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. 

Let's Connect!

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? 

A Gentle Feast: Cycle 3 Term 3

Summer is almost here and I really should be packing boxes, but I would rather write up this term review instead :) Where to start. We started Term 3 on Valentine's Day...

E was somewhat nearing the end of this wrestling season and, when he wasn't wrestling, the kids and I were skating. There's no better way to pass a super long winter with energy-full kids than skating at an indoor rink! Taking four young kids skating solo is chaotic but I love skating just as much as they do.

That same month, we acquired a hard-hitting stomach bug - just E and I actually. Thankfully, the rest of the family escaped unscathed! Long c@vid caused some issues for me that hit a little harder that month. I'll just blame it on an extra long winter... we all needed some vitamin D! 

On March 31st, E completed his state testing requirements and it went really well. Testing with four kids in the house is a little complicated, as some sections had to happen when toddler was awake and some sections happened while he was napping. Note to self - next year, test on a Saturday or Sunday when dad can help with the other kids. The next school year will be our first time having two state testing students. Overall the CAT paper test has been a great option for us.

And then we sold a house. Things have been a little crazy lately. 

Now as far as school details... 

What worked well this term:

Tinkering Things: Puzzles, alpharods, counters (and snacks). These help to keep the littlest hands busy during our school lessons. It's a bonus if the older kids help the younger two with their work! Toddler is 20 months now and the attention span has increased a teensy bit. That's been very helpful! C is 4.5 and has some light pre-K pages and then he listens along to all of the 3rd grade reads. (Lucky kids? They all listen to the E's school books but I don't think they mind.)

Geography: E enjoyed the online Map quiz game recommended by A Gentle Feast for 3rd Grade. It's isn't quite as cool as the "Zip Zap Map" I played as a kid on our huge desktop, but pretty close! The "My American GeoJourney" workbook was a great resource for this school year. "Our 50 States: A Family Adventure Across America" and "My America: A Poetry Atlas of the United States" were okay but not huge hits in our house. Just exploring a plain old USA atlas was fun for the kids though.

Sharing the Load: Having the older two, E (3rd grade) and W (K), read aloud has been very helpful. It's easier to keep the group on task when the kids take turns with reading and it gives me a talking break, too. (I like that!) For the nature study books by Clara Dillingham, we listened to them on librivox and often while on the road. 

Involving ALL the kids, even toddler, in as many subjects as possible is also a huge help. Children are so much smarter than the education system thinks they are. Can a toddler absorb something from picture study? Certainly! It doesn't take long to admire a piece of art. I do wonder what his babbles mean, as S looks at Claude Monet's work and jabbers on. :) 

Curriculum Choices: A Gentle Feast and Dimensions Math were a great fit again this term. They have been good to us in the past but I am open to the idea that, if something isn't working, we may need to change it up. But it's not broke, so there's no need to fix it! Onward we go with AGF & Dimensions Math - and we will continue to move into Cycle 4: Modern Times for the next school year. 

Something I did change in Term 3 was my Kindergartener W's school work. He's a summer birthday and technically an older K student, so I just pay attention to what challenges and interests him, rather than being stuck in a specific grade level (a huge perk of homeschooling!). I ended up throwing "Phonics Museum" in the trash (literally) because it was boring for him and switched him to A Gentle Feast's Language Arts Lower Elementary book instead. I had ordered this for the next school year but figured he could work ahead a little! The AGF approach it language arts is very effective and has worked so well for my oldest. Turns out W really enjoyed starting his book as well! 

What didn't work this term:

Weather: Yes, it's the weather that didn't work. When snow storms cancel co-op, 4H meetings, church, wrestling practice, etc - you might as well make the best of the situation and just play in the snow! The younger two love that, while the older two would rather play legos or read inside where it's warm. I'm a mix of both schools of thought. 

The weather did eventually shape up and we ended our school year on May 6th reading aloud in the back yard. With chocolate chip cookies. Don't forget the cookies!

And for a bonus - this is my Mother's Day picture from W and I feel it fully embodies the joys of spring: 

Here's to a summer full of fun!

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.

Race Report: Fargo Marathon 2022

Disclaimer: I received free entry for the Fargo Marathon 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!

We're all thankful Spring has finally arrived up north. That's where I'll start! 

This has been the coldest, snow storm-iest and longest-feeling training cycle that I have ever had. I did what I could, running outside as much as possible and especially on the weekends. The treadmill was a huge help for speed and some tempo sessions, and also when my husband was recovering from his time in the hospital and I needed to keep an eye on the kids 24/7. 

All in all, the training got done and I really enjoyed the variety that Heidi @ G Training set me up with. This is the most strength training and pilates sessions that I have done before! These sessions kept training fresh, I felt much stronger and it kept many of the "niggles" at bay. (Usually I'm a tight hamstring runner but pilates helped with that especially)

For a quick recap of training mileage, here is a breakdown of the weekly volume:
01 - 40.2
02 - 25.25 (a brief intermission for the stomach flu)
03 - 28.02 (recovering from stomach flu)
04 - 52.0
05 - 42.0
06 - 52.4
07 - 60.1 *My highest mileage EVER!
08 - 56.0
09 - 53.1
10 - 56.3
11 - 35.4
12 - RACE WEEK: 43.3 
That's 544.07 for this training cycle - not counting that I had been averaging 30 miles per week since January 1st. No wonder my white Altra Escalantes need to be retired now! (I didn't believe Strava at first). This was a solid increase in average weekly mileage, going from 36.4 mpw in the previous training cycle to 45.3 mpw in this one. I would say that is a win. I have been a low-mileage marathoner and need to gradually increase to hit those goals I'm chasing - it takes patience! 

