Thursday, March 24, 2011

...And We Have a Winner! Rock 'N' Roll Nashville Half/Marathon Giveaway!

I knew that even if I gave myself weeks to think about how to select a winner, I'd probably never out-do myself for letting my cat select the ZYM giveaway winners. But I still was scoffing at the thought of heading over to to do the picking for something so awesome. This is a Rock 'N' Roll Nashville Marathon giveaway, for goodness sake. We need some some edge-of-our-seat excitement here!

So I adopted a little technique I found over on Steve in a Speedo's blog a few months back.

First up, I printed all the contestants. Thanks to a few of you for leaving comments that weren't actually an entry... jerks. ;)

The Rock 'N' Roll Nashville Contestants
Then I numbered all the legit entries (there were 27 of them). Brownie points to those of you who entered this contest seriously. :)

The REAL Rock 'N' Roll Nashville Contestants
And to determine the winner... in shows up a friend who doesn't even know I have a blog.

And there we have it!

The Rock 'N' Roll Nashville Marathon Winner!

Congratulations C*TINE! I hope you're ready to run a marathon in a month. ;)

Please email me at diaryofanaveragerunner [at] gmail [dot] com and I'll get your code to you right away. I can't wait to read about your race -- good luck! :)

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

ZYM Giveaway Winners! (Totally Scientific, Of Course.)

The time came to pick a winner for my ZYM giveaway, and since my review of the product was less than enthusiastic, I figured I'd need to pick a winner in a way that would liven things up around here.

The only thing I heart more than running is my sleepy 13-year-old kitten, Chachi. I figured mellow little Chachi could get off his butt and play an integral role by way of picking the winners. How does the laziest cat in the world pick a winner without opposable thumbs, you ask?


First, I wrote all the contestants and their reason for receiving an entry (following my blog, re-posting my giveaway on their blog, following me on Twitter, re-twatting my giveaway, and/or telling a hydration-related story) on a Post-It Note.

Chachi carefully reviewed the entries without so much as moving a piece of fur.
Then, I folded each Post-It Note into an origami cup. Chachi became very excited at the sound of folding paper and was ready to get this show on the road.

Chachi actually sat up to review my origami.
In each of the origami cups, I placed a cat single treat. Chachi normally has a mixed-variety of cat treats to choose from, but I bought a brand new pack JUST for this contest so he wouldn't favor one treat/origami cup over another. Yes, kids. I really did this just for you -- full well knowing that he could not care less.

Brand new bag-o-single-flavor treats.
Each cup got a treat.
Chachi actually got up and moved to the floor! He was clearly excited to pick some winners.
Then, I let Chachi at 'em. Whichever cup he pawed, clawed, and tore ferociously at the most would be the winner. And since this contest allowed for two winners, I let him destroy two cups for two tasty treats. What a lucky, spoiled little man.

The competition. Dun dun duuuunnnn.
Chachi cautiously sniffs out ZYM winner #1.
Chachi delicately finds ZYM winner #2. (Come on, Chachi. We want to see some annihilation here.)
Chachi is satisfied with his choices, but his feelings are hurt that everyone couldn't win.
Chachi would normally send a BIG CONGRATS to the winners he's chosen, but he's too lazy to wake up from his 23-hour nap. So instead, I'D like to wish a congratulations on Chachi's behalf to Angry Runner at AngryRunner and Julie from Julie's Running Blog! Please send me an address to which I can send your ZYM samples (e-mail to diaryofanaveragerunner at gmail dot com is great)... and do your best to enjoy. :)

While some may view smelling so many goodies as a form of cruel and unusual punishment, I assure you no animals were harmed, abused, or tormented in this selection process. Chachi will eventually eat all those treats, but for the sake of his digestive system and me being the one who cleans up after him, I will not allow him to have them all in one sitting.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Giveaway! Rock 'n' Roll Country Music Nashville Marathon & 1/2 Marathon! Giveaway Giveaway Giiiiiiveaway!!

Happy Pi Day, my fine fellow bloggers!

I have a code for the Rock 'n' Roll Country Music Nashville Marathon & 1/2 Marathon UP FOR GRABS*! The winner gets a free entry for the distance of their choice (be it the half or the full marathon). Race date is April 30th, 2011, and it's going to be one hell of a party!
I know some people don't like the Rock 'n' Roll events, and other people LOVE them. While I have never done one, I have done events of an extremely similar nature -- and all I have to say is: What's not to love about music at every mile marker (especially in a place with an amazing music scene), pre-race parties and post-race concerts, and endless entertainment for a weekend?!

