The inaugural Iron Horse Half Marathon was a beautiful run; I am so glad this was the way I got to celebrate half marathon #10! My two year run-iversary for running my first half marathon is coming up, and I cannot believe how far I have come in just two years. I ran my first half marathon in October of 2014 and just ran my tenth half marathon this last weekend. Another crazy fact: eight of those ten were run within the last year!
The Iron Horse Half was a point to point course on the Iron Horse Trail & the Snoqualmie Valley Trail. What makes this half marathon unique is that the course is nearly all downhill at a steady, gentle grade. I was very excited about this course and will share more about that experience later in the recap.
Because it was a point to point course, the start line was 13-ish miles away from the finish. You were encouraged to park at the finish and take a shuttle to the start line. You could have someone drop you off at the start line, but there was no parking there.
Race morning, I parked at the finish line, picked up my packet and bib number and hopped on a shuttle with zero issues! It was very smooth. Once I got dropped off at the start, I checked a small bag in gear check & headed up a small hill to the start line. I wanted to use the port-a-potty really quick, but the line was UNREAL. I knew there would be a few along the course, so I decided to wait.
They did the race start in waves that were spaced 15 minutes apart to avoid crowding on the trail. I thought this worked extremely well. Before I knew it, I was off and running!
The course was promised to be a slow and steady downhill course, and it was! There were a few sections that were flat and a few that were slightly steeper and allowed you to build up speed. It was not a ton of downhill that causes you to get shin splints or feel uncomfortable, it was very pleasant and made for ‘easy racing’.
The course was also unbelievably beautiful. It was all trails, which was a nice change of pace from a normal road race. It was full of green trees and bushes, rivers, beautiful landscapes and some sweeping views.
The weather on race day was the perfect blessing, especially for August. Slightly overcast and not too hot. The trail had lots of shade, but did have some sections that would have been full sun if it wasn’t for the light cloud cover. I was glad I brought my handheld water bottle, although they did have plenty of aid stations along the course.
Remember how I skipped the port-a-potty line earlier? Well somehow I missed the first port-a-potties on the course, so by mile 5 I was peeing my pants and had to become one with mother nature. Thankfully this was the perfect course to have this happen as there were lots of chances to dip into the woods and take care of business. Of course I didn’t want to have to do that, but you gotta do what you gotta do!
Considering I had been slacking on long runs, it was no surprise to me that the last 3 miles were pretty difficult. I survived, but they felt long. I was so happy to see the finish line in the distance! I was about half a mile away from the finish line & all of a sudden a heard a buzz and a sharp pain in the middle of my back! I thought to myself, ‘did I just get stung by a bee?!’ I didn’t see a bee, but what else could it be?! It hurt so bad!! As soon as I crossed the finish, I headed to the medical tent & sure enough I did get a bee sting. Thankfully I was fine. There is a first time for everything right?! It was quite the memorable finish. 😉 My time: 2 hours 8 minutes.
Run it OR Skip it?
RUN IT! The course is beautiful and the slight downgrade the whole way is so refreshing compared to the other Seattle race courses with hills. Like every Orca Running race, it was well organized and had everything you could want. Amazing post race BBQ, great medals and fun swag. I definitely recommend this race!
I haven’t always loved running, but I have always LOVED traveling. Now that I can combine running and traveling for a ‘race-cation’, it’s been a ton of fun! I don’t know about you, but I tend to be a last minute packer. I put it off till the day before and then my suitcase can be a real mess. The Eagle Creek Pack-It Sport bags are a game changer for packing, especially when packing running/workout clothes.
I hate that feeling you get when you are on your way to the airport and you know you forgot something. I can’t always pinpoint what I forgot, but you know an essential is missing. Then it drives you insane until you figure out what it is. That is the WORST. Vacation is supposed to be relaxing right? One of the reasons I love the Eagle Creek bags is because they make it easy to make sure you have everything. You put it all away into the nice little compartments and you know it is there. You won’t forget to put it in your suitcase!
Another reason I love them is because it makes transporting sweaty clothes and dirty shoes much easier. One time when I came home from a race in Mexico, I had to wash EVERYTHING in my suitcase because my sweaty clothes left everything damp. That would not have happened If I had used Eagle Creek bags.
There are so many ways you could use these bags! Watch the video below to see them in action. I show you what I pack when I am planning on running on vacation and you can see how these bags all fit into my carry-on suitcase!
Pretty cool huh?!
How would you use these bags? What packing tips do you have for a race or a trip? I would love to know! Please share in the comments below.
One more thing: if you would like improve your fitness or running, I can help you! Loose weight, improve your mile time, or even work up to jogging your first mile! Email me and I’ll fill you in on all the options to work with me. I only have a few spots open for the month, so hop to it! thesweetblondesfitlife (at) gmail (dot) com
Disclaimer: I received a set of Eagle Creek Pack-It Sport bags as part of my association with the RockNBlog team. I was not required to review them, but I loved them so I wanted to share with you. All opinions are my own.
