Race Elite 220 Thermoshell

When new gear arrives in the mail I feel like a kid at Christmas. I tear open the packages with reckless abandon and immediately want to play with my new “toys”. The product I was most excited about is inov-8’s Race Elite 220 Thermoshell.
thermoshellWith plenty of cold weather still in the forecast it was perfect timing. I picked a sunny, 27 degree day to take the Thermoshell, my Mudclaw 265’s, and the Race Pro 4 Extreme out for 16 miles on the trails of Mohonk Preserve.

The Details
The main highlight of this jacket is its versatility. A quality reversible jacket is a must when you’re running in the mountains and experiencing varying conditions from start to finish and top to bottom. The reversible options of this jacket are not only about the sweet colors. Reversing the jacket with the Pertex Quantum on the outside provides 10% more warmth. I’m all about more warmth! I started my run with this option – working my way up the mountain.

Reverse option for 10% more warmth

Reverse option for 10% more warmth

About halfway up the mountain I was working up a sweat and it was quick and easy to shed the jacket and pull it on in reverse. Now I also had the external chest pocket to stash my chia bites for easy access 🙂
jacket purple 1

The outer and inner layers are constructed with 100% nylon ripstop and the jacket has a polyester fill. The Primaloft is zoned at 40g/m2 through the body and 25g/m2 through the arms and collar. The Pertex Quantum ultralight fabric offers high levels of both windproofing and breathability. They also utilize body-mapped stitching for regulating body temperature.

My Favorite Features
Beyond the options (we all love options) and the jacket being both visually appealing and comfortable enough to sleep in, there are a few more features I would like to highlight:

  • Athletic female fit – a contoured fit is a must for performance
  • Monkey Paws – I’m always a fan of these thumb loops that allow you to
    stretch the sleeve cuffs to cover your wrist and palm. Keeps your sleeves in
    place and adds extra warmth!
  • Weight – not only is the jacket super lightweight (7.5 oz), but it comes with a stuff sack for easy packing

    Stuffs into a sack smaller than my kitten!

I’m glad to have this latest jacket in my collection. It serves as a functional jacket before, during, and after runs. And with the winter/spring we’ve been having I’m sure I’ll still get plenty of use out of it before the warm weather arrives!


Skytop Tower at Mohonk

Happy Training!! 🙂


Another look back at 2013

2013 was a great year for me. I spent another season healthy and happy – grateful for the opportunity to do what I love!

Although the duathlons I competed in were scheduled more around spending time with friends, I remembered why I love that sport so much. The challenge of starting and ending your race with a run is very exhilarating as well as challenging!

It also felt great to compete in triathlon again. It’s no secret that swimming is my weakness, but this is why I love the sport. It will never stop being challenging, and I love the thrill of the chase once I exit the water!

However the true highlights of my season were 1) falling deeply in love with trail racing, 2) competing in a Ragnar with a team of vegans, and 3) competing in my first 50k.

With all of these great pieces of 2013, it’s no wonder I am nothing short of excited about 2014. I want to do it all! Again! And then some of course 🙂 So receiving my certificates for All American status for both triathlon and duathlon for 2013 last week just strengthened my passion and commitment to another successful season. Can’t wait to see you all out there!
2014 awardsTriathlon ranking – 63rd out of 2,261
Duathlon ranking – 1st out of 104

Syracuse Half Marathon

Sometimes it’s just not your day to race. You have to be okay with this, put a smile on your face, and make the most of your experience. When you have the chance to run, you take it.

Waking up Sunday morning to the sound of howling wind and snow plows only added to the reasons I was not ready to race. But racing is what I love so I went through my usual routine before heading out to meet up with some friends and head downtown for the 2nd annual Syracuse Half Marathon. I was prepared for the cold weather that we were experiencing – that was in the forecast. What I wasn’t expecting was the snow shower that quickly covered the roads.

