Monday Musings 03/30/20

The Girl's Got Sole - Monday Musings

Anyone else feel like the days are all dragging and running together? This month has seemed so long, and it looks like April will be a repeat of the same. I’m really hopeful that the corona pandemic improves in the next 2-3 weeks and we can get back to normal in May. If that’s possible and the right thing to do.

1. I’m thankful to still be able to get out and run. My race schedule may be up in the air, but I can still lace up my shoes and get out for a run! I’m working on keeping a mileage base of 6 to 8 miles, which will keep me fit and training consistently. Also, getting back into my speed work again, trying to hit the track at least once a week as long as it remains open and available.

The Girl's Got Sole - Social distancing run

Run a couple of weeks ago while practicing social distancing.

2. Since the gym closed, I knew I’d miss getting in my twice weekly bike workout. Yes, I can take out my actual bike (which I hope to do soon), but I do like cross-training indoors when possible on the bike. I was able to get a folding exercise bike for just over $70 and it arrived on Friday. Did my first ride on it yesterday. Not completely the same as the gym stationary bikes, but I’m happy to have the option.

The Girl's Got Sole - Exercise bike

The new exercise bike.

3. Keeping my fitness going and food as much in check as possible are so important for me. While losing weight may be more difficult having to be inside so much right now, my goal is to at least maintain my weight. I’m keeping up my intermittent fasting, and fast 14 hours a day on average. Going to try to push myself in the coming weeks to keep up those good health habits and try not to have too many extra snacks outside of my plan. It won’t be easy, but I’m gonna try!

The Girl's Got Sole - Sidewalk chalk messages

Sidewalk chalk inspirational messages.

4. Anyone been watching the new The Biggest Loser on USA? The finale is this week (tomorrow, Tuesday at 9pm), and I’m looking forward to seeing how well all of the contestants have done. As well as find out who the Biggest Loser will be for this season. I’m honestly rooting for everyone of these folks, so it’s been hard to pick and choose a favorite. I just hope the new tools they have been given of gym memberships, nutritionists, and support systems will help them with the mental and emotional aspects of weight loss. It’s definitely all important, because you have to be so strong all around to not only lose the weight, but to keep it off as well.

The Girl's Got Sole - The Biggest Loser on USA

Some of the awesome contestants from this season of The Biggest Loser.

5. I’m starting to do regular videos! While I did a couple at the start of the year, I haven’t been as consistent as I’d like. So, I’m letting this whole corona ordeal get me into posting some kind of video a few times a week. This will expand into other videos about running, working out and other things. I’d love to hear thoughts on what you’d like to see video-wise if you like watching vlogs!

The Girl's Got Sole - Videos

Videos on the GirlsGotSole instagram account.

Hope everyone is staying healthy. I’d love to hear about what you’ve been doing to stay active. Are you getting out for runs in your neighborhood? Let me know in the comments.

Product Review: NOW Foods BCAA Blast & Effer-Energy

The Girl's Got Sole - NOW Sports product review

Disclaimer: I received NOW Foods BCCA Blast Powder and Effer-Energy Tablets to review as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review, find, and write race reviews!

I’ve been pro-BCAA supplements for years now. When the chance to try a new kind of BCAA from NOW Foods presented itself as a BibRavePro, I was raising my hand.

The Girl's Got Sole - NOW Sports BCAA product review

BCAAs are branched-chain amino acids, which are essential nutrients for building muscle and promoting post-workout recovery. BCAAs can be taken before, during or after a run or workout. NOW Sports BCAA Blast powder gives you 5 grams of BCAAs and contain 100mg of natural caffeine per serving. The supplement assists in maintaining physical energy and focus during workouts and aids the body’s natural recovery process. In addition, each scoop has electrolytes to replenish what is lost during strenuous activity.

The Girl's Got Sole - NOW Sports review

NOW Sports BCAA Blast is available in two flavors, Natural Raspberry and Tropical Punch. I opted for the former, and have been happy with the taste. I’ve used it before a run or workout, as well as during my gym workouts and for recovery. When it comes to a powdered supplement, taste definitely makes or breaks it for me, and this one hit the mark. I find myself looking forward to drinking it after a morning run. The raspberry flavor is not over-powering and seems just right combined with 16oz of water.

Using BCAAs has helped me in the past recover better from hard workouts, and NOW Sports BCAA Blast did not disappoint. I felt less soreness after my longer training runs and races where I pushed myself. The BCAA powder easily dissolves and there isn’t a gritty taste like I’ve experienced with other powders in the past.

