6 Tips For Quality Run Training

6 Tips For Quality Run Training

Tips for Quality Run Training Train no faster than one pace quicker than the race you are training for. For example, 5k pace is good for an Olympic-distance race, while half-marathon pace suffices...

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Better late than never – Ironman Augusta 70.3 Recap

Better late than never – Ironman Augusta 70.3 Recap

Obviously, Ironman Augusta 70.3 is one of my favorite races, since this is the third year in a row I competed in it.  Why?

  • The 1.2 mile swim heads downstream giving those of us that are not great swimmers a little push.
  • There are two main sporting events in Augusta.  The little golf tournament called “The Masters”, and the Ironman, so the whole city seems to show up to support it.  The Ironman doesn’t have near the amount athletes or the out-of-town spectators, but it doesn’t seem like that when you are competing.
  • The 56 mile bike course is beautifully scenic with rolling hills which makes it somewhat challenging and a lot of fun.
  • The run course is two-loops around the center of town which is loaded with spectators that are cheering and holding signs with sayings like “If Triathlon was easy they would call it football.”  It gives the competitors continuous motivation through a the 13.1 mile completion to the challenge which depending on the temperature could be grueling.
  • The volunteers, all three years I have competed, have always been amazing.  There are aid stations every 10 miles on the bike and every mile on the run, so there are a huge amount of volunteers that are there for a very long time.
  • The expo and check-in have always been run very professionally and smooth.  It is probably one of the best run expos I have took part in.

The weekend started off with a caravan of amazing people up to Augusta caravan crewincluding my buddy Pete, Kari, Jaime, Kat, Chris, Kate, Matt, Jeff & Miranda.  All of them great people and athletes.

The ride up was uneventful with one stop at Cracker Barrel to fuel up and a couple of minute stops for gas and essentials.  We went right to check-in and surprise, surprise, the Marriott opened their new convention center so there was so much more space for check-in and the expo than last year.  In the past everything was in a series of rooms, now it was in one great big room that allowed for more vendors and more space to move around.  There had to be at least 50% more vendors than last year.  It was amazing.  Of course my favorite part, as always, is the atmosphere.  Super charged with excitement and enthusiasm.

After getting settled in are hotels, Chris, Jaime, Kat and I had dinner at this little restaurant of an old hotel called the Partridge Inn.  The meal was incredible, and for the first time I got to try Shrimp & Grits, which of course Jaime was astounded I had never tried.  It was really amazing.  Paleo?  Not in the least, but it was delicious.  We ended up splitting our dinners, of which mine was a 16oz prime rib that was cooked to perfection.  It was an amazing choice, indeed.   (Patrons of the hotel had much less to say of the hotel though.)

pre-transitionThe next day consisted of quick workouts, bike check-in, race prep and another awesome dinner at Charlie-O’s Steak House.  We had a much larger crowd for dinner which not only included the caravan gang, but some members of Tri-Psych as well.  It was the perfect crowd to spend the evening before the race.  Everybody was calm, cool and collected on the outside, but some pre-race anxiety seemed to be looming over all of us.

I was surprised at how well I slept that night.  I usually never sleep the night before a race.  Of course I still didn’t get eight hours, but the 6 I did was a very hard sleep.  I woke up even more refreshed than I thought.   I had the opportunity to dress, eat and be ready with time to chill out and motivate myself.

The transition area was crowding fast as usual, and since last year I had a very early start, this year I ended up more in the middle waves, so there was plenty of time, to relax and get my bike and gear ready, without feeling rushed.  As always there were plenty of people who caught up with me either from, home, past races, social media, or my blog.  It was awesome.  Race morning has to be one of my favorite times of the race, just because of the excitement and the convening with friends and acquaintances.  Those of you podium placers probably are in your own little world at this point, and it makes sense, but to a lotkat and me of us just trying to beat our past times and finish comfortably, this is a great time of the morning.

