Becoming a runner changes your relationship with shoes. You suddenly — or slowly — go from being willing to put up with a certain amount of discomfort for some killer heels, to trying to find the shoes that won’t aggravate your feet. Because those feet need to take you for miles and miles.
That doesn’t always mean sacrificing fashion for function, although I admit that most of the really cute shoes aren’t so comfortable. Or at least not so comfortable for feet that work hard.
Propet Travelactiv Walking Shoe
That’s the pink lace sneakers in the photo — I just didn’t have time to take yet another shoe photo! I ordered them for our trip to NOLA, but alas I needed to go up a half size. Once in the correct size, though, these are cute, comfy sneakers.
You can order them from Amazon (affiliate link) here.
Taos Freedom Sneakers These are the sneakers I walked in all over NOLA and UT (but just for walking; I didn’t hike in them). In fact, I liked them so much that I ordered them in a second color.
You can order them from Amazon (affiliate link) here.
Have you seen these flip flops that use recycled yoga mats as footbeds? While there isn’t a lot of foot support, I’ve found them to be very comfortable.
I’ve had to search out new shoes — I’ve found certain shoes really bother the side of my left foot (yes, it’s that specific). I haven’t completely pinned down the culprit yet, but any sandal without a cushioned footbed makes my foot very painful.
I love these sandals/flip flops. They don’t make my foot ache, my toes have room to spread out, and I like that there’s a strap around my heel — although of course that makes it harder to slip in and out of them, and I am in and out of shoes all day long; going in and out with the dogs.
Doesn’t hurt that they come in all sorts of fun prints!
You can order them from Amazon (affiliate link) here
I ordered these for a trip to NYC last summer, yet I ended up not wearing them for that trip. Good thing, too, because even though they’re very comfortable, the strap around the front of my ankle on one foot (why is it always just one?) created a scrape the first time I wore it. I put a small cushioning strip on the offending strap and I’ve walked many miles in these sandals since.
I ordered another pair of Teva Sandals; a different model, which, as it turned out, had a hard footbed instead of the cushioned footbed of the Kayenta. That is where I finally put two and two together and realized that the footbed of sandals could make the side of my foot ache.
You can order them from Amazon (affiliate link) here.
Eurosoft Celeste Wedge Sandal
Although I loved the look of these and so wanted to bring them to UT with me, space for shoes was limited, what with hiking shoes, running shoes, the Taos sneakers (wore on the plane), Oofos, and the Teva sandals (which I admit I only wore a couple of times).
However, I’ve been wearing them at home this last week or so and they’re very comfortable and really cute with jeans. So much so that I want them in a second color. And I love that they actually do slip on and off relatively easily.
I couldn’t find these sandals on Amazon, but they are available through DSW (and you better not buy out my size!). In fact, most of these sandals are probably cheaper on DSW (and I bought almost all of them from DSW), so be sure to check out DSW, too. Or just google them!
Of course, these are just the shoes that are comfortable for me. And while they’re not going to be seen in the fashion magazines, they’re also a step up from little old lady shoes. Someday, no doubt, I’ll have to wear little old lady shoes. But today is not that day.
So let me know in the comments:
What are your go-to comfy sandals that are also cute?
What brands would you add to my list?
How many pairs of shoes (including running) do you typically bring on vacation?
Disclaimer: If you buy shoes using one of my affiliate links, I make a very small amount of money. You don’t pay any extra.
Packet Pickup Packet pickup was simple, even if driving around Provo wasn’t so simple. For a relatively small city — only about 20,000 more than the city I call home at the moment — there was a surprising number of multi-lane, traffic filled roads.
You needed to give the volunteers your bib number, which none of us had received, but there were books to look it up. We were all very pleased with the lightweight 10th anniversary edition jackets. You could also purchase a race tee if you wanted one (I did not).
Packet pickup was at the expo at the Convention Center, by the way. After picking up my bib, I almost immediately ran into Holly @ Hohoruns and her son, who had fallen prey to one of the salesman at a booth. I lost Holly as we walked around the small but well stocked expo. Not long after that I ran into Marcia @ Marciashealthyslice , MB @ Tutusandtennies, and met Zenaida @ and Teresa @ Fitandfabulousatfifty.
