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Monday, September 2, 2013

Breaking up with the Scale and Loving Yourself Instead

At the Biggest Loser RunWalk expo, during Danni Allen's talk, a woman that looked no older than 23 asked a very relevant question. Having already lost 175 lbs with a few more to go, the woman said that she was having issues with body dysmorphia and still seeing herself as her obese self. She asked how Danni dealt with these feelings.

I'd see this and thought I looked thin
I nodded emphatically as the woman asked the question. Since reaching goal, body dysmorphia is something that I have struggled with as well. The dysmorphia I'm experiencing now is the opposite of what I experienced when I was obese. When I was obese, I would look in the mirror and see photos of myself and not see myself as morbidly obese. I thought I looked fine, even as I would lose my breath tying my shoes.

Now, I look in the mirror at a woman of healthy weight and BMI and still see something with which I'm not happy. It seems absurd, since I know I should be very proud of my accomplishments, and I am, but I still am having trouble letting go.

The demon I'm still facing is very real, and is sitting just a few feet away from me in this room as I write -- it's the scale. As useful as it was during my weight loss, the scale is now my worst critic. But I can't break it off with the scale. I'm still so tied to the numbers on the scale, and it's getting to the point where I'm doing myself more harm than good by stepping on the scale every few days.

This is particularly an issue at the moment because I'm still having a very hard time balancing my food with my half marathon training. Now running upwards of 20 miles a week, I know that I have to be increasing my calorie intake because of the work I'm doing. However, this means that I'm suddenly basically eating everything in sight, which, after losing 90 lbs and exerting such self-control for so long, brings on immense feelings of guilt.

What I see now -- and I'm still unhappy
I've gained a few pounds back with my half marathon training since I probably am eating a little too much for my training, and each time I step on the scale, I feel shame. I know that it is all in my head, and it is all totally self-inflicted. I look at the number on the scale, think "oh my god you're such a fat cow right now." Then I look at myself in the mirror, and because I thought it, that is what I see.

I felt it earlier today when I ate way too much of things that I should not have at some friends' party this afternoon. I went into the party thinking I needed to get a handle back on my eating habits during social events, since my choices lately have, well, sucked. Did I eat as much as I would have during my obese days? No. I probably would have helped myself to two more crab rangoons and another one or two pieces of birthday cake. But I was still disappointed in myself for not living up to my own promises. As penance, I went to the gym as soon as I got home and ran until the gym closed.

But running should not be a punishment. It didn't even assuage much of my guilt. Sure I burned off a bit of what I ate, but I still am upset with myself that I ate it and that I lost control. Again. I'm mad that keep calling myself a fat cow to the point where I see it in the mirror. I'm upset that I still allow the scale to control me, causing me to lose control over myself.

More than ever, I realize that it is time to put away the scale -- put it out of sight completely. If the number I see is just going to make me upset all day, I need to break off my relationship with the scale. It's gotten to be a toxic relationship and I need to do what makes me happy. I need to learn to love my body, "warts and all" as they say, and not punish it by not only eating bad food, but then later, out of guilt, depriving it and "disciplining" it with workouts.

I need a full body-love attitude makeover. It'll require me to grasp control of my eating habits and rid my pantry of the foods I know I tend to binge on when I'm thinking "I ran 7 miles today, I can eat whatever I want." It'll require me to store the scale out of sight, and find the fun in running again. It'll require me to stop calling myself a fat cow, even when I feel like it. It is not what is actually reflected in the mirror and the self-negativity helps absolutely no one.

I need to stop comparing myself to the women who have lost a ton of weight and have perfectly flat stomachs and not my deflated skin mess of a stomach. It's not fair to myself and it's not productive. I have to stop tying my recent unlucky dating adventures to my looks ("did I wear something that made me look fat on our first date?")

