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! 

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I Love the 90s 5k 2019 review

Disclaimer: I’m reviewing the I Love the 90s 5k as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review find and write race reviews!

When BibRave gave me the opportunity to run a new-to-Chicago race called I Love the 90’s 5k, I knew I could not turn it down! As a 1992 baby, the 90s hold some special memories. And yes, I know I was 8 at the turn of the century, BUT I still have many memories of scrunchies, overalls, choker necklaces, crop tops, and, of course, Gameboy!

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Anyway, let’s discuss the 5k race! I was not sure what to expect going into this race. Since it was a new race, I thought I may have a shot at placing in my age group, but I also had not been doing 5k targeted speed work, so I did not put any pressure on myself. Furthermore, my true goal race is the Chicago Marathon and the Rock N Roll Chicago half is my “check-in” race, so I’ve been running some serious (for me) mileage. I had been in the 50 miles per week range going into this race and the legs were feeling tired, so I just told myself to give it the best effort I could.

I was lucky that my husband and sister-in-law were willing to spectate and warm-up with me since I did not know anyone going into the race. We ran around 1.10 miles  for my warm up and then I made my way  to the start line. I put an extra scrunchie on my wrist, tightened my hat, chit chatted with people at the start line and then the racing gun went off…

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After the first 400 m it was clear I was going to be running a lot of the race solo. Two guys pushed ahead, then me, and then a sizeable gap before the next group of people. Had I known it was going to stay like this most of the race I would have pushed harder to be near the top two guys, which I think I could have done…but more on this later.

The first mile passed pretty unremarkably. I kept the two top guys and the lead biker in my view and ran a 6:09. I was going for a 6:10, so I was happy with it. I’m guessing the two leaders went out around 6 minute pace. I was feeling decent, despite my high mileage week. Soon after the first mile I saw my husband and sister-in-law. They cheered for me and snapped the photo below.

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Then, mile 2 was the most eventful mile by far. For those of you that know me in real life, the next set of events will come as no surprise. 😛 I was in 3rd place overall in the race and the two lead guys had gained some ground on me, so I could no longer see them or the lead biker. I came to a cross roads just before mile 2 and the arrow on the ground was partially etched away, so it was not clear if it was indicatin to go straight or to turn right…I guessed and started going straight as I screamed out “which way do I go?”, but heard no response because no one was near me… I had a sinking feeling I was going the wrong way and about 15 seconds later I looked behind me and saw in the distance the 4th place person (a guy), go right by that arrow. I quickly sprinted back toward the crossroad and made a right to go back on the course successfully adding on approximately 25 seconds to the race official 2nd mile (my watch hit the 2nd mile in 6:23). I was feeling frustrated that it was not clear where I was supposed to go and now I was in 4th place… I later hit the 2nd mile on the race course around 6:45. I was also feeling frustrated because I think I could have stuck closer to the top two guys and then I wouldn’t haven’t gotten confused at the cross roads, but I (falsely) figured they were running around 17 minute 5k pace, which is not the shape I was currently in. The photo below details how I was feeling.

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I vowed to put my 2nd mile behind me and just focus on the final 1.1 miles I had left and give it my best effort. About 200 m into mile 3, I passed the 4th place guy and was once again in no-(wo)man’s land running all alone. Thankfully the rest of the arrows were clear and I even saw a race photographer on some sort of electric scooter, which made me smile. Around 300 meters to go I saw my husband and sister-in-law, and told myself I was going to have to really kick it in to still be under 20 minutes with my course mishap during mile 2. I knew my true time was in the low 19 minutes, but what could I do, except kick at this point? I was determined as you can see from the photo below.

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I hit mile 3 at 6:25 according to my watch… And then I saw finish line in the distance and felt confused when I saw an unbroken tape. I knew I was not going to be the winner, there were two guys for sure ahead of me. Then I realized it was for me, because I was the first place female! I tried to sprint it in even more as I approached the tape and put my hands up because I had never broken a tape before and that’s what I saw all the pros do when they won a race. 😛 I ran 5:40 pace for the last 200 m, which is not really a sprint (for me), but I tried, okay?!