We made a reservation with California Pizza Kitchen at the expo for our carb loading dinner.
The weather & dressing Race day was forecast to be pretty perfect race weather (for me). The fly in the ointment? We had to get on buses at 4 am to take us to the start (the race started at 6 am).
And of course I was debating the whole hydration vest or not decision almost until the last minute. Which also meant worrying about underarm chafing.
Basically the decision on which top to wear was taken out of my hands. I thought I had packed a regular bra at the last minute so I could choose to wear a top without a shelf bra, but I couldn’t find it. So Super Girl Tank from Skirtsports it was! Third time was the charm, apparently, there was no chafing and it was the perfect choice (use code SPRINGCPT20 for 20% off almost anything Skirtsports).
I wore a Sparkleskirt on the bottom — what can I say? I like to sparkle on race day. Newton Motions carried me to the finish line (although I think they’re getting close to retirement).
The big problem was knowing it would be cooler that early, especially as you go up 1000 feet to the race start. And it was — it was a chilly 40 degrees and we had some time to kill. Thankfully I’d brought a throwaway hoodie. Actually, I also brought throwaway sweatpants which I kind of regretted not wearing!
We also met up with Kristy @ Runawaybridalplanner who had quite the tales to tell from her Grand Canyon Rim 2 Rim race. And she very sweetly fished out my sunglasses from the pocket in the back of my vest after I’d stupidly hooked everything up already — thank you, Kristy!
My Race Plan Rachel @ Runningonhappy asked me if I wanted a race plan, and of course I said yes (even if, again, I didn’t exactly follow it). Mainly I worried about going out too fast because of the downhill (spoiler alert: for some reason this was not a problem).
I’m going to put in my actual lap times with the race plan times below (so it will be 11:30 AP, which stands for average pace/11:20 RP – which stands for race plan).
So how’d that work for me?
Mile 1: 11:56 AP/11:45 RP. I didn’t notice my time for this mile. No idea why it was so slow; in the end, I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t have fallen apart if I had started out a little faster.
Mile 2: 11:57 AP/11:40 RP. It was still a good downhill, so again, no real excuse for the slowness. Yes, I was being cautious but obviously overly so. I know it takes me a couple of miles to warm up typically, but I regret starting this slowly.
Mile 3: 11:54 AP/11:40 RP. A somewhat flat mile. Pick it up already Judy!
Mile 4: 11:17 AP/11:30 RP. Oddly there were some rolling hills this mile. Or maybe that helped me finally get into some kind of groove. I’d been behind the 2:45 pacer for a while; I was thinking to myself it just wasn’t my day and it wasn’t a goal race anyway, even if in the back of my mind I knew there was a good chance of a PR. Why it didn’t occur to me that I was well ahead of a 2:45 pace I don’t know. I can’t do math during a race! But even if I know my time goal (and I didn’t have one, other than a maybe-PR) I still do my best.
Mile 5: 11:17 AP/11:30 RP. Decent hill, but then I’m used to hills.
Mile 6: 11:08 AP/11:30 RP. Another decent downhill. No real idea why it was almost the fastest mile of the race, other than the middle miles tend to be my best.
Mile 7: 11:27 AP/11:30 RP. Another decent downhill — why the slow down? The one thing I struggled with was a weird pulling sensation on the outer part of my right calf off and on during the race. At times I was being cautious because this wasn’t really my goal race and I didn’t want to injure myself. It was off and on. I kept trying to figure out what might make it go away, but the only thing that really did seem to make it go away were the flatter sections.
Mile 8: 11:25 AP/11:30 RP. More rolling hills & the last big downhill.
Mile 9: 11:16 AP/11:30 RP. You’re still going downhill by this point, but they’re small downhills. To me it felt mostly flat. I like flat..
Mile 10: 11:14 AP/11:30 RP. This was the point where I suddenly realized it could still be a PR. There was a pacer a bit in front of me, but too far away for me to read her sign..
Mile 11: 11:30 AP/11:20 RP. So I’ve just realized I can PR yet I slow down!