Disclaimer: I received a Hydraquiver to review as part of being a BibRave Pro. I value authenticity & honesty; all options are my own. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review find and write race reviews!
Last summer, I struggled to find a way to hydrate on my long runs. I had not found a way to successfully bring large amounts of water with me. I was looking for a solution, and I was introduced to Orange Mud. Being already familiar with their products, I was excited to try out the Hydraquiver. Orange Mud hydration packs are a game changer for hydration during a run. We have had a warm Spring here in the PNW and they Hydraquiver has made those warm runs much more pleasant. It is a simple solution to a problem many runners have: hydration. Want to know if the Hydraquiver is for you? Check out my video review below, my favorite Hydraquiver features and snag an Orange Mud discount code!
Orange Mud, once again, has thought of everything. The hydraquiver has many features that are much more meaningful if I show them to you versus explain. In the video below, I demonstrate all the things the hydraquiver can do.
How I Use It
My favorite way to use my hydraquiver is on runs, especially long ones. It is easy to carry my run fuel (dried fruit usually), electrolytes and water all in one place. I can stow my keys plus anything else I may need in the back pocket, and there is also a place for my phone. I take it on any run where I am going to need hydration. Now that it is getting warmer, this means I take it on all my shorter runs too. It’s the easiest way I have found to hydrate on my runs.
Curious how it compares to the Hydraquiver Vest Pack? Check out my comparison review.
Why I’m in love!
There are lots of reasons!
– very comfortable to wear. Sometimes I forget it’s there on long runs.
– fully adjustable
– doesn’t rub
– cute colors!
– easy to clean bottle, I love this!
– easy to fill & refill
They Hydraquiver solves your hydration problems on runs. It holds much more water than a hydration belt and doesn’t take up hand space like a handheld water bottle. No matter how far I run, it’s comfortable to wear and easy to use. It’s functional and stylish. You can’t ask for much more!
Ever since I was a little girl, I have loved Cinderella. I loved the movie so much that I actually wore out the VHS tape and my parents had to buy a new movie – who even knew that was possible?! When I realized after my first half marathon that I actually enjoyed running, I decided that one day I had to run the Disney Princess Half marathon & earn my Glass Slipper. This was strictly due to my love for the Disney Princesses & Cinderella, little did I know how awesome the experience would be. This February that dream became a reality!
Like I said, I didn’t know much about the Disney runs other than that they sold out really quickly (like in a few hours), the races were expensive & there were lots of RunDisney fans. The Disney Princess half marathon weekend was my first RunDisney experience, and it was also my first time going to Walt Disney World. I was not ready for the overwhelm and the fun that was about to come at me!
We took a red-eye flight to Orlando, and arrived on Thursday, the first day of the expo. We decided to spend Thursday finding our way around Disney, checking out the expo and hitting up the grocery store to get ready for the week. Driving to the expo I was already so overwhelmed. Disney was much larger than I could have ever imagined!!!
I wanted to go to the expo Thursday morning when it first opened because I figured there wouldn’t be many people. Boy was I WRONG! We ended up at the expo area an hour early & there were already a ton of people there!
The expo was at the ESPN complex which is HUGE. There were two separate lines for the expo & packet pick up. I HAD to buy a sparkle skirt at the expo in order to complete my Cinderella costume. Because there were so many more people than expected, we decided to get in the expo line to make sure I got the skirt.
While waiting, all these people were asking about which line you needed to be in for the commemorative items. The Disney team members kept telling them the packet pick up line. I had no idea what they were talking about. I started to get FOMO (fear of missing out) and wanted to know what this stuff was.
Once I got into the expo, I high-tailed it to Sparkle Athletic, then headed over to packet pickup. I was really curious about these commemorative item. Little did I know they were selling them in the expo area too & I could have checked them out there. I found that out later… oh well.
There was still a huge line at packet pick up. It moved quickly and before I knew it I was picking up my Glass Slipper bib! I could not believe this was really happening!
The area where they were selling the commemorative items was not easy to find. When we finally got there, it was crazy. I waited in what I thought was the line to enter the shopping area, but it was actually the line to pay (face palm). I saw a cute grey tank top that said ‘run princess run’ with a castle, but they were sold out of my size. There were a lot of fun items, but I didn’t want to buy something I would never use again. The only thing I absolutely had to have was a Glass Slipper magnet. Since we were already up there, I looked at the Dooney & Bourke Princess purses too. They were cute (pattern below), but not something I had to have.
Then we headed back to the expo, which now had a massive line! We seemed to have done things in the wrong order. Oh well, I wasn’t in a hurry.
