Race Report: FM Friday Fright Night 5k & Halloween Half Marathon

Disclaimer: I received free entry for the FM Halloween Run 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 past weekend was full of racing and a lot of cousin fun! The kids and I headed to Fargo for the Fargo Moorhead Halloween Run weekend which kicked off with the Friday Fright Night 5k that night. The race started at 6:30 pm and I took my youngest with me to lessen the load on my kid watchers. 

As we lined up, I was thinking "I wonder why I'm the only one with a stroller here". Then we got running and I realized why. Ha. Scary people actually pop out of the woods while you run down the path during this race and, as the sun went down, it was pretty creepy! Thankfully my fourth born is my fourth born. He's a tough little stinker and said in a calm voice, "I'm scared", and then he was good. 

So maybe I'm the world's worst parent for taking him (let the perfect parents out there cast the first stone) with but we were sure blazing saddles! Hopefully going fast enough that he didn't have much of a chance to be more scared. 


We ran hard and then stopped in the middle of the path. LOST. I waited for the guys behind me to catch up and then just stuck with that group. 

The Friday Fright Night 5k was not well marked out and being a mostly dark race didn't help things. S and I blew past the finish area and thankfully a giant taco waved to us to turn around and come back. When we finally crossed that finish line, we were at a 20:41, which is almost a stroller PR for me I guess? My watch also finished at 2.9 miles, so who knows what happened on that run! 

S got his candy at the end of the run and he was as happy as a clam.


The little guy and I headed back to my brother and sister-in-laws house for more cousin fun and PIZZA! Then to bed and I was headed back to the race on Saturday morning.  This time the entire crew stayed with my family.

I lined up with the 1:30 pace group and planned to hang with them until the last 4 or so miles of the race. There shouldn't be any getting lost with a pace group! This was originally set to be a workout for California International Marathon training but I really wanted to push it the whole length of the race.


I dressed as Mando for the 5k (S was my little Grogu) and the Mickey Mouse onesie was the costume of choice for the half marathon. There wasn't a test run for this costume so I just went for it. It is super soft but I felt like a giant puffball running! 

Main goal for this race was to go sub-1:30 and to have some fun.


The weather was perfect and my legs felt ALL the grind of marathon training. This has been the first week ever that I have ran 7 days in a row and that actually went really well. I didn't feel any freshness to my legs (last night with the stroller probably didn't help either) but I was able to hang with the 1:30 pace group. 

By the last few miles, the group spread out a little and there was only one bobble where I wasn't sure to turn. Thankfully the 1:30 pacer was just behind me and confirmed the turn I was questioning! There were quite a few turns on the course.   


My Mickey hood didn't want to stay up while running but I did put it on for the finish! I won't say I felt strong throughout the race but I was happy that I could grind through that pace on tired legs. Crossing the finish line in 1:28:32 was fine by me! 


I swapped into some regular clothes not long after crossing the finish - that Mickey suit is NOT sweat wicking and I was drenched (gross!). Overall this was an encouraging workout and another brick to stack on for marathon training. For running both the 5k and the half, I received a bonus Monster Medal as well - so that was pretty cool. The kids thought they were pretty gnarly! (I gave one to almost 5-year-old C for sharing his costume with me)

When I run mostly solo, having a group push me along while I don't necessarily "feel" like running a specific pace was helpful. And this was a nice practice run of running with a pace group for CIM - where I hope to hang with that sub-3:00 pace group by the skin of my teeth!

 If I can keep that 6:40 average pace on untapered legs, can I hold a 6:50 for twice as long after a peak and taper in this cycle? We'll find out soon. No matter the outcome, this training cycle has had some major breakthroughs and I'm excited about that! 



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Race Report: Bemidji Blue Ox 26k 2022

I went back to one of my favorite semi-close to home races this past weekend and this time with all four boys + my parents to cheer me on. That was pretty special! Leo isn't able to make it to October races due to the sugar beet harvest but it sure was great to have this group with me. 

Watching mom take off!

