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! 🙂

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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? 

Cinco de Miler 2019 review

Disclaimer: I’m reviewing Cinco de Miler  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!

This is the first race I’ve done truly for fun and not for competition. And for this type A, competitive runner that was tough! But I have not had that much fun in a race in a long time, so I’m glad I did 🙂 I think the reason I had fun is because I agreed to run the race stride for stride with one of my good friends, Ben! He had just run the Illinois Marathon the previous week and I have just started seriously training, so there was no reason to run a fast, competitive race for either of us. I also do not think I was capable of a fast, competitive race at this point anyway. 😛

We lined up in corral A and agreed to keep our 5 mile race pace around 8 minute miles. And that is exactly what we did! Although it was technically a negative split! Mile 1 was 8:00 minutes and by mile 5 we were at 7:27, but this is because we saw my husband and the inflatable piñata that signified the finish line. The course was flat and fast along the lakefront path, although there were some spots of flooding from the recent rain. The volunteers were nice and helpful, especially with the spot on the course around mile 4 where we had to veer off the lakefront path. Post-race we were offered beer (although not me because I forgot my ID). And there was a mechanical bull, but I was too afraid to try it. It looked really fun though! And the breakfast buffet had tacos galore. I was thinking about tacos when the photo above was taken (not really, but I am that happy when I am running or thinking about tacos 😉 ).

Overall, the Cinco de Miler was an awesome race! The race day weather could not be beat, either. The race course is flat, fast, and it’s a rare distance, so it is an (almost) guaranteed PR (unless you didn’t race it like me). The post-race party was very festive, with the music and mechanical bull. And they had breakfast tacos, enough said! 😛 They also have free race photos and who doesn’t love that?! It is a race that I plan to run again, but to actually race the next time 😉

Did you run the Cinco de Miler this year or in previous years? What did you think?

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

Illinois half marathon review

Disclaimer: I received 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 BibRave.com to review find and write race reviews!

I had the fortune of running the Illinois half marathon on April 28th. I say fortune because with my injury history there is no guarantee that I will toe the line for the races I sign up for. :/ Luckily, I made it to this race in one piece..although I was unlucky enough to pick up a cold a few days prior to the race. 😦

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I credit making it to the starting line to my amazing coach Heather! She helped me get up my mileage after a stressful job ended, I solidified my new career path, I started two part time jobs, and I missed many runs due to illness the week of the Shamrock Shuffle. 25-30 miles per week is not ideal for half marathon training, but that is MUCH better than my mileage was while I was teaching. Heather made sure all my miles counted and provided me a good base for my further out races (like my 1st marathon in October 😉 ). Despite having a cold, I am happy to say I crossed the line in 1:34:06, good for a 6 minute PR. The highlight of the race weekend, though, was my husband’s massive 26 minute PR in the marathon. He finished in 2:42:57 good enough for a 2019 BQ!

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Other race notes:

Expo/Packet pick up: My husband and I encountered wicked Friday late afternoon Chicago traffic and an hour into the trip knew we were not going to make the expo in time. Thank goodness for our friend Mikey (who ran the 10k race) and saved the day! He picked up the packets for us and then delivered them to us at dinner at Biaggi’s.

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Parking: Parking was free and easy to find. We were able to leave our hotel, drive, and park in less than 20 minutes. Definitely a huge pro to have a low stress parking situation!

Waiting for the start: It was a little chilly so I wore a “throw” shirt, but everything was easily marked with signs. I made my way seamlessly to coral A. I actually run into fellow BibRave Pro Zenaida on my way to the start line, so that was pretty cool! We chatted, wished each other luck, and took a picture.

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Once I was in corral A I ran into another fellow Bibrave Pro, Kim and I met fellow instagram runner Katherine in real life. It was nice to run into some familiar faces!

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Last start line note: there seemed to be enough porta potties and the lines moved quickly. I didn’t use one, but that’s always a pro in my book!

Race course: The course was flat and fast! Perfect course for a PR. It went though campus, nearby neighborhoods, and a park. There were tons of spectators throughout the course, which was a nice morale boost. There were ample aid stations. I only took in water, because I don’t fuel for half marathons, but they also had Gatorade and GUs. I also remember one aid station that offered sliced oranges. I’m not sure how to eat while running (hence one of the many reasons I’m not ready for an ultra. lol), but it was a nice gesture.

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The energy toward the finish was unreal! The last mile of the race you made your way toward to finish in the stadium and it was so cool! I was in awe of how beautiful the campus was and excited to be close to the finish. 😛 I can imagine that people who attend/attended University of Illinois for college felt emotional at the finish! I know if I ever return to my alma mater to run the race that finishes on our track that I will get emotional.  The stadium finish was hands down my favorite part of the race! 🙂

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Post race/after party: At the finish, in the stadium, I was wrapped in a heat sheet, offered water, offered a sports drink, and offered a stretch from the Athletico station. There were also ample opportunities for photos, which I took as I waited anxiously for my husband to finish the marathon. I took some photos with Mikey after his 10k, Kim, Katherine, and alone while I waited. I also got stretched out at the Athletico station which felt awesome on my tight hips and IT band.

