Friday, August 9, 2019

A Gentle Feast: Our 2019 Cycle I // Form I Year

Summer has somehow slipped away and here we are, on the verge of returning back to school. Back-to-school brings about various reactions from parents. Relief, excitement and/or maybe some sadness?

As a homeschooling mom, I feel like we're transitioning from the laid-back summer schedule back into "game on" mode. Our family thrives on routine but outdoor time was priority this summer. Summer t-ball, swimming lessons, fairs and park time was really refreshing. It had been a looooong winter! Now it's time to focus on school prep.

Last year, I used My Father's World's Kindergarten curriculum along with Singapore's Earlybird Kindergarten Mathematics books for my oldest son, which was perfect for our first year of homeschooling. Now with E in 1st grade and W in preschool, we will be following A Gentle Feast, a Charlotte Mason inspired curriculum that easily accommodates teaching multiple students. As I gathered books and resources over the summer, I have been getting more and more excited about this! The literature is rich and beautiful - something I know the kids and I will both enjoy.

We will be studying Cycle I: Columbus, Conquest, & Colonies in Form I, which is for Grades 1-3. The readalouds will be shared as a family, toddler and all, and First Grader will have individual study for Language Arts and Math. Preschooler will have his own individual study as he would like. Though preschool should be mostly outdoor time, great books and play, I'll have a little something planned for him too.

Disclaimer: I am not compensated for this post but will receive a little $ if you use my A Gentle Feast affiliate linkThank you :)

A Gentle Feast: Our Cycle I // Form I Year

Morning Time:

Starting off, we purchased the Morning Time plan with our A Gentle Feast curriculum because it has all of our MT resources in one place. I love that! We dabbled in Morning Time last year and it felt like an overwhelming amount of resources to keep track of. Now it's mostly all in one place!

Our Morning Time book includes a Term Plan (for all 3 terms) and a weekly breakdown of our daily Bible readings, memory passages, hymn study with the sheet music, poetry, picture & composer study and our fables/tales for Form I. No more digging through papers. It's all there!

A couple of the resources we will be using along with the Morning Time book are Then Sings My Soul (excited for this - it's the background story of each hymn) and two books that we already owned, The Aesop for Children and Let's Speak Spanish.

It seems that Foreign Language is not considered a Morning Time subject with AGF but that's where I placed our Spanish lessons last year. I'll probably end up moving it when we get started.

Julie Ross, the author of A Gentle Feast, also created a Spotify playlist for each of the cycles. After purchasing the curriculum, you have access to numerous online resources that Julie has lined up for the curriculum. I really was happy to find a layout of Spanish lessons in her Foreign Language Plans along with French, German and Latin options.

Language Arts:

First Grader will be using 100 Gentle Lessons in Sight & Sound: Level 1 this year. I felt like the MFW Kindergarten curriculum gave him a great start in reading and wasn't sure where to place him in AGF.

Overall I think Level 1 will be a a great fit. Reviewing what he learned last year will be very helpful and we can move on to Level 2 (which is currently backordered) when he is ready. Writing up this post reminded me that I totally forgot our Handwriting curriculum! On that now :)

As for Preschooler, we will gradually work through Simply Charlotte Mason's Delightful Reading 1 kit that I have on hand. He's very interested in what his big bro is doing and enjoys doing his own school lessons as well.

Geography & History:

This book list is full of so many beautiful living books that we will be sharing as a family. With three kids in the house (some school age, some not), that means even Preschooler and soon-to-be two year old will listen in on the read alouds.

Will a two-year-old sit through all of the readings? Likely not. I plan to have snacks ready and a special play box for him to use during school. Narration will be expected from First Grader and I do usually ask Preschooler if he would like to say something before his older brother narrates.

Nature Study:

We will be working through Exploring Nature with Children with our co-op as well as in our regular lesson plans. The Burgess Animal Book and Birds of the Air are two new-to-us books that we will also be covering this year.


Because Math isn't included in the AGF curriculum, we are sticking with Singapore Math. E loved Earlybird Kindergarten Mathematics;. On to Dimensions Math 1A we go!

