Nov 29, 2016

A Giveaway for Giving - Donate to Sophie and Madigan's Playground

Today is Giving Tuesday (as I write this), so I'm sharing with you a way I'm helping to give, and a way you can give to others. I recently announced that for the Dopey Challenge at Walt Disney World this January, I'll be running for a charity: Sophie and Madigan's Playground. When I announced my working with the charity, I offered up some additional reasons to donate, some perks for your donations. I also mentioned that I was working on a giveaway. I'm happy to now share that giveaway with you.

A quick bit about the charity

Sophie and Madigan's Playground is a 501(c)(3) charitable organization created to honor the lives of Sophie and Madigan Lillard. Their mission is an uplifting one, but not without a heartbreaking background.
On January 31, 2013, the Lillard family of Myersville, Maryland was struck by unthinkable tragedy when a horrific house fire claimed the lives of their daughters Sophie and Madigan, killed the family's four pets, destroyed their home and virtually all the family's possessions, and hospitalized the surviving family members.

As Sophie and Madigan's parents struggled to cope with the loss of their daughters, they looked for a way to honor the memory of Sophie and Madigan and pay tribute to the joy Sophie and Madigan brought their family and friends during their too short lives.

Having lost all their possessions, the Lillards were left with no physical reminders of Sophie and Madigan...none of the toys Madigan and Sophie played with, the clothes they wore, their hand drawn pictures and art projects, their favorite books, handmade jewelry...the list goes on and on. The Lillards were struck by the harsh reminder of how important memories are, especially those memories that a family creates together.

At the same time the Lillards were coping with this horrible loss, they were touched by the outpouring of support provided by the greater Frederick County, Maryland community that was rocked by the tragedy.

The Lillards realized that by creating a memorial park and themed playground, they could create a place that honors Sophie and Madigan in a way that reflects their personalities and spirits, while at the same time provide the community with a place where children and their families could build memories together that last a lifetime.

The Lillards created Sophie and Madigan's Playground in June 2013 to honor the lives of Sophie and Madigan by providing opportunities for children and their families to play, learn, and create lifelong memories together.
Having two children of my own makes the mission of this charity personal to me. I think giving other children and families happiness is a great way to honor the memory of Sophie and Madigan.

The Fundraising

In racing for Sophie and Madigan's Playground, I have a fundraising goal for $1,100. You can help by donating on my runner page. While the good this money will do for the mission of the organization is reason enough to donate, I'm going to offer you additional incentives, in a Kickstarter "perks"-like fashion. Based on levels you donate, I'm going to offer you some extra rewards as my personal thank you.

Every $5 == Giveaway Entry
First and foremost, I'm offering a giveaway to any donors of at least $5. For each $5 you donate, you'll earn an entry for a giveaway package, to be drawn in conjunction with Walt Disney World Marathon weekend. That means $5 gets you 1 entry, $10 gets you 2, and so on (maths people). Here's what you can win so far:


BibRave Trucker Hat + BibRave Tattoos
I'll start you off with the first items donated to me, from the team at BibRave. As you know, I'm an ambassador for BibRave and BibChat as a BibRavePro. I've had a lot of great opportunities teaming up with this fantastic group of people. They were the first to offer up items for my raffle. Thanks to the BibRave team, you can be sporting this awesome BibRave Trucker Hat as well as some BibRave temporary tattoos. (Image from https://squareup.com/market/bibrave/item/bibrave-trucker-hat-limited)


XX2i Gift Certificates
Next up, one of my favorite brands, which you've seen featured many times on this blog: XX2i. This awesome eyewear brand has given me several gift certificates good for a free pair of sunglasses of your choice! Pick the frame and color you want most. Since I have several of these, I may use some as early giveaways as we build towards our giveaways, so the earlier you donate, the more chances you'll have to win a pair. You could choose from many that I've written about (shown below): France1, USA1 (my wife's favorite), Bermuda1, Australia1 (my goto running glasses), Brazil1 (my goto everyday), or one of the frames I haven't personally tried out yet.



AfterShokz Trekz Titanium
Another of my favorite products that I use almost every run are my AfterShokz headphones. I love these headphones because they give me my music (without wires) on my run but also keep me safe with their unique, advanced, open ear design. You can read my full thoughts from my review written earlier this year but the tl;dr version is best way to have your music without compromising your safety. AfterShokz has provided me a pair to give away to you, in the same color I rock regularly: Ivy (green / black). Plus, they're bluetooth, so if you have a phone that ditched the headphone jack, they've got your back.


