Product Review: Buff© UV Arm Sleeves

Disclaimer: I received a pair of Buff© UV Arm Sleeves to review as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review, find and write race reviews!

I was excited to get my pair of Buff© arm sleeves during marathon training — when we were still experiencing some chilly mornings and evenings. Even better, I got to test these for a race scenario and two different long runs in preparation of running my full marathon (where I also wore the arm sleeves).

BUFF UV Arm Sleeves BibRave

First impression: I LOVE the colors and pattern! I also like that there are reflective elements. The material is light, soft and slinky, and the fit felt good. I’m the type of runner who likes to prepare for all conditions, and considering race bib situations, these solve the issue of making sure your bib is always on your outside layer (I have mastered the art of changing bibs from outside-to-inside layer mid-race, however).

Benefits of BUFF© UV Arm Sleeves:

  • UPF 40+ protection
  • Breathable moisture-wicking fabric
  • Light compression
  • Durable, comfortable four-way stretch
  • Stretch flatlock seam
  • Antimicrobial fabric treatment helps control odors
  • Lightweight, compressible and packable
  • Reflective elements for low light visibility
BUFF Arm Sleeves race day ready

Race Day Necessities

Test run: I barely notice that they’re on… until I do. If that makes any sense. The arm sleeves have light compression, and on the day of my marathon, I had wrinkled marks around my elbows for a couple hours after taking the sleeves off. It wasn’t uncomfortable at all, but at a point I felt like my fingers were swelling, and the sleeves felt more constrictive with the heat. I found them comfortable temperature-wise to wear even in the higher 60s – and they stayed cool after I wet them down at several aid stations during my race. They really helped to keep me cool!

That said, the elastic band to keep them up around my upper arms felt uncomfortable at times due to tightness. Despite the flat seam, I experienced chafing near my armpits every time I have worn them (despite using extra anti-chafing lubricant after the first incident). It’s possible that I incorrectly assumed that I would wear a S/M; based on the sizing chart and that my upper arm measurement is in-between the two sizes. So if you have a 10″ bicep, maybe size up.

BUFF Arm Sleeves compression elastic marks

Some awkward arm angles for you…

During my marathon, I had people asking about my arm sleeves, which was a great opportunity to share BUFF’s new product on-the-run. It was awesome! (One guy even suggested putting ice down the sleeves, which was EXACTLY my suggestion to other Pros reviewing in warmer climates.)

Vermont City Marathon official photoVermont City Marathon official photo - removing arm sleeves

Race photographer caught me pulling off the sleeves!

What I love: The arm sleeves take up NO room, which makes them easy to pack when race weather is unpredictable and easy to stash when things warm up. But even if you don’t plan to remove them, the sleeves provide UVF 40+ sun protection (an added bonus to my already-weird running tan lines 😆), and I intend to use them for hiking and trail skating, too. I love (and own several) Buff© products, and their arm sleeves fill a gap in my running gear; no more scrambling for “throw away” shirts on race morning!

BUFF Arm Sleeves stylish

Stylish & Ready for any Race Day conditions!

Buff© is sponsoring this week’s #bibchat! Join us on Twitter this Tuesday (6/06) at 8pm CST for a chance to win your own pair of Buff© UV Arm Sleeves!

Weekly Therapy: Recovery Week Wine

the week:
Recovery has been nice! I’m one my first of TWO WHOLE WEEKS without running. I started my ladies’ golf clinics and went roller skating for a few miles (including wiping out in the grass within the first five minutes lol). I feel like I have all the energy and time in the world — using it to clean out dressers and organize closets… and, um, drink a lot of wine.

wine is in your future

Being fresh off a marathon finish has also given me a new kind of confidence to take on all the other life bullshit falling into the Procrastination category, and I’m on a roll crossing things off my to-do list! #gettingshitdone

weekend:
I volunteered this morning at Dam to Dam at the Tacopocalypse food table. It was so hot, and I was SO happy not to be running. Sorry to all the runners who didn’t get any pork nachos — we ran out of food after only 2 hours. :(

I plan to go for a bike ride tomorrow morning, and then partake in a little Sunday Funday (and probably Jethro’s BBQ brunch). I’m kinda liking this run-free summer lifestyle right now.