That's a peak at our Cycle I // Form I Year with A Gentle Feast! If you would like to try AGF for yourself, they are offering a two weeks free trial now. That was my first taste of the curriculum that won me over!

Monday, August 5, 2019

Artie3000 | Academics' Choice Review

Recently the coolest hands-on STEM learning project arrived on our doorstep...

Meet Artie 3000 The Coding Robot:

Artie 3000, a coding robot by Educational Insight, makes coding a creative and fun process for kids. He comes with four washable markers and follows code to create designs! Along with the markers, a quick start guide and pre-coded design activity cards are included. Artie 3000 does require 4 AA batteries that are not included in his box. (Thankfully we have a plethora of those at home!)

Our children are 6 years old, 4 years old and 1.5 years old, which is a little younger than the 7+ recommendation for this coding robot but we have still had a great time with him. The quick start guide is very easy to follow and set up is quick. Artie 3000 actually has a built-in WiFi server and connecting him to our Macbook Pro was a breeze. I expected the process to be much more complicated!

Our first test run with Artie was his easiest pre-coded design: a square. We made a few squares of different sizes and then played with the angles and the Repeat function to make crazy designs. The kids also enjoyed removing Artie's markers and driving him around like a "remote control" robot.

I feel like we tested only one of Artie's many capabilities. His quick start guide is simple enough for beginner coders (like us) yet he has other coding applications for advanced users of high-level, multipurpose programming language. How cool is that?! 

Basically as my kids grow in their coding knowledge, Artie can grow with them.

We tested out one of the pre-coded designs that featured a "Move right by 6mm" command that we weren't able to find (couldn't see how to "move right"). I'm not sure whether it was our error or a problem with the directions but it wasn't a huge disappointment to the kids. With my kids being in the early years of STEM, Artie was an absolute hit. His designs weren't perfect but that doesn't matter to a 4 & 6 year old. They love thinking up new coding directions for him and then watching Artie execute!

Artie 3000 is an excellent first STEM robot! He has introduced my boys to the basics of coding while fueling their creativity and creating lots of laughs. He has been a blast!

Visit to watch how-to videos and to learn all the cool things Artie can do.

Disclaimer: As an Academics' Choice Advocate, I was sent these products free of charge for my honest review. All opinions are my own.

Thursday, July 11, 2019

Science in Sport Giveaway | SIS Energy Gel Review

Disclaimer: I received Science in Sport Gels in exchange for my review as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador) and check out to review find and write race reviews!

When it comes to fueling as runners, generally you're either a gel person or you're just not. The thick texture of some gels can be off-putting during a run but not all gels are not created equal! Recently, I have been using a style of gel that feels more lightweight and refreshing than pasty gels I have used in the past. Even if you consider yourself to be "not a gel person", I still recommend giving these a chance.

Allow me to tell you a little bit about them and then Enter to WIN a pack for yourself!

As a BibRave Pro, I received quite a load of Science in Sport Energy Gels - from the energy+electrolyte gels to energy+caffeine to isotonic - it's a wonderful variety. So what's the difference between all those gel types?

Energy+Electrolyte: Contain added electrolytes to aid hydration. This gel delivers a rapid supply of easily digestible 22 grams of carbohydrates for energy plus 118mg sodium, 9.5mg potassium and 1.5mg magnesium.

Energy+Caffeine: Provides 150 mg of caffeine for high intensity races and long, tough days on the road along with 22 grams of carbohydrate per gel.

Isotonic: Designed to be consumed without (wow!) water and easily digestible while providing 22 grams of carbohydrate per gel.

I received the Apple flavored isotonic gels, Double Espresso flavored caffeinated gels, and Salted Strawberry and Lemon & Mint flavored electrolyte gels.

Though I am an avid coffee drinker in daily life, the Double Espresso was just too much for me (surprising, right?). The Lemon & Mint has been my favorite summer flavor thus far, as it's a refreshingly light flavor to take during a hot, sweaty training run!