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Once my husband finished in an astonishing 2:42:57, we took a few more photos with and without the PR bell. The PR bell had received a lot of love at this point and was broken…we took photos anyway, but that is why we are laughing 😛

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After the photos we made our way to the post race party to check out the beers and snacks. My husband got a beer and there were a lot of snack options! None of us were hungry at that point yet or we would have eaten something. Mikey and I cooled down and then we all headed back to the hotel so we could all shower before check out and the long drive home.

Swag: Every finisher got a sweet medal (regardless of race) and free finisher photos. For running the half I got a dri-fit long sleeve shirt and my husband got a quarter zip for running the full. Our hotel was super cute and made us little good luck goodie bags as well, but I forgot to snap a picture 😦

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Athlinks: At the Illinois Half Marathon race, I was able to run a new half marathon PR, even with a cold! 🙂 So of course I claimed my shiny new PR on Athlinks. I’ll be sharing a post about what Athlinks is later this month. You can see my claimed results here! Athlinks is an awesome way to track all results for your races. I also use it to figure out what goals I should shoot for my next race by adding myself to the start list. I definitely suggest creating an account and claiming your results too. Share your Athlinks profile link in the comments below and I’ll follow you! 🙂

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Overall, it was fun and well organized race! It’s flat and fast which is perfect for obtaining a PR or BQ. I definitely want to return!

Did you run the Illinois half marathon (or a different race distance) this year? If not you really should register for next year! I’m already thinking about it 😉

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P.S. check out my Illinois half review on Bibrave. It is a great place to go when you are looking for races to run because you can read about the experiences that other runners had at that race in the past! 🙂

 

Fit Friday #1: Fitbit Flex review

Good evening friends! Today I am reviewing the FItbit Flex, which I received as a present from my mom. This product review and the options expressed in it are solely my own and are not influenced by a third party. Even though I run or exercise most days of the week, I feel like all I do after working out is sit. That kind of negates the benefits of working out. Having a way to track my daily steps will hopefully influence me to walk more places and live an active lifestyle outside of working out.

The Fitbit Flex comes with a USB charger, a receiver that you plug into your computer, the Fitbit itself, a small wrist band, and a large wrist band. I have the pink Fitbit Flex.

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To use the Fitbit, you make a profile on the Fitbit website and you link it with your Fitbit. I also recommend getting the smartphone app. You can set your daily goal of steps, distance, calories burned, and active minutes. You can also track your sleep with the app. It tracks how long you sleep, when your are awake during the night, and when you are restless during the night. You can even use the Fitbit as your alarm in the morning. It will vibrate on your wrist to wake you up.

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You can also set weight, body fat, and BMI goals and manually track them. There is also a food tracker, but I have not used it. I do not like tracking my food intake. I used MyFitness Pal in the past, when I was a DI college runner. It is a good idea, especially for weight loss, but for some people, such as athletes, it can cause them to become a tad obsessive. Am I eating enough? Too much? Am I getting enough protein? ETC.. I fell into the latter category during college so now I do not track what I eat.

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I just try to eat healthy most of the time and only when I am hungry. I have no idea how many calories I eat per day to be honest. Not tracking my food intake is working well for me as I have not gained or lost weight since I graduated from college last May!

Here is my day in steps so far today. I did a 25 minute cross training workout on the elliptical at resistance 14 as well as 10 minutes of yoga using the Yoga Studio app. I also walked around a lot today because I went to the Field Museum with my boyfriend’s family and ran various errands:

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Pros:

  • The Fitbit Flex is waterproof. I wore it in the shower today and that did not ruin it!
  • You can also sleep in the Fitbit. You never have to take it off if you don’t want to.
  • The small wrist band is small enough for people like me with child sized wrists 🙂
  • The Fitbit is not bulky and isn’t ugly. It’s not the cutest bracelet, but oh well.
  • You can see your progress toward your step, distance, or calorie goal by tapping the Fitbit. Each red dot represents 1/6 of your progress and 6 red dots mean your reached your goal. The Fitbit vibrates when this happens.
  • Very long battery life. The manual says it should last at least 5 days. I got mine 2 days ago and the battery is still  full!
  • You can participate in challenges with your friends or people online who have Fitbits. Perfect for competitive people such as myself. 😛
  • Motivating emails when you reach your goals that you can share with social media:

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Cons:

