Trail 2 Trail Series: Kettletown State Park Race Recap and a Zombie Pinky

T2T SeriesI’m just FINALLY recovering from my weekend which consisted of a “Wine and WOD” Ladies Only Crossfit Night (Stay Tuned!), a 10K Trail Race (EPIC!) and a kick ass training ride that turned into a time trial after I played cat and mouse with a disgruntled dude on a bike (Winner!). The weekend was fantastic. And left me totally glycogen depleted. Oh. And with a broken pinky finger but I’ll get to that in a few. Nothing an ice pack, a massage and copious amounts of beer couldn’t cure. That’s for sure.

The Start Pre-Monsoon. Photo: https://www.facebook.com/Trail2TrailSeries

The Start Pre-Monsoon. Photo: https://www.facebook.com/Trail2TrailSeries

I (happily) discovered the Trail 2 Trail Series, a competitive racing and endurance trail running series, a few weeks ago. Ever since I fell in love with trail running, I have been on the lookout for local races. The transition from road to trial for this broad has not been, shall we say…Graceful?  Yeah. No. Girlfriend needs practice. And confidence. Enter Kettletown. These races are fortunately right in my backyard. Well, not exactly. The T2T Series is in Connecticut. Which is practically my backyard as nothing is really more than an hour or so away. Their slogan is “We Won’t Do Easy.” And?  They’re not lying. Easy, it wasn’t. Fast, winding trails, very decent climbs, lots of rocks, single track and simply BEAUTIFUL. I suspect it would have been ABSOLUTELY beautiful if Saturday’s race wasn’t in the midst of a monsoon, but there you go. Trail Running is the Original Obstacle Mud Run. Hands down. Thank god I love mud because Saturday’s T2T Series Race in Kettletown State Park, was a greasy, challenging mud fest.  And I loved every slippery second of it. How could you not? Look how pretty it is.

Photo: www.facebook.com/Trail2TrailSeries

I would have snapped my own photos, but I feared my iPhone’s life in that rain. Photo Courtesy of T2T’s Facebook Page. http://www.facebook.com/Trail2TrailSeries

I decided after eyeballing the forecast, that I would run the 10K. They had other options available: 5K/10K/20K/50K all of which consisted of partial or multiple full loops of the 10k route. I was happy with my choice. Kettletown-SP-10kEspecially seeing as how I bit it crossing the one river on a patch of ice rock. After a string of profanities and a potentially broken pinky, I brushed myself off and continued on my merry way. Let’s be honest. It’s not trail racing unless you fall and have some sort of flesh wound. (Trail, 1. Colby, 0.) There were several pretty steep climbs coupled with leaf and rock strewn descents which the rain and humidity had made pretty slick. After my earlier fall, my Pinky and I turned into total Chicken Shits and were a bit more cautious. It is the 1 Year Anniversary of that long run where I fell and wrecked my face, so you can imagine, I was in full yellow-flashing-light mode. Feel free to relieve the horror here.

Along the route there was also really scenic, pretty views of Lake Zoar. The place where as a kid I learned to water ski. Ah. Nostalgia. The best part? I didn’t get lost. The course marking was excellent. Red flags on your left and you were golden. The only time they were on your right was if you were taking a sharp right turn, then then they went back to left. Very simple to follow. The race was sponsored by Energybits and Hammer Nutrtirion, two of my old favorites. I love Hammer Nutrition’s Enduralytes. They have saved my dehydrated ass on many occasions. There was plenty of grub afterwards and a swag bag with a few odds and ends. I think if you pre-reg’d far enough in advance, you could have gotten a race t-shirt. But as a Last Minute Nelly, I was shirtless. (Not topless, shirtless. Silly Fools.)

Such a great course.

Such a great course.

The thing I love most at trail races- even trail races in far less than optimal conditions like this one- is the general vibe. Trail runners are chill. Competitive, but friendly and relaxed. It’s been my experience that there is zero to very little pre-race hysteria more commonly found at road races. You know what I mean, right? The high knees. The sprints. The obsession over Garmins. The occasional attitude. I’ve never experienced that at trail races. And this race was no exception. Everyone here from the race directors to the runners themselves was just plain nice. Gotta love that. In fact, I registered for their next race as I was tending to my wounds from the first. I’m hooked. (And next time I’m getting a t-shirt!) This race very much seemed like it was for trail runners, by trail runners. It was well done and well run. Well, it would have been run well by me if it was drier and I was gutsier, but that didn’t even matter. I loved it. Busted zombie paw and all. See you next time guys!

Have you ever run a trail race? Do you have a local trail racing community? What’s the worst fall you’ve ever taken while running? I think we know mine! 🙂

Zombie Pinky conveniently obscured by awesome Janji singlet.

Zombie Pinky conveniently obscured by awesome Janji singlet.

Product Review: Powered by ENERGYbits!

About a month ago, Jonathan, the Community Manager at ENERGYbits reached out to Tina and I and asked us if we’d like to try a sample of their ENERGYbits. Bits? Bits of what? Curious Runners Were Intrigued.

A high protein, high performance, all natural, 100% gluten free, non-GMO verified, organic, vegan, no sugar, no caffeine, no chemical, no belly ache SUPERFOOD that we can run long with, without hitting the proverbial wall?!?!?!

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Sign. Us. Up.

