Vermont City Marathon: Training Week #16

What’s a little “accountability Monday” on Friday? One of these weeks I’ll get back on scheduled (likely, during my taper).

Welcome to Des Moines downtown murals

Came upon this awesome mural on the backside of Exile Brewing Company during my downtown run.

Look, marathon training is not all awesomeness and easy and rainbows and butterflies. Even someone fit and focused and goal-driven can succumb to the exhaustion of a 20-week training cycle (IT: ME). I’m determined not to quit, but my wheels are falling off and I’m feeling some unnecessary pressure from… somewhere, I don’t know.

MONDAY I didn’t have a specific strength training workout scheduled, but my coach provides a couple GREAT ones β€” including one where I can use my kettlebell. I wanted to change it up a little bit, so I did a round of one those Spell Your Name workouts found all over Pinterest (yeah, it included some burpees!). I followed that up with a round of my coach’s KB strength workout.

training run in grays lake des moines

Peek-a-boo. I see you, Des Moines!

TUESDAY A little different scenery for my evening easy run, as I had the Grand Blue Mile on my schedule with my husband β€” he’s not a runner, so this was SO much fun for me. Beforehand, I finished 5 (humid) miles from downtown to Gray’s Lake and back. It cooled off A LOT before the Mile race started, so much so that I had to go back to my car to put on my long sleeve.

grand blue mile race downtown des moines

Grand Blue Mile results: 10:00.40

WEDNESDAY I needed another rest day. Just feeling… off. So, no speed workout this week.

THURSDAY My first meet-up with the Green Runners, as we focused on cleaning up the area around Drake campus β€” to coordinate with the Relays. What a fun time! These group runs happen almost every Thursday for the next few (warm) months, and rotate around different locations in the metro area. It’s a fun group that caters to all running abilities (and even good for walkers) β€” you should join us! But get ready to do some squats. πŸ˜‰

Des Moines Green Runners

While it was mostly walking on this route due to the neighborhood and traffic, we got in a mile.

FRIDAY If I had any plans to make up workouts, it wasn’t tonight! Though I enjoyed hanging out with the husband, watching movies and fattening up on Jeni’s Pistachio & Honey ice cream.

SATURDAY It’s been a couple years since I took a DNS, but I decided not to run the Drake Half Marathon on Saturday morning. This impacted my plan for my 20-mile run, but I planned to recover some of that mileage on my treadmill at home. I ended up with 8.69 miles before the machine started smelling like burning rubber so badly that I had to turn it off. Seriously, can someone recommend a better brand of treadmills?

SUNDAY I needed some redemption on my missed mileage from Saturday and a skipped run from mid-week; and despite the TERRIBLE weather conditions, the radar showed about an hour of no rain on Sunday morning (though, still 40 degrees and high winds, because Iowa). I was able to get in 8 miles before the rain started again. I felt good DURING the run β€” and even my paces were faster than I expected for an “easy” β€” though afterward, WOW, I felt positively drained.

april miles des moines runner blog

Don’t I look thrilled?

Even after a recovery muscle soak, my body felt sore and awful. I don’t generally feel sore after running, so it’s annoying and a little frustrating. So, no double digit long run for me in week #16, though still over 20 miles and 4 runs for the week. AND another 100+ mileage month for April!

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WEEKLY MILES: 23.85 miles
TOTAL APRIL MILES: 113.3 miles

Only a month away until Race Day! Still time to register and join me in Burlington, Vermont for the Vermont City Marathon: Use code BibRave10 to save $10 on your registration!

Weekly Therapy: The realization and acknowledgement that I only have a couple weeks remaining in my 30s

the week:
So… yeah. Can I remain 30-something in this blog space if I’m actually 40? I knew this moment would come, and I don’t yet have a plan for the change. I know that I want to continue to blog β€” blogging been a part of my life for 15 some years, and I’ve been posting here for about 6 years. I’ve been waiting for a “big idea” lightbulb moment. And since that hasn’t happened yet, I’ll remain here as a 30-something in spirit.

not yet 40 something banner

Having a kind weird weekend β€” I’ve been feeling something wonky in my right knee intermittently for a week, along with my left arch feeling sore since Illinois. And now my lower back is bothering me since Friday. I don’t have it in me to run outside in 30-degree temperatures and rain. And when I attempted to make up some miles on my treadmill, the machine started smelling like burning rubber and I got nervous about the motor burning up (or the thing catching fire) and had to QUIT. Things are rough over here right now.

