Product review: Road ID

Disclaimer: I received a Road ID gift card to purchase a Road ID bracelet or Sidekick ID of my choice from Road ID 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!

Why was I so excited to try out Road ID? Well, I live in Chicago, and while I rarely run alone (either I run with my husband, friends, a group, or there are often others on the running path), I do not always feel safe. I have been approached by strangers both while running, while commuting, or even just shopping. I’ve been lucky nothing super serious has happened, but these incidents have definitely been a wake-up call for me that it is important to pay attention and take extra safety precautions, especially as a female. I already tell my husband or a friend anytime I go for a run, errands, or commute to school. I carry pepper spray with me anytime I commute to/from school since it’s a long journey and I travel through some areas where I do not feel as safe as usual…But I could not help, but wonder what would happen to me if I passed out or got injured while running or commuting- how would someone help? Enter Road ID- the solution to my problem!

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I was excited to test out Road ID from the day I received the gift card and designed my  ID online. I’m a sucker for anything rose gold, so making my ID rose gold was a no brainer. 🙂 And I picked an adjustable bracelet because I have child-size wrists and I usually have to put jewelry on the tightest notch or it will be too big. Thankfully my bracelet fits, but only as long it is on the tightest notch. 😛 And receiving this sweet note above in the mail with my ID was the icing on the cake!

After designing my bracelet I opted to start my emergency profile. This service is free for 6 months after your purchase and then is $9.99 per year after that. A small investment for something so worthwhile. In the emergency profile, I was able to enter my allergies, emergency contacts, and insurance contacts. It only took me 10 minutes and I liked putting information in a secure platform online versus just on my Road ID. All someone has to do is call the “for emergency contacts” number on the wrist ID and then enter the number on the back of the engraved plate to access my profile. This is a safer option (in my opinion) and then it is a much quicker process to get me to a doctor that is covered by my insurance versus having to get my information from my husband or family if anything were to happen. Plus, you can update your emergency profile at any time just by logging on. Obviously, I do not want anyone to ever have to access my emergency profile on my wrist ID, but I have peace of mind knowing that it is up-to-date should anything bad happen to me on a run or otherwise.

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Nowadays, I make sure to wear my Road ID anytime I run alone and honestly most times even when I run with others. I’ve even worn it a few times while out and about or commuting to school. It’s pretty cute and it’s a small way to give myself extra safety and my loved ones peace of mind.

RoadID is not only great for athletes, but also a wonderful investment for people with health issues, kids, students, people living in a big city, or the elderly. Plus, right now is a great time to buy one for yourself or as a gift, because they have an amazing Black Friday sale where you can get up to 60% off!

How do you stay safe while running or working out? Do you have a Road ID? If so, why did you get one?

Review: Hot Chocolate 15k 2019

Disclaimer: I’m reviewing the Hot Chocolate 15k 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!

BibRave was kind enough to give me an entry to the Hot Chocolate 15k on Sunday, November 3, 2019, so I could run it for the first time! 🙂 I know I’ve lived in Chicago for 5 years and it’s a little sad I have not run it, but if you are a long-time reader of Black Bean Queen you know that I have spent my fair share of those years injured… Anyway, let’s discuss the race weekend!

 

Packet Pick-Up

I went to packet pick-up on Saturday morning with my friend Emily after our team long run and brunch.  I only ran 6 miles easy since I had not been running much in the nearly three weeks since the Chicago marathon. The packet pick-up was at McCormick Place and it was not as crowded as we expected. Neither of us were in the mood to go to every booth, so it was just a quick trip to grab our packets and do one lap. I also picked up my friend Meghan’s packet so she would not have to come all the way to Chicago two days in a row. I’m nice like that. 😛

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Emily and I after the race!

Pre-Race

I woke up at 4:30 am, ate my usual lonely packet of oatmeal, and then changed into BibRave gear for the race. The race was in Grant Park, which is within a mile of where I live, so I was happy I did not have to leave hours before the race. I did have to leave somewhat early to give Meghan her packet and run a warm-up with her, though. I met her and her husband at a Dunkin Donuts. Meghan pinned on her bib, ditched some layers with her husband, and we started jogging to the start line.

I was hoping to find my friend Emily before entering the corrals so we could run the race together. We both planned just to take it at an easy to moderate effort since neither of us had run much since the Chicago Marathon. Emily, unfortunately, got caught up at the gear check and then all of a sudden, the announcer said the corrals were going to close in 10 minutes. I was still with Meghan and naturally, we panicked because we did not want to be forced into wave two. Even though I planned to take the race easier than Meghan, Emily and I still wanted our spot in corral A with Meghan.  Meghan and I started running through crowds of people to make our way into corral A. We made it with a few minutes to spare! I hate being caught behind crowds of people at race start lines- it makes me panic a little (real cute, I know 🙃), so I’m glad we made it into A!