I crossed the finish line in an official time of 20:06, knowing very well that I had run an extra 200 meters with the mishap during mile 2. My Garmin showed that I ran 3.21 miles in 20:06, putting my actual 5k well under 20 minutes.

Regardless, I was 1st female and 3rd overall, which is pretty cool! And if anyone is interested, my 5k was actually around 19:28… 😛 I calculated that by putting in my Garmin pace to a pace calculator as seen below.

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When I found out 2nd place was 19:04, I thought to myself that I could have run that time or pretty darn close. Usually I don’t go out with the very lead guys in a race because the lead guys are typically under 17 minutes and I am certainly not in that kind of shape right now. But, what I do know, is that it is harder to push yourself when running alone, which is what I did most of the race and you just have to do your best! I probably would have had a more successful race (and would not have gotten confused during mile 2) if I stuck with those 2 guys. But oh well, I still had a fun race! 🙂

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Overall,  the race was awesome! The medals were cool, there was a costume contest for the best 90’s costume, and I won a free entry for next year, so I can try to defend my title. haha. Plus, the other top two females were super sweet and it was fun to meet them and take a photo with them at the awards ceremony. I also loved all the 90s music on the course and at the awards ceremony-I still have Barbie Girl in my head weeks later 🤣 I will definitely be back next year, it’s free for me after all 😉 And they will also be debuting their 10k race next year, if you are into 10ks more than 5ks! 😛

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Did you run the I love the 90’s Chicago 5k or do you plan to do one of their races in a different city!? If not, want to join me in Chicago next year?!

Shamrock Shuffle 8k 2019 review

Disclaimer: I’m promoting the Bank of America Shamrock Shuffle 8k 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!

After not making it to the start line for the 2018 Shamrock Shuffle due to illness, I was excited to not only receive an entry for the 8k race, but to make it to the start line healthy 🙌🏻 I also convinced my husband to run with me as per usual 😉 Well, not with me, with me, because he is a lot faster than I am! As I previously mentioned, my training has not been stellar with my busy student schedule and I’m still easing into hard training post injury. I only did two fartlek workouts going into the race and I averaged 15 mi/week. My goal going into the race was to have fun and run 7 min miles. I was definitely surprised with my race result to say the least! I ran 33:15 (6:42 pace) for the 8k, which is not too shabby for such low mileage and little workouts. My BibRave friends and I decided not to enter the team competition, so I accepted a place on the Recreational Oiselle IL team and our team came in 1st! The results are age-graded, so my time did not put me on the scoring team (top 4), but it was still fun to run on a scoring team like the good ‘ol cross country days.

My Garmin was not working, so most of the race I had no idea of my pace and just tried to maintain a “comfortably hard” pace. Plus, I found myself distracted by all the race views and reminiscing on when I ran the same streets for my first marathon last October. 🙂 Anyway, when I hit the 5k in 20:39, I realized I was running sub 6:40s, even though I thought I was running 7 min miles. Then, I got a side stitch around mile 3.5 and slowed down considerably (or so it felt) 🙃 I am not sure if it was the oatmeal and dates I ate 1 hour before the race start (I usually need 2-3 hours to adequately digest) or my lack of training, but I told myself to jut try and hold on for less than 1.5 more miles, despite the pain.

Chicago Road Runners, a local running club, snapped the picture of me below trying to focus through the side stitch pain. lol. I was able to bring it home and only add 8 seconds per mile to my pace, so I am proud of that. And I’m seriously proud of what I was able to do in this race considering my circumstances. I think with hard work and consistency, I’ll be able to chase some of my upcoming (and lofty) running goals! 🙂

I have my sights on a sub 30 minute 8k in future years and I know I have to put in the work to achieve that goal. I cannot just coast by on 15 miles per week! Although, Ashlyn is helping me train more seriously and consistently starting now (Do I really have to do 400 meter repeats this week? :P) So hoping that helps me achieve my goals at my half marathons in May and July-do not worry there will be a blog post all those in the near future 😛

Other race notes:

-Expo/packet pick-up: The packet-pick and expo were held at the McCormick Center, which was coincidently the same weekend as a Comic-Con. So it was crazy crowded 🙃 experience at the expo last Saturday was fine, though. I was able to pick up my packet and swag, chat with some brands, and force my husband to take the below picture with me. He loves when I make him take pictures 😛

-Parking/transit: The race starts at Grant park and parking can be both challenging/expensive, so I recommend public transit, biking, or running to the start. My husband and I walked/jogged to the start line, since we live pretty close to downtown.

