Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Boston Strong

Well, tomorrow is the day. I board my JetBlue plane and head to Boston! I will reunite with old friends, and certainly connect with people I have met through the Inter-webs for formal introductions, high-fives, and laughs. I couldn't be more excited to begin my journey as I "Chase the Unicorn". As I sit here less than 24 hours to my departure, I can't help but feel various types of emotions many of which are VERY new and raw.

First, I am fact I am beyond excited. I am thrilled. I was given the opportunity to run the Boston Marathon as a charity runner. I blew past my charity minimum fundraising requirement, and am currently the number 1 fundraiser on my team...with the shortest amount of time to raise funds. So in addition to excitement, I am proud. I am proud to be able to call myself a Boston Marathon participant. Although I am not a qualifying participant...I'll just be frank (we are all friends here), I raised my funds, I raised awareness, I earned my place on that start line. One day I'll be fast enough to earn my BQ shirt, but this year isn't that year, and that is okay.

I am anxious. I don't know what my emotions are going to be on race day. I feel like my spirit is just going to be full of all the emotions and I may just explode into tears upon seeing the Citgo sign in Boston.

There is one thing I am not. I am not afraid. I need you to follow me here.

Last night, some idiot decided it would be funny to place full backpacks on Boylston Street near our finish line. It was also the 1 year anniversary of the tragic events of 2013. Whatever this moron was thinking, he caused a great deal of concern which made this national news. Boston PD SWAT teams and bomb squads were on scene and detonated the bags as a precaution. The suspect was taken into custody.

I REFUSE to be afraid at this race or any other! I will not be scared away or detoured from my goal. First and foremost, the Boston Athletic Association has been wokring with law enforcement and security agencies for MONTHS. Athletes have received almost weekly emails providing us with updates, information, and regulations for race weekend. When I tell you that the BAA has this under control...believe me.

The Boston Marathon is OUR race. Many runners were robbed of the opportunity to finish this race last year, and others have had their moments tarnished by selfish acts of domestic terrorism. Honey, I am NOT here for it. We are runners! We are tenacious. We are strong. Give me a break we run damn near 30 miles for fun in crazy weather conditions! We aren't invisible and we are human but our resolve is solid. When you mess with one of us, you mess with all of us...36,000 of us to be exact. And we have every intention of showing Boston who we are, what we are about, and to remind the world that this community will not be shaken or destroyed. We are here to stay! I know it's hard, but don't worry about us. We will all watch out for one another. We will all support one another. We will all encourage one another to be strong and cross that finish line reclaiming it not only for the running community but for the city of Boston.

Don't worry about me. Encourage and support me. We can do no more than run our races and be there for one another. I'll be alert and careful but no need for concern. We Are Boston. We got this! Love y'all! Let's boogie!

Monday, April 14, 2014

Boston 2 Big Sur 2 The OC The 78.6 Mile Challenge

Talk about running all the races! I have gotten myself into quite the interesting challenge. Next Monday, I will run my very first Boston Marathon! I can't even describe how excited I am to be part of such an amazing field of runners...during such an important time in not only the races history but the history of the running community! After I cross the finish on Boylston Street,  I will fly home for a few days then drive up Pacific Coast Highway to take on the Big Sur International Marathon! BSIM along with ASICS hosts what is known as the Boston 2 Big Sur Challenge. This challenge invites registered participants to see if they have what it takes to run another 26.2 miles just 6 days after completing Boston! Big Sur is no walk in the park, but it is sure to be one of the most scenic and beautiful runs I've ever completed. I have had my eye on Big Sur and this challenge for months. I was fortunate enough to be accepted to the challenge and am ready to rock and roll.

Now here is where it gets interesting. Coming up on May 4th is the OC Marathon. The OC Marathon was my first half marathon in 2012 so this is my anniversary race, or as I like to refer to it as my "Runnerversary". I usually register for this race right away because it is the race that doesn't escape me if possible. You never forget your first. Last year I ran the marathon distance, this year I will do the same. Then I realized, "Crap this is the week after Big Sur." Oh well, not much I can do about it now, so I guess I will be running three marathons in three weeks.

