Thursday, April 16, 2015

Gear Review (for women)

When I read Jennifer's post about five brands for spring activewear, one of the items she mentioned jumped out at me:

Quoting from her post:

"4. CALIA by Carrie Underwood
This new line from Carrie Underwood is available exclusively at Dick's Sporting Goods and offers a lower price point than other high-end brands.

I really want to try the Inner Power Cross Front Mesh Bra. It's designed for high-impact performance like running, and it comes in actual bra sizes, which always seem to fit better than bras in general sizes (small or 6, for example). The mesh would be great for hot days, and the back is a unique design. I love this Smoky Plum color.

When Jennifer said "actual bra sizes," I was sold. 

In reality, I couldn't care less about price point if it's something that works.  I run enough that it's worth it to have an amazing sports bra (or five).  I've tried some pricy brands before without success.  I heard rave reviews of Lululemon's Tata Tamer, but I was sorely disappointed, it leaves chafe marks around my shoulders and sometimes near the clasp.  It's one of my last choice bras now. 

For running for the last few years, I've mostly been wearing Moving Comfort's Fiona, or Moving Comfort's Vixen.  I think I have 3 of each in different colors, but both styles seems to have their issues on me.  Those idiotic adjustable straps on the Fiona usually leave marks between my collarbone and shoulder wherever the seam is.  And the Fiona seems to result in band chafing for me, plus frequent chafing from the clasp.  The Vixen usually leaves me with chafing around the band and sometimes where the two off center seams go up.  Yow. 

With summer coming quickly, bringing hot, and sometimes humid runs over 16 miles, suffice it to say, money is not an object, though I'd certainly be reluctant to try something super pricey. 

So based on what Jennifer wrote, I decided to give it a shot.  I ordered one.  And I remeasured my band size for the first time in ages.  Am I one of the 80% wearing the wrong size bra?  Maybe!  (Is that stat real?  I don't know where I heard it, seems implausible, but maybe...)  I actually went down one band size from what I wear most days for work.  (No, I don't think it's a size issue with the Fiona and Vixen that I usually wear, since I have multiple sizes of the Fiona and they all have the same issue, and the Vixen is XS-XL sizing.) 

Shipping was free, but not speedy.  I shipped it to work and it actually arrived on one of my running commute days, so I decided to try it out the very night I got it -- not a tough call since the alternative was the stinky sports bra I'd worn on my way TO work that morning, and plus, my commute is just under 4 miles, so a much more comfortable distance to give a new gear item a test run instead of a regular weekday run, which is always over 6 miles.

My thoughts:

The second I put it on, I could tell, it fits great. I picked the right size. It was comfortably secure when I put it over my head, and appropriately tight when I hooked the clasp. 

My second thought was that it seemed too low cut in the front.  I was nervous that meant it wasn't going to work well.  And I knew, regardless of how supportive it was, I'd hesitate to wear it without a shirt since I'd be giving quite the show with this one, but aside from three runs in near-emergency conditions (all detailed here), I don't run topless, so how it looks is kind of moot. 

On the run, wow.  Fit great, no chafing, fully supportive, not uncomfortable at all, maybe a little cooler feeling with the venting?  Hard to tell.  But great.  Two thumbs up unequivocally while running. 

Got home, and I could immediately feel where the chafing had happened -- in the back, right near the clasp.  The cause?  Plastic tags.  Perforated so I was clearly supposed to remove them before running in the bra.  My bad.  Cut it as close as possible to the fabric, and threw it in the laundry.

Next, I wore it tagless for a weekend run of 12 or 13 miles. 

Perfection!  No chafing anywhere, comfortable, supportive, perfect.  Can't even say how happy this makes me. 

So now, I've discovered the product's true flaw, and my biggest complaint:  it's always dirty.

Seriously, I never get to wear it.  I do laundry on Fridays or Saturdays, which means that it's clean for my Sunday long run, and it's now the first sports bra that I grab from my drawer, so it's never clean and an option on a weekday.  It really feels like I never get to wear it.
Solution:  I ordered a dupe of the one I liked, as well as one in the other color.

Now my biggest complaint is probably the lack of color options.  The Moving Comfort bras have tons of color choices, why only two here?  I'd especially like some lighter colors.  Not that I'll run in just a sports bra ever (barring another emergency), but there's something I don't like about wearing dark colors, even underneath a shirt, for an August 20 miler.  Maybe some blues?  Yellows?  Pinks?  Light greys? 

Thankfully, the second and third ones I ordered were the same price.  Dick's doesn't know it, but they had this priced right for me to try it, but once I knew I liked it, I easily would have paid double the price for the next two.  Whew!  They could be like a coke dealer -- first hit is free, then they gouge you when you're hooked.  Good thing for me that's not a business model they've considered. 

I would assume it goes without saying, but my opinions, my money spent on all products referenced.

So thanks for the tip Jennifer!  You made my upcoming summer much more comfortable!   

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Race Report: Fairview Half

Ran the Fairview Half Marathon this past weekend, and figured I'd share my thoughts for anyone local.

Overall, it was a pretty good race, but not likely one I'd consider doing again.  Fairview is a suburb that is really, really, really far away from Dallas.  The drive up there in the morning didn't have much traffic, but it felt like we were in the car for hours.  My husband went with me to keep me company and to cheer.  That was a big bonus, but he was also surprised at how far away it was and I am not entirely sure he would have joined the fun if he'd known before we set out at 6 a.m. 

My biggest complaint was that a few stretches were run on the shoulder of a very busy road that was not closed to traffic.  This made it tough to stay with a pace group, since at most, they could run two abreast, and then one person was kind of running on the gravel. 