The shuttle took us to the host hotel, and as it was in the lower 50s at the time, we decided to grab some coffee and hangout in the lobby.  Finally, it was time to head over to the start, drop my “morning clothes” bag in the truck and enter my corral for the start.  I found Jaime, which calmed my nerves a bit.  He races with Team RWB of whom I am honored to call myself a part of as well, but he is much faster than I.  Usually about 20-30 minutes faster.  He is an amazing athlete, motivator and all-around person.  We only catch each other at races, but he always is able to motivate just that little bit extra.

The time came and they moved us to the dock, the

Jaime and I

gun went off and we jumped in and started swimming.  I have been working on my swimming so I adopted my rhythm as soon as possible, and found myself right with the majority of the pack the first 800m but then I fell short.  They swam past and I ended up, as usual, in the back.  Around the 1200m mark the pack behind me caught me and by time I finished, the fast women, two waves behind me, caught me.  I still ended up beating my swim time from the year before by a minute, but it was still slow.

I ran up the ramp to transition and without any incidents I grabbed my bike and headed out and just as I was about to leave transition, mother nature called and I made a quick decision to use the portlets.  I still ended up with a four-minute transition, but I was a little disappointed.  Around the three-mile mark I started to feel something new; quad burn.  I was astounded I was feeling this so soon.  Usually, it took 40 to 50 miles of hills before I felt it this bad.  I must have over-used them in the swim.  After another  fifteen minutes I took a Honey Stinger Gel prematurely and the burn subsided meaning that I must have depleted my glycogen levels just enough to feel it.  My cadence kicked up and I started passing people, and while I was still getting passed by the elite cyclists in the waves behind me, I was doing more passing than getting passed.  The hills were as I remembered and I didn’t have any issues with them until mother nature threw me a curve ball.  She added the wind.  I was thinking the whole time, I just wanted to average 20mph.  That would get me into T2 under 3 hours.  I did make it to T2 with that goal, but I fell short of my 20mph average at 19.44 mph.

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Unfortunately, because I wanted that 20 mph so bad and I had not accounted for the wind, I spent a little more energy than I wanted and I felt in on the run.  At first I felt a little tight, but I was used to that.  In my training it took till mile three to get my legs back, so I pushed through and bided my time until then, but at mile three, the tightness didn’t go away.  As a matter of fact, the tightness never went away.  I ended up doing a run/walk of 1 mile on and sixty seconds off.  It worked but I faltered on even doing as well as I did the year before.  I was under two hours in 2012, but this year I ended up 2:05 which is the exact amount I was off my over-all time: 5:42 off from 5:36.  I cared for a while, but I assessed what I learned and what I needed to take away in order to be successful at Ironman Florida which is the ultimate goal for the year.

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I caught up with Pete around mile 11 and we ran into the finish chute together.  Of course we were passed by Master’s champion runner, Jeff Lessie who was doing the bike and run as part of a relay.  What made it really embarrassing, was that Jeff started an hour behind us and he still caught us.  He is an amazing athlete, and when he ran passed us we thought for sure he was just on his first loop, but when we saw him in the finish area, both of us looked at each other and then down at the ground.  After a couple of nanoseconds we lifted our heads, found him and gave him a hearty congrats.  We both still did pretty well and we knew it.

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On to the next challenge, for me, the Chicago Marathon, and for both of of us Ironman Florida, Panama City Beach.

Carpe Viam!!

 

Rock n’ Roll St Pete Race Recap…Lessons Re-Learned

Rock n’ Roll St Pete Race Recap…Lessons Re-Learned

The crazy thing about not running “Best Damn Race”, was I felt like I needed another race to replace it.  It wasn’t very long after I got home on Saturday, that I had typed in the URL for the Rock n’ Roll series and registered for the Rock N’ Roll St. Petersburg Half-Marathon.  I have no idea what the driving need was.  I have plenty of races on the calendar, so what was another half-marathon?  I decided to chalk it up to the hype of BDR and the fact I wanted to race.  Is that a distinctive trait in all endurance athletes?  I have no idea.  I humbly request that you take a few seconds, put yourself in my shoes and let me know if you think you would’ve done the same thing.