I stayed to the far right of the corral in my bright orange shirt in the hopes that Emily will make it in time and find me. I texted her, but no such luck. Meghan started doing a few drills and stretches while chatting with me. I just stood there fixing my shoelaces and checking my phone to see if Emily was coming, so not really doing anything to help my race preparation. 😛 Meghan suggested that even though I’m coming off a marathon and haven’t really been running, why don’t I just try to run with her since Emily wasn’t going to make it in time? She thought I could do it! I wasn’t so sure, but I said hey I guess I’ll just try to stick with you as long as I can…

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Meghan and I after the race!

The Race

Suddenly the starting gun went off and we easied into the race. For the first few miles, Meghan and I were literally chatting, laughing, and not taking ourselves too seriously, while still running a solid effort. Our pace was good, around 6:50/ mile and it was pretty windy. I surprisingly did not feel very winded. We hit the 5k around 21 minutes and it honestly felt more like a 23-24 minute 5k, so I was surprised. And yes we were both wearing watches, but you know how crazy the GPS goes in downtown Chicago, so we were not certain what our actual pace was.

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I hung on to Meghan until the 10k mark. That’s when my lack of running post-Chicago marathon caught up to me and I felt tired, so I slowed down. I’m not proud, but sometimes I just don’t want to fight. This was supposed to be a fun race anyway. I spent the 10k- 15k just keeping my cool and hoping to average sub 7 minute miles. I saw my sister-in-law and husband just before the last 400 m and then I made a new friend in that final stretch, so him and I finished together. We apparently ran the same time at the Chicago marathon, so it was fitting in a way to finish the race together (even though I blew up during my marathon and ran much slower than I was capable of running…the marathon and I have some serious unfinished business, but I digress). Although technically he finished about 30 seconds faster than me in the 15k, but must have started further back. Anyway, shoutout to Paul if you somehow read this blog! 😛  I finished in a 1:04:00 (6:53 pace), which was good for 4th place in my age group and about 1 minute and 20 seconds behind Meghan.

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Post-Race

It was a pretty cold November day, so I finished the race freezing. I went with Meghan to grab our chocolate goodies, although I did not want to and could not eat them (#veganproblems). Only a big cup of coffee sounded good to me. We waited for our husbands to arrive with more layers and took a few photos. I also finally found Emily, who just laughed at me for not taking the race as easy as I said I would- #typicalAmanda 😛 We did not linger in the post-race party because it was so cold and because of Emily and I had a second race to get to: the November project 13 x 1 mi relay with our Heartbreakers team. The reason I thought it was a good idea to do two races in the same day is a story for another day or check out my instagram post about it.

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All in all,  the Hot Chocolate 15k was a fun race. The course was flat, lots of crowd support, and it was well marked. I’d love to run it again when I’m in better racing shape and go for a sub 1 hour 15k!

Have you ever raced the Hot Chocolate 15k in Chicago or another city? If so what did you think?

Plant-Based Protein Powders and How to Choose One

Plant based protein powders IG post*Note: I am not a doctor or medical professional. I am studying nutrition and on the path to become a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN). Please, contact a practing RDN or other healthcare professional with any questions or concerns before adapting a new way of eating.

Good afternoon friends! 🙂 Every week I receive multiple questions in my Instagram inbox about eating plant-based or being a plant-based athlete, so I figured it was time to start addressing those questions here on the good ‘ol blog!  As a future Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and an aspiring sub-elite runner, I am drawing on both research AND my personal experiences to share this information with you, so as usual, contact a licensed healthcare professional with any questions or concerns! Once I am a licensed and practicing RDN I will be more than happy to help you, though! 🙂

So without further ado, let’s get to it! Today’s topic is plant-based protein powders.🌱 I want to start off by saying a protein powder should never be a replacement for a food in your diet, rather it should be an ENHANCEMENT or a SUPPLEMENT to your current diet. It is always best to get most of your daily calories and protein from whole, real foods (1). A protein shake is not meant to replace dinner or breakfast. Although, no judgment if you’ve done that before, as we have all been there 😛 But generally protein powder does not make a very complete or balanced meal unless it is added to a smoothie with fruits, vegetables, whole grains, etc. Of course there are certain times when a protein powder may be appropriate: during a major illness where you need extra protein to help you heal, during a heavy training phase as an athlete, or when you are struggling to meet your daily calorie and protein needs with food alone (2). Always talk to your healthcare provider before beginning a supplement, because yes, protein powder is considered a supplement!