You know, in case you wondered what 40-something blog posts would be like.

seven things, seven days:
1. Took a DNS for the Drake Half marathon. I just didn’t have it in me.
2. Golf season has arrived (amidst the snow showers in the forecast, WTF), and I’m finally spending my Dick’s Sporting Goods gift card from LAST Christmas on a new pair of golf shoes.
3. I found an additional VISA gift card, as well as a Dunham’s (hopefully those still exist?) and another for Amazon. Maybe I need to clean out junk drawers more often?
4. Is running contagious? {via NYT}
5. This food article spoke right to my soul (and inspired me to make a gluten-free carrot cake this weekend): The Nonnegotiables of Good Carrot Cake {via Taste}
6. Sports Psychology: The effects of loss aversion (sorry in advance about the auto-play video) {via Stack}
7. A guide for giving your cats their annual performance review β€” OMGGGGGGG 😻😻😻

Vermont City Marathon: Training Week #15

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 to find and write race reviews!

vermont city marathon training week 15 blog

All bundled up for the Illinois half marathon, SO CLOSE to race day, and Chocolate Milk forever and ever. Amen.

It’s crazy to think that I’m on this “other side” of marathon training. With less than 5 weeks until race day, I’ve experienced about every type of weather forecast and every type of emotion. And to be truthful, I really wish training was over. I know that it’s good to have this insight having DONE all this training thus far to maybe not do a 20-week training program next time and that I’m capable of getting through the next few weeks. Though my focus and resolve to deal with every day bullshit (and the weather) has waned, and I’m really ready for it all to be over. Only a few more weeks until taper time, but I already feel like giving up.

And yes, I’ve got another marathon yet that I am training for this year. I KNOW.

This week I was proud to get all my runs done (despite having messed up my watch somehow TWICE), and I did all my strength and core workouts. *fist bump*


TUESDAY An easy run on the schedule, ending with 6×20 Strides and my at-home kettlebell strength workout. My warm-up routine for this day starts with foam rolling, and besides my calves, everything feels OK. Somehow, I messed up my watch when I got an incoming text β€” and somehow forwarded to my splits, and had to restart the workout. I finished 1.15 miles on the first cycle (12:01 average pace) and 5.44 total miles on the 2nd cycle.

Mile 2-6 Splits: 11:47, 11:51, 11:49, 11:56, 11:54

Felt really MEH about this easy run, but got it done. And then I felt like I tweaked something in my right knee coming out of a side plank. I guess it’s time in marathon training where THAT starts happening, too.

WEDNESDAY Another easy run, ending with 4×20 Strides and a core workout. Despite the weather not being too bad during the week, I opted for both easy runs on the treadmill. I messed up my first Stride by almost forgetting about having to do them, and stopped the treadmill.

4.27 miles / 11:50 average pace

Lots of foam rolling before bed, and spent some additional time with my Moji foot roller on my arches.


FRIDAY It was nice to have a short week at work, taking a PTO day to drive out to Illinois for the 5K in the evening. Read my recap of Race 1 of the Half I-Challenge at the Illinois Marathon.

I was supposed to take it easy and have fun. Though I’m pretty sure that a PR is not exactly easy – but it felt easy! And I had fun! I mean, I was definitely sweating by the end of it and had that “high” of being able to push myself to the finish. Bonus: I ran by feel and didn’t look at my watch until I crossed the finish line. THAT FELT AWESOME.

Splits: 9:31, 8:41, 8:38

SATURDAY Read my recap of Race 2 of the Illinois Marathon Half I-Challenge (the Half Marathon).

A cold day for the race, but my cranky mood about weather turned quickly when I realized how much fun EVERYONE was having (I wanted to have fun!). My official finishing time made this my 2nd fastest half marathon. I felt strong; it felt easy. Go read my recap!

10k split: 1:04:45 [10:26 pace]
10 mile: 1:43:21 [10:21 pace]
12.4 mile: 2:07:13 [10:16 pace]
finish: [10:09 pace]

SUNDAY Rest (and travel) Day β€” back home to Iowa and time to eat ALL THE THINGS.

WEEKLY MILES: 27.16 miles

Only a month away until Race Day! Still time to register and join me in Burlington, Vermont for the Vermont City Marathon: Use code BibRave10 to save $10 on your registration!

Race Recap: The Illinois Half Marathon β€” Race 2 of Half I-Challenge

Disclaimer: I received a free entry to The Illinois Half Marathon 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!

Illinois half marathon bibrave blog

Catch up onPart 1 of my Illinois Marathon race weekend and expo recap. For this post, I’ll recap the half marathon and summarize my overall experience in Champaign-Urbana.

illinois half marathon bib race weekend

And hey, I ran my 10th half marathon!

The college was celebrating its 150th birthday, and race day was a PARTY. When the Race Directors said that the city gets behind this race, they really meant it. And with the spectators having so much fun, I was feeding off that energy.

Illinois marathon race weekend birthday cake

Location: Champaign-Urbana, Illinois!

Registration and Cost: As my disclosure states above, I received a free entry to the Half I-Challenge series. If you register for the race early, you can run the half marathon for as cheap as $60. There are several incremental increases as the race approaches; expo registration (pending availability) went as high as $90. The Half I-Challenge for the half marathon and 5K starts at $85 and goes up to $140.