RnR7

Ben, Pete and I at the expo

I always get excited to go to the expos.  It isn’t the free stuff, or the vendors, it is the aura, the environment and the excitement of the race.  This expo was no different.  I wasn’t excited about any of the vendors or the new technologies, I was just excited to be there and take it all in.

Road ID did something new this year.  They were engraving on-site.  This was the first event I attended where this was an option.  What a great idea, and it was so easy.  Several kiosks were set up with their software running on it and all that had to be done, was pick the product (wrist band, dog tag, ankle band, etc), type the content of the engraving, slide your card to pay for it and they engraved it for you

Jessica Crate and I

Jessica Crate and I

right there.  That was my exciting highlight of the expo, besides seeing my friend Kat(Sneakers & Fingerpaints) volunteering with Brooks and Jessica Crate hanging out with Powerbar.

After hanging out with Pete and the gang and seeing a lot of friends at the expo, it was time to head home and chill out for the night.  Afterall, not only was I at the expo but I also did a little training ride on the bridges of Clearwater.

The next morning brought on the same excitement as always.  I didn’t wake up with the overall feeling of competing, I was more content with the positive anxiety rolling through my body at the idea of running.  Period.  I love races like this, especially since when I walk around either the start or finish I always seem to find someone I know.

RnR9

Cheryl & I at the Start

Driving to the event was not an issue.  My plan was to just find a place near Tropicana field, on the street or a cheep garage between the start and finish line, but at the last second I decided I really didn’t want to deal with it, so I ended up parking at the Trop for fifteen bucks.  This is one of the things I am not crazy about with the Rock n’ Roll race series.  Everything is an extra charge.  $15 dollars to park at the expo, $15 to park at the race, $5 for a shuttle from the finish line back to the start, $1 per runner you want to track, $5 for the runner to allow others to track and not to mention the $110 race fee.  I do enjoy the local races just for the fact they are usually all-inclusive.  Best Damn Race was the cure for all of this.  One price which even at full price was cheaper ($70), and it included parking, all the good food you can eat, and all the beer you could drink, but I digress.

My first perception was that this race was already increasingly superior to last year, at least for me, because mother nature was giving us a beautiful 57 degrees that morning vs my last experience with the race which was a very cold 33 degrees.   This for me was absolutely perfect.  The temperature would rise but by the time I finished it still would not have hit 70.  A small breeze filled the air with a clean scent, but I could not consider it wind.  Even though it was still a little chilly I decided to tough out the wait for the start in just my race attire instead of bringing anything extra for gear check.  As I turned the corner around Tropicana Field the start-line events came into my line of sight. There, looking down on the parking lot,  were three huge banks of port o’ lets, a few tents for info, volunteers, water and food, and of course the corrals.  My heart rate increased a little as the anxiety started to ramp up.

The Mini-Marathon was starting first, which was a 5k, and then the main event, the Half-Marathon, would start about 25 minutes later.  Making my way into the arena, recognizable faces started coming into

Stephanie & I at the start

Stephanie & I at the start

view.  This running community, no matter how much publicity it gets, is still relatively small, so racing seems to promote seeing the same faces at most of the events.  Even though I didn’t know a lot of the athletes by name they were recognizable, but of course it is not uncommon for someone to come up behind you and give you a big hug, or tap you on the shoulder to say hi.  I ran into Margie and her friend she was running with, as well as Cheryl, Stephanie, Mike, Wibke, and a bunch of others which calmed me down tremendously.  I decided that I would race this for fun and just let my legs decide what they were going to do.  What I decided and what happened were two totally separate ideas.

Around 7:25 the corrals were filled and as I was bib number 1062 I was to start in corral number 1.  The crowd noise was diminished to a slight whisper as this 13-year-old girl gave us a beautiful rendition of our national anthem, the gun went off and we were on our way.

