Product Ho: Spending My Money So You Don’t Have To

Running is an incredibly simple thing.  Put on some shoes (or hell, skip ’em and be trendy) and head out the door.  Carry your body weight.  Step forward with one foot and push your back foot off the ground before the front foot hits.  Continue this pattern until you are tired.

That’s all you really have to do to run, right?  That’s the beauty of it.  But we complicate things.  We add our preferences for clothes and gear in an attempt to enhance the experience and/or make it more enjoyable (and beginning runners might read that statement and ask, “Now when does it become enjoyable?”).

As my darling HH could tell you, I have mastered the concept of muddying the run waters with accessories.  My moisture-wicking gear, laid out end to polyester end, could reach further than Hands Across America.

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I have drawers, bins, and hidey holes filled with running accessories.  You name it, I’ve tried it, with the exception of the CamelBak backpack, because I just can’t bring myself to do that.   Some have been big successes, and others have been donated or pushed to the back of the closet.

So what works for me and what doesn’t, and can I save you some money?  Here is a lowdown of what I take with me on my runs…which as I strapped on and geared up before my 10-miler on Sunday, is a ridiculous amount of stuff.

Let’s start with the essentials…clothes.

Lululemon Cool Racerback Tank

This is BY FAR my favorite running top.  It’s tight but not compression.  It doesn’t have a built-in bra, because I hate those things.  It’s long, so it doesn’t ride up and stays under running belts or waist leashes.  I love that feature because I am long-waisted, so most running tops (especially Nike) are way too short on me.  It’s pricey ($42), but lasts FOREVAH.  I have these in three colors, including the hot pink that I wore in my last half marathon (including the fun pic from my last post where I look like an angry giant Photoshopped in amongst tiny happy people thanks to the gal next to me.)

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Athleta Presto Shorts

Well, we are in summer, when I fervently wish I had the bod to run in just a bra and some ridiculously cute runderwear, but alas, I am aware of my physical limitations and don’t want to scare people.  I would love to wear the cute basic running shorts I see in all the stores (for their ass-covering ability), and I have a few pairs, but they always move around on my inner thighs and rub me wrong, so I always return to the staple–compression shorts.  Yes, I would rather show off my assfold than chafe in the inner thigh.  Let someone else suffer.

Lately I have worn the Athleta Presto Short with the 7″ inseam (they also offer 10″, 4″ and 2″, I believe, like penis sizes…pick what you prefer, but the 2″ might be a little short!)  If I remember right, Run Far Girl mentioned these in a previous post because she wore them in her last marathon and wrote that she love the three-pocket feature.  I left a comment saying that I needed a pair–then realized I already owned them.  Yes, that is how much gear I have.  It might be a sickness.

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Feetures Socks

Runners are picky about their socks, and I am no different.  I wear custom orthotics in my running shoes due to my ever-present plantar fasciitis, so I am extra particular, as the orthotics raise my feet up a little in my shoes.  I want no-show socks, but many brands slip below the shoe and cause the back of my heel to blister.

That’s why I love Feetures No Show socks (in Ultra Light for summer.)  They have a tab on the heel that prevents heel blisters and rises up just the right amount behind the shoe.  Me likey.  You would likey too.

Now for the accessories…the accoutrement!

Garmin Forerunner 220

After ten+ years of running, I finally broke and got my first Garmin this year.  She’s a hot little number, even if she constantly pisses me off by telling me I’m running slower than I think I should be.  She’s a heartbreaker, she is, but I love her anyway and bring her on every run.

Waist Leash

When I bring Oscar the running coach (though in this heat he’s more Oscar the 60-pound anchor that I drag along behind me), I wear a waist leash, as I’ve discussed before.  I don’t know the brand, but I love it because I can adjust the length and control him with my body weight (my arm is not strong enough when he sees a squirrel!)

SPIbelt

In the winter, I love my Armpocket, which works great for twig arms like mine, but summer means tan lines, and so I’ve switched to my SPIbelt.  This sucker doesn’t move, I swear.  Just strap it on and it stays in place.  It’s remarkably expansive too.  They come in different sizes, colors, prints, etc., and just now as I browsed the site I saw a new offering…the SPIleash!  Hot diggity dog…I need this!  I am usually wearing the SPIbelt plus the waist leash when I bring Oscar, and it’s a bit of a mess…much like me!

Sweaty Bands

I have a big head.  No, really…it’s literally large (see above photo.)  I have trouble finding headbands that will stay in place, and I’ve spent more of HH’s money than I care to admit looking for one that will hold my hair back and not move.  Sweaty Bands are the answer for me, but only in the super thin 3/8″ version shown in the link.  They don’t move, and they hand wash well.  I have them in the pink and white stripe and in a couple of blingy colors, which really isn’t my style but does look sassy.

