Training Week #10: Undertrained or overtraining?

I feel like I might be going into Chicago Marathon undertrained, and it is stressing me out. I can’t turn back time and fix the weather or erase my excuses, and yet I haven’t done a single 20-miler this cycle (I did three 20+ runs when training for Vermont City). There are some schools of thought that believe an 18-miler is enough; and, well, I have just about the same amount of mileage leading up to the marathon as my last. While I mentioned before that Chicago is only a training run, jumping from 18 miles to 26 miles… well, my body is probably not going to like it. That 50k later this month? My body might dislike that even more. Basically, I feel like I’m kind of failing at being a runner right now. I can only hope that the back-to-back runs I’ve been doing on weekends will be enough.

week 10 ultra fun training blog header iowa

I’d be remiss in not mentioning that my right knee is acting up again this week. It hasn’t bothered me at all while running, but I feel discomfort in doing functional movements and squatting (even readjusting while sitting on the couch). Foam rolling my quad helped a bit, but I can’t find the connection other than when I use my right leg for weight bearing or to push off โ€” like, walking up or down the stairs. Seems to be more troublesome going up, and getting out of a squat has more discomfort than going into one. When you have three cats, it’s impossible not to be constantly squatting! It has put me on notice.

Monday – Rest Day
Tuesday – 4 miles, treadmill
Wednesday – 10 miles, Trail Rest Day – Wednesday looks to be a big homework night for me every week; I’ll probably make it my strength workout going forward.
Thursday – 8 miles 10 miles – This was Wednesday’s workout, treadmill
Friday – Rest Day
Saturday – 20-22 miles Ran out of time; finished 13.75 miles on trails. I also went to a bouncy house place for a 3-year-old’s birthday party and played around on the obstacle course stuff for an hour. That counts for exercise, right?!
Sunday – 10 miles 16 miles

Week 10 ultra training jester park bison elk iowa

Elk! Bison! Iowa fall weather!

With grad school started, I realize that running 5 times a week will not work at this point; so, I’m committing to 4 runs per week (and realistically know that some weeks I’ll only get in 3). I REALLY need to get back into my weekly 2x strength workouts (echo, echo, echo…). After Chicago will be another cutback week to “taper” for the 50k. I need to reassess my training plan and goals at that point to make sure that I’ll be prepared for Route 66 Marathon in November and the 50-miler in December. While the 50M is still two months away, I’ll only really have a solid month more of training. I also need to start training with hiking poles. OMG WHAT AM I DOING?!

*deep breath*

Wilson’s Orchard has a Spiced Up hard cider that is perfect for fall. Any other fall-flavored ciders on the market (that I can get in Iowa)? I’d really like to try a pumpkin cider.


week 10 ultra training bouncy house party

Still looking for a fall race? Route 66 registration is still open! Use my discount code 2017R66BR to save $10.

SEPTEMBER MILEAGE TOTAL: 137.2 miles – biggest mileage month ever!
WEEKLY MILEAGE: 43.7 miles
MILEAGE FOR THE YEAR: 793.81 miles
LAST RACE: Capital Pursuit (10-miler)
UP NEXT: Chicago Marathon next weekend!

I love that Chicago Marathon gifted something special to celebrate the 40th birthdays together. This was amazing of the race to do this!

week 10 training chicago marathon chi40club

Training Week #8: Don’t call it a cutback.

I’m training for the Hitchcock Experience โ€” a monster of a trail race here in Iowa in the Loess Hills (Iowa is not flat!) โ€” and my first 50-mile race. I ran the half marathon last year and absolutely loved the challenge of that course. So I’m taking on the ultra distance (there is also a 100-mile option).

Ultra training week 8 blog running recap

Week #8 was a cutback week, and I took it to heart โ€” only running three days (I was supposed to do five) and half-assing two of them. My weekly mileage was only 16.1 (I was supposed to do 36). To be fair, I was stressing out about grad school and my biopsy (which happened last Friday) which is, thankfully, benign; however, I still need to somehow schedule surgery to have the mass removed (I have my consult with the surgeon next week). In any event, my body apparently like the rest, as I PR’d my 10-mile race on Sunday at the Capital Pursuit by NINE MINUTES. What the?!

Monday – Rest Day
Tuesday – 4 miles Rest Day
Wednesday – 8 miles, Trail 5 miles, Trail
Thursday – 6 miles + Kickboxing 1 hurried mile on the treadmill before Kickboxing
Friday – Rest Day
Saturday – 8 miles NOPE
Sunday – Capital Pursuit 10-Mile Race

Chicago Marathon… eeek. And preparing for grad school starting next week. Double eeek.