And here’s how to make your weekend feel longer. I love the first comment on the article: Don’t sleep in.

seven things, seven days:
1. Can you believe the back brake pads and rotors of my NEW CAR had to be replaced already? Crazy.
2. I put on my big girl pants and cancelled my gym membership (that I barely used once a month).
3. And now I need a place to do drop-in yoga. Any suggestions for Des Moines, preferably west/northwestern suburbs? No membership, please.
4. Got any early favorites for this season’s The Bachelorette? 🌹
5. Deep Inside Taco Bell’s Doritos Locos Tacos. I haven’t had Taco Bell in a few years, but I still crave it like my post-party, bar-crawling former 20-something self.
6. The Rise and (Maybe) Fall of Influencers {via NYT}
7. Brutalist redesigns of your favorite social platforms. BE STILL MY BRUTALISM-LOVING HEART. {via The Verge}

Race Recap: Vermont City Marathon

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

Vermont City Marathon Church Street

Made it to Church Street!

TWENTY WEEKS of sweat and tears and complaining about the weather brought me to Burlington, Vermont to take on my second full marathon on Memorial Day weekend. After getting over the last few weeks of my training slump — alongside that confidence-building 22-miler — I was ready to do this race. I had no anxiety going into race week and wasn’t wishing for the moment to be over (not until mile 25 at least). And what I learned on race day was that I could push myself… and still have a blast. By no means is marathon training all fun. But if you’ve already seen my finish chute spoiler from Instagram, you could see the joy all over my face on a race well run.

Vermont City Marathon flat Mel

Registration and Cost: I was comped a race entry through BibRave, though prices for the marathon range from $99 when registration first opens to $135 on race weekend. There is a relay option, too. It’s unclear if the half marathon was part of one of the relays — there are 2- to 5-person relay options, so probably the 2-person? There were 13.1 medals — but I don’t see the half as an option for registration.

Expo and Bib Pick-Up: I opted to book a hotel close to the start/finish lines, but the expo was held outside the downtown area about 2 miles away at the Sheraton Hotel & Convention Center. It’s probably walkable — but I didn’t want to do that the day before a marathon (we ended up renting a car for the weekend to explore some things outside of town anyways).

Vermont City Marathon expo directions

There were footprint stickers leading runners from the entry to the correct bib pick-up line — you then needed to take your bib over to the t-shirt tables to have activated. A clear plastic bag and matching bib number sticker was given for checking any items on race day — but no usual race branded cinch bag.

I liked the selection of vendors at this expo, which seemed to be more focused on local Vermont brands (including Cabot cheese samples and beer tastings from a local brewery). I got a ton of free things from Kinney Drug booth — several packs of K-tape and face wipes and lotion — holy moly! I discovered the Darn Tough sock brand at the Expo, too; and I am already obsessed with these merino wool socks. I bought a pair of their short Coolmax running socks too.

Vermont City Marathon race swag

Swag: To be honest, I was a little underwhelmed with the race swag, given what some other races do for runners completing a full marathon (there was also a virtual “swag bag”). Though I have to keep perspective on how small this race is. The race shirt was a performance short sleeve with gender-specific colors; the women’s shirt was maroon, which was a nice change of (color) pace. I searched the expo to buy some kind of marathoner finisher jacket, and I found a nearly empty rack. There were no women’s size small in the race branded zip jacket. Only 3 mediums left. And I was at the expo an hour and a half after opening on Saturday. That’s NUTS that there wasn’t enough. The race sweatshirt was one of the thinner and cuter fit ones (no zip front), but I really wanted a jacket. Bummer about that. I also loved the Run the 802 branding for the local race series, but maybe I was so blinded by the other issue that I somehow missed those items? I also missed buying a 26.2 sticker for my car, and I have all the sads. 😞

Course: Think of this course like a clover – it starts near Battery Park and takes four loops out of downtown Burlington and back, and then loops around another side of town (and repeat. and repeat). The first few miles were inside town and included our first pass down Church Street; the next few miles were out-and-back on open highway and it was BORING. I was happy to loop back into town again and end that portion.

I looked at the course elevation earlier in training and wasn’t dreading any real hills except for one. And that was Mile 15: The Assault on Battery. Somehow, when that hill happened, I had enough energy to keep running. Majority of VCM was flat, though there were some elevation changes. My quads are certainly telling the story of continuous rolling hills, however. Even a massage didn’t help. Woof.

Vermont City Marathon Elevation chart

So, this is why my quads are wrecked!

The best parts of the course BY FAR were in the neighborhoods between Miles 18-21. More on that later. At Mile 22, the race hits the Burlington Bike Trail and continues to the finish at Waterfront Park. The trail portion was not as shaded as I had hoped and only had a glimpse of the lake view every so often. This was where the crowd support seriously dwindled and shit gets hard. I finally turned on my music.