-Gear Check: This race had gear check, so I was grateful to be able to warm up in layers and then ditch my warm-ups at gear check. Although, after the race it took gear check over 10 minutes to locate my bag…that was frustrating and an unusual experience. Usually my experiences with gear check are smooth. I found out the worker just put my bag in the wrong section. I got a little short with the workers because I was chilly post race and I feel bad, but sometimes we are not our best selves post-race when we are hungry. Or maybe that’s just me?! I doubt whoever worked the gear check reads my blog…but if you do I am sorry for being short about my misplaced (and later found) bag. It was not a big deal!

-Start line: Unlike the Chicago Marathon (which also starts at Grant Park), it was super easy to get into my corral. That experience at the Chicago marathon was kid of stressful, I will not lie! I barely made it to the back of my corral (C) at the marathon. But at the Shuffle last weekend it took less than 5 minutes to get into corral A. I noticed a lot of corral jumping and lack of regulation at this race. It was stricter at the marathon. All around me there were people who should have been in corral D, but were in A with my husband and I. Oh well, though 🤷🏼‍♀️

-Swag: The swag this year was SWEET! I am obsessed with the hat. Although, I wish I did not need to run in such a warm hat now that it is the beginning of April, but also at least my hate is cute🤣I’d be fine waiting to wear it again until next winter, though 😛 We also received dry-fit short sleeve tops that I plan to rock all spring and summer. The medals are AWESOME (see above!). Mariano’s had a lot of free post-race eats at the finish as well. I took everything I could hold from mixed nuts, to fruits, to granola bars. I was grateful that they had a lot of vegan options. I actually forgot my post-race beer somehow 😭 But, we did get oat milk cappuccinos with my sister-in-law after the race, which made me feel better. haha.

-Post-race/Meet-ups: After the race we had a nice little BibRave met up in Grant Park. It was so fun to hang out with Mark and Ben again. And to meet Melissa for the first time. She even brought her dogs and they were the cutest! I missed Zenaida this time 😦 Maybe we can photoshop her into the picture below? I love that BibRave connects me to so many amazing runners across the country, but nothing beats actually hanging out with them in real life 🙂

I also FINALLY got to meet Amanda (not me 🤣) in real life after becoming Instagram friends, so that was awesome. I cannot wait to hang out and run more of the same races!

Overall, the Shamrock Shuffle 8k was an awesome race! It is flat, fast, and it’s such an obscure distance, it is almost a guaranteed PR. The swag is worth it and I love how everyone gets decked out in shamrock and green attire. It is the race that signifies that start of the Chicago racing season and one that I plan to run again!

Did you run the Shamrock Shuffle this year or in previous years? What did you think?

It’s the Shamrock Shuffle 8k race week: training update & goals!

Disclaimer: I’m promoting the Bank of America Shamrock Shuffle 8k 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!

Happy Wednesday friends! I cannot believe it’s already race week 😱 Time is flying this year, it think it is because I am school and we just had midterms 😛

I’ll be honest and say my training has not been going great. With my busy school schedule, work, and the long commute it has been tough. I am doing the best I can! Sometimes the best I do is a little core or lifting, rather than a run. But, the fact that I am running injury free is a reason to celebration in it of itself 🙂 I’ve been averaging 5-20 miles per week since I’ve recovered from injury in late December. I’ve only done 2 or 3 speed workouts. My longest run has been a touch over 8 miles. You can see just how little I’ve been training below or if you follow me on Strava, you know 😛 Although, I’ll be honest, I sometimes forget to update Strava, but as of recently it is up-to-date! No judgement on my lack of training please, I am well aware 🙃