Mile 12: 11:23 AP/11:10 RP. Still trying to pick up the pace. I realize it’s the 2:30 pacer ahead of me.
Mile 13: 10:58 AP/11:00 RP. You can see that finish line for a while. I kind of wished I’d looked behind to see the mountains but then again I was chasing down that PR! I think I passed the 2:30 pacer in this mile. Pacing is a hard job and one I would’t want.
Last .19: 9:55 AP/Sprint to finish RP. And with a final sprint I caught it. 2 minute PR, baby!
2:30:30 — Official Time
11:29 Average Pace
Was the race well run? Yes, I was very impressed by the organization of this race. Packet pickup was easy, making a dinner reservation at the expo is genius, loved the 10th anniversary jacket, the buses worked like clockwork. I can’t speak to aid stations as I didn’t use any, although I did note the very long portapotty lines during the race (thankfully I didn’t need them).
My only quibble was that I seemed to miss a lot in the finisher chute, but that may just be me being in my usual post-race fog. I didn’t get my results, I didn’t see (and therefore didn’t get) the massages, and Mr. Judy complained that it wasn’t really spectator friendly (indeed, he totally missed my finish — first time that’s happened).
Small expo but stocked with what you need & some cool stuff, too.
Ability to make a dinner reservation at the expo.
Really nice jacket with thumbholes (although a bit tight around my hips).
It was nice running along the small river in Provo Canyon
Free photos — although I’m waiting on that!
Towards the end of the race, as it was warming up, there were some sprinklers on the side of the road — they were actually in kind of a PVC square you run through — I didn’t use one but it was also pretty genius.
I’m not a bling-whore, but it is a really nice medal.
Meeting old & new blogger friends, including Kerry @ Yogaontherun, who sadly was unable to run the race
Of course no race is perfect. The downsides:
The elevation (starts at about 5200 ft).
The very early wakeup to catch the bus.
I wasn’t super impressed with the town of Provo which had a surprising amount of traffic.
Very little spectator support until the end of the race.
Long portapotty lines during the race.
What I learned
The hill repeats with the emphasis on downhills that Coach Rachel @ Runningonhappyhad me doing before this race seemed to do their job: no quad problems at all. And I felt fine immediately after the race, and no DOMs, either.
Elevation makes your normal pace feel like you’re actually running much harder.
They say that if you race within your first 24 hours at a new elevation you won’t notice it as much, although I think the fact that we’d been there a week was actually helpful. I know I didn’t sleep well the first few days, probably a combination of elevation plus time change. I’d had mild flu like symptoms in the evening and mornings but felt fine once we got up and moving — also for just those first few days.
I had quite a few good nights sleep before the race, though.
I joked with Rachel @ Runningonhappythat I was following the Everest plan — you know, they acclimate by going up, staying a couple of nights, coming down, going up further, and so on.
I did my last long run the day after we got to UT, at about 5000 ft. Then we moved on to Bryce, which was 8000 ft and I ran one day there, too. Then we went to Zion, which is only 3-4000 ft (although very hot!). And then Provo around 4000 ft.
Final Thoughts Of course we were hiking like crazy people all week long, but we also were cautious to start out with short hikes and slowly lengthen them as the week went on — do too much, too soon, and you can pay the price with altitude sickness. Our last day of hiking was Thursday, 2 days before the race, and we did 2 hikes that day and I also walked around town in search of my UT mug (which I finally found) — to the tune of almost a half.
I wouldn’t recommend someone who is new to running halfs do that, but I do feel as you have a bunch under your belt you can be more active beforehand. Plus it takes your mind off of things. It worked for me in both AZ and UT, anyway!
I was happy to have the opportunity to run this race for free, although I would say that it is well worth the race fee. We both totally enjoyed exploring UT, although we just barely scratched the surface (and you can expect more posts about UT in the future).
I am also glad I had the chance to run a race at elevation. Yes, it was tough. Yes, I think coming out ahead of time is the way to go for me. I’ve eyed races at elevation before, and now I know that I can do it (although elevation can get you at any point!).