This year was a little different than the previous times I have raced the Blue Ox, in that I ran a 26-k's instead of 26.2 miles. The race weekend ended up with the most beautiful Fall weather you could ever ask for. As far as I can remember, I think this was the most beautiful Blue Ox Marathon I have ever ran! 

As far as the course goes, I basically skipped the first 9-mile loop and a mid-race out-and-back with this shorter distance. The 26k distance served as a nice training brick for the California International Marathon coming up in December and was an amazing experience. 

While some of my 26.2 race years here have been downright miserable in the end, I pretty much loved that 26k! 

Amazing fall photo that my mom took!

My goal going into the race was to keep an even 6:45/mile pace, essentially practicing and gaining confidence to hopefully keep that pace for the full marathon in California. I debated on wearing headphones for this because the full marathon distance can get so lonely at this smaller race. Thankfully I decided against it because the 26k was anything but lonely! 

After only a few miles mostly solo, I was running through the half marathoners and had their company (and a ton of people weaving - mixed feelings on that!) for the rest of the race. I do enjoy running with other people and it was nice cheering each other along! 

Splits that were a lot more even on paper than they actually felt! 

As we hit the rolling hills portion of the race, Coach Pooley told me to run up at a 7.5 effort and then speed up to a 9.5 on the way down. That worked beautifully and this was the first time ever that I didn't walk or really even struggle on those hills! Lets hope that translates to stronger hill legs for the upcoming marathon - and maybe I can come back next year and kill the hills running the Blue Ox full marathon instead :) 

The Psalm I thought of throughout this race (and in the course of life in general): Be strong and take heart, all you who hope in the Lord. Psalm 31:24. There is no use in shrinking back and being intimidated by hard things to come. Face them head on, with the strength, courage and hope that comes from only our Lord Jesus Christ.
What we don't see: my left big toenail, deciding it hates me (I didn't even know!)

Almost everything went off without a hitch in this race! There was no need to carry my own hydration this year, as their aid stations were back to normal now after covid. The biggest troubles were trying to weave around half marathoners while running on the side of the highway with traffic and a teeny road shoulder to squeak by on. 

And then stopping a car from pulling out in front of me at the final stoplight, a mile or so out from the finish line! I put my hand up to signal "STOP!!!". In hindsight, good thing the person actually did stop because my legs didn't stop running either. Had it gone the other way, I may have been Blue Ox 26k roadkill... Hopefully volunteers will watch that intersection next time though I do understand that recruiting volunteers is no easy task. 


1:48:13 and an automatic PR - this is likely the only race course I will ever run as a 26k :) I wanted to finish under the 2-hour mark at least and it happened! The pace felt good, hills weren't terrible and I wasn't limping away at the end of this one. And the other thing - I felt like my legs didn't have much power at the Dick Beardsley Half last month and I ended up beating the time I ran there during this 26k effort (1:27:07 at the half). So that's encouraging that the training progress is being made!



After congratulating my fast friend who won the half (and I missed out on celebrating with another friend who won the 10k on Friday!), the family & I headed to find food and the Paul & Babe playground. We couldn't miss out on this perfect park-playing weather! 

Happy 10-Year Anniversary, Bemidji Blue Ox!

6:39 per mile, not 6:29 ;) 

Race Report: Dick Beardsley Half Marathon

Disclaimer: I received free entry for the Dick Beardsley Races 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 Dick Beardsley Half Marathon has been a bucket list race for me and I was so excited to finally get there this year. Our family made this one last camping trip for the season and that went off without a hitch (minus blowing a tire on the way down!). My goal since racing Fargo this spring was to work on pacing smart - possibly even negative splitting :) 

After parking the camper, I took a couple of the boys with me to the race expo. The expo was small and mainly featured packet pickup and the Friday night spaghetti feed.


We went on a wild goose chase after packet pickup to find a new spare tire for the drive home. It took a while but we eventually found something that would work and then headed to supper. The night got late but eventually the crew went to bed. 

I ended up forgetting to take a "flat runner" and snapped this quick on race morning: 
I enjoyed the company of one of our camp neighbors on the way to the race and ran into my friend Chels there also. The Dick Beardsley was smaller than I expected but it was very easy to find people before and after the race; and that I like! 