My last two weeks of running (or lack thereof 😂):

Monday 3/4/19: OFF

Tuesday 3/5/19: OFF

Wednesday 3/6/19: 6 miles with a 2 mi w/u, ( 2 min on, 2 min recovery jog) x 6. Paces were 6:40, 6:35, 6:31, 6:21, 6:18, 6:15, and then a c/d for the remaining miles

Thursday: 3/7/19: 6 miles with Ben

Friday 3/8/19: OFF

Saturday 3/9/19: 8 miles with Janna and Marisa

Sunday: 3/10/19: OFF

Total miles: 20 miles

Monday 3/11/19: 7.8 miles with Danielle

Tuesday 3/12/19: OFF

Wednesday 3/13/19: OFF

Thursday: 3/14/19: OFF

Friday 3/15/19: OFF

Saturday 3/16/19: 8.2 morning miles with Marisa

Sunday 3/17/19: OFF

Total: 16 miles

My goal races are the Chicago Spring Half in May and RnR Chicago in July, so this 8k race is honestly just for fun. But of course I still have a goal for my first post-injury race this year 😉

So what is my goal for the Shamrock Shuffle 8k?! Well, first and foremost the goal is to finish! Any race finish after injury is a celebration. I am corral A and that means you are supposed to be able to run under 7 minutes/mile. So that is my second goal, a 7 min/mile pace or faster. This could be tough with my lack of training, but we will see! I would have loved to go after a 6 min/mile pace for this race, but that I just not realistic at this point. That will be the goal once I have a several months of solid training under my belt. 😛 Moving forward my goal is to run more days/more consistently (even with my crazy schedule) because I have the Boston 5k in less than a month and the Chicago Spring half will be here before I know it 🙂

Regardless, I am excited to run the Shuffle with so many of you! I am going to expo on Friday 🙂 Let me know below if you are running the Shuffle and if so, which day you are going to the expo 👇🏻

Breaking out of your shell with Turtle Gloves: a reviewed

Disclaimer: I received a pair of Turtle Gloves, Turtle Flip Mittens 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.

With the winters we have been having here in Chicago I could not help, but say “shell yeah” to the opportunity to test out the Turtle Flip Mittens on my runs. Plus, Turtle Gloves is an amazing, up and coming small owned brand so I knew I wanted to give them some extra love!

So, what are Turtle Gloves, Turtle Flip Mittens? They are mittens, of course! They come in three different weights: light, midweight, and heavyweight. The weight you chose will depend on the climate in your area and time of year. I live in Chicago and we’ve been in a polar vortex on/off since January and I have Reynaud’s so the heavyweight are my mitten of choice. I also love that they have a variety of sizes to fit all hand sizes, both small and big. I almost got the youth size, but I like some room in my gloves, so the small was perfect! 😛 I love that the mittens can be worn in other ways, such as fingerless gloves (for those mid run photos 😉 ) when your hands get warm or even as arm warmers, perfect for race day!

Another use I shared with some of the other BibRave Pros is snot gloves…😂 Okay, I know GROSS, but my nose runs constantly when I am running and Turtle Gloves are the perfect material to wipe your nose without making it chapped and the material is pretty absorbent… That brings me to my next favorite feature, how easy it is to launder the gloves. They can go in the washer and dryer, no problem and they came out softer than ever with each wash. And yes, I washed them a lot because of all the times I had to wipe my nose. 😛

The only con I can think of for Turtle Flip Mittens is that they were not warm enough on some of my runs. BUT I have Reynaud’s and am the type of person that is always cold and needs two pairs of gloves on winter runs under 20 degrees..with that being said, I like that I was able to layer a small, thinner glove under my Turtle Mittens because they are roomy! So hardly a con, because i could still wear them on my coldest runs, as long as I layered up!

BRP Ben and I give Turtle Gloves two thumbs up!

I HIGHLY recommend Turtle Gloves Turtle Flip Mittens as a regular part of your running wardrobe, especially if you live somewhere that is cold. It’s Mid-march and I would not be surprised if gloves are needed for at least another month🙃I’ll make sure to keep a clean (snot-free pair) ready for all my upcoming runs. 😛

Lastly, want to try some Turtle Gloves for yourself? Use the code “TurtleBibRave” for 15% off order when you order on their website!And let me know below if you’ve tried Turtle Gloves!