 

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There are a variety of reasons why an athlete might chose a plant-based protein powder: dairy allergy, vegan diet, or taste preferences. I personally am vegan and whey never sat well with me even when I ate dairy, so that is why I chose to consume a plant-based protein powder. I did not start consuming protein powder until 2019 because I used to be against it to be honest. But after running my highest weekly volume ever this summer to train for my second ever marathon (the Chicago Marathon this October), I can attest to the recovery benefits of consuming a high-protein shake or smoothie after a long run or tough training session when my stomach is otherwise not ready to eat a full meal rich in carbohydrates and protein. All I have to do is dump some water or almond milk and protein powder into my Blender Bottle, shake well, and sip as I stretch and foam roll.

So what are some key differences between whey based and plant-based protein powders? Well for starters, whey protein is a complete protein, meaning it has all 9 of the essential amino acids that your body cannot produce on it’s own (3). All animal based proteins are complete, but only quinoa and soy products are complete plant-based proteins (3,4). So before you panic, remember that you do not need to eat complete proteins at every single meal and snack, but rather throughout the day. Or you could do some good ol’ fashioned food pairing, i.e. the classic combination of rice and beans together contain all 9 of the essential amino acids in the proper amounts! So how does this relate to plant-based protein powders? Well, unless you are consuming a soy protein powder, which is already complete,  most plant-based protein powders will achieve a complete amino acid profile through the pairing of multiple plant protein sources, i.e. pea protein, chia seeds, cranberry protein, pumpkin seeds (4). The use of multiple protein sources just adds to the nutritional benefits of the protein powder! Whey protein powder is relatively low in nutrients besides protein, but a plant-based protein powder will often have some iron and other minerals, such as phosphorous or zinc (4). Pea protein powder is among the most common plant-based protein powders, but I’ve seen many types over the years, from hemp seed to combination plant protein powders.

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As an athlete there are two additional considerations I use when choosing a protein powder. I check the ingredients to see if the plant-based protein powder contains sugar alcohols and if it is NSF Certified for Sport or Informed Choice (6,7). I check for sugar alcohols because for me and many others, they cause GI distress (5). I cannot even chew gum because of the sugar alcohols! I am fine with stevia though, but I honestly wish more protein powders just used a bit of regular sugar…but that’s a topic for another day 😛

I then check if the protein powder is NSF Certified for Sport or Informed Choice because supplements are not regulated by the FDA, so how do we know that our supplements actually contain what they say they contain (6,7)? The NSF International’s Certified for Sport program was created to test supplements and make sure they do not contain any banned or illegal substances, contaminants, and that they actually contain what they say they contain (6).  To receive the NSF mark the supplement has to be tested twice in a calendar year (6). I also love that NSF has an app with a barcode scanner, so I can check supplements easily when I am on the go or at a store.

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Informed Choice is similar in that third party tests supplements for banned substances, but it is not the gold standard or recognized by major athletics teams, such as the MLB, like NSF certified for Sport (7). NSF Certified for Sport is especially important for elite athletes who are subject to random testings before/during/after competitions, because how would it feel to get disqualified because of your protein powder? I may be exaggerating here, but it’s still good to know exactly what is in our supplements, so even as an aspiring sub-elite athlete, I will only consume supplements from brands I trust and ones that are preferably NSF Certified, but at least Informed Choice so I know that they have been tested by a third party.

All 3 of my recommended protein powders below are NSF Certified or Informed Choice!

My top 3 favorite protein powders (in order) are linked below with pros and cons. 

 

1. Garden of Life Sport Organic Plant-Based Protein Powder: Chocolate or Vanilla

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  • Pros:NSF Certified for Sport
    • Informed Choice
    • The chocolate is tasty in milk or water
    • Contains all the essential amino acids (complete protein)
    • 30 g protein per serving

 

  • Cons:Expensive, but at least it lasts a while
    • Vanilla only tastes good in smoothies in my opinion
    • Contains stevia, which I am not sensitive to, but some of you might be or you may not like the taste of
    • Can be hard to mix unless you use a shaker bottle or a blender

2. Tailwind Rebuild Recovery Chocolate or Vanilla

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  • Pros:Informed Choice
    • Tastes good even in just water (I prefer chocolate over vanilla in plain water)
    • Easy to transport if you get the single serving packs
    • Mixes very easily just by shaking
    • Contains electrolytes in addition to carbohydrates and protein, perfect for immediately after a run or athletic event
    • No artificial sweeteners

 

  • Cons:Not NSF Certified
    • Most expensive option
    • Vanilla is not very tasty in my opinion but some may like it
    • Not as high in protein as other options (only 10 g)
    • High in sugar compared to other protein powders (39 g)

 

3. Vega Sport Premium Protein in Chocolate, Vanilla, Berry, or Mocha

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  • Pros:Informed Choice
    • Can buy as a tub or individual serving packets
    • Tastes decent even mixed with just water, but is best in smoothies
    • 30% DV of iron
    • 30 g of protein

 

  • Cons:Not NSF Certified
    • Vanilla only tastes good in smoothies in my opinion
    • Contains stevia, which I am not sensitive to, but some of you might be or you may not like the taste of
    • Can be hard to mix unless you use a shaker bottle or a blender.

