Monday, May 16, 2011

CEP Compression Socks Review

I entered a raffle a while back on Stephanie’s Running to Health blog HERE and ended up winning some CEP Compression socks! I was so excited because they have been on my “running gear I want” list! I ordered the lime green ones and I couldn’t wait for them to come in so I could try them out.

Before I ever wore them on any runs, I wore them after a few runs to recover and make my calves feel better. One night I showered after my evening run, came downstairs in my lime green socks pulled up to my knees, and sat on the couch to watch my shows. My husband gave me this look like, “What are those and why are you wearing them?” So, I explained to him that I was hoping they would make my legs less tired if I wore these. And they did!

The first time I wore them on a run was a couple weeks ago on an 8 miler. It usually takes me a good half mile to get warmed up and settled into the cadence of my run. I had to take a different route than normal because of road construction, and they had this bridge across a creek totally blocked off. I tried to see if there was anywhere I could get through, but not even on foot could I do it. There were some new small hills I hadn’t run on before with it being a new route, but I felt great. My legs didn’t feel heavy like they sometimes do on longer runs. I don’t know if it’s just in my head, but I think the CEP Compression socks were what helped me feel so good.

I am so glad I am a runner and learned about compression technology, but I would recommend compression socks to ANYONE! You don’t have to be a runner or an athlete to get use out of them. I sit at a desk all day long and sometimes that makes my lower legs ache. If I am wearing pants and boots, I will wear my compression socks also and no one ever knows. But, then my legs still get that good circulation throughout the day and they don’t ache!

The other times I would recommend them is when you are flying or riding in a car for a long amount of time, or when you are going to be walking around a lot. They just give your legs that extra support and circulation. You don’t realize how much these compression socks will help you until you try them out and see how much better your legs feel! When driving to OKC a couple weeks ago, I wore the compression socks on the drive so that when we got there my legs felt fresh. And then I kept them on as we were walking around. When Sunday rolled around, my legs felt great for the run, even though I had been walking around a bunch that weekend.

Check out their website HERE to learn more about the technology they use and the different products they have. You won’t be sorry! Here is a picture off of their website of the green socks I got:

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon Relay Race Report

This is a long post, so just know I warned you first!

Side note before the race report: I found out last week that I didn't get into the NYC Marathon this year. I had submitted my application through the lottery and wasn't picked. I could get in through fundraising, but I think I'll just keep trying through the lottery drawing (if you don't get in 3 years in a row, you are guaranteed to get in the 4th year). I was bummed at first, but it does take up a lot of time and energy, and I wasn't totally set on training for a full this year. Maybe I'll get in next year!!!

Now for the race report: I have been excited for this event ever since we signed up for it many months ago! It seemed so far away, but it finally got here. I took Friday off work and woke up at 5 am to watch the Royal Wedding while still laying in bed. I wasn’t planning on watching it in real time (I had the DVR set), but I needed to wake up at 6 anyway to get ready, so what’s an extra hour? She was beautiful, the wedding was beautiful and so nice to see some happiness! I pulled myself away from the TV, got ready and headed south. I drove to my hometown where Miranda and Amanda picked me up and the 3 of us headed even farther south. Our other teammates, Heather and Alyssa, were bringing their families and would be there a little later than us.

We got to Oklahoma City, found our hotel in Bricktown and got checked in. Amanda really scored on the hotel through Priceline, so she got extra thank you’s from us for that! It was a nice hotel for an even nicer price and it was in walking distance to everything. Score!!! Friday night we went to the expo to pick up our packets and visit the booths. This was a great time to go as it wasn’t busy AT ALL! I thought these balloons were really neat!

Then we met up with a couple other runners (one we knew, and her friend we met for the first time). We ate some good Mexican food and then had a really fun night out! It was SO windy and we all kept hoping that it wouldn’t be that windy on Sunday for the race...more on that later.