The expo had a ton of vendors. All my favorite brands were there & some BibRave partners to!
Plantronics BackBeatFit wireless headphones. They are the BEST!
On Running also had a booth, so I checked out the CloudSurfers I knew I would be getting when I got home.
Of course there were also tons of cute Princess themed items too.
I also saw the New Balance Disney shoes everyone was going crazy for. They were cute but not something that I personally would wear.
While it was really busy, the expo & packet pick up was a lot of fun. I was still processing the fact that we were in Florida!! There was so much to take in and my first Disney Princess half marathon weekend was off to a great start.
Now it was time to grab lunch & unpack at the hotel to get ready for the 10K on Saturday!
Tell me: Have you ever run a Disney race? Which one would you want to run?
Disclaimer: I received a Buff Hoodie to review as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review find and write race reviews!
Freezing temps, piercing wind, cold air & a chance of rain. Why did running thru the winter sound like a good idea? I have asked myself this multiple times this year. Haha. Winter running can really put you to the test, but thankfully there are a lot of running equipment & accessories out there that make it more pleasant and allow us to keep doing what we love even when the weather wants to stop us.
So what is this you ask?
It’s a Buff, it’s a hoodie… it’s a Buff hoodie!
It’s all the amazingness of a Buff, with a hoodie attached to keep you protected and warm. It’s not your average hoodie either! The hood is Polartec® Thermal Pro® material that is wind resistant and keeps your warm. There is a double layer Buff that covers your neck and a single layer collar that can be pulled up to cover your nose and mouth. These are made of merino wool. This special wool keeps your warm up in the coldest of temperatures, but also lets the moisture out and dries quick, which means it is great for cold & sweaty activities!
We have been having an extra cold winter here in the PNW, and this Buff hoodie has really helped to keep me warm on many different occasions. It is so comfortable, you almost forget it is there!
When running, the hood stays up on your head even without securing it. (the pic above is an action running shot & that hood is not going anywhere!) I love it because it is like a built in hat. You pull the hood up when you want extra warmth. If you overheat, you just pull it back down.
It’s amazingly functional, not to mention extremely stylish! You can use it during outdoor workouts, take it on a hike, hit the slopes OR take it to the streets.
The pic above was on NYE. It was below freezing that night. My Buff Hoodie had super cute street style & kept me warm.
The Buff Hoodie allows you to turn ANY shirt or jacket into a hoodie, which is amazing in my book. It has made my cold runs a lot more pleasant and a lot more fun. I will definitely be using this thru the Spring. The merino wool is warm but breathable, unlike fleece, so you can use it in a wider range of temperatures. It’s an awesome accessory to have added to my running collection & I can’t wait to take it on more adventures with me.
I definitely recommend it. It will make those cooler runs much more enjoyable, and it’s cute! You can shop the exact one I have HERE. (it comes in other colors too!)
What is your must have for running in the cold???
Don’t just take it from me… check out what my fellow BibRavePros thought about the Buff Hoodie!
Disclaimer: I received a pair of 2XU compression tights to review as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review find & write race reviews!
Whether or not you should use compression is a hot topic. You will find people who swear by compression socks and others who think compression gear is silly. Makes sense because different things work for different people right? When I started running, I had no idea what compression was, so I didn’t use it. It wasn’t until I had an unhappy thigh muscle that I was introduced to compression leggings by my sports doctor. As you will see, there are lots of compression benefits whether you are a runner or not.
The best compression tights
There are several ‘big’ compression brands that make all different kinds of compression gear. Hands down, 2XU makes the best compression leggings. They extremely comfortable and work very well; they feel like a second skin. Whether you wear them to exercise in or for recovery, they are very functional. My muscles are so happy after they get some time in 2XU compression tights.
When my sports doctor recommended them to me, he told me to get a pair of 2XU compression tights. They helped me recover from my unhappy muscle and get back to running. Those were the regular compression tights and they worked wonderfully. These elite MCS compression tights are another level of comfort and technology. I love these even more than my first pair. See below for what makes the MCS tights super awesome.
How do I use them?
I do run in compression tights from time to time; however I mainly use them for recovery. For example, once I get home from a long run or a big race, I put on my compression tights for the rest of the day or the day following the race. Post-leg day, I like to wear compression tights to help combat the muscle soreness.
If I am up for a run and my muscles are super sore, I will run in my compression tights and my muscles feel great. I also like to run in them when it is cold. Sine the blood flow to my muscles is increased, my legs stay warmer in the cold.
What are the compression benefits for everyone?