Photo courtesy of Joel Capolongo

Photo courtesy of Joel Capolongo

I realized that this is month 5 of racing in the snow – the weather that rolled in wasn’t something that should throw me off or take me by surprise. So why I would neglect to bring proper footwear further shows that my head was not in the game. It’s Syracuse – I’ve lived there for 8 years – I should know that snow is never out of the question. As much as I love my inov-8 Road-X-Treme 118’s, with the tread of a ballet slipper they were not the shoe for Sunday’s conditions. On dry or even wet roads they are awesome, but throw some snow and/or ice into the mix and you may as well be running on an oiled slip and slide!

After a brief attempt at a warm-up I realized that this was going to be an issue and lined up at the start hoping that conditions would rapidly improve, or there would be adequate salt on the road giving me a spot with some traction. When the gun went off I started in a controlled fashion. Yes it was slick and there didn’t seem to be any spots on the road that were not affected. I noticed how tense I was running in anticipation of each step. The power I was attempting to obtain from every stride was being met by instability as my foot slid in random directions. I hit the first mile at 6:17 and was not surprised. The steady climb up James Street felt like twice the effort, but I heard this was the main “climb” on the course so all I had to do was get past it. Once this changed over to a downhill that’s where I really started to struggle. At each slippery footfall I started to feel twinges in my knees, which started a chain reaction up my leg. After a short time my quad became so tight I thought I pulled it.

I had to slow down, which does not come easy to me mentally. I told myself that I couldn’t give up over challenging conditions and discomfort. But then I also told myself that ignoring the kinds of issues I was feeling is exactly how I’ve gotten myself into trouble in the past. This conversation in my head didn’t last much longer. Right around the 5k mark there was another slight downhill – I had another big slip, sending another shooting pain from the inside of my knee up through my hip, and I decided that this race was not worth the chance of a setback. I would finish, but I wouldn’t “race”.

This race wasn’t just for me – it was another Strong Hearts Run Club event – I also had committed teammates tackling the course. I waited along with some spectators cheering for my friends and teammates as they ran by. I decided to finish this race with teammate Kate – what better way to enjoy a 10 mile run than with a friend who has so much passion, energy, and true compassion.

Races tend to be lonely for me. I’m in the zone – focusing on the task at hand. And other than thanking volunteers along the way, I rarely interact with anyone. What a pleasure it was to run with Kate! We had wonderful conversations and I didn’t even notice the miles ticking by as I was enjoying the company during one of my favorite activities. I can’t say I remember much about the course after that first 5k – I was in the zone, but a different kind of zone. I was sharing an enjoyable experience with someone I admire and taking in what was happening around me. When the sun came out there were sections along the course that were no longer snow-covered, just wet. I was happy to stay right where I was. Kate and I motivated each other over these 10 miles and crossed the finish line together with smiles on our faces.

When I picked up my bib in the morning I commented to the volunteer that 5 is my lucky number. And although my race didn’t go as planned, I can definitely say that lucky number 5 didn’t let me down – I had an amazing time at the Syracuse Half Marathon! And now it was time to celebrate with my teammates by enjoying the well-earned Strong Hearts post-race meal 🙂

My decision to pull back and run instead of race was the best decision I could’ve made. The drive home was painful but once arriving home I iced my ankle and knee and I was back to normal training the next day. Not only did I save myself from possibly hurting something, but I also ran a wonderful 13.1 miles with someone I am honored to call my friend. It wasn’t my day to race, but although there are plenty of opportunities to race, there aren’t enough opportunities on my calendar to run with my friends!

Next up is a 10-miler this weekend. I’m hoping that these snowy races are behind me for the year, but you better believe I’ll be bringing a back-up pair of inov-8’s – just in case!

Tipp Hill Shamrock Run

shamrock runAs the 2014 season approaches, I best be getting in the habit of providing race reports! The Tipp Hill Shamrock Run has always been a favorite of mine. Not only is Tipp Hill a very vibrant and welcoming neighborhood to run through, but the race is also a great early season “tune-up” to check in with your fitness level. While this was not my first race of 2014, the snow-covered roads at the Chilly Chili 5k in January made it difficult to gauge your current race ability.