Saturday, we slept in a little, and then ate the wonderful continental buffet breakfast the hotel had. It really was delicious! We walked around Bricktown and did whatever came to mind. We did go to the expo again (way busier this time), and we ate at Peachwave (my first frozen yogurt experience). After a little lounging, we decided to try Zio’s Italian restaurant for dinner. Luckily, we only had to wait about 20 minutes to be seated and the food was pretty amazing and priced extremely well. We definitely got our carb loading in!

We then decided to walk to the Memorial so we would know where to go the next morning and the best way to get to the start. We might have gotten a little turned around and went the wrong way... We wound up at a memorial, but not THE memorial. So, we got quite a bit of extra walking in the night before the race. But, we made it to the Memorial and this was my 2nd time visiting it. But this time was at night and it was so pretty and tranquil. So many emotions while looking at the memorial and reading about it. I thought back to the day the bombing happened and remembered exactly where I was and what I felt when seeing the destruction on TV. After seeing the Memorial, taking some pictures and feeling good about how to get there the next morning for a 6:30 start time, we headed back to the hotel to get some sleep and rest our legs! Below is a picture of Amanda, Miranda and I in front of one of the race signs by the memorial.

And here is one of the entrances to the memorial. The lighting was beautiful.

4:45 am came early and I met Heather and Alyssa in the lobby at 5:30. Miranda and Amanda were legs 4 and 5 and they were going to wait a while before they went to the start. We start out walking and it was about 50 degrees or so. Nice weather for a run. After about 15 minutes of walking, it starts to rain and it starts to get colder. That’s okay, we knew there was a chance of rain. I was really lucky and somehow dressed appropriately. I had my long tights on with shorts over them (of course), a long sleeved shirt, my pink team shirt, my hat and my light Columbia rain jacket. It is really light weight and I thought if it did start raining that it would keep me dry and I could wrap it around my waist when I didn’t need it anymore. Getting closer to the start line, we met some people walking the other way saying the start was delayed 30 minutes. So, we headed to a big building that had an awning we could stand under for a while. The rain never stopped, so when it was time, we started walking again. Heather got to the start and Alyssa and I headed to the buses. I was the 3rd leg and decided that I didn’t need to get on the bus just yet and I would watch the start. There were around 25,000 runners and it was an amazing sight to see them all running by the Memorial at the start of the race!
You can see the start line on the left hand side and the runners are off!

Runners have gotten to me at this point and it is very hard to see, but you can still see people waiting to cross the start line as far back as you could see. TONS of people! I did get to see Heather, who was doing our first leg, pass me but my camera wouldn't cooperate, so I only got a picture of her back as she passed by me.

I then headed to the bus to have it take me to my exchange point. When we got there it was still raining and the only shelter was a little awning over this store front that could really only handle 2 people deep. But, it kept me somewhat dry while I was waiting. I waited until the last possible minute that I could, then I had to go stand in the rain at the exchange. I saw Heather come by as she was our first leg but was also continuing on to do her first full marathon! Alyssa came next and the exchange point was mass chaos with all the people handing off timing chips to the next runner. But I was off.

The only thing I wish I had were my gloves. I didn’t think about grabbing those. So, I pulled my sleeves down over my fingers and that helped a little. My toes were numb when I started and it took a good mile of running for me to feel them again! At that point, I needed to pee. I didn’t want to go at the exchange for fear of missing my team come through. So, I made the pit stop and it took a while to pull my pants up as I still couldn’t feel my fingers real well. After I got warmed up, I felt pretty great! I ended up just keeping my rain jacket on the whole time. It was very lightweight and it was keeping me from getting soaked. My feet weren’t dry, but my upper half was at least.

I think somewhere around the 5th mile of my leg, I saw Heather across from me on a hairpin turn by the lake. My legs were feeling great and I knew she could use some encouragement and company while running her full. I’d been there before and it can be a lonely experience. So, I had no idea if I would catch her or not, but I booked it and caught up with her. By this time it had finally stopped raining, so we ran the last couple miles of my leg together. We got to the exchange and I handed the chip off to Amanda and bid them both farewell. I got my medal, some food and headed to the bus. At about that time, the rain started again. And this time, it didn’t stop the rest of the race. I got to the Finish line so I could watch Miranda and Heather come in.