Our local lululemon store and associated “Sweat Life” group hosted a kickboxing workout this week at Farrell’s (location on Hickman in Urbandale). I had so much fun! And I am positively HOOKED and cannot wait to do their 10-week challenge after my ultra training wraps up in December (it was fun to hit things again haha). Even more amazingly, the gym/lululemon gifted us our own pair of hand wraps and gloves โ€” so I’m already geared up! There’s another location even closer to my house and I realized that a few of my neighbors go regularly (one teaches classes, too).

WEEKLY MILEAGE: 16.1 miles
MILEAGE FOR THE YEAR: 739.81 miles
LAST RACE: Capital Pursuit
UP NEXT: Chicago Marathon

Let’s Talk About Marathon Training!

Disclaimer: I received a free entry to the Route 66 Marathon as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out to find and write race reviews!

Route 66 marathon kicks

Holy moly, I’m only 22 DAYS until the Chicago Marathon. HOW DID THAT HAPPEN?!

On the way to my ultra in December, I have a couple marathons (and a 50k) on my training schedule: Chicago Marathon and Route 66 Marathon in Tulsa. Chicago will be my first major marathon โ€” and my first “big city” race since the Pittsburgh Half in 2015. To be honest, I’m a little nervous about how crowded the race is going to be and all the security checkpoints. And the idea of standing in a race corral for up to two hours positively enrages me.

It’s just a training run.
I don’t have any goals for Chicago aside from finishing in one piece (and without hip-checking someone). Though I’m going to have so many BibRave pals there โ€” it’ll be quite the reunion โ€” I do not at all feel as prepared to run this as I did Vermont City Marathon. It’s all just miles on my legs. 26.2 very slow, long miles. It’s hard not to be so serious about this race, as there are so many logistical nightmares and pre-planning annoyances that are already stressing me out. And while I could only hope for cool temps in October, the brisk Fall weather is gone… and we’re back to 90-degree days and hairdryer wind and super humidity.

Which gets me more all the more excited about racing in cooler temps come November for Route 66 (possible, maybe?).

More fun than an amusement park.
For Route 66, my motivation is FUN (because running an additional .3 miles after a marathon is one definition of fun, right?). This race will be my last big week of mileage before I start to taper for my 50-miler (which is still absolutely insane to think about a few months out). I have friends also making the road trip down to Oklahoma from Des Moines โ€” it will be my first visit to Tulsa, and I get to cross off another race state โ€” so that adds to the adventure of the weekend. It seems there’s a VERY party-atmosphere vibe down in Tulsa for this race weekend (uh, hello Jell-O shot aid station!), and I’m excited to be able to participate in the fun on behalf of BibRave.

By the way, have you seen the medal reveal? I cannot WAIT to put the Goddess of Speed on my marathon shelf.

Route 66 Marathon Finisher Medal

Still looking for a Fall marathon? Register for the Route 66 Marathon and get $10 off your race entry with discount code 2017R66BR.

Weekly Therapy: 9.15.17

the week:
Within the last couple weeks, I’ve had two separate mammograms and an ultrasound, and the doctors saw *something* in my right breast. I had my boob biopsied on Friday, so I’ll know Monday what/how I need to deal with that. Fun Fact: during the procedure, they implant a tiny titanium clip (that happens to be in the shape of the breast cancer ribbon). I’m feeling OK, if a little bruised and sore in that area.

But in better news: I got accepted into grad school! I start my master’s program on September 25, and while I’m a little stressed out to get everything started so soon (you know, considering ultra training and unexpected medical things), I am positively thrilled to continue my education in sport psychology.

Capital Pursuit race is Sunday – read my recap of last year’s race. Should I wear the same outfit? ๐Ÿ˜†


seven things, seven days:
1. Officially received my one-year certificate at work! (Gimme that 401k match, plz.)
2. I also got a new manager (my 6th in a year-and-a-half) and re-organized into a new team.
3. Doing the FAFSA for the first time in two years was just as annoying. Also, why in the world do I need to add my husband’s income from 2015 when we only got married 6 months ago?
4. Went to a kickboxing class at Farrell’s this week (thanks to our local lululemon store), and I am obsessed! When ultra training is done, I’m definitely going to do the 10-week Challenge (and will also probably do a couple drop-in classes over the next few months).
5. How much time do I have to waste?
6. I don’t know. I’ve failed A LOT in the kitchen, and it has nothing to do with fear. {via Lifehacker Skillet}
7. Exercise is a waste of time… Ehhhhhhh, I’m not sure that I totally agree with this – why create MORE barriers to getting people to work out? First, we all have different motivators, and a goal can be as simple as “I’m going to to the gym three days a week.” It’s OK to JUST SHOW UP. Frankly, this type of ALWAYS ON thinking is probably going to cause burnout. And he sort of hints that you can only have success if you have a coach, which… ick. Thoughts? {via Entrepreneur}

Ultra Training Week #7: Long runs are long.