Pre-Race: The communication from Illinois Marathon RDs was EXCELLENT leading up to race weekend. They utilized Facebook and Twitter and interacted with participants, and sent out several emails regarding race info, packet pickup, and after parties.

Illinois half marathon flat runner

Swag: Each race had its own drawstring race bag and t-shirt. The half marathon shirt is great β€” a bright neon yellow short-sleeved tee with a more breathable tech material. I also love that it’s v-neck. The drawstring bag for the half has a mesh back and extra zippered pocket in the front. I have SOOOOOO many drawstring race bags now; I wish that there was only one for the Challenge runners.

Weather: While I knew it was going to be chilly, race day was downright COLD β€” at the start it was feels like temp of 35. I was a little cranky about it, but also glad that I had an extra long sleeve. It was also pretty windy, so that added to my pre-race chill.

Course: The course for the half marathon was basically flat β€” and it was fast. A lot of it was run through neighborhoods and some through paved trails in a park, but none of it was boring.

Illinois half marathon course map

Start Line: Definitely not as crowded as the day before (thankfully). Not the same start location as the 5K, but still on campus near the Stadium and only a .5 mile walk from my hotel. There were wave starts and a countdown for each start.

Illinois half marathon start line blogger

Aid Stations: There is an oranges station sponsored by Meijer around mile 6, which was a nice surprise (I love oranges during races!). There were a few hydration stations with water and some with Gatorade (I missed the first Gatorade stop because I didn’t realize until I was already at the water tables). I got a strawberry-banana GU (my favorite!) at mile 6.5-ish, too. I was able to store my GU for later on when I had some awful stomach grumbling from hunger (I carried some Figgies & Jammies with me, but didn’t feel like “eating” during the race).

Finish Line: Muscle Milk (chocolate and vanilla) and bottled water on the field. I walked all the way up the stadium seats until I realized that I forgot to pick up my Challenge medals back in center field. After walking back UP the stairs, I saw the signs…


illinois marathon post race gluten free pasta

I was more than a little excited (thanks, Biaggi’s!).

Fans and Experience: Crowd support was probably the most engaging and fun of any race in which I participated. There were signs everywhere (my favorite: “We’re blocked in our driveway, run faster!”) and spectators lined the streets and neighborhoods β€” high-fiving and cheering and handing out samples of beer and makeshift water stops and tissues to runners. I find some of the larger races to be overwhelming with people, but this was the perfect amount of energy; I was really feeding off it. It reminded me a bit of the neighborhood support when I did the Akron relay.

I particularly loved the genuine “Welcome to Champaign” (was that the mayor?) greeting as we ran through the downtown area and the “Finnish Line” (hilarious!). There were Cheer Zones and live music (I loved the multi-instrument band with the accordion and brass β€” I wish I caught the name of their group) and even Elvis! The entertainment was awesome throughout the course. Around 8-9 miles in, some friendly neighbors were passing out cups and cans of beer β€” not for me, obviously but if there was something gluten-free, I may have taken something; I was sincerely loving the energy.

Even better, the RUNNERS seemed to all be having equal fun.

illinois marathon finish in memorial stadium

After Party: The 27th Mile celebration was just outside Memorial Stadium, similar to the party the night before β€” free beer for participants and free cake and live music. After walking back to my hotel room, it was breakfast, a hot shower and a long nap; and then a friend drove in to hang out over night. I needed to fuel, so it was (gluten-free!) burgers and buffalo chicken dip at Scotty’s Brewhouse first, and then we drank wine and ate stinky cheese and caught up in the hotel room afterward. The weekend overall was a total blast.

illinois marathon post race drinks

Water, chocolate milk, coffee… I like options (and the hotel was EXCELLENT at keeping the breakfast going a little late for runners)

The Good: I negative split the 2nd half of my race β€” WHOOP!
The Bad: Blah, weather. Tolerable, but I thought winter was over!
The Ugly: As runners are approaching the stadium for the finish line, the course kinda narrows; well, I came up to a band of walkers spanned across the distance. It was irritating, and I got a little run rage-y β€” I may have yelled at them to move left (sorry).

TL;DR: My weekend in Illinois was incredible. A 5K PR and my 2nd fastest half marathon time β€” and probably the best overall race energy and experience. They put on a great event there in Champaign-Urbana, and if you’re looking for some fun (or a PR), I would definitely add this race to your calendar.

10k split: 1:04:45 [10:26 pace]
10 mile: 1:43:21 [10:21 pace]
12.4 mile: 2:07:13 [10:16 pace]
Finish: [10:09 pace]

Illinois half marathon finish line


Illinois marathon half marathon finishers certificate

Race Recap: The Illinois Marathon 5K β€” Race 1 of the Half I-Challenge

Disclaimer: I received a free entry to The Illinois Marathon 5K 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!

