Thursday, August 8, 2013

Disney Princess 1/2 Marathon Race Recap Blog Hop

Welcome to the Disney Princess 1/2 Marathon Race Recap Blog Hop, where we have the grand opportunity to meet and connect with new bloggers and read all about their experience with the Disney Princess 1/2 Marathon! 

This is a great opportunity to meet some new friends, exchange Princess 1/2 experiences and share our knowledge with 1st time princesses! I know before running my first PHM, I was looking all over for race recaps, and information from experienced runners! Let's put it all in one place and share the fun! Enjoy!

Here's what you need to do:

1. Please Follow your host's blog 
I am your host,  Kristy @ KristyRunsKato and I am the first linky. 
I would LOVE for you to follow my blog, I will follow you back!

Please leave a comment and introduce yourself!

2. Link it!
Link up your blog . Share your race recap! 
(Please remember to add the link to your recap post and NOT just your blog address!)
 Please, please, please, share the love and include a link back to this blog hop.

3. Spread it!
This is a blog hop after all, so hop around! Visit other blogs and say Hi!
I promise to get to all of your blogs, and comment! I would love to see you do the same!

4. Tweet it!

Please help me to promote this blog hop by sharing it to others. 
So tweet it to show everyone where they can learn about PHM Weekend!

6. The most important rule of them all, HAVE FUN BLOG HOPPING!
Our last blog hop was such a success and so much fun! Hop around and post on each other's blogs!

Feel free to use this button on your blog to direct people here!!



Sunday, August 4, 2013

Energy Bits Review and Giveaway!

Early this summer, I first heard about Energy Bits from many other bloggers and Energy Bits' amazing social media presence. They do a great job of participating with all kinds of athletes on Twitter, and as the word spread, I was intrigued, and a little anxious. As many of you know, I suffer from some extreme stomach issues. They have been getting better, but still flare up when I eat the wrong things! (If you don't know what I am talking about, I was on a white diet for over 10 months!!) I did not really want to shell out the money for something that could cause me lots of distress! Lucky for me, one of their reps, Jonathan, agreed to send me a sample to try!
I tried the bits for the first time during a short training run. I didn't want to get to far away from home and have issues!! 
Well, not only did I not experience any of the issues common with gels,  I felt amazing the entire time! I had a really great run! 3.5 miles went by like nothing! I even felt great the rest of the day!

Yesterday, was my long run day and I decided to take Energy Bits out on another test run! I had 8 miles scheduled, the longest I have run in quite a long time, and I was NERVOUS about it! Even with all my evening-before-the-run preparations, I did not sleep well, only getting about 3 1/2 hours of sleep (due to many different issues!). I woke up very cranky and wondering if I should postpone my run. I'd had planned on heading out of the door at 6am, so I was up at 5am to fuel and get ready. I was so tired that I decided to just eat a bowl of cereal and go back to bed for an hour. I woke up at 6:30am and took my Energy Bits (30 bits) and water, and headed out the door. 

I was pretty sluggish my first mile, which is pretty normal for me, but this was really bad, I thought about turning around and just going back to bed. I kept running and in about 20 minutes I had quite of boost of energy. My body was feeling great and the miles, while not fast, were flying by. 

Mentally I was beating myself up for not running faster, for not getting enough sleep, for choosing such a hilly route, for not getting an earlier start, for the weather, for everything, but physically I was feeling AMAZING!! My physical energy was through the roof! Even though my mind never caught up, my body felt so energized and I ended up running 8.41 miles! It was great!

But what was even better, was the way I felt after my run! I wasn't dead-tired, I had more energy!! I felt awesome, and I can only equate it to the Energy Bits! Everything else was going wrong, and with the supreme lack of sleep, I am amazed at how I felt both during and after my run!! These little bits are truly one of a kind!
I’ve tried other energy supplements before, with mixed results! I have of course had many stomach issues but I’ve also never felt like I had a boost in my energy levels. Others who have reviewed Energy Bits have talked about the sustained energy they feel, opposed to just a short energy boost that many other products give.  This is due to the make up of the Energy Bit, they are 100% organicallly grown spirulina algae and loaded with 40 nutrients, Energy Bits algae tabs have the highest concentration of protein in the world (64%) and just one calorie per tab.  Worth a try, right?!