This week of training brought my first 20-mile run (I think I have seven 20+-mile runs on this plan). I swapped my long run to Sunday, so that I could run with my usual group โ€” which meant waking up for a 6:30 am (!!!) trail run on Saturday at Jester Park. Once I was out, I didn’t mind one bit (added bonus of seeing the sun rise over Saylorville Lake).

When my 20-mile long run came on Sunday, I could barely eek out 17. It was a rough morning โ€” and more than just a mental block. I was breathing WAY too heavy for an 11:30 pace and my legs felt like lead. Meh. Bad runs happen, right? I enjoyed the course my friend mapped out though; it took us on a loop around downtown’s paved trails. I did need an extra rest day this week after doing my back-to-back half marathons the previous weekend, so I took that on Tuesday (with a side of full body massage). Though even with four days of running, I completed 40 miles.

Monday – Rest Day
Tuesday – 4 miles Extra Rest Day / Massage
Wednesday – 6 miles (Trail)
Thursday – 8 miles (Treadmill)
Friday – Rest Day
Saturday – 10 miles (Trail)
Sunday – Long run, 20 miles 16.85 miles

week 7 ultra training long runs blog

Long runs are long.

Week 8 is my cutback week, and I’ll be focused on getting my strength training/cross-training back on track. I’m also signed up for an intro to kickboxing workout that is sponsored by our local lululemon. OMG am I going to start having nightmares about Billy Blanks again?!

My road trip to Madison last weekend resulted in finding a gluten-free dedicated brewery called Alt Brew. It was so amazing to have a flight of beers! I brought home a sixer of their kolsch, which is so delicious that I wish I bought more. I wish one of the midwest gluten-free beer producers would distribute to Iowa! So if anyone is in Wisconsin and would like to send me some more of their delicious gluten-free beers, please message me! Also accepting any and all beers from Burning Brothers in St. Paul (particularly their IPA).

The mid-week Trail Run Series with Fleet Feet and Des Moines Park & Rec has been SO FUN. It’s brought so many people out to the dirt and woods to play, and I just love seeing that enthusiasm from our local running communities. This Wednesday, we’ll be running out at Grandview. I also get to assist with marking the course, so you can officially blame me if you get lost! ๐Ÿ˜‚

DSM parks rec trail running series

Yep, that’s me! ๐Ÿ˜‚

Well, my grad school application is submitted. Now I sit around and wait to see if I’m accepted for Fall semester (which starts on September 25 *gulp*).

AUGUST MILEAGE TOTAL: 116.2 total miles
WEEKLY MILEAGE: 40.9 miles
MILEAGE FOR THE YEAR: 723.71 miles
LAST RACE: Haven’t had time to review my two Labor Day weekend races, but coming soon!
UP NEXT: Capital Pursuit 10-mile race this weekend.

Ultra Training Week #5: Wet Hot American Summer

I’m training for the Hitchcock Experience 50-mile race in December. On the way, I’ll be running the Chicago, Marathon, GOATz 50k, and Route 66 Marathon.

I can’t believe that in a couple weeks I’ll already be running my 20-mile long runs. It… seems soon. But then again, the Chicago Marathon (only a training run!) is only 6 weeks away. And I cleared nearly 40 miles this week. My 3rd run of the week on Thursdays always feels like a struggle โ€” running three days in a row (plus a strength workout) will probably do that to you โ€” but I’m otherwise feeling great. Hungry, but great.

ultra training honey stinger waffles gluten free

My new favorite fuel!

The last couple weeks I was only able to fit in 4 runs/week; this week I was back to 5 runs. I’ve mostly worked this upper respiratory thing out of my system, and a stray cough only gets me every now-and-then. My consistency is good; I’m getting out on the trails a couple of times per week. I wish I could find a restorative yoga studio or class in Des Moines to help out with the stiffness in my back and shoulders, but seems everyone does cardio/hot yoga here. I’m not doing enough foam rolling or stretching โ€” but my monthly massages, I never miss a session. ๐Ÿ˜‰

ultra training week 5 iowa running

I’m still splitting my time between road and trails (and sometimes treadmill). Soon here, I’ll be swapping and doing the bulk of my mileage (and long runs) on the trails. Speaking of: I got to run the trails out at Ledges State Park this past weekend and HOLY WOW was it gorgeous out there. As a group, we finished our last three miles through the creek. SO MUCH FUN. And so much wet.

ultra training trail running ledges park iowa

Potential poison ivy rash… that’s fun, right? Or is it trying to remember everything you wore/touched/used on the day that it (possibly?) touched you?