Yes it is crazy, yes it is going to hurt, and yes I have a plan. I am ALL IN for Boston. I am secretly hoping for a PR on that course. My current PR for the marathon is 4:54 so it's absolutely possible. During Big Sur, I will keep a steady consistent pace but will not be at 100%. OC Marathon I will trot to finish. I will not get injured. OC is going to be a scenic celebration of running, life, endurance, and I will use the time to reflect.

What comes after the marathons? A break and serious training. I have some training plans I am working with and I will be concentrating on consistency, speed, strength, and healthy eating. I go into Beast Mode. Getting these three marathons under my belt successfully is very important.

This is a crucial time for me and I will be very focused and determined to be my absolute best. The next three weeks I know will change my life. I am not afraid of a challenge. Watch me work, encourage me, and let's make some magic happen people!

Saturday, April 12, 2014

7 Days to Boston Number 6 & 5

Sorry about last night. I had dinner plans and forgot to set up my posting to go out. So this morning you are lucky enough to get TWO for the price of one in my 7 Days to Boston countdown. We are now 5 days out and it's about time to start preparing wardrobe items. Boston is looking to be in the mid 50s all week...which is quite the drastic change from the 85-90 degree weather I am living for in Southern California. Which brings me to my number 6, Marathon Scarves!

Number 6 - Old South Church Marathon Scarves

The wonderful folks at the Old South Church, often referred to as the Finish Line Church started this incredible project. The asked knitters, crocheters, and other types of folk that turn yarn into pretty things to make scarves in the BAA colors of yellow and blue. The church will take the donated scarves and wrap this year's runners in love, warmth, and blessings as we prepare for our journey. This is really an incredible though and quite touching. So far, the church has collected over 5000 scarves that will be given to runners who come to the church during their designated times. I will make sure I am first in line to receive one of these unique gifts. Thank you to the Old South Church and the hands that prepared the scarves for your time, generosity, and thoughts. I know each of them are unique and made with love.

Number 5 - Buy ALL The Things, The John Hancock Race Expo

Yesterday, I wrote out my budget for the weekend. I know how much I am spending on food and beer, but even better, I know how much cash I am spending at the race least I am going to try my best! It is no secret that the Boston Marathon expo is the premiere race expo of the year! Vendors and companies come from all over the world to promote their races, new products and services, and of course bring delicious samples to try. I can not wait to pick up my race packet, go to INKnBURN and see what's up their sleeve, head to Skechers and check out their new shoes (i've heard good things), buy a million t-shirts, buy all the glassware...then be upset because I will more than likely have to go to the UPS store to ship my goodies back home! LOL

Thursday, April 10, 2014

7 Days To Boston #7 - Sam Adams 26.2 Boston Brew

Today marks exactly one week until my flight to Boston!!!! I can't even express how excited I am to get into town and start having a blast with so many great people! In celebration of this awesome event, over the next week I will be sharing 7 things I am most excited for! Today we start with something that has been on my mind ever since I heard it existed...The Samuel Adams 26.2 Boston Brew, crafted especially for the Boston Marathon.

This is Samuel Adams' third year as a sponsor of the Boston Marathon, and they are excited to present this awesome brew to the athletes and supporters again this year. Last year, after the tragic events that took place, Sam Adams donated the proceeds of 26.2 Boston Brew to the Greg Hill Foundation, which provided immediate support to the survivors of the Boston Marathon Bombings...and this year they will do the same! How cool is that!

Now, what exactly IS 26.2 Boston Brew, and why is it so awesome? First, let me tell you my first time drinking this stuff will be next my thoughts are based on reading articles and reading the Sam Adams blog. Although, everything I have read has me SO excited...ya know since I am such big beer snob. 26.2 Boston Brew is a Gose style of beer...this is a really old style of beer that dates back to the year 700...yes folks it's true our ancestors were getting their lives with libations back then!  The beer is perfect for marathon weekend because the alcohol by volume (ABV) is 4.5%. The beer has hints of flavor that are spicy, peppery, with a touch of hear that, SALT! Runners need salt! How can this beer be bad?!?!? I mean is this not the perfect recovery beverage to celebrate with! Imagine drinking it at Fenway Park after the race...oh wait that's gonna happen!!!!!!!

