Out with the Old, In with the New

New shoes are just so freakin’ awesome, am I right?!

I finally got my shoes today – the shoes I’ll be racing the Atlantic City Marathon in in just 17 days! I know I cut it close, maybe too close. I should have ordered them several weeks ago to allow enough break in time, but with money being a wee bit tight, they had to wait. But now my babies are here!

I was at the New Balance Store in East Windsor CT before they even opened. And because they were ordered and already paid for all I had to do was grab & go. Whew!

I decided to go with the same NB Vazee Pace sneaks that I ran Toronto in. They were a fantastic pair of shoes that carried me through the marathon without any calf cramping, blisters, or bloody toes. And, why mess with what I know works?

Until a couple of weeks ago I thought I could pull off a second marathon in the shoes. I’ve been trying to stretch dollars since we are planning to buy a house and figured if I took care of them I could get another 26.2 out of them.

It was going to work, but my regular trainers (NB Gobis) aren’t ideal for long runs, so I still had to train in the Paces. And the miles wracked up. But I’m small, so I didn’t think I was doing too much damage to the shoes. Then I started noticing some niggles. My quads would be sore after long runs. My shins started aching. I’d get cramps in the arches of my feet mid-run. It was clear that these shoes weren’t going with me to Atlantic City.

Using my store credit, I ordered the exact same make, model, size, and color. Ad then they took ten days to be shipped. Ten days. TEN FREAKIN DAYS! (Clearly I am very pampered by Amazon Prime’s 2 day shipping and have a hard time adjusting.) I suffered through and put one last 18 miler on the old shoes last weekend.

The new shoes, though the same, were amazingly shiny and springy. Wow! I had gotten so used to my older pair that I didn’t even know what I was missing. When I got them home I set them up next to the old pair for comparison. While the old pair is fairly dirty and dingy, I do think they are in pretty good shape for having gone 500 miles.

But, the closer I looked at the shoes, the more I realised the impact of those miles. The foam had obvious cracks and wrinkles and the sole had quite a wear pattern. (Apparently I’m a mid-foot striker with a little bit of a right heel drag.)

I also (because I’m weird and curious) weighed both the old and new shoes. The old shoes are over an ounce each. That’s how much dirt, grime, and foot yuck has built up in the shoes – and I wash them! Gross.

Looking at these old shoes next to their brand new counterpart tells me that I would not have had a successful marathon in them and only reinforces the need to replace them. 500 miles is quite a beating! But these old Vazees have served me well and I am thrilled to be heading into Atlantic City with some fresh Fresh Foam on my feet.

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Senita Review

In Toronto I lost my fuel in the first mile of the race. It all just fell right out of my shorts pocket, leaving me to finish the next 25 miles with only what the aid stations had to offer. It all turned out okay in the end, but it caused unnecessary anxiety. My Asics shorts, up until that moment, had been a trusty friend. But after a lot of wear, miles, and washes, the back pockets just weren’t elastic-y enough to keep anything in them anymore. So I started the hunt for new shorts, shorts with really good pockets.

In my quest for new shorts I’ve been looking into a lot of companies. I didn’t want to hit up the big guys again; I wanted to do business with a smaller, newer, made-in-America company. I wanted a business run by women. But I didn’t want to spend a lot, since I just don’t have a lot to spend at the moment. I wanted something different.

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Finishing up a long, hot, and sweaty 14 miler.

The algorithms over at Facebook were clearly watching my searching since various ads showed up in my newsfeed. Then Senita Athletics showed up. I browsed the comments sections (all positive, all glowing, all a little too good to be true). They kept showing up in my newsfeed. I checked out their site. They had pretty stuff. They had cheap stuff. I searched for other reviews. Everything was overwhelmingly positive. So, I figured why not. I placed an order for three items; a bra, shorts, and a headband (to put my order over $50 to get the free shipping). Then I waited. I got an email the next day saying my order had been shipped & to expect it in 5-7 business days. Cool. So I waited and obsessively checked the shipping link.

But my order never moved. The USPS site kept telling me that it was in “pre-shipment”, whatever that meant. So I waited the full 5 business days to give them a chance. Nothing. Great. I just knew it was too good to be true! I sent an email to ask where my stuff was. The customer service department got back to me right away , telling me tere was an issue fulfilling my order. The bra I had selected wasn’t available in my size in the color I had wanted and instead of notifying me it was stuck in limbo. So I picked a different color and my order was shipped out the same day. (And I got a coupon code as an apology for the delay). I got my stuff a day later.

I really didn’t have high hopes. I’ve gotten cheap stuff online before and while some of it has been okay, it’s never been as great as I had envisioned. How could $22 shorts from an unknown company be any better? All those glowing reviews were probably bots, or paid for, or from in-house anyway…

Let me tell you; this stuff that showed up in my mailbox was simply amazing! I was so excited tearing open those packages. The fabric is thick (read quality, not hot), luxurious, and soft. And the pockets! Oh my word, the pockets! At first I thought “no way is a phone going to fit in there”, but I was wrong. I can fit my phone AND it’s large bulky case in there! And as for racing fuel…I can easily fit it all in there plus extra with no fear of losing anything.