I recently was given an entry to this Rock 'n' Roll race by my friends at Brooks Running, one of the big sponsors of the Rock 'n' Roll race series this year. I'm super excited to be able to pass along this entry so one lucky reader can have the opportunity to run this race!

The rules are simple: You'll get one entry into this contest for each comment you leave.


Follow my blog, and let me know that you do. (1 entry)
2. Link/Announce this giveaway on your blog, and let me know that you did. (1 entry)
3. Follow me on Twitter (@diaryavgrunner), and let me know that you do. (1 entry)
4. Tweet about this giveaway -- feel free to be creative, just include my blog and my Twitter ID. Something along the lines of "Check out for @diaryavgrunner 's Rock 'n' Roll Nashville Marathon giveaway!" will work fine. (1 entry)
For fun, let me know which distance you'd choose to run -- the half or the full -- and why. (1 entry)

I'll randomly pick a winner next Thursday, March 24th. Good luck!

Also, if you haven't entered my ZYM giveaway (man, I can't keep my head on straight with all these giveaways), do so soon! It ends on Wednesday and time is ticking away...

*I am not affiliated with the Rock 'n' Roll race series other than my connection with Brooks Running; I simply have a code I cannot use and am passing it along.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Race Recap: St. Patrick's Day 5k

St. Patrick's Day weekend is quickly becoming one of the best holiday weekends, simply because everyone seems to be running some sort of race! It's fun to read race reports, hear about new PRs, and admire funny costumes. From Ron completing his first ultramarathon, to Katie winning 2nd in her AG, to Page and Layla and Kim setting massive PRs, and to Alexa urging me to come out and run the same 5k as her, this whole weekend has been a blast to follow.

After doing somewhat well in the Strawberry Hill 5k+ about a month ago, I wanted redemption -- this time on a real 3.1-mile course, with a working Garmin, and maybe on a route that didn't include a 1-mile uphill. I thought I had a chance at PR'ing since I was holding something like a 7:16 average pace at Strawberry Hill, yet in the back of my mind, that race didn't "count" since the course was inaccurate and I didn't have my mile splits.

Alexa urged me to run the flat St. Patrick's Day 5k put on by the DSE Run Club. We started at Crissy Field, ran to the Fort Point National Historic site near the base of the bridge, turned around in some sketch-ass parking lot, and headed back.
This morning was pretty typical in San Francisco; it was in the mid-50s, overcast, and a bit hazy. The 5k route was indeed flat, and suddenly I had some new competition to help me go even faster. I had been trying to convince Sandra to come run the race with me, but instead her boyfriend, hereafter known as "E," had been talking smack on how he was going to win this race after only jogging a few times this year. Together, Sandra and I hold faster PRs than her boyfriend in every distance, and we wanted to keep this record going.

It occurred to me this morning that the only green clothing I own is a pair of CEP Compression socks, so this was as close to "dressed up" as I got for the event.

Mile 1 (7:04)

E and I started up front and he continued to talk himself down, probably trying to psych me out. He told me his goal was 30 minutes, and then he said it was actually 27 minutes, but then he admitted he had a 26-minute practice 5k earlier this week. He kept asking ridiculous questions (like "How do I know where go?" and "Is this really the starting line?") but he was just trying to make me lose my focus. I figured he was one of those natural athletes who'd get a solid time all while breaking me down from the inside, and I would have to try hard to keep him behind me.

The field. That tiny little guy in the bright yellow tank up front ALWAYS KICKS MY ASS SO HARD. Can I just tell you how much it sucks to constantly lose to a 10-year-old?
Mile 2 (7:20)
I managed to see E at the turnaround point, maybe 6 or 7 people behind me. This guy was killing it for having a training program that involved Egg McMuffins and lattes every morning. He even had the audacity to wave and smile, like he was barely doing any work.

Oh, scary bridge. I love you.
Mile 3 (7:30)
At this point, all I could think about was how I wished I hadn't eaten such a large breakfast. My endless gagging tasted like peanut butter toast, and it was seriously disgusting.