The Square: Clean Bottle
The next product I have for you is pretty unique in that you can't currently buy it, only back it on Kickstarter. It's The Square. It's a large, 32 oz bottle. It's square, so it won't go anywhere if it falls. It's got a convenient handle built into the top. Plus, one of my favorite features, the bottom also screws off for easy cleaning. I hate trying to get the bottle of a water bottle clean. It's even BPA-free and comes with a lifetime guarantee. You can win one here with your donations to Sophie and Madigan's Playground or go back the Kickstarter right now. Or do both. (Image from https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1793909617/the-square-bottle-32oz)


Donated by Me:

Nuun
I wanted to throw in a couple items myself to the raffle, to share with you more of what I love. To start, I'm going to throw in some of my hydration of choice: Nuun. I'll be giving you an assortment of 4 different tubes, including a tube from my stash of can't be bought Kona Cola. I'll also throw in an individually packaged trial of Plus for Nuun, great for adding some carbs to your hydration for your longer runs.


Walt Disney World Mystery Item
Lastly, I'll be giving you a little something from the Disney Parks. While I'm in the magical happy place of Walt Disney World for the races, I'll also pick up one last item to add into the raffle. What will it be? You'll have to wait to find out.


Want to win? Go donate now!

The Other Perks

I've already written all about the perks you can get for your donation. These are little ways for me to say thank you to everyone, since only one person can win the big giveaway. Below is the quick version, or read the full post.

$1: Website Thank You
Every donation will come with a heartfelt thank you on my website.

$10: Social Media Shoutout
The next reward is also electronic, but I'll shout my thanks to the internet beyond my site and into the world of Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and even reddit if I need to!

$25: Disney Trading Pin
I'm going to offer you one of my own assorted pins, as a thank you for a donation of $25.

$40: Postcard from Walt Disney World
For the next level of donation, I'm going to offer you one fun bit of mail, a postcard direct from Walt Disney World, sent with my personal handwritten thanks.

$150: Pick a Race Costume (first 2 donors)
One thing I love about runDisney is the number of race costumes. For this perk, you pick what my costume will be and I'll find a way to make it work. This offer is up for grabs for up to 2 people who donate at least $150. Of course, I'll also throw in ALL the other perks above and plenty of thanks (and photographic evidence!).

How to Donate

Donating is easier than obtaining a FastPass for Frozen: Ever After! All you need to do is head over to my runner's page and selecting "Sponsor Me". Then, all you have to do is fill out your information and decide how much you want to donate. Submit and you're done! You've helped me and, more importantly, you've helped out Sophie and Madigan's Playground.

Now, some of my perks require me sending you a little something or needing your social media account. So, for all of these, you'll need to drop me a line. You can choose to send me a message via Twitter, Facebook, or an email via john at rungeekrundisney.com. Since I don't control the page you donate through, this is the easiest way to ensure I get your information.

Thank you for reading all the way through and thank you so much to all of you who donate!



UPDATE: I'm also linking up with Running with SD Mom and Erica Finds for the Wednesday Giveaway Round Up, so go check out their other giveaways for chances to win.


Nov 26, 2016

Down Under: AERODAKS Running Briefs Review | BibRavePro

Disclaimer: I received the AERODAKS Running Briefs to review as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador, tell them I sent you), and check out BibRave.com to review find and write race reviews!

Ok, this post is going to have some straight shooting talk. We're going to need to approach a topic you don't often engage in. We're going downtown, we're talking underwear. More specifically: running underwear. Everything else you wear for running is specialized: your shirt, your shoes, your shorts and tights, your socks, even your hat and your sunglasses, but what about your underwear? Everything deserves that high level of attention. Everything.

What do you have for me and the boys?

AERODAKS design
AERODAKS are underwear engineered for running comfort. The idea was born by a co-founder while running the Ultra Trail 100 race in Australia and wanting something he couldn't find: "Briefs that are actually comfortable to run with and keeps you dry and reduces chafing. Briefs that are actually made for running." They've worked to create an ergonomic design with micro-mesh fabric to make a unique product designed specifically for running. The fabric is breathable, moisture wicking, quick drying, and durable. The design is comfortable, with no side seams, an adjustable drawstring and double mesh (where it counts).
(Image courtesy of https://www.aerodaks.com/about)

Ground level

I want to start by laying out the ground level for me. For starters, I'm traditionally a boxer briefs guy, in my daily life and for running. I use athletic ones for running, but nothing actually design for or by runners. Second, I'm a bigger guy. I'm not your "traditional" runner build. I'm not saying I'm huge, but I'm not saying I'm in shape and just not a "normal" runner. I'm need to (and am working on) losing weight. But I am who I am. My body type just does play into testing something such as this product more than other products. I felt important to set this understanding first.