As far as the other product, the Effer-Energy Effervescenet Tablets, I had a different experience with them. I wasn’t a big fan of them. They come in a Tropical Punch flavor, and the taste was just a bit too overpowering for me. Had a hard time enjoying my drinks when I added a tablet to my water. The tablets didn’t seem as thought they dissolve well enough for me. Breaking the tabs in half did seem to help the taste, but I have to admit, they just weren’t my thing.

The Girl's Got Sole - NOW Sports product review

Both products are vegan/vegetarian friendly, soy free, nut free, and the powder is gluten free. Each scoop of the BCAA Blast is 30 calories, while the tablets are 10 calories each. So, neither supplement is good for a low-calorie diet if you are watching what you are taking in. You can check out the complete nutrition information on the NOW Foods website.

If you are looking for a great BCAA Powder, check out NOW Foods BCAA Blast. You can save 20% off your own container of BCCA Blast, Effer-Energy, or any other supplements with discount code NOWSPORTS20 now through 4/30/20.

The Girl's Got Sole - NOW Sports review

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“Offer valid 2/1/20 through 11:59 PM Central Standard Time 4/30/20. Offer valid only on products found at https://www.nowfoods.com/sports-nutrition/sports-nutrition-all-products. Prices are as shown. Some exclusions apply. Must use coupon code NOWSPORTS20 in the Promotion Code field at checkout. While supplies last at nowfoods.com. This offer does not apply to applicable taxes or shipping and handling. Offer cannot be used on previous purchases. NOW Health Group, Inc. has the right to end any promotion at any time.”

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Check out my fellow BibRavePro reviews of the product:
Stephanie (BluegrassBAMR)
Sarah (Running for Beers)
–Erica (Another Half Please)
–Michelle (Running with Attitude)
–Adventures by Katie
–Kim (Kooky Runner)
–Emily (azungoddess)
–Lindsey
–Evan Reister
–Lacey Timony

Race Cancellations All Over

The Girl's Got Sole - Races Cancelled

Late this afternoon, I found out the Shamrock Race Weekend was canceled due to COVID-19. This was a race I was excited to go run, as it was also to be my first BibRavePro Summit. It is a big weekend gathering of lots of BibRavePros from all over.

While this entire situation is disappointing, I know the decision is for the best. The Race Directors have to follow what the local governments are advising, and as runners, we have to respect that. We can be upset and annoyed, but there is a greater purpose behind the cancellations.

Experts say we need to limit large gatherings so we can flatten the curve. This is a great article on why events being canceled and self-quarantines save lives. With limited large gatherings, the rate of an epidemic can slow down.

The Girl's Got Sole - Cancellations Abound

Flatten the curve.

Not only are most major marathons and half marathons getting canceled, but other events in big venues are as well. As I write this blog post, dozens of races are canceling their events. This includes NYC Half Marathon, Rock ‘n’ Roll Washington DC Marathon & Half Marathon, and Marine Corps 17.7. The Boston Marathon has been postponed until the Fall, likely early September. And, both Disneyland in California and Walt Disney World in Florida will be closing for the remainder of the month.

So, as runners where do we go or do from here? While we can’t do large gatherings like races, we can run in our own neighborhoods. Some of my running group is already planning on doing our own half marathon next Saturday since a number of us are missing our events. Just a few of us banding together to run and keep our spirits up (hello endorphins!). I think getting together with a few running friends and running your race virtually is a great idea. Take your own water and fuel and get out and run. Don’t forget the hand sanitizer in your gear bag. 🙂

America’s Toughest Road Marathon

The Girl's Got Sole - Blue Ridge Marathon, America's Toughest Road Race

Disclaimer: I am promoting the Blue Ridge Marathon as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review, find, and write race reviews!

Are you looking for a challenging marathon? Then, The Footlevers Blue Ridge Marathon may be for you! It challenges runners with over 7,430 feet of elevaton change, which is more than any other road marathon in the country! Runners get to run along the beautifully scenic Blue Ridge Parkway, with proceeds from the non-profit event benefiting the parkway and local charities.

If the 26.2 distance isn’t your thing, the race also offers a half marathon and 10k option. With all finishers receiving a unique finishers’ medal, tech-shirt, live music, and a festival-like finish with local craft beer.