My legs felt really good, my breath flowed easy and my form fell into place.  I was listening to my iPod, but the volume was low enough for it to be drowned out by the local bands that were playing on the course every couple of miles.  As I passed the first mile, I looked down at my Garmin which read 7:28 which was around 10 seconds behind the race clock, which made sense, but the pace was a little fast.  I decided to keep on going and let my legs decide.  My Garmin alerted me of my 7:30 pace at the end of the 2nd mile which turned out to be about a tenth of a mile

Feeling good

Feeling good

before I reached the race clock.   This is not uncommon with races.  The GPS signal grabs satellite data every three seconds and within a city, sometimes it does not make a connection for a few passes depending on buildings, and a variety of signals that can interfere with the accuracy.  I where a foot pod to record my cadence as well as fill the gaps when the satellite is not available, but the algorithm that fills the gaps will not do so until I have recorded the history at the end of the event.

When I crossed mile three at a time very close to my 5k PR time, I knew that I was at a pace that was way too fast for my fitness level at this time, but I was feeling really good, so against my better judgement I continued.  My pace stuck at a range in-between 7:26-7:40 until mile 8 and that is when it caught up with me.  Even though I was sticking to my nutrition, I started to feel the ache in my legs, and the tightness in my chest.  I got a hold of my breathing checked my posture, leaned in a little more and kept going, but unfortunately, my pace for the next 3 miles steadily increased.  I was pretty consistent with the people around me up to this point.  I played cat & mouse with a few of the runners, and I was passing people here and there and feeling pretty good about it, but for the last few miles, I would start to get passed.   Between, nine and ten, I saw Ben

Seeing a familiar face.  Thanks Ben Mena

Seeing a familiar face. Thanks Ben Mena

Mena on the side taking photos.  A familiar face usually helps, so I turned toward him and mucked for the shot, pretending I felt a lot better than I actually did.  My legs started getting heavier as we headed toward a small bridge, and I noticed Jessica Crate heading the opposite way toward the finish line, along with a lot of other familiar faces in that elite athlete group.  Just on the other side of the bridge my watch alerted me to mile 11 and a lap time of 8:31.  Out loud I yelled at myself, “Are you f***ing kidding me?” which gained me a few smirks and a couple of double takes from the others around me.  I assessed my form, and my efficiency and noticed I was pretty much jacked up, so I slowed my breathing, lifted my arms to put me back in the right posture, tucked my hips and leaned from my ankles.  I glided through the next mile at was alerted that I covered it in 8 minutes flat.  “Better”, I thought to myself, but I was weakening and I knew it.  I only had 1.1 miles left and while no matter what the finish line would be crossed, but it would be the longest mile of the race.

In a period that felt like two minutes went by when I saw Jessica running the opposite way, which could only be her cool down run, when I yelled and waved and before I knew it, she was in front of me.  Yelling at me to stay with her.  Her commands kept calling my ego to release anything I had left.  “Bring your

Elite Athlete Jessica Crate

Elite Athlete Jessica Crate

arms up, relax and let’s do this!”, is what I heard from her as I started leaning more and lifting my legs.  “400 meters Brad kick it into gear, c’mon let’s go!” is what sparked my kick.  I could see the finish line, it was right there all I had to do was take everything I had and just push to get there.  Jessica’s last words to me were “50 meters left, GO!!!!” and I took off with everything I had left.  Honestly, it hurt, but the pain subsided the nanosecond I crossed the timing mat.  The race clock said 1:45 on the nose when I crossed and I was disappointed in my time, but not in my effort.

My chest was tight, my back started to twinge a little as I retrieved my medal, took photos and started gathering after race treats.  Water, Gatorade, chocolate milk, bananas, strawberries, granola bars were basically shoved into my hands and I hadn’t even left the finish corral.   I didn’t know what to do with it all, but  I thought the race should really hand a plastic bag to the finishers so it could be collected without effort.  After all, we all just ran 13.1 miles, the blood isn’t exactly flowing to our brains.

Sexiest woman on the course Karen D.

Sexiest woman on the course Karen D.