  • What constitutes an active minute? Not all my minutes on the elliptical today were considered active minutes, but resistance 14 is no joke…
  • Not sure how accurate the restless and awake minutes are in the sleep tracker.
  • You cannot manually add exercises such as weight lifting, yoga, elliptical, swimming, biking, etc. You can only add running, walking, or hiking exercises.
  • Not sure how accurate the calorie burning measurement. is

Overall opinion:

I recommend the FitBit Flex for anyone.  I wish you could manually track more exercise types, but it does the trick for those of us who want to be more active during the day. This may be just the tool you need to park the car further away, take the stairs, walk more places, and be more mindful of time spent sitting during the day. Whether you are a runner, daily exerciser, or coach potatoes the Fitbit can motivate you to take more steps during the day. Every single one of us can benefit from a more active lifestyle! 🙂

Do any of you have the Fitbit Flex or another Fitbit? What do you think about it?

Tasty Tuesday #6: Brick’s restaurant review

Good evening, friends! I hope all of you are having a great Tuesday. Today I wanted to try something new and do my first ever restaurant review on this blog. Living in Chicago has given me nearly unlimited access to pizza, but I have made it my mission to find the best tasting thin crust and deep dish pizza places in the windy city. Did I succeed?

Today’s review is about Brick’s, a tiny little pizza place located at 1909 N Lincoln Avenue in the Old Town neighborhood (http://brickschicago.com/index.html). They have the best tasting thin crust pizza I have tasted in the city so far! I went there twice in this last week alone…Granted, I normally only go out to eat once or twice a month, but this was worthwhile exception! I went out to Brick’s on Wednesday for a date with my boyfriend, but then again Sunday with our friend from college who was in town. We decided he needed to try Brick’s too. He had his share of deep dish during his visit and was game for something new. He was not disappointed!

Brick’s is so tiny that it is easy to miss. The restaurant is located in what looks like a basement, but do not let that scare you away. Once you go down the stairs and open the door you are instantly in a dimly lit, but quaint and welcoming little restaurant. You can either sit at the bar or at one of the tables. They have a few small tables with candles perfect for couples and some larger tables and booths for groups. They usually have a game on the TV and some music playing in the background. It is noisy, but not so loud that you cannot hold a conversation. During both my visits this week our waitress was nice and checked on us often. All the employees were friendly in general.

The first thing I did during both my visits in the last week was order a beer. They have a pretty extensive beer and wine list. They also have a decent bar. What my boyfriend and I really like about Brick’s is that they have drink specials during the week Monday-Thursday. On Wednesday the Wisconsin beers were half price, so my boyfriend’s can of Schlitz was $1.50 and my bottle of Tyranena Rocky’s Revenge was $2.50. On Sunday, there was not any drink specials so we all ordered cans of Schlitz. You cannot really beat $3 cans in Chicago… It’s not bad for a “cheaper” beer either.

Bricks vegetarian pizza

For the date on Wednesday, my boyfriend and I tried the vegetarian specialty pizza (pictured above). We split a 14 inch, but had plenty of leftovers. In terms of pricing, the 14 inch was $22.95, so not too bad! Brick’s has several vegetarian specialty pizzas or you can create your own. They also have meat pizzas for those of you that eat meat. The vegetarian was amazing. It had green peppers, mushrooms, spinach, onions, tomatoes, mozzarella cheese, and is topped with basil. It was perfectly crispy, but not burned. They did not go overboard on the cheese which was good. I like deep dish, but it almost has too much cheese…When I eat thin crust I like one that is easy on the cheese, crispy, and full of veggies.

When our friend was in town on Sunday, I ordered a 10 inch vegetarian pizza (again!). My boyfriend and our friend split one of the pizza specials: a 12 inch spicy pizza with pork and veggies. I cannot remember the exact name of the pizza. The 10 inch was $12.00 and the 12 inch was $18.50. I had leftovers on Sunday, but they did not. The leftovers were almost as delicious as eating in the restaurant. The leftovers were still crispy, not soggy. As a side note I cannot stand cold pizza, I always have to reheat my leftovers. 😛

Overall, both my boyfriend and I loved the vegetarian pizza.  I think he liked it better than that one with meat that he split with our friend on Sunday. Our friend enjoyed Brick’s too! It is not only a great place for a date, but also a fun place to hang with friends or to take out-of-towners to. The pizza tastes wonderful, it’s vegetarian friendly, they have a decent drink menu, weekly drink specials, and it won’t break your wallet. I highly recommend checking out Brick’s if you live in Chicago or if you are visiting. 🙂

I MAY have found the best thin crust pizza in the city, but stay tuned! I have many more pizza places to try. Maybe next time I’ll review a deep dish place!

Do you prefer deep dish or thin crust? What’s your favorite pizza place? Have you ever been to Brick’s?