 

Do you use plant-based protein powder? If so, which brand and why? Do you have a question you want to see on here next? Do next hesitate to comment below, contact me on Instagram, or e-mail me at blackbeanqueen@gmail.com ! 🙂

 References

  1. Plant-Based Sports Nutrition by D.Enette Larson-Meyer, PhD, RDN & Matt Ruscigno, MPH, RDN
  2. Nancy Clark’s Sports Nutrition Guidebook by Nancy Clark, MS, RD
  3. What is a complete amino acid profile? by Kelli Shallal, MPH, RD
  4. Whey Vs. Plant Protein by Abbey Howarth
  5. Artificial Sweeteners and Other Sugar Substitutes by Mayo Clinic 
  6. NSF International Certified for Sport 
  7. Informed Choice

Review: Run Mag Mile 10k 2019

Disclaimer: I’m reviewing the Run Mag Mile 10k 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!

BibRave was kind enough to give me an entry to the Run Mag Mile 10k on Saturday September 7, 2019, so I could run it for the first time! 🙂 I know I’ve lived in Chicago for 5 years and it’s a little sad I have not run it, but if you are a long time reader of Black Bean Queen you know that I have spent my fair share of those years injured… Anyway, let’s discuss the race weekend!

Packet Pick-up

As is tradition for most Chicago RAM races, packet pick-up was at Fleet Feet Old Town. I went on Friday late afternoon, since I did not have class and was already in the area. It was a little crowded, but I was in and out quickly. It was a little confusing when I showed my race registration to claim my bib and they told me my bib was already picked up…but this little snafu was solved quickly. I just had to go to a different spot of the store to grab my bib since all the elite bibs were pulled ahead of time apparently. Which bring sme to my next point, I was seeded as an elite for this race and that offered me some cool perks that I was not expecting, such as a separate bag check, an elites only tent, preferential placing in the start corral, and snacks/beverages! I was also a little surprised to be seeded as elite because I consider myself to very much be an aspiring sub-elite runner at this moment in time.

Pre-Race

I live within a mile of the start line of the race, so I decided to jog over with my husband who came to spectate for moral support. I was not as early as I wanted to be because I had to ummm….go to the bathroom before I left, but hey, better at home than a porta potty when given the option, right? 😛

Anyway, I quickly ran to the elite tent to check my bags and ditch my layers. I could not help, but feel out of place. All these legit athletes were with their coaches talking race strategy, changing into Nike Vapor Fly or Next %’s and here I was by my lonesome checking that my Saucony Kinvara’s were laced up tight enough…But I reminded myself that I belong there and it’s not a fluke! I am getting faster! And I did run competitively in college and never reached my potential due to injury and burn-out, so why not now?

I made my way to the start corral to do some strides and drills. The weather was perfect, not too hot or cold and hardly windy! I felt decent considering all the 50 mile marathon training weeks on my legs leading into this race. This race was just for fun and to change up my training, since the Chicago Marathon is the goal race! I did not taper for it whatsoever, so going into the race my legs were quite tired. 😛 My goal was a sub 40 10k because that’s been a goal of mine for a while and because my workouts during marathon training indicated this was possible. Read more to see if I reached that goal!

I loved that I got to start at the very front of the corral as an elite, because start lines stress me out. Especially after my experience at the Boston Marathon 5k where I lined up at the proper spot, but no one else did…and then I ended up weaving in and out of slower runners all race. I prefer to be as close to the front and by the least amount of other runners as possible, but I know that is a wish most of us share 😛

The Race

I did a race recap on Instagram, so here’s a slightly longer/more detailed version of that recap:

-Miles 0-2: Woah, I’m going low 6 pace- this could be bad…or good 😂 But I feel strong. I am glad I saw my friend Elin cheering (& congratulated her on her engagement the night before 💍) & later my hubs because they both gave me a boost ♥️ Plus, my husband snapped some cool running photos without me having to ask him (see below)! He’s a true IG husband through and through :P⠀Around this point a few corral A runners, mainly males began to catch up to me.

-Mile 3: Okay, with a 20 flat 5k, a sub 40 is possible, but I need to negative split 😬 I was hoping to be under 20 minutes, but because I took out the race a little hot this did not surprise me at all. More corral A males were gaining on me and the top elite female group was 1-a few minutes ahead of me and then the rest of the elite females were behind me at this point.

-Mile 5: Woah, I’m tired & basically alone. Can I still push? You’re falling off pace Amanda- get it together…😑 ⠀

-Mile 6: So tired 😓 Keep that dude from corral A in your sight…Oh man a 6:35 mile… now you need to basically sprint to have any hope of sub 40.