I need to start loving myself again.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Race Review: Buffalo Grove Stampede 10K (or, why races should start at 7am)

I wanted a good filler 10K in the midst of my half marathon training, so I got it in the form of the Buffalo Grove Stampede, part of that town's BG Days, a village festival. Buffalo Grove is very close to where I grew up and not too far from where I live now, and the Stampede is also a CARA Circuit Race, so I signed up so I could get some points with my running club.

I arrived in Buffalo Grove and managed to find a parking spot in one of their designated parking locations. Thankfully, I did not have to park at the movie theater and take the shuttle bus to the starting line. I couldn't imagine the smell on the ride back on one of those school buses!

The registration area was pretty easy to figure out -- I picked up my packet without issue, but then over the loudspeaker came the announcement that they placed the B-Tags on the bibs in the incorrect orientation and we would have to turn the bibs sideways. Not a big deal, but I had just pinned on my bib when I had to take it off and re-pin it!

I found the Oak Park Runners Club participants and joined up with them pre-race to chat. Side note: I am very happy that I have now met several members. It's nice to have some folks to chat with before and after the races!

Now, as to the race itself. I'll start with the positives. The course was lovely. I was a little worried when I read the disclaimer that 60% of the 10K course was a crushed gravel trail, since I had never run trail before, but it ended up being totally fine, and actually better on my joints. Once we got back to asphalt after going through the trail, my knees were like "Nooooo!"

The trail bit was very pretty -- through a forest preserve and down along the banks of a creek (it was so hot I considered jumping in!)

And that brings me to the negatives. This obviously was no fault of the organizers, but it was blazingly hot. By starting time, it was over 80 degrees with over 60% humidity. The sun was just beating down in a cloudless sky and the course was literally shadeless. By the time I finished, it was 90 degrees outside.

One thing that could have been done about this is the race start time. When I checked the weather forecast for Sunday, I was expecting a race start time temperature of about 70 degrees. Wrong-o. First of all, the 5K started at 8:00am. The 10K, however, started at 8:22am. In my opinion, that is just an incredibly late start, particularly for a 10K. Starting a 10K at nearly 8:30am on a weekend that still is usually warm in Chicago seems nuts to me. This may just be a personal opinion, but races should always start at 7:00am or earlier, no matter the season.

I was displaying symptoms of heat exhaustion by Mile 4. My goose bumps were out of control, and my body depleted itself of fluid so rapidly that I literally had stopped sweating. I had hydrated myself a ton the day prior and the morning of the race, but I had no more fluid to even sweat out. As soon as I crossed in a fairly the finish time, in a time that was quite disappointing to me if I'm being honest, I had to run for the shade and sit down. As soon as I did, I thought I would faint. I hope that the 76-year-old man that crossed the finish with me then nearly collapsed is OK.

Obviously I'm fine now, but it was a very tough race for me. I would love to do it again next year, but maybe I'll do the 5K instead. Hopefully things will cool off before my long-awaited and long-anticipated Run For Your Lives race in three weeks! I'd be so mad if I overheated and had a miserable time at that event since I have been looking forward to it for so long.

But on to the next, each race is a learning experience, and I certainly learned from this one!

Buffalo Gove Stampede 10K
September 1, 2013
Buffalo Grove, IL

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Changing Perspectives

I got the following message from an old friend the other day:
"So I am following your lead to fitness! Too bad I feel like I might die in the process. Keep up your awesome work!"
First of all, this is about the 10th friend of mine to say to me that I have inspired them to do something about their lives. Which is still unbelievable every time it happens to me.

But the point of this post really is thinking about the changes I've made as I have still continued through this weight loss and maintenance journey. I read the above message on my phone as I was in Target, incidentally, standing in front of the boxes of protein bars, at which I'd stopped to investigate when I happened to check my phone.

After reading the message, I turned back to the protein bars to see that Luna bar boxes were on sale for $5. I instantly thought, "OOOH! Luna bars on sale!"

