Thursday, May 26, 2016

May Runfessions

It's the last Friday of the month! You know what that means...it's time for another edition of Runfessions, where we runners "runfess" all of our running- and fitness-related indiscretions during the month. It's time to wipe the fitness slate clean, so to speak.

Before I continue, I'm linking up with Marcia's Runfessions link up over at Marcia's Healthy Slice. Head over there when you're done here!

And, since I'm releasing five runfessions, I'm linking up with the Friday Five link up hosted by Courtney at Eat Pray Run DC, Cynthia at You Signed Up for What and Mar at Mar on the Run. Be sure to show them some love!

So, here we go:

1. As you know, I ran the PCT 50 a couple of weeks ago. I gave myself a week off of no running whatsoever for the week after the race. The runfession here is that it was the most blissful week ever. I didn't miss running. At all. It was the typical busy week with work, so it was actually nice to not have to fit in my runs somewhere. I didn't feel restless or anxious or anything. It was heaven!



2. In addition to not running, I kind of gave myself the liberty of eating everything in sight in that week after the race. I kept telling myself, "I just ran 50 miles, I need to replenish." And while that is partly true, I went just a tad bit overboard. For like a week. While this wouldn't be so so so bad if I was running, I wasn't, so I felt a little sloth-like by the end of the week. But I'm gathering myself together and getting back on track :)

3. In getting myself back on track, I've written my training plan for my next big goal: the Cuyamaca 100K in October. I have to admit that I'm really worried and somewhat concerned about this race. I had so much trouble fitting in all of my workouts leading up to PCT 50 that I'm scared I'll have the same issue for this one too. And it's a longer race (62 miles!) so I can't really slack on training unless I want to either a) not finish within the cutoff time or b) fall off the mountain.

4. This weekend is the Vista Strawberry Festival which has a 5K, 10K and several kids races. We've done the kids races every year. And this year my oldest and I are doing the 5K together. This isn't his first 5K but it's his first in a long time. He said he wanted to do it, so I registered him for it. But it's been like pulling teeth getting him to actually train for it. This makes me a little sad because he's such a great runner and I have to admit that I want my kids to be runners. I haven't pushed or forced him but I also don't want him to hurt himself. He's an active kid, so I know he'll ultimately be ok. But I'm sad that running isn't something he really likes much and that kind of hurts me a little :( I guess we'll see how things go.

5. As I mentioned a million times on here, I've been doing a yoga challenge for the month of May. I have loved every darn minute of it and it's really brought back how much I enjoy doing yoga. I'm really sad that the challenge is ending on the 31st and now I don't know what to do with myself. I know this isn't really running related, but I think bringing yoga back into my life has kind of centered me a little and allowed me to destress in a different way than running does. And this really helped me be open to start running again this week (after my week of gluttonous recovery). I feel excited to fit this back into my training but I do feel sad the challenge is ending. I need to find a new yoga challenge for June. Or make one up myself.

That's about it for May. How about you? What do you runfess this month? 

Monday, May 23, 2016

Perfect Race Weather

Ask a group of runners what their favorite running weather is and chances are, you'll get different answers from each of them. For this week's Tuesday on the Run, we're talking about our favorite racing weather.

Before I continue, I'm linking up with the Tuesday on the Run blog link up, hosted by My No-Guilt LifeMCM Mama Runs and Marcia's Healthy Slice. When you're done reading here, go check them out!

Now that summer is on its way, most runners will agree that summer is not usually a runner's favorite season. In fact, I try hard to avoid most summer races. And here in San Diego, summer can last through November! I usually end up doing a race in September that all but kills me (Noble Canyon 50K, I'm looking at you). I just don't do well in the heat. I kind of run warm to begin with so when the temps soar, I'm miserable. And when there is no shade whatsoever, as there usually isn't anywhere in San Diego County, I'm doubly miserable. 

