Monday, February 18, 2019

Illinois Marathon Training: An Update

Disclaimer:  I am running the Christie Clinic Illinois Marathon as a BibRave Pro, which means my entry fee was covered for me. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador) and check out to review, find, and write race reviews!  

Join me at the Illinois Marathon and use code bibraveillinois2019 to save $10 on any of the races! And let me know you'll be there so I can look for you!

I stopped doing my typical weekly mileage recaps on this blog.  This was not planned, nor intentional.  Life has gotten away from me in the past few weeks, prompted by some big changes so the weekly recaps moved further and further down the list.

At the end of last summer, I took a baby step towards a career goal I had of starting my own business.  This baby step meant that I changed my status of my full-time job to part-time to accommodate a few contracts that I had through my newly formed LLC.  This situation worked out fairly well initially, however, increasingly felt that I was working all of the time - two part-time jobs does not equal a full time job.  I also felt that my job-as-safety-net was doing more harm than good in furthering my business goals.  My husband and I had been planning for the eventual time that I would quit my job since making the decision to go part-time and, at the end of January, I gave my notice and my last day at my reliable, steady-income job was in the early days of February.

So now I am self-employed.  A weird transition that I mostly love, and sometimes have panic-fueled insomnia over.

Through this all, I have been trying to stick to the marathon training plan, with decent success.  However, our nice mild winter that we had in December and the early days of January disappeared.  Snow storm after snow storm followed by ice storms. Record low temperatures (polar vortex anyone?).   Weather is showing up to be on my bad list time and time again, forcing me indoors, and cancelling any plans I had to truly race shorter distances (both my planned 5k and 10k have come and gone sans my participation).
Here I am, with eight weeks of marathon training under my belt, yielding 340.8 miles. 

The Good

  • Despite all of the above, I am still logging miles.  Currently my mileage total of the first 8 weeks is slightly above (~16 miles) that of my last marathon training cycle, even though I'm following the same plan (Hanson's Marathon Method, Advanced). 
  • I have had some great workouts that give me hope such as:
    • A ladder workout (400m-800m-1200m-1600m-1200m-800m-400m) where all of my paces were sub-6:00 without going all in.
    • Two tempos right at goal marathon pace (6:30)
  • Realizing that I logged >312 miles with a fractured rib (which now is thankfully healed).
  • Getting out of the winter cold for a few runs in the Atlanta area.
  • Having a flexible schedule which somewhat allows for picking an optimal time of day to run. Funny enough the only early morning workout I have done in recent weeks was one that I did with my coach while I was on vacation (to accommodate his work schedule).
  • My fatigue level is almost non-existent, which is a stark contrast from this time last cycle
  • Logging miles even though many days I do not look forward to running.  We can do hard things!
The Not-So-Good
  • My speed and tempo work has been all over the place.  Once the snow and ice arrived, I was forced to do it on a treadmill and for the life of me, I cannot run as fast on a treadmill.  I recognize that much of this is mental, however, physically at speeds faster than a 6:45 pace, I feel entirely out of control on the 'mill and am worried that I will fall off.
  • I have had more 5 running day weeks than I would prefer.  (Training plan = 6 running days/week)
  • My left hamstring is still a nuisance.  I don't really know what to say about it.  I am not in severe pain, and most days I am not in "pain" at all, but it doesn't feel entirely right.  Additionally, the location of discomfort has moved around some.   I am mostly convinced that the left hamstring is playing a big mind f*** with me.  (For the record, I was under the care of a physical therapist who did a running assessment, etc etc and nothing crazy showed up.)  
  • I was doing my PT exercises very well...until i wasn't.  (I know, I know...)
  • I have been struggling with a sinus/cold virus for the past several days.
  • See "panic-fueled insomnia" above.  
  • Logging miles even though many days I do not look forward to running.T  his is highly correlated with weather.  Some days I can deal with running in the snow ("Look! It's so pretty!") and other days, I just cannot ("Please for the love of GOD CAN I RUN MORE THAN TWO STEPS WITHOUT SLIDING AROUND?!").  And then, when faced with the dreadmill, I sink even further into negativity.
That is where I am at.  I am going to keep showing up, trying to accomplish the days work and see where it gets me.  I am very much looking forward to leaving for our annual trip to FL on Saturday and running in some HEAT.