Illinois marathon challenge blog runner

I’m breaking down my trip to the Illinois race weekend into two posts. This first post will include the 5K portion of the I-Challenge and the Expo. The second will focus on the half marathon and overall race weekend experience.

Location: Champaign-Urbana, Illinois! A nice little 5-hour road trip from Des Moines.

Illinois marathon road trip blogger race review

Road trip rest stop #1: At least I know that I hydrated properly!

Registration and Cost: As my disclosure states above, I received a free entry to the I-Challenge series (5K and half marathon). If you register for the race early, you can run the 5K for as cheap as $25. There are several incremental increases as the race approaches; expo registration (pending availability) went as high as $50. The Half I-Challenge for the half marathon and 5K starts at $85 and goes up to $140.

There are four different distances as part of the Illinois Marathon weekend: the full marathon, half marathon, a 10k and 5k. There is also a youth run, a marathon relay, and the challenge races that all include the 5k on Friday night and one of the distances on Saturday.

Illinois marathon expo recap blogger

Me and Alma… and Alma… and Alma.

Expo and Packet Pick-up: The Health & Fitness Expo opened on Thursday (4-8pm) and continued Friday from (10am-7pm); I drove in on Friday and made it to the expo around 3pm (after checking into my hotel). The expo takes place at the University of Illinois Activities and Recreation Center (ARC) and, after parking, was easy for this out-of-towner to find her way. Arrows directed you to the bib pick-up area first β€” I didn’t experience any lines in the afternoon.

Illinois marathon expo review race blog

After picking up my bibs (separate bibs for the half and 5K), registrations are then directed to the large gym area for the vendor area and swag pick-up. There were a large number of vendors, a series of speakers β€” including marathoner Dick Beardsley β€” and several photo opportunities. I really enjoyed the experience and layout, and spent a good amount of time looking around (and, of course, shopping). Biaggi’s restaurant was also hosting a Pasta Feed at the Expo β€” and they had gluten-free pasta (YAY!).

Illinois marathon expo recap

Parking was a little annoying from a time management perspective, but there was plenty of it and it’s free. Signage was very helpful around campus to direct where to park β€” and look for all the volunteers with orange foam fingers. You just might have to do some walking, and the Expo gets busier as people get out of work.

Swag: Each race had its own drawstring race bag and t-shirt. The 5K shirt is short sleeved and the typical boxy fit that comes with unisex sizing. If you’re local to the area, there were a BUNCH of race and product flyers β€” many with discounts.

Weather: The weather was much chillier than I expected at 48 degrees (and super windy). And I’m REALLY glad that I packed that extra pair of pants and a long-sleeve layer.

Illinois marathon 5k review blog

Course: All of the races for the weekend started near the State Farm Center and ended at Memorial Stadium. I don’t know much about the area, but it was fun to run through campus and Champaign at nighttime. There was a great energy along the course, with a lot of students cheering from the sidewalks and porches around campus. I did my fair share of “woo’ing” with spectators.

Illinois Marathon 5K course map

Start Line: The 5K started at 7:30 pm β€” and at a half hour before start time, it was SO CROWDED. All of the runners couldn’t even fit into their corrals, and there was quite a long wait in between waves in order to fit all the people in as each corral moved forward. It kind of made me nervous for the half marathon start. Maybe that bottleneck could be alleviated with entry open to both sides of the corrals?

Illinois marathon bibrave pro start line

Bib Rave Pros!

Aid Stations: There was a water stop on the course about 2 miles in, though I didn’t need to stop.

Finish Line: The big appeal of the Illinois Marathon is the 50-yard finish inside Memorial Stadium. Imagine my surprise to learn we would be doing the same for the 5K! It was a really cool experience, though you couldn’t linger long on the field. Inside the concession area was free food for finishers: Jimmy John’s sandwiches (sadly no lettuce-wrapped), bananas, and Nature Valley granola bars.

After Party: The 4th Mile party outside Memorial Stadium was the celebratory kick-off to the 5K and race weekend. All participants got a free drink (lines were fairly long by the time we finished our races) from Riggs Beer Company. There was also live music, food trucks, and FREE CAKE to celebrate the 150th birthday. All of this, sadly, not meant for the gluten-free runner. I was positively shivering from the cold (I had to purchase an oversized men’s sweatshirt from one of the vendor booths to get warm) and unfortunately, couldn’t stick around the party too long.

Illinois marathon 5k medals

Speaking of birthdays, the 5K medal is a balloons bouquet celebrating the sesquicentennial. And for me, it also celebrated a new PR! HOLY CRAP. I ran the race by feel and… it felt easy. I’m just so ecstatic to have that feeling and see those splits β€” while also having so much fun.

