Category Archives: Reviews

Wineglass Half Marathon recap, aka, Slow and very slow with hints of plodding

Last year, I ran the Wineglass Half Marathon in Corning, New York, and did pretty OK. Of course, “pretty OK” is all relative, and my version of it is probably many other people’s “not so hot.” But I I set a PR that I have a feeling I’ll never be able to beat, and I was really happy.

The Wineglass is my kind of run. It’s mostly flat or downhill and you get a free glass and a bottle of bubbly along with the shirt and the other bits and pieces. No wonder I set a PR. Although, the PR may have had something to do with the fact  I had spent 2012 running so many races every weekend that I had by default trained for that one (shock!), but still, bubbly booze is a powerful motivator.

Wineglass Half Marathon

Smooshed way in the back at the Wineglass Half Marathon start.

This year, Hubby had the brilliant idea of suggesting this race as a destination run for our group at the Quincy Y. There ended up being nine of us who traveled from Boston. So fun! The rest of the group like to do wild and crazy things like train consistently, which means they were all infinitely more prepared than I was, so I said goodbye to them and sneaked into the back of the pack where I belonged (Hubby and our trainer Mary were doing the full marathon). Last year, I was propelled to the finish by the 2.30 pace runner, but once you consign yourself to 3:00 and above, I feel like you’re pretty much on your own.

wineglass2013#5

Into the mist.

I had decided that I was going to mostly walk this one, as I didn’t want to injure myself coming into the race cold. Unfortunately, there’s no such program as Couch to Half Marathon in Two Weeks. I could really use one of those.

I did start off jogging, for about a mile, but it felt pretty torturous, so I decided to stick with the original plan. I’m a pretty fast walker, so I thought I could maybe knock it over in about three hours. (I did the Mad Half Marathon last year in around that time, and figured that given that the Wineglass is a net downhill course and the Mad is crazy hilly, it would be a cakewalk.)

I guess I should learn how to bake.

I remembered this course really well from last year, and I remembered exactly where I was before I finally petered out and had to walk. It was at about the nine-mile mark. Man, nine miles is a long way when you’re walking as slowly as I was this time around. And don’t even get me started on 13.1. For the first time in many, many races I felt … and I can’t believe I’m saying this … kind of bored. Don’t get me wrong, this is an amazing event. I love it and would happily do it every year regardless of the shape I’m in. But it was tough for me for many reasons.

wineglass2013#3

Thank goodness it’s pretty. I was out there long enough.

I kept going even though my legs were turning to jelly and my brain to mush. I was so relieved when I turned the second-to-last corner that I even broke out into a little jog (that may have been mostly for the camera), but I couldn’t sustain it. For the first time ever (apart from the Mad, where I was in a walkers division), I resigned myself to walking across the finish line.

But that’s OK. I was just so glad to cross it that I didn’t really care that the race wasn’t my finest hour. All the others from the Quincy contingent did amazingly well, and everyone had a great weekend. I’ll toast to that.

The event: Wineglass Marathon and Half Marathon
The location: Corning, NY
The date: October 6, 2013
My time: 3.28.40
Hubby’s time
: 4.02.29
The T-shirt:
Purple tech long-sleeved shirt
The aftermath: Bagels, soup, chocolate milk, bananas

See my vest: A RoadNoise road test

Guest post alert! Loyal long-time readers (you rock, by the way) will have noticed Hubby’s influence on this blog, especially in the shopping department. I let him loose this week for his second guest post…

There have been a few times when my shopping has been the inspiration for posts at Stride & Joy: Bunny Bars; Bai; Mamma Chia.

Most of these products we continue to buy in bulk. This must concern the delivery man when he is lugging up heavy boxes of beverages from Amazon and wondering why the hell these two can’t just order T-shirts! A few months back, he got his wish – something light, something filled with music, something that is making me run to a different tune.

I had tried a number of options for headphones during runs, but the wires would always get tangled, or the headphones would slide out of my ears because of the water I douse myself with. Sometimes I think the folks at the water stops must feel they are encountering Ted Striker when I throw another cup of water over my noggin’ . Well, if those folks are of an Airplane-appreciating age …

It became more frustrating on longer runs, and there are only so many runs with bands along the route. Something had to be done. So instead of resorting to running with a boom box, or backup vocalists, I was fortunate enough to find salvation from a group of fellow frustrated runners with some product savvy.

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Bai curious

It’s a truism that runners love free stuff. Big races are ideal places for companies to promote their latest energy-giving/electrolyte-restoring/brain-boosting/fast-making/life-altering products. At the end of an event, participants can often be seen trotting back to their cars car with their arms full of goodies, mostly of the edible/drinkable/wearable/coupon variety. (The Oscars themselves would struggle to compete on sheer swag volume.)

Bai Jamaica Blueberry

Best Bai!