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Illinois Marathon Training Recap: Weeks 1 and 2

Disclaimer:  I am running the Christie Clinic Illinois Marathon as a BibRave Pro, which means my entry fee was covered for me. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador) and check out to review, find, and write race reviews!  

Join me at the Illinois Marathon and use code bibraveillinois2019 to save $5 on any of the races! And let me know you'll be there so I can look for you!

I officially started my training cycle for the Illinois Marathon on December 26, the day after Christmas.  I had figured this out well in advance of that date so I knew it was go time.  I am again using the Hanson's Marathon Method advanced marathon training plan.  The Hanson's plan start mid-week for week 1, but I tried to keep consistent and stay with 6 running days for the entire week 1.

This will be my second time using the advanced plan, and I already feel better about it than I did last marathon training cycle.  I am largely chalking this up to the fact that I had exactly one month recovery from my spring marathon before jumping into training for my fall marathon where as I had six weeks between my fall marathon and the beginning of this training cycle.  It may not seem like much but I was dragging for the first several weeks of my fall training cycle and I feel peppy and ready to go this time around.

One exciting thing about the Illinois Marathon is that they have elite status, which I applied for and was granted entry.  The standards for entry for women are a 3:12 marathon or a 1:32 half marathon within the past two years.

I have some big goals for the Illinois Marathon, largely inspired by Shalane Flanagan's quote above. I want to really push myself this training cycle.  Hanson's plans are very pace specific, something that has worked well for me in the past.  I use the Hanson's pace calculator to set the paces for all of my workouts and in order to do this, you have to select a goal marathon pace. so I'm setting my goal marathon pace of 6:30, which equates to a 2:50 marathon.  This would be a 9:50 PR for me if I get it.  I told you it was a big goal!  I may have to adjust but I think this is within reach, based on the fact that I was ending my tempo runs at high 6:30 pace at the end of my last training cycle.

Week 1
Week 1 is base mileage.  A few 6 mile easy-paced runs and a "long run" of 8 miles.  My easy paced runs should be in the 7:59-8:59 range and my long runs at 6:59-8:29.

Week 1 plan: 26 miles (for half week - adjusted for a full week would be 38)
Week 1 actual: 37.68

Week 2
Week 2 gets a little more interesting with the addition of the first speed workout: 12x400m.  Typically I like 400 m repeats.  I was a little nervous about how it would go given that I know my rib isn't fully healed and my hamstring is on again off again.  It went fine.  I didn't hit my speed goal paces, but I attribute this to the fact that I did this workout in the week morning hours and didn't feel fully awake out of the gate.

Sunday, December 30
Plan: Easy-paced (7:59-8:59) 6 miles
Actual: 6.02 miles, 48:01 (7:59 avg)

Monday, December 31
Plan: 1.5 mile warm up, 12x400m at 5:42-5:57 pace (1:25-1:29) with 400 m recovery, 1.5 mile cool down
Actual:   1.5 mile warm up, 12:51 (8:34 avg)

1- 1:30 / 2:14
2 - 1:30 / 2:08
3 - 1:27 / 2:07
4 - 1:31 / 2:10
5 - 1:28 / 2:09
6 - 1:33 / 2:16
7 - 1:29 / 2:13
8 - 1:29 / 2:18
9 - 1:31 / 2:19
10 - 1:30 / 2:17
11 - 1:31 / 2:18
12 - 1:31 / 2:14

At this point I had to go back in the house because my husband had to leave for an early-meeting at work.  I finished my cool down on the treadmill.  I ran exactly 1.13 miles so I could finish out the year at an even number.

Tuesday, January 1
Plan: Off day
Actual: 2 mile hike for the state parks First Day Hike.   We bundled up the kids to enjoy the beautiful snowfall.  Our hike was slow but I was proud of the kids for completing it!