I went running in them right away. And then again the next day. And then I wore them on my Sunday long run. I love all of it. I can’t wait to buy more of it. And, at least so far, they hold up well in the wash; no colors fading, no lose strings or seams coming apart.

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I do have to say that while I can carry my phone in my shorts pocket, I don’t like to. It’s heavy & I can feel it. It’s actually kind of annoying. But then again, I hate, loathe, and despise carrying my phone anyway. It didn’t move at all during the run & I had no fear of losing or dropping it, so when I go to new places and am compelled to carry my phone, I will, but I’m not going to like it. If these types of things don’t bother you, then I think the phone-in-shorts thing will work just fine for you. (I cannot wear an arm band with my phone out of annoyance as well.)

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Rio Shorts, 3.75 inch inseam

I didn’t mind carrying the phone in the bra pocket. While I could feel it back there and it did take some getting used to, it didn’t hurt, bounce, or otherwise make me feel like I’d lose it. This bra will ALWAYS get packed when we go on vacation since I tend to get lost and need a map (or a ride back) and this will be the best way to carry it. Yes, it was even easy to get the phone in & out while wearing a shirt over the bra. Also, look at that print! It’s just super cute!

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Sarah Bra, Bahamas print

Check out these fabulous ladies at Senita Athletics. The two women that run the company have a great story. AND they use body positive models on their site. Everything about Senita is an A+!

(Note: This is an honest review of items I purchased. I was not approached by this company nor am I affiliated with them in any way.)

 

Dolfin Pack Review

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I’ve always had a difficult time figuring out how to hydrate myself on the run. Hydration belts never fit me right and slide around, causing pain, numbness, and chaffing. Hand-held water bottles have made my forearms cramp up and I usually toss them before I get too far. Until this past summer I’ve pretty much gone without.

I used a hydration back pack while training for my May marathon, but since it was mostly winter/early spring running, I was in long sleeves and mostly covered. As soon as it started warming up and my tank tops came out, I discovered some serious chaffing around my neck and shoulders from the straps. Not to mention how heavy the pack was. I opted not to run with it in the VT City Marathon, which ended up being a very bad idea. Record heat and humidity that day made for an extremely brutal race that ended up being canceled at the 4 hour mark. I suffered some serious dehydration and barely made it through the finish line on my feet.

Summer training with my pack wasn’t working out, so I went out in search of something lighter & smaller. That’s when I discovered the Dolfin Pack. I’ve only put a 115 miles on the thing, but I have to say, I love it! I purchased mine in August through their Website and it arrived in less than a week. I purchased this one in navy and lime green because at the time they were out of stock in the color I wanted, though they have lots of options. I bought the version 2 with the 1.5L reservoir, but I could have gone with the smaller one since I’ve never consumed more than a full liter on any runs. I wore mine during the Hartford Marathon and was glad I did. It helped me stay on pace and avoid the congestion at aid stations. It was certainly a life-saver during the prolonged summer that New England experienced this year!

Affordability: At $45, I found this pack to be extremely affordable. In fact, the cost of other brands and models is why I’d put off purchasing one for so long.                                             A+

Comfort: The continuous Velcro straps across the front are fully adjustable, so it can fit a fairly small person. My 7 year old son wore it when we went to Disney and it fit him well. It fits snuggly (on an adult) so there is no bouncing or chaffing. When I wear it, I cannot feel the pack at all. And because it fits so snuggly and the elastic straps are wrapped in neoprene, I’ve been able to wear it with tank tops (and topless!) without any issues whatsoever. (Honestly, I think that really is the best part about it.) Because it’s Velcro straps, there aren’t any dangling ends to deal with either.                                                          A+

Functionality: It is certainly designed for athletes. My husband who is 6’1″ & 270 lbs (not an athlete) tried to wear it on a bike ride and couldn’t get the straps across his chest. While I love that it fits me (an almost average sized female) and my kids, it might not fit larger men. The pack is also “no frills”. There are no pockets except for the main compartment for the reservoir. While I can fit my phone and a granola bar or a few gels in there, they aren’t easy to access while moving, which meant I had to find a different way to carry my fuel. That was kind of a bummer since I was trying to avoid any waist belts. But, the lightness of the pack certainly makes up for the lack of pockets. I’m still attempting to devise a way to add a small pocket to mine.                                                                                     B-

Overall, this is a fantastic piece of running equipment that I would highly recommend, especially if you are a female athlete or a minimalist runner who doesn’t need much aside from water. It’s comfortable. It’s affordable. It’s functional. I’d say it’s a winner!

Disclosure of Material Connection: I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the brands, products, or services that I have mentioned. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”