I got there in time to see the very end of the sub 4 hour marathoners finish. I smiled really big for them because that's a huge accomplishment and an amazing time!

I saw the firefighters (some of them who were there the day of the bombing 16 years ago) finish the race in all their gear. I cried.

I watched people who were running in honor of someone who died in the bombing. I cried.

I saw kids join their parents at the end to run over the finish line with them. I smiled.

I saw a guy who ran the whole thing carrying a huge American flag. I cried.

I saw people with “Marathon Virgin” shirts on and I thought of my first marathon. I cried.

I also got hailed on while in the stands and I was glad I wasn’t still running and I felt bad for whichever teammate of mine who was running and all the other people running in it. The good thing is the hail was small and it didn’t last long. The white dots on the road is hail.

I’ve never watched a finish as I have always been in the race. And we know I never finished early enough to watch many other people cross. Being in the relay was amazing to be able to run in the race, and then get to the finish to watch my teammate cross! I saw Miranda coming and I yelled as loud as I could for her and I was all smiles, and so was she! Here she is in the light pink shirt crossing the finish line!

I went to find her and Amanda and we went back to the finish to watch Heather cross the finish line of her first full marathon! We yelled for her and it was amazing to see her accomplish that feat. The weather was horrible, her knees were bothering her, but she is now a marathoner and that was SO neat to witness! Here she is in the bright pink shirt crossing the finish line!

By this time, I was FROZEN! The best part was getting a Carl’s Jr. hamburger at the finish line. It was so warm and yummy and I wished I would have grabbed about 5 of them! We decided to go to First Church which was close to the finish line because they were letting people go in there to warm up. Not only were they opening their doors for the runners to get warm, they were serving coffee to us and they had a huge pile of dry clothes if anyone wanted to change. I didn’t know this at the time, but learned while reading on the website that First Church opened their doors after the bombing and they were a place where families could go to learn about their loved ones who were in the Murrah building at the time of the bombing. It was also a temporary morgue right after the bombing. They were so gracious on race day, but their history with the Memorial goes way back to April 19, 1995. Here are the only pictures that I got of the Memorial on rainy race day.

We decided we would head to the hotel to take warm showers. It was still raining, but we weren’t too far. After walking about ½ a block, it started POURING! Not just raining, but pouring. I don’t know how it happened, but I saw a taxi for the first time all weekend and we flagged it down and hopped in. We were lucky to get that nice, warm, dry ride to the hotel. Here we are in the warm and dry taxi (Amanda, Me and Miranda).

We took warm showers, packed up and headed for home. The weather for the race wasn’t great, but the whole weekend was fun and the purpose of the race is way more important than any bad weather we had. We have decided to make this an annual event and we’re sure that there is no way we can have that bad weather 2 years in a row! Next year should be great, right? I guess we’ll have to see. Here is a picture of Miranda and Amanda at the finish and below that is one of me at the finish all bundled up.

Results of race:
A marathon relay was all new to me. It consisted of 5 legs:
Heather was the 1st leg which was approximately a 10K
Alyssa was the 2nd leg which was approximately a 5K
I was the 3rd leg which was approximately a 12K
Amanda was the 4th leg which was approximately a 5K
Miranda was the 5th leg which was approximately a 10K

My Garmin said this:
Miles: 7.37
Time: 1:22:56
Pace: 11:15
In all the exchange confusion, I forgot to stop my Garmin, but it might have only been a minute or 2. I don’t know for sure.

We were 83 out of 124 teams in the Open Female division. Our total time was 4:56:10.

So much fun and if anyone is considering a race, this is definitely one I would recommend. It was the 11th year they’ve done it and it is so well organized and there are so many wonderful volunteers that come out to help. Since it is for a great cause that touched all of us Americans, it has a real community feel to it even though it is so huge! Amazing race! I, unfortunately didn't end up with any pictures of all 5 team members. Sad!

Here are a few pictures of the medal we got for the relay. It has the logo of the Memorial on it - the Survivor's Tree. And the front of the medal is different from the back, which I thought was really neat!