Another fun fact about this beer is that is only sold on draft at specific bars along the marathon route! No bottles are available for purchase, so sorry I can't bring some home to share. My running family will be wrapping up our weekend of excellence by taking part in what was one of Sam Adams coolest gestures, a tour of the brewery (which he had planned on anyway) but runners will get a great 26.2 Boston Brew shaker glass as a souvenir! I toured the brewery last year and had a blast so this will be extra special! And yes the brew will be on tap for us to sample (YAAS!)

I love a good beer, so I am REALLY excited to try this out. I plan on buying my glass stein and having it filled to the brim! I in fact may just do a review about this stuff! OH! So excited! I hope you're ready Sam Adams!

*Reference Samuel Adams Blog for more information. Some information cited for reference purposes.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Product Review - Orange Mud Hydraquiver

Hydration is a critical part of any athlete's training, racing, or conditioning. Hydration is the sweet elixir of life and without it...well we all know what happens. When you are out on your run, what do you bring with you to ensure you have enough liquid fuel to sustain your body for the duration of your workout? Some folks use handheld water bottles, others have fuel belts with small water bottle attachments, and others use hydration bladder systems. I heard that some runners even high leprechauns to set up aid stations along their route...lucky! I have used all of these items, and honestly I don't have a favorite. I mean, if I have to choose one I think the hand held is probably the thing I will reach for first. All that changed when I was introduced to Orange Mud. 

Orange Mud is a local Southern California company that makes arguably one of the best hydration systems for runners. I would like to introduce you to the HydraQuiver by Orange Mud! The HydraQuiver is a sleek, comfortable hydration systems for runners. The HydraQuiver fits comfortably over your shoulders and gently rests on your back, like a backpack. It is padded for comfort and does not chafe what so ever. Trust me, I took mine with me on my last Trail Marathon and didn't have any chafe issues at all. The HydraQuiver houses a 24 ounce bottle that fits securely in the pack. Worried about bouncing? Not an issue. This puppy stays put! I put it through the ringer doing the Griffith Park Trail Marathon which has over 3700 feet of elevation gain and loss on the trails...that sucker didn't bounce or chafe at ALL! Your hydration is within reach...right over your shoulder. This enables you to continue moving forward while grabbing some liquid and continuing on your journey.

What I think is probably the winning factor of this device is how much storage is in this thing! I put it to the test a few weeks ago. I placed my car keys, my nutrition (Clif Blocs and EnergyBits), and 7 packs of Skratch Labs packets. Would you believe I had plenty of room left? Now of course doing this will cause your pack to get a little heavier, but a small adjustment of the shoulder straps and no problem. There is also a port so you can pull your headphone cord through and safely keep your iPod or phone inside your pack. BRILLIANT! Did I mention it comes in a ton of colors to match your personality or your outfit? Comfort, convenience, and versatility. I do my best not to run without this thing. It really is one of my staple items for my gear catalog. If you are looking for a hydration solution for your trail or road runs that stays put, provides plenty of hydration, and is versatile enough to handle whatever you throw at is, the Orange Mud HydraQuiver is what you're looking for!

As an Orange Mud Ambassador, I can offer you a great discount on the store online! CLICK HERE to be taken to the store. Then when you get to check out, use code ABLINZROCKS to save yourself 15%! Let them know I sent you over! Don't sit around and have to have one of these bad boys! If I were Oprah, this would totally be on my Favorite Things list! GO ORANGE MUD!

Monday, March 31, 2014

We Did It In 60 Days

TODAY! JUST minutes happened! We, together reached the goal! $7,500 for The Boston Bruins Foundation! Because of each and every one of you that donated, encouraged, and spread the word WE DID IT! This money is going to do amazing things for the kids of New England! So many programs and activities can be funded because of your efforts and generosity. I am beside myself with excitement, pride, and a heart full of gratitude. I want you guys to realize that we raised that money IN SIXTY DAYS! That's incredible!!!!!! That is an average of $125 per day! These past two days you guys have come out and showed up bringing your generosity and your love to the front of the line! We are here and I am still watching that percentage rise! Let's talk some cool statistics!

I am the first runner on the Bruins Foundation team to reach $7,500.00. I am also currently the top fundraiser on the team on the team Crowdrise page (thanks 100% to YOU).