I didn't like the course very much overall.  It was hilly (for Texas), and fairly boring -- like running through the residential streets of some random suburb.  Not very exciting.

The best part of the course by far happened twice (the course was not exactly out and back, but a large portion of it was).  There was one stretch where we ran past some fields with cows, horses, and longhorns.  That was really cool and not something you get in your average Dallas area race. 

There was some shade along the streets, but it was somewhat confusing since there were not cones (except on the busiest of the roads), and a vast majority of people were running on the right side of the road, but it was not closed to traffic, so cars would come up behind you.  I didn't like that part at all. 

The best parts of the race don't really have anything to do with the running. 

First, ample (and free) parking at the start (it started at what I guess is like a suburban outdoor mall, and city building?).  Either way, short walk to the start, indoor bathrooms available, seemed well organized. 

Second, the race started at 7:30.  That's relatively early, but since our weather in mid-April can already get ugly hot (even though it didn't this year), I think the early start was very smart. 

The other thing I really liked was one of the treats at the end of the race.  Mini bundt cakes.  Yum!  I wish I'd taken a picture.  They also had bananas and water, and maybe muscle milk?  Can't remember. 

Another favorite part about the race, though I have not actually looked at them yet, is that they offer free downloads of the pictures.  I think I saw two photographers, but I know that the first one didn't get any pictures of me -- a minivan was coming the opposite direction at the exact time my pictures would have been taken.  But I'm betting I got a few from the other photographer.  And since I wasn't racing this one, there's a chance any of those pictures could be decent.  But even if it didn't work out for me, that's a very nice feature to offer runners. 

And the last thing I loved about this race, the medal:

Unfortunately you can't really tell from the picture, but the little thing at the top of the oil rig (?) spins.  Love it! 

The shirts are technical, average quality.

Here is the back:

And two shots of the front (tried to do a closer one so you could see it, and one further back because the shirt is actually fairly long, which I think is nice).  I don't like how the 5k is more prominent in the logo (especially since a vast majority of people were doing the half), but it's fine. 

My "race" itself was good.  The weather was good, overcast, in the upper 50s or low 60s.  It got sunny later, and that was pretty gross when you were also getting exhaust from the trucks on the road, but no real complaints. 
My running buddy and I were pacing one of his co-workers and her friend.  All 4 of us stayed together until about mile 8, then I pulled slightly ahead with the friend, and we finished about 90 seconds ahead of my buddy and his co-worker.  The two we were pacing were both thrilled with the results.  They both apparently slowed down a bit in mile 11, and my friend and I both had to "talk tough" right around mile 12.  I basically told the woman I was pacing that all this great running she'd done so far was about to go down the $hitter if she didn't get it in gear and hold it together for the last mile.  I told her to stay with me, and we were going to move.  I asked her to give me 8 more minutes of hard work.  She gave me 2 more minutes of hard work and about 7 minutes of medium work, but it was enough.  We finished 62 seconds ahead of her A goal (which I only found out about around mile 4; in advance of the race, I'd only been told of her B goal, which we beat by 6 minutes and 2 seconds).  Then all 4 of us went out for beer and pizza afterward.  I was very happy for them and really enjoyed the morning. 

Monday, April 13, 2015

Easter treats

More than a week late now, but I had pictures on my phone that I took with the sole intent of posting here!

Easter morning, we went to my church.  I am Episcopalian, my husband is Catholic.  Since the outset of our relationship, the deal has been Christmas and Easter at my church, any other services at his.  And since my husband used to work Sundays, it really just meant Christmas at my (parents') church.  But since he changed jobs while we were in India, now he's off Sundays, so I got to bring him with me. 

After church, we came home to cook a bit -- our job was bringing salad and an appetizer, and then I also made Hot Cross Buns, an Easter morning tradition I grew up with, and a carrots-and-dirt type dessert.  Then we packed all that up and went to spend Easter with my godson and his family. 

By way of background, hubby and I rarely cook together, but we've undertaken Easter treats for the last couple years.  Unfortunately I don't have 2013 pictures, but at least I wrote about it (here), and 2014 had pictures, here

Anyway, here we go.  Pictures of some of the goodies we enjoyed on Easter.

Best of all was this nut-free carrot cake that my godson's dad made.  He's an amazing baker and I joked with my husband that this cake was the stuff of fantasies, and that he too would begin dreaming of this guy bringing him cake.  Haha, it really is good though! 

This is the carrots-and-dirt dessert we made.  Pudding on the bottom, then oreos, then frosting with edible grass. 

These are the Hot Cross Buns we made.  Not as good as I remember, but still good:

This is what the carrots and dirt were supposed to look like:

This was a dessert idea we considered and rejected (Easter 2016?):

And this just made me laugh: 

So happy (belated) Easter! 

Friday, April 10, 2015

Strike That

All that stuff I said about being nervous about going to trial for the first time ever next week? 

Strike that!

The beauty of litigation...

Just found out that the final pretrial took forever yesterday.  The parties were ordered to mediation, and a new trial setting was issued at the end of June.  So no trip to So Ill is in my immediate future!

Bummed I won't get to visit with my aunt and uncle, but so, so happy to be staying home!  Especially since our wedding anniversary is next weekend, so we're having our annual rehearsal dinner anniversary party (where we invite everyone local who was with us in Italy for the actual rehearsal dinner).  It was going to be a very inconvenient week to be gone. 

And with mediation, there's a higher likelihood that next trial setting will not proceed.  Woot.