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Hi, I'm Whitney! I am a middle of the pack runner who discovered the fun of triathlons in 2009. Join me in my adventures in life and training. I run with the Rush Running team and enjoy the fun that comes with such a supportive group of friends who understand what running means to me. I'm newly discovering road biking and the fun that it entails.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Winter is coming...do you have your Yaktrax?

Yesterday our forecast included the first prediction of snowfall for the season.  The snow began around midday with beautiful flurries.  They didn't last long and sadly there wasn't much accumulation.

I was out running errands when the snow started and I stopped by a friend's house.  Her husband was just returning from my favorite running store, Rush Running (one of the top 5 running stores in the country!)  Jon had been in to the store to pick up a pair of Yaktrax for Lori.  Another friend had gone in earlier and texted them that the store was down to just one pair of Yaktrax left.  They are on a marathon training plan and their friend was telling them that snow wouldn't be an allowed excuse for missing any runs on the training plan!

Some runners had gotten smart this year...at the first sign of snow in the forecast they had gone to the store and picked up a pair.  Usually what happens is we get snow and then sales of Yaktrax increase as people realize that we live in the South and it takes awhile for the snow to get taken care of if the temps don't warm up after it snows.

I first heard about Yaktrax a few years ago.  And like most runners I thought, "Nah, I don't need those."  I think that was one of our snowy and icy winter years and I was stuck at home for several days in a row.  Getting out onto the icy roads was tough since I didn't have anything to keep my running shoes from slipping on the ice.  Lesson learned...I ordered snow boots and some Yaktrax soon after that.  Wouldn't you know...it didn't snow again that year!
Here's a photo example of the icy conditions that you can cover with your Yaktrax!
And one of my favorite pics of running with my dog!
Since that winter, I have used my Yaktrax several times a year whenever we have snowy and icy road conditions.  We have hard-working road crews but it is just hard to work snow removal in the South when it just doesn't snow all that often.  Yaktrax keep me from going stir-crazy when I'm stuck at home due to the snow.  I might not be able to drive on the icy roads but with Yaktrax I can safely run! They are super simple...you just pull them on over your shoe.  They fit snugly and I've never had issues with them coming loose from my shoes.  If I run into clear roads I simply remove them and carry them until the road gets icy again.  Our road conditions truly vary depending on where it is and whether or not that section of the road receives sun and or multiple visits by the road department.

The concept for Yaktrax came from the sherpas in the Himalayas.  Yaktrax are made of a patented coil traction device that attaches onto your existing shoes.  There are so many different options based on the type of activity that you are going to participate in from walking to running.  I have the original design which is now referred to as the Walk style.  The run style contains carbide steel spikes in addition to the traditional coil system.  It also has a strap system to ensure it stays put on your shoe.

The makers of Yaktrax contacted me and offered to provide a pair of Yaktrax to one of my readers.  Please enter the Rafflecopter below to be entered.  The giveaway will run through November 26th and I'll announce a winner shortly after it closes.  Good luck and hope you get your runs in regardless of snowy weather this winter!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclosure: I was not provided any compensation in exchange for my review of Yaktrax.  I purchased mine and agreed to share a review and giveaway with my readers based on my own experience with the product.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Returning to Spin Class

Years ago I was a frequent attendee to spin class during my lunch break.  Several of my coworkers went to the same gym and it was like we had a spin class club.  The gym that we went to underwent some ownership changes and we all eventually selected new clubs.  After that I struggled to find a spin class that fit my schedule as well and I started to get in spinning through trainer workouts.

At the same time, one of my running buddies has had a lot of knee issues.  She took up spin class as an alternative to running.  Over the summer we did a deep water running class together and I remembered how much I miss getting to hang out with my buddy doing runs together.  After finishing my Grand Canyon training I decided to check out the class schedule for our gym.

I reached out to my friend and signed up for the spin class that she takes.  The class is at o'dark hundred or 5:10 on the real clock! Holy moly that is super early for me!  So far I have mixed feelings on the class.  The teacher isn't the easiest to follow...her cues aren't always clear and her class seems one dimensional.  There is little variation from class day to class day which is disappointing.  The music changes for each class but the general class content seems to be about the same.  The class also seems to have regulars and that is who the instructor teaches to versus the entire room.

This class session runs until mid-December so I'll keep at it for the rest of the session.  I think I might have gotten too used to riding on my bike trainer where I can control the music or entertainment and the workout.  Hopefully with time I'll rediscover my love of spin class!

Friday, October 3, 2014

Who says swimmers have green hair???

Here's a quick video blog that I made a few weeks ago after returning to work from a lunch time swim.  Don't mind the goggle rings still faintly visible around my eyes and the lack of makeup!

I love Triswim products and use it after every swim.  The shampoo, conditioner, and body wash all have a light citrus scent and a rich lather.  I love that I leave the gym not feeling itchy or smelling like the pool.  Regular products don't get the same results and that's why I stick with Triswim!