For me, the ideal race conditions would be overcast, no more than 50 degrees at the start and no more than 65 at the finish. And the sun only comes out as I'm crossing the finish line. Wow, that would be awesome. I also do not like to run when the humidity is high. I was not a good summer runner when we lived back east. Humidity is like my kryptonite. This year's San Diego Half Marathon had pretty ideal conditions and I ended up having a pretty good race. But the race is in March, so chances are high for good weather. 

Before SD Half Marathon - overcast and chilly

After SD Half - sun just coming out but not too warm!

What's your ideal race temps? Do you like to run in the heat or cold?

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

2016 PCT 50 Miler Race Recap

Another PCT 50 is in the books! This one was a hard-fought finish. I laughed, I cried, I wished I was some where else most of the day...

Before I continue, this is part of my friend Smitha's Try It Thursday blog link up. Be sure to check her page Running with SD Mom when you're done here!

This PCT 50 was a little brutal for me. My training wasn't as good as I wanted it to be, life has been stressful, my insomnia has been hideous and I kind of wanted to just get through the race in one piece. I was expecting pain, I got it and now I'm glad it's over. I've been spending these past few days since the race not running, doing more yoga and just recovering. I'm not quite ready to think about the next big goal in the Fall so I'm just going to spend a little more time recovering and relaxing (well, as much as a busy working mom of 3 can relax).

I guess you could say training for this race began after finishing the San Diego 50 Miler in January. That was the first training run for this race :) I think we took a week off after that race too and then training began again. A lot of people have asked me about my training for a 50 and I can tell you that the bread and butter is back-to-back long runs. You have to get used to running on tired legs. I run a lot of miles, so I always feel like I run on tired legs. But that's the point. I also try to strength train at least once a week but aim for 2 days a week. Now that I've reignited my love for yoga, I hope to have that as at least one of my strength sessions per week. I also like to do a lot of races as part of my training. It helps to have supported aid stations on your long runs! In February, I ran the LA Marathon, in March I ran the San Diego Half Marathon (the day after and a 14-mile run) and the Old West Trails 50K as training runs. I ran Ragnar Relay SoCal as an ultra runner (we weren't an ultra team but one of our runners had to back out at the last minute so I ran her legs too) for training as well, which was about 30 miles. It has been a busy year so far!

Anyway, back to the race. We left for the race, which began in Pine Valley, around 4:30pm or so on Friday. I had all my gear ready: my InkNBurn, my Skratch, all our homemade rice bars, my Altra Olympus, Balega socks, Dirty Girl Gaiters and my Ultimate Direction vest.



Our plan was in place: Vanessa and I were running together and Smitha was there to help us before the race, run the last 10K of the race with us and then help us after. We got to Pine Valley around 6:30pm or so, had dinner at Calvin's (turkey burgers for everyone!) and then off to sleep at the beautiful Pine Valley Inn Motel. Only I didn't sleep. I think I got maybe 1.5 hour of sleep all night. It was miserable.

We decided to do the early start in order to not worry about the cutoff. We arrived at the race start at 4:30am, checked in and got ready to go.
Let's do this thing!

At 5:00am sharp, the Race Director said "Go" and off we went. It was dark but the sun was up quickly. I have to admit I was slow and lethargic from having such a bad night the night before. I was in a pretty bad place mentally and thankfully Vanessa was there to talk me out of it.

Even beautiful sunrises don't help sometimes.
We made it through the first aid station, and then readied ourselves for the highest climbs of the race. As we climbed, we sang and laughed and talked about silly things, which really helped pull me out of my funk. When we got through the second aid station at mile 13 or so, we were both feeling better.

The section between the second and third aid stations is pretty flat to rolling hills. It's not too bad and most of it is tree covered. We continued on to the third aid station, which is Todd's Cabin, without much to-do. We got to Todd's Cabin feeling pretty good. We loaded up on fruit and soda and went onto the next aid station, Penny Pines.