With high winds battering Salt Lake City the day we were scheduled to depart, we didn’t make it home as scheduled. We missed our connection and with no later flights, and were stuck overnight in Chicago. So a little nod to Wendy @ Takingthelongwayhome in the subject (I could’ve gone with there’s no place like home).
Thankfully we were able to book a hotel near the airport, but I had to rely on my rapidly dwindling supply of protein bars for dinner. At about 9 pm.
We had smooth sailing the next day, but didn’t get home until almost dinner time. Apparently we lost power that night, for reasons unknown, yet I still managed to sleep through the very loud generator that’s right under our window. Yes, I was a little tired after all the hiking and a couple of frustrating days of travel. Normally there is no way I would be able to sleep through that kind of racket.
What with taper, all the hiking, and the race, I seem to have fallen out of the habit of doing anything else (like yoga, strength train, meditate). It’s time to get back to a more balanced way of life!
*Disclaimer: Amazon affiliate links; I will make a small amount of money if you buy through these links
I absolutely knew I was recovered properly, what with about 4 days of almost complete rest. So why the heck did I feel totally like a sloth during my run — in the rain — on Thursday?
It was a somewhat warm day so the rain wasn’t really bad, and considering I just had perfect weather for my race, I really can’t complain. Still — could the rain just stay away for a while? Not if you look at next week’s forecast, apparently.
In the end my pace wasn’t bad, and I had negative splits — which just happened. Saturday
The joke was on me, because Saturday was perfect positive splits! Hills, people, hills. But I got to run with someone for most of the run so it’s all good. Time to dial things back . . . just for a little bit!
I worked hard for my PR!
Favorites of the week Home. I do love to travel, but I’m ready to just be at home for a while. Hopefully I can figure out a way to work some hiking into my weeks! Although running, dogwalking, swimming, hiking . . . even when you’re “retired” there’s still never enough hours in a day!
Other than our extended stay in Chicago, it’s been a quiet week and that’s nice for a change.
In case you missed it on Instagram (follow me here), I made S’mores French Toast yesterday. Easy peasy folks: make french toast. Crumble it up or cut it up. Top with chocolate chips, minim marshmallows, and some graham cracker bits. I’m pretty sure I’ll be making that again sometime!
There were more yummy desserts today, including a brownie sundae that literally fed the eight of us. Blogger fail, though, no photos at all.
One of the most amazing things about running is the way it builds your confidence. How it teaches you that you can do hard things; things you never thought you could do. I still remember that I couldn’t believe I could run a mile — me! The girl who avoided running if at all possible growing up.
I can’t run hard in heat
I have believed this for years. And I have hot half after hot half that just reinforced that belief.
Until I ran Craft Classic Phoenix (read about it here). While I didn’t PR that particular race, it was the best I’d ever run in the heat . . . at that point.
I can’t PR in the heat and humidity
After running Craft Classic Phoenix, I just assumed that it was the dry heat in Phoenix that helped me run so well, even on a very hilly course. In fact, I assumed that Panama City Beach wouldn’t be a PR, because FL is always humid, right? Wrong! I got lucky and the weather was just right for that race and it was flat.
Going into the Best Damn Race New Orleans, I trained hard, but assumed it wouldn’t be a PR — despite the flat course, it was forecast to be hot and humid. As I kept telling my coach, Rachel @ Runningonhappy, I suck at humidity.
Wrong! Or at least wrong for me that day. And it was definitely hot & humid! Read that race review here.
I can’t run a trail half marathon
I’ve done a few races with just a portion on trails — dry, non technical trails for the most part. I run on trails very occasionally. So when I got the idea into my head to run a trail half marathon — with very little time to actually train on trails — yeah, it was scary. But . . . chocolate.
Some of my long training runs had me running at a pace that would mean finishing with the time limit questionable, and boy, did I question myself. Luckily, those runs were also on very hot days, and the one saving grace was that I picked a trail half near Seattle — heat would not be a factor; but mud would be. It was called Mud and Chocolate after all (read about it here).
I’m pretty sure most of my halfs will be road races, but if I find a trail race that calls to me, I wouldn’t hesitate to sign up for another one.