How do they feel?

While I'm not going to be switching away from my daily boxer briefs, trying these running briefs on were comfortable. They're very lightweight and breathable with a comfy fit. All the marketing about the fabric and the design holds up in the fit. Even being on the top end of the sizes the offer, they still fit me comfortably.


For my running, I actually had two different results. First, I ran with them in a more traditional outfit, under my running shorts. On that run, the underwear themselves performed well. They were comfortable, kept everything in place, and breathed well. While the underwear performed well, things weren't all perfect. Unfortunately, something you often have to deal with as a bigger runner is rubbing, and then the possibility of chafing. However, my thighs were not so lucky. I wear some looser shorts, so with just the briefs, there was some rubbing of my legs together. Now, it didn't get to the level of chafing, but had that potential. Now, just to reiterate, where the underwear was concerned, zero chafing.

This was a little bit of a let down, because the product themselves worked well, but in this case, they just didn't seem to work for me. As fate out have it, some cooler weather presented me with another option to test out, which i hadn't fully thought of on my own. On another run, I wore my AERODAKS running briefs in conjunction with my 2XU Elite MCS Compression Tights. You see, one of my pain points when wearing tights is that the boxer briefs are a little uncomfortable underneath. It's always chore to get them on without bunching at the bottom a little and other small annoyances. However, while I can acknowledge that going commando in tights is a legitimate option, I just can't bring myself to do so. Enter the AERODAKS. When paired with my tights on the run, I had an all around good experience. The underwear breathe, move with me, and keep everything where it should be. With the tights covering the areas outside the realm of the underwear, there was no other friction to cause discomfort, for an all around great feeling run. I found the way in which these underwear would work for me.

The Takeaway

I can say that I'm on who's never put much thought into my running underwear. I thought enough to pick some "athletic underwear" from the store, and it worked well enough so I just went with it. My experience with these running briefs shows me the value in paying attention here as well. Sure, when you are just out on a random Tuesday run, any "tech" shirt will do, but when you're running 13.1 miles on race day, you pick your high quality gear. Why doesn't a very important are get that same attention? While the briefs are not for me all the time, these will be getting a lot of use (with washes in between of course) all winter when I run in my compression and thermal tights. I do prefer these over my boxer briefs in this case and solves an annoyance I already had but never addressed. Despite being a big guy, the briefs still worked out for me. I would like to see what they could do if they put their attention to making some boxer briefs, but their story was about solving their need, which in turn solved one of mine. Don't over look this area any longer when it comes to gearing up.

#bibchat

This week's #bibchat will of course feature AERODAKS. Stop by on Tuesday, November 29th at 9pm EST to join in the good times that is bibchat. Interact with the team, with other BibRavePros, and all the other like minded runners that participate each week. You can plan on a giveaway as we always do, so there's always that added bonus for showing up.

Do you have special runderwear? What do you wear?



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Ok, I tried to be mature, but all post I fought back using Austin Powers euphemisms, so I have to at least leave you with a gif (AERODAKS NOT pictured below)



Nov 20, 2016

Styling and Profiling: XX2i Brazil1 Review | BibRavePro

Disclaimer: I received the XX2i Brazil1 sunglasses to review as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador, tell them I sent you), and check out BibRave.com to review find and write race reviews!

If you're familiar with my blog, you know how I love me some sunglasses. You'll also know my brand of choice is XX2i. As a BibRavePro, I've had the lucky opportunity to review several pairs of their sunglasses: the France1, USA1, Australia1, and the Bermuda1. I recently received a new pair from their line of casual sunglasses to put to the test, the Brazil1. Read on to find out how these new frames stood up to the test.


So, what are these glasses?

The Brazil1 is from the line of casual glasses from XX2i. They first made fantastic performance sunglasses (see: France1USA1Australia1). Then, they took that same technology and materials and applied them to sleek and stylish designs for your everyday wear. The Brazil1 gives you a sleek and simple frame with just the right touches to make it stand out. Here's how they describe them:
With its extremely versatile and stylish frame, the Brazil1 is sure to be the first casual sunglass you grab as you’re headed out the door. Decorated with small silver accents and a unique keyhole shaped nosepiece, the Brazil1 turns head with sleek lines and simplicity. Available in Matte Black, Matte Tortoise, White & Black, and Crystal Black, the Brazil1’s classic color combinations make it a standout piece without speaking too loud. Using the same advanced materials as XX2i’s performance models, the Brazil1 comes standard with polarized lenses that employ 8K optical technology, ensuring the utmost frame durability and lens clarity. All XX2i shades come with a 365 day money back guarantee and a lifetime frame and lens warranty. Learn more at www.xx2i.com

How do they feel?