The Girl's Got Sole - Blue Ridge Marathon

America’s Toughest Road Marathon is limited to 750 runners and has a 7.5 hour cut-off time, with runners having to make it to mile 22 within 6 hours. That gives participants a generous 16:20 min/mile pace for 26.2 miles. The half marathon has a 6-hour cut-off time, making it very friendly for back-of-the-pack runners.

The Blue Ridge Marathon is now in it’s 10th year, having been founded in 2010 by a group of local runners and volunteers with a goal of crafting one of the most beautiful and difficult marathons in the US. The event is owned and operated by the Roanoke Outside Foundation whose mission it is to make outdoor activity and environmental stewardship a core component of the Roanoke Region of Virginia’s lifestyle hy promoting a “conservation through recreation” philosophy.

The marathon, half marathon and 10k take place on April 18th, so register today! Use discount code “BRMRAVE” to save 20% off distance of choice. There’s a distance for everyone at the 2020 Foot Levers Blue Ridge Marathon.

The Girl's Got Sole - Blue Ridge Marathon

Race Recap: 2020 DONNA Half Marathon

The Girl's Got Sole - DONNA marathon weekend

On February 9th, I ran and paced the 2020 DONNA Half Marathon in Jacksonville, Florida. This was my 6th time running a DONNA race, and 2nd time pacing at the race.

I headed up to Jacksonville on Saturday morning with my mom. It’s about a 2 1/2 hour drive from Orlando, so it’s not too bad. I always stay the night before the race, because I can’t imagine trying to drive up on race morning. It would be way too stressful for me.

The Girl's Got Sole - 2020 DONNA Half Marathon

Race expo at the Morrocco Shrine Auditorium.

This year, the expo was at a different location than it was last year. It took place at the Morocco Shrine Auditorium, which was the original home of the race expo. This was a new location for me, as I had done in the race when the expo was at the Convention Center, or last year, at the old Kmart.

The expo seemed pretty small to me this year. Not a many vendors as past years. Packet pickup was easy (especially since my packet was at the Galloway Pacer table), and I got to see some familiar faces. It was great talking to John from sQoosh, as well as Amanda Napolitano, the race director. I also saw Donna Deegan briefly on my way out, which was nice.

After the expo, mom and I headed to the hotel to check in. That went well, and they were even great about allowing me a late checkout the next day. We did run back out to grab some dinner to bring back to the hotel. Nothing like a spaghetti dinner from Olive Garden to carb up! 🙂

Everything seemed to be going well until I tried to get some rest. There seemed to be a family/group of friends staying across the hall and next door to that room that had no respect for others needing to sleep. Their loud talking, laughing and slamming doors woke me up repeatedly through the night. Calls to the front desk didn’t help either unfortunately.

The Girl's Got Sole - DONNA Half Marathon recap

Trying to stay warm before the race.

Somehow, I got some rest (not much), and when my alarm went off at 4am, I was feeling okay. I suppose there wasn’t much else to do but make the best of it. I got dressed and headed out. I drove to the Morocco Shrine Auditorium, where race parking was this year. They had buses to take us to the Runners Village and starting area.

That went smoothly, and I arrived at Beaches Town Center with time to spare before I had to meet my fellow pacers at 6:30am. I went inside the One Ocean Hotel and stayed warm for a bit while I waited. During that time, I got to chat with a fellow runner also staying warm while waiting for friends.

After our group pacer photo, I met my co-pacer for the 3:20 finish time for the half marathon. Sherry was great, we chatted as we hit the port-o-lets and found our spot for our wave. As we waited, a few folks joined our pace group. One guy was running his first half marathon, and others it may not have been their first half, but they each had a story.

The Girl's Got Sole - DONNA Half Marathon recap

With my co-pacer, Sherry before the race.

The National Anthem was sung, and before long, we were headed to the start. I love the start of the DONNA race. So many cheering faces! That first half mile is full of great folks! We settled into our pace and the miles began to fly by. Okay, maybe not all of them, but they sure went well. Sherry and I had a great group of folks in our pace group.

The only thing I regret is not getting more mile marker pictures and other fun photos on the course like I did the year before. Nonetheless, we had a good time. I love the DONNA because the miles just seem to be glide by with all the spectators cheering and the motivational signs.

The Girl's Got Sole - 2020 DONNA Half Marathon

On course for a quick photo opp with some of our pace group.

We crossed the finish line in 3:19:17, which is a few seconds faster than we should have been, but great. With a 3:20 finish time goal, we did pretty well.