Enter to WIN Science in Sport Energy Gels

BibRave and Science in Sport are offering a FREE 6 pack of energy gels to TWO lucky winners*. Here's how you can enter:

*Giveaway ends Monday, July 15 at 2:00 PM CT. Open to Legal Residents (18 years of age or older) of the US only. Prizes cannot be shipped to PO Boxes. Winners will be selected at random and be notified via Instagram. Winners will have 72 hours to respond before a new winner is selected. The product offered for the giveaway is free of charge, no purchase necessary.

DISCOUNT ALERT: Use "TRYSIS25" for 25% off your Science in Sport purchase.

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Sunday, June 30, 2019

I Am Wonder Woman! | DC WW Run Series Review

Disclaimer: I received free entry to the DC Wonder Woman Run Series as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out to review find and write race reviews!

Races have been on a roll this Spring and the Wonder Woman Half Marathon was next on my list. I left for the race on Friday afternoon, picked up my sister-in-law, Danielle, in Grand Forks and then we were Fargo-bound! The expo was our first stop, followed by a trip to the Savers thrift store (of course!)

The Wonder Woman Expo was pretty quiet around 5 pm when we arrived. Picking up our numbers and race packet was a quick process. Our Wonder Woman race kits were styled in true Wonder Woman fashion and the race photos and finishers video for this event were free. Yes, FREE! I received a race kit upgrade and decided to run in the golden Wonder Woman Visor. It was a little too warm for the caped socks. The rest of the expo had a dance floor set up and a bunch of Wonder Woman merchandise to look over.

Danielle and I stayed at our cousins' place in Fargo and had a great time playing witb their pet bunnies and Walmart shopping at 9pm. It brought me back to those late-night Walmart trips in college! I headed to bed around 10:30 or so and the rest of the crew went to bed at 1 am (those youngin's!). Tomorrow was set to be an early morning and a VERY hot day with the high of 93 degrees.

I was up at 5:00 am on race day, which really wasn't too bad for a race morning! Thankfully my cousins live only 5 miles from the Fargo Civic Center and traffic was quiet. This race certainly didn't create the same congestion that the giant Fargo Marathon does!

We capitalized on fun pictures with a real Wonder Woman and the themed backgrounds. This race had a ton of fun photo opportunities and our resident cousin+photographer Makayla (holding puppy below) took many fun pictures for us!

This is one of my favorites:

Now the running itself was going to be interesting! After seeing that hot and humid forecast, my goal of breaking 1:30 was likely out of reach for today. I figured I would start out on pace (sub-7's) and see how my body handled it.

Mile 1 - 6:54
Mile 2 - 6:46
Mile 3 - 6:48
Mile 4 - 7:00

This is where I crash and burn. I knew I had been tired this past week but usually I perk up on race day. That definitely didn't happen! My legs were already burning, the heat was making me dizzy and water/sports drink stops weren't helping. My mental goal officially turned to "stay under 8-min miles".

The course ran through some interesting scenery along the river and quiet paths, mixed with residential and city running. The problem was that the route markers were not very visible; black/yellow arrow signs were helpful but maybe not big enough or not frequent enough? They had helpful volunteers at many of the major turns but there were a few lonely portions without a volunteer or spectator in sight.

With the lead girl being SO far ahead and the rest of the group so far behind me, I was alone for most of the race and had one turn that worried me. I prayed that either I did choose the right direction or the Lord would nudge me to turn around! Thankfully I ended up running into another mile marker, just as I was about to pull out my phone and ask my cousin to tell me about the course map. Whew, that was a close one!

Mile 5 - 7:02
Mile 6 - 7:14
Mile 7 - 7:13
Mile 8 - 7:13
Mile 9 - 7:07
Mile 10 - 7:22

Wonder Woman had really awesome FREE race photos!

The heat became officially no fun at about mile 9. I just kept running because I wanted to be done and that was the only way to get to the end! Part of the course was an out-and-back layout and seeing the rest of the half marathon runners was encouraging and helped distract me from the running troubles I was having. This race was mostly women and everyone was so good at cheering each other on! Not to mention the awesome Wonder Women outfits running on the course.

Mile 11 - 7:27
Mile 12 - 7:35

Half marathon runners merged with the end of the 10k runners a little before this point. Seeing more people on the course serves as a pick-me-up usually (compared to running solo). Usually. The only issue here was they were taking up the entire running path in some spots. I said "please excuse me" and weaved my way through those patches.

