A Gentle Feast: Green Year Term 1 Review

The past 12 weeks of the school year have flown by and we are taking full advantage of this Thanksgiving break week! The kids and I are capitalizing on outdoor time on Grandma and Grandpa's farm and making a few trips to the indoor hockey rink as well.

We finished Term 1 just in time for this break and will be jumping into Term 2 come Monday. With this being our first school year using the A Gentle Feast curriculum created by Julie Ross, we are studying the Green Year (Cycle 1): Columbus, Conquests, and Colonies from 1000-1650 AD. 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 is a Charlotte Mason curriculum, geared towards the family learning together, consists of four main components:

  • The Appetizer - Bible study, poetry, picture and composer study along with recitation and fables/hero tales. 
  • The Soup and Salad - Language Arts Block - writing, reading and grammar
  • The Main Course - Variety of subjects scheduled throughout the week
  • The Dessert - Weekly add-ons such as Poetry Tea Time and Nature Study

The living books have been a definite highpoint for us and are enjoyed by all. The boys especially loved the history book selections; anything involving war peeked their interest. Exploration and Conquest by Maestro was my first grader's favorite book and Leif the Lucky by D'Aulaire was a close second. Mapping Penny's World by Leedy and Me on the Map by Sweeney were the two favorite Geography reads of the term.

The year's book list for A Gentle Feast is a long one but I did my homework earlier this year and have hunted down the books secondhand or requested from the library. It helps that I have been blessed with two book-selling friends! They have been a great resource too.

For our Bible study, we have used The Child's Story Bible by Catherine F. Vos for New Testament and Old Testament readings and then the NIV for our Psalm and Proverb readings.

The Burgess Animal Book and Birds of the Air are part of our Natural History studies along with Exploring Nature with Children. The kids have enjoyed the Burgess readings especially as they have recommended videos and coloring pages for each chapter - though our challenge is that some of the chapters get a bit too long for the attention spans of the 4 and 6 year old even. Then we break up those readings and do a little bit during different times of the day.

For first grader E's Language Arts, we are using 100 Gentle Lessons in Sight and Sound Level 1 and 100 Gentle Lessons in Handwriting/Print. The lessons have been perfect for building a firm reading foundation and for reviewing handwriting technique.

The variety of sight/sound in the reading lessons keep things interesting for him and I have seen such huge progress in his ability to read and enthusiasm for reading! The Kindergarten curriculum that we used last year had monotonous reading lessons that bored and frustrated him but this new approach has been a breath of fresh air.

The kids also have Spanish lessons twice a week using a lesson plan included in this curriculum. If the scheduled lesson seemed like too much for this age, we listened to a Spanish read-aloud book.

Math is the only subject that isn't included in our A Gentle Feast curriculum for Form I (grades 1-3) and, after using Singapore's Earlybird Math for Kindergarten, we moved into Singapore's Dimensions Math 1 for first grader. Singapore Math has been great for E! The teaching style has really clicked with him and a colored textbook to work out of doesn't hurt either :) Keeping the lessons short, at around 25 minutes, is key to keeping math fresh and it's still standing as his favorite subject thus far.

For Preschooler's math, he plays with Alpha Rods, counting bears, magnetic shapes or works out of his own "math book" (one I found on Amazon) if he wants to. Gotta be like older brother!

Being able to cover so many subjects together as a family has been awesome. It's been a "lightbulb moment" for me, as I have thought to the future and wondered how life will look teaching three different grades at once. It is possible!

Homeschooling my boys at ages 2, 4 and 6 is about having realistic expectations while still spreading the feast of beautiful books and hands-on learning before them. Some days we can read so many books together and even the toddler listens! Other days, I need to dial it back and save most of the reading or possibly the reading/math lessons for toddler's nap time.

Teaching this age has been a lesson for me in patience and flexibility. Teaching with such young ones in the family isn't easy but what they absorb is amazing! Preschooler memorizes poetry like his older brother. Toddler tries the Sol-Fa singing lessons like his older brothers. Children are sponges and they absorb so much more than we realize!

I am so thankful we switched over to A Gentle Feast because the lessons are about as planned out as a Charlotte Mason curriculum can get. Some preparation is required of course but it's very minimal compared to building our own curriculum. I went through a relaxed "assessment" with First Grader and Preschooler to use as a measuring tool after each term and to see what areas we need to work on more.

I have greatly appreciated our Green Year studies so far and did I mention how much I'm learning alongside the children? Yeah, it's awesome!

On to Term 2!

Race Report: Bemidji Blue Ox Marathon 2019

Way back in the exciting Spring months of 2019 — you know, back when we had just conquered another long winter and the feeling of hope had returned — I set aggressive goals for the races to come.

2018 ended disappointingly on the running front after a severe hip flexor strain; so I was ready to get back at it and put the training lessons I learned in the previous year to work. I had three marathons in my sights and three goals to go with them.

Goal #1: Run sub-3:15 at Fargo Marathon in May

Finished in 3:16:32 on a wet, rainy and cold day; which wasn't quite on goal but I felt it was a complete success! Lots of happy checkmarks on that goal page in my Believe Journal. That was 5 minutes cut off my ancient PR from 2011. Finally!