The highlight for me is the thank yous we got from some of our pace group. One really stands out though, the gentleman who was running his first half marathon asked if he could hug us. He then asked for a photo. He was all smiles about his new accomplishment. That made me feel so good. Like warm fuzzies good. That’s why I love being a group leader and pacer, helping people achieve their goals. There’s really nothing else like it. 🙂

I hope to be back in 2021 pacing the DONNA Half Marathon. It truly is one of my favorite half marathon events to do.

The Girl's Got Sole - DONNA Half Marathon recap

Happy Pacer Finishers!

Defining Happiness with Michelle Aguilar-Whitehead

Disclaimer: I am really excited to work with our sponsor, I AM SECOND, today to share this information with you!

If are like me and have been a fan of The Biggest Loser for it’s 17 seasons, you may remember Michelle Aguilar from season 6. Michelle was the big winner, after losing 110 pounds or just over 45% of her body weight. Her weight loss journey inspired millions.

Almost 16 years later, Michelle Aguilar-Whitehead’s life has changed dramatically since the reality show. She has married, and become a mother. Michelle no longer defines happiness based upon a number on the scale. Her faith and family are at the forefront of her life.

Michelle shares her story with I AM SECOND.


Training for Shamrock Half Marathon

The Girl's Got Sole - Shamrock Marathon weekend

I’m excited to announce that I’m running the Anthem Shamrock Half Marathon in Virginia Beach! The race will coincide with a BibRavePro Summit that weekend, which is going to be a great time.

There is five weeks until race day, and I’m beginning to feel great again with my training. I just ran and paced the 2020 DONNA Half Marathon last weekend (race recap coming soon), and I’ve got two 10k races coming up between now and the Shamrock Half Marathon.

My current plan is to run a 12 mile training run on March 14th, which is a week later than I’d like. However, I’ve got the Best Damn Race 10k on February 29th, and the Winter Park Road Race 10k on March 7th. While I could run an additional 6 miles before either of those races, I’d like to see what I can do pace-wise at both races. As long as I take the long training run easy, I will have 6 days to recover before the half marathon.

Meanwhile, I’m back working on my speed work again, as I did my first track workout in awhile last Thursday morning. Not sure how much improvement I can make on my half marathon time in five weeks, but I’m going to do my best! The track workouts will definitely make a difference the more I do them, I just need to be committed. 🙂

The Girl's Got Sole - Shamrock Marathon weekend

I’m excited about Shamrock Marathon weekend, and getting to meet a number of other BibRavePros next month! I’ve only met a few others at this point, and there will be a lot of us converging upon Virginia Beach! Much fun shall be had!

The Biggest Loser on USA

The Girl's Got Sole - The Biggest Loser reboot

Have you been watching return of The Biggest Loser on USA? Having been a viewer of the series since the original during the second season back in 2005, I was looking forward to seeing how things would be with the show since there hasn’t been a season since 2016.

So far, I am liking the new format. They kept the basic idea of the show, but dropped things like food temptations which I always thought were kind of mean. While yes, we all need to learn to get through temptations with food when you are going through a weight loss journey, some of the challenges were rough. I recall rooms full of junk food, and even some of the strongest people can get weak when faced with their favorite cookie or cake.

The Girl's Got Sole - The Biggest Loser reboot

My favorite part of the reboot is that Bob Harper is the host. He is super encouraging to every single contestant. The sit-down discussion he has with everyone is so important. Losing weight is not just about how to eat better and working out. It’s an emotional struggle. Sure, you can teach them how to eat healthy and workout, but if you don’t get to the core of the problem, why each person is overweight and unhealthy, it just won’t be a permanent change.

As someone who lost 80lbs back in 2009/2010, and kept it off, I understand how hard it is to not only drop the weight, but to keep it off. I recall dealing with a lot of body image issues after my weight loss. I thought that if I lost weight, and got skinnier, my life would be so much better. It is so much more than that. But, that too is a part of the journey. That’s why it’s a full-circle thing. You need to work on every part to be successful.

The Girl's Got Sole - The Biggest Loser reboot on USA

Loving seeing how much teamwork and support for one another there is this season on The Biggest Loser. Yes, there are two teams competing against one another at challenges and at the weigh-ins, but everyone encourages and motivates each other along the way. Feeling supported while working toward a goal is important. It keeps you working harder and harder to reach it.