Weather: The forecast 15 days out from the race called for rain, so I was delighted that awfulness had passed through early. However, the temps were expected to get pretty warm by the time I finished. Given that the race was “black-flagged” last year, this made me nervous (some runners I chatted with throughout the race had already finished 22-24 miles by the time the race was cancelled at 4 hours in, and no results were recorded beyond 4:30). We had a nice cool (but humid feeling) 54 degrees to start. The sun started to get very warm near the end and reached around 75 degrees. Naturally, the back part of the course is full sun. When I noticed that the red flags were up around mile 21, those thoughts kept creeping in and I was getting pissed (and nervous).

Note: This was partly why the Race Directors moved the start time to 7am this year.

Vermont City Marathon start line

Start line: I was a little overwhelmed and confused by the start area — despite the beautiful backdrop of Lake Champlain. I only found the starting corrals by stroke of luck (and walking around). I didn’t see any directional signage and thought the start was actually in the park (it was on the street next to). No corral assignments, so runners lined up by their expected pace — there was pace signage and pacers holding finish time signs. The course felt really crowded for the first few miles, and there was brick-paved roads, so it was a constant look down-look up to make sure that I wouldn’t trip over anything (like, a giant pedestrian walk sign in the middle of the road; why wouldn’t they remove that?) or run into another participant. The actual start line was around the corner from the corrals.

Vermont City Marathon start corral

Aid Stations: All the aid stations were manned by WONDERFUL volunteers and it seemed all of the stations had water-Gatorade-water (perfect trifecta!). There was also a bonus candy aid station near the mid-point of the course, where I grabbed a cup of Skittles (YASSS!), and an ice pop station at the back portion of the course (I think I had 3 different ice pops throughout the back half of the race — thank you, Vermonters!). Clif shots and gels were provided at two different points, and there looked to be plenty of Kybos along the course, too.

Fans and entertainment: The race had some designated spots for course entertainment, but most of the fun came from the neighborhoods getting together to cheer and party. On our Church Street pass-throughs, there were drag queens giving high fives and many of the bars and restaurants seemed to be supporting the race by having their patios open earlier to spectators. The best section of the race, as I mentioned above, was after leaving the city and that awful hill on Battery Street. Starting with the 16.fun party on North Ave.

I was regularly dumping water on myself to keep cool as the temperatures were going up — and SO MANY neighbors set up sprinklers and spray hoses for us to run through (one kid even had a super soaker). THANK YOU! This was so appreciated. I wasn’t sure if my phone would be alive afterward, but I didn’t care.

Also in this neighborhood (I think I might have seen a sign that it was Lakewood? Not certain.): watermelon slices, oranges, bananas, candy, ice pops, neighborhood kids passing out drinks from their lemonade stands (adorable!)… a Tyrannosaurs running through sprinklers (I nearly had to stop from laughing so hard). And then by far one of the best things I’ve ever seen on a race course — shots of maple syrup. SHOTS OF MAPLE SYRUP. My race mantra was “Eat the Popsicle!” and I sure as hell was having a maple syrup shot. Isn’t that just so quintessentially Vermont?

Around mile 23, I started to feel tired and stiff. At 24, I was on the brink of having an emotional breakdown, feeling tears well up in my eyes and cursing myself for signing up for another marathon in the fall. Don’t know what that was all about; it wasn’t a wall — I knew that I could run more. I felt like I was on the brink of hyperventilating from choking back a big ugly cry. I pulled myself together.

Somehow.

Like I said earlier, this is where the crowd support thinned out, and it got hard; mile 25 was my wall. That’s when I felt done and ready to finish. Though as Forrest Gump says: I just kept running.

Best sign: You could have played chess

Or maybe the Vaseline signs? 😂 (you had to be there)

Vermont City Marathon finish chute

Finish line: The chute seemed to last forever, and I kept going back to memories of my first marathon. That extra .2 feels like a lifetime!

And then came the tears and hyperventilating. The outburst of emotion actually made me a little nervous. But I walked around for a bit and calmed down by the time I found the chocolate milk (and I guess I looked messed up enough that the volunteer gave me an extra one).

Vermont City Marathon finisher blog review

Chocolate Milk!

The finish area was just as confusing as the start. The volunteers handed us a bottled water and a bag (awesome!) to carry athlete food (fruit and chocolate milk… and I think there was free pizza). I didn’t automatically get a foil blanket, maybe Because of the heat, though I did see a few runners with them. I also didn’t see the results tent or a beer tent (was there one?). There were no chips left at Moe’s. All these things kind of fueled whatever emotional exhaustion I was feeling. And I had no idea where to go.

At that moment, my finish time notification from RaceJoy popped up on my Garmin. The reminder of all that hard training showed in a new marathon PR and my expected finish time based on my training.