Still not convinced?! See what other BibRave Pros have to say Turtle Gloves:

Amy

Ben L

Ben W

Jenna

Jennifer

Jonathon

Lisa

Randy

Sam

Tia

Vanessa

Join me at the 2019 Shamrock Shuffle 8k on Sunday March 24th!

Disclaimer: I’m promoting the Bank of America Shamrock Shuffle 8k 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!

Happy Friday friends! I’m checking in here to (try to) convince you to run the Shamrock Shuffle 8k with me! 🙂 It will be my first post injury race since the Chicago Marathon and I’m SO FREAKIN’ EXCITED (that I had to write it in all caps 🤣 My mileage has been low and I’m not aiming to run a stellar time-just to make it to the starting line healthy. It will be fun no matter what! I was supposed to run last year, but I woke up sick the morning of the race, so this year will be my redemption 😉

So, why should YOU run the Shamrock Shuffle?! Well I could give you a few reasons! 😜

  1. You get to run right through Chicago, And I mean C’MON, how beautiful is my city? I know I’m biased, but still!

2. If you’re not feeling ready for an 8k race in a month, they also have a mile race option for the first time and it will be the day before the 8k (Saturday March 23rd)! It could also be fun to run both, don’t you think? 😛

3. This year the race swag is a hat! I can’t wait-it looks AWESOME! And with the winter we’ve been having we will probably need to wear hats until June🙃

So, what do you say? Want to run the 8k with me to start the spring running season strong!? Do not wait to register, the price increases to $55 on March 1st, 2019! Use the code 2019SSBIBRAVE at this link to receive $10 off your race entry! I hope to see all of you there 🙂

The Top 5 reasons to run the Mardi Gras Chaser 5k/10k on 3/2/19

Disclaimer: I’m promoting the Mardi Gras Chaser 5k/10k 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!

Good afternoon friends! I hope you are all staying warm on this chilly Chicago weekend. ⛄️I’m here to tell you about an awesome racing opportunity in Chicago for a great cause: The Back on My Feet Mardi Gras Chaser 5k/10k on Saturday March 2, 2019 at Montrose Harbor. I ran the 5k race back in 2015 and my now-husband won and I won my age group despite being injured during the race! It was a cold day, but a fun experience! 🙂

Need more convincing?! Read my top 5 reasons to run below! If you stick through the post I’ll even share a discount code with all of you 😉

  1. Signing up for this race will give you an excuse to train through the winter and get some vitamin D by running outside. Well, unless you run on the treadmill-which is totally understandable! I’ve been on the treadmill a lot myself this winter. You will still get a healthy dose of endorphins and motivation, no matter how you train :).
  2. 100% of the race proceeds go to Back On My Feet, an organization that uses the magical power of running to fight homelessness. Homeless people enter the program by committing to run three mornings a week with their local Back On My Feet running club. Then, Back On My Feet also helps homeless people develop different life skills to find jobs and housing here in Chicago. What’s even better is that 11 other states have a Back On My Feet doing the same awesome things for their states.
  3. You may find a new volunteer cause after running this race! Back On My Feet has three running clubs in Chicago if you are interested in being volunteering with them. They are always looking for more awesome runners like you to help them out 🙂
  4. You get fun swag to wear during the race! Every participant gets a Mardi Gras mask and beads, so get in the spirit and wear them during the race! You can see the beads I rocked at the 2015 race in the picture of my husband and I above.
  5. The after party is AWESOME! Every year it is held at Fat Cat and they have a unlimited brunch for $15 with New Orleans style breakfast foods like red beans and rice, as well as a yogurt bar. You will also get a free beer! 🍻

So, what do you say? Want to run for a great cause and have fun in the process?! The 5k is $45 and the 10k is $50, but with the code BR5OFF you can take $5 off either race! I really hope you all run! It’s one of my favorite 5k/10k races here in Chicago! 🙂