I found a nice secluded spot to drop all my goodies, and start my post-run routine of lunges, stretches and squats before I started socializing.  I caught Jessica at the VIP tent and thanked her for bringing me in and then proceeded to hang with Tara Lee, Cheryl, Karen, Teresa, Holly, Mike, Brian, Stephanie and who knows how many others at the beer tent while we listened to Sean Kingston play live on the stage of North Shore Park.

I didn’t pay for shuttle ticket out of principal, and I kinda decided prior to the race I would just run back, which was probably going to be more of walk by the way I felt.  I said my goodbyes to friends at the beer tent and headed back to the VIP area to say goodbye to Jessica, when she told me that she parked at the Trop as well, so we could just run together.  “You know, I don’t run as fast as your slowest jog.”, I told her, but she just blew that statement off and we ran back.  When I say we ran, I am not kidding.  This girl runs like the wind and even though we were keeping a good pace for me, I know she had to keep looking back and slowing down.  I will say, when I reached the car, I felt

In the beer garden

In the beer garden

pretty good.  Looser and more agile.  This was a feeling I was going to have to remember.  All in all, 16 miles for the day wasn’t to shabby.

Have you ever run again after a hard race? How did you feel?

Carpe Viam!!

Tribute Tuesday #1 – Amy Bennett Eck

I mentioned yesterday I am planning on having a regular column called Tribute Tuesday where I will select someone in my life who has had a positive influence on me in some way or another.  Most of the time these people will have coached to increase my athletic prowess (which is actually pretty easy), challenge me intellectually (which isn’t really all that hard either), and/or  inspire me to be a better human being.  My first Tribute Tuesday subject has done all three.  With no further ado I would like to introduce my coach, and friend; Amy Eck.

This is a kind of crazy picture of her, but it does really give the best possible introduction to her personality.  She is a wild, and free spirit with the most positive outlook on life I have ever known in a human being.  She refuses to believe there are limits to anyone’s potential, including her own.  Just to give you an idea, this woman has competed in the Kona Ironman World Championships, the World Xterra World Championships, numerous ultra running and mountain biking events, and was a competitive wrestler in high school and college (yes I said wrestler).  I credit her incredible coaching to my 47 minute reduction in time for my PR at Ironman Augusta 70.3.  There is nothing Amy cannot do and her energy is uber-contagious.  She gets so excited when she is able to help and/or see someone succeeding that she turns bright red.  I cannot believe she doesn’t get muscle cramps in her cheeks.
Now she and her husband Erik are training for her biggest event ever, the birth of their first child.  As you can see her pregnancy hasn’t taken an ounce of her positive energy away.  She continues to enjoy life and even with all that drag she still beats both me and her husband in the pool.  Obviously she doesn’t let anything conquer her competitive side.  She was brought here to Florida due to Erik’s mobilization as a Reserve Navy Officer to CENTCOM, so the only negative thing I can possibly say about Amy is that she will be leaving to return to her home and coaching practice in Hawaii.  (It was impossible to find a photo of her where she looks “normal”.  In most of the pictures she is either in a superhero costume or in race clothes, but it’s…well…it’s Amy)
Now when I said that she has also inspired me to be a better person, she does this by example.  This is a woman whom rode a mountain bike for 10 days through Peru to do missionary work, and she did it for her honeymoon!  Talk about combining all her loves; Erik, mountain biking, helping others and God.  The stories she tells of that trip are absolutely amazing. 
I had a chance to ask my friend some questions that I thought might give some insight to one of my most favorite people in the world, and here is what she had to say;
Name: Amy Ruth Eck (Bennett)
DOB: 5 March 1978, Pisces
POB: Royal Oak, Michigan (Ford Baby)
Grew up in: Arlington, Texas
High School: Arlington High School
High School Activities: Cheerleading, Wrestling, Cross Country, Track, Soccer, FFA, JROTC
College: United States Merchant Marine Academy
College Sports: Cheerleading, Wrestling, Cross Country, Sailing
When and why did you start competing in triathlon?