About right now I wanted to either pass out or throw up. Heat just sucks. As my husband always says: "Remember, you signed up for this!"

Mile 13 - 7:27
Mile .1 - 6:37

Like I said: FREE race photos that don't suck :) 

In the homestretch I was able to pick up to what was supposed to be race goal pace. More weaving of the 10k running mob for that final kick and then I crossed the finish to come to a dead stop, not by my choosing. Unlike the Fargo Marathon finishing in the Fargodome, the Civic Center really doesn't have much space to "walk off" that just-ran-a-long-ways feeling. I wobbled around the crowded finish area and tried to regain some composure without passing out or throwing up.

I ended up finishing in 1:34:05. A PR by 3 seconds and the best I could do on that given day. I felt  disappointed about the run itself but I know I gave it all I had. Psalm 115:1 was my verse for this race and it reminded me that no matter the outcome: to God be the glory. My identity isn't rooted in performance - whether it's running, homeschooling or man's approval. My identity is rooted in Jesus Christ, which prevents disappointments from defining my worth and makes victories in life that much sweeter.

As far as the finish line situation, honestly I was pretty frustrated. The walking 10k group crowded around me after crossing the finish and I couldn't do much besides stand still and drip in sweat. It's not a great idea to stop moving immediately after a rough/hard half marathon effort. Because this was the inaugural race for Wonder Woman Fargo, I hope they will adjust some of the logistics for future years.

After grabbing M&M's, tortilla chips, a cookie and a banana from the finisher's food table, my family found me and we sat down on some nice cool cement in the lobby. That felt nice :) I stretched a little and then we made our way back to watch for my sister-in-law and her friend finishing up their half marathon run.

Makayla (far left) and Jesse (far right) took great pictures for us this weekend!

We listened to the live music, cheered on the finishers and then headed out for the rest of our day! After rinsing off, we went to Noodles & Co for a bowl of delicious carbs and made it to my cousin's house while a nasty storm blew through. Trees down, vehicles flipped on the interstate. It was ugly. During the race we were in a storm warning and praise God the race was over before that storm started!

Fargo's Wonder Woman Run was such a fun experience and I hope they make this an annual event. It's a must-run race for Midwest runners and a great "girls trip" to share with all of the Wonder Women in your life!

Thank you to my family and friends for a great weekend of hanging out and running and to my husband for holding down the fort with our little boys while I was gone! 
To God be the Glory.

Read my review on for more technical info on the Wonder Woman Run Series: Fargo

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Tuesday, June 25, 2019

June Bug 5k | Strava Review

Disclaimer: I received a Strava Summit Subscription and additional Strava swag as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador) and check out to review find and write race reviews!

This spring has been full of racing excitement! After running a freezing cold Frozen Feat 10k in February, I headed to Fargo Marathon in May and then we had this local 5k in June. Fargo Marathon was a huge PR breakthrough for me and the June Bug 5k ended up being the same!

As a BibRave Pro, I have been using Strava to log my running workouts and races. Strava is the #1 app for runners and cyclists that offers training/mileage tracking with a "social networking for athletes" appeal. I used Strava to save the course maps from our June Bug Run races this year.

Though I really didn't specifically train for the June Bug 5k in our new hometown, I went into the race hoping the training benefits from Fargo Marathon would still pull me through and hopefully get me a new PR.

My oldest son, 6 years old, ran the 1-Mile race and finished in 9:31! He ran the whole time and I was so impressed. He bikes many miles while I run but he doesn't often run himself. Many kids his age ran the 1k and he insisted on that 1-miler... I was thinking it may be a huge mistake but he really surprised me.

Maybe we have a future long distance runner here! He was so excited.

I ran alongside E for moral support and that also served as a nice warmup for the 5k. This was a night race and it must have been around 7 pm when the 5k was getting ready to start. By then, our 18-month-old was melting down and wanting Mommy desperately. That always messes with me! I felt bad leaving him so upset.