Lululemon’s Bangbuster headbands work well, too, but they make me look like I’m undergoing chemo.  Why do they look adorable on other women but not on me?

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Yurbuds Focus for Women

I’ve blathered on endlessly about my search for the perfect earbuds, so I’ll keep it short (read my previous post for a detailed bitch session on earphones.)  These are the best, even when you’re sweating copious amounts into your ear canal.  Warning, though—the behind the ear piece itself detaches, and I’ve lost one despite my best efforts to keep all the pieces together between runs.  Luckily, the bud still stays in place even without the earpiece.  Lucky me!

Outdoor Tech Adapt (Bluetooth Audio Adapter)

I’ve talked about this too, but it’s worth a mention.  I got it on sale for $20, and I love it.  It does glitch out occasionally, but the combined price of the Yurbuds ($30) and this ($20) is still less than I would pay for behind the ear Yurbuds with mic control.  Warning—if you attach the Tech Adapt to your SPIbelt and then lean over to tie your shoes, your muffin top will block the Bluetooth signal and you will lose your music momentarily! 😉

Ultimate Direction Handy 20

I have a Nathan Fuel Belt with 2 bottles, but I’ve always hated that thing.  It bruised me after my marathon last year, it leaked all the time, leaving me with Gatorade-drenched legs, and I never thought it was easy to drink from.  I recently bought the Ultimate Direction Handheld 20 oz. water bottle and haven’t looked back.  It is so easy to drink from—just pull the valve open with your teeth and bite on it a little to drink or squeeze the bottle for a burst.  The pocket holds keys, gel, whatever, and it’s comfortable to hold.  Winner winner.

Tifosi sunglasses

Love these things.  They keep the wind from drying out my contacts and camouflage the look of pain oozing out my eyeballs.  Plus, they make you look hardcore.  Bonus.

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All the electrolytes without the sugary carbs?  No Gatorade belching?  Sold!

Honey Stingers Energy Chews

Because gels make me sick.  Even looking at a gel packet makes me sick.  From both ends.

What have I spent money on that doesn’t get my MaybeMarathoner seal of approval?  The Nathan belt, any Nike top (too short!) or any top with a built-in bra (not comfortable!), many Athleta capris (hate to bag on them since I love their stuff but most of their capris slide down in the waist looking for a path of least resistance!), Gatorade (causes inhuman amounts of burping and also induces nausea), most race t-shirts (they say they wick, but they don’t breathe and are often too short!), Bic Bands headbands, and the Yurbuds Inspire Series (slip out once you sweat).

I should note that these are solely my opinions, and since I am a tiny lowly blog, I am not sponsored by anyone (though to quote Michael Douglas in Romancing the Stone, “I ain’t cheap, but I can be had!”, sponsors!)

What works for you?  I’ve listed the obvious, but do you wear/bring anything that you can’t live without?

 

 

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Outdoor Tech Adapt Review (and Final Half Marathon Prep)

My eagerly awaited shipment of wine Gap pants Penguin Drop Cap series hardcovers the Outdoor Tech Adapt came in the mail on Monday, readers, and I was thrilled to take it out for its first spin this morning.

But first, yesterday was our older son’s 15th birthday…which he spent sick, unfortunately.  Boo.  He rallied in time for evening birthday cake, but we spared him pictures since he was unshowered and wearing his Globogym Purple Cobras t-shirt.

I hate birthdays.  I spent half the day reflecting on mortality, motherhood and all that he has meant to me, and the other half just wishing time would freeze.  He’s fifteen now…only three more years until he marches off to college.  How that can be, I have no idea, but it’s what the numbers indicate, and numbers don’t lie.  Some of the most important years of his life are hurtling toward him, but those upcoming milestones occur without us, once he’s gone and out of the house.  I am excited for him and each new year, but I also want to hold him close and cherish each moment more than is possible.

Time is short.  He is hilarious and wonderful and unique, he and his brother truly the greatest source of joy and pride in my life.  I am ever thankful that God not only allowed me to be a mom, but his mom, the guardian of his precious soul.

Birthdays are the worst.  He is the best.

Moving on…

Here is my discount pink Outdoor Tech Adapt, modeled on my twig wrist with my Garmin 220 so you can see the size, because size matters, and I was worried that the boobalicious model in my pic from the last post might lead you to think that the Adapt was smaller than it actually is.  It’s the perfect size…small enough to fit anywhere easily, but big enough that the buttons are easy to push.