The 3 things that separate failure from success in ultratraining.

Also, Des Moines Parks & Recreation and Fleet Feet start their trail run series with the Capital Striders (and CS Turkeys) tonight. The series is every Wednesday through October 4 โ€” come out and have some fun learning about the trails right here in the city!

WEEKLY MILEAGE: 39.6 miles
MILEAGE FOR THE YEAR: 642.21 miles
UP NEXT: On the road again this weekend for back-to-back half marathons โ€” Rockin’ Chocolate Half Marathon in Madison, WI and the NewBo Run Half in Cedar Rapids.

Product Review: Under Armour Horizon RTT Trail Shoes

Disclaimer: I received a pair of Under Armour Horizon RTT Trail Shoes to review as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out to review find and write race reviews!

Under Armour trail running shoes blog review


First Impression: First things first, isn’t the Marlin Blue color beautiful?! They feel light; they look rugged. They look hella cute, too (let’s be honest).

My former trail shoes have felt really tight in the toebox, so I was ready to try out some new pairs. I feel like I have plenty more room in the UA Horizon โ€” and I don’t need to lock down my heels. I feel like I even have a little room for the inevitable foot swell during my ultra running.

UA Horizon RTT trail shoes

    • About the UA Horizon RTT
      Durable upper for breathability
      Reinforced for increased durability
      Mesh heel with dual protective welds
      Molded collar for added comfort
      Charged Cushioningยฎ for responsive comfort
      Lightweight midsole for optimal cushioning
      High traction rubber lug outsole for dependable traction
      Offset: 7mm
      Weight: 9.2 oz
  • Total side note: Can I say how much I love the product pages Q&A on the UA website? There’s SO MUCH EXTRA INFO there, and I really value their honest answers and transparency about products that are a match โ€” or suggesting products that might be better. A reviewer even recommended the Horizon as a great golf shoe!

    Under Armour Horizon trail shoes

    First Test Run: My first test run came with some elevation fun on Brown’s Woods dirt trails here in Des Moines (all things relative, of course; but depending on which way you take the loop, you have at least one mile of slow climb). My feet were already wrecked from my 10-mile road run the previous day and I was feeling some heel soreness on my left foot, but the cushion on these shoes really comforted my feet. Come to find out the Charged Cushioning puck in the heel helped me out!

    They also feel really, REALLY good on my high arches. Within the first 10 minutes, I also was able to feel the strength of the shoe tip, as I kicked a stump and nearly took a tumble (it felt like the longest almost-fall ever).

    Under Armour muddy trail shoes

    Second Test Run: There was a little mud at the trailhead, first bit of the route at Grandview Park, but the Horizon PTT took that mud like a champ. It didn’t feel slippy at all โ€” even on the grass โ€” and the caked up bits easily came out when I stamped them on the ground. This dirt trail run had a few little hills, and I’m liking the control and grip on the ground.

    Under Armour running des moines trails

    Third Test Run: The ultimate test โ€” Center Trails! Well, ultimate for the Des Moines-area trails, at least. Center always kicks my butt, and I really, REALLY like how these shoes respond on the hills. As I’m running, I’m really paying attention to how comfortable they are, particularly on the downhills. I don’t experience any heel slippage (and I don’t have the laces locked down as I do in my road shoes) or movement in the shoe; and the tongue doesn’t budge or bother me at all when I’m laced up. On this route, I had to do a bit of concrete trail between trail entry-points (and to round out my mileage at the end), and they didn’t feel at all slick or heavy. Wet conditions would probably be a different story.

    Under Armour trail running iowa

    Lasting impression: For all the things I’ve expressed to love, I’m a bit apprehensive about the shoe not having a rock plate โ€” and how these will perform, and how they’ll make my feet feel, on longer distances. Will it matter? Won’t know until I get some double-digits runs out there on the trails in a few weeks. Maybe it won’t. Would love to know others’ experiences on longer distances. That said, these have become my “go to” pair when I’m out running trails.

    Under Armour Horizon trail running shoes

    Every time I’ve worn these, someone has “oooh’d” over them or asked me about the shoes โ€” they really stand out! The Under Armour Horizon RTT come in 5 colors and retail for $109.99.