Wednesday, January 2
Plan: Easy paced (7:59 - 8:59) 6 miles
Actual: 6.01, 49:07 (8:11 avg).  It was snowy and icy so I used my Yaktrax to get this done.  The consistency of the snow/ice was the that which is perfect for Yaktrax so I had no slippage.

Thursday, January 3
Plan: Easy paced (7:59 - 8:59) 6 miles
Actual: 0 miles.  I overslept and then had to use the only window of time that I had during the day to meet the furnace repair man at our house.  Run my workout or get the furnace fixed in the middle of Wisconsin winter?  I didn't really have a choice with that one!

Friday, January 4
Plan: Easy paced (7:59 - 8:59) 6 miles
Actual: 8.4 miles, 1:04:30 (7:41 avg).  I tried to make up for the missed mileage a bit with this run.  Since I work at home on Fridays it is much easier for me to get miles in because I don't have to get up at the wee hours of the morning.  I ran this too fast, which I took as a sign that I was ready for the workouts ahead!

Saturday, January 5
Plan: Easy paced (7:59 - 8:59) 8 miles
Actual:  10.01 miles, 1:18:16 (7:49 avg).  It was in the 50s and sunny so I was just soaking it all in, running long in my shorts!  I didn't quite make up all of the missed mileage.

Week 2 Plan Miles: 41 miles
Week 2 Actual Miles: 39.07 miles

Wednesday, January 2, 2019

2018: In Pursuit of the Uncomfortable

Happy new year!

2018 was a crazy running year for me, full of lots of good, and lots of room to grow.

Let's go back to the beginning.

My intention for 2018 running was to "pursue the uncomfortable".  Push myself to things I previously thought impossible. 

I was going to do this by training my mind and body to break 3 hours in the marathon.  I was also going to attempt to run two marathons in one calendar year, something I hadn't done since 2008.  Talk about getting uncomfortable!

Well, as I have blabbed to anyone who will listen, and if you've been reading this blog for the last year, you know that I broke 3 hours, by ten seconds, at Grandma's marathon in June 2018.  I was elated and wrote how really, if I was going to be real and pursue the uncomfortable, I had to dream big and set goals that were more likely to fail than not.  I wrote this blog post declaring I wanted to try for an OTQ (Olympic Trials Qualifier) before the Jan 2020 deadline. It is my favorite blog post that I wrote last year.

Then I got lazy.

I don't mean physically lazy.  Lord knows, I worked my body HARD over the summer and fall months for Madison Marathon.  I added on the miles, using a more difficult training plan than I was used to.  The whole thing was a big pile of discomfort...until it wasn't.  I started running tempo runs FAST.  I was excited about race day.  And, I expected a PR.  I had been PRing in the marathon since Spring 2017.  And I am talking BIG jumps in time.  If I added on more miles, that meant that I was bound for another big PR, right?

We've all seen this in various forms.  I learned this lesson with marathon running already, or so I thought.  I ran a 3:25:50 in May 2015 and thought that if I trained hard, I would easily get a 3:15 in Boston 2016.  I had a terrible race in Boston and managed to squeak out a 3:31:49.  This lit a fire, I committed to the marathon and I came back in May 2017 to run a 3:11:09.  Success is not linear.

Except I didn't REALLY learn the lesson.  Not when I expected that straight shot to success.  What success really looks like is a bunch of setbacks.  Not just one.  I know that a 3:01:58 at Madison is a good time.  But it was far from the time I was expecting.  Another minor setback.

When I say I got lazy it means that I did not keep up with all of the mental work that took me from a 3:25 to a 3:31 to a 3:11 to a 2:59.  I mistakenly thought that my brain was already trained.  Check the box.   Rookie mistake.  The brain needs to train each cycle with the body.  That marathon is a sneaky beast.  Lesson learned, again.

There was a lot of other good outside of finish times that came out of 2018's intent to pursue the uncomfortable. 