(I) Started triathlon in Hawaii with the motivation of my knee surgeon Dr. Bottoni who thought it would be better than straight running and my crazy friend Marcy Fleming.  Went to watch the XTERRA World Championships and loved the LIVE MORE and family atmosphere of XTERRA.  Came home and bought a mountain bike!  Within a year I was racing the Hawaii 70.3 and the XTERRA World Championships.

What is one thing you love most about triathlon?

I love the people!  Triathlon is all about challenging your body with a group of friends around the beautiful playground of earth. 

I know that you run an Xterra Race in Hawaii – How did that start?

Erik and I had wanted to do something fun for the community that challenged people to get outside.  We also wanted to launch an event that would give us a way to raise money for charity.  In 2009 we started Freedom Fest as part of our wedding weekend.  10k run, 20k mountain bike, off-road triathlon and then get married…it was awesome! 

The race has now grown to become an XTERRA World Championship qualifier with 500 people from 8 countries and 24 states.  Come join us!  www.xterrafreedomfest.com

Do you enjoy Xterra more than road traithlon? Why?

XTERRA does a great job of making every race challenging and fun. Off-road racing works you anaerobically and provides an adrenal rush that I am addicted to.  I do enjoy mountain biking more than I enjoy road racing, but I am probably better at road racing. You have to spend a lot of time in the saddle on the road to get the proper base training for off-road.  I think the major attraction of the off-road is you get to explore!  You are away from cars, out in nature, and get a real chance to connect. It is also something my husband can do together!

What was your favorite race and why?

Favorite race…that is hard.  Favorite marathon would be Boston, favorite on-road triathlon would be Wildflower, favorite Ironman would be Kona, favorite trail run would be our XTERRA Freedom Fest race, favorite off-road triathlon would be the old XTERRA Worlds course in Makena, favorite 100-miler would be Leadville, and favorite stage race would be La Ruta.  A great race is determined by the terrain, the people it attracts, and the after party! 

Congrats on the baby!  I know you are waiting for the surprise of the sex but do you have any names for either that are in your head?

We have some names…possibly Bennett after my family or Hudson Taylor after my childhood hero. But we will have to see what the lil hero looks like when they come out!

Do you plan on continuing in Xterra or Triathlon after the baby?

Yes, I would love to get back to racing.  I am signed up for the Frogman 5k Swim in JAN and the Princess Half in FEB.  Will likely race Hawaii 70.3 and the XTERRA Mountain Man in hopes to travel to the World Championships.  As a mom I have a new career path but I think having my child seeing me (compete) in sports is important.  They need to know the importance of investing in yourself and in investing in others.  

Do you plan on bringing your child up around the sport?  

YES!  As a USAT, USATF, and Newton Coach I think sports are great for children.  They teach sportsmanship, discipline, commitment, failure, success, and they develop your mind, muscle, and soul.  Watch out for lil Eck in the 2032 Summer Olympics!

As your friend and client I always describe you as the most positive free spirit I have ever met willing to go out of her way to help people.  How did you end up with this wonderful way of life without falling to the negativity of the world? Thank you Brad, I love people!  I grew up in a wonderful Christian home where we were always helping people and it was contagious.  I feel I have been very blessed and there is nothing better than to pass those blessing on to others.  My favorite Proverb says, Do not withhold good from those who deserve it when it is within your power to act. Basically I have one life to live, one life to give.  I take the responsibility to heart and try to share JOY with others in everything!

What is your favorite motivational quote?

I have two J

Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” 
~ Mark Twain
“And in the end, it’s not the years in your life that count.  It’s the life in your years.” 
~ Abraham Lincoln


Is it possible to not love this woman?  I think not.

(Amy’s coaches virtually as well using email, telephone and Training Peaks software.  You can find more information at www.campbennett.com)
Carpe Viam!

Goof Review: Starbucks Refreshers

Starbucks Refreshers

Every runner/triathlete has there own, personal routines when it comes to pre- and post workout regimens.  I think I may have found mine, which I am sure a lot of people will find peculiar, but my discovery has been recent.  In my journey to find the perfect post workout recovery regimen I had the opportunity to try the new Starbucks Refreshers.