The 5k race started off very fast as some young boys took off at a 5-minute mile pace. I was with them but had a feeling it wouldn't last long! My goal was to stay under 6:30 per mile, shooting to finish in 19:xx.

The 5k is never a comfortable distance to run. Compared to the marathon, it just feels like being on fire, thankfully for a short amount of time though! I started out strong and faded after that first mile but was thankful to stay under my 6:30 goal. Legs, lungs, everything burned but it paid off.

I finished 1st overall with a finish time of 18:50 according to the race results! I'm not sure if I can count that as a new PR, as my watch did only log 3.03 miles (gahh, type-A runner problems!). Regardless of the little distance issue, that is definitely the fastest mile I have every ran - 5:57. I didn't realize I could run that fast!

All in all, the June Bug Run, which is put on by an amazing local church, was such a fun family night of running and community. We all had a blast!

Sign up for a free Strava account at or download the app in the App Store.

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Friday, June 14, 2019

PR After PR | Endure Strong Review

Disclaimer: I received coaching from Team Endure Strong in exchange for my review as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador) and check out to review find and write race reviews!

I have always been a self-coached runner but have wondered how a coach could help me out, especially in my running weaknesses. Over the past couple months, I have had the opportunity to be coached by Jared Ward and Andrew Webb with their Team Endure Strong. As a BibRave Pro, I received this coaching opportunity as I train for my half marathon at the end of June.

When I began working with Jared and Andrew, I was already about 15 weeks (of 18) into training for the Fargo Marathon and nearly to the taper. I didn't expect to use the coaching services much at that point, since I was already so far in to the Hansons Marathon Method plan, but Jared and Andrew prescribed a couple key workouts that I believe made a big difference on race day.

Through the Final Surge online coaching platform, Team Endure Strong gave me a training calendar to track my workouts, enter workout details and also message them with any questions that come up.

My calendar looks a little messy due to how my Garmin data imported!

We have had monthly coaching calls with Jared (he's an Olympian, by the way!!) and, rather than just sitting back and watching, he actually answers the questions that we type up. I was so surprised by how personalized his coaching program feels, even in a group setting like this!

As I prepared for my full marathon in May, the coaches were able to push me in the hard efforts that I wouldn't have had confidence to hit on my own. Let's just say running a 20-miler at a 7:36/mile average pace just in training is something I NEVER thought I could do! Jared and Andrew threw some race-paced efforts into that long run and it pushed me to a new level.

Along with pushing my limits, they also were great encouragers! The week following those extra hard efforts, I could tell I needed a little extra rest time in the taper. I ran that by the coaches and I felt like they gave me "permission" to take that extra rest. I'm not sure I would have done that on my own! It's so tempting to do more in taper, but they said the work is done. Rest up and it will pay off on race day.

And it did! Finally I was able to blow that old 3:22:05 PR out of the water with a 3:16:34! I know the Endure Strong coaching in those final weeks helped me hit that goal.

But that's not all! After recovering from the marathon and honestly feeling a little unmotivated, Coach Andrew gave me advice to take my workouts easy for that first week back and then to work into the hard workouts when I was more mentally/physically ready.

I knew I wanted to hit a new PR at our local 5k in town, ideally a sub-20 minute 5k, and I just wasn't sure I could do it after feeling so "doggy" post-marathon. My legs just didn't want to go fast. I didn't even want to wake up early in the morning to run anymore!

This coaching call link showed up in my email at the perfect time (race day, actually) and Jared had some solid advice for pace strategy in the 5k distance. I applied his thoughts to my evening 5k race and ended up with a PR there, too. My first mile was a 5:59, which is an unheard of pace for me. Chalk that up as another PR with Team Endure Strong!

Next comes the Wonder Woman Half Marathon on June 29th. I've set my sights on hitting another new PR but we'll see what race day brings with weather, health and life in general :) Though I am stepping away from my position as a BibRave Pro at the end of the month, I will definitely give you an update on my coaching experience with Team Endure Strong and the results of my half marathon!

Overall, I will say I am totally, 100% impressed with Team Endure Strong's coaching program. Jared and Andrew are awesome and they really care about their runners.