-Mile 6-6.2: I saw the clock say 38:25 at mile 6 & I knew it would be close 🤞🏻 I think I was a little aggressive pace-wise in the beginning of the race. But I gave it everything I had the last 0.2 miles. My husband apparently saw me when I made this realization and start to kick it in because I took two more photos (below)…

I ended up at 40:20, which was 21 seconds over my goal and an nice positive split of 20 flat for the first 5k and 20:20 for the second 5k , but I’m still proud of myself for this effort on tired marathon legs! A 3 minute 10k PR on tired legs gives me hope for future races! 🏃🏼‍♀️

Post-Race

My good friend and fellow Heartbreaker teammate Emily also ran this race on tired marathon legs and earned a PR, so naturally we took a photo together!

Then, they had beer, canned Moscow Mules, and other goodies for us post-race. I went to find my warm-ups because I was surprisingly chilled post-race. The weather on this late summer race felt more fall-like than today’s weather to be honest, but we are only two days into fall, so I guess we need to give it time.

Overall, I cannot wait to run the Mag Mile 10k again. It was flat, fast, and fun! 🙂 Have you run the Run Mag Mile 10k before?!

Review: Endure Strong Coaching

Disclaimer: I received coaching from Endure Strong 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.

Since becoming a BibRave Pro in December 2017, I have had the opportunity to try some cool products and awesome races, but the Endure Strong coaching was unlike anything I had tried through BibRave before.

What made Endure Strong different? Well first of all, Endure Strong provided me with the opportunity to receive coaching/training plans from Olympian Jared Ward at the fraction of the price of other olympic coaching option. 😱 Second, it was more than coaching- it was a team. More on this later! 

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Why Endure Strong?

Those of you that are long time readers of this website or follow me on Instagram know I have had no shortage of injuries 😅 My last one occurred during my first marathon (the Chicago Marathon last October 2018). I was able to finish the marathon with some walking and stretching, but ended up with a hip/IT band injury that lasted until January 2019.  I then took a slow and cautious return to running, but was also busy with school, so I was not running much in early 2019:

-January: 14 miles

-February: 32 miles

-March: 73 miles

-April: 54.5 miles

I was signed up for a few late spring and summer races, as well as the Chicago Marathon in the fall and realized at the end of April that I needed to get my act together quickly with running. I am very competitive by nature and motivated, but I’ve always thrived from an “extra kick in the butt” from a coach or mentor.  When the opportunity to have a training plan/coach for my summer half marathon occurred I took it! I wanted to get back into serious training post-injury and go after some PRs, so the opportunity to train with Endure Strong was very timely. Thank you BibRave! 🙂

I started my new training plan at the beginning of May 2019 and decided to use it for the Rock N Roll Chicago Half Marathon on July 21, 2019. I have been wanting to be on a team/have a coach, but as a future Registered Dietitian, undergoing a career change and on a strict budget, a coach has been out of the question. Until now. Endure Strong gave me the guidance of a coach and the support of a team (through the online community) at a fraction of the price. It costs only $39.99/month (it was comped for me as I noted in my disclaimer) and there are no contracts or commitments. If it’s not for you, you can stop after your month is up, but I can guarantee you will want to keep training with Jared Ward and the team! 🙂

How does Endure Strong work?

Once you are signed up you have access to a variety of training plans from 5k-marathon. You pick a training plan based on your ability level and the coaching staff is happy to help! I chose the Advanced Half Marathon training plan that peaked at 55 mpw. I picked this plan because while my mileage had been low, I was previously a pretty competitive runner and had some big goals for my half marathon, so I thought it was an appropriate choice.

Once you chose the training plan that suits you and program which date the race is on the training plan is added to your training calendar which is accessible online or via the Final Surge iPhone app. I am often on my phone (lol), so i appreciated the convenience  of being able to look at my training on my phone versus a computer.

I also signed up for text message alerts about my workouts, which was nice. Each day at 6 am my workout was sent to me via text message as a reminder. I chose it to be at 6 am, but you could chose anytime that you want. I think the default time was 12 am.

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The workouts were assigned based on your pace ranges, which are programmed based on a recent race. See my training paces that I used on the plan below. These are just estimates, but helped me fine tune my training.

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Then, we also had biweekly coaching calls with Jared Ward where we could ask him anything we wanted during the call or ahead of time via e-mail by e-mailing the team manager Andrew. I was definitely a little starstruck the first coaching call 😛 Finally, we had access to a plethora of training videos from weight lifting to nutrition to previous coaching call questions. I found the training videos to be useful and watched many of them during my half marathon training. We also had a team group and chat that was accessible on the Final Surge app. It was fun to talk to each other about the ups and downs of training.