Which is how we came upon Bai, a newish addition to the family of drinks that are 95% super-powerful-previously-undiscovered-awesome-ingredient-du-jour and 5% liquid (Mamma Chia also falls into this category).

Why single out Bai? Well, Hubby was clearly so enamored of the beverage’s “astonishing antioxidant power of 4,000 ORAC units” that he had to buy 24 bottles of the stuff. Savvy readers will recall his similar purchase of 48 Roco Choco Banana Bunny Bars this past Christmas. What can I say, the man likes his foodstuff in bulk form …

What the heck is an ORAC?

This vaguely menacing term stands for “oxygen radical absorbance capacity,” which is a lab value used to compare the antioxidant content of foods. Perfect to highlight on the side of your product. Completely baffling! Slightly scary! Yet intriguing!

Bai’s off-the-charts ORACity comes from “coffee’s secret superfruit,” the formerly unloved product of the coffee plant that has been reborn as a beverage superhero with “astonishing antioxidant power.” Here’s a helpful diagram that may clear up any confusion:

Bai: What is ORAC?

ORAC attack. From the Bai website.

In your face, blueberries!

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Take the Bunny and run

Rocco Choco Banana Bunny Bar

Box o' bunnies.

We recently got a $50 Amazon gift card as half of an extremely generous Christmas present from my sister in Australia, and Hubby decreed that he would spend it. Go nuts, I said. (I got the iTunes half.)

He tossed around a few ideas, mostly of the unsexy we-need-it-but-it’s-nice-that-someone-else-is-paying-for-it variety. So you can imagine my intrigue when I happened upon a box on our porch that at first glance didn’t appear at all appropriately sized for a motion-sensor light (told you, unsexy). Further investigation revealed that this package in fact contained 48 Rocco Choco Banana Bunny Bars. That’s right, Hubby spent his $50 Christmas gift on 48 Rocco Choco Banana Bunny Bars.

Who knew Amazon even sold granola bars?

What does this have to do with running, you ask? Well, my Granola Bar Fiend (ie, Hubby) is always looking for his next good post/pre/mid-run hit, and he seems to have found it in the bunnies.

He was particularly swayed by the presence of chia. Those who read my post about the weird (but surprisingly tasty) Mamma Chia will recall that I was convinced Hubby is on the payroll of Big Chia, as he has so far brought both the seeds and copious amounts of the aforementioned beverage into my life. Well, this just confirms it! (For the uninitiated, chia is considered to be running fuel.)

Rocco Choco Banana Bunny Bar

Thanks to 18rabbits.com

But what does it taste like?

Normally, I’d rather munch on my own shoe than eat a granola bar. Mostly because when I eat a granola bar, it feels like I’m … munching on my own shoe. But, for the greater good, I decided to sample one-48th of Hubby’s Christmas gift while he was away on his weekend with the National Guard. Did I mention that he bought an entire box of granola bars?

The Bunny Bar is definitely yummier than your average shoe. Among the bars I have eaten (usually while trapped under something heavy, and out of options), it ranks extremely high. At least I can actually taste the banana. I’d probably eat one again, and I know Hubby is planning on taking these along as he attempts 12 half-marathons over the next 12 months, to complement my 52 Weeks, 52 Runs plan, so I’ll no doubt get the chance.

What I love about this product is that (a) it’s made in the US and (b) the company, 18 Rabbits, gives more than one percent of all bars it makes to kids in urban schools. Nice.

A non-granola bar postscript

A massive hello to everyone who came upon my blog thanks to its recent appearance on Freshly Pressed. I am truly honored to have you all as readers/followers and I hope you’ll enjoy my running journey insanity.

These tights are hard core. Unlike me

CW-X Expert Insulator TightsWhen you live in Freezingtown, USA (also known as Boston), running outdoors takes on a whole new chilly, windy, frostbitery dimension – one I was quite unprepared for in the apparel department.

Apparently, I needed fancy new tights.

We’re definitely not talking your average, everyday gym leggings here. The stretchy marvels that were delivered to my abode yesterday, made by CW-X (the company also does compression socks – which still give me the fear), are from another universe™. They insulate, you see, with “WarmStretch™ temperature-regulation fabric to maintain a constant comfortable surface temperature in a variety of conditions – perfect for the cold weather athlete” (um, that’s me!) –  according to the CW-X website. They also feature Support Web™, which uses “kinesiology-taping technology to create an exoskeletal support system” (well, I do need all the support I can get).

The thing is, these tights are just so full of awesome, there’s no way I can possibly live up to them. (Did I mention that mine are called Insulator Expert Tights? That’s right, EXPERT.) I put them on and immediately feel like a fraud. They’re for marathon runners for whom a 5K is a casual jog around the block; not for me, who breaks into a lavish sweat after half a mile and still hasn’t managed to go 5K without walking.

They scream hard core where I scream: “Where’s the couch?”

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