I was a little skeptical going into a coaching group like this. How could one coach give personalize attention to 20 different athletes? Would this be just a cookie cutter plan with minimal interaction?

Not one bit!

I have been able to email Coach Andrew many times with questions regarding training, nutrition and rest. He is very knowledgable, timely with responses and relays recommendations from Jared as well.  When I have been super tired after a hard workout or nervous about an upcoming race, they have had the exact words I've needed to hear. Team members have been able to ask Jared questions during the coaching call and he answers them on the spot! This is far from a cookie cutter program and I have enjoyed working with the coaches and the team very much.

I highly recommend Team Endure Strong to someone who is looking to take their training to the next level while not breaking the bank! Great program, helpful resources, awesome value.

Team Endure Strong Details:

  • Customized Final Surge Training Plans
  • Final Surge Access to Resources (past coaching calls, strength training, etc)
  • Live Coaching Calls with Jared Ward
  • Team Wall Engagement and Accountability
  • Easy Access to Coach Andrew for specific training questions
  • $39.99/Month - An excellent value for this personalized program
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Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Race Report: Fargo Marathon 2019

Marathon #11 is complete! Finding time to even type up this recap has been a tad bit difficult.

Life is just rolling; and with great, exciting things. Loving on my three kiddos, finishing up our homeschooling year and starting up with fun spring/summer activities just feels like a very full plate. (I know years from now I will look back and think of how "simple" these young days were, I'm sure)

Let's jump in here before I run out of time.

Fargo Marathon in one word:  Finally


Friday, May 17: Kid Drop-Off & Travel Day

My husband and I loaded up the kiddos (+ dog) and hit the road to Grandpa and Grandma's farm on Friday morning. First things first: drop off our oldest's t-ball registration form at the elementary school. He's super excited about that. Then we were on the road for the 1.5 hour drive there.

Arriving at the farm, my husband helped my parents and the vet work cows for preg checking and shots. Our oldest boy "helped" and I did my best to keep the little two out of trouble. After cows and lunch, Leo and I said goodbye and headed off for our marathon/anniversary weekend. This was the first time we've both been away from the kids overnight since 2015!!! Needless to say, it's been a while.

We enjoyed the three-hour drive in the car, just the two of us. Once in Fargo, we headed straight to packet pick up. Then to Saver's for a hot thrift store shopping date (where we ran into friends from home!) and ended at the West Acres Mall food court for supper. We know how to keep it classy!

I drank as much Gatorade and water as I could comfortably stomach to prep for tomorrow. Since my Fargo Marathon 2016 blow up, I have learned to hydrate well in the week prior to race day. As for "shake out" miles, my only run on Friday was from the race expo to our vehicle. Good enough!

We headed to the hotel after supper, got checked in and watched TV. It's not often that we watch non-kid shows so that was somewhat of a "treat" minus the fact that HBO is mostly trash now. That was a bummer! I (obsessively) checked the weather a few more times and finally decided on this outfit for a very cold, rainy race day.

Saturday, May 18: Race Day

4:00 AM - My alarm went off and the first thing I did was check the weather, of course. After seeing the current forecast shown below, I thought I would confirm by looking out the window. Yep. It's raining like crazy. Awesome. As my husband says, "Remember, you signed up for this!"

I opted for capris instead of shorts today along with a lightweight rain/wind jacket and a hat. Psalm 59:17 was my Scripture focus for this race. This was the first time I have honestly not wanted to run a race. The thought of going out in that rain for 3+ hours sounded insane to me.

I need the Lord's strength everyday, all day, and I would definitely be needing an extra dose to keep it  together in this race.

"You are my strength, I sing praise to you;
you, God, are my fortress,
my God on whom I can rely."

5:15 AM - I hopped on the shuttle at our hotel and headed to the Fargodome. Being able to ride the shuttle was awesome because Leo didn't need to head out in that weather. I packed my running shoes along in my bag and attempted to stay as dry as possible.

There was a friendly group of runners all riding that shuttle from our hotel and visiting with them calmed my nerves. We talked about the weather, of course, and I said this is why we train in all sorts of weather in the weeks leading up to race day. One runner said that she always hits the treadmill if the weather is rainy or cold... and I wasn't sure how to respond to that. In that case, weather like this particular race day's would suck!

