Tuesday, October 23, 2012

The Instead Softcup Challenge (FOR LADIES ONLY)

 Before I start this review, I just want inform readers that I am reviewing Instead SoftCup, which is Period (Menstrual) protection.  I WILL GO INTO DETAILS!!! 

 So I was really excited when I came across an opportunity to give Instead Softcup a try through a blog I LOVE called For the Love of the Run. This is how the challenge works: I receive free samples of the Instead Softcup, I give them a try during a menstrual cycle and review them on my blog. In return, Instead Softcup reimburses me the cost of a race registration!!  So even though I received the samples for free, the review expressed below is 100% my opinion. :) So here it goes...

When I ran in high school, I had used pads until a friend of mine introduced me to tampons, I found that when I wore them, I was a bit uncomfortable and if I didn't have the right ones, I would leak.  I also noticed that I would begin feeling nauseous, not sure why.  When I stopped running, I would normally use pads, even though of course they were not the most comfortable, they were better than leaking and feeling sick.  Since I started running again, I realized when running longer, pads would not work, so I went and bought a box of tampons.  It just always seemed like the only other option.  I dealt with the same issues when running: feeling uncomfortable, nauseous and fear of leakage.  I reached my last straw when I ran 10 miles with the half marathon group a month ago and had a very bad experience.  I decided then I would start researching other options and really wanted to see what other women long distance runners where using instead of tampons.  That is when I came across Instead and the Softcup challenge.

They came in the mail right away and I instantly opened up the box it came in.  There was a paper that explained the challenge and a month/2 month supply of Softcups (depending on your cycle)
I decided to open up the Softcup box and take out one Softcup...

It came nicely sealed in a small purple wrapping, just as a pad or tampon comes in.  Before I opened the wrapping I decided to open up the pamphlet that came along (which one of my girls had already looked through if you notice the wrinkled pamphlet!! ) It came with all the information I needed.  Here is some of the information I read:
 It start off with a question:  How does Softcup compare to tampons and pads?
-Softcup  can be worn for up to 12 hours!!
-Softcup is comfortable
-Softcup provides leakfree protection that doesn't interrupt a woman's life

-Softcup can be worn overnight.
-When place properly, it cannot be felt when wearing
-It can be worn during sports and swimming
-It eliminates menstrual odor (flow not exposed to air)
-Is not associated with Toxic Shock Syndrome
-Does not contain residues of bleach, pesticide or dioxins
-Can be a comfortable solution for women that experience heavy or irregular heavy or irregular periods.
 Softcup is approved by the FDA.  It is made from a non-absorbent, non- irritating medical grade material that has been used for more than 20 years in the healthcare industry and in medical device such as baby bottle nipples and catheters. It does NOT contain latex, silicone or dioxins.  It is BPA-free and contains NO residual fibers, bleach, pesticides carcinogens or PCBs.

"There are no strings and no wings"

More than 100 million Softcups have been sold since the products introduction in 1996, and there has NEVER been a reported incidence of Toxic Shock Syndrome (TSS). 

I had to wait about a week to officially use the SoftCups.  I have to admit I was kinda nervous trying something new.  The pamphlet also came with a "how to" page with illustrations, I, of course read the how to a couple of times before I was confident that I could insert correctly.

Here are the steps:
1.) With clean hands, and sitting on the toilet (which is the recommended position) Hold Softcup so that the bottom of the cup hangs down.

  Squeeze the opposite sides of the rim together.

2.) Keeping the rim squeezed together, Insert Softcup completely into your vagina.  When you are sitting, your vaginal canal is horizontal, sloping slightly downward and back as far as it will go.  It will slide into place under the cervix and behind the pubic bone.

3.) The Softcup then conforms to your internal shape, forming a personal shape.  When inserted properly, you shouldn't feel it. Softcup fits in the natural space under the cervix and next to your pubic bone. If you feel something in the vaginal canal, the cup is not placed far enough inside of you.  