I like everything about this frame. The shape of the frame fits me really well and wears comfortably. I like how the shape looks on my face, and is very much a style I like. I received the Matte Black, which is my go to choice for sunglasses. I love how they look with the little touch of silver, giving them just a little something. The frame feels like but still sturdy. I don't feel a worry they're going to break. Well, I worry I might break them, but at my fault, not theirs (luckily, the lifetime, no questions asked warranty quells any worry I may have). I also can't say enough about their lenses. They call them their "8K optical technology" and whatever they do, they look fantastic. The world just looks nicer with them on, haha.

Now, I did mention that they fit my face just right. While the performance line has adjustable temple tips and adjustable nose pads, the casual line does not. My wife like the look of these glasses, and loved the lenses, but on her face, the bridge and top of the frame just didn't fit her right. They were not quite comfortable (I could tell she wanted them to fit well so she could steal them though). Luckily, they also offer a 365 day money back guarantee, so if she had bought them, she'd still be alright.


I put these glasses through their paces, first out and about in Virginia. I used them for driving to and from work, out on walks, bright and not so bright days, and they worked great. Then, I recently took a week long trip to Florida (Walt Disney World, to be precise) and used these glasses every day. The Florida sun was no match for these glasses. I was also able to throw the zip case in my backpack to store them in and the soft microfiber bag in my pocket for quick on and offs (and many cleanings of the two year old's fingerprints). I even wore them for most of the 12 hour drive back home. The whole trip they were comfortable, did their job as sunglasses should protecting my eyes, and frankly, I feel they just look good (which is really the second most important job for sunglasses.

Special Sale (Limited Time)

For a very limited time, you can save 60% off the MSRP of $99.99 with limited discount code: BRAZIL1. The code is valid only from now till midnight Tuesday (November 22nd), so act now to save. That's HUGE savings off these great glasses that really are worth every penny. You may be cool now, but are you "two year old in sunglasses" cool? Don't forget, that comes with the tank protector case (perfect for a less gentle person or parent with a destructo kid), a soft carrying bag (that is microfiber and therefore doubles as a lens cleaner), free U.S. shipping, the 365 money back guarantee, as well as the no questions asked lifetime warranty.

The Takeaway

These glasses are now my go to pair for everyday wear. I feel good in them, they look great, and the lenses are awesome. While I'm not one to mind wearing performance sunglasses all the time, it's nice to have a separate pair for just that purpose. These sunglasses give me that everyday wearable pair that add that little bit that only a good pair of sunglasses can.

#bibchat

This week's #bibchat will of course feature XX2i. Stop by on Tuesday, November 22nd at 9pm EST to join in the good times that is bibchat. Interact with the XX2i team, with other BibRavePros, and all the other like minded runners that participate each week. You can plan on a giveaway of these great glasses, as always, so there's always that added bonus.

What's your go to sunglasses?


Nov 6, 2016

Right on the Tight: LEGEND Compression Performance Socks Review | BibRavePro

Disclaimer: I received the LEGEND Compression Performance Socks to review as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador, tell them I sent you), and check out BibRave.com to review find and write race reviews!

As runners, our most important parts are our legs and are feet. Not coincidentally, those are the areas that get the sorest AND also need the most recovery. One thing I've always loved for both are compression socks. So when the opportunity arose to test out a new brand, I'm jumped at the opportunity to sock it up.


Who's the LEGEND?

LEGEND Compression Performance Socks are socks designed to "enhance power and endurance while supporting the shin, ankle, achilles, calf and arch of the foot." Now, in today's running work, a lot of companies make some form of compression sock. Not all socks are created equal. What makes LEGEND Compression Wear different is that the team has pulled from years of experience with medical grade compression products. They've applied that knowledge here to create a graduated compression product.

How do they feel?

I really liked the feeling of these particular socks. I like a good tight compression feeling. When I first received these, they touted them as #rightnottight, which made me wonder if they would be as firm of a compression as I've found I like. I have to say with these, I was not disappointed. They have a good firm compression on my calf muscle, without being overbearing. I also liked the band around the middle of the foot that provide a little bit of compression but also held the sock nicely in place. They offer "15-20 mmHg level of graduated compression", though I don't know exactly what that means, that level of compression feels good in my book.