Little old me, nearing the finish chute! E is no where to be found, right?!
With about 2/10ths of a mile left, I kicked it into a higher gear, not knowing exactly where E was, and not wanting to turn around to look (which would probably make me throw up all over the place). I had slowed down a bit to keep myself from losing my breakfast and I felt like it could have come up at any moment. That last mile was really hard on my gag reflex.

Once I was in the finisher's chute, I heard footsteps quickly crunching in the gravel behind me. At the very last second someone showed up in my periphery. I busted into a hard sprint as E outstretched his neck to finish ahead of me, and the nice old man at the finish called out that I was the winner! Seriously though, I know it was a tie, and I cannot for the life of me figure out where E came from??! Sandra is convinced he hid in the bushes and jumped out at the end.

All that matters about today is that they said I beat him -- and Sandra and I can still claim that we're better than her boyfriend at everything. Okay, so at least at racing.

Overall, I ran really hard and managed a 43-second PR. It was a good race and I felt like I gave it everything I had. Normally after a race I feel like I could have given just a little bit more, but I really don't feel that way today. Who knows. Maybe next week I'll decide to try for a new PR in a different distance, since I can never seem to make up my mind on what I should be aiming at next. :)

The winners! E, me, & Alexa sporting our shiny new finisher's ribbons.
Finishing Time: 22:27 -- a 43-second PR
Average Pace: 7:16 min/mile (8.2 mph)
Overall Place: 60 out of 355
Gender Place: 8 out of 158
Air Temp: 53F, cloudy

3.08-mile splits: 7:04, 7:20, 7:30, :32

Monday, March 7, 2011

The First Ever Punk Rock Racing Donut Run

Ever since I had the chance to run with Ron in the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure, we realized we had more than our love for running in common: We both had an obsession with desserts. Vegan, organic desserts from Pebbles Donuts, in particular.

Since that fateful donut-consuming morning, Ron and I have exchanged numerous photos of donuts, cupcakes, and other amazing-looking desserts. We've had plenty of text exchanges claiming we need to get together to eat sweets again. We've had high hopes... and extremely busy schedules.

Last weekend, all of our talk finally turned into action at the first-ever Punk Rock Racing Donut Run. We met up at the Ferry Building on Saturday morning, ran up and over the Golden Gate Bridge along the Embarcardero, and then headed back.
The goal was simple: Get together to run, and then eat donuts. And we got to do this in the presence of a lot of other awesome Punk Rock runners/bloggers: Page, Nick, Katie, Karin, Tara, Layla & Rick, Rad, and of course Punky. There were no set distances (we all did at least 14, but some did upwards of 24), set paces (some ran 7 minute-miles, and some of us stopped to walk for a while), or any standards (other than to have fun). With Saturday's gorgeous weather, it was impossible to not have fun!

Rad (who came all the way up from LA for this monumental event), Punky, & me
Nick & Punky (If I took this photo for you on your phone, Punky, can I use it, too?)
Punky & me trying to avoid ransacking the Farmer's Market until AFTER the run.
Rad, me, Tara, & Katie
Rad & me at Chrissy Field.
Rad & me after crossing the Golden Gate Bridge. I was still scared.
Page, Nick, and Katie at the lookout point (Page, I totally stole your picture since I have none of you guys on your run!)
Sweet view from the Golden Gate Bridge.
Page & me back at the Ferry Building.
Rad, me, Page, & Pebbles Donuts, round #1
Punky, Tara, Nick, Katie, Karin, Layla, Rick, & Rad
I seriously cannot wait to do this again and I hope that we can do this much, much more than annually. Thanks for the fun run, everyone! :)

P/S: Be sure to enter the ZYM giveaway contest -- your chances of winning are great!

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

You've "Made It" as a Blogger When... (Hint: GIVEAWAY!) get asked to review things!?

I always wondered how bloggers got items or products to test and review. And then blamo! A couple of opportunities came knocking on my virtual door. Can I consider this my badge to becoming a real blogger?

CSN Stores

If you've been paying any attention to the blog world lately, there's been a lot of talk about the online CSN Stores. CSN Stores is kind of like Amazon, but, in my opinion, a more compartmentalized, organized, and easy-to-navigate-by-department version of Amazon.

CSN sells everything from office furniture to home decor to exercise equipment (probably where I spend the most time browsing!) to kids clothing/toys to shoes to pet supplies to ... well, basically just name anything and they have it. No matter the occasion, no matter what you're looking for, CSN has some version of it.