Okay so I started on Saturday night.  I decided I would give the Softcup a try while going to church the next morning.
 After relaxing and rereading the instructions carefully I inserted the soft cup.  Then continued on with getting my girls ready for church.  It didn't hurt but it did feel a bit uncomfortable.  When I came home, I did not have any leakage whatsoever, but I felt like I may have not inserted it all the way. I decided to take it out and try it again.

Here are the directions for taking the Softcup out:
 4.) To remove Softcup, sit on the toilet with your knees apart.  Insert your finger into the vagina.  Feel your pubic bone- the Softcup rim will be right behind it.  Hook your finger under the rim.  Slowly pull Softcup out of your body keeping it horizontal and level.  Do not pull down like you would with a tampon, as this can lead to spillage. Place the Softcup inside the wrapper or wrap it in tissue and throw away.

So after reading the directions. I went on ahead and took the Softcup out.  I think since I was a bit nervous, I did not pull it out correctly and I did get  (SORRY)... blood on my fingerI also didn't have anything prepared for when I was going to throw it away so that was another messy issue.

 I went on ahead and inserted another Softcup.  I made sure I pushed it as far as it would go and began getting ready for the rest of my day.  My girls and I planned on going back to church for a Fun Fest, where there was Inflatables playgrounds, games, food and some good music.  I did go to the restroom a couple of times to check on the Softcup... well that and I have 2 toddlers that go potty now. :) I had no run planned for Sunday but I did chase after my girls a couple of times!! Here is a pic of Hope:

 When we arrived home, I got my girls ready for bed and when they went to bed, I went on ahead and decided to see how the Softcup was holding up.  I decided I would go on ahead and replace it. (I also wanted to practice taking it out as the first attempt was a mess. :(  I wore a panty liner just in case, but again, didn't have any leaks!!  This time I had the wrap prepared and my hand was more stable taking it out so there was no mess but still a little blood on the tip of my finger. My cycle was pretty heavy this month and I contemplated whether I should attempt to wear a softcup overnight.  After thinking it over, I decided I would go on ahead and give it a try.
The next morning, lets say I slept about 6/7 hours.  Hope woke me up as she always does by climbing all over me in bed.  I got up as I always do and did my normal routine (which usually leads me to the kitchen.) As I was in the kitchen getting some breakfast made, I remembered about the Softcup and ran to the restroom.  I wore a panty liner again, but there was no leakage!! Awesome!!! I got everything prepared to take out and was more confident in taking it out and was successful this time... No mess!! Woohooo!!!  I decided that I would go on ahead and try to wear the Softcup for 12 hours.  I went on a 4 mile run that morning and could not even feel it!! Total comfort while running!! I got home showered, and went on with my day.  I really think that I had placed it properly on that day because I did not feel it all day.  I put the Softcup in at 9 in the morning.  I also put on a pantyliner (just in case) All day when I went to the restroom, I would check my pantyliner and had NO leakage.  When 9 P.M came around I was ready to take the Softcup out.  When I went to the restroom to take it out after my girls were in bed, there was a little bit of spotting on my pantyliner but not a lot.  I made sure to have the wrapper prepared and also took my time taking it out.  I had already prepared myself for a mess and there was a little bit of blood but not like the first day that I had tried it.  I then did the same thing, wore one overnight with no problems.
 I had decided I would wear the Softcup for 6 hours instead of 12. I ran 4 easy miles in the morning and went about my day with no issues, no pain, no sickness, no leakage.  
By day 4 I felt like I perfected the insertion of the Softcup and really liked that I could not feel anything!! I didn't feel sick,  I ran 6 miles and again had no leakage.  The only thing that I have not perfected is taking it out but I do think if I keep on practicing I will get it right.