Vanessa and me at Todd's Cabin. Photo from http://www.paksitphotos.us/
Shortly after leaving Todd's Cabin, you come out of the pine trees of the Laguna Mountains and head toward the desert. The terrain is fine but you lose your tree cover. And it had warmed up quite a bit at this point. We were still feeling good when we got to Penny Pines and made our way to the halfway point.

We arrived at the halfway point feeling ok, though the heat was starting to affect us. I do not do well in the heat. I just don't. Plus it's been pretty chilly here, with not a lot of sunshine during our long runs lately. We were even rained on a couple of weeks ago. So I just wasn't expecting the heat to be as bad. And I don't even think the temperature got super high but when you're in the mountains and there's little between you and the sun, you feel it.

Our halfway selfie...or halfie 

So hot it...so hot in herre
Ok, we made it back to Penny Pines. Some man told me I looked adorable, which I admit made me feel good. It's nice to be told you don't look like an ogre, especially after you've run 28 miles. Anyway, we ran through Penny Pines and made our way back to Todd's cabin. We were a little disoriented at this point and didn't talk much. It was important to save our energy to move. We were still in the blazing sun, which wasn't helping. Thankfully, as we made our way to Todd's, we were back in the trees. We did see a snake at this point but I know Smitha is reading this and because she hates s-things, that's all I'm going to say about that :)

We got through Todd's Cabin without incident. The good thing about this aid station is that it's someone's actual mountain cabin (Todd, I assume) that lets our running organization use it for this aid station and storage too. There's an actual bathroom with running water and soap, so it's nice to have on a race like this. In fact, it's the only bathroom on the race course besides the port-o-potties at the start.

After Todd's we made our way to the next aid station. Both of us were still feeling ok at this point. We knew there would be some downhill ahead and that is always motivating. But that heat was catching up with me and I was starting to feel ugly. My stomach was cramping a bit, which is never a good sign. I just kept telling myself to hold on. I kept saying that I felt better at that point than I did at the same point a year ago, so I was doing ok. I said that to myself a lot and it really helped.

After the next aid station, we knew we would be seeing Smitha soon. But we were out of the tree cover at this point and the sun was relentless. We also entered the rocky portion of the trail. I freaking hate running on rocks. And these aren't little pebbles. They're like giant boulders and you feel them with every step. By the time we got to the last aid station, I was ready to puke. I was getting chills, feeling dizzy and needed to take a moment to get myself together. I had something to drink and rested in the shade for a minute. I told Vanessa and Smitha to go ahead and I would catch up. Thankfully, they didn't. Something in my heart told me to go. That I would be ok, and I would finish. I don't have any shining moment of glory here. It was just something inside telling me that I would make it. There were 6 miles left and I could get through it. So I did. The three of us left and trekked on.

Last aid station misery 
After about 15 minutes or so, I felt better. I had taken some Advil at the aid station and that helped. I never take anything on the run, and certainly not Advil because it can mess with your kidneys. I only took one and it really helped. Maybe it was a coincidence, but I actually felt better then than I did at the beginning of the race. Sure, my feet hurt from the rocks, my legs were tired but my spirit was lifted.

Finally we got to the finish line. I have never been so happy to see a finish line. As much as I love running, I was so happy to know that I wouldn't have to run for a whole week! Woo hoo!

Finish Line Bliss!

Yay for us! 

The days after the race have been good. I've been able to get some sleep (finally!) and my body feels pretty good. I wasn't as sore as I've been before and I don't have any lingering issues. I've been tired but by Wednesday I was feeling like my normal self.

See you again next year, PCT!

Monday, May 16, 2016

Are you a Race Monogamist?

I just coined a new term: the race monogamist. You know, the runner than runs the same race over and over again. Sure, you may check out other races here and there, but you are true to that one race and do it every year. Or maybe you're a monogamist to several races? A race polygamist, perhaps? Ok, my head is spinning. But, I think I'm a race polygamist. I race many of the same races every year. And that's what we're talking about here on Tuesdays on the Run.