After any kind of exercise, we all suffer from muscle soreness to some extent. When you muscles get strained, the micro-tears cause soreness and when the muscles repair they get stronger. By using compression gear, the blood flow to your muscles increases meaning that those tears recover faster and your soreness goes away much quicker. This also means that you can bounce back faster and kick more butt in your workouts because you recover quicker. Whether you are a runner, a cross fitter, a walker, a weight lifter or you love Zumba, compression tights will help with your recovery.
If you do not exercise, compression is still helpful because again, it increases blood flow to your muscles. What that means for the non-exerciser is that it can help reduce swelling. If you have swelling/fluid retention in your feet or ankles, compression socks may help. (Be sure to check with your doctor first) It also helps with circulation and for people with certain medical conditions compression can be helpful.
I like to wear compression socks or tights on airplane flights as it helps with the circulation while I am sitting for long periods of time.
Why the Elite MCS Tights are worth the investment
The new MCS tights from 2XU are the BEST. The technology is out of this world. MCS stands for muscle containment stamping. This creates a targeted compression as there is a support system traced over each key muscle group on the inside of the tights. Not only is this muscle mapping extremely effective, the felt on the inside of the tights that creates the mapping is very comfortable. The tights smooth lines so there is no uncomfortable chaffing or rubbing. This makes the tights feel like an extension of your body, you almost forget you are wearing them.
The MCS tights also make you look like a bad a**. I don’t know if it is the black and gold that catches peoples attention or small muscle mapping details on the outside of tights, but people looked at me differently when I wore these around or trained in them. Seriously. I do not say this to toot my own horn, it’s the tights!
I have gotten lots of compliments and questions on them. These tights make you look like you mean business. Not only are they effective and will help you become a better athlete, they also up your level of bad-assery which is a major plus in my book. 😀
A few weeks back I ran my very first trail run which happened to be a race. I was not running this race for time, it was more for fun and to try something new.
Leading up to the race, I didn’t really realize what I had gotten myself into. My friend Carleeh, a fellow fitness lover, invited me to do the run with her. She signed us up, so I didn’t really know it was a trail run. I knew it was at a state park, but the whole running on trails didn’t click. The night before the race I was looking up where I needed to go to get my bib on race morning and I realized, this is a trail run! I might be out of my league… Then Carleeh texted me and said she had a family emergency and wasn’t gonna be able to go. Now I was gonna be all alone?! “Okay, maybe I won’t go”, I thought.
The series of thoughts that ensued after that was basically me talking myself out of going and then talking myself back into going. I was nervous, it was something I had never done before, I didn’t want to be alone, but I am also not one to waste a race entry or turn away because I had never done it before. So, it was decided, I would go to the race.
When I arrived on Saturday morning, there was an area to check in and get your bib. Before the race, there was a short talk explaining how the trail was marked and what to expect along the way. This really calmed my nerves. This race had the perfect amount of people, it was not overcrowded which I appreciated. I had been nervous about this because trails are narrow, it’s like running in a single file line, and I didn’t want to hold other runners up. If someone comes up on you, you just step aside and let others by. Everyone running this race was encouraging and kind, it was a very supportive environment.
There were two distances in this race a half marathon and a 10K. I ran the 10K which is 6.2 miles. The first part of the course was almost all hills, some more intense than others. I saw this sign for “heart attack hill” and thought “that doesn’t make me feel any better!” Some of the hills I had to walk up, but once we got to about mile 3, it leveled out and then there was a nice downhill section to get back to the finish line.
Yes, they had an actual finish line and people timing you! How cool was that?! To make things even better, I actually came in second for my age group in the 10K! I was majorly impressed considering it was my first time. WOO HOO!
It was a BEAUTIFUL run. I didn’t listen to music the whole time, I was just taking in nature’s beauty and enjoying the run.
I am SO glad I didn’t sit this race out despite the nerves I felt. It was unlike any other race I had ever ran, and I had a ton of fun. If you have never tried trail running before, imagine running on trails that you would hike on. It was wooded, beautiful weather and nice and cool because we were in the shaded forest. There were some parts with big hills, stairs and even a few switch backs.
The race was put on by Evergreen Trail Runs. They put on an entire trail race series with about a race a month that you can participate in on different trails through out the Seattle area. I definitely want to run another one, it was a great experience, well organized and lots of fun. You definitely don’t have to be a seasoned trail runner to have fun at these races. They packed in an aid station on the course and had snacks and water at the finish line. There was also an on course photographer that took free race photos. They were only at one spot along the course, but I was majorly impressed they even had that.
I brought along my running belt, my full Buff and dressed in layers, which was necessary as it was pretty cold at the start. I wore my regular Brooks running shoes which were fine for the trail terrain. While they do make trail running shoes, you could run this race without them no problem. Feel free to check out my in depth race review, and review any races you have ran on BibRave.
Tell me: Have you ever ran on trails? Done a trail race? What did you think? Would you do it again?