I had intended to go on a long run on the 5th day but my cycle had already finished.  It seemed like this time it was a very heavy/short cycle.  I am definitely gonna need to add to this review when I do run 10+ miles next month.  In conclusion, I have to say that I really like Instead Softcups, When they are placed properly, you seriously forget you are on your period. I had no leakage during this trial.  When wearing tampons, I was always so paranoid that I had leaked through, and some times I did.  With Softcup, the only time there was a little leakage (spotting) was when I tried it for 12 hrs.
Running with the Softcup was awesome because again, there was so pain/ discomfort and no leakage.  As I mentioned before, the only issue I had was taking it out but that to me, is a small thing and the pros totally outweigh the one con I experienced.  Like any new thing, of course it does take time to get used to inserting/taking out the Softcup, I know that for some that may consider giving it a try, it will take time.  I was so ready to try something different.  I DON'T LIKE tampons!! I look forward to continuing my use of Instead Softcup.  I will be officially starting marathon training in a couple of months!!  I'm excited to run longer mileage and happy that I will be using Softcup along the way.  With that said, I normally run with a 20oz.  handheld water bottle (Amphipod)  This handheld bottle has a pocket to store keys, gels..etc, I decided to place a Softcup in the pocket to see how well it fits:

 It fit nicely since the Softcup is compact and flat, lots of space left for gels, keys, etc!!

 Did I mention that softcup can be worn during intercourse?? Yup it can.

If you would like more information, don't hesitate to ask me questions or you can check out their website: http://www.softcup.com/  and "Like" their Facebook Page

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Allstate 13.1 in the Books

I did it!!! I ran my very first half marathon.  It was an AMAZING experience!!!
 So I guess I will start from the beginning... One word of advice: DO NOT drink coffee the day before the race... epecially if you haven't really drank coffee in the last couple of weeks!! I had no idea a small 8 oz. cup would have me bouncing off the walls all day (and night.)  Pre-race jitters and caffeine DO NOT MIX!! My main focus for the week before was eating right and hydrating ALOT.  By race day, I felt very well hydrated and ready to go.  My husband was so sweet and left work early so that he could put our girls to bed and I could get to bed super early as well.  Of course with the caffiene and excitement, I laid on my bed with my eyes wide open.  After an hour of laying in bed, I went to bug my husband who, sent me back to bed. I finally laid in bed and was able to relax a bit.  I closed my eyes and tried to envision myself crossing the finish line. I prayed to God and thanked Him for bringing me to this moment in my life.
The morning came very quickly... I had my alarm wake me up at 3:45 in the morning.  The race was in Town Brookhaven (Atlanta) and my husband wanted to park really close to where the race was starting and finishing before they closed the roads.  We left the house at about 5a.m.  My girls were both up and in a good mood, thank God. I really loved where the race was because there were many places for food/coffee and a Publix supermarket right across the street.  This was really helpful to my hubby who had 2 toddlers who are going potty now. :)  I had plenty of time to warm up, stretch and visit the porta potties before the lines were super long.  It was great weather.  It was in the mid 50's the whole way through. I had planned on wearing shorts and a tank top along my my compression sleeves.  I also wore a very light long sleeve shirt before the race started and was planning on throwing to to my husband as I ran by.  I ended up taking it off before the race even started.I lined up in back of the 2:20 pace group.  My last decision before the race began was whether I should run with or without music.  I had ran only a couple of times with music during training, but I finally decided to take it along with me.  I realized that I would need a way to focus and stay mentally positive during the 13.1 miles.  I have to say that it was a great decision!! I listened to worship music the whole way through.  The music kept my perspective on point, it also allowed me to focus on God and how awesome He has been in my life.  Running to me, is a form or worship, where others may sing, paint, etc... I run.  He has been my running partner this whole time and I couldn't have done it without His presence.
My goal was to run the race in 2:20.  The course was tough in some places because of hills but it was so beautiful. There were so many people along the course and many water stops/portapotties.  I ran with my amphipod handheld water bottle so I really didn't need to stop.  In the neighborhood areas, there were little kids with their own little water stops as well, which I thought was so cute!! The course was very scenic, I focused on the beauty of the course rather than the hills.  Most of the time I just focused on the worship music I was listening to.   The last stretch was a straight road that seemed like it was neverending.  I tried to keep my eyes focused on my steps rather that how far I had to go.  I had about a mile to go, I was almost there!! I told God all I wanted was to finish strong.  I knew that the "kick" I had been training for needed to come out and finish this race.  I don't know how fast that last mile was but I ran as fast as I could, I kept on reminding myself I had worked hard and believing that I would finish strong. It was tough, but the adrenaline pushed me forward.  When I crossed the finish line, I raised my hands up to the Lord and thanked Him. I thought of my babies in heaven and dedicated the race to them. I then looked around and saw my hubby and my girls, he was holding a sign up and had a single rose for me!!