The Medal: I love that the face of the medal has the infamous scene (and part of the VCM race logo) of the runners on Church Street and the sparkle is fun… but mine has a defect on it. Whomp, whomp..

After party: After a shower (and carefully looking for chafing and blisters), we walked down a few blocks to Citizen Cider for our own post-race celebration. They had gluten-free poutine and corn dogs and my day was complete.

Vermont City Marathon After Party Citizen Cider

Cider flight from Citizen Cider (they also had gluten-free corn dogs and poutine!)

Splits: Something wonky happened to my recorded watch splits after Mile 10 (it’s possible that I hit the lap button on my watch when removing my arm sleeves? At least it restarted!); I have the 10th lap at a .41 mile. Seems like I ran some long tangents too, with my Garmin clocking me at a total of 26.4 miles.

These are the official race splits:
10k: 1:04:34
10m: 1:43:31
Half: 2:15:24 (average pace 10:20)
20m: 3:30:11 (average pace 10:30)

OVERALL
The Great: Burlington is such an amazing place to go for a destination race. Also great if you love smaller races.
The Good: Vermont City Marathon has FREE race photos, which is AWESOME. I saw several photogs out on the course.
The Bad: Running in red flag conditions is scary. Find ways to stay cool!
The Ugly: I got some new chafing spots (ahem, butt crack) that I never experienced before. Must be from purposely getting wet throughout the race?

Vermont City Marathon BibRave Pro

BibRave!

OFFICIAL RESULTS
4:39:12
Average 10:39 pace
1327 overall place (out of 1985)
536 overall Female (out of 918)
My first entry in the 40-44 age group — 62 in that division (out of 110).

Weekly Therapy: Taper + Marathon Weekend!

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

the week:
Since I’m traveling to Burlington for the Vermont City Marathon, I wanted to focus on that for this Weekly Therapy. The Taper Crazies have grabbed hold!

weekend:
MARATHON WEEKEND!!! I have a couple days in Burlington to explore before the race. It’s been 5 years since my last visit. Besides Citizen Cider, which is already DEFINITELY on my list, what else should I see or do? Any gluten-free recommendations?

seven things at Vermont City Marathon that I’m excited about:
1. OMG, views of Lake Champlain and the Adirondacks.
2. FREE RACE PHOTOS! Thanks, Vermont Department of Tourism.
3. The Sport & Fitness Expo because I’m a sucker for race swag and finding buying local Vermont products.
4. Pre-race PASTA FEED (yes, there’s gluten-free!).
5. I always love to hear the entertainment along the course, but I’m also excited for…
6. A candy stop AND ice pop aid station. 😮
7. Crossing that finish line and celebrating another finished marathon!

Vermont City Marathon: Training Week #19

IT’S MARATHON WEEK! But without getting too far ahead, this post is about LAST week — Training Week #19 — a taper week, a take-it-easy week, a… uh, reminder to myself that marathon training is not quite over. Week.

Vermont Marathon training blogger

Marathoner in Training… STILL. 👊

I’m carrying over a LOT of confidence from my 22-miler the weekend before, and I feel completely ready to do this race. Because I’m in my taper, this week’s training plan doesn’t have a whole lot of surprises — unless you count the tornado sirens.

MONDAY Rest

TUESDAY Yoga at home + foam rolling

WEDNESDAY This was our crazy weather night, complete with tornado warnings – and our power was out until late evening. No running for me.

THURSDAY Mid-week easy run that I carried over from Wednesday. I originally was supposed to join the Green Runners again, but wasn’t sure about the total mileage and opted to complete my run at home on the treadmill.

3.01 miles / 33:50 / 11:14 average pace

FRIDAY More rest!

SATURDAY Last meet-up with my Capital Striders group for this training cycle. We did a 6-mile loop starting from Drake, dropping some runners off and gaining some others for another 5 miles.

10.90 miles / 1:50:00 / 10:05 average pace

Splits: 10:18, 10:00, 10:26, 10:20, 10:14, 9:56, 10:20, 9:48, 9:47, 9:35, 10:15
I had no idea that my paces were that fast — felt easy!

We ended our “season” with a celebration brunch at Louie’s Wine Dive. Despite a bit of rain, it was a great morning out on the roads. I appreciate these ladies so much for their support through my training.

capital striders run brunch iowa

Cheers, ladies!

SUNDAY I had yoga on my schedule, but didn’t do well with scheduling out my day. By the time I got home from the matinee, I was exhausted and ended up on the couch with my cat for a couple hours. I did some stretching and hip/glute mobility stuff before bed.