Standing the middle of Target, still sweating from my half marathon training run (my gym is right next door to Target and I needed a few groceries on my way home), I sort of stopped myself in thought for a moment. I'm actually excited about Luna bars being on sale right now. Luna bars.

I thought about the things I used to get excited about being on sale.

Back when I was 230 lbs, it was:

"OOOH! Pringles are on sale!" I'd then eat an entire canister in about an hour.

"OOOH! DiGiorno frozen pizzas are only $3!" I'd then eat an entire pizza in one night for "dinner."

"OOOH! Kraft Mac and Cheese boxes are 3 for a dollar!" I'd then eat at least one entire prepared box in one sitting.

"OOOH! Lean Pockets are on sale!" Then convincing myself, that "hey, they're LEAN Pockets" I'd eat at least two in a serving and tell myself it was OK because they're LEAN, right?!

My, my, how times have changed. I used to get excited about Pringles being on sale. Now I'm psyched when protein bars are on sale, having them in mind to eat following my 10 mile training runs.

Once again, perspective hit me. I ran 7 miles last Saturday for my long run like it was no big deal. I did it in a little over an hour and felt pretty awesome during and after.

I remember how hard it was to run for three straight minutes during my Couch to 5K training. It felt like imminent death. Now I'm running 7, 8, 9 miles like it's no big thing.

Which brings me back to the original comment from my friend. "I feel like I might die in the process." A year ago, I thought running three consecutive minutes at 5 mph was agony. Now I'm running 7 miles at around 6.4 mph -- and that was considered an easy run.

Consider the changes in one year. You can get excited over a sale on protein bars. You can run 7 miles in shortly over an hour as part of an easy run. You can if you work your ass off. It's not easy. It's not a temporary change. It is part of lifelong process of lifestyle reform.

But it is possible. It's not just my ego talking: I really am proof.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Product Review: SportLegs

If you're a runner, you know how it goes. You get injured, you finally get back to regular running, and your legs feel like straight-up lead. This certainly happened to me the past few weeks.

After peroneal tendonitis and then a bout of tarsal tunnel syndrome (in the same leg), I was pretty much out of commission for about the last two weeks. My first "real" run back was just this Wednesday, and though it was only about a 3.5 mile run, my legs felt like solid heavy metal. Everything else was fine (see the "Breaking the Slump" post for further details) but my muscle fatigue was pretty out of control.

In fact, I've found that to be a problem in general whenever I run. Usually, when I'm on long runs, or really any run in general, it's not so much physical exertion or breathing or exhaustion that trip me up. It's muscle fatigue. And that muscle fatigue is usually in my legs. It's typically what makes me want to stop if I'm on the treadmill or take a walk break if I'm running outdoors. It's almost always leg muscle fatigue.

When I saw an ad in Runner's World for this SportLegs supplement, I was intrigued. It seems a lot of cyclists use it to prevent muscle burn (and fatigue) on rides. But obviously they advertise it to runners as well. I went to their website to check it out.

SportLegs is a supplement (all-natural, just "lactate compounds of calcium and magnesium plus Vitamin D") that stalls the buildup of lactic acid in the muscles, which is of course how it prevents the muscle burn and fatigue. According to SportLegs' website, the supplement "primes muscles with lactate, your muscles' natural fuel, so they make less lactic acid. SportLegs uses lactate, your body's primary high-exertion muscle fuel, to signal muscles not to overproduce lactate before you even begin exercise."

It also helps with heaviness and next-day soreness, stating,
"Taken an hour before exercise, SportLegs raises blood lactate, so you experience exercise with less limb 'pump' and heaviness, and improved lactate transfer facilitates a noticeably higher lactate threshold. Reduced lactate accumulation means less retention of free radicals and other metabolic wastes in muscle tissues, for faster recovery and less next-day soreness." 
It also contains a good chunk of calcium (three capsules contain 14% of the recommended daily amount of calcium).

I was interested in their claims and their expert testimonials and spokespeople, so I ordered the trial package, which includes 30 capsules for $8.99.