Sign up to run a Ragnar Race with people you have never met just a month out from a goal marathon? YES.  The ladies of Oiselle Birdstrike CHI are a FORCE.  Endless inspiration to be found in each one of them. 

Apply to go to Austin with 25 other people you haven't met to do two days of networking, even though the thought makes you slightly nauseous?  YES.  Outside of the fractured rib that I took home with me, it was so fun to meet so many passionate, kind runners.

Not to mention getting to watch my cousin-in-law BQ for the first time; my niece run faster than the mosquitoes in cross country, my kids sprint down the streets of Madison, my wonderful high school cross country and track coach get inducted into my high school hall of fame, running Pettit relays with so many Great Lakes Oiselle ladies, "meeting" a fast lady on Instagram, running a half with her (she smoked me), watching my husband pick up a couple days of running per week in the later months of the year, applying for the 2019 American Development team at Chicago Marathon and getting in, applying for elite status for 2019 Illinois Marathon and getting it.

I ran 1,971 miles in 2018, 271 more than I ran in 2017.  My legs and heart and mind are ready to take on 2019!  The fire is lit.

Sunday, December 30, 2018

Last Product Review of 2018: Win Detergent

Product Review: Win Detergent

Disclaimer:  I received a bottle of Win detergent in exchange for this review.  Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out to find and write race reviews!

Winter running in Wisconsin means a LOT.OF.LAUNDRY.  In summer, I'm washing a lot of sports bras, socks and shorts.  In winter, I have long sleeves, sports bras, tights, socks, jackets, vests, reflective tops, mittens, hats, gloves, buffs, the list goes on.  I also think winter clothes stink more, so I was happy to opt in to test Win detergent.

Win detergent comes in a scented as well as fragrance free variety.  I opted to test the fragrance free version because I have sensitive skin and I really don't like my running clothes to smell like soap or fabric softener when I run.

Win detergent is unique in that its ingredients work to trap oils from synthetic fabrics (i.e., those fabrics that much activewear is now made with) to get rid of the bacteria that makes your clothes smell.  The website has an informative, clear walk-through of specifics on how the detergent works if you are interested in more details.

I have used WIN for the last 6 weeks on all of my running clothes and love it.  I haven't had any skin reactions and my clothes do not smell like anything.  No floral, faux cotton smells and no stank either.  I also used it to wash my daughter's smelly winter coat (seriously, that thing was RIPE).  Smells perfectly clean to this day.

I usually let my clothes dry on the side of our bathtub post-run and do a big load of running clothes once a week.  I wash all of my clothes in cold water and hang them dry (thus all of the drying racks in my laundry room in the photo above).

I like that Win rinses clean, isn't super sudsy, has a fragrance free option, and you only need a little bit for a large load.  If you would like to try it, check out my Instagram contest to try to win a bottle ( @amyschlott ) by New Year's Eve at noon.  Otherwise, you can use code RAVE4WIN to get 20% off any WIN purchase (single, 2-pack, 4-pack).  This coupon code is good until 1/15/19 and one use per household.

Friday, December 28, 2018

TRE Swag Bag Contents Part 2: Accessories to the Run!

Disclaimer: I received a travel stipend and a swag bag of goodies from BrooksAltraVoorayHandfulCEP CompressionNuunAddadayArcanumVuoriIncrediwear, and Zwift to attend The Running Event for TRE Influencer Day in Austin, TX on November 29-30.

It's my last blog post about The Running Event (TRE).  Last but not least, I'm reviewing the products that I am calling "accessories to the run" that were in my swag bag.

1. Addaday Type C Roller

The Addaday massage roller was designed to provide medium intensity and access hard to reach places.  I have started rolling this along my quads and hamstrings in the morning before runs to wake them up a bit.  I like that I can get in my gluteus and hip muscles (my problem areas) with this tool, which is something I cannot do as easily with a traditional foam roller.  It is also easy to grab and roll while watching TV.

The Addaday booth at TRE was a little oasis.  All of the Addaday massage products were available to test and they announced their new product, Addaday Recovery Tea, sourced from Taiwan.  The tea has a mild, pleasant flavor.