Arriving at the Fargodome, we were able to wait indoors which was perfect on a day like this. Starting and finishing inside the Fargodome messes up my watch but it's worth it to stay dry and warm.

Danielle and I ran into each other this morning just like at Grandma's Marathon 2018. I was so glad to see her again and to catch up! Being marathon-running, homeschooling, moms of 3 boys gives us plenty to talk about.  I was her good luck charm at Grandma's last year (as she ran a sub-3 hour marathon!!!) and <spoiler alert> she proved to be my good luck charm in this race!

After a couple bathroom trips and bag drop-off, and a quick wedding (yeah, an adorable couple got married before running!), it was time to line up. My plan was to stick with the 3:15 group as long as possible. I threw any aggressive pacing plans out the window due to the forecast! The plan was to just hang in there.

7:00 AM - The full marathon herd takes off in the rain. Steady, not light but not quite downpour, rain. I jumped puddles for a while but soon gave up before finishing the first mile. This race was going to be a sopping wet mess.

Squashing wet shoes and thankful I wore my thinner socks, I stayed consistent with my pace group. Marathons are a guarantee that I will meet amazing people. Everyone has an interesting story and every runner I have met is very chatty.

One guy was from Birmingham, Alabama (marathon #38 for him). Another guy, who looked very cold, had flown up from Florida to run. We talked about interesting Fargo sights with a local woman runner, a mom of 4 who stopped to hug her teenage son mid-race and still ran a sub-3:15. And then there was the marathon maniac gentleman running marathon #91 and a track coach from Wisconsin who had run a marathon 3 weeks earlier yet came back for more. I'm always in awe of the people I meet on the run!

This race never lacked entertainment, whether it was fellow runner stories, cheering fans or live music on the side of the road.

Each mile flew by... until they didn't, around mile 22.

I entered the mental and physical pain cave at 22 and struggled to hold that sub-8:00 pace that I needed. The man running his 91st marathon said that the marathon is a dull, throbbing pain while racing shorter distances is a burn. Well said.

Personally I would say the marathon feels a lot like those monotonous labor contractions before things really start to heat up. I felt very thankful to not actually be in labor that day. I decided to keep the labor thoughts to myself as I figured he couldn't relate?

To pass those struggle miles, I let myself walk through a couple aid stations as I sipped Gatorade. Not because I needed more to drink at that point but to boost the overall morale. Those last miles can be a little crazy on the emotions!

Being in the hurt tank but knowing I chose to do this.
Loving it at the same time.
Thanking God that I CAN do this.
Seeing kids on the sidelines and missing mine.
Wanting to stop running but not wanting the race to be over.

Physical exhaustion turns me into a basket case! My watch couldn't pick up anything too close to the Fargodome but I increased my pace and finished in what felt like the 6-min mile zone. I love finishing in a people-filled Fargodome; it's an exciting way to end it all!

3:16:34. I didn't know my finish time until Leo looked it up for me, thanks to my psycho watch. As for that 8-year-old PR of 3:22:05, I was ecstatic to blow it out of the water. Falling out of my 3:15 pace group wasn't a disappointment at all. I hung on and all went well.

I just kept saying to myself: FINALLY!!!!!!!

After being stuck in the 3:20-3:30 marathon times for so many years, I am so glad to have finally broken free! Who knows what future races will bring. The victory is that, a wedding and 3 kids later, I was finally able to break that 2011 PR. A bonus is that the weather was perfect for my last PR and it was pretty rotten for this new PR. That feels awesome. A sub-3:00 marathon just may be a possibility years down the road. We'll see.

Even sweeter than a new PR, this guy, my husband of 7 years now, arrived just in time to see me finish:

AND my aunt, cousins and cousin-in-love braved the weather to cheer me on with the sweetest signs ever:

I love these!!!

Thank you to my husband for a wonderful anniversary weekend and for 7 years together. To my family for coming to cheer me on and a HUGE thank you to my parents for watching ALL THREE boys while we were away. And, as always, I praise the Lord for the ability, endurance and health to run at all! 

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