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 BibRave.com 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 Strava.com 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 BibRave.com 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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Thursday, May 16, 2019

The Most Important Piece of Race Gear | Runderwear Review

Disclaimer: I received Runderwear Low-Rise Hipster in exchange for my review as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador) and check out BibRave.com to review find and write race reviews!

Fargo Marathon race week is upon us and what better time to talk running underwear than today?! Undie talk is a little awkward. That's for sure.

Our bags are being packed up for the trip and, as I'm working out my race day gear line up, it's worth mentioning that running undergarments are possibly the most important pieces of running gear on race day. They really can make or break majorly chafe you!

As a BibRave Pro, I received the Runderwear Low-Rise Hipster which claim to be chafe free. I happily tested these out during the peak of my marathon training. Do you think they passed the test?

After running through workouts of varying distances and speeds, numerous washes and daily wear, my experience with Runderwear's Women's Low-Rise Hipster is that they live up to the Chafe-Free Guarantee! A good pair of running undies is unnoticeable throughout the run (and after) and that's exactly what the Runderwear Hipsters are like.

The seamless, tagless design along with the breathable material of Runderwear Hipsters is to thank for the lack of chafing in these hipsters. Personally I would to try Runderwear's Women's Brief as well. The hipsters fit comfortably but for those with a little more "behind them", I think the brief may offer more "full coverage".

The low-rise waist wasn't as low as I expected and that I like! Supportive undies are a plus on those long runs and races. If you're sick of mid-run wedgies or painful chafing, I recommend checking Runderwear out. They know the importance of a runner's undies!

DISCOUNT CODE: Use "BIBRAVE20" for 20% off your Runderwear purchase. Valid until Friday, May 31 May.

Runderwear Low-Rise Hipster Specs

  • Technical fabric is lightweight, label-free and designed to wick sweat away
  • High performance moisture-wicking fabric with mesh panels containing micro perforations
  • 360 degree seamless design
  • Enable you to run comfortably chafe-free!
  • Available in black, white, cyan and pink
  • $23.00 for Hipster and $25.00 for Brief on Runderwear.com
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Friday, April 26, 2019

Must Have for On-The-Go Pups | Stunt Puppy Nano Bowl Review

Disclaimer: I received the Stunt Puppy Nano Bowl in exchange for my review as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador) and check out BibRave.com to review find and write race reviews!

The beautiful weather has arrived and we have taken full advantage by taking daily walks and frequent adventures to the park. I pack up a lunch for the kids and I when we head out for a longer stretch and, of course, we need to bring something for our dog, Saul, too.

I used to pack Saul's metal dog food bowl in the bottom of the stroller and it just seemed to take up space. Not to mention making everything else down there dog-slobbery as well! But, just like us humans, our dog needs a drink too! Thankfully, there was another way...

As a BibRave Pro Dog, Saul received the Stunt Puppy Nano Bowl to try on our park trips, after which, he took notes and passed them on to me for this post ;)

The Nano Bowl arrived folded up into a handy little square, small enough to fit in my pocket and weighing in at only 1 oz! The Stunt Puppy website notes that you can attach it to your dog's collar but I preferred to toss it in our stroller. After a quick unfold, I poured a water-bottle's worth into the bowl. The Nanopore Waterproof™ Membrane is indeed waterproof. Not a drop leaked on to our sidewalk, which proves this would be a handy indoor portable water bowl as well.

We brought it on our trek to the park and Saul was very impressed. The bowl holds up to 3.5 cups of water and is easily hand or machine washable. I'm thankful for that because Saul always leaves his bowl quite drooly! On our summer camping trips, we will be using this bowl and could certainly use another Nano Bowl to hold his dry food.

The Stunt Puppy Nano Bowl is a well-thought out product for active pet owners. I have reviewed a few products by Stunt Puppy and they know their pet-loving customers well! Saul is now too old to go on very long runs with me, though I could see this being perfect for a four-legged running partner who needs a hydration break on the run.

I highly recommend this Minnesota-made product. Stunt Puppy knows pets and their owners!

Stunt Puppy Nano Bowl Specs

  • Holds 3.5 cups of water
  • 5" diameter, 5" deep
  • Weighs only 1 oz!
  • Nanopore Waterproof™ Membrane, FDA-certified non-toxic and chemical free
  • Available in grey (pictured above)
  • Hand and machine washable
  • American-made fabric & construction (actually made in Minnesota!)
  • $20.00 on StuntPuppy.com
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Monday, April 22, 2019

Music City Favorites | Nashville Notes Runner's Guide

Disclaimer: I'm promoting the Nashville Notes Runner’s Guide as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador) and check out BibRave.com to review find and write race reviews!