Illinois marathon 5k finish line stadium review

The Great: I wasn’t planning for a 5K PR, so that was a GREAT surprise!
The Good: Despite being cold, I was having fun.
The Bad: Not the races fault, but my hotel room was right outside the elevators. Whomp, whomp.
The Ugly: Entry to the corrals was pretty backed up, and people were getting irritated and pushy. I hate pushy people.

Splits: 9:31, 8:41, 8:38

27:44 β€” a new 5K race PR!

Illinois 5K finisher certificate

Weekly Therapy: Loyalty and road trips and early morning alarms

the week:
I purchased a lunch bag from eBags a few years ago and was sad when the interior lining started ripping away from the zipper. I finally replaced it a few weeks ago with something new, but strongly disliked its smaller interior capacity (less room for snacks!) and handles that don’t keep the back straight β€” and no short carry handle on the top of the bag (so high maintenance!). When looking around their site to find my original, I discovered that eBags-branded products have a LIFETIME WARRANTY against defects β€” and they replaced my well-loved lunch bag with a brand new one!

I’m in no way sponsored or compensated by the company, but I absolutely love when brands do right by their products and will shout my loyalty from the rooftops. I’ll love this lunch bag for another few years and all is right with my world and my many (many) meals and snacks that I need to bring with me to work.

race day 5am meme


I’m off to Illinois to take on the I-Half Challenge (a 5K tonight and a half marathon on Saturday morning) and my first race as a BibRave Pro ambassador! This will be my 10th half marathon. CRAZY.

A friend is also driving up to Champaign to spend the remainder of the weekend with me, and I’m so happy to get to see her and drink wine, since it’s been YEARS. If the weather stays nice, we are planning on trail skating, too. #shutuplegs

seven things, seven days:
1. Remember my office fire from two months ago? Well I finally got a box of my personal belongings from my desk. Which included close to none of my belongings.
2. I had a dream this week where a parade of kids were wearing items from my closet that I haven’t worn in forever. What a message, eh? Must be time for another round of Cleaning of the Closets.
3. For my wedding celebration this summer, I requested a box of party dresses from my Trunk Club [referral link] β€” and she sent the PERFECT dress.
4. Collaboration creates mediocrity. According to Science. And me, a high performer.
5. Well, this is interesting: The new rules of hydration {via Outside}
6. That voice inside your head will make you a better runner β€” another great article from Outside.
7. Weirdly, success is about thinking you’re not too successful {via Science of Us}

Vermont City Marathon: Training Week #14

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 to find and write race reviews!

vermont city marathon blog runner

Love the light at this time of year, hanging out with my foam roller and other trigger point apparatus, and why does yoga give me hives???

Thankfully, I was able to shake off my training funk during a couple awesome-feeling easy runs. There’s something that happens in the span of a short half-hour run that allows for freedom to explore emotions tied to marathon training β€” rather than dreading the hours-long trod of long runs (maybe with too much time to think or your emotions to run the gamut). The lightness of running for fun returns, and then I feel full of hope again and ready to go to work.

MONDAY Rest Day β€” plus a massage after work. My session felt pretty mediocre, which is disappointing (as I’ve been seeing the same massage therapist for several months now). I’m hoping she was just having an off day, but it was bad enough for me to consider maybe scheduling my next appointment with someone else. Bummer.

TUESDAY Easy and Strides and strength workout all on the schedule. I felt OK enough to get in my easy run outdoors… but didn’t feel like doing either my Strides or my strength workout. I know, I know. I feel you judging me! But the weather was beautiful, so I was at least able to finish my 5 miles outside.

5 miles / 50:13 / 10:02 average pace

Splits: 9:50, 10:10, 10:04, 10:07, 9:59

vermont city training in iowa blogger

WEDNESDAY I opted to do Wednesday’s Intervals 8×400 workout on the treadmill to target consistent paces. And looking back, my 400s were considerable slower during this workout than they were a few weeks ago. Yuck.

5.98 total miles / 1:03:55 / 10:42 average pace

warm-up 12:04
1: 7:57 (pace) / 11:46
2: 7:51 / 11:55
3: 7:51 / 11:57
4: 7:59 / 11:52
5: 8:26 / 11:55
6: 8:20 / 11:51
7: 8:27 / 11:51
8: 7:53 / 11:57
cool down 12:09

THURSDAY Another solid Yoga Roots class. I took an extra 20 minutes before class started to lie in the yoga room in savasana and just BE STILL. It felt incredible. And then I broke out into a rash again mid-way through the class. 😫

FRIDAY Rest Day! And lots of foam rolling before bed.

Vermont City Marathon training week 14 blogger

My Capital Striders buddies for this week’s 20-mile route β€” at one of our water stops sponsored by Fitness Sports.