Before I continue, I'm linking up with the Tuesday on the Run blog link up, hosted by My No-Guilt LifeMCM Mama Runs and Marcia's Healthy Slice. When you're done reading here, go check them out!

I never really gave it much thought until I saw this week's topic, but I am definitely a race polygamist. There are quite a number of races I love to do every year and some I'd like to do more than once (but not necessarily every year). Here are some:

Cherry Blossom 10-miler. This was my favorite Washington, DC race. I did it for the first time in 2006, and it was the first race I ran after my son was born 6 months earlier. I tried to do it every year after that but sadly, 2010 was my last year because I got pregnant with the girls right after that race and then we moved to San Diego right after they were born. It will always hold a special place in my heart and if I have the chance to do it again, I will!

Marine Corps Marathon. I've done this one three times and will probably do it again at some point. It was my first and second marathon and then I did it the 10th anniversary of my first marathon (did your head start spinning with that?). It's such a great race.

New York City Marathon. As a New Yorker, I will always have this race on my to-do list. I may not enter the lottery every year but I know I'll run this a few more times in the future.

Griffith Park Trail Marathon. I just love this race. It's organized well, it's in LA so it's not too far and there's always the chance I'll see celebrities. I couldn't do it this year but hopefully I'll be able to do it again in the future.

San Diego Half Marathon. I've done this one every year it's been in existence. I really love this race and I love that they recognize the runners that do it every year with special "legacy" swag. Those of us that have done it all 5 years received a jacket this year. It's pretty sweet. I'll definitely keep doing it as long as I can. In fact, I believe this is the race I've done the most times out of all the races I've done. I'll have to think about it a little more, but I'm pretty sure it's the one I'm most monogamous with :)

Noble Canyon 50K. Ok, this one I don't actually love. I may not even like it. I did it for the first time in 2014 and it was pretty tortuous. I did it again last year because it worked in my training. And I just signed up again for this year's because, again, it fits in my training. I'm doomed to do this race forever! And I only dislike it because it's usually hot as hell and the course is one of the more difficult mountain races here in San Diego County.

PCT 50. I can't even believe there's a 50-miler on this list. It was my first 50-miler last year and I just finished it last weekend for the second time (stay tuned for my recap later this week!). It is part of the San Diego Slam, which is a series of the toughest ultramarathons in San Diego County: the PCT 50, the San Diego 100, the Noble Canyon 50K and the Cuyamaca 100K. So, my BRF Vanessa and I are entering the slam this fall beginning with Noble and hoping to finish with the San Diego 100 next year. So another PCT 50 for me! Yay and YIKES!

There are other races I've done that I would probably do again if it worked out but I would say these are the top ones on the list.

And the one race I feel really strongly that I will most likely never run again is the America's Finest City Half Marathon, here in San Diego. I actually really don't mind the race itself it's just hot (it's held in August) and I don't really like it enough to do it again. If it were a trail race, I'd probably do it again despite the heat. But for now, it's a one-and-done kind of race for me.

How about you? Are you a race polygamist or monogamist? Or a one-and-done racer?

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Five Ways to Deal with Pre-Race Anxiety

Do things get wonky for you during the week leading up to a race? I don't really get nervous for races, or suffer from the "taper tantrums." In fact, I love the taper period. I get to reduce my mileage big time and not feel guilty about it! Most of my races now are training runs, which means the races I do actually taper for are big ones. The one this weekend is the PCT 50 and even though this is my second go at this race, I feel nervous. This will be my third 50-miler and I have to say that I still don't feel 100% comfortable with the distance. It's a long way! And there are mountains! Yikes!

Before I go on, I'm linking up with the Friday Five link up hosted by Courtney at Eat Pray Run DC, Cynthia at You Signed Up for What and Mar at Mar on the Run. Be sure to show them some love! I'm also linking up with Angela over at Happy Fit Mama for her Hive Five Friday link up. It's my first time linking with her, so be sure to send her some love!!