Enough of the nerdy numbers.

On to the race experience. Leo and I celebrated our 10th wedding anniversary on May 19th and this ended up being a great weekend to get away, just the two of us. Thanks, grandma & grandpa! 

Resting up for race day with the littlest bubba

We left on Friday, went to the race expo to pick up my race stuff and then stopped by "our apartment" before going to eat. Yep - apartment! Fargo Marathon offered a free race entry and complimentary "housing" to elite athletes. So maybe it wasn't super romantic, but they had me at "free" :) And the apartments were across the parking lot from the Fargodome, which made race morning super easy!

I felt super nervous for this race. Maybe because it was my first of the year, after the Spring Thaw half changed to virtual, or maybe because my "A" goal was pretty aggressive. I'm not sure! After 15 marathons, you would think it would take the edge off just a little.

Per the usual, I set out my "flat runner" self the night before:

I wrote James 1:2-3 on my arm for this race: "Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance." I also wrote the words Smooth and Strong (hard to read in the pic). Those were the goals - persevere, stay smooth, stay strong.

When my alarm went off early Saturday morning, I got my running get-up on, munched on banana + peanut butter on bread (no toaster!!!) along with sips of water and read my devo. I did pump this morning, possibly for the last time that I will need to before a race. With our youngest weaning, I didn't want to feel "heavy" while running even though supply is dwindling. 

I headed over to the Fargodome a little early - again, probably the nerves. I wanted to check out the Elite locker rooms and staging area. When they let us in, the locker room reminded me of high school hockey days! Lockers side by side, one bathroom, a group shower. Haha. Yep, definitely high school hockey. 

I finished a Honey Stinger Salted Caramel Waffle, tied up my shoes and did some warming up down the hall. It was pretty slick, so I took it easy to avoid biffing it right before the race. 

Half marathoners took off and then finally it was our turn to go. It was about 35 degrees outside when we took off - definitely a chilly one!

I took off with the front pack, planning to stay just ahead of the 3:00 pace group, aiming for 6:50/mile for the first 16 miles. 

Turns out, there wasn't a 3:00-hour pacer there that day and I was going wayyy faster than goal pace anyways. I let myself be carried away with the herd and it wasn't a good thing. When I saw 6:29 on my watch at mile 5, I thought "oh crap!" better pull back a bit. I took non-caff vanilla Clif Shots at mile 5 and 10 - felt gaggy but I was able to keep them down.

While we had a nice sub-3 pack going for the first 13 miles or so, we spread out mid-race, some going on ahead and some pulling back. I went from running with that group momentum to... nada! 

My mental game started to decline when the group split and, then around mile 16, I could tell I didn't have any zip left to negative split like I was supposed to. Took caffeinated mocha Clif Shots at miles 15 and 20, again feeling gaggy but forcing them down.

Miles 18 and on were pretty gross. In a way, this is where it helps to have previous marathon experience. I have put myself in "death march" situations before and mentally used those tricks to just stinkin' finish the race. I knew the sub-3 wasn't happening and was questioning whether a PR was possible. Running into a headwind for the last 6 miles (?), I was regretting throwing off my gloves and sleeves. It's at this point where I thought "maybe I should stick to half marathons."

Death March Tactics: Sip sports drink at aid stations and walk while drinking for a morale boost. Mentally break up the miles into 2-mile chunks - 22 miles. Okay, now we're at 24. And now 26... almost there! This certainly doesn't lend to a fast finish but it gets the job done. 

I had a little kick to finish off in the dome but didn't even make it to goal race pace for that .5 mile stretch! Just zonked. 

I was sure happy to see 3:05:27 though. 

Even in a poorly executed race, a 5-minute PR is something to smile about! 

Overall, I was very disappointed with how I paced myself. Heidi recommended that 6:50 goal to mile 16 and then buckling down to finish faster from there, and I basically did the OPPOSITE of that! No excuses. Let it be a lesson learned and don't repeat this mistake again

On the positive side, training went extremely well minus some weird long C@vid health issues and a bout of the stomach flu. I want to keep building on that training experience this year! 

This PR served as a great stepping stone, now to keep the training momentum. I didn't execute the race strategy (at all) but I did finish, and that's something. 

I had an amazing weekend with my husband, who is healthy and here with me - that is an absolute miracle of a blessing from God, in and of itself! We went out to supper, went thrifting (yep, that's very us!), to an art museum, coffee and just enjoyed time together. The kids were pretty good for my parents, minus the youngest not sleeping.

You live and learn. Every race is a new learning experience and I'm thankful for the gift of health to do this! 

I hope to be back at Fargo again next year. It's probably my favorite race! Close to home, tasty post-race food (think donuts, chips, choco milk) and free race photos are a huge perk, too. They keep me coming back for more!

Let's Connect!