Finding out what twenty miles can do to a person with Laura Romeo

Poppy Sports Blogger Laura Romeo takes on 20 miles and gains many more miles of confidence

Training the mind as well as the legs

Arguably, the most important training run for a marathoner comes in the form of 20 miles. While the shorter runs are equally important to work on speed or to improve your strength on hills, a 20 mile run covers most of the distance of a marathon and its value is hard to substitute. Not only does running 20 miles prepare you physically, it prepares you mentally.

I had my first 20 mile run of the season on August 27th. I was nervous because it had been close to two years since I ran that far. My day started early at 4:20 a.m., well before sunrise. I met up with a few other runners who were equally driven to start early, and my 20 miler began promptly at 5:00 a.m. with a flashlight for the dark and sunglasses on my head for when the sun rose. I carried 20 ounces of water on my waist and a pack of Clif Shots for fuel. I ate one shot before the run for some simple carbs.

The first eight miles flew by. I ate another Clif shot after that eight and stopped to walk and chew on them periodically if my stomach panged with hunger. What a difference that made in my energy! I felt great all the way through mile 16. After that, I started to feel tired, but not so fatigued that I couldn’t finish strong. I finished this monumental run in 3:40:03. (To put this time in perspective, my 20 mile run two years ago for my first marathon was just over 4 hours.) I was euphoric and it was a real confidence boost. I believe now that I will finish this second marathon in about 5 hours, if I’m careful. This will shave 45 minutes from my first marathon finishing time, which is an enormous accomplishment. This isn’t a fast pace, but that’s not what I’m after. I’m looking for improvement from my first race and I know now I’ll be able to do it. The race isn’t until the end of October, so I still have plenty of time for at least two more 20 mile runs – or more. (I’m thinking 22…)

Marathon training with clif bloks

Not only yummy, they do exactly as it says on the packet. Thanks Clif Bloks

I attribute my success to several factors. First, I didn’t usually eat anything for long runs the first time I did this whole marathon thing. Consequently, I felt tired early into a run, likely depleting any stores of glycogen my body might have had left. The long runs felt especially long. So, eating those little shots while on the move helped tremendously. Second, I ran with two other ladies and conversation makes the miles seem a little less strenuous. Third, my personal trainer has helped improve my strength, and stronger muscles means a stronger runner.

While I have completed a marathon before, I never felt like I earned the title “marathoner” because it took me so long to finish. I learned my lessons the hard way with a particularly difficult first marathon. I worked through some staggering motivational issues. With all the running I did (I did nothing else at the time; not even cross-training), I didn’t want to run at all. I was tired of it. I felt like I wasn’t worthy to train for a marathon, let alone finish one. A 14 mile run back then was agonizing and I hated every mile. You could say I ran into a month-long “wall.” So, I took some time off after my first marathon. I didn’t run for a while, and when I could no longer ignore the calling, I took it easy. Running and I had to re-build our relationship, and that break was well worth it.

Now? I’m registered to run one of the most popular marathons in the country, at sea level no less, and I can’t wait.

LEG LUBE

Another product we love at Poppy Sports

Review by Laura Romeo—reluctant shaver and fast runner

Shaving for Cyclists

A bead is all you need!

Let me preface this review of Leg Lube by saying that I hate shaving. I always have and probably always will. I stopped using shaving cream several years ago because it was too messy, even though the result was smoother legs. I shaved in the shower using only water, and while my legs weren’t as smooth, it got the job done. I even tried those no-shave creams, and I hated those just as much because they had an awful scent. So, when I say that Leg Lube has helped me not dread shaving, that’s a good thing.

Owner Austin Baskett created Leg Lube as a triathlete who wanted a better product but didn’t see one on the market. Leg Lube is better than your average shave gel, and the fresh scent of mint and aloe is aromatherapy in the shower. It’s slick, easy, and you don’t need to use very much.

Leg Lube for fast legs

A quicker shave means more time to run!

The directions say you only need one “bead,” and admittedly I was dubious it wouldn’t be enough. I expected this gel to be like the rest; foamy and messy. I was pleasantly surprised. One bead was enough, and it wasn’t foamy at all. (Of course, you can use more if you need to, but I doubt you will.) It’s a clear gel that provides just enough lubrication on your skin that your razor glides along without leaving behind any nicks or cuts. I’m infamous for cutting myself right above my Achilles tendon, but not so when I used Leg Lube.

I first tried the gel in the shower. When compared to my normal shaving habit of only using water, Leg Lube made the process go much faster and with a much better result. The next time I hopped in the shower, I found that I wanted to shave – which is something I have never said. This gel leaves my legs feeling smooth and soft, and I’m unabashed to show them off in short running shorts.

One thing I rarely did was use traditional shave cream outside of the shower, because I hated the time it took to rinse that foamy stuff off the razor before the next stroke. While using Leg Lube still took more time outside the shower than in, the result was the same. I only needed gel the size of a pea, and I had no pesky cuts anywhere.

My only caveat with this product is that I had no accompanying Leg Lube lotion or cream for after shaving. I would love lotion with the same eucalyptus and aloe, since living in Colorado’s semi-arid climate can easily dry out one’s skin. And if it were made by Leg Lube, I know I’d be getting the same quality product.

While I can’t really say that shaving with Leg Lube made me run any faster, it made for softer skin and fewer cuts. I’d recommend to any athlete, or to just about anyone looking for a better way to shave.

Editor’s note: We hope the brains at Leg Lube will think about an accompanying lotion or cream for after the shave.  Great suggestion Laura!

Hello!

Laura Running

Running tall!

Allow me to introduce myself, one of Poppy Sports’ newest bloggers. I’m Laura, a Denver native and an obsessive runner, intermediate cyclist, rusty swimmer, and hopefully a beginner triathlete in the coming year. I have completed one full marathon, five half-marathons, four 10k’s, countless 5K’s, and one short-course duathlon.

I am preparing for a marathon in the fall when I’ll be running the Marine Corps Marathon in Washington D.C. and hope that my high-altitude marathon training will give me an advantage. Follow my posts for my marathon tips and more.  Running is my first obsession, but cycling has quickly moved up the ranks the past year.

Women as Athletes

I love the growing trend of women taking on the sports of running, cycling, and triathlon, and all the women’s athletic apparel that comes with it. I’m always one for a new pair of women’s running shorts, a new top, or a new running jacket (even though my bright-colored jacket collection has grown to gargantuan proportions).  As a newer cyclist and duathlon finisher, I’m learning the fabulous feel of a good cycling jersey and a pair of cycling shorts that doesn’t chafe.

Blogging with you

I’m excited to blog for Poppy Sports and spread the word to women who never thought they could finish a triathlon. The truth is, you can! You just need the right tools, the right training, and the right support.  So before you doubt yourself, just remember we women are in it together. And who can blame us for wanting a bright pink running top that wicks away moisture? (Well, I like pink, anyway. Pink and black are Team Laura colors!)

Summer training

So, Poppy Sports readers, I look forward to our summer together. I’ll keep you posted on my marathon training, nutrition (or my occasional lack thereof), give you some product recommendations and reviews, race and event re-caps, and whatever else you may fancy. And please, visit Poppy Sports for the newest and greatest women’s sports apparel!