WEEKLY RUNS: 2 runs
WEEKLY MILES: 13.9 miles
TOTAL TRAINING MILES: 402.97 miles

Today’s the LAST DAY to register for the Vermont City Marathon. Use code BibRave10 to save $10 on your registration!

Product Review: OOFOS OOmg

Disclaimer: I received a pair of OOFOS OOmg shoes to 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!

OOFOS women shoes OOmg

One of my favorite things about being a BibRave Pro is the opportunity to review new products to the market. I’m already a HUGE fan of OOFOS — owning a pair of their recovery slides and randomly winning a pair of the OOriginal sandal during an Instagram contest last year — but never have properly reviewed. Getting the chance to try out their new OOMG shoes gave me that very opportunity!

The first fully closed shoe with OOfoam technology: A combined OOFOS patented footbed design with a 4-way stretch mesh upper that takes stress off your tired soles and joints — providing natural foot movement that allows you to wear the shoe all day, every day.

Short story: OOFOS is ALL about recovery. As a runner, this is super important to me. While the OOmg is good for recovery post-run, they are designed as a lifestyle shoe and meant to be worn at all times.

OOFOS OOmg shoes at yoga

Perfect for commuting to POPUP YOGA

First impression: When I first pulled these out of the box, my first reaction was, “Oh, these are fug.” But seriously, the ugliness wore off when I put them on. These shoes are COMFY. To be honest, they don’t look bad when they’re on my feet, and they were so light. I instantly dubbed these my commuter shoes, as I have to do a good amount of walking from car-to-cube on my work campus; I have worn these to work nearly every day since I got them. I don’t care if I’m wearing a skirt, pants, jeans… fug or not, they have not ripped up my feet like other flats have. AND they’re a lot sleeker than wearing tennis shoes to work.

OOFOS OOmg recovery shoe

Fit: I do want to talk about fit a little bit. Out of the box, these fit snugly and comfortably. I loved how my arch was cradled and the elastic mesh was breathable and didn’t compress the top of my foot at all. Though on my left foot (which is not the wider of the two), my toenails were catching something on the inside-top front of the shoe (I do NOT keep my toenails long, so it was a weird observation). I notice the toe catching — not with every step — it feels like it might rip my toenail off (it’s probably an exaggeration, but it’s a jolting reminder when it catches). I haven’t worn my OOmg shoes with socks and imagine that would prevent, but the no socks thing was exactly why I LOVED these shoes. This hasn’t prevented me from wearing the shoes nearly every day, however.

I’m generally not in-between sizes, but I feel as though that’s where this shoe would fit me better. I haven’t yet tried a size 9, and I feel it would be too big, but I don’t have the comparison. OOFOS OOmg is the perfect post-workout and commuter shoe for me, while also giving me the benefit of:

– Reducing stress on feet, knees, and back
– Enabling more natural motion
– Being extremely light weight
– And being machine washable — which makes these perfect for a rainy day shoe!

OOFOS OOmg commuter shoes

Science!

Learn more about the OOfoam technology:

30-something 40-something approved: I made an investment in comfort brands a few years ago because I was walking everywhere in Pittsburgh (I rarely drove), and I was tired of sore feet and nasty blisters or spots that rubbed (and eventually bled) — even from wearing flats. An ill-fitting shoe positively ruined my day! Though it’s expense to do so, I want to protect my feet; and dang it, I just want to walk comfortably and not have to travel with 382 shapes of band-aids.

OOFOS OOmg bibrave pro collage

The OOFOS OOmg shoe retails at $120, is sold in full sizes, and comes in three colors (black, gray, and citron green). I plan to get the OOmg in another color (likely gray) and can’t wait to see what’s next from OOFOS. At the moment, OOmg is sold in the women’s section of their website, but are considered unisex up to a certain size. Expanded men’s sizes are expected for next year.

Weekly Therapy: 40 + 1

the week:
I’ve experienced all kinds of weather in Iowa, but this week’s crazy severe storms and tornado warnings had me legit freaking out. I don’t ever want to be in my car during a 70-mph wind storm ever again! I saw a trampoline in a tree, so I’m pretty sure that’s like Iowa Bingo right there.

four seasons of weather in iowa

All that said, what was 94 and humid at the beginning of the week is now 45 degrees and depressingly gloomy.
-_-

weekend:
It’s a weekend of brunches! After my Saturday morning run, our group is having brunch at Louie’s Wine Dive to celebrate our race reason. On Sunday, the hubs and I are going to see “Curious Incident…” at Des Moines Performing Arts Center and having brunch beforehand at Bubba | Southern Comfort (I need those buckwheat waffles).