As far as the weigh-in itself goes, I appreciate that there is a yellow line this time around. The team with the least weight loss sends home the contestant with the least weight loss. While that always stinks, it is much better than having to have them vote for who to send home. It takes that burden off. What I wish they changed however, is the women having to go up there in their sports bra, and the men having to take off their shirt. I suppose it’s to be able to see a visual representation of the weight loss as time goes on, but I am sure it’s not the most comfortable thing to do. Heck, I wouldn’t want to weigh in front of others in my sports bra now!

The Girl's Got Sole - The Biggest Loser reboot on USA

The two new trainers seem very inspiring. I like them both, but like Erica a bit more at this point. Having lost 150 pounds, she understands where the contestants are, she can relate to them in that way. The blue team trainer, Steve Cook hasn’t had weight loss struggles, but he has dealt with body image issues. Both trainers want the best for the contestants, and to put their overall health first, and aren’t so focused on being skinny.

The Biggest Loser is a reality show about weight loss, and that’s what it’s always been. But, I do think they have made improvements in the reboot. I’m hoping these contestants get the foundation for success at home that they need with the gym membership, their own nutritionist, and a local support group.



Have you been watching The Biggest Loser reboot? If so, what are your thoughts?

Race Recap: 2020 Lady Track Shack 5k

The Girl's Got Sole - Lady Track Shack 5k race recap

This morning, I ran my 2nd race of the year, the 2020 Lady Track Shack 5k. I haven’t run this race since 2016, and its a race I did miss doing. The race supports breast cancer survivors and benefits the AdventHealth Breast Cancer Care Fund, which help save the lives of women who cannot afford mammograms.

I met some of my runner friends before the race and we ran a couple of miles to warm up. Then, after an obligatory restroom stop, we headed over to the race start. There, we met some other friends and got ready to run the race. It was a rainy morning, and while it seemed to dry up during our initial two mile run, the rain picked back up not long after the race began.

The Girl's Got Sole - 2020 Lady Track Shack race recap

Some of the girls post-race

I felt good heading out of the start. Didn’t get to finish my 6amrun Marathon drink, so I was drinking it during the run. This was my second run trying out the new supplement. I’ve been impressed so far (also used it for a bike workout a few days prior), so I was hoping it would keep me going for the 5k.

By mile two, the rain was a bit harder coming down, but I didn’t let it bother me. The only thing that was slowing me down was the amount of runners/walkers on the course, and watching my footing during the brick road sections. The bricks are already a challenge, but when they are wet, extra care is important.

The Girl's Got Sole - Lady Track Shack 5k race recap

With friends, Colleen and Jackie.

While I had started the race with a couple of my runner friends, I sort of took off on my own and listened to music on my Aftershokz Aeropex headphones. Nothing like some TobyMac or Newsboys to get you moving! I was glad that I had the music, because when I’m running solo, it helps keep me motivated.

Seeing the finish line ahead, I sprinted toward it and crossed in 41:12. When I looked at my Garmin, I had negative splits. That made me happy. Splits were mile 1 – 13:30, mile 2 – 13:01, mile 3 – 12:40. So, while I know I can do better at my 5k time, this was good for me right now. It gives me motivation to beat that time for my next 5k. With my breathing issues calming back down (thank goodness), I can’t wait to get my pace back down in the coming months.

This is a fun 5k for the ladies, Yes, it a women-only race! I hope to run it again next year. Always a great time for a good cause!

The Girl's Got Sole - 2020 Lady Track Shack 5k

Orange Mud Ambassador

The Girl's Got Sole - Orange Mud Ambassador

I’m happy to announce that I’m now representing Orange Mud as a brand ambassador! I am a part of the 2020 Orange Mud Dirt Unit, which is what they call their ambassador team.

If you don’t know much about the Orange Mud brand, the company was founded on the premise of the hydration pack. Creator and founder Josh Sprague, created the first prototype for what would be the HydraQuiver pack in his garage. From that, Orange Mud was born! The company’s philosophy is to simply make the most efficient, well-crafted gear.

My first experience with Orange Mud was the Orange Mud HydraQuiver pack, then later the transition towel. What really made me love the gear was my recent experience with a pack I almost never run without, the Orange Mud Gear Vest Pro. I got to review it last year and I run all of my long runs with it. I haven’t gone back to a hydration belt since last May. It was a game-changer for me. And, the transition towel is my other favorite, never leaves my car (except to wash it).

They make awesome gear for runners, cyclists, hikers, and endurance athletes of all kinds. You can check out what they have to offer on their website. Use my discount code, F15SHANNONCHENOWETH to save 15% off! I look forward to a great year with the Orange Mud team! 🙂