OMG! They are GREEN!
30 Energy Bits = 1 serving
YES! They are green!! and they taste like it!  The recommended "dose" of bits is 30-50, which seems crazy but they are only about the size of a small aspirin.  Energy Bits says you can chew, or swallow the bits.  Just by smelling the container, I knew I would want to swallow them, they are very strong. Much stronger than a green monster, or other green smoothie, but along the same lines. Others, who are brave enough to chew them, have claimed they get green teeth from chewing! I decided to swallow my bits, and it did not take very long, I was able to swallow them about 5 at a time.  
With my first use of Energy Bits, I was unsure if I should eat food with the bit or if I should just be powered-by-bits. I went with just the bits in my stomach, as it was going to be a short run, and I really wanted to test if my stomach will handle the little bits! 
After emailing Jonathan, I discovered that just eating the bits is perfect, and that is exactly what he does, and he is good for 6-7 miles! He suggested eating something with the bits, if you need more calories, for a longer run. Since the bits only have 1 calorie a piece, 30 bits are only providing 30 calories for your run! This seems crazy to me, but those 30 calories really do their job!! 

How do they Work?

Energy Bits are made from 100% spirulina algae.  Haven't heard of this superfood yet? I took this from Energy Bit's website, as I think they do a better job explaining their product than I could!!
     ENERGYbits® algae tabs are your answer for raw energy and health. All naturally too. With just one calorie     per tab, ENERGYbits® will stop your cravings, slay your hunger and give you a steady stream of energy all day or night. They may even make you want to leap over tall buildings in a single bound, but we think that’s best left to the guys in the red capes and blue tights.  Remarkably, our ENERGYbits® have just one ingredient, spirulina algae which is a super hero in the world of super foods. Spirulina’s nutritional pedigree is so impressive that The World Bank, NASA and Olympic athletes have all declared spirulina to be the most nutritious food in the entire world. Why? Well for starters, it effortlessly and naturally boosts your energy like an energy drink, energy bar or coffee  but without the downside of chemicals, caffeine, calories or sugar and gram per gram, there is no denser source of nutrition than spirulina algae. Research done by NASA showed that that 1 kg of spirulina had the nutritional  equivalent of 1000 kg of fruits and vegetables.  That's a  lot of groceries! But if an endorsement by NASA isn’t enough to convince you of the health benefits you’ll get from our ENERGYbits® and spirulina, consider that many International Health Organizations including the United Nations have hailed spirulina as one of the “Greatest Superfoods on Earth.” Don’t worry if you haven’t heard about this super food yet. You will. It may be virtually unknown in America but for the last 50 years, millions worldwide have taken it to improve their energy. Now it’s your turn. 

Disclosure & Giveaway

I don’t work for Energy Bits, but I was provided with a free sample. The opinions I have written are my own and I do not benefit from giving Energy Bits a positive review. I just wanted to share my experience with these, I was curious about them and I know you were probably too!  
I completely encourage you to try Energy Bits out!  And to do so, Energy Bits is giving me a sample to give to you! So, go ahead and sign up to win some Energy Bits!

A Weekend of Ups and Downs!

What a fun and very full weekend!! I cannot believe how many ups and downs this weekend held for me!

Friday night was date night with my boyfriend. We kept it simple and went to our local Rib Fest. It is held in a fairy new park in Mankato, and it was the first time we had been to the Rib Fest since it moved to this location. It was fun to sample different Ribs from Pit Master from across the country. There was live music and lots of people watching (one of our favorite past times!).  I tried to watch what I ate, but I very rarely eat meat, and the ribs were so delicious that I ended up eating more than I have planned on! We ended our evening early, since I had to be up early to volunteer at the Hy-Vee Iron Kids Triathlon in the morning!

It was an early Saturday morning for me! I was headed to the Hy-Vee Iron Kids Triathlon to work at the finish line, and I was super excited! I heard about this event in early July and heard that they were in need of volunteers, it was a no brainer for me to volunteer! I just wanted to be on the "other-side" of a race, and get excited for the kids who were racing!