2. Nuun Hydration

We were lucky to get a variety of Nuun products in our bag including
Nuun Vitamins, great for everyday hydration at any time;
Nuun Immunity, great for everyday hydration at any time and immunity-boosting;
Nuun Electrolytes, great for replacing electrolytes while exercising;
Nuun Energy Electrolytes, great for replacing electrolytes while exercising with the added benefit of caffeine;
and a Nuun-branded Specialized water bottle.

I don't know if you have ever had a Nuun water bottle, but they are my favorite for using on the run when I do my neighborhood loops.  I keep it on my mail box and grab on the run for hydration on-the-run.  I have used Nuun for years and they are among my favorite hydration products so I was happy to add to my stockpile for training for my next marathon.

I like to vary how I use Nuun.  I drink it cold and warm (like tea), still (adding plain tap water) and sparkling (combining it with both flavored and unflavored sparkling waters).  There are so many flavors that it is impossible to get bored with this product.  My favorites are anything citrus and grape.

The Nuun booth at TRE was fun and had a bunch of Nuun mixed up for us to try.  They also gave us a bunch of single serve tabs which are great for race day bags!

3. Arcanum Products

We were given three products at TRE made by Arcanum:  

This is an activated hemp product designed to deliver cannabinoids to your body more quickly and efficiently.  The woman at the Arcanum booth told us that she uses this product as a facial moisturizer to combat her eczema.  I have really dry skin, particularly in winter, so I gave it a whirl and love it!

This product uses activated hemp, arnica, menthol, chamomile, lavender and rosemary essential oils to provide cooling muscle relief.  I have used this on my sore hamstring to help me fall asleep on nights when it is bothering me.

The Quill delivers precise 2 mg doses of activated hemp using an innovative pen design. This product is easy to use.  The woman in the Arcanum booth said that this product can help with sleep so I have been using one dose on my forearm every night before bed to help me sleep as I sometimes struggle with not sleeping through the night.  I have slept really well in the past month with fewer sleepless nights!

I am sure you have seen all of those cute Vooray bags all over social media.  Their booth was no different - all the cute styles and patterns.  The BibRave Pros were going crazy.  We were given a Vooray Ace Backpack in black - this was the "bag" of our swag bag.  This is the perfect size backpack for me.  I use it to go to swim lessons with my kids, take a change of clothes for the office and for library books.  I like its sleek, no frills design.  The backpacks are affordable as well - $39.99.

While at TRE, the Vooray representatives told us about a new product they will be releasing shortly - a bike commuter bag which is similar to their cinch backpack but with a really cool shoe pouch.  Watch for it!  They also gave us a bonus fanny pack while we were at their booth!   It is a nice size that accommodates my phone so I can take it along on runs, hikes, bike rides.

So that is it!  The Running Event was one of my favorite running-related experiences in 2018.  I feel very fortunate that I was able to attend AND for all of the stuff I got!  The only bad thing about the swag bag was that my family didn't feel the need to get me anymore running stuff for Christmas, ha ha ha.

Have you had any experience with Addaday, Nuun, Arcanum or Vooray?

Thursday, December 27, 2018

Zwift: Making Treadmill Runs Fun!

Disclaimer: I received a Zwift footpod in my swag bag of goodies from The Running Event for TRE Influencer Day in Austin, TX on November 29-30.  This opportunity was available to me through the BibRave Pro Ambassador program.  Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out to find and write race reviews!

I have been logging base miles the whole month of December but yesterday was Day 1 of training for Illinois Marathon.  It was a nice 32 degrees outside at 5:15 AM, but because it gets warm during the day, it gets wet and that wet turns slippery overnight.  Thankfully, I was able to finish my planned 6 miles outside, but as with any winter training, I foresee a lot of treadmill running in my future.

At The Running Event, I was introduced to Zwift.  Zwift started in the cycling world, using technology to create virtual races between you on your trainer at home and others around the world.  They have used this same technology to enter the world of running.