seven things, seven days:
1. A coworker gave me two heirloom tomato plants. I’m so excited to take care of these guys and tend to fruit! I miss our little urban plot that we had in Pittsburgh, and want to make a plan to have a small vegetable garden in place by next year.
2. Did you see the FitSpi shorts that will be in next month’s Runner Crate? Got me to subscribe. [affiliate link]
3. I found the cats have been taking turns napping on my workout bag that I leave on the bench in our garage entry. One of them is snoring over there right at this moment. 😻
4. That Demi Lovato collection at Fabletics is 💯.
5. Lucky Charms is hosting a contest to win a MARSHMALLOW ONLY box of cereal. Gimme.
6. A story too close to the skin for me: Vitamin D deficiency vs. Skin cancer {via HealthLine}
7. I no longer feel guilt over wasting time (though I am also much, much better at managing my time) {via Quartz}

Six Reasons I’m Running Route 66 Marathon

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 BibRave.com to review, find and write race reviews!

Route 66 Marathon Race Start

My race schedule for 2017 is officially full. Full marathon, that is. The Route 66 Marathon was one of those events that sounded like an absolute blast in recaps. The race takes place in Tulsa, Oklahoma on November 19, which also means I won’t be training for TOO long (hopefully) in the hottest part of summer.

And here’s 6 more reasons why I chose to do it:

1. I must be crazy, right? I could have come with 66 ways to answer that question. Signing up for another marathon when I haven’t even finished the one I’m currently training for? Don’t worry, I’m taking a little time off after VCM. But despite feeling exhausted and OVER everything related to marathons, I simply like to be in a structured training program that keeps me conditioned and is a challenge. Keeps me feeling like I could still be running with the 30-somethings. Or something.

2. My two favorite words: Fleece. Lined. Y’all know how much I love my cozy fabrics. This year’s finishers jackets match the color of the race branding and are fleece-lined performance. FLEEEEEEEECE. Bonus: it’s got pockets.

Route 66 Marathon - fleece jacket

3. Cross another state off my map. Before registration for Route 66 Marathon, I was going to color in 6 new states; now, it’ll be 7 in 2017. I’ve been to Oklahoma once — about 15 years ago — on a cross-country road trip adventure with my sister. There was a lot of arguing in those days before Google Maps (we seriously drove cross country with a FLIPBOOK from AAA). This trip it will only be me yelling at the British lady who commands my car’s navigation system. And for more cowbell.

4. It’s ROUTE 66 — it’s iconic! Once of my favorite things about traveling for races is being able to see cities by foot. Tulsa is about a 6.5-hour drive from Des Moines, so I’ll get to map some fun roadside attractions — like driving by Pittsburg (without the “h”) in Kansas. Also, I am obsessed with seeing all this Art Deco architecture in Tulsa.

Route 66 Marathon - race sign

5. PARTY TIME. EXCELLENT. I tend to take myself too seriously in training — in life, too — but especially in races. I don’t know many races that actively promote the locations where you’ll find your first beer station (which means there are others???) or the #jelloshotscrew (wait… can we make that a hashtag?). Alls I’m saying is, someone running this race is gluten-free and requests a cider or a mimosa around Mile 20-ish (maybe I should have put that on my bib?). Also, orange jell-o is my favorite.

Route 66 marathon mimosas

THAT LOOKS LIKE MIMOSAS!!!

6. The World’s Shortest Ultramarathon. There’s an option of adding the Center of the Universe Detour to your registration and run an extra .3 miles to complete the World’s Shortest Ultramarathon. There’s a beer reward (can I have wine yet?) and a special commemorative coin to acknowledge the achievement. Also, there’s some crazy-cool, freaky echo thing happening at the Center of the Universe, and that’s the perfect kind of quirk that I love to discover in my adventures.

Route 66 marathon - center of the universe detour

This race has some good vibrations (wait… is that an acoustic pun?). I can’t wait to run with you in Tulsa and party like a marathoner (+.3).

DISCOUNT: I hear this race sells out every year — and with all the new race features for 2017 (jackets for relay runners, a really freaking awesome VIP package), now is the time to plan your Fall marathon. If you’re ready to register, use discount code 2017R66BR for $10 off entry.