Let me just get real with you...we are all friends here. Read this carefully. I could not have ANY of this without YOU! You guys are the glue, the back bone, and the Beyoncé of this fundraiser! Without you guys, your support, your dedication, your encouragement...I would be at square one. I completely understand and appreciate each and every last one of you guys! I did not expect that I would raise this money this fast...let me just back up...I didn't think I could do this. I was nervous, anxious, but jumped in with both feet and held on for the ride. You guys helped bring me through it and every last step on that course belongs to you! This is a victory that is to be celebrated by all of us. I may be running the marathon, but there is no way I would be there without YOU!

From the bottom of my heart, seriously, THANK YOU!!!!!!!!!!!!! If I could hug each and every one of you...I would. I mean, you guys just made my dream come true. I won't let you down out there! Let's go get BOSTON!

This really makes the hashtag of the weekend #WeRunTogether have a whole new meaning... I am humbled beyond words.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Boston Marathon - PICK A MILE II

It's Back! I had such an amazing and overwhelming response from all of you who sponsored miles for the LA Marathon! We raised more than $300 dollars in less than 4 hours with a game sell out! It was beyond my wildest dreams to think that would happen! THANK YOU! Now it's time for the big show. We are 25 days from the 118th Running of The Boston Marathon. It came so quickly. It's almost time to start packing bags for the journey! What's even more exciting is the fundraiser is still going strong and we have less than $2000 to raise before race day! Between social media, friends, family, and generous companies you have helped to make this happen...and so fast! To raise this amount of money by myself since January 30th is wild! I couldn't have done this without you all. No doubt about it. This is my race as much as it is yours. You've invested time and money into helping to enrichment of children's lives through The Boston Bruins Foundation. So let's get into one of the last social media fundraiser type games I'll be doing. It's PICK A MILE II! I have 30 spots available for purchase. Because this is the Boston Marathon, miles/landmarks will be $20 a piece, and of course you are more than welcome to purchase more than one mile/landmark and you are welcome to donate more than the minimum (but this is not required or expected but will be appreciated)! This fundraiser will raise a minimum $600 dollars. Oh...and one lucky randomly drawn person will receive a special gift from me as a thank you... how does $100 to INKnBURN sound? Especially with their new designs...I think you wanna score this. Every block (mile or landmark) you buy gives you an entry to win.

Here's how this works...
  • Leave a comment in this post telling me what mile/landmark you'd like to sponsor.
  • Donate directly to my secured team CrowdRise page.
  • Once your generous donation is received, I will update this post with your name (and links to social media is applicable)
  • Purchasing a key chain will get you an additional entry. If you already purchased one and purchase a mile, you will receive another entry :)
Mile 1: Jill Barnes
Mile 2: Rozanne Cassone - #TeamBits
Mile 3: AJ Raabe
Mile 4: Ivie Hasegawa
Mile 5: @CaseyRuns
Mile 6: Jill Barnes
Mile 7: Arbel Bedak
Mile 8: Tracy Garcia
Mile 9: Jason Mendez
Mile 10: Arbel Bedak
Mile 11: Tam Premsrirath
Mile 12: Dani Barerra
Mile 13.1: Jill Barnes
Mile 14: Sandi Ady
Mile 15: Tam Premsrirath
Mile 16: INKnBURN
Mile 17: Kathianne Lynch
Mile 18: Jill Barnes
Mile 19: Jenn Mascari
TURNED UP 20: JJ Sarreal
Mile 21: Triniti Tran
Mile 22: Dani Barerra
Mile 23: Rebecca Goodman-Sudik
Mile 24: Rebecca Goodman-Sudik
Mile 25: Dani and Tori
Mile 26.2: Patrick McGuire
Marathon Sports: INKnBURN
Samuel Adams Brewery Home of 26.2 Brew: Brewer Barnes
Boston Common: ShanMac!
Fenway Park - America's Most Beloved Ballpark:  Calypso The Wonder Mutt

TD Garden Home of the Boston Bruins: INKnBURN
Wahlburgers: Katie Preston
Old North Church: Nicole Glass
Duck Boats: Nicole Glass
EnergyBits HQ: Rozanne Cassone - #TeamBits