My experience with Endure Strong

I initially chose the intermediate half marathon training plan that peaked at 45 mpw, but in early June I realized the plan was not challenging enough for me. I chose intermediate because my mileage had been so low prior to May because of my injury and school, but from an experience standpoint I’m more of an advanced runner. I decided to change to the advanced plan that peaked at 55 mpw. I also made this decision since a sub 1:30 half marathon was my goal and I felt like I need some tougher workouts to meet that goal. This may not have been the smartest idea looking back, BUT it worked out fine and the change was easy- I deleted the intermediate plan from my Final Surge calendar and added the advanced plan.

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On the advanced plan I was supposed to run 2 hard workouts (Tuesday/Thursday) and then my long run was supposed to be at 8:05 pace or faster. The workouts were usually a tempo run or fartlek one day and intervals the other day. The long run was the biggest adjustment for me as I was used to taking my long runs around 8:20 pace. But this quicker long run pace has paid off big time for me- as I write that this post I’m now well into Chicago Marathon training and all my long runs have been in the low-mid 7s except for the long run I did after a race.

I will be honest, I skipped several of the hard workouts. I did the prescribed mileage and peaked at 57 mpw, but I probably averaged one hard workout a week, not two. The hot weather took a toll on me and caused me to change some hard workouts to easy runs. I felt like I was wimping out on some days…but it may have been a little aggressive for me to attempt the advanced plan anyway. Prior to Endure Strong I was running 5-15 mpw and no hard workouts, so this was a huge jump!  Regardless, things worked out well for me. And the daily workout reminders really held me accountable! On the workouts I did run, I saw dramatic improvement in my running as the 2.5 months on the Endure Strong training plan progressed. I had some set-backs initially as I was battling humidity and getting used to running hard workouts again, but then it become apparent to me that a sub 1:30 half marathon would be realistic. Also, it was really reassuring to be able to talk to my Endure Strong teammates about good and bad workouts, as well as battling the crazy hot weather this early-mid summer in the group chat.

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My PR going into Rock N Roll was a 1:34. I ran that 1:34 in 2018 while sick and on 25 mpw, so I knew no matter what I’d PR at Rock N Roll, but it was just a matter of by how much! After the last few weeks of workouts my fitness indicated closer to a 1:27-1:28, so that became my (somewhat secret) goal.  I continued to tell people my goal was a PR and ideally a 1:30, but really I want that 1:27-1:28. But then the heat wave rolled in during race week and Chicago was blanketed with 95-100 degree temperatures. 😦 The heat broke a little for Saturday morning’s race, but it was still humid and awful out. Any of you who know me know that I am am stubborn when it comes to running. I should have adjusted my race goal. But I did not…And until nearly mile 10 I maintained a 6:47 pace which would have earned me a 1:28:55. I ended up succumbing to the heat and just trying to hang on the remaining 5k. I ran a 1:32:11, so my pace fell off a lot, but that is still a PR! You can read more about the race here if you are interested. Regardless, I credit Endure Strong to me earning this PR and just becoming a stronger runner this summer! My training with Endure Strong really built a strong base for me going into the Chicago Marathon training and helped me earn a PR in the half, even if it was not what I wanted.

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Do I recommend Endure Strong?

I absolutely recommend Endure Strong! You get elite level coaching and training plans for a fraction of the price ($39.99/ month)! Nearly everyone on the team has earned a PR on their most recent race because the training works. Plus, everyone is super nice! My training plan has ended, but I still talk to a lot of the Endure Strong teammates 🙂 And where else can you get running advice and a call from an Olympian 2 times a month?

If you have any other questions about Endure Strong please do not hesitate to reach out to me! It made a huge difference in my training year this year! 🙂

The BibRave Chicago Summit and Rock ‘N Roll Half 2019 review

Disclaimer: I’m reviewing the Rock ‘n’ Roll Chicago half 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!

It may surprise some of you, but favorite part of being a BibRave Pro is not the opportunity to try different brands or races, but the community of people that I have connected with across the United States and world. 🙂 I love that we all run different paces and live in different places, but we all share a love of running, writing/blogging, and encouraging others.

What made the weekend of Friday July 19th-Sunday July 21st so special, though, was the opputunity to hang out with some of the fellow pros and staff in real life. 🙂 Our slack channel is great and a source of nearly daily chuckles for me, but there was nothing like that weekend of real life fun and chuckles. 😛 So without further ado, let’s dive into my experience at the BibRave summit weekend, from group runs to the Rock ‘n’ Roll half marathon!

Friday July 19th

Started off the morning with a super hot team run, but it was awesome. It was nearly 90 degrees at 10 am when we all went running. We all met at Washington Square park and then ran 4 miles as a team. I ran to the park, though, so I ran about 7.5 miles total for the day.

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We ended the run with a little swim in the lake, although I’ll be honest, I never jumped in. 😛 I knew I was taking the “L” home and didn’t want to sit on the train in my soggy clothes. haha

A few hours after the group run, we went as a team to the Rock ‘n’ expo to pick up our packets. My husband joined as well, even though he’s not on BibRave. 😛 We got some cool swag and took some goofy photos.

