved, there were more aid stations, more volunteers working them and I felt the post race party was waaaaay better.  In 2014 there were free drinks however I remember having to wait in line forever just to get one let alone the ten I had this year.  They definitely had the system down pat.  Also the quality of the beer was REALLY good, come on, I know that's very important to you guys!   Even though I've done this race twice, I would go back in a heartbeat.  It's definitely worth the trip down plus then you get to enjoy all Key West has to offer.  It makes for a great runcation, even with the higher temps and humidity, still worth it. 

Now I'm back home in cloudy, depressing....back to trying to train my ass off for Austin which is next month.  Since I didn't do an end of the year or beginning of the year blog, I'll just list out what I have so far this year:

February--Austin Marathon
April-- Philly Hot Chocolate 15K
May -- D3 24 hour race, Sharon Hill, PA
July-- likely Jahorina Ultra in Bosnia (shorter one this time!)
October-- Chicago Marathon

Not much yet but I think it will be best to focus on getting another 100 mile PR at the 24 hour race and a BQ at the Chicago Marathon.  I still may end up adding some more things in there as the year progresses but those are my main focus.  I also will have a lot of non-running things to take care of in the upcoming months as 2017 is a big year for the Dedics so I do not want to over do it on the races until we are settled.  And I do imagine once we are settled in our new home in Boulder, Colorado (YAY!!!!) there will be LOTS more races on the list.

Sneak preview of what our running life will look like in the near future: