' Adventures with FitNyx: October 2017

Monday, October 30, 2017

Mission: Redemption

One year.

A lot can happen in one year.  This is a pretty common theme on this blog, really...  If you've been following me for a while you've probably noticed I have a relatively tumultuous life that changes constantly.  I'm never in the same place as I was a year prior.  This time, fortunately, I think I'm in the best place I have been in my life!

But that's not why I'm reflecting on "one year" right now.  True, in the past year I've bought a home, gone through a couple relationships, made a big job change...  But the single moment that matters to me right now happened one year ago today: I ran my first full marathon when I took on the Marine Corps Marathon in DC.  From Mission: Preparedness to Mission: Accomplished, it was one heck of a journey, but by the end of race day, I was pretty sour on the final experience.  You can read more about my MCM story in a series of posts from last year, if you're interested in the full details: Expo / Part 1 / Part 2 / Aftermath

To say I was disappointed with my first marathon would be an understatement.  I was so turned off by that experience that I was heavily leaning towards the "one-and-done" camp.  People who know me best, though, could tell right away that I'd end up doing another marathon, if only to prove I could do better than the first one - and as it turns out, they were right.

As of yesterday, I am officially registered for my SECOND full marathon!

I'll be staying local and running through my hometown this time around, doubling my previous half marathon experiences at the Cleveland Rite-Aid Marathon in May.  Coming back home a few years ago opened doors in my life that I'd never before thought possible.  Cleveland has brought me my dream job, a wonderful home, and some of the best friends I've ever made.  It's about time I applied the magic of the 'Land to my running schedule!

Of course, this registration brings with it new challenges, and new opportunities.  Instead of training during the nicest months of the year, I'll be training during the coldest, nastiest months.  I'll carry with me the lessons I learned from last time, and I'll build to improve upon them.  I have more realistic expectations for my race experience - especially having run the half marathon for the past two years, making me more familiar with the course.  Hometown advantage is great to have on my side, as well.  I can preview the course, take training runs along the route, and of course I'll be able to invite a larger support group since the whole family is right here in town.

Hopefully, Marathon #2 will bring me the redemption I've been craving for the past year.  It's time to start the new mission - wish me luck!

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

RICEing Just Got Easier

Aches and pains are pretty much a guarantee for those of us living an active lifestyle.  While there are plenty of good injury prevention practices, there's just no avoiding the occasional twist, sprain, or general overuse soreness.  Every athlete knows how to treat those minor injuries with the old RICE adage: rest, ice, compression, elevation.  But even if we weren't itching to get back to our movin' and shakin', this on-the-go world makes it difficult to take proper care of those aches and pains.  Who has time to sit still for an 20 minute ice application every few hours throughout the day?  Fortunately, gone are the days of needing a ziplock full of ice cubes to stay perched precariously on your sore knee or ankle.

Disclaimer: I received this product at no cost in exchange for my review; I received
no additional compensation.  As always, all opinions expressed herein are my own.

Paincakes are revolutionizing the RICE treatment for those of us who suffer from sprains or sore muscles but have to keep moving despite the pain.  While resting completely is certainly the best treatment, it simply isn't always feasible to take a day off work just to nurse an irritating minor injury.  For those days, an ice pack that sticks in place and doesn't leak is just about the best possible invention on the planet!

The science of the gel-based reusable ice pack isn't exactly modern marvel, but I've never seen one that is both flexible and self-adhesive until I found Paincakes.  In the past, if I wanted to use one of those gel packs, especially on a busy day, I had to monkey with an ACE bandage for a while trying to find a good combination of flexibility and stability that would allow me to go about my activities for the day.  If you've ever tried this delicate juggling act yourself, you probably remember being frustrated that you couldn't quite find the right level of tension to keep the ice pack where it needed application while still being able to move at all.  Paincakes totally solves this problem by sticking directly to the affected area - and staying PUT for as long as you need.

Paincakes - part of a balanced recovery routine!

I've been using my Paincake for almost a year now, and it sees action almost weekly.  The adhesive is still just as strong as it was on the first use!  In fact, the only signs of the frequence of use mine receives are the slightly peeling edges of the adhesive square.  Since the Paincake sticks so well, it takes a little effort to peel it off, and the repeated pulling is starting to pull the square up at the corners ever so slightly, but I supposed that's to be expected after quite a bit of use.  It certainly hasn't impacted my ability to use the ice pack, so I'm not really worried about it quite yet.  The product only claims to be good for 100 resticks which I hit quite a while ago, so I think I'm doing well!

My Paincake is great for icing the entire ankle area, or one side of the knee, at a time.  I can also target other painful areas, like specific points on my back that need iced down after a tough workout, or the bumps on my forehead when my dog knocks me into a doorframe because she's so excited I'm home (yes, that happens more often than you'd think - she's the best but she's a handful!).  There are also mini Paincakes that pack the same punch but in a smaller size!  Both the regular and mini Paincakes come in a waterproof ziplock pouch so you can tuck them into a suitcase while you travel, allowing you to take relief for aches and pains anywhere you might have access to a freezer.

Obviously last year...  #Windians

Having the ability to ice anytime, anywhere, without having to be careful about my ice pack slipping or falling off helped me get through last year's marathon training with minimal down time.  It's currently helping me ease back into teaching fitness classes on a regular basis.  And in the future...  Who knows what it might help me accomplish?  When I'm able to take better care of my body, anything is possible!  Kinda makes you wanna set a big new goal, eh?  ;)

What helps you take care of your body while balancing a fitness lifestyle and, well, a regular life?  Do you have a favorite RICE routine or product?  What's your next big fitness goal?

Monday, October 16, 2017

AARD: Is race directing a full time job?

Okay, I'm going to take a day to answer the question I hear the absolute most by far when people learn I'm a race director.  "Oh, a race director?  Is that like, part time?  Do you make much money?"  This is one of those jobs that a large portion of the population doesn't even know exists, and it's hard for people to wrap their heads around it - especially since it's a relatively rare position.  Even being in the industry for several years, I still only personally know maybe 20 people who make a full time living doing nothing but race work.  Now to be fair, I know there are many cities across the country and the world that have 20+ race managers/directors each, but that's still a lot fewer RDs than, say, teachers or doctors.  It's uncommon and it's unusual, so I can see why this question comes up so often.

For me, yes, it is a full time position and I make a salary that covers my expenses.  I've made enough in the past to accumulate some decent savings, but took a pay cut to move to another company that better matched my personal vision and goals in the industry.  My bills are always paid on time, I own my own home with a very manageable mortgage, and I have enough left over to do things I enjoy.  Currently, I have room to help my company grow and my compensation will match that growth, which will put me back at a very comfortable living very soon.  It's a great balance of affording a stable life while also working every single day with something I love and about which I am passionate.

My position is a little different than the majority of race directors, though.  I work for a major timing company.  We host 20+ races each year that we own and for which we do all the work, but a large part of our business is contracted out to local organizations who want to put on a race as a fundraiser.  Technically, every person from these groups who spearheads their event is a "race director".  Some may call themselves that, others will just say "oooh, I'm a volunteer and they asked me to be in charge."  The vast majority of the race directors I work with to manage, time, and consult on their races are either paid part-time for their race work, are salaried for a more generalized position that includes planning the organization's race event, or are true volunteers who are donating their time to charity in order to build a great fundraiser.

Honestly, race directing is basically just a form of event planning that focuses solely on running events.  When considered in this manner, the idea of a "full time race director" is a little less unusual than it originally seems!  I'm doing many of the same things a wedding planner or a conference planner might do, I just happen to do it for runners and I'm planning courses and coordinating timing instead of picking a menu or matching color palettes!  It's a very complex job with lots of facets to keep me on my toes and busy 365 days a year, and it's a blessing to have found such a perfect position for my career.  I hope everyone who gets involved in race management has as great of an experience as I've had!

What do YOU want to know about running and races?  I'd love to share my experiences and observations!  Submit your Ask A Race Director questions in the comments below or via email to fitnyx@gmail.com

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Naked Energy - Tried It Tuesday

Anyone who knows me has probably heard me say I don't drink coffee - and anyone who has ever SEEN me, especially when I'm working races, has a hard time believing I'm not chugging it all day!  Usually, energy is no problem for me, as I'm naturally pretty bubbly.  Some days, though, it's a struggle to get moving, stay alert, and keep my momentum going forward.  On those days, I need a little boost, but it can be hard to find products that can provide the extra energy without having more negative side effects than it's worth.  Thankfully, more and more supplement companies are making pre-workout products that are made from natural ingredients to eliminate or mitigate all the awful itching, tingling, and heart pounding I constantly experience when using non-natural pre-workouts.

Disclaimer: I received this product at no cost in exchange for my review.  I did not receive any
additional compensation, and all opinions expressed herein are my own.

Originally, I was all set to write this review based on trying Naked Energy to get my feet moving and my excitement pumping for my return to teaching morning fitness classes.  It seemed like a good enough test, and results were readily apparent starting with my first use.  Not only did the pre-workout get my blood flowing for my classes, it kept me alert and bouncing (literally) for the entire day.  But those were pretty typical days after the classes ended.  I got an opportunity for an even better test of the product last weekend, when my race management company hosted a sold-out marathon at one of Northeast Ohio's beautiful state parks.

My biggest struggle with this new race company has been the distance: it takes an hour for me to drive to the office, even on a low-traffic day.  Headlands Beach state park, where the race was held, is even farther away than the office.  Wake-up time for me was around 2:30am (yes, ugh is correct).  Waking up that early isn't really that bad, but waking up and then driving for an hour and a half in the dark is pretty rough.  I mixed myself a water bottle full of Naked Energy, tossed in some creatine and BCAAs, hopped in the car and started chugging.

Just about to head over to start the race - already 6 hours
in and still feeling bright and peppy!

By the time I got to the park, I was AMPED.  My drive had consisted of some great tunes and the building feeling of "It's TIME!"  I stepped out of the car ready to tackle a long, exhausting day with absolutely zero apprehension.  The kicker to the whole day was that, on top of working setup and tear down for the event, I was also planning to run the half marathon - there's not a lot for timers to do between the start and finish of a marathon besides let the equipment work, so I wanted to get my October half in the books early.  The pre-workout would have to help me get through not only the long day of work, but also the 13.1 miles I'd chosen to throw in the middle of it.  On top of an already tall order, the day started chilly but quickly became very hot when the intense sun reached its zenith in a cloudless sky.  GAME ON.

While many of my coworkers battled through the morning, I was bright eyed, bushy tailed, and beaming all throughout packet pickup and the start of the race.  Since I had stayed at the registration tent until all runners had been helped, I was the last to start the race, but I was feeling great and made up distance quickly.  Finally about two miles in, I connected with a running friend and we chatted for the next 10 miles while we kept our feet shuffling and our spirits up despite the growing heat.  I booked it for the last mile to empty the tank, crossed the finish line, and - went back to work!

Some form of dancing.  Somewhere this counts as a dance.

My job for the next few hours consisted of mingling with runners to get feedback and answer questions, then I moved over to the finish line to hand out finisher medals to the full marathoners as they crossed.  One of our event photographers kept chuckling every time he walked by me and I was dancing; he finally just started snapping pics of me with waaaaay too much energy for post-race, let alone post-race/post-work with more work to go.  I did start feeling the aches in my legs around three hours after I had finished my race, but my energy level stayed true.  After the last finishers crossed, I helped take down our equipment and pack the trucks, then went back to the warehouse to wash out 80+ Gatorade coolers and dozens of grimy tables before driving the hour and a half back home.

When I finally returned to my puppy (who was looked after all afternoon by my boyfriend, thankfully) it was almost 6pm.  That's almost a 16 hour day full of activity, and I was only just starting to feel tired!  Honestly, if there's a better test of an energy supplement, I'd be scared to go through whatever it would be.  I was so elated at the end of the event because everything had gone well and I had made it all day with a huge, genuine smile on my face, thanks to Naked Energy.

Earned that medal thanks to Naked Energy!
Naked Creatine review in the works as well...

The real kicker is that I didn't experience ANY of the typical side effects I've noticed in any other pre-workout I've taken.  At no point did I feel anxious or nervous.  I never got the flashes of warm tingling feelings along my skin either.  I also didn't feel overly intense about anything, either, which I had noticed on a few other energy supplements in the past.  My focus was even-keel, my energy was constantly high, and there were no adverse physical sensations.  That's perfect for what I need from a pre-workout supplement.  I'm so very glad I tried this one despite so many iffy experiences with similar products in the past.  I guess "Naked" is the way to go!