I can’t run a race relying on the aid stations only
I have run far too many races where aid stations would out of something, and often that ended up derailing my race. I need my hydration!
I won’t lie: the first time I ran a half relying on the aid stations, it was because I’d forgotten my water bottle. I felt so light! So free! Although I have done it since, most of the time, I really prefer to carry my own water. And now I prefer to carry it in my hydration vest (read about that here).
I can’t run a good race at elevation
Running in Sedona before Craft Classic Phoenix was my first introduction to running at elevation. Sedona is about 4000 feet. It was also trails. And hilly. It was hard, but so fun! The race itself was in Phoenix, though, and that is just a mere 1000 feet (although still higher than my 300 feet above sea level home city).
So when the Utah Valley Half Marathon offered me a free race entry, I won’t lie, the thought of starting a race at about 5000 feet was daunting. But hey, I’d get to visit Utah (I had never been), meet up with new bloggers, and the race was mostly downhill.
The race was tough, but somehow I managed to PR the mostly (but not completely) downhill course. The elevation made it seem a lot harder than I think it actually was.
The only way to grow is to challenge yourself.
— Ashley Tisdale
Try it, you’ll like it
I am not an adrenaline junkie and I tend to be rather cautious about most things. Just the fact that I ran 3 halfs in 3 months was definitely more of a challenge than I usually take on! Heck, essentially I’ve run 5 halfs in 6 months if you go back to October of 2016.
I will probably always have to battle with myself over things that scare me, and sometimes I won’t win, but I do know that I am glad that I challenged these five beliefs.
Once you just open yourself up and try, win or lose, your world becomes a larger place.
–Judy @ Chocolaterunsjudy
So let me know in the comments:
What beliefs have you challenged (doesn’t have to be running-related)?
I’ll sleep when I’m dead. How often do you hear people say that? Yet we get stronger when we rest and recover properly. But how do you know if you’re recovered?
Meet my little friend The pulse oximeter. That’s right, like the thing you wear on your finger when you’re in the hospital. It measures your pulse and your oxygen levels. It’s inexpensive, small, and easy to use.
So why would you need one? I don’t have a GPS watch with a heart monitor. I don’t want to wear a chest strap. But I did want to start tracking my resting heart rate (RHR). And the pulse oximeter has really helped me do just that!
It doesn’t wake up Mr. Judy (although I do make sure to cover it up with the blanket). It doesn’t require an app or a phone. I know most people sleep with their phones, but I don’t. It’s the perfect solution for me.
You, of course, can do the same thing with your watch if it has a HR Monitor. Or if you don’t have to worry about waking someone up, you can just take your pulse. The tricky thing about resting heart rate is you need to take it before you get out of bed first thing in the morning. Although sometimes I have to make a pitstop in the middle of the night; I don’t take it then, but I will take it a few hours later right before I get up.
So are you recovered? Bear in mind I am not a medical professional. If your heart rate is very elevated after a hard workout (I’ve seen 7 beats per minute or 10% used as a benchmark for very elevated), chances are you are not recovered.
That doesn’t mean you need to take a rest day, but it would be wise to take it a little easier.
If you find that over time your RHR seems to be rising, that may also be a sign that you’re overtraining. Supposedly the opposite is true too: if over time your RHR declines, it’s a sign that you’re getting fitter. I’ve only been tracking mine for a few months, but definitely haven’t seen any declines.
However, of course after I wrote the paragraph above, I saw my lowest RHR to date. Hopefully that means I’m getting a little fitter.
I have shuffled around workouts occasionally when my RHR has been more elevated than usual. I haven’t been tracking long enough to know if it’s made a difference. It certainly hasn’t hurt.
There is no one way to tell if you’re recovered Recovery and overtraining are tricky buggers. Sometimes you think you’re doing everything right, and yet you succumb to an illness at the worst times. Is it lack of recovery? Is it bad luck? I don’t think there’s any definitive way to tell.
I can tell you that I like having this simple tool in my toolbox.
What signs make you think you’re overtrainng?
Have you ever tracked your RHR?
See this article here for more information on RHR & Recovery
Skirtsports Super Girl Tank
The first run I had in this tank was so awesome I knew I needed to test it out on my long run that week — it just might be “the one” for my half. There are three open pockets in the back — I stashed my arm warmer in one after it got too warm for it.