Goal #2: Run back-to-back (2 week) marathons 

I ran the Grand Forks Marathon and Bemidji Blue Ox Marathon two weeks apart back in 2016 and wanted to do that again for some weird reason. I had one week to recovery and one week to basically re-taper before the next race. Two marathons 2 weeks apart feels relatively sane to me — now those two marathons in one weekend things... that's nuts! (I'm no ultra runner, as I've stated before)

Grand Forks Marathon went way better than I ever could have imagined especially being sick during race week. The weather was perfect and I finished in 3:11:26! Ecstatic. The entire run felt smooth and I was fine after finishing; less soreness than previous marathons — thank you, strength training! That's another 5 minutes chipped off the PR.

Though I was able to train at the 3:05 paces, I wasn't 100% confident in pulling that off on race day and a 3:11 was a huge success for me. It was also good enough for a 1st Female finish and a realization that running a sub-3 marathon can be a reality for me. Who knew that a 3:11 marathon could feel so good?!

Goal #3: Finish 1st Female in both

This last goal was a bit lofty and I will admit it's not exactly a "healthy" goal - placing a success/or failure rating based on where you finish in the race never is. The last two races of my year were smaller in size and finishing as first gal is more realistic for me than at the bigger races. Granted, no matter how the race has gone in past years, you never know who will show up or how your run will go or etc etc. There are just too many variables in the marathon to take anything for granted!

If both races went well, there was a chance I could finish first female at both BUT everything needed to come together and there's never a guarantee for that. If the Lord opened an opportunity for me to do this, I was certainly going to be ready to take it!

Because of the crazy snow storms about to hit eastern North Dakota and northwest Minnesota, the kids and I left on Wednesday afternoon for my mom and dad's farm. We debated on all coming to Saturday's race but I felt best leaving the kids back with my mom due to the weather.

This race was set to be cold, wet and snowy. The roads weren't bad on the way there, just some slushy mess as we got closer to Bemidji. Thankfully I had my dad with so I wasn't worried one bit!

After making it to the race and picking up my number, I was so glad to see that the race had pacers this year, as back in 2016 they didn't for my pace. It was funny to look over and see the 3:15 pacer from Fargo on the starting line of this race! This time he was pacing the 3:25 group and I set my goal to just stay ahead of them.

The plan was to race the first half marathon hard and then see what my body would give me. I needed to bank time before the hills and all the cumulative fatigue really hit me. My left foot and right knee were feeling a little glitchy and I was praying that they wouldn't flare up and knock me out of the race.
1 - 6:51
2 - 7:13
3 - 7:15
4 - 7:13
5 - 7:22
6 - 7:12 - not feeling it; legs were dead and I was already ready to be done !?
7 - 7:08
8 - 7:12
9 - 7:10
10 - 7:33 - too hot, took off the vest & had to re-pin number; decided to stop for that :)
11 - 7:16
12 - 7:20
13 - 7:29 - miserable, cold and alone (besides awesome aid station people)
14 - 7:53
15 - 8:08 - stopped at med station, volunteer borrowed me chapstick! lips and face frozen.
16 - 7:41
17 - 7:39
18 - 8:28 - enter: the hills... and more rain... and more wet
19 - 7:48

20 - 8:35 - debated on changing into a dry coat that my dad brought; decided not to
21 - 8:20
22 - 8:31
23 - 9:08
24 - 8:21 - lead biker found me; I should probably keep running...
25 - 8:15
26 - 7:37
.56- 6:55
Oh it felt EXTRA good to cross the finish after this run! 3:22:40 felt so much harder than the 3:11 only two weeks ago. The whole race felt hard; the legs weren't flowing this time, my mental game struggled and my mind was looking for any excuse to quit. Because of the Lord's strength I didn't accept those excuses; honestly they all sounded pretty good at the time.

Time to get warm and find a nice Pumpkin Spice Latte ('tis the season)!

Photo from Bemidji Pioneer

With the goal being to break my personal best on this course (3:25:36), I count that as a mission accomplished! It sure didn't feel good but I was glad to see a 3:22-something on the clock.

The Blue Ox Marathon has the most creative awards and medals, very well fitted to this land of the lumberjacks! The blue cow bells were Age Group awards this year, winners of the full marathon receive a double headed axe and runner ups receive a hatchet. 26k and half marathon winners get hatchets as well I believe.

Now that it's all said and done, this year of marathoning has been one of success and growth. I'm so grateful to whittle down that PR! Over 13 marathons, I'm noticing how easy it was to cut off chunks of time at first and now, the faster you get, the harder it is to shave off five minutes here or there. Every race and every training cycle is a learning experience. Thankfully I'm learning a new lesson each marathon and generally not repeating the same mistakes over again. I tend to think of a new mistake to make each time.

After having such a great time at the Grand Forks and Blue Ox Marathons this year, I'm going to end the back-to-back marathoning on a high note. Racing the marathons two weeks apart has been an exciting challenge but I'm counting this as a victory over the challenge and don't plan on doing it again. 

Just glad to be done! (Photo from Bemidji Pioneer)

Next Goal: Continue to chip away at that marathon time, minute by minute if I have to!

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!

A Gentle Feast: Our Form I Green 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 Green Year (Cycle 1): 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 Form I Green 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 peek at our Form I Green 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!

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 CodewithArtie.com 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.

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 BibRave.com 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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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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