The summer here in Florida has been typical. Hot and humid, with isolated thunderstorms and the occasional outer band of hurricanes, so  scheduled rides and runs usually end in the stifling heat with no regard to how early they start.   The completion of a 60 miles ride usually will the leave me feeling exhausted and dehydrated.  After the initial recovery of water and recovery drinks and the reduction of my heart rate, I find myself still in the need of a thirst quencher and at that point I have had my fill of gels, recovery drinks and water.  I have been searching for something different, which leads us to my review of the new product line of Starbucks Refreshers.

After a brick workout on the Suncoast trail one morning, (a brick is a workout that includes at least two events of the triathlon.  In this case a 42 mile bike and a 5 mile run) I had thought I was ready for some coffee.  While standing in line I noticed a single sign for refreshers with a tray of samples below it.  Of course I had to try it.  I grabbed the Very Berry Hibiscus first.  Even in this small cup it looked like it would be refreshing.  The deep red color caught my eye and the fruity smell made my mouth water.  As the icy cold liquid hit my tongue it immediately dropped the temperature of my mouth and sent a fruity flavor to my taste buds.  I immediately honed in on the cherry flavor noticing it was not terribly sweet, but was not tart either and while the density was very light, there was a certain thickness to it.  Hitting the back of my throat I noticed a secret almost non-existent after taste that more reminded me of Splenda or Stevia.  At this point I was thinking to myself that this was more because of the my state of dehydration.  It was only fair that I also sample the Cool Lime flavor as well.  It felt a lot lighter, with the density of flavors much less noticeable than the Very Berry Hibiscus.  At first it did seem to calm my taste buds with a nice citrus flavor, but as it rolled down the back of my mouth and down my esophagus, it left that same thick after taste I dreaded.

Being that I understand that working out as hard as we do tends to alter the chemistry of our taste buds and yearning for different flavors, I did give the refreshers a second try.  Prior to another ride a week later I walked into a Starbucks to grab my pre-ride latte, another batch of refreshers were on a tray at the pick-up counter.  In my normal state of being, prior to a workout, my taste buds had the same chemistry as I do at rest so this would be the perfect time to try again to make sure my initial opinion would be correct.  I was not feeling dehydrated, my pulse was at resting pace, the lasting toothpaste film that normally occurs after brushing had disappeared, so there was nothing that would hinder the full attention of my senses.  To make a long story short, nothing changed.  That aftertaste I can only attribute to the green coffee ingredient Starbucks had introduced via this new product line, was thick, long lasting and made me very uneasy.   I couldn’t wait to have my first taste of the thick explosive flavor of the espresso and milk that made up my latte, in order to give me some relief from this film that encased all the areas of my mouth.  The barista at the time, asked me my opinion of the new product and I was honest about them.  She then told me by adding some lemonade to either of the flavors seemed to reduce the after taste.  Of course in my head my question was as it was obvious I was not the only person who felt this way, why didn’t Starbucks include lemonade as an ingredient in the first place?

I am just one person and this is my opinion.  To me, Splenda, and Stevia (and these refreshers) leave an aftertaste that is chemical in nature but these products have now been around for a while so people do enjoy them.

That is my story and I am sticking to it, however, my friend Beth who writes the Discom-BOB-ulated Running blog turned me onto a guilty pleasure that has now been included after those very hot workouts.  This explosion of flavor has been around for decades and has enticed children of all ages including those children of adult ages.  It cools the core on contact and fills the glycogen stores on contact.  It is the perfect completion to a long, hot, difficult ride or run.  Let me re-introduce everyone who reads this to……

7-Eleven Slurpee

(Personally, I only really enjoy the Coke Slurpee but I am sure depending on whatever flavor one may call “refreshing”, will do.)

