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 BibRave.com 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 BibRave.com 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 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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