The basics:
1. You buy a footpod (save 15% with code BIBRAVE15) and attach it to the top laces of one of your shoes:

2. You download the Zwift and Zwift Companion apps to your phone or tablet and set up a Zwift account.

3. You get on the treadmill and calibrate the Zwift footpod through the app using their easy step-by-step instructions.

4.  You run on the treadmill which syncs to the app and shows a group like setting.  Here is a screen shot of my phone while I was running on the 'mill during a BibRave Pro group run:

Fun, right?

The app also gives you motivational quotes to keep going throughout the run, like "This should be tough but should feel good" in the screenshot above.  I did one of the custom Zwift tempo runs which made my 24:28 run go by really quickly.  My avatar ran under different arches and when she ran under an arch, the app directed me to pick up or slow down the pace.

Because you download the app to your phone or tablet, you can use this on any treadmill after re-calibrating it to the treadmill you are on.

You can sync Zwift to Strava too!
Have you tried Zwift for running or cycling before?

Follow Zwift on Instagram and Twitter at @gozwiftrun.

Friday, December 21, 2018

TRE Swag Bag Contents Part 1: The GEAR!

Disclaimer: I received a travel stipend and a swag bag of goodies from BrooksAltraVoorayHandfulCEP CompressionNuunAddadayArcanumVuoriIncrediwear, and Zwift to attend The Running Event for TRE Influencer Day in Austin, TX on November 29-30.

I promised I would provide more detail about our swag bag from The Running Event (TRE) and the day has arrived for part 1 of my review:  The GEAR!

Is there any runner that doesn't like getting new gear?  I didn't think so.  I am excited to share the new items that I added to my running clothes drawer (ok, drawerS):

1.  Handful Y-Back Bra and Squeeze Play Leggings
I hadn't ever tried anything by the Handful company before being provided a Y-Back Bra and a pair of Squeeze Play leggings at TRE.  Let me just say that they both so COMFORTABLE!  One of the other BibRave Pros mentioned that once she discovered Handful Bras, she never went back to wearing regular bras and I can see why.  While we were at TRE, we saw several different bra styles including the Bound and Determined Bra (pictured below) which I want to buy to use as a swim top next summer.

The Y-Back Bra that we were given was rated in Runner's World as a top running bra.  I have liked it more for yoga and strength work. The ladies at TRE said that the bras generally go with your top size - so if you generally wear Medium shirts, get a medium bra.  I have a medium and it fits well.  The Squeeze Play leggings are my jam.  I wore them ALL DAY at TRE and my legs felt great.  They are pretty compressive so they felt secure the entire day.  I felt that they were true to size (I wear a medium).  I like how smooth they make everything below the waist look and feel!

The Handful booth was among all BibRave Pros favorite booths because of the joy and passion they had when talking about their products.  I also appreciate the variety of women featured on their website!  Lots of body diversity!!

2. Vuori Shorts
Vuori was a new-to-me brand that I had not heard of before TRE.  Their booth and clothes definitely have the cool factor going on.  They gifted the ladies the Omni performance short in Moss.  I wore these for the group run we BibRave Pros did the morning before TRE and they definitely were comfortable.  In fact several of the ladies sported their Vuori moss shorts on that run (see below).  My shorts didn't scuff, tear or even show any damage from my scooter fall later that morning!  Durability? CHECK!

All of the Vuori clothes were high quality and the fabrics used to make them were GORGEOUS.  I headed to their website to buy some Christmas gifts for family members.  Ooh la la!  Check out the write-up Forbes had on this company.

3.  Brooks LSD Jacket and Adrenaline 19 Shoes
I have been wearing my Brooks LSD jacket like it's going out of style lately (as you would know if you follow my Instagram). 

From the moment I pulled it out of my swag bag I had heart eyes for this.  It is super lightweight, all-over reflective, and FITS MY LONG ARMS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  Ok, so now you know why I love it so much! I have been wearing this jacket in 20 degree weather and staying warm.  I know it will be a nice layer to have in spring too - as it has a strap to fold it up into a hand-held square if you need it to.