We talked for a while and then jumped into the line up. This race did have pacers available for a variety of goal finish times.


 Line up was quick and then we were off! We started and finished in the Kent Freeman Arena, which goofs with the watch pacing a little, but it's worth being able to wait in a nice cozy arena before the race. 

Free Race Pictures!

This race course usually circles the lake but had to be changed to an out-and-back this year, due to road construction. I had been told that the course had rolling hills and, being from the super flat lands, I wasn't quite sure what was meant by that. Just how rolly are these rolling hills :) 

My original goal was to hang by the 6:30's for the first half and the buckle down if I could for the last half. 


Spoiler alert - my pace goals didn't happen! I was running and thinking I was on pace - yet my watch was telling me a mix from 6:30's to 7:00's. Oye! My level of exertion just wasn't matching the pace, so in that first half of the race I decided to ditch the pace goal and run based on effort. It did feel like we were going up and down constantly!


The rolling hills didn't lend well to my pacing goals but this race should sow some benefits for the next races to come. My splits felt fairly even overall in spite of the climbs and downhills and I was encouraged that my legs didn't feel burnt out throughout the entire race. Even with the smaller race size, I had the company of another runner for most of the race, which was nice. Makes the run feel much easier!

I enjoyed the last few miles and crossed the finish in 1:27:44. This wasn't a PR but didn't feel like a failure either! I grabbed a cookie that the kids could eat and took some ice cream for myself (it was SO good!) at the finish line. 


Overall, this felt like a smart pacing effort and, as CIM training goes on, the "power" will come. Currently, I feel like my lungs have a lot of "umph" but my legs didn't have any speed - though this was officially marathon training week 1 (of 13), so that's a great start! 




Our final elevation gain for the Dick Beardsley Half was 317 ft, which is a whole lot more than I'm used to running and should serve me well for some upcoming October races! This course was beautiful and I do hope to race there again to circle the whole lake. 


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Race Report: Grand Forks 10k + UCAN Edge Gel Review

Disclaimer: I received UCAN Edge Gels and Bars 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!

After running my last marathon in May and with the goal marathon still months away, I have been switching up the race distances this summer. 

I ran a local 5k in June, we moved in July (talk about cardio! :), and then I ran my first (and only) 10k for this year in August - the Grand Forks 10k. Racing and training through the summer has been a great opportunity to practice pacing and also to sweat my face off in the hot, humid midwest. It's wild how our weather contrasts itself through the different seasons!

As a BibRave Pro, I have been given the opportunity to fuel with UCAN's Edge Gels and Energy Bars. I have been taking the UCAN Edge before heading into workouts this summer and eating the bars as a healthy snack. Their newest flavor - Pineapple - fits right with the summer & early fall training season! To use during the run, an Edge Gel should be consumed every 45 minutes to 1 hour. 

The UCAN Edge Gel is the first NO-sugar energy gel of its kind! This gel is powered by LIVSTEADY to keep your energy stable and doesn't need to be chased down with water for proper digestions. I tried a few different Edge Gel flavors and all sat really well with me. The consistency is lighter than the gels I am used to taking, though I found I prefer this lighter consistency! Especially in the hotter months, the flavor and texture is refreshing. 

For a little bit on the UCAN Energy Bars, these are a low-sugar and gluten-free option that are also made from UCAN's revolutionary ingredient - LIVSTEADY. These are a quick, delicious snack to help control hunger cravings and balance energy. UCAN Energy Bars are especially handy for the marathon training "Runger" (runner hunger) that can hit you right before bed! 


So let's flash back to the 10k race. I took in fuel on the way to the race but really didn't need anything during the race to cover the 6.2 miles. The goal in this 10k was to negative split and finish strong! I have a fly-and-die habit and I am working diligently to re-train that :) 

This 10k was a success! The morning was cool and a little humid but overall a great day for a run. I held back for the first 3 miles and was able to kick it a little on the way home. Finishing a race feeling strong is an amazing feeling! I did think - could I have pushed that race a little harder? - but like my coach said, you don't need to go to the well on every race. Very true! This was a great stepping stone, another brick to add to my training block and a 10k PR.