I finally got around to testing it out after recovering from my injury when I knew I had a long run (7 miles, Week 3 Day 6 of my half marathon training) planned, counting in my recent leg heaviness on runs. The instructions recommend that you take one capsule per 50 pounds of body weight one hour prior to physical activity, and round up on the weight part. With my 140 pounds, I went with three capsules to account for the rounding up.

I went for my run, and amazingly, had little to no muscle fatigue. I ran 7 miles and it felt like child's play. I only started feeling some leg muscle fatigue around 6.5 or so miles, but no burn or a ton of muscle fatigue prior to that. Even now, I have never even had a training run as long as 7 miles, and I was pretty surprised to have no muscle burn and even now, several hours later, I have pretty much no fatigue (or soreness, but that's probably more stretching).

I don't necessarily want to attribute my great run today to SportLegs, since I have only tried it once. But I did notice that considering the long distance, my muscles really did not burn at all during the run. This is a supplement that I will continue to experiment with, and I hope to continue to get the results. It is really too untested (for me) at this point to say "absolutely yes, this is the sole reason I had such a great run today!" but I hope it was instrumental in my good training run today. If so, I'll continue to use SportLegs!

Stay tuned; I'll update as I keep using it on if I think that SportLegs is the real deal. For now, yes, it is, but it's only been one long run. But I do find it significant that my muscles felt great the whole time, despite going one of the longer distances that I have ever amounted. There may be something to this. I'll keep experimenting!

Update (8/18): It's the day after my 7 mile run and I have pretty much zero soreness. This is a first for me, since usually after running anything over 10K I at least have some soreness the next day. Nope! I will continue to update as I continue using SportLegs.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Breaking the Slump and Becoming a Morning Runner

Lately, I have been feeling very frustrated and have felt lapses in self-control and motivation. I stepped on the scale yesterday to see a frightening number: 147 (that's right, accountability comes back to haunt me).

I spent most of the day Tuesday feeling sorry for myself. But you know what, there are a lot of people out there in the world who have worse problems than a lack of motivation when it comes to fitness. And unlike people who have those larger, pervasive problems to worry about, I can do something about it.

So sack up, girlfriend, I said to myself. Stop feeling sorry for yourself. Do you know how lucky you are to be able to do something about your problems? So do something.

Yesterday I attempted to take a morning run (since my class days are Tuesdays) but a late night prior (writing papers) means that I was all about continuing to sleep past the 5am running wakeup.

This morning, I tried again. I groaned as my alarm went off at 5am, but I shouted to myself, channeling my inner Jillian Michaels, "Get the hell up, Erika, you're f***ing running today. And I do not feel bad about making you do it."

An invisible hand (Jillian? Is that you?) yanked me out of bed to turn off my alarm and pull on a bunch of spandex (and long sleeves, yikes this morning was chilly!) It was still dark outside, so I put on my light-up slap bracelet (which I haven't had to use since we sprang forward in Daylight Savings Time), downed a Fiber One protein bar and a few sips of the open Gatorade in my fridge, and set out into the early pre-dawn morning.

This was also a new experiment for me in that I did not bring headphones with me for music or even Zombies, Run! I like to run with fast music, and let's face it, 'Ye at 5am is not exactly great for someone who is not a morning person.

I don't care how much something that doesn't kill you can only make you stronger, Kanye, it is too early for you.

So I was left alone with my thoughts in the pitch black of a Wednesday morning as I'm still battling peroneal and tarsal tunnel pain in the same leg. Yep, this just got interesting. My internal dialogue was firing on all cylinders.

Hey Erika, it's your left leg here, and guess what, I'm really hurting.
Yeah, I know, shut up, running is actually making you hurt less, so joke's on you.

Oh, um... well it's your esophagus now, and you forgot to take your GERD medication before you went out to run, and now I'm just buuuuurning.
Yep, got it, won't make that mistake again, and I'm blasting you back to hell with pantoprazole as soon as I get home.