I’m not sure I’d put my phone in one of the pockets, but I know SkirtSports Ambassadors who say they have with no problems.
There’s a shelf bra (with a cleavage pocket) — perfect for us smaller chested gals, although I imagine you fuller figured gals will want a bra underneath. It’s a slightly heavier material, which makes it perfect when it’s still cool in the morning.
Alas, I did have some chafing on the long run. I suspect it might have had to do with my hydration pack, though — I wore a SkirtSports tank in my half in NOLA, which was steamy, with zero chafing. Then again, chafing tends to be totally random for me.
Don’t forget to use code SPRINGCPT20 for 20% off most items.
It wasn’t that long ago that I wrote about how I never had PB&Js growing up — my mom is not a breakfast person and doesn’t like peanut butter — yes, feel free to speculate about just where the heck I came from!
So I decided to make one using just one piece of bread — I just spread the almond butter & jam on one half and folded it over. It helped that I found a brand of bread I really love from Whole Foods: Silver Hills. I haven’t given it to Mr. Judy yet, but I suspect he’d like it. It’s bread using sprouted grains (easier to digest), but it’s soft like regular bread and a slice is a decent size. Plus there’s a fair amount of protein in it!
And now I’m hooked. They make a great post run snack or lunch!
There you go, two loves for the price of one
Quite some time ago, the idea to copy a fro-yo bowl with just Greek yogurt came to me — and it was a good idea, let me tell you!
I mix Greek yogurt with some vanilla protein powder (I’m partial to Hammer Nutrition Recoverite). I put that over sliced bananas. Then I top it with some granola and chocolate chips (of course). Sometimes I add some almond butter. Sometimes I crumble a cookie or a protein cookie or a brownie over it. Basically, any of those toppings you’d use in a fro yo place can just go on top of the yogurt-protein powder mixture.
It’s really filling and it feels like you’re eating something decadent, but it’s really pretty healthy and great for recovery!
Pickle Juice Shots
I am not yet sure that I love Pickle Juice Shots, as I’ve only tried it once as of this writing. I have been struggling with cramps for several years. It doesn’t always happen. Sometimes it happens when I’m running — more often it happens after I run. Sometimes hours after I run. I move in a certain way and then I can’t move at all it’s so painful.
There are many different theories on why we cramp up, but what I really need is a solution. I’ve always taken electrolytes in hot weather, on long runs — I’ve tried different ways, too — the most recent way I’ve been doing is Saltstick Fastchews — that seems to work while I’m running, but afterwards I’m still prone to cramping.
One of the solutions I’ve read is good old Pickle Juice. I even have recipes for making it myself; I don’t have pickles around all that often. But that’s cumbersome when you’re traveling.
So I saw something about the Pickle Juice shots and decided to give it a go on my last long run before I left. There were no cramps during or after. I drank half a shot before the run. I meant to take it with me on the run, just in case, but I forgot it. I drank the rest of it when I finished.
And yes, it really does taste like pickle juice!
You can buy Pickle Juice shots from Amazon (Affiliate link) here.
Asian Sweet Potatos
Those orangey yams in the stores they call sweet potatoes? I’ve never understand the attraction. They just don’t do it for me. It wasn’t until I tried Asian sweet potatoes that I fell in love with the sweet potato.
I get mine in Whole Foods. If you have an Asian market near you, you can look there, too. They actually look a lot like white potatoes on the inside, but they’re much sweeter tasting than regular sweet potatoes to my mind.
Sometimes I eat them for breakfast topped with a banana and some almond butter — oats aren’t the only way to get in some carbs! They went into both the Morning Frittatas and the Sweet Potato Breakfast cookies from Run Fast, Eat Slow (Amazon Affiliate link).
So let me know in the comments:
What are you loving lately?
What would you top your yogurt bowl with?
Any tried and true cramp solutions?
Disclaimer: I am an Ambassador for both Skirtsports and Honeystinger. I make no money from the links in this post, and I was not provided any items for free. The opinions expressed in this post are my own.