The whole event was a lot of fun to watch! Those kids are amazing, and looked totally professional! Even the youngest (and smallest) girl at 6 years old looked like a pro crossing the finish line!

I have to say that the event, however, was not the most organized in relationship to the volunteers! When I arrived, there was no one checking in volunteers, there was just a pile of volunteer t-shirts, and no one around! I found a shirt, threw it on and headed over to the finish line. At the finish area, there were about 20 volunteers looking confused. After some introductions, it was pretty clear that no one really was in-charge, and I took control (not really wanting to, but no one had ever been to a race or seen a finish line set up before!!), and we got the entire finish area set up. There was so many different food and drink options for the kids!!

I explained some of the different jobs that we needed, such as people to give out medals, others to take timing chips off the kids, and others to hand out food and water, and a couple to drop the finisher ribbon/banner for each child.

Finally, after we pretty much had everything ready to go, someone in-charge came over to us and pretty much went through the same info! Lol!

Soon the kids were off and we were anxiously waiting for the first finisher! My first job was to hand out medals! It was so much fun to watch the kids running to the finish with HUGE smiles on their faces! It really gave me so much joy to be watching a race -- for once!!

During the second and third wave, I got to drop the finisher banner! Iron Kids wants each child to feel special at the finish line, so we were asked to try to have every child "hit" the banner! It was great cheering on the little kids coming in! I teared up a couple of times, just because the kids were glowing with pride and joy as the crossed!! It was so inspiring!

At the end of the second wave the Minnesota Vikings' Cheerleaders showed up and took over "my job" for awhile. It was pretty funny watching the two cheerleaders try to figure out how to drop the banner, and quickly get it ready for the next child! They quickly got frustrated and turned the job back over to me and the other volunteer!

Cheerleaders taking over the finish line! Pompoms and all!

The last wave was the youngest kids, and it was so cute watching them run in! We had to hold the finisher banner so low!!

After the race finished, I helped set up the awards area, cleaned and helped take apart the bike racks in the transition area. It was a great morning! Truly inspiring and uplifting! My throat was sore from cheering and my heart was full of joy!

After a quick shower, Ryan and I decided to drive up to Minneapolis to try out an italian restaurant that we have been talking about for awhile. It was a nice way to spend the afternoon, and the food was AMAZING!! Probably the best italian I have had....ever!

The place is called Broders and has been featured on Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives on the FoodNetwork. It is really worth a visit! After eating we went to my very favorite store: Anthropologie and I spent WAY too much money on some very cute clothes!! It was such a happy day, that I felt like I needed a little treat. :)

We also went to REI, so I could pick up my sister's birthday present: a Garmin Forerunner 10. She wanted the pink watch, and I just couldn't resist picking up the purple one for myself -- again a nice little treat!!

We called it an early day and headed home at about 5pm. Again, I had a very early wake-up call and wanted to get everything ready for my long run!

I wanted to be in bed by 9pm, since I was waking up to get ready for my 6am run at 5am (yes, it takes me about an hour to be fully prepared!) Well, things got busy and I didn't get to bed until almost midnight. Then I couldn't fall asleep, I had really worked myself up about my long run, and I think it was nerves. Well, once I got settled, the dogs started freak out.....ugh!!! They were restless and were determined to keep me up! I think I finally fell asleep after 2am.

Needless to say, when the alarm went off at 5am, I was exhausted!! I decided to postpone the run the run for an hour and try to sleep. I got up and ate a little -- my stomach does much better on a run, if I eat about an hour to 2 before I run -- and went back to bed.

An hour later, I was up and still not feeling it! Grrrr.

I made myself get up, get dressed and get out the door!! The first mile was hell! Both my mind and my body were fighting me to return to bed, but I kept going. I was really giving myself a hard time about the route I chose (super hilly!!), and the weather (HUMID!!). I struggled for about the first 2 miles and then settled into a good pace.

My body felt really great, all things considered, but my mind was just a mess, couldn't get the negative self-talk under control.