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Then it was time for the Orange Carpet dinner, one of my favorite events of the weekend. The dinner took place a City Winery in the west loop of Chicago. I had always wanted to go, but had never been. 🙂 We all put on as much orange as we good find, hung out as a team, had some tasty snacks and delicious wine. I probably had more wine than I should have, but it was worth it. 😛

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Saturday July 20th

After the City Winery event and an unintentional late night, I accidentally overslept my alarm to make it to the team shakeout run. I’m THE WORST. 😦 I woke up 15 minutes before the run was supposed to start. :/ I know all the people that did the shakeout run had a blast! 🙂 I decided to just take a rest day to rest up my legs for tomorrow’s half marathon.

We then went to the Cub’s game as a team for an afternoon game. I love that we all wore our BibRave summit t-shirts- we definitely stood out at the game with our sea of orange. 😛 I could not resist still wearing my Cubs hat. It was still crazy hot out, so I made sure to chug water the whole time and was grateful we sat in the shade.

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After the Cub’s game I went back home to finish my homework for my summer class. It was due that evening, so I was cutting it close post-Cubs game. Crisis averted, though. 😛 Due to my homework, I missed the team podcast recording event post- game, but all the Pros that went told me it was fantastic. 🙂 I opted for an early bedtime in anticipation of waking up at 4 am for tomorrow’s half marathon race. As many of you already know, Rock ‘n’ Roll was somewhat of a goal race for me, but I knew with all the hot weather I needed to adjust my goal, event hough I’m stubborn and I did not want to.

Sunday July 21st

Race morning started very early- around 4 am. I had to make sure I ate breakfast this time, so I would not repeat the fueling mistakes of last year’s rock ‘n’ roll race. Although, not much could have been done to overcome my lack of training going into that race. haha. Anyway, I had some bland oatmeal and dates and checked the weather as I ate. Thankfully, the weather showed race morning was going to be cooler than the nearly 100 degree weather we had experienced the previous two days, but the humidity was crazy high. I realized I probably needed to adjust my goal of sub 1:30, but I really did not want to.

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Around 5:50 am my husband and I jogged over to the start line so I could make it for a BibRave photo/ pump up chat. I easily found some of team BibRave because orange is not exactly a color that blends in. But not knocking orange- I love it! 🙂 I then made my way into the A start coral with my husband and we met up with my friend Jeff. I also saw Katherine Switzer in the corral near us, but was too shy and starstruck to say anything.  Soon enough the 6:30 am race time arrived and we were off!

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If you follow me on Instagram, you already know my thoughts about the race, so you can skip to the end of those post. lol. If not read below:

I was disappointed with my race result, despite the PR. 😦 The only thing that made me smile on race day was hearing so many people cheer for me, running with friends, and hanging out with friends post-race. From the BibRave corner just before mile 6, to the Heartbreakers and 3Run2 cheer squads around mile 7, I know without those crews I would not have had much fun. Also shoutout to Lydia, my summer internship mentor and fellow Chicago runner who got this awesome photo of me around mile 7 (before I started struggling).

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I know I am too hard on myself, especially because I met my B & C goals, but not my A goal. My C goal was to have fun. My B goal was a PR. And my A goal was sub 1:30. Maybe I should have adjusted my A goal given the hot weekend and humid race day weather, but I was fairly confident it was within my reach based workouts, especially on hot days the last two months. I should have known it was a bit of a reach goal because I was injured until early 2019 & my training has only really picked up the last few months… Here is a look at my 2019 running going into the race:

🔹January : 14 mi
🔹February: 32 mi
🔹March: 73 mi
🔹April: 54.5 mi
🔹May: 140 mi
🔹June: 200 mi

I know I fared better than many others in the heat/humidity on race day, but I’m competing with myself -not others. And if I’m being honest I fell short 😫 I held onto 1:28 pace until nearly mile 10, but then I felt very fatigued, overheated, & I stepped off the gas. As a future dietitian, I admit I probably should have taken in a gel during the race and not just water, so that was mistake number 1. But then I also mentally gave up around that point- I tend to give up/step-off the gas once running gets painful & that’s exactly what I did yesterday. In my training, I’ve had the same issue on hard workouts days, which I primarily do alone. Some people are good at grinding out repeats solo & it’s a great skill to have, but it is for sure a weakness of mine 😅 I sometimes miss my HS/college team because even if we weren’t always the same pace, we did the hard workouts together & that helped motivate me/push into the discomfort zone that you need to go to on workouts sometimes to get better at running. It helps you race stronger 💪🏻 All the more reason I should join a team! But a few weeks after this race, I can say I am likely joining a team- more on this later! 🙂

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So, my takeaway from this half marathon is that I need to work on my toughness in workouts/races even when I’m in pain 🙃I’d love to do more hard workouts with others to help me push the pace, but I also need to work on it during solo efforts. But also a 1:32:11, 3rd in my age group, and a nearly 2 minute PR on a hot/humid day is not so bad. I know a sub 1:30 is in the bag on a more favorable day weather-wise! I can walk away from this race knowing that I learned a lot of important lessons and that all I can ask. Also, shoutout to my husband who was not fazed by the tough weather whatsoever and ran a 1:15:01 good for 57 second PR and 2nd in his age group. But also certain on a cooler day I bet he could run closer to a 1:13 half marathon!