SATURDAY The big fat 20-miler! Yes, I’m 6 weeks away from my marathon date, but I have 2 20-milers and another 22 on my plan. I know that I can easily run a half marathon distance. I’m confident even that 15 is challenging but doable. But I need practice on that really bad place around 18 miles in; hence, why I’m actually happy that my training is structured as such. I’m also not sure of my fueling strategy yet; I repeated what I used on a long run a couple weeks ago to see if it would get me through my 20… and I was getting indigestion from the Cytomax, which I’ve never previously experienced. SIGH.

There were a lot of moments during this run where I had to remind myself: How do I feel right now?

I was constantly doing a body assessment β€” what feels good and what doesn’t β€” to get myself present and not thinking ahead. Think about the mile you’re in… That’s one of the most important things for me right now in training. I already know these long runs will be hard (spoiler alert: it was). But thinking about that at Mile 4 won’t do me any good.

vermont city blog running training

The 20-mile course with the Capital Striders took us from Drake University all the way to the Fairgrounds, back through downtown, up Ingersoll and back to campus. I actually really enjoyed the route!

I did look to my 2015 marathon training to see what time I completed my 20-miler then (I only did one in that training cycle) β€” I finished this run 5 minutes faster. Cool thing to look at and compare for a little perspective.

SUNDAY Happy Easter! I felt weighted down by all the food and drink from the holiday and never completed my Recovery run. I apparently have hit the point in marathon training where I keep making excuses not to do my workouts. At least I foam rolled again before bed? So, yeah, I need to stop that!

WEEKLY MILES: 30.98 miles

Vermont city marathon run blog

Join your fellow runners in Burlington! New discount for Vermont City Marathon: Use code BibRave10 to save $10 on your registration!

Product Review: Wrist ID Elite from Road ID

Disclaimer: I received a Wrist ID Elite from Road ID to review as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out to review and write race reviews!

Road ID banner blog product review

I often find myself running without my ID; while I almost always carry my cell phone, if there is an urgent situation it might not be the best way to identify me. I heard about the Road ID identification bracelet from other runners and have received flyers in expo bags from previous races. I knew the value of the product, but still procrastinated in buying myself one.

Road ID package blog product reviewer

I loved the packaging!

So I signed up immediately for the chance to review the Wrist ID Elite from Road ID with BibRave.

The Wrist ID Elite has options of silicone (several bright colors!) or leather bands, with a watch-style buckle. The faceplates come in classic, rugged and black edition, which are fully customizable and can include interactive ID information. The Wrist ID Elite is one size fits all, but the bands can be trimmed with scissors to fit. The Elite retail price starts at $29.99.

Road ID contents band badge blog review

On my faceplate (not shown for privacy reasons) I included my full name, my spouse’s phone number, my mom’s phone number, my shellfish allergy, and noted that I’m “No RX” (no prescriptions).

First impression: Truthfully, I was annoyed at having to put the thing together; though the customization won over that 5 minutes of impatience. I have a tiny wrist, so I could cut the bracelet down as small as I wanted it. I loved the neon green band color and the many ways to personalize. I also selected a “SHUT UP LEGS” badge to add to my band.

Road ID review blog Shut Up Legs

If an extra band on your wrist is not your thing, Road ID has options for personalized faceplates to add to your Apple Watch, FitBit, or Garmin. I’ll likely get a plate for my Garmin watch, so I only need to wear one band. I love that it’s lightweight and sweat-proof during my outdoor runs. I plan to wear my Road ID during bike rides and trail skating, too.

Road ID at Ragnar product review

Road ID wearing at Ragnar Luckenbach

30-Something Approved: Since receiving the Road ID, I’ve worn it on all my runs. I always knew the importance of having one, and though a little late to the party, it’s a constant in my running gear rotation. If you frequently run alone (heck, even if you don’t), or in under-populated areas, and especially if you have a medical condition β€” a Road ID is highly recommended.

Road ID elite wrist blog review

I’m not allergic to wasp stings, but if you are, a Road ID is a necessity while being outdoors!

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Vermont City Marathon: Training Week #13

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 to find and write race reviews!

Hal Higdon quote I continued running

I’m pretty sure that I CONTINUED will be tattooed on my forehead at the end of all this.

I went through a super funky funk in Week #13. Here was my original note:

This was not a successful training week for me β€” and I’m generally feeling bummed out. I know you can’t rush marathon fitness, but I feel as though I should be better conditioned than how I feel during my runs (particularly my easy ones). I have my first 20-miler next weekend, and I just don’t know if I can do it.

But I feel completely opposite of that feeling as I’m sitting here today. I’m EXCITED about Saturday’s 20-miler, and despite feeling really fucking tired (sorry… ear muffs), I know that I CAN do it. So: SHUT UP, BRAIN.

MONDAY I should have looked at my training plan earlier; I didn’t realize that my strength workout was scheduled. I rested.

TUESDAY Easy run day, followed by a core workout. This run felt really good – and I must have been running the right effort level because I felt like I could have run 5 more miles.