I just kept pushing and finished my 8.41 miles in 1 hour 50 minutes. I am not happy with that time, but I'll take it, I pretty much walked the entire 1st mile and probably the majority of the 2nd.

I need to give myself a break as far as time is concerned. Just like my last long run (7miles), I get so focused on hitting the right time that when I am slower I just beat myself up, which is stupid because it is just a training run!!! I need to stop comparing myself to everyone else and just be happy for myself that I got 8.41 miles in!! This is my goal for next week's long run: no negative self-talk!!

Today has been a pretty lazy day, just relaxing, icing my hip and shins and catching up on laundry!!

What did you do this weekend? Did you get your long run in?

Friday, August 2, 2013

Where I Run

It took me a long time to say "I'm a runner", or even to tell people "I run", mainly because I am not the stereotypical runner. I am athletic and always have been but people who just meet me would probably not put me in the category: runner.

When I tell people "I'm a runner" the question I get asked most often is "why?" or "why do you run, running sucks!" I have my general answer to that question down. It is in many ways a very boring question to ask, mainly because I get sick of giving the same answer, and it is generally the one question I am asked about running.

It is very rare to be asked, "Where do you run?", but it is a great question! It is a question that gets me excited, I want to answer this question, because I love where I run and in the back of my head, I want to convince everyone that where I run is just as amazing as I think it is!

My runs don't take me past oceans, or mountains or national monuments or even great city sights. I run in Mankato, Minnesota, heard of it? Probably not. Mankato is a small town located in southern Minnesota, about an hour away from the twin cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul.

To best explain where I run, you need to know that Mankato is a town of hills, we are located in the Minnesota River Valley, so if you Run Kato, you have to know how to handle your hills!

Mankato boasts over 100 miles of paved paths for runners, cyclists and walkers. We have just about that many miles of unpaved paths as well, so when choosing a daily route, my choices are unlimited!

Mankato is a town that caters to runners (and cyclists and walkers), the paths are always being maintained and expanded. We hold 2 triathlons, a full marathon weekend, a very challenging 10k, a mud run, a zombie run, and multiple 5ks each year. We are truly a hidden runner's paradise.

While many people in Mankato choose to stick to the sidewalks in the flat areas of town, I love to get outside of the city and run on our extensive trail system. My favorite trail system has over 13 miles of paved trail traveling through the beautiful Minnesota forest area.

I love to run here in the morning, especially when it is cool and foggy. There is always a group of deer standing near or on the trail during morning runs to greet or scare the runners! They are so used to humans being on the trail they don't even move, just watch as we run by, probably laughing at our speed!

The trail starts right in the parking lot of the school I work at, and the local YMCA. When I arrive at the parking lot, there are always groups of runners stretching, some already having come back from their run, others gearing up for theirs. The trail takes runners though some residential area out into the countryside through rolling hills, past our local ski hill (note, not a mountain!), over an old railroad tressel bridge and to the small town of Rapidan.

Weekends are the best, everyone seems to have the same anxiety about their long run. This trail is so popular with runners that there are coolers and water bottles stashed every few miles (where the trail can be reach from the road) for runners to hydrate and refuel. It is a true sense of runners community, we are all out there alone, but also somehow together.

I love the sense of community our on the trail and The Red Jacket trail is my favorite trail to run, but I don't always enjoy the crowds, or the out-and-back route. Instead, I have found wonderful loops to run both from my house and from other starting points on the trail. These loops leave the paved path and give way to lonely gravel roads, long gradual (and some not to gradual) hills, and to my most recent find a unpaved lake trail.

These are the runs that I love the most, I love being outside of town, the only human for miles, surrounded by the hills of Mankato, and the vast blue Minnesota sky.

I run outside all year-long. I love the change of seasons and the best way to really experience them it to run through them. Our trails and paths are cleared of snow in the winter, and I love an early winter run through the woods. It calms my soul, as well as freezes my toes!!

I can't say I have a favorite Mankato run, I love them all. I try to hit all of my loops and trails each week, and feel bad when I have neglected a route. They all have something to offer, the challenge of hills to climb, the beauty of the surrounding area, or a sense of community.

I can truly say that I run Kato, and it is amazing!