I was thinking about this week and things I have learned over the years to keep my nervousness under control. I thought I'd share mine here and hopefully you can add yours in the comments! Here are my top fives ways to keep my pre-race anxiety under control:

1. Stay on top of the things you can control and let go of the things you can't. Stay hydrated, eat well, get sleep, etc. Don't worry about the weather but prepare for it accordingly. I also try to prepare as much as possible in the days/nights before the race. This means my race outfit, overnight bag, my drop bag, my shoes, hydration vest, food for before and during the race, etc. Getting as much taken care of before the night before the race helps me feel in control and more ready for race day rather than scrambling to get it all done at the last minute.

2. Since I'm tapering, I'm not running as much in this last week. It's important for me to honor this reduction in mileage in order to feel rested on race day, but when running is your way to relieve stress, tapering isn't always fun. I try to find other, low-to-no-impact ways to be active so I can still relax while staying true to my taper. I walk it out a LOT in the last week. I take my dog for extra walks, which helps and he enjoys. The yoga challenge I'm doing this May is also helping, thankfully.

3. It may sound dorky, but I use visualization a lot in the week before the race. It can really help set my nerves at ease. I think about all my steps on race morning -- waking up, getting dressed, going through my pre-run routine, riding to the site, running a nice, easy, steady pace during the race, crossing the finish line and returning home. I try to be as specific as possible and since I've done the race before, I'm really able to see everything. Doing this helps to calm me down because when I get to the race start, it feels like I've already gone through the motions and I feel more ready.

4. I fill my non-running time with distractions - Netflix, reading, whatever. I started watching Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt and it's pretty hilarious. And there are plenty of ridiculous Real Housewives to mindlessly help pass the time :)

5. Last, but not least, I trust in my training. Sure, there are days I could have run longer or harder but if I focus on what I didn't do in my training, I'd flip out in the final week. Instead, I focus on the great runs, the long runs we did in the mountains, the strength training, etc., and I feel better knowing I did the best I could this go-around. It is what it is. You can't cram months and months of training in the final week. So I need to focus on what I did do and trust that it is enough for the race.

Do you get nervous before a race? How do you deal with pre-race jitters?

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Budgeting for Destination Races

Original photo source
Do you like to do destination races? I love going out of town for races. For me, I've run many of the local races that I want to run and I find myself looking elsewhere for new and exciting races, especially if I've never been to that particular city. I also have runner friends that live elsewhere and we like to meet up at a race to run together. And I LOVE a girls getaway race with my close BRFs. Whatever the reason is, many runners will end up considering a race out of town and may wonder if it is worth all the effort. In my opinion, the answer is usually "yes!"

Before I continue, I'm linking up with the Tuesday on the Run blog link up, hosted by My No-Guilt LifeMCM Mama Runs and Marcia's Healthy Slice. When you're done reading here, go check them out!

I wish I could run every out-of-town race that my friends tell me about. I wish I could go on every running road trip, if for no other reason than the time away with friends. But, as supportive as my husband is, I think he would definitely be mad if I took off all the time running races with friends. And, sadly, we are not loaded with gobs of money that can be spent on all these races. This bring me to the topic of this week's Tuesday on the Run: just what are the costs associated with destination races? How much do they really cost?

Before you commit to an out-of-town race, here are the things to consider:

- The cost of the hotel, per night of trip.
- Will you need to rent a car or will there at least be shuttle or Uber to and from airport?
- Will you need airfare? What about gas if driving?
- Cost of food per day of trip.
- Cost of any entertainment (Disneyland, Vegas, etc.).
- The race registration (the whole reason for going, right?).
- The cost of race items or other purchases at expo or elsewhere.

