Thursday, October 3, 2019

Race Report: Grand Forks Marathon 2019

What ended up being my worst ever taper week turned into the best outcome. That was Grand Forks Marathon 2019 in a nutshell for me.

Parenthood is a blessed daily lesson in humility, it really is, and the past couple weeks were just another one of those lessons! Our youngest boy (23-month-old, can I just say he's 2 already?!) had a gunky cough and runny nose the past couple weeks. Then it passed on to 6-year-old. My husband and our 4-year-old both seemed to avoid getting this sick bug so I figured "Ah ha! My superior immune system helped me miss it too!"

Think again there, Amy, think again.

To sum up race week, Monday felt "off" as we met for homeschool co-op; more tired than usual. Tuesday = felt bleh and then Wednesday I was pretty much useless. My neck was stiff, lymph nodes swollen, sinuses stuffed and I had a miserable headache. No cough, just a runny nose and PAIN. This felt like a sinus infection coming on so I drank water, some apple juice, some gatorade, even some kombucha; to push this grossness out with, well, fluids.

Much of our lessons took place with me wrapped up in a blanket on the couch and the kids seemed disappointed that I was such a (literal) bump on a log. I read Tina Muir's article about getting over sickness before race day and put her tips into action.

Thursday I headed out for a few early morning miles with my running partner (she is great!) and running itself felt easy -  the post-run exhaustion concerned me though. My heart rate was elevated and I was freezing... sooo I dug out the sinus rinse bottle and school took place mostly on the couch again. After getting the kids to bed, I passed out. Absolutely zero packing got done.

I contemplated skipping Grand Forks and focusing on the Bemidji Blue Ox (2 weeks after) instead but, after coming this far, from being injured last Fall to being ready to race this year... and then missing due to a measly sinus cold?! I needed to give it a shot. I could jog the race just to finish if need be. Not every race needs to be raced, right?

We'll see what comes tomorrow.

Friday: Race Day Eve. I woke up feeling very little improvement and anxiety about all that needed to get done that day before I could sleep again (I'm not the first mom to feel that way!). Lessons were finished, lunch, I packed while toddler napped and then we were off to Grand Forks. The expo is pretty low-key, which I like especially when bringing the kids with me. We saw Amanda as she was leaving the expo and, when I said I was a bit under the weather, she said she would pray for my healing. I definitely needed prayer! After picking up my number, we wandered booths and I was thankful to finally meet Kristen with Run Your Life! She has been so helpful as I have been working to up my strength training "game" after that 2018 injury.

Expo, check. Sam's Club to pick up hotel snacks. Then checking into the hotel room. My family met us there and I'm so grateful they wore out the kids at the pool! The boys drew good luck pictures on one of my hands for race day and I wrote Psalm 105:4 on my other hand. "Look to the Lord and His strength; seek His face always."

We got to bed a bit late and so maybe I was up a few times that night - I'm not sure if the toddler woke me or if it was just nerves or a runny nose - but overall, that certainly wasn't my worst hotel overnight with kids! The weather was set to be perfect for running (unlike Fargo back in May); now if only I could feel better.

You think they like to watch mom run? Nah, they're in it for the hotel pool & snacks!
The "big" boys swimming with Auntie Dbo

I suppose it's about time I actually got into the race details :)

On race day morn, I woke up actually feeling GOOD! Isn't that always a shock after being sick? "This is what it feels like to be human again"! 

Praise the Lord - those prayers for healing were answered and in a big way. My mom joined me for breakfast because she's an early morning kinda gal. 5:00 am wasn't a bad wakeup time - actually pretty standard for marathon training. After getting packed up and ready, I headed out to the Scheels Shuttle Bus.

The bus ride over was quick and I enjoyed the company of a Bostonian Marathon Maniac who was running her 48th marathon (!!!) and was chasing that 50-states goal. That's SO crazy! I enjoyed visiting with her as we waited in Camp Hog as well. Grand Forks is the perfect size race because there wasn't a massive line-up at the porta potties before the race. A couple stops there and it was time to line up!

My plan was to hang with the 3:10 pace group as long as my body allowed. The start line mob spread out fairly quickly over the first few miles. Pacer #1 kept us going a little fast which helped to bank up extra time. This was the chattiest pace group I have ever ran with and that made the miles fly by.

Pacer #1 swapped out at mile 14 and Pacer #2 did a great job as well (besides the fact that I couldn't keep up with him!). Grand Forks had an awesome team of pacers this year!

1 - 7:05
2 - 7:09
3 - 7:06
4 - 7:10
5 - 7:06
6 - 7:11
7 - 7:06
8 - 7:03
9 - 7:10
10 - 7:13
11 - 7:05
12 - 7:04
13 - 7:00
14 - 7:02
15 - 7:06
16 - 7:20
One runner and I from the 3:10 pace group stuck together basically the entire race. Around miles 16 and 20, I saw my wonderful family cheering section and that boosted the moral! Mile 16 had me feeling out of gas and the marathon crazy was starting to set in.

We talked about that while running; the delirious stage you hit in the later miles when basic math becomes challenging. At the delirious stage, my main goal was to stay under 8-min/mile. At mile 20, we were thinking "Oh, now we just need to run a 10k! That's all. 10k's are fun." As crazy as that sounds, tricking my brain in those final miles actually works.

These people are THE BEST! 
17 - 7:16
18 - 7:23
19 - 7:18
20 - 7:25
21 - 7:24
22 - 7:21
23 - 7:22
24 - 7:34
25 - 7:34
26 - 7:18
.56- 6:32

We kept up the pace really well for the last 10k and it was glorious to see the finish line when the biker guy, fellow runner and I turned the corner. I LOVE that Grand Forks is a straight shot to the finish line after that final turn. Races that weave you around the parking lot just mess with me!

I picked up the pace as much as possible for that final stretch!

3:11:26. SO. HAPPY.

It was pretty much a dead stop just a few strides after crossing the finish line. Thankfully the cool weather left me feeling really good after this race; no dizziness and not super sore! I owe Kristen a big thank you for the strength training wisdom because my hips and legs didn't feel dead after crossing the finish line. Crazy, right?! My energy was completely gone and I desperately needed a cheeseburger but that was about it besides typical marathon stiffness.

Huge personal victories for this race were:

  • Staying sub-8:00/mile for the entire race (7:34 was actually my "slowest" mile!)
  • Not walking a single stride through aid stations.
  • A 5-minute PR off Fargo Marathon back in May

And my Garmin data said this race was 26.56 miles @ 7:13/mile. That was encouraging because maybe, just maybe, that sub-3:00 marathon can happen in the next 8 years or so. You never know!

As rough as the race week had been, this race really couldn't have gone any better! I was met at the finish line by my favorites; my mom & dad, hubs & the boys, bro & sis-in-law, and by sweet friends too. Answered prayers and God's healing strength over this sinus cold just blow me away. There's no other way to explain feeling that terrible one day to being able to run a marathon the next. I've had quite a few sinus problems in my life and they don't just go away overnight on their own!
Look to the Lord and His strength; seek His face always. Psalm 105:4

Thank you to my family for watching kids and for coming out to support my love for this crazy sport! Marathons aren't that exciting to watch but you certainly don't lack enthusiasm :) I am so grateful for the friends I was able to meet up with at the race, for such solid pacers, kind volunteers, fellow runners and just an overall beautiful day for running. Everything came together this weekend.

Now onto recovery, taper and 26.2 #13!

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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