After the race we had fun hanging out with old and new friends over beers in the post-race party. I realized that there was no sense in being upset, my race was over, and no one had a stellar day. It was so fun to meet friends like Matt, Naomi, Austin, Todd, and Jeff for the first time, as well as hanging out with older friends like the BibRave Pros and Michael.

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After hanging out the post-race party for a while, my husband and I made our way home to shower and eat breakfast. We missed the rain! Once the rain died down we headed to Public House for a little BibRave Pro post-race party. It was low-key, but fun to see everyone before they headed back home (I was the only Chicago resident at the BibRave Summit haha).

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I am so grateful for team BibRave for an awesome Summit weekend! And special shoutout to Knockaround sunglasses , Aftershokz , and Rock ‘n’ Roll for sponsoring it! 🙂 I cannot wait for the next summit!

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Did you run the Rock ‘n’ Roll Chicago half marathon this year?! If so, how did it go for you? 

Strava: the social media for endurance athletes

Disclaimer: I will receive an annual Strava Summit subscription and Strava merchandise 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!

What is Strava?

Strava is a free platform where you can track or add your runs, bikes, and swims. In short is is a social media platform for endurance athletes. You can also join virtual clubs and challenges if you are the type of person that finds extra motivation that way- I know I do! You can like each other’s activities (it’s called giving kudos) and write comments on them, similar to Facebook and Instagram.

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You can also add photos of your runs (I’m known to share  photos of my beautiful Lake Michigan lakefront runs :P) You can also find new routes, which is especially useful when traveling/running in a new location.

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How Can I get Started on Strava?

All you need to do is create a free account with a valid e-mail address or your Facebook account-it’s that easy. You do not even need a smart watch to use Strava. Something I did not know until this summer. But a lot of people connect their activity trackers to Strava anyway, especially in the running community (So many of us are rarely seen without our Garmins, even on dates. haha). I’d also recommend downloading the free iPhone or Android Strava App, so you can upload or track activities, and give kudos on the go.

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Features of Using Strava

  • Ability to transfer activities from other devices onto Strava (i.e. run with a Garmin or Suunto watch and  then upload your run to Strava)
  • Track your activity without a smart watch (I did not know Strava could do this until my Garmin died mid-run a month ago and I was able to track the reminder of my run on my smart phone via the Strava App. You can track your entire run (bike or swim) via Strava if that is your jam
  • Get awesome metrics from your workouts that you didn’t know you needed, but you’ll soon wonder what you did without them (and use them to inform training decisions):
    • Distance
    • Pace
    • Time
    • Elevation
    • Calories Burned
    • Heart Rate
    • Cadence

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  • Track your activities to see how many miles you are covering or minutes working out each day, each week, each month, and even each year. This can help you see how far you’ve come or how you’ve trained for previous races as compared to the current race you are training for
  • Track the mileage on your shoes, so you know when you need to retire your current pair and get a new one

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  • Add friends that you worked out with when they forget their watch or phone. This only works if the friend is a current Strava member. My husband did this on an easy run while ago when my Garmin watch refused to connect one run and it saved me because as many of you know, I have to keep track of my running  #typeA
  • Create groups based on running clubs, cycling clubs, swimming clubs, traithalon groups, or other common interests and run challenges within the group (i.e. highest weekly mileage or longest time spent working out). I created a group for people who have the goal of running 2019 kilometers in the year 2019 and it’s been a nice little group. Feel free to join if aren’t already in it. 🙂
  • Join challenges to keep you motivated. Each month I join the monthly 5k and 10k challenge at least, but then they have many other ones from climbing to cycling to virtual races. Earn trophies when you complete the challenges!

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  • No matter where you live, there are sections of road or trail where people run frequently and there is a leaderboard showing how fast people have run those segments. So if you are competitive (like me 🤣) you can try to be the leader of the segment! Strava will automatically rank you anytime you run a segment. Even if you are not the leader, it is interesting to compare what time you’ve run on that segment at different points of the year or during previous years. Segments are all in good fun!
  • Privacy filters, so people cannot see where you live if you frequently run from your home
  • Advanced Strava features for a good price through Strava Summit. Some of the features of Summit include: weekly goal setting, training plans, workout analysis, just to name a few.

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So what are you waiting for? Join Strava today! Or if you are currently on Strava share your profile below if you want me to follow you!