When selecting my pair, I used their sizing guide, which to me fit true. I'm often on that border between L and XL for socks like this, and XL / XXL for other times, so finding the right fit for me is something I'm used to considering. The large pair fit my feet and calves just right.

I do want to share one little thing that was a welcome change. While the compression was just as tight as others I like, they were significantly easier to get on my foot and over my heal. That is one thing that bothers me so much about these kinds of socks, some are just a trial to get them on your foot, and then back off. This suffered from no such problem while not loosing any compression. Whatever they did, keep doing it.

I gave these a try both out on a run and back around the house for recovery. While I like compression on my longer runs (maybe somewhere after the 5 mile mark I almost always do), I always love compression for recovery. On the run, the were comfortable, the tops stayed up and the bottoms stayed in place. Pretty much everything you want in socks. They also performed just as well for recovery. Where it is from the pounding of a run, the workout of a cross training day, or just too many hours in a car, these socks felt good on my legs and helped them feel better, faster than they otherwise would. Sometimes my wife laughs at me when I'm wearing them around in the evening, but they feel good, so I'm not bothered by it.

The Takeaway

I'm a person that loves compression. That means for good compression, I may like a lot of brands. But I'm also a little more critical of what I'd call "good compression". These definitely fall into that category. Their team's strong background in medical compression technology seems evident in its design, but it is a great runner's product. Comfy, easy to get on, and still a snug fit makes for a great pair of socks in my book. That is precisely what the LEGEN Compression Performance Socks are.

SAVE!

Want a pair for yourself? You can save 15% at LEGEND Compression Wear with the code bibsave15. Just enter the code at checkout. Perfect to gift yourself a little something or some early shopping for Christmas.

More Reviews

You don't have to just take my word on it. See what my fellow BibRavePros have to say about it.

NoraHaleyChrisCaseyJanelleJenBrieBrad

#bibchat

This week's #bibchat will be featuring LEGEND Compression Wear. Stop by on Tuesday, November 8th at 9pm EST to join in the good times that is bibchat. Interact with the LEGEND team, with other legendary BibRavePros (see what I did there?), and all the other like minded runners that participate each week. Plus, you can always count on a giveaway on BibChat. All you have to do to win is participate.

Do you run in compression? What about recovery?

Oct 30, 2016

Put Me In, Coach! Ekiden Coaching Review | BibRavePro

Disclaimer: I received the 6 weeks training with Ekiden Coaching to review as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador, tell them I sent you), and check out BibRave.com to review find and write race reviews!

As a runner, I've been fully self taught. Now, I've done a lot of research and a lot of reading to make sure I'm doing things right, but I've never worked with anyone on my technique, or my training, or what I can be doing to get better. I've thought many times about having a coach, but have never worked with one. That is, until I recently got the chance to work with my own running coach Jenny from Ekiden Coaching.

Who is Ekiden Coaching?

Ekiden Coaching is a new name in coaching, looking to "bring a great human coaching experience to every athlete, not just a training plan". It was born from a conversation among friends: Peter Duyan, Brett Rivers, Eric Edelson and Mario Fraioli. They're bringing together coaches and athletes with "intuitive digital tools" and a passion to help every athlete reach their goals, regardless of age, ability or experience level.

What is the process like?

I was given the opportunity to try out a free 6 week session. The process started with a questionnaire about my abilities, my goals, and how I like to train. This was used as a starting point to match me with a coach and set some starting plans out. After being paired with a coach (Jenny M.) we looked to set up a time to chat more personally about my goals. We were having some time getting this to work, so instead I ended up laying out my hopes of what I wanted to get out of training. I expressed a desire to try and balance weight loss with my race training through "other" activities in addition to weekly runs. This was a perfect fit for my coach, who loves to use a lot of cross training in her plans. I also talked with her about how my biggest problem is consistency, and that I could really use a proactive coach, checking in to make sure if I haven't tracked a work out that I get it in before the day is done.