Fine, I'm your stomach now, and that Gatorade is sloshing around a bit!
Dude, I had like 5 sips of that Gatorade before I went out for the run. There is no way I drank enough to have any kind of sloshing. I do believe it's your imagination, so leave me alone. 

Crap. Well now I'm your lungs, haha! And I'm feeling a little bit constricted right now. How you feel about that?
Psychosomatic, my dear lungs. There's nothing wrong with my breathing right now, so shut it.

Fine, I'm your brain now, and I will not turn off with continuously writing a blog post in your head about this run you're doing right now.
That's just fine, brain, I was planning to write a blog post on this run anyway. You're just running out of ways to psych me out, aren't you?

What? No! Erika! Up here! Look, I'm the Metra train, and I've stopped at the Oak Park station right as you're running underneath it so all the commuters can ogle you, the weirdo running down the street at 5:30am!
Whatever, they're a bunch of people that have to be on a Metra train to go to work as early as 5:30am. They won't find it weird, in fact, there's about a 99.9% chance that I got up later than them. Nice try!

Dangit. Uh... I'm the sun, rising and flooding the sky with a beautiful tapestry of pink and purple and orange as you head into the home stretch.
I know, I noticed! Thanks, you are quite beautiful! This is very nice!

Hey Erika, now I'm your front door. Oh. You're done.
You bet I am! Perfect timing to shower and get to work!

So guess what? I went on a 5am weekday run before work without music and it did not beat me. In fact, it really wasn't that bad, and I think I may do it again. It was such a different experience running around my usually bustling neighborhood and have it be totally empty and quiet and cool and dark.

The beauty of it especially was that I got home in the afternoon and was able to devote time to running the errands I needed to (as well as writing this blog post) instead of feeling the stress of having to plan a run in there too.

And you know what, self-control? I'm bringing you back. I'm bringing strong back. I'm bringing motivation and ferocity back. I'm bringing it all back. You've all got a lot to worry about, little voices that were in my head this morning. Because starting back up right now, you're working for me.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Race Review: Biggest Loser RunWalk 15K

It is really difficult to approach the review of the Biggest Loser RunWalk 15K race. The packet pickup/expo occurred on Saturday and the race occurred Sunday, and both days were just really some of the best days of my life.

My SparkPeople vlog I did can probably best describe my expo day, which essentially had me leaving the expo in happy, honored, and speechless tears. It also had me feeling like I could have run a marathon Sunday. It was very smart to do the expo with lectures on Saturday prior to the race -- it was the perfect motivation for the race the next day.

Race morning
I woke up early Sunday morning feeling nervous and tired. Thankfully, I was armed with ENERGYbits and so on the el train on the way down to the Museum Campus, I downed the requisite serving. You can read my bits review for further info on that, but I'll go back to the race itself.

My mother and I walked to Soldier Field from the el station and got there about half an hour before race time. We checked our bags at gear check and hit the portapotties (which had a super long line) before we went to the start line. Got out of the stall and, bummer, no hand washing station. Gross.

But there was no time to wander around looking for hand wipes or sanitizer or anything, as Dolvett was on the stage at the starting line and we had to make a mad dash for the incredibly crowded corral. It was a little bit too crowded, especially considering that it really seemed that the number of entrants was not hugely massive.

The starting line
But I took to heart the advice that Francelina gave me Saturday: "Let everyone go ahead of you. The first few miles should not feel like work." So I let it slide that I was sitting in like the 11:00 corral and just went with it. Luckily, when our wave came up to the start, I realized I was actually in the very front of the roped-off wave, so I was golden.

As we passed the start, just off to the left was a platform on which stood Dolvett, Danni, Dan and Jackie, cheering us on as we started off. My wave was released and I headed off. I followed Francelina's advice to the T and started as slow as I could muster, busting ahead of the handful of folks in front of me in the wave but feeling no further need to get ahead of anyone.