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Though my wrist be but small, my middle physique is looking a lot like that monkey man in the picture, and he has my lowrider El Camino ass.  Note to self before commencing marathon training: ease up on the white devils.  They are no substitute for love, and you are not running 40 miles per week yet.

Another pic with my Yurbuds Focus for Women earphones, which I am still crushing on…

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The clip is sturdy…I don’t think it will snap off easily.  Though I had read one review that complained about the device being difficult to pair, my iPhone made the magic happen in about two seconds.  Draw whatever comparison you like…just don’t make it about teenage boys, because I have one of those and have now decided that all males before the age of 30 are celibate, asexual or just not interested in ladies.

Don’t rain on my parade.

Anyhoo, I stashed my iPhone in my Spibelt, attached the Adapt to the headphones, clipped it to the belt and sauntered out for a 3-miler (I love that sassy word.)  

My initial reaction?  Not good.  For the first minute or two, the connection kept breaking up, so there would be tiny blips in the music (the signal being lost for just a second or so each time.)  Totally annoying, BUT the one good thing I could say was that at least when the sound came back, the music hadn’t stopped (obviously), so it was like the beat kept going, just with intermittent gaps.  It just wasn’t what I was hoping for, and I wondered, ignorant non-techie that I am, how Bluetooth works and what was happening. 

Oddly enough, it soon stopped, and then I just ran on for the three miles, able to adjust volume and skip tracks with the easy-to-use buttons.  Once I stopped running, though, the interruptions in sound started again.

Strange coincidence?  I have no idea, but even if the problem continues, I will use the device.  The Focus earbuds are the perfect headphones for me,  but I also really want the mic and easy-access controls.  I will keep you posted with any new observations on future runs, but I give the Tech Adapt a B- for now and plan on using it for Saturday’s half marathon, Running With the Cows.

I can’t describe how much I am looking forward to ending this Heartland 39.3 Challenge.  Though I will be super proud (that’s a technical term) to collect my medal for three half marathons in five weeks, right now I would wager that I will never do this series again, simply because I have hated the weeks in between each race.  Since running the disastrous Rock the Parkway half marathon on April 12, it has been four straight weeks of running limbo…recovering from a half marathon and taking it easy while trying to keep enough energy to run another race.  Four weeks of easy 3-4 mile runs every other day, along with taking 2-3 days off after each race, has left me feeling like I’m not running at all.  Couple that with reduced mileage long runs on the weekend (I only ran 5 on Saturday because I had Oscar with me and he about overheated and died), and I feel like a sloth.  It’s like living in a holding pattern, and I’m running out of patience.

Breakfast conversations with HH have included many a complaint from me: “I feel like I’m hardly running!” (complete with major whine).  “Um, didn’t you just run a half marathon last week?” “Yes, but other than that, I’m hardly running!”

“I just keep treading water…I’m not running hard.  How will I be ready to run another race?” “Um, didn’t you just run hard for 13 miles just over a week ago?” “Yes, but other than that–you know what I mean!”

I feel unprepared for this last half, yet running more isn’t the answer, as I know my legs are not 100%.  My 3-miler on Monday was a slugfest.  My ankles both ached in the front, like where the shin curves into the top of the foot, and the entire run hurt like the devil.  It felt like my tendons were leaking lactic acid, and every step was a challenge.  I knew I wasn’t injured, since the feeling was identical in both feet (a surefire sign that I was dealing with fatigue or overuse/training rather than an acute injury).  It just hurt with every step, much like a new runner might feel while adjusting to the impact of running.  Though I’d set out for 4 miles, I downgraded to 3 and walked the rest of the way home in disgust.

Today, the pain was better, but I still felt a bit tired at the end of 3 miles, which shakes my confidence.  I just want to get the race over with, at whatever the pace, so I can get back to real running without holding back.  I’ve got the NYC marathon in my sights, and I really want to start some significant cross-training plus go all Ace of Base on my mileage before launching into the actual training program.

Happy running!

 

With a Rebel Yell…Bitchin’ ‘Bout (Ear)Buds

With all my carrying on about the past two half marathons, I forgot to mention one MAJOR problem in each race…my damn Yurbuds.  Let me be clear…the debate about whether to run with music is a nonissue to me.  Like margaritas with Mexican or mayo on a BLT, I gotta have it, and everyone else can just shut up and leave me to my tunes.  Be a purist if you will and soak up the zen, but I shall listen to my music during runs and races (you name it…mostly alternative but lots of cheesy pop, Rocky music, R&B, rap, jazz and 70s music thrown in too, kept low enough so I can hear ambient noise and the incessant cheers of “Jesus, lady, you are so damn fast!” as I fly down the streets.)  I am still present in the moment and soaking up my surroundings, but a little Vampire Weekend or Billy Idol never hurts when I am climbing my own personal version of Heartbreak Hill.