We also were given a pair of Adrenaline 19 shoes.  I have ran a few times in these (trying to save them for official marathon training) and like their responsiveness.  The shoes feature their new "guide rails support system" to keep extraneous foot movement in check.
The Adrenaline is one of Brooks' best selling shoes.  I think it also looks pretty cool on (see me cheesin' below):

The Incrediwear folks were INCREDIBLY generous.  I liked that we received a personalized note in our swag bag with our gear.  First up, the Performance Capri, which on me (5'10") is still a 3/4 pant and I love them!  I was able to get out on a mild day here wearing them and I liked that they stayed put on my run.  I also am easily able to do my physical therapy stretching in them.  The proprietary fabric blend aims to reduce muscle fatigue while you wear them.  

We also were given the active socks, which are very plush and are nice if you like a well-cushioned sock, and the sport thin socks, which are barely there and nice if you prefer not to feel your sock.  I have not had any issues with either of these socks which I have used for both walking and running.  I am excited to wear the knee high variety of the sport socks thin as an added layer of warmth this winter as I train for the Illinois Marathon.

All Incrediwear products are made to increase circulation in order to reduce inflammation, relieve pain, optimize performance and accelerate recovery using semiconductor elements in the fabric.  You can read more about the technology here.  What stands out to me about these products is that they do not use compression to provide the same benefits that one would get from compression.  So if you aren't a big fan of that tight feeling that compression wear provides, Incrediwear may be an alternative for you.

It was excited to get a pair of Altras since they were a shoe that I was curious about.  Among the runners I follow on Instagram, it seems that once you go Altra, you never go back.  The Escalante is one of the company's best-selling shoe models.  It is a zero drop shoe, which I do not have a lot of experience with, and also features Fit4Her technology in the women's shoe which customizes the fit to a woman's foot.  These shoes are my winter treadmill running shoes as I think this will be a good amount of running to help my body transition to a zero drop shoe.  The aspect that I notice most about these shoes is the wide toe box.  I have old-lady bunions and no parts of my foot rub while wearing these. Once I build up some mileage in them, I may have to wear them exclusively for a while and see if my bunion callouses disappear! I bet they would!  

The Escalantes are made out of a really thin fabric so that adds to the barely-there feeling.  These are not clunky shoes!  I am excited to get some mileage out of them and see what I prefer them for - my guess is that they will be a good tempo run shoe.

As I mentioned in my overall blog post about TRE, the people at the Altra booth, including co-founder Brian Beckstead, could not have been nicer to us.  It was fun to see all of the 2019 shoe models that are yet to come!!  Be prepared to have some heart eyes for all of the goodies they are unveiling soon! If the shoes are good enough for Kara Goucher....

Last but not least on this extensive gear list is CEP Compression.  I am a fan of CEP Compression as I already had some of their calf sleeves and tall compression socks before adding the two pairs we were given to my drawer.  At TRE, we were gifted the merino trail tall sock and the compression recovery sock.  We were lucky enough in Wisconsin to have some mild weather this past week so I wore the merino trail sock with SHORTS on my run.  As with my previous experiences with CEP compression, the trail socks were awesome.  They stayed put and the merino wool was a nice touch for cooler months.   I am loving the trend of having running gear made out of merino wool! 

CEP has one of the best FAQ pages I have seen on a website.  CEP uses compression to improve circulation.  I am a fan of compression, particularly in winter months.  I routinely used CEP compression socks to train for my spring marathon last winter.  I felt like they added a layer of warmth but also helped assist in helping my legs feel not as tired.  I am just happy to have another pair to work into my rotation!  

I haven't tried the recovery specific socks before but heading into 2019, focusing on recovery is one of my goals and the recovery socks will be a good tool to have in my collection. 

Were we lucky or what?! I have been having fun trying out all of this gear on my base building runs of December.  I will be posting about all of the accessories that were part of our swag bags in an upcoming post.  

What on this list would you want MOST?

Happy Holidays!