    BONUS: Did you know that UA has its own Mountain Running Series?
    Save the dates for Copper Mountain coming up on SEPT 9. Use code “BIBRAVE40” for 40% off registration.

    Weekly Therapy: 8.18.17

    the week:
    Some kind of summer cold or upper respiratory infection has been trying to kick my ass this week. It seems to be pushing all out of my lungs now, which has made running… interesting.

    I am SO EXCITED for Solheim Cup this weekend in Des Moines. It is hosted by our club, Des Moines Golf and Country, and is just such an awesome event to have here in Iowa. I took PTO Friday to volunteer a morning shift and not miss the first set of matches (what a long day!). But we’ll be hanging out and cheering our USA lady athletes all weekend. Gotta peep those Michelle Wie sparkly Nike golf shoes.

    seven things, seven days:
    1. I’ve decided that I want to go to grad school, so I’m getting things in order to meet my admission requirements.
    2. Oh, the eclipse is coming! I’ll be watching it here.
    3. I really, really love that my eye doctor’s office sent out a detailed email about viewing the eclipse safely and the dangers of staring directly at the event. Well done and timely marketing โ€” Bravo!
    4. Check this out: Katherine Beattie is a badass extreme wheelchair motocross athlete.
    5. I had this thought this weekend (I mean, I’m definitely not stopping for 7 minutes, but still): Are my long run water breaks too long? {via Runners World}
    6. Have you had a long-term (6+ weeks) injury that has inhibited you from playing your sport? Participants are needed in this survey.
    7. Proven performance practices from billionaires and elite athletes. {via Thrive Global}

    Ultra Training Week #3: The Trails are for Everybody

    Training week #3 started off pretty good for me. But a little too much fun at the casino on Friday night left me with a gnarly day-long hangover on Saturday, which meant that there was no way I was getting in my weekly long run. I fared only a little better by Sunday – able to get in 6.4 miles at Center Trails before calling it a day (I still had maybe only 200 calories in my system at that time).

    It’s not the end of the world โ€” though at times during my hangover I thought it might be. Running after puking for 24 hours is a skill good for Ultras, no? In any event, Sunday’s run was SLOW for me, and I fell behind my pack for most of the run, working on a lot of power hiking. Though I sometimes need the reminder Run Your Own Race โ€” even on training days. And that came by way of an oncoming mountain biker. I apologized for being slow to move out of the way, and he โ€” ever a gracious human being on this early Sunday morning โ€” remarked: The trails are for everybody!

    I let out some kind of awkward, shrill-yelling “YEASSSS!” as we passed one another. And I stopped feeling sorry for myself (and instead started profusely apologizing to my liver).

    ultra fun trail running ultramarathon training

    I was such a mess on Sunday, that I apparently couldn’t even wear my hat correctly!

    This upcoming week I’ve got my first meet-up with a work-organized running group and a HOKA demo & pub run with Fleet Feet.

    You can’t pay people to be motivated to go to the gym.

    WEEKLY MILEAGE: 14.4 miles
    MILEAGE FOR THE YEAR: 577.31 miles
    UP NEXT: Rockin’ Chocolate Half Marathon in Madison, WI and NewBo Half in Cedar Rapids, IA โ€” both part of my Labor Day back-to-back half challenge with Pittsburgh City Girl

    Weekly Therapy: 8.11.17

    the week:
    This week I celebrated NINE YEARS since I quit smoking. Pretty proud of that milestone!

    Ready to quit? Check out the Quitter’s Circle for resources on quitting AND staying smoke-free โ€” and find the community support you need to quit for good.

    Off to Riverside, Iowa to see one of my favorite bands, Better Than Ezra, at the Casino. They’re touring with The Wallflowers, who I haven’t seen live since, like, 1997.

    Also, it’s THE IOWA STATE FAIR time! Tater tot-nachos, I’ coming for ya.

    seven things, seven days:
    1. My tomato plants are finally producing some fruit – and I got to pick my first tomato!
    2. Have you heard about The BibRave 100? Check it out, and nominate your favorite races.
    3. Can anyone run an ultramarathon? Short answer: YES! Even Dr. Stanley Beecham agrees. {via Paste}
    4. I participated in a wonderful webinar about energy management, which included some exercises for core values clarification and identifying energy resources. These topics are so interesting to me โ€” as they were in my undergrad โ€” and fueled my desire once again to look into applied psychology graduate programs.
    5. SEE?! Why you should manage your energy and not your time {via BBC}
    6. This was also long-sitting in my inbox: Define Your Core to Design Your Life {via Day Designer}
    7. Running with a therapist: I LOVE IT! {via LA Times}