I’ve gone through several cheap headphones in the past several years, and I’ve hated them all.  I am a heavy swearer sweater when I run (yet amazingly delicate at all other times), and the stupid things constantly slip out of my ears after the first few miles.

I thought I had solved the problem once I discovered Yurbuds, which are supposed to “twist-lock” into place and are guaranteed not to fall out.  I asked for the Ironman Inspire Pro series for Christmas in 2012, just as I started marathon training and began logging more miles.  Sis and bro-in-law delivered, and I thought my problems of sweaty ears and slipping buds were solved; plus, the set came with the cool controller on the cord to adjust volume, move through tracks and accept phone calls on the run (“No, honey, I’m not cooking tonight, care to pick something up on your way?”).

They’ve inspired nothing but failure ever since.  The silicone enhancers (which come in several sizes to fit your ear perfectly) fell off easily, and I lost one about thirty seconds before beginning my marathon last year (mon dieu!)  I’ve lost several more since.  I ordered a replacement set, and they worked for a bit, until the last month or so, until they started falling out around Mile 3 of every run.  I followed the website instructions and washed them thoroughly.

Alas, at about Mile 3 of Rock the Parkway a few weeks ago, before I got bitchslapped by the urge to vomit, they started slipping out on me.  I twisted more than Chubby Checker, but they just wouldn’t stay, a fact which bothered me less and less as the urge to die became more and more pressing.  I let it go (along with my PR dreams and a significant amount of water weight) and hoped for better last weekend.

They fell out again, and I lost the left enhancer somewhere in a sea of Runegades and Lycra around Mile 4 of the race.

So, F*&^ you, Yurbuds, right?  Well, wrong.  I wandered into my local running store last week to nab a 20 oz. handheld water bottle for the race and noticed that Yurbuds has come out with some behind-the-ear earbuds made specifically for women…the Focus for Women series.  They were under $30, so I bought them on impulse and got so excited that I ripped the package in half getting them out.

Bummer.  No mic controller.  Seriously, Yurbuds?  WTF?  You know we want this!  I hate you!

I was going to try and return them, shredded package and all, but I decided to take them out for a quick spin yesterday, as I needed to get my first shakeout run in since the race.  Despite several days of rest and a fairly intimate relationship with my muscle stick, you can still bounce a quarter off my calf muscles (sadly, the only part of my body that can qualify as “tight.”)  They just won’t seem to relax, though I have rolled, cajoled and sat on my ass to no end.  So I’ve rested, until yesterday.

Strange how restless I feel having taken three full days off from running…I don’t normally go crazy during tapers or feel like a lunatic if I miss a run or two, but I have definitely felt it these past few days.  Oscar the Running Coach also was feeling it, having not run with me for close to a week.  The bad thing about training your dog to run with you is that you train your dog to run with you, meaning that if you shortchange him/her, somebody’s going to get it.  This time his fluffy dog bed paid the price, as he ate the stuffing out of it in a clear plea for a 3-miler, minimum.

We headed out, with my new earbuds in place, held in the perfect spot by the behind-the-ear piece.  I wanted to hate them, but I couldn’t.  I couldn’t feel them at all.  It was like I had nothing in my ears.  The earpiece held them in place perfectly, the sound quality was better than my Inspire Pro losers, and I could still hear ambient noise…they were perfection except for the lack of the controller.

Did I mention they were perfect?

I was in a quandary…I found comfortable headphones that I’d already purchased and used, but I still wanted an external controller so I could tuck my iPhone in my SpiBelt and not have to deal with it!

Well, problem solved, I hope.  I got my Active Gearup email this morning advertising various types of headphones and noticed the Outdoor Tech Adapt, an adorable little doohickey that turns your iPhone into a wireless device.

I googled it to find an image for you, and this came up, which is frankly too priceless not to share…when I get mine, I’m going to hoist my A-cup boobs into the top of my sports bra and take a selfie just like this, because I just have to!

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Now that I’m done giggling…

So I can clip this to my belt, singlet, whatever, and just plug my headphones into it instead of my iPhone.  Genius.  Active.com had it on sale for $19.95, which will bring my grand total to still less than the Inspire Pro Series.  I’ve read several good reviews, so I pulled the trigger.  I can’t wait!

More, more, more!

What I’m running to:  Fancy by Iggy Azalea