ENERGYbits are not a supplement, they are 100% natural organic green algae. WHA-WHAAT? Algae. As in spirulina algae which is 64% protein and chock full of nutrients. These little bits pack a punch. How do they process it? It’s very simple. The spirulina is grown hydroponically, harvested and dried. They’re “bits” as in “bits of food” – not pills. Even though they look like ’em. They recommend that you swallow them, 30 tablets,10-15 minutes before your first run. You could chew them, but they’re very green and I’m guessing are an acquired taste.

Their website is full of benefits, testimonials and product information:
energy bits

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.

Meet ENERGYbits. And my beagle Pearl, who nearly snatched those bits right out of my paw. Evil Beagle. Tina and I were both given jazzy tins of bits to review. So you, Dear Reader, are getting a DOUBLE review! Two points of view! Tina’s will be well written and cohesive and mine will be laden with obscenities and run on sentences. That’s just how we roll. We’re honest. And each have our own opinion. Stress own.   20141027-212852-77332348.jpg

Colby’s ENERGYbits Review:
I popped a handful of these little green gems the suggested 10-15 minutes before I ran a very hilly 13 miles. I swallowed them with water. I didn’t dare chew them as they sort of reminded me of the food I fed the goldfish I had in 3rd grade. Don’t feed him too much Colby. He’ll turn into a shark. Just a pinch. Swallowing them wasn’t a problem at all. They’re not that big. I had eaten a sensible breakfast with a big old cup of coffee 2hrs before embarking on my ENERGYbits journey. I ran with a bottle of Skratch labs and extra bits, no other food. No gels. No chomps. Off I went.

I am going to admit, I was skeptical about them. {Insert arched eyebrow here.} Really? Algae? Ohhhhkay. I’ll give it a whirl. And?? They were fantastic. No joke. It was my longest run since my 50k and it was fast. I intentionally picked a route that was hard, and that I’d run 100 times. I know exactly how I feel when running it. Read: Shitty. This time however, I felt great. I usually crash after the 3rd big hill on this God awful run. I slow. I pop chews or gels, and the wind goes right out of my sails.

This time? Even. Even keeled. No peak. No crash. Just sustained energy. One of my complaints about gels is that The Boost is not prolonged. And since I’m all Little Miss Distance lately, I need sustained energy release. I was impressed. I popped a smaller handful more (15) after about 1hr and 10 minutes into the run and I sailed on home. They didn’t bother my stomach- but that fortunately has never been an issue for me. My only complaint would be that they need to come up with a better dispenser. I’m thinking a Pez knockoff or even a Tic-Tac container. The tin, although super cute, wasn’t fabulously functional on the road. But honestly, I felt so good and had such a great run, it was worth it.

The Verdict: I’m buying a bag of these bad boys. No doubt.

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Tina’s ENERGYbits Review:
As Colby mentioned, our friends at ENERGYbits sent us a tin of them to try, but we are not paid in any way for our review of the product – what follows is my honest, unbiased opinion. This morning, I gave ENERGYbits a try before my 18-mile training run – the last “long run” of my training for the Philly marathon. Three Word Review: TWO Thumbs Up!

I was very skeptical at first when Colby mentioned that we were going to try, ummmm, algae bits. I’m not a hippie. I’m not a wheatgrass person. I don’t even think I have chakras. And I was a little concerned that the folks at Shake Shack might catch wind that I was popping algae and take my VIP card away. (For our West Coast friends, Shake Shack is the NYC area’s answer to In-n-Out.) Being someone in desperate need of energy, though, I figured I would give them a try. Can’t hurt, right (unless my Shake Shack friends find out)?

I’m so glad I did.

My favorite thing about the ENERGYbits is that they did not bother my stomach. Everything I take for training energy bothers my stomach. At least, I thought everything bothered my stomach before I tried ENERGYbits. They definitely gave me a steady boost of energy throughout my run with no – I mean NO – digestive issues. This is like a Christmas miracle for me. And perfect timing, with the Philadelphia marathon a mere 3 weeks away. I now have a new go-to energy source.

I did not find them hard or weird to swallow. Yes, you take around 30 of them, which seems like a lot, but they are small. Call me a pill popper, but it didn’t bother me at all. I did not dare chew them, since the informational insert says algae is an acquired taste. Not something I would want to taste right before a long run.

I ran shortly after getting up this morning and forgot to eat before I left (I know, I know. Very bad. Very, very, bad.). I can’t imagine how I would have gotten through the run without the ENERGYbits. I did bring sports chews for a mid-run boost, but didn’t even need to dip into them until mile 12 or so. Had I eaten breakfast before I left, I think that the ENERGYbits would have been enough for the run and I could have ditched the chews altogether. For future runs, I think I might just bring an extra hit of ENERGYbits for a mid-run boost.

I have to admit that I tried them in large part to humor Colby, and whaddya know? I now plan on ordering a bag. Score one point for trying something new. I can see using these for daily energy when I’m dragging – not just for training runs – and I like that they have no caffeine or sugar. I definitely have days where I am so busy that I feel I need to grab a quick energy boost, and it usually is something that is caffeinated. I am going to try using these instead of an afternoon latte to see if they can serve as a more steady and healthy source of energy. I’ll be sure to report back.

Thank you ENERGYbits people, for sending these our way! I never – and I mean never – would have tried them otherwise and I am so very glad that I did!!

ENERGYbits are only available at ENERGYbits.com, and their Community Manager, Jonathan, would be happy to share more info on their sample program. He gets an A+ for Customer Service. And for you, Our Dear Readers, Jonathan would like to offer us a 10% discount code. Just enter the word BLOG into the coupon box and a 10% discount will be applied to your order! 🙂

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