I was feeling phenomenal throughout the entire race, but it particularly opened up after the 5K and 15K courses split, which was only after about 1.5 miles. It was also at the Inspiration Station featuring Pam and Jackson. I reached out to Pam, who knew who I was at that point. She immediately recognized me, grabbed my hand and said "Hey! Run with me for a minute!" and she fell into my stride next to me. "How you doing, doing good?" and I said, "Yeah feeling great!" She said, "Great! Good luck, and see you at the finish line!" She then returned back to the little event tent she shared with Jackson.

After the split, the course opened up. With fewer 15K run participants than, well, anything else, there was just a huge amount of open space for the remainder of the race, which was such a luxury on the lakefront trail.

I literally was smiling throughout the entire race. I don't even know what was going on, but I felt I could have run for a decade. I was just so happy and excited and empowered that I just kept pounding the pavement with pure delight. Particularly around Mile 6, there was a little outcropping in the trail and the entire Chicago skyline was on a big vista right in front of the course. Several racers in front of me stopped to take photos -- I didn't, but that provided a huge boost for me. It was a perfect day weather-wise, completely clear, and the entire city was basically on a platter on this vista.

Rounding the finish
Around Mile 7, farther than I have ever run before in my life, I pounded a Gu. It was my first experience with gels, but I think I timed it properly (not only did I intend to take it at Mile 7 but it was also the exact time I felt a pang of hunger).

I was just happily running and then realized that I was about to round the corner to the finish. From the corner to the finish, it was really only about 0.1 or 0.2 miles, and I turned it on. I have never before found the power to sprint for a finish at any distance, but I saw that the finish was super close and I all-out sprinted. There were all these people lining the finish cheering and screaming and pushing me onward.

Francelina and me after the finish
I then saw my mother, who had been waiting at the finish since she completed the 5K about 40 minutes earlier. She was snapping photos and I quickly hugged her on the run before I crossed the finish line. One of the organizers was at the finish with a microphone to meet me, and she gave me a high-five as I happily passed the finish with music and cheering pounding in the background.

I got my medal, my first 15K medal, and dug into the boxes lining the post-finish line: water, banana, bagel.

My mom and I wandered down to the finishers' area where 5K awards were being handed out. I picked up my bag from gear check and did my post-race interview with Biggest Loser RunWalk after having done the long background interview with them during the expo the day prior.

Mom, Jackson, me and Pam after finish
I finished with a 1:34:25. I'd told Jeff during the expo that I hoped to finish in 1:30. However, I was perfectly happy with the 1:34:25 time. It was my first time running that far and long ever and the fact that I finished feeling so good and not like I was going to die was so important for my first 15K.

Again, more is in that vlog on SparkPeople, but even after the race was a continuation of the phenomenal experience. Afterward, I still ended up being OK. I was sore and had to get on a plane just a few hours later for work, but I wore some compression socks for the remainder of the day, including in the airport and on the plane, and I felt OK.

Jeff, me and Francelina after the finish
If you ever have the opportunity to do a Biggest Loser RunWalk event, I highly recommend it. It was probably top to bottom one of the best experiences of my life. It was not only the race but the expo as well. The entire weekend was so phenomenal that I cannot say enough about the race series.

Keep an eye out for my video interviews on the Biggest Loser RunWalk website! I will definitely alert everyone when I see it, but keep an eye.

Biggest Loser RunWalk 15K
August 4, 2013
Chicago, IL

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Product Review: ENERGYbits (AKA why I am now #poweredbybits)

Over the last few months of being active on my new fitness Twitter account, I'd heard a ton of buzz about ENERGYbits. I was still a relatively novice runner, so took note, but then moved on. As I began training for a half marathon, I started paying more attention to my @fatgirlrunns Twitter account. And I noted that the talk about ENERGYbits was only increasing. I'd just run a 5K and got a coupon in my packet for 20% off an order. I went to the website and took a look.