Since Ekiden is looking to connect coaches and athletes across a digital world, they need good digital tools. From what I see (putting on my developer hat from my day job) they have a really great base in their tools. They're online site works great on my computer as well as my phone (Android). It provides two features: Messages (for chatting with your coach) and Planned Training (with your training plan, duh). The messages is simple and straight forward. A nice added piece is text integration. When your coach messages you, you also receive it as a text message. You can then reply to the text, and it will appear in the app, or you can hop into the web app and reply there. The training plan section provides you a week by week view of your training, with each day able to provide as much information as your coach needs or wants to provide. In addition,, you're able to connect your Strava account so your workouts tracked their can be match against your training plan in their app. This is a great touch to show if you've completed or missed a workout. You also receive text reminders of workouts, which I appreciated, though I didn't seem to always receive these.

What was it like working with a coach?

Having never worked with a coach before, this was a new experience for me. While my training plans from Jeff Galloway (free via the runDisney site) have worked well for me training, I loved having a well rounded plan beyond running. It was also great to have someone who could adjust it, such as when my wife was away for the weekend, so running wasn't much of an option with my two kids as I only have a single, not double, running stroller. I really liked the options and suggestions she gave me for cross training, both options for home and for at the gym I use at my work. Running a 5 mile race? Well that will be our Saturday mileage and we'll work around that.

Since I was starting my 6 weeks when the opportunity came up, it was a little awkward in that I was already part way into a training plan and the 6 weeks would not make it all the way to my goal race: the Dopey Challenge (which I am running for charity, please donate). This situation made it different from what you otherwise may do with a coach. Needing to work her plan with plan I started made for some small challenges, but I think also helped her see what I was used to. I would really enjoy being able to work with a coach from the beginning, instead of trying to jump in part way through.

What can be improved?

While I enjoyed my experience, there are some areas I feel could be improved. They do consider themselves in beta, which in technical terms, means they're in their early stages and looking to improve and streamline their idea (sorry, developer hat again). My first issue was in communication. I frankly would have liked more of it. This is more of a coach issue than their program, but I felt sometimes there was too long of a time before I'd hear back from her (a day or two). In addition, I expressed interest in some proactive help in "encouraging" me to get my workouts in, but that never really happened. Now, after later looking over their plans, they offer a personal plan, which includes weekly check in or a Plus, that includes regular check in. Sounds like what I wanted would more be a Plus option, though it would have been nice if she had made that more clear to me when I expressed that up front.

Another issue that was likely just do to the unusual situation with my testing was that my plan was never more than a week ahead. This was troublesome to me and I like to see the plan farther out, especially for in adjustments are needed, but also so i can better plan my hectic life of our family of four. If I were to work with a coach in the future, I would want a full plan with at least the framework laid out for a longer time period that maybe we reevaluate on a week by week basis.

I made mention to the text reminders that I loved, but didn't always receive. Obviously, just resolving any small technical issues, I'd love to see this packaged as an app for the phone with push notifications. In today's world (and judging by their design) I'm sure this is on their roadmap. While I love the Strava integration, I'd love to be able to better track in app manually if I'd like. That way it's easier to see that I did run, but only 12 miles instead of 14 or put feedback in directly against a workout. Otherwise it has to go in my notes in Strava they have to look at, or in the chat, which is then disconnected from the training. I like the auto so I don't need to track in yet another place, but there are times when I'd like the option to at least add to it.

The Takeaway

Overall, I really enjoyed my first experience with a coach. I'd love to do it again for a future race, but right now personal budget doesn't fit it in. Their plans seem really reasonable for what you get. They offer both the personal and plus options I mentioned previously. The personal is just $59 / month, but you can save more by signing up for more than one month at a time. I'm big on leveraging digital tools for things that are traditionally done "in person" so I'm on board with digital training with a real coach on the other end of the web. I still need that interaction with the person regularly for it to work for me. This may not work for everyone, to not be "seeing" your coach in person regularly, so you have to see what will work for you. I do believe I'd use Ekiden again for a future race, and instead of jumping in from the middle, work with them from start to finish line. My desire to use them again is about the best endorsement I could really give.

Do you work with a coach? What is the most valuable part to you?

Oct 17, 2016

Running for Play - Donate to Sophie and Madigan's Playground

I announced some time ago that I'd be running the Dopey Challenge this year. When I decided I was going to run this four race challenge, I also decided I wanted to try and make a difference by running for a charity. When looking over the charities partnering with runDisney during the Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend, I found one that felt personal to me: Sophie and Madigan's Playground.

What's the charity all about?

Sophie and Madigan's Playground is a 501(c)(3) charitable organization created to honor the lives of Sophie and Madigan Lillard. Their mission is an uplifting one, but not without a heartbreaking background.
On January 31, 2013, the Lillard family of Myersville, Maryland was struck by unthinkable tragedy when a horrific house fire claimed the lives of their daughters Sophie and Madigan, killed the family's four pets, destroyed their home and virtually all the family's possessions, and hospitalized the surviving family members.