If you're heading to Rock 'n' Roll Nashville, there is SO much to take in during your visit. My family and I flew there for a family reunion last November and we enjoyed the amazing sights and perfect weather. Even though we had a ton of fun, there was much more to see and too little time to hit it all!

I'm going to give you a quick run down of my favorite family stops and some that we missed in Music City. For a thorough list of stops, check out the BibRave Nashville Notes Guide to Music City presented by Brooks on Pinterest and Google Maps (see below).

First things first, you're there to run, right? Stop by Brooks Running for all things running:

Take in the Sights

"If you love art and classic architecture, then the Parthenon is the perfect trip for a relaxing afternoon in Nashville. Built in 1987, the Parthenon is not only a full size replica of the original Parthenon in Greece, but also home to an art museum which features 63 regular paintings and regular rotating exhibits. Situated within the 132 acre Centennial Park, a visit to the Parthenon makes for a perfect cool-down after a morning run through the park." — Nashville Notes
The Parthenon was a hit with our family, cousins, aunts, uncles and grandparents included. I so enjoyed the sights in the park area surrounding the Parthenon and that was before even getting into the building! It's huge, amazing and such a great learning experience. The kids ran around and burned off energy while we were able to read up on the history.

We had a picnic lunch by the nearby bike path with our families and later went back that evening, just the adults, to see the Parthenon in lights. I highly recommend checking out the Parthenon, both day and night!

Downtown Stops

"Have your running socks ready to be knocked off by soon-to-be stars and maybe even a music legend or two while you make your way through Ole Red’s redneck-themed menus. Ole Red is setup as a bar, restaurant, and concert venue created by country music superstar Blake Shelton. The ‘Ole Redneck Fashioned’ is an ideal post-race drink and is sure to get your toes tapping again. If you’re looking to keep the party going after your race, Ole Red’s is a must add for your list." — Nashville Notes
While the kids were well cared for and heading to bed, the parents and siblings went out to explore the Nashville night life! Downtown Nashville was swarming with people and full of action. We enjoyed a drink on the rooftop of Blake Shelton's Ole Red while listening to live music.

"Tootsie’s is one of the most iconic and historic honky tonks in Nashville. Step through the door and you’ll be walking into 60 years of country music history. Nearly every name you’ve heard of in the industry, and thousands you haven't heard of, have passed through the doors at Tootsie’s. " — Nashville Notes
The history behind downtown Nashville is just amazing! We spent much of our time downtown looking at old photos that told the story of these historic honky tonks. Thinking about the amazing musicians that have walked through the door at Tootsie's Orchid Lounge just blows my mind!

The Eats

"Red Bicycle Coffee has three convenient Nashville locations ready to greet you with their boutique coffee shop charm. To pair with their high-end coffee selections, The Red Bicycle has a wide range of crepe choices ranging from savory to sweet making this a perfect start to power your Nashville morning." — Nashville Notes
One can never have too much coffee, am I right? We didn't make it to this stop during our Nashville trip but I would love to have a sweet latte paired with crepes on a return trip. The drinks at Red Bicycle Coffee look absolutely drool-worthy!

What will be YOUR first stop in Nashville? 

Plan your trip using this ultimate guide designed with runners (like you) in mind:

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Friday, April 19, 2019

Making Strides with Strava | 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 BibRave.com to review find and write race reviews!

Hey all! Hope spring training is treating you well! The peak of Fargo Marathon training is near and, praise the Lord, I am running healthy and un-injured. I am thrilled to make it this far in the Hansons Marathon Method program without a replay of last Fall.

Let's talk training. 

I have tracked my training over the past ten marathons in various ways, from daily journal entries to blog posts to physical training logs to online logs. I had used DailyMile in the past but they recently shutdown. That was a bummer but, as a BibRave Pro, I was presented with an opportunity to work with Strava just in the knick of time!

Strava is a program that offers tracking for running and cyclists with a "social networking for athletes" appeal. Users are able to track their mileage on Strava.com OR on their Strava app, which is the #1 app for runners and cyclists.

As a brand new Strava user, I signed up for a free account on their website and later downloaded the app to my iPhone.

With my free account, I am able to link-up my Garmin Forerunner which automatically syncs my workouts from Garmin Connect to Strava. That is SO handy because I don't need to physically enter any of my workout data! Though I can log in to add description/workout details and photos if desired.

My Strava account tracks my mileage, saves a map of each workout and includes basic analytics (pace, elevation, etc) all saved on my profile. I am able to connect with other runners and of course my BibRave Pro team, too. We have a Run Club and keep each other on track through that!

I appreciate the ease of set up and syncing workouts. As I continue to make strides and gain experience with this platform, I will share an update with you here on the blog!

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

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