I would say that one of the more expensive destination races for me in the last year or so was Rock n Roll Nashville Half Marathon last year. But, it was worth it. I met dear friends from the east coast and we had a blast. But that was the only real destination race last year. The others I either didn't have to pay for airfare and/or hotel and that cut costs big time. Sharing hotel rooms also really helps, or staying with friends in the area, and bringing your own food (within reason, of course) helps too.

I think if the race is a bucket-list kind of race, I would say do what you can to make it happen. Otherwise, you have to decide if it's worth the cost. Honestly, I have never regretted a destination race. Even if the race isn't the greatest, the time with friends is priceless. If you think missing out on that experience will be something you regret, make a plan to make it happen. Cut costs where you can (deals on airfare, hotels, food, etc. do exist!!) and pocket away a little cash here and there. Maybe don't do as many local races to use the money towards the destination race. Prioritize your racing schedule to be sure you can make the destination race happen.

Do you do many destination races? What are ways you budget for those trips?

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Five Reasons Yoga is Good For Runners

Back in the day, I was a pretty consistent yogi. What started as a way to ease stress while planning my wedding 15 years ago turned into a solid love for all things yoga. I even became a Level I Vinyasa Instructor, though I don't teach classes. But as the years moved along and my running miles ramped up and my interest in other forms of cross training increased, yoga took a back seat. Sure, I still practiced every now and then. I've even combined forces with local yoga studios to offer Running + Yoga programs (stay tuned as these may be coming back in the future!). But, sadly, that initial love affair had fizzled. Until recently.

Before I go on, I'm linking up with the Friday Five link up hosted by Courtney at Eat Pray Run DC, Cynthia at You Signed Up for What and Mar at Mar on the Run. Be sure to show them some love!

A couple of weeks ago, my stress level was at an all-time high. My insomnia has been bad, which hasn't helped. So I did a couple of Sun Salutations in the back yard while my girls were napping and I instantly felt relieved. I immediately remembered how much yoga used to help me relax and regroup, something I've been having trouble with doing lately. That evening I met up with friends and I brought up how much just a few poses helped me feel better. We decided to start going to the local studio together and we all asked our husbands for class passes for Mother's Day (here's hoping mine comes through!). And in the meantime, I've joined the #MayIBeginYoga2016 pose-a-day challenge hosted by @beachyogagirl and @kinoyoga on Instagram. It's been so fun so far!



Since I've rekindled my love affair, I thought I'd share why I feel yoga is so important for everyone, but runners in particular.

You may think that the laid-back, peaceful aspects of yoga wouldn't necessarily mesh well with runners. But yoga has a place in any runner's training plan. Here's why:

1. Yoga helps with muscle imbalances. The problems many runners deal with have to do with tightness and imbalances between muscles groups (such as over-active quadriceps and under-active hamstrings). Practicing yoga on a regular basis will help not only build strength in the areas where it's most needed, but increase the flexibility of those muscles as well. For instance, runners have notoriously tight hips and calves. Doing yoga on a regular basis can help increase the flexibility in these areas, while building strength in opposing muscle groups, allowing for a more efficient running form.

2. Yoga helps build strength and increase flexibility in soft tissues. Regular yoga practice that is done correctly will help build strength and flexibility in the joints, ligaments and tendons that are the most vulnerable to injury, like the IT band and the Achilles tendon.

3. Yoga builds a killer core. Yoga is an excellent way to build strength in the abdominal and back muscles, as well as your hip flexors and glutes (all of which are part of your core), which can help runners keep their running form as they begin to get tired during long training runs and races, among other important things.

4. Yoga can help runners bring focus to their training. It is very easy to get into a running rut, especially when you're not training for anything specific. Yoga can give you that much-needed boost. When you start seeing results in the form of increased strength and flexibility, you will be excited and motivated to keep working. And yoga can also help with the dreaded burn-out when nearing a big race. Sometimes doing something other than running can really help balance the monotony of training.