Vermont City Marathon: Training Week #18

IT’S TAPER TIME!!!!!! Also, look at that: a training week wrap-up actually posted on Monday!

taper time marathon training

Week #18 wasn’t a perfect training week for me. I skipped a speed workout, and swapped an easy run to later in the week. I think I’ve only had 3 weeks in my entire training cycle where I didn’t run 4 times. This was one of those weeks! I only ran twice. Woof. My back soreness extended into mid-week — when I FINALLY got my trigger point ball out and found the gnarly spot in my mid-back that was causing all the discomfort. This wasn’t my “peak week,” as last week had more total mileage — though this week had my longest run of this cycle. I’m excited already with all this “spare time” I found in my weekly schedule and looking forward to writing more about my excitement for this marathon.

vermont city marathon training greenbelt trail iowa blogger

BibRave represent, 22 miles of Greenbelt Trail, and practicing my race day outfit.

MONDAY Strength workout – no kettlebell for me this week, as I was being protective of my back. I focused on body strength work and really light dumbbells.

TUESDAY My birthday — so why not just rest and enjoy it?

WEDNESDAY I had yoga scheduled for Thursday, but I NEEDED it — and just 30 minutes at home helped SO MUCH. I spent extra time on stretching and foam rolling and hating my trigger point ball. If you’re looking for some good home yoga workouts, I can’t recommend Yoga With Adriene enough! She’s got a lot of great beginner videos, but also some amazing sessions geared towards runners… and a couple for specific issues (like my lower back soreness).

THURSDAY Easy 6 miles around my neighborhood. Since changing my work schedule, it’s been nice to have my runs done a little earlier. And it’s always great to enjoy more hours of daylight — particularly on a beautiful weather day.

FRIDAY Lots of rest to prepare for Saturday’s early rise.

SATURDAY Longest long run of my training plan — 22 miles! I met with the Capital Striders group run, joining my running buddies for an out-and-back 8+ miles on the Greenbelt Trail from Fitness Sports… and then continuing for the bulk of the miles on my own. I felt good; I ran in my race day outfit, and I practiced all my fueling and mental training. It was good to have a little warmer of a day, too, in the chance I experience that weather in Vermont.

You want to know something that pissed me off on my run though?

vermont city marathon half marathon split

Getting a Personal Best on my half marathon. That’s some shit, isn’t it?

SUNDAY Recovery Day! And I planned it as such, with Pop-Up Yoga at Salisbury House and a 90-minute massage (session with a new massotherapist, and I love her!).

popup yoga des moines blogger

Beautiful gardens at Salisbury House… oh, and after directing the gardening duties at my house.

And with that, time to enjoy the taper crazies!

WEEKLY RUNS: 2 runs
WEEKLY MILES: 27.7 miles
TOTAL TRAINING MILES: 389.07 miles

Vermont city marathon run blog

While it’s probably too late to train for a marathon (spoiler alert: it is), if you waited to register for the Vermont City Marathon, now is the time: Use code BibRave10 to save $10 on your registration! TWO WEEKS AWAY!

Race Recap: Des Moines Women’s Half Marathon

I completed the Des Moines Women’s Half Marathon (my 11th half marathon) as part of my (re)scheduled 20-mile training run. This race was a bit momentous for me, as it was my LAST race in the 30-something age group. Admittedly, I got a little choked up that morning. After finishing my 7 miles on the paved trails in Water Works Park, I lined up with the 1,800 other runners to start the half marathon.

des moines half marathon flat runner

Flat Melinda ready for Half Marathon #11

Registration and Cost: Registration was online. I was nervous the event would sell out, considering how late I signed up (only after my original weekend plans were canceled). There was an option to purchase an extra glass of wine with registration for $5 (yes, please). My cost after fees and extra booze was $81.12.

Packet Pick-up: I had a bad feeling when I got an extra email this week AFTER the “this is the last athlete email” was in my inbox (the “last athlete email” where the participant guides were also not hyperlinked). It was about parking, and that’s something that stresses me out more than it should. But since I am still unfamiliar with most of Des Moines (and still have to use my GPS to get anywhere), it’s always a concern — particularly for races. They also urged participants to pick up their bibs on Saturday; despite my plans to go early on race day, I decided to make the extra trip out to Jasper Winery.

Well, parking was annoying — mostly because it seemed no one really knew where to go; once I found the grassy lot behind the winery, I was OK. But people were parking on the front road and side road and trying to parallel park. And there were a lot of people walking in the road (wtf?!). Because I parked in the back of the building, there were no signs directing me where to go — I had never been to Jasper Winery. I saw a bunch of tents and went in that direction (even though I entered the wrong way, seemingly).

And then I realized that there was a line around the front side of the building for packet pick-up. The backup was because we had to sign TWO waivers before picking up our bib. WAIVERS. When registration was ONLINE. It was a little ridiculous.

My gut feeling was proving to be right — and this was a case where I didn’t want to be right!