I must admit I was thrown off by the pricing, which, for a product I'd never tried, was daunting. I asked the kind folks at ENERGYbits if they were willing to send samples to bloggers, and they were all too happy to send me a few servings of ENERGYbits to try for myself.

ENERGYbits' brand manager says of their product:
"ENERGYbits have the highest concentration of protein in the world and deliver a steady stream of energy, all naturally and all without sugar, caffeine, chemicals or stomach distress. Even better, ENERGYbits are the only protein in the world that also contain natural antioxidants and Omega 3 which reduce muscle inflammation, iron which prevents fatigue, chlorophyll which builds the immune system and electrolytes which replenish mineral imbalances, all for just one calorie per tab. No other protein offers all this."
My sample arrived in the mail quite serendipitously the day before my first ever 15K race.

I was nervous for my first 15K. I'd never run that distance before, race or otherwise, and in my past two 10Ks (both just in July) I had encountered major fatigue issues which had resulted in miserable times. But now armed with my ENERGYbits, I knew it was the perfect time to test the product.

The bits come with their own handy tin, which I packed in my race bag prior to race day. The people behind bits suggest to eat 30 tabs about 10-15 minutes before activity, so I downed 30 tabs about two el stops before the race stop -- approximately 30 minutes before start time.

Nearly instantly, I felt like I could conquer the world. I am by absolutely zero means a morning person, and suddenly at 7am on a Sunday morning, I felt I could have just started running for hours.

It was really amazing how instantaneously the energy came. Maybe it was just my mindset, but it seemed the energy was specific toward activity. It wasn't just that I was awake, it was also that I just wanted to start running immediately and run for a long time.

I started my race according to the advice of a Biggest Loser contestant who had given me some phenomenal advice the day before. I told her about my issue with starting far too fast and then flagging later on in the race. She told me to let everyone go ahead of me for the first few miles. Not to worry about jostling for position or getting ahead of people but to let everyone pass me. I maintained an easy pace (around 10:30) throughout the first few miles, and then very slowly ramped it up (to a more 9:30 pace) in the latter half of the race.

Never did I once hit a wall. Zero walls. Not once did I experience fatigue or feel my chest tighten to the point of panic as it had for my last two races. In fact, I literally was smiling the entire race just thinking about how great I was feeling. Even as I passed the Mile 9 marker, I was thinking that I could have kept going even longer. I legitimately felt I could have had the energy, strength, and wherewithal to run a half marathon that day.

But it was a 15K. And as I rounded the last corner for the last 0.1 or 0.2 miles to the finish line, I broke into an all-out sprint. In all the races I've ever done of any distance, I have never found the strength to do the "sprint for the finish line" thing. But yet, powered by ENERGYbits, once I rounded that corner and saw all the people lining the finish (including my mother), I literally went into full sprint. I have never had remotely enough energy for that before! No matter how much I have wanted to full sprint to a finish line before, I have never been able to do so. I did on Sunday. I sprinted. After having already run 9.2 miles.

My time was about on track with what I was hoping for with my first 15K. And it was literally the most comfortable race of my life physiologically. I never felt fatigued or tired, I never felt that I needed or even wanted to stop, and I as previously mentioned, I felt I could have run even longer, despite having already run almost three miles more than I ever have in my life.

I just felt so amazing and energized and motivated after using ENERGYbits that I am 100% a believer now. For me, a frequent racer and someone training for bigger endurance events, ENERGYbits are invaluable fuel for me. I plan for all of my future races to be #poweredbybits, and plan to now be a loyal customer. The incredible energy and stamina I experienced with bits are well worth the price.

Trust me, I'm not the type to endorse a product if I think it's crap. I don't lie and I give proper credit to the things that I believe in. And after trying ENERGYbits, I believe in this product. Immediately after my race, I chalked my performance up to ENERGYbits. It's not just hype -- they really do work for runners. I'm a believer!

Thank you ENERGYbits!