This pic was right after I crossed the finish line!!

 I can't begin to express the feeling of crossing that finish line... it felt AMAZING!!! I teared up a bit as I continued to walk to meet my husband at the end of the race line.  I did it, I ran my very first half marathon and I finished strong!!!  Immediately after I met my husband and huged and kissed him and my girls, I started to feel sore, cold and achy.  I drank a chocolate milk that they were giving to the runners and covered up.  We stood there and waited to meet up with the rest of the Back on My Feet crew.  It was a great feeling to see the rest of the group finish and share our stories of the course, etc.  Here is a pic that was taken of my family... Gracie was done with taking pictures at this point. Poor Baby!!
My beautiful family, Gracie is ready for food and a nap!! 

We walked around the booths and I was able to meet with the founder of Moms Run this Town, Pam Burrus, which was really cool!! I also saw the marathoner who ran with me a while back at Silver Comet!!! He ran the race as well, I noticed him right away as he passed by me during the race, I really wanted to find and say hello to him, he was so helpful and so encouraging.  He surprisingly remembered me and I was able to introduce him to my family, he asked about my time and told me by next year I should be running the half in 2:00 or less!! We talked for a bit and said our goodbyes, he runs all the races, so I'm very sure we will meet again.  Then the Back on my Feet crew got together for a pic:

 After we took the pic, I decided I wanted to see what my official time was.  I got in line, stretched a little and talked to a few others in line about the race.  Everyone that I spoke to really enjoyed it and had nothing negative to say, it truely was a great race.  I went up said my name and bib number and the gentleman says: Jessica Messer 2:18.09!!!!   I have to say I did not even think I broke 2:20 when I crossed the finish line so when he told me my time, then wrote it down for me, I stood there for a minute and gazed at it!! I ran to my Terran and gave him the paper, He immediately said "WHAT??!!!" and we hugged and I cried a little bit or maybe a lot!! It was the best moment ever!!!! Even though I did not really tell much people about my time goal, it was something I was really hoping to accomplish, and I did it!!!

Allstate 13.1 Finisher

I was really sore the past couple of days, I made sure to get lots of sleep, spend time stretching and rolling.  Today I am walking normally, whereas the past couple of days I looked like a robot. My confidence has grown by this experience. I am more than excited to start training again and prepare myself for future races. My faith in God is on fire and I am ready to continue to run for Him and chase after my dream of becoming a marathoner!!

Monday, October 1, 2012

One Week to Go!!!

Well, this next week is going to be exciting!! I'm almost certain I will have a hard time sleeping most nights.  At this point, I am waiting for it to sink in.  I have 3 more training runs to go until I have completed my training plan. I really enjoyed following Hal Higdon's intermediate half marathon plan. 
 So this past week went well, I did have a hard time waking up in the mornings but the thought of being so close to finishing the plan was enough to get out of bed.  I experienced my first cold morning on Tuesday and survived, I'm really gonna have to gear up for the winter runs if I wanna stay off the treadmill all winter. I ran  6 miles on Saturday with Back on my Feet in Atlanta and felt great.  I am always encouraged and inspired by this group.  I truly am honored to be running with and representing an amazing group of people on Sunday.  I thank my friend Barry for introducing me to the group.  I really don't think I would be pursuing my dream with as much passion had I not joined this group.
I really dont have much to write because as I said before, I am still waiting for it to sink in.  It probably won't sink in until I've crossed the finish line!!