As Sophie and Madigan's parents struggled to cope with the loss of their daughters, they looked for a way to honor the memory of Sophie and Madigan and pay tribute to the joy Sophie and Madigan brought their family and friends during their too short lives.

Having lost all their possessions, the Lillards were left with no physical reminders of Sophie and Madigan...none of the toys Madigan and Sophie played with, the clothes they wore, their hand drawn pictures and art projects, their favorite books, handmade jewelry...the list goes on and on. The Lillards were struck by the harsh reminder of how important memories are, especially those memories that a family creates together.

At the same time the Lillards were coping with this horrible loss, they were touched by the outpouring of support provided by the greater Frederick County, Maryland community that was rocked by the tragedy.

The Lillards realized that by creating a memorial park and themed playground, they could create a place that honors Sophie and Madigan in a way that reflects their personalities and spirits, while at the same time provide the community with a place where children and their families could build memories together that last a lifetime.

The Lillards created Sophie and Madigan's Playground in June 2013 to honor the lives of Sophie and Madigan by providing opportunities for children and their families to play, learn, and create lifelong memories together.
Having two children of my own makes the mission of this charity personal to me. I think giving other children and families happiness is a great way to honor the memory of Sophie and Madigan.

The Fundraising

In racing for Sophie and Madigan's Playground, I have a fundraising goal for $1,100. You can help by donating on my runner page. While the good this money will do for the mission of the organization is reason enough to donate, I'm going to offer you additional incentives, in a Kickstarter "perks"-like fashion. Based on levels you donate, I'm going to offer you some extra rewards as my personal thank you.


Every $5 == Giveaway Entry
First and foremost, I'm offering a giveaway to any donors of at least $5. For each $5 you donate, you'll earn an entry for a giveaway package, to be drawn in conjunction with Walt Disney World Marathon weekend. That means $5 gets you 1 entry, $10 gets you 2, and so on (maths people). I'm still reaching out to some brands, but I'll be giving away a combination of items donated by companies and ones donated by myself. I am hoping to have some goods from many of my favorite brands to share with you, plus a little something from Disney, to put together the best giveaway I can. But even if you don't win, you'll have helped Sophie and Madigan's Playground, so that is a guaranteed win.

$1: Website Thank You
Every donation will come with a heartfelt thank you on my website. A little electronic piece of long lasting thanks in 1's and 0's. An electronic monument to your generosity. A little corner of the internet that says "All these people here are good people helping others". Who doesn't want that?

$10: Social Media Shoutout
The next reward is also electronic, but I'll shout my thanks to the internet beyond my site and into the world of Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and even reddit if I need to! I'll tell the world of your good deeds and of my gratitude, shouting from an electronic rooftop with @'s and #'s and missing punctuation in order to stay below arbitrary character limits.

$25: Disney Trading Pin
One fun thing I love about Disney is all the trading pins they have. I love collecting pins for Disney hotels I stay at, ones with my favorite character (Goofy), and attractions I love. When you have Disney Trading Pins on property, you can actually trade pins with cast members throughout the parks and resorts (hence the use of "trading" in trading pin). You can take any pin of yours that you're willing to part with and trade for any pin from the cast member. I'm going to offer you one of my own assorted pins, as a thank you for a donation of $25.

$40: Postcard from Walt Disney World
Who doesn't love getting mail? Well, real mail, not junk mail and bills and 95% of the crap you actually get in the mail. For the next level of donation, I'm going to offer you one fun bit of mail, a postcard direct from Walt Disney World, sent with my personal handwritten thanks. Mail, fun. Postcard, fun. Mail and Postcard from Disney, FUN. (Wife interjecting here, since he asked me to proofread this....there is *no* guarantee you will be able to read said postcard! xoxo)

$150: Pick a Race Costume (first 2 donors)
One thing I love about runDisney is the number of race costumes. Yes, other races have people who dress up to race, but not to the same extent and fevor of those at runDisney races. I plan to dress in some version of a costume for all 4 races. Granted, longer races require less "costume" and more "inspired by" or Disney-bounding style outfits, but I still plan to do all that I can do. I'm going to offer up this to any potential big donors: you can have the opportunity to pick who I race as for a race. The preference is, of course, to do Disney first, but exceptions can be made. You pick what my costume will be and I'll find a way to make it work. That means I will pick the actual outfit for what works for me, meets the race guidelines, and in good taste (that does not mean no princesses, just that I'm not running in a bikini). Not sure what to choose? I'll gladly throw out some options as idea starters, as I keep a running list of ideas. This offer is up for grabs for up to 2 people who donate at least $150. Of course, I'll also throw in ALL the other perks above and plenty of thanks (and photographic evidence!).