I have not run the Tipp Hill Shamrock Run since 2009 – pre-injury. I’m also far behind on my run training this year. My few attempts at “speed work” on the treadmill have not felt productive. These factors left me unsure of how I would run at this race and therefore I didn’t put much thought into a goal. In the back of my mind I threw the number 25:00 out there just so I would have something to shoot for. One thing I knew is that based upon my feelings of unpreparedness along with the hills that the course traverses, it was going to hurt. I just kept telling myself “it’s only 4 miles. You can push yourself for 4 miles.”

Strong Hearts Run Club pre-race, with a few missing

Strong Hearts Run Club pre-race, with a few missing

This was another race for the Strong Hearts Run Club – a team of highly motivated, inspirational, and compassionate runners. The team is building momentum as spring nears and I’m always very excited to join forces with such an awesome group. And with over 3500 finishers at this race I got to see so many of my non-run club Syracuse friends which is always an added bonus!

Considering the challenging winter we’ve had the weather on race morning was exceptional. The roads were wet but not snow-covered and the temps were as mild as we could hope for. I was able to run a short warm-up before lining up at the start. I know that over the years this race has grown more competitive, and wow what a lineup on display!
tipp hill start

The gun went off and I had my usual motive – go out hard and hold on for dear life. (disclaimer: do as I say not as I do!). I knew this was not the time, nor the race, to pace with the front runners. But as usual I wanted to be the lead female from the start so I placed myself there and tried to settle in. When I hit the mile mark at 5:25 that all too familiar feeling of oh shit hit me and I reminded myself “only 3 more miles of this.” The hills on this course are not anything insane, but when I’ve been chained to the treadmill all winter I definitely noticed them more than I wanted to. Which meant that on the downhills I pushed hard – harder than I would’ve pushed had this been a longer race. I apologized to my quads as I did this…

Photo courtesy of Mike "Rideabike" Lillis

Photo courtesy of Mike “Rideabike” Lillis

“Hold on for dear life” over the next 3 miles is all I could muster. Since I’ve run this race previously and have lived in Tipp Hill I am familiar with the roads. There were no surprises – just the will to succeed. The main thing I noticed about my running is how horrible my form was. This was a product of not feeling comfortable at this pace. When I am the front runner I depend on the spectators to clue me in on where my competition is. I do not like to look back. Throughout the race people were cheering me on as the first female, but I also heard plenty of “go ladies” shouted. Which meant someone was hot on my tail. You hit mile 3 on Coleridge Ave before you make the turn into the park for the final loop. It’s a sharp turn into the park so I used that spot to sneak a peek at who was behind me. Yep, she was right there. And I swear my legs were spewing curse words at me by this point. Nothing hurts worse than getting passed in the last mile for 2nd place, so it was time to focus. I’ve run the loop around this park so many times I could probably do it blindfolded. So I pushed hard and started my sorry excuse for a kick right where I wanted to. I never looked back – I had confidence in my ability to finish stronger. But boy did I just slip in under the wire! I crossed the line at 25:00 on the dot, with the 2nd female coming in at 25:07.

Photo courtesy of Mike "Rideabike" Lillis

Photo courtesy of Mike “Rideabike” Lillis

Overall the race was a success and I got exactly what I wanted out of it. I always love having such strong competition keeping me on my toes. It was also cool to finally race in the inov-8 Road-X-Treme 118’s again – they’ve been in hibernation all winter and oh how I’ve missed them!
Tipp Hill shoe
The Strong Hearts Run Club put out some awesome times. The dedication these runners have is showing with some major improvements all around! There was only one thing left to do – celebrate our accomplishments and our camaraderie at Strong Hearts Café 🙂

Next up for the crew – Syracuse Half Marathon on March 23rd! I hope to see many familiar faces there as well! But I better get back to training…I already feel unprepared…again 🙂