5. Yoga is a great stress reducer. Let's face it, most runners are pretty Type A. We can get pretty obsessed with split times, miles logged, race calendars and more. Practicing yoga on a regular basis can help the stressed-out runner relax and do something that doesn't require a GPS, watch, playlist, etc. Yoga brings balance to a frazzling sport. Even the most laid-back runners can get caught up in the frenzy of running and yoga can help reel you back into a calm state of mind. I know just the few poses here and there over the past couple of weeks has really helped me relax.

What is the best way to incorporate yoga into your running? Yoga can be a great cross-training activity on non-running days. Just be careful not to do an especially vigorous yoga routine the day before a hard workout such as a speed workout or long run. And, if you plan to do yoga on the same day as a run, try to do your run first if possible, especially if your yoga routine will be over 30 minutes. Long yoga sessions will tire the muscles, potentially changing your running form, which may lead to injury. If you have to do yoga on the same day as a run, or the day before a hard workout (if there is a yoga class you really love taking, for example), try to give yourself some time to recover between the two activities. Make sure you hydrate and eat so you can be at your best for both activities.

Do you practice yoga? If so, how often? Do you think your running can benefit from yoga?

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Where I get my stuff!

I took a break from blogging last week. It was an especially stressful week and, unfortunately, blogging had to take a back seat. I'm sorry I was unable to share my pearls of wisdom ;) But I'm back! And it's Tuesday, which means it's Tuesdays on the Run time! This week, we're sharing where we like to get our running gear.

Before I continue, just wanted to give a shout out to the Tuesday on the Run blog link up hosts, My No-Guilt LifeMCM Mama Runs and Marcia's Healthy Slice. When you're done reading here, go check them out!

Typically, I'm a local running store lover. I like to shop local for two main reasons: I like to try stuff on (or at least see it person) and I like to support local businesses. Here in the San Diego area, I usually shop primarily at my favorite store, the Running Center in Carlsbad (there is also one in Temecula). The people there are amazing (this so happens to be where I met my BRF, Vanessa) and they go above and beyond the call of duty to get you what you want. The staff is very knowledgable and will do their best to help you. I send all my local clients there. I've also had the privilege to coach a few running programs through the store as well as participate in a few of their events. They are a great resources for people of all abilities, runners and non-runners alike. They have a rewards system that really adds up, rewarding you with gift certificates based on the amount you spend in the store. You earn 10 points for every dollar you spend and they award gift certificates when you reach a 2,500 points. And you can actually earn additional points when you shop at other retailers online. It's really cool. They also have amazing sales, including one for Mother's Day this weekend.

One of the first photos of me and my Vanessa!

I also really like Movin Shoes. I mainly go to the Encinitas store but I've been to the Pacific Beach store as well. Everyone is always very nice and very knowledgable. They also happen to have an Olympian (Meb Keflezighi, of course) as part-owner. Movin Shoes has great events, often has fluids and nutrition out along the 101 for runners and is a great local resource. I've had the pleasure of hosting nutrition talks with them and they've always been great to work with!

Before a Moms Run This Town San Diego event at Movin Shoes PB

I do also shop online at times. I get my Ink n Burn online through their website, but Running Center also carries a lot of their stuff (which is how I first discovered the brand). But I have also shopped at Running Warehouse, which is a great online resource when I can't find what I'm looking for locally. They often have really good sales on older models of shoes and you can usually find coupons online or on their Facebook page. And they often throw stuff in for free such as a reusable grocery tote, stickers or other items.

I typically get my hydration online through Skratch directly or I pick it up at REI. I usually make my own food, but if I'm in a bind and I want something other than pretzels, I'll pick up something like the Skratch fruit drops or Clif Bar organic purees at REI as well. And if you buy a case of their product, they'll give you a discount (I can't remember how much, I think 20%). And if you join REI's member rewards program, you'll earn points that also turn into gift certificates. They do add up!

Where do you buy your gear? Are you an online shopper or do you need to buy your stuff in-person? Or both?