I hinted about my swimming schedule in the video.  This week has been an off week for me...work has been jam-packed with meetings and projects and I just haven't had the time to get away at lunch for a swim.  Let me tell you...I miss the pool! My head misses the pool and my body definitely misses the pool!  It is one workout that just takes care of all of me and I can't wait to get my schedule back in line so that my lunch workouts are back on.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Before and After... The long run

Our Grand Canyon training plan included a long run of 5 hours on trails a few weeks ago.  My longest run time wise prior to this was 4 hours at the War Eagle Trail Run 25k.  Distance wise my longest run was just the 25k which I had done in both a road race and trail race.

Here's are some quick pics we took before and after the run.  

After- pointing towards the West and the Grand Canyon! 

The run went really well and I ended up with 19 miles covered in the 5 hours. We run/walked through out.  I snacked on Feed Zone pizza rolls which I really enjoyed. I mixed up my nutrition drink and accidentally made them way too weak thus not getting many liquid calories but staying hydrated.  Overall a great learning experience. 

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Birthday Hill Repeats

Six years ago I celebrated my 30th birthday with hill repeats with the Rush Running crew.  This year showed that very little had changed.  On Saturday, my birthday, I was up early to meet the Grand Canyon crew for 15 miles of hill repeats.  

We headed to Old Dump Road and the 1/2 mile hill that we would truck up and down 11 times. 

The hill is a gravel road with varied grade along it.  The hill ends at the highway overpass and a short section of pavement.  It was nice to do repeats as a group since everyone could go there own pace and still encourage each other. 

I kept track of the repeats by carrying a rock up on each incline. I ended with a nice pile on the highway overpass that signaled the top of the hill. 

When we were finished with the repeats we still had the 2 mile run back to the start to complete our 15 miles. It was good prep for our Grand Canyon trip and I definitely earned some birthday treats! 

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

We Tri for Encouragement

I am super honored to be a volunteer coach for the TriFest for MS triathlon training group.  This is a training series that triathletes can sign up for to train for the TriFest race series.  The series begins in mid-July and meets once per week in the weeks leading up to the race.  Midway through the sessions we conduct a mock-race for the participants.  The goal is to give everyone a chance to do a practice run and get more comfortable with triathlon and combining sports before race day.

Below are a couple photos captured during the mock-race last week.  After cheering on all the participants in the swim and getting everyone out onto the bike course I moved to the bike and run course to continue encouraging.  When I was on the run course I realized I was on the only incline for the course.  I had fun cheering the participants on in this section and even ran with a few.

In these photos, I was distracting Ashley with the funny story of how impossible it is to do math during a race.  It was good to get her laughing and then send her on her way towards the finish with a smile.

And probably one of my favorite photos from the night was this one of me and my friend Aly goofing off as we made our way onto the bike course to cheer and encourage.

Aly is one of the official coaches for the program and is so knowledgeable about racing.  I learn as much from her as I'm sure the participants in the program are learning.  I'm pretty lucky to call her a friend and I know the participants in the program feel pretty lucky to call her coach!

While the TriFest training series is closed for this year, you can still sign up for the races at www.researchms.org.  I'll be racing the TriFesta! Big thanks goes to Chuck Cates with Podium Images for these photos.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Speeding Up Breakfast with Country Choice Organic

Disclosure:  I was provided samples by Country Choice Organic to facilitate this review.  All opinions are mine based on my experience using the products.

I'm not sure if I was as big of a fan of oatmeal as a child as I am now as an adult.  I remember eating it growing up so I think I was.  We always had oatmeal with brown sugar, raisins, and milk and I still love this flavor combination.  About a year ago, I received an electric pressure cooker from my mom.  With this new appliance I discovered how easy it was to make steel cut oatmeal.  I made it a few times for some family breakfast get togethers but it wasn't quite easy enough to be part of my everyday routine.  (Too much cleanup after using the pressure cooker!)

The cafeteria at my office serves oatmeal but it is loaded with brown sugar which I'm sure negates many of the health benefits.  The health benefits of oatmeal have always appealed to me since cholesterol is something that I have to watch pretty closely.  If you are wondering what the differences are between quick cooking and steel cut oats, here is a short infographic from Prevention to clear up the differences.

Steel cut oats win ever so slightly in the battle but they take longer to cook.  Imagine my surprise when I heard that Country Choice Organic had perfected steel cut oats as Instant Oatmeal single serve microwave packets.  Woohoo...how exciting.  Microwave oatmeal is an easy breakfast option and it's great to have the option to choose steel cut oats.

Preparation of the Country Choice Organic Steel Cut Oats was super simple. I selected a deep square microwavable container.  You add 3/4C plain water to the packet and mix in your container.  It takes just 2 1/2 minutes on high to microwave and then about 2 minutes of resting time.  Each packet has about 150 calories for the Apple Spice flavor with 4g protein and 2g fat.  The ingredient list is easy to read and contains no crazy ingredients which is nice.  I personally loved the Apple Spice flavor and didn't add any additional toppings or mix ins to it.

It's great to have the option to make steel cut oats via the microwave before work versus having to pull out the pressure cooker and all that takes.  You can find Country Choice Organic Steel Cut Oats via Amazon or check your local grocery store.