After a few cool down miles with friends and a stop at the candy store (priorities!), we were heading back home. 


So long, summer races! After that weekend, it feels like we officially jumped into "fall" and marathon training is really getting into full swing. To fuel your next PR with UCAN, take advantage of my discount code below: 

DISCOUNT ALERT: Use BIBRAVE25 for 25% off (no bundles or subscriptions) - discount is good thru 10/9/2022.

A Gentle Feast: Cycle 4 Term 1

We have been enjoying this last taste of summer as August is coming to a close. Harvest is rolling a little later this year and it still feels very "summer" - especially today. It's hot and sunny! No complaints here though.

Currently we are in week 3 of our school year and getting into the school routine again has been refreshing. While public school starts here after Labor Day, I debated on if we wanted to start early again this year. It's worked in our favor over the last couple years but we didn't "need" to this year and we did just move this summer.

My justification for starting a few weeks early is that we are able to take off an entire week here and there - for holidays or travel... or sick - throughout the school year and it doesn't throw us off track with the material we're covering. It's also nice to be done with school a week or so before Memorial Camping in the spring!

I was a little unsure of how it would look with teaching three different grades but the current strategy seems to be working.

E - 4th Grade, Form II in A Gentle Feast
W - 1st Grade, Form I in A Gentle Feast
C - Preschool, using a mix of things :)
S - Babyschool, absolutely destroying the house during school but we love him
We are now in our fourth year and Cycle 4: Modern Times of the A Gentle Feast curriculum and really enjoy it. I would say one of the only challenges I have had with this curriculum is getting my hands on a few special books here and there. For this term, the Book of Marvels by Halliburton. I did borrow it from the larger library system for the first two weeks and then thankfully found our own on Ebay for $17 when I had to return the library copy. This book is a gem for Geography and it is worth every penny!

With a few rare books on the list, the curriculum's author Julie Ross does a great job of noting titles that have audiobook options, free online versions or possible thrift deals available. We definitely use that audiobook option often (for Among the Pond People and Rootabaga Stories in Form I) and we are using a PDF verison of All About Chemistry also. And book thrifting... I love thrift shopping for books!


For Language Arts, the older two boys are using the Upper Elementary and Lower Elementary Language Arts books. I'm reusing our God's Little Explorer curriculum for preschooler (and baby) and have been pretty selective about what we do. I'm not the crafty mom... so we do a little here and there, but definitely not "all the things". 

We are continuing on with Singapore Math's Dimensions Math and then preschooler is taking the Earlybird Kindergarten Math book (both other boys loved these!) nice and easy - as in, a couple days a week. He likes to do "his own math" while the brothers do theirs. 
Here's the ticket for this term so far - while I write down a weekly plan for all the subjects in my school planner, I'm also writing a list for each of the older boys in their notebooks. Now I write their weekly chores on the top of the page (they just repeat the same chores daily for that week) and note the school work they need to get done that day. 

I have been writing out narrations for the 1st grader in his notebook and now the 4th grader is writing his own narrations in his. I don't correct grammar on these. The main point is that I ask him to write a sentence on what he took away from the reading... cursive or print :) All of his copywork is cursive so I left this one as an option for either.

This seems to help answer the "Are we done with school yet??" question. You're done when your list is done for the day!

(Quick note... you know who needs to practice more copywork? Mom. Look at my chicken scratch!)  
Lastly, we are dabbling in LATIN this year! This is a little earlier than the curriculum would introduce Latin but, because we are covering Latin in our co-op, we swapped out Spanish for Prima Latina. The lessons aren't long and they had a good time with lesson #1. It's been a great learning experience for all of us! The goal isn't to speak Latin fluently but to learn the Latin alphabet, numbers, pronunciations and some expressions. This will be a help for our language understanding, as English words are derived from Latin. 

So, here we go, Latin. Benedic, Domine nos!
Explore the A Gentle Feast curriculum here and feel free to email me or comment here with any questions! Disclaimer: This post contains my A Gentle Feast affiliate link. If you click it, and make a purchase I will receive a commission.