I've listed the rewards here in increasing value, but they do stack. That means if you donate enough for a postcard for yours truly, I'll also send you a pin, call you out on social media, and list you here on the blog. This is about showing my thanks to you and hoping you'll consider to donate to this great charity.

How to Donate

Donating is easier than obtaining a FastPass for Frozen: Ever After! All you need to do is head over to my runner's page and selecting "Sponsor Me". Then, all you have to do is fill out your information and decide how much you want to donate. Submit and you're done! You've helped me and, more importantly, you've helped out Sophie and Madigan's Playground.

Now, some of my perks require me sending you a little something or needing your social media account. So, for all of these, you'll need to drop me a line. You can choose to send me a message via Twitter, Facebook, or an email via john at rungeekrundisney.com. Since I don't control the page you donate through, this is the easiest way to ensure I get your information.

Thank you for reading all the way through and thank you so much to all of you who donate!


Oct 10, 2016

Fast Lane 101 | Jeff Galloway

As a member of the Jeff Galloway Blogger Program, I'm given great information from the man himself to share with you. It's always a joy to read what he has to say and to share it with you. This time, Jeff's sharing you some tips to run in the fast lane!


By Olympian Jeff Galloway

Neighborhood tracks are the most convenient place to run for most.  Whether you're taking your first steps or wanting to improve your time, it's easy to check your pace by timing each lap. Because I've spoken to many runners who mistakenly feel that they are not fast enough to run at the local oval, here are a few simple guidelines:

What is the distance of a lap? Standard distance is 400 meters (@ .25 mile).

In which direction should I run? In most cases, run counterclockwise.  A few tracks alternate direction from day to day,  so follow the direction of the other runners.

What lane should I use when running slow or walking? The inside 3 lanes are reserved for faster runners and those doing speed workouts.  Most runners should use the 2 outside lanes.

How do I pass slower runners? Assuming a normal, counterclockwise pattern, move to the right to pass, with a smile.

Is it OK for kids to ride bikes and skate on the track? This is not a good idea.  Try to find another place near the track for these activities.

Do I have to pay to use a track? Most tracks are free, but the hours of use may be restricted by the school.

Can I run on the track with an iPod? This is up to you but be aware of your surroundings and possible threats or faster runners coming up behind you.  Keep one ear uncovered.

Do I need special shoes? No—you can use the same shoe for road, track or fitness trail—unless you are a competitor doing very fast speedwork.

Are there any times that I should not use the track? If there is a track meet or organized track practice by the local team, find another running area.  Some track teams allow recreational runners to use the outside lane during their workouts.

Say What?

Repeats—These are the fast segments during a speed workout.  Each repeat (usually about 3-5% of the distance of the goal event) is run slightly faster than goal race pace, followed by a rest interval of  walking or slow jogging.  Through a series of workouts, the number of repetitions gradually increases. 

The Fix

I always lose count of how many times I’ve run around the track! How can I keep track of it better?  Office supply stores sell “counters” that keep track of the number of laps as you click each time you finish a lap.  Another method: time yourself for the first 2 laps, for two laps in the middle and 2 laps at the end.  Compute an average of the lap times.  You can compute the number of laps by dividing the total time run by the average time per lap.

The Excuse

There are lots of fast-looking people at my track; I’m scared I’ll get in their way.  The inside lanes are for faster runners.  If you run in the outside lane, you will not get in their way.

Don’t miss out on this opportunity to complete the First Annual Double G!

The first 400 participants who register for the Double G will receive a JG-branded puffer vest! If you are one of the lucky 400, you will be able to pick up your vest at the Expo.

The Double G includes:
 • Barb’s 5K (Saturday, December 10, 2016)
 • JG 13.1 (Sunday, December 11, 2016)
 • 3rd medal for completing both races
* The Double G is only for those who participate in the actual races in Atlanta. It does not apply to the virtual option.


Note: Olympian Jeff Galloway has coached hundreds of thousands of runners to their goals.  For more information, see his books GALLOWAY TRAINING PROGRAMS and MARATHON—you can do it!  Ask Jeff a question at www.JeffGalloway.com

Do you run on a track? How do you like it?