57:48 / 11:32 average pace

Splits: 11:40, 11:31, 11:29, 11:27, 11:28

WEDNESDAY I had Intervals on my training schedule and took another rest day. We originally had our Broadway subscription tickets on Friday evening, but we changed our tickets since I had to wake up super early on Saturday to drive out to the Hawkeye race.

vermont city marathon training yoga cross training blogger

THURSDAY My weekly yoga class at Life Time Fitness; felt really strong and class was much-needed.

FRIDAY Rest for my 25k! Spent some time foam rolling before bed.

SATURDAY Drove out to Solon, Iowa for the Hawkeye 25k β€” a trail course and my first 25k race! Race recap coming soon. I wish I could have enjoyed it more (though I certainly did enjoy parts of the course), but I was too deep in my funk to really have fun. My effort level felt harder than what I thought it should be and I couldn’t push past the negative thoughts.

After finishing the 15.2 miles of the course, I ran another 2.08 miles. Those last miles were SO SLOW that I gave up trying to complete the one additional that I needed to make 18 for the day.

15.18 miles / 2:52:11 / 11:20 average pace

2.08 miles / 25:35 / 12:20 average pace

SUNDAY I waited until late evening to complete a run on the treadmill (after eating a bunch of tacos! haha) and followed my run up with another core workout.

2.06 miles / 25:13 / 12:13 average pace

vermont city marathon training BECAUSE


WEEKLY MILES: 24.32 miles

Join your fellow runners in Burlington! New discount for Vermont City Marathon: Use code BibRave10 to save $10 on your registration!

I went to Ragnar Luckenbach and all I got was this medal. And a sunburn. And a wasp sting. {Race Recap}

Wow, it’s been almost 4 months since I’ve posted a race recap! Ragnar Luckenbach was my first race of 2017. I didn’t sign up for any races at the beginning of this year, as I wanted to focus on my base fitness for marathon training. Ragnar was a fun break away from usual weekend long runs, while still getting in my mileage.

ragnar luckenbach 2017

My trip to Texas didn’t start at all how I expected β€” I got a really awful migraine as we were descending into Austin and ended up really nauseous during the cab ride to the hotel. I ended up spending nearly the entire first day in Austin curled up in a ball in a hotel bed cursing the light and that the water was turned off in our hotel for a few hours due to maintenance.

And puking.

Like I said: not a great start to a long weekend of running in the Texas heat.

I opted to stay in our downtown hotel room instead of joining the group β€” just in case I didn’t get better. I was pissed that I traveled all the way down to Texas, and I wouldn’t be able to run. By nighttime, I was finally starting to feel OK and could keep some Gatorade and plain Cheerios down. Then I knew I could rally and Ragnar would happen.

Ragnar Texas first time relay race

A few weeks prior to race day, our team lost someone due to deployment β€” and we had to find a new teammate (which we did), but I got switched from Runner 12 to Runner 10. I was OK with the additional mileage (see: marathon training), and I was still in Van 2 (still all strangers to me!). And then Ragnar changed the legs/mileage on us a few times before race day. And then the rental company didn’t save us a van, so we ended up in an Infiniti SUV. And then Ragnar cut 2 legs off the last day of the race, and we had run a leg with one of our van-mates. One of our teammates missed her 2nd leg at a major exchange because the race book was super confusing in our delirious and exhausted state (we were at the wrong stop).

There was a lot of shit happening and changing, and I was doing my best to adjust. But it all felt very chaotic!

Ragnar relay van sticker traveling blogger

Location: We started outside of Austin in Bastrop, Texas and ended 200-some miles later in Luckenbach.

Registration and Cost: This was a pricy trip for me, considering travel costs (flights) and hotels and gas/rental splits and team t-shirts. And two days of PTO. My portion of the relay registration was $48.04 for a 12-person team.

Texas Ragnar van life blog runner

Packet Pick-Up: Captains/van leaders picked up our “packets” which mostly included our Ragnar t-shirts, snacks and temporary tattoos (this was at the first main van exchange on the route). We were part of some bib tracking testing program, which we picked up at the start line β€” so the team shared a belt for the duration of the race (and changed it out with the slap bracelet at the exchanges). Together, we had to watch a 10-minute video about safety and the Ragnar Rules (no pooping in yards, OK?). Twice, because a couple of us had to meet our van mates at the start line.

Swag: I love the Reebok t-shirts β€” so soft and comfortable; I’ll actually use it. I got an extra one at the finish line in a larger size, which will be awesome for sleeping. I was also able to grab an extra for my husband.

Weather: Oh god, where do I begin. This was probably not the right race event for me, considering how awful I perform in the heat. To be honest, I didn’t realize how far south Austin was and also didn’t know that peak heat in Texas is in late afternoon/early evening (corresponding with my legs of the race, naturally).

Ragnar Luckenback scenes of texas

Scenes of Texas: Lots of farm animal sightings on these open lands β€” and yes, Texas has hills.