Brooks Ghost 14 Review

Disclaimer: I received Brooks Ghost 14 running shoes 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 summer is running away from us, whether we like it or not, and I'm making the most of this summer running! Over the past four weeks, we moved, my oldest kiddo finished up his baseball season, we attended two county fairs, a family reunion and hosted my in-laws for a week. It's all been a great time in and of itself though I do feel like I'm currently "running" on empty! I pretty much feel like an empty shell of a human right now. Just being honest.

Through all of the *things* of summer, my goal was to maintain an average of 40 miles per week to prepare for CIM (California International Marathon, for any non-runners!) training to start. Aside from my 0 ft of elevation gain (seriously, treadmill will be my only hill workouts at home), ramping up from training after racing a marathon in May and then taking about two weeks off has gone really well. Juggling time to train is always something but it's worth it overall. 


I always rotate two or three pairs of shoes in training to keep things fresh and, as a BibRave Pro, I have had the treat of trying a new pair of kicks — the Brooks Ghost 14 shoe model! Previously I have only ran in one other Brooks Running shoe model and I was excited to try something new from them.

First off, check out that Ghost 14 COLOR! Brooks offers a great variety of styles so there really is a color/pattern scheme for everyone. I'm usually a neutral color person and this bold style was a welcome change for me.
I have taken the Ghost 14's out on the paved roads, gravel roads and the treadmill and it has performed well on all surfaces! The Ghost 14 feels very natural and offers a nice amount of cushion without being overbearing or clunky, making them my favorite every day shoe to wear as well. Yep - they came to the baseball games, move-in day and county fairs with me!


Something unique about the Ghost 14 is that this Brooks' very first carbon neutral shoe. Most upper materials are made with a minimum of 30% recycled content! 

Overall, I have been very pleased with the Brooks Ghost 14 model and they are now my go-to shoe for easy runs and long run days! I can definitely see myself wearing more Brooks Ghost shoes in the future.

- Brooks Women's Ghost 14 Specs -

  • Support: Neutral
  • Weight: 9 oz
  • Midsole Drop: 12 mm
  • Smooth transitions
  • Soft cushioning
  • Road running
  • $140.00* on BrooksRunning.com
    Specs from BrooksRunning.com
*Ready to give the Ghost 14 a try? Jump over to the Brooks Running website to grab yourself a pair of Brooks Ghost 14's. They are on sale for $129.96 as of today (7/31/22)!

PAC-MAN Virtual Challenge: Level Up 2022 Review

Disclaimer: I received free entry to the PAC-MAN Virtual Challenge: Level Up 2022 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 kicked off spring marathon training with some Virtual Run FUN this year! Where are my PAC-MAN fans at?

The PAC-MAN Virtual Challenge: Level Up 2022 is unique because each runner has the opportunity to complete the challenge, level by level, and then to push on for the BONUS level! I don't usually run virtual races but the "leveling up" appeal to this challenge drew me in. Who doesn't love to chase a good Bonus Level?!


I ran some of the miles outside and some of them on the treadmill. This virtual race experience is very flexible! Get the miles done wherever you want and at whatever pace you want, as long as you finish them within the challenge dates. 

With the crazy cold and stormy winter we've had, I was thankful to have the treadmill as an option! I used my marathon training runs to complete the PAC-MAN Challenge levels and tracked the mileage using my usual Garmin Connect and Strava. Runners were also able to track their challenge runs using the RunKeeper app. 


Cover the miles solo, or even with a friend! A furry friend, in my case:


Level 1, Level 2, Level 3 - and that Power Pellet Round Up 6-Mile bonus was mine! 


Struggle with motivation to lace up those shoes and get after it? 

If the PAC-MAN race swag itself doesn't motivate you, the virtual race community will! After completing each level, you receive an email with your downloadable "badges" to share and connect with others via social media. 

And then the race swag - this is what you can look forward to after completing the challenge! I'm still waiting on my race swag to arrive in the mail and the kids have divvied out "who gets what" when it comes. 


Do you enjoy a good ole virtual race challenge or prefer in-person races only?