In the coming weeks I'll be reviewing the ease/use of the site as well as a product from their stores. I'm excited at this opportunity, so stayed tuned for that.

ZYM Electrolyte Tabs

Immediately after I announced my Nuun Ambassadorship (incidentally, right around the same time GU released their GU electrolyte tab to those now-infamous 26 bloggers), I got a strange e-mail that I thought was spam until I did further research. The e-mail was from a company called ZYM, and they were shocked I hadn't heard of their electrolyte tabs. (I mean, come on now. Have you?!)
ZYM's media contact was generous enough to send me some samples of their product to review -- and after weaseling my way around, I was able to get some samples for a giveaway as well! But before we get to the important stuff, let's do the review. Since Nuun is my only basis for comparison ... well, it's my only basis for comparison. Bare with me.

Unlike Nuun, ZYM comes in three flavors: Lemon-Lime (called "Endurance"), Berry (called "Catapult"), and Orange (called "Rival"). Each tab is sugar-free, contains 7 calories, and the the berry flavor has 100mg of caffeine for more intense workouts. The other flavors are caffeine-free. Every tube of ZYM contains 10 tablets and each tablet is to be dissolved in 16 ounces of water. That's a couple gallons of sugar-free electrolyte drink per tube, and the ingredients are gluten-free and vegan-friendly.

ZYM retails at $7.99-$8.99 per tube.

  • I first cracked open the lemon-lime "Endurance" tab and it didn't quite fit in my small-mouth water bottle. Nuun has a perforation down the middle that allows you to split the tablet in half (whether you only want to use half, say, for smaller Fuel Belt bottles, or if you want to put it into a small-mouth container, like the water bottle I used in the picture below). ZYM does not have that perforation; however, it was not difficult to work around.
  • I thought that the flavor was a bit too intense for my liking. Some people prefer stronger flavors when they work out, and ZYM is probably perfect for them! The lemon-lime was strong, the berry flavor lingers a bit, and the orange has some bite. None of the flavors are bad; they were, again, just strong for my preference, I found myself nearly doubling the amount of water they suggested -- maybe that's a good thing?!

  • Sometimes the ZYM tabs needed a little help in the dissolving process. A few of the tabs didn't quite dissolve on their own -- I had to swish it around to get the effervescence going again. It was not really that big of a deal (especially if you're on the run or riding a bike already, you won't even notice this), but for sipping this mid-afternoon, it was a little strange to think I needed to swish my water around before drinking it.
  • I thought that the Lemon-Lime ZYM was definitely the tastiest because it most closely resembled a sports drink. It has a pretty tangy flavor that was enjoyable while working out, and it definitely helped keep me hydrated and gave me more electrolytes than plain water.
  • Like Nuun, the container has a nice little plastic spring under the cap. This additional piece of plastic allows you to carry these tablets around -- whether on a run, bike ride, or just throwing them in a backpack for other activities -- without worrying about if they are breaking apart or turning to dust from all the shaking around.
  • The ZYM tabs actually contain more vitamins than Nuun. It has potassium (50mg) and sodium (250mg), which are good for when you're working up a sweat, as well as magnesium (50mg) and calcium (30mg). In terms of additional vitamins, it has C, B5, B6, and B12. The flavors and colors are natural, and the product is gluten-free and vegan-friendly. And that totally rocks.
Okay, okay. The Giveaway.

ZYM was kind enough to send me a bunch of individual packets of the Catapult (berry) flavor. I'm going to give these away so a couple lucky readers can give it a shot!

I know what you think these look like. This is a running blog, for goodness sake.
Here's what you should do ... please leave a separate comment for each of the criteria you want to do.

1. Follow my blog and let me know that you do. (1 entry)
2. Repost this giveaway on your blog and let me know that you did that. (1 entry)
3. Follow me on twitter (@diaryavgrunner) and let me know that you do. (1 entry)
4. Tweet about this contest. You can say whatever you want about the giveaway, but include my name -- or else I won't know that you did. (i.e., "I want to hydrate better, and @diaryavgrunner is having a ZYM giveaway that will help me do just that!") (1 entry)
5. And, just for fun, leave me a comment about the most ambitious hydrating method you've ever tried while working out. (1 entry)

I'll pick TWO!! random winners two weeks from today, on Wednesday, March 16th. Good luck!

*I received the ZYM products free of charge in exchange for a review.