IT WAS SO HOT, IT WAS MISERABLE. On my first leg the temps reached 91 degrees and I super bonked out only 4 miles into my run. I wanted to quit and roll up in a ball on the side of the road (all gravel roads, btw). I walked a lot and was in full sun for the entirety of that leg. I’m pretty sure I said out loud that I wouldn’t run the marathon if it was that hot. :-/

And you can basically repeat that for my 3rd leg on Saturday, which was also warm and I was legit wishing for rain β€” and add in 600+ ft of elevation gain.

Course and Elevation: I’ll just let these elevation maps speak for themselves.

Ragnar Luckenback runner 10 elevation legs

Whose idea of fun was this?!

First leg (3:56 pm): 7.6 miles / 1:27:39 / 11:21 average pace / 214 ft elevation gain

Splits: 10:10, 10:13, 10:30, 11:39, 12:01, 13:06, 12:26, 12:36 [.60]

2nd leg (3:19 am): 2.75 miles / 26:18 / 9:33 average pace

YAY! Nighttime run – this was fun and though it was still humid, I felt good and fast. And I got some real food before our nighttime legs started; we found a Longhorn restaurant that could seat 6 of us quickly on a Friday night. A loaded sweet potato and grilled chicken salad never tasted so good. AND I got some actual sleep (at least a couple hours worth). Outside. On a sidewalk.

Splits: 9:32, 9:30, 9:38 [.75]

3rd leg (12:55 pm): 6.85 / 1:18:23 / 11:26 avg pace / 661 ft elevation gain

Another hot, sunny day – Ragnar ended up cutting my original leg, so this was my partner run. The elevation was brutal and basically all uphill. I had to walk quite a bit.

Splits: 10:56, 10:46, 10:51, 11:05, 11:16, 13:01, 12:15 [.85]

Ragnar van life blogger

Ragnar van life β€”Β and my Iowa tan.

Aid Stations: Unless you were on an unsupported (or no van access) portion of the course, your aid station was your van. And if your van didn’t meet you somewhere on your leg, you were basically supporting yourself (or relying on the kindness of strangers for ice when you were seriously overheated).

Finish Line: The finish felt very… uninspired. The announcers called our team name as we ran in together and there was a photographer taking staged pictures and some vendors were set up (most looked to be closing down), but it was honestly the most boring race finish ever. There was a booth giving out free pizza (I couldn’t have any, obviously), and I was STARVING. I didn’t see anywhere else where I could purchase food. Since Van 1 had been hanging out all day, they were ready to leave (and was my ride back to Austin), so I didn’t even get to explore Luckenbach at all. I guess that’s a potential downside of being in the second van β€” I get it, it’s an exhausting adventure.

The team captain handed out the medals, which all had something unique on the back. I liked that mine read “Ragnar Thing.”

Ragnar Luckenbach medals

After party: An hour ride back to my Austin hotel, where my husband was waiting for me with a tub of pulled pork from a local BBQ joint and some ciders. That shower was probably the most amazing I’ve ever had. The next morning, we found an ALL GLUTEN-FREE cafe with an all-you-can-eat breakfast buffet and OMG that capped off an awesome weekend.

Total bullshit: At one of our runner exchanges, a wasp crawled up my long-sleeve shirt and stung me on the forearm. It hurt like a mother, and I was trying not to be a huge baby about it because I was with people I didn’t know at all. There were a lot of times that I felt isolated on this trip, and this was one of them. I had no access to soap and water or Benadryl or medics. One of my teammates in the van was a school teacher, so I got a little comfort and aid from her β€” immediately icing the place where I got stung. I ended up having a large local reaction with a considerable amount of swelling. All I could think about was how thankful I wasn’t allergic.

Experience: Ragnar is something completely out of my comfort zone, and exactly why I had it on my Goal List for 2017. There were some lessons learned (I should have brought a yoga mat or sleeping bag and an extra water bottle β€” not just my handheld for running) and definitely things I disliked (I didn’t like not having my own bib β€” I keep all of mine and display on my bib wall, but another teammate had already claimed it); though there was definitely a lasting confirmation that I would probably do another one (just… probably not in Texas).

Also, ShowerPills and Wisps are Must Pack items.

THE GREAT: My first Ragnar race!
THE GOOD: Cowboy Camping and nighttime running. I sincerely loved being outdoors in the dark.
THE BAD: Getting stung is certainly memorable… and not in a good way.
THE UGLY: Ugh, the heat. I can’t.

TL;DR: Consider your location and your van mates when planning to do your first Ragnar. I think those things can definitely make or break your experience. Not having an actual van can increase the negative consequences exponentially.

Ragnar Luckenbach The Tipsy Crew team picture

The Tipsy Crew!

The Tipsy Crew
33:58:46.7 (+6:57:07.9)
22nd place in the Mixed Open division