Registrants then went to a separate table to pick up their bibs; the lines were formed by bib numbers. And then there was a third set of tables to pick up the swag bag. I also got my extra wine ticket, and took that immediately to the winery so I could relax and enjoy (it really was a beautiful day!).

des moines womens half marathon finisher medal and bib

All that said, I really, REALLY loved the bib design!

Expo: There were a couple tents set up outside for the race promoter and Girls on the Run, and the rest of the “expo” was inside the winery. SHAPE is a sponsor of the event and had a mini-shop with its workout apparel. There was also a giant display with every runner’s name printed. I noticed on my way out that the banners on the way out ALSO had names printed on them. I liked the integration!

That's me!

That’s me!

As you exit, you can grab a glass of wine (I think they also had beer) and sit outside and enjoy the weather. My Front Porch Rosé was a perfect complement to the weather.

Swag and Medals: The half zip, a branded wine glass, the medal. Yeah, this swag is pretty awesome.

DSM Womens Half Marathon swag glass jacket

Weather: The weather, honestly, could not have been more perfect. It was 57 degrees and sunny at the start — warming up to low 70s by the time I finished.

Course and Elevation: Extremely flat — really, a perfect race for any first-time half marathoners. The start was in front of Jasper Winery and continued past Gray’s Lake into downtown, around Principal Park, connecting to the paved trails that lead back to Gray’s Lake again, and finishing the last miles on the trails at Water Works Park.

dsm half marathon women start line

Ready to go! (I took advantage of a delayed start by getting all my extra miles in BEFORE the race)

Start Line and Parking: The race was delayed by 15 minutes BECAUSE OF PARKING. There were no corral openings — at least none that I could see walking up as far as I could fit to the 11-minute pace sign; runners filtered in from the back. They ended up having to start two different waves because they couldn’t get runners all filed in. Also, I never saw anything posted that parking was at Water Works — everything said the winery. I guess it could be assumed if you are familiar with the area… but I’m not.

Aid Stations: I was happy with the spacing of the water stops, but not too happy to get to the one at 3 miles and find it not have Gatorade as promised in the Athlete Guide that was provided the week of the race (when we got the actual email where the links worked). In fact, there was supposed to be Gatorade at the Mile 6.5 aid station (there was not); there was also definitely no “athlete nutrition in the form of bananas, Clif Bars, Fruit Strips and Twizzlers” at Miles 7.5 or 11. Those aid stations DID have Gatorade though (grape, gross).

Fans and Experience: There were EXCELLENT cheer sections and “fans” along the course, and some of my favorites were the Girls on the Run (who were volunteering at the aid stations; definitely not their fault AT ALL that the stops were not stocked as promised), the Velorosa cyclists, the lululemon Des Moines cheer squad, and the Pure Barre West Des Moines (they’re opening next week!) ladies near the finish line. I saw a lot of repeat spectators who moved along the course, spotting them again-and-again and exchanging “woos.”

Total Bullshit: I have a list of things per this race experience, but overhearing runners NOT be cool to cyclists was stoking my Run Rage. In fact, there was a lot of race etiquette lost on many of the participants of this race. They’ll learn; I can’t fault them for being new to the race mores. BUT DON’T BE DICKS TO CYCLISTS. Because you’re racing on the trails does not mean the outdoor world shuts down for you.

des moines woman half marathon after party jasper winery

Finish Line and After Party: The race ended where we started — at Jasper Winery. Our finisher medals were handed to us at the end of the “chute” and volunteers passed out bottles of water. You could get individual printed results outside the finisher area — where they also had a live band, food tents, food TRUCKS… and wine. Did I mention that free glass of wine for finishers? They did one better by me by having FREE SANGRIA. Which was a good thing because the athlete food line was SO LONG, I didn’t bother. I guess that was free, too, per the tab on my bib.

des moines half marathon finish line winery sangria

And then I waited in my car for a half hour trying to exit the park because the race didn’t keep any traffic volunteers or cops on duty to assist with getting everyone out of the parking area (one giant grass lot and one light that let out about 5 cars at a time). Parking sucks. The end.

OVERALL
THE GREAT: Free sangria!
THE GOOD: Great weather and awesome swag.
THE BAD: If the lack of race etiquette bothers you, this is not the race for you.
THE UGLY: I wrote four paragraphs complaining about parking. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

TL;DR: I didn’t hate this race… but I didn’t love it. There are definitely improvements to make for next year.

des moines womens half marathon finisher jacket

Hey baby, nice swag!

OFFICIAL RESULTS
2:15:19
Overall: 461 out of 948
Last race in the 30-something age group!
Females 35-39: 90 out of 161