Paint Wars Mud Run

Last weekend I participated in the Paint Wars Mud Run in Oldsmar, Florida. Well, mud run is not necessarily an accurate term, most of it was just wet, but it was fun. The obstacles were more nature made with some added ropes for safety, some hay bales and of course paint.

When registering for the run I was taken in by the description of the race which was, of course, a little exaggerated. The paint was to be squirted by Paint Ninjas at a lot of different points in the course. I only came in contact with two, but the anticipation made it fun. Let me start at the beginning.

I drove into the Whispering Oaks Horse Ranch with my little Mini Cooper Clubman where a volunteer pointed me in the right direction of the parking lot. Thank goodness I was driving my little car, because I ended up having to make a spot down a dirt road, but it just added to the suspense of the run. Upon following the signs to the registration table, we, Sarah and myself, were told to sign a waiver for the property, ok no problem. As we made our way to the registration line however we were then told to sign a waiver, this time it was for the race. One waiver for the property and one for the race? Whatever. We then got into a line for the registration and goggle pick up. It didn’t seem all that long, maybe 10-12 people, but it took almost 45 minutes to get through it. When we finally had a names checked and were given a SWAG bag with two promotional flyers in it, we moved over to the t-shirt line where we gave the volunteer our sizes. The next words out of his mouth floored me. “That will be 38 dollars.” What? Really? For a cotton t-shirt? Yeah, thanks but no thanks buddy. We went back to the car to drop off our phones and bags and headed to the start. We did receive a decent introduction to the course, basically letting us know that there was a few river crossings where if we decided to take them, we should know how to swim, because the depth was not shallow. At that point, my progressive 4b friend Sarah and I, took off at a decent pace.

It started with a trail run for about 500 yards and then a dead stop to wait for an obstacle. A tree crossing where the tree was underwater. I guess a lot of people took there sweet time, but Sarah took it like it was not even there and I just a tad slower. (Sarah is about 18 years my junior, so give me a break.) The crossing ended with a steep climb both up and sideways, with the recent rain adding to dirt making it a little slippery. Sarah was nice to her old partner and waited up a bit. I didn’t fall but I realized my agility is a little less than I would like it to be. (I think I need to get back to boot camp. As a matter of fact all the way through this course I was thinking that.) The next couple of obstacles were through the trails over trees and up hills till we came to another stop. We actually couldn’t see why we were stopped until we reached the top of this hill that then returned back to sea level, but in the middle was a rope swing that dropped you off into the water where you then swam about 100m to the other side with a strong current that could definitely keep you from reaching the exit point if you didn’t have some sort of skill. I think I had just enough.

I will say I wore my New Balance Minimus’ during the race which didn’t hold much water, but I think I might have been happier with the five fingers. The minimus’ would be great for Tough Mudder where there isn’t a lot of hill climbs, but here I think I would have liked the extra traction my toes would have received, but I digress.

After the swim there was a nice trail run with only a couple of puddles and a few hay bale hurdles to include a run through the ‘WAR ZONE’. OOOOOHHHH….we thought we were going to get it bad, we actually wore white so we would get it bad, but…nothing. Not a single Paint Ninja anywhere. SOOOO disappointing. Oh well, we kept running and a real nice pace. Sarah is has ridiculous stamina and while I was right on her tail the whole time, I was starting to feel it, luckily we hit another line for another tree crossing. This one was elevated over the river. We crossed that with ease and headed through another long trail run, through the war zone again, and with the same result, no Paint Ninjas, right into the one and only mud obstacle where our shoes got muddy, and it sprayed a little on our legs, but that was it. We crossed the finish line and went to the beer line.

We got in line and saw that athletes were paying 3.50 and we both decided to forget it. We found the cooler with gatorade had a couple of dixie cups and headed back to the car.

Was it fun, yes, but I wonder was it because of the race or because I had a partner who was very enjoyable to run with. I am going to say the latter, or maybe a little of both. Sarah said this was her break from studying for the third test out of four for her CPA. Sarah if your reading this…thank you for inviting me, thank you for running I had a great time, and I really hope you were extremely successful on your test.

and After