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! 🙂

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Taking the “dread” out of dreadmill: a review of the Zwift run pod

Disclaimer: I received the Zwift Shoe Pod 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.

Even though I had been nursing an injury since the Chicago Marathon nearly three months ago, I was excited when BibRave asked me if I wanted to try the Zwift Shoe Pod and Zwift app. At minimum I knew it would make my walking/cross training a little less boring and at maximum I thought it could give me the courage to test out my injury and try running on the treadmill! I am happy to report that it helped me accomplish both of those things! 🙂

But, you are probably less interested in my injury recovery and more interested in how the Zwift Run Pod actually works 😉 This is a review after all and not a diary about my injury 😛 Although, if you want to read about my training in greater detail follow me on Instagram or Strava!

So, first things, first! Here’s how to install your shoe pod and get ready for your first treadmill run:

  1. Take the shoe pod out of the box and install the battery. It takes a little elbow grease to assemble, but if my little arms can do it, I promise yours can too! 😉
  2. Attach the shoe pod to your shoe laces at the third lace from the bottom as shown below, Make your you hear a CLICK, so your known your shoe pod is firmly in place!

3. Create a free Zwift account.

4. Download the Zwift app on your phone, tablet, computer, or other device you plan to use with you on the treadmill and log in. I also recommend the Zwift Companion app, so you can chat with people and cheer them on as you run (the chat options on the normal Zwift app are a bit limited).

Both apps are free! The only thing that is not free is the shoe pod, but I am sharing a discount with you below, so stay tuned. 🙂

5. Pair the Zwift Shoe pod with the Zwift app

6. Once paired you are ready to run on the treadmill! I recommend going through the Zwift 101 pre-set training run to get better acquainted with the app. Note: the avatar is pre-selected for you based on height, weight, etc., but the more you run, the more you can customize your avatar. Before the first run all it let me change my my socks. I thought my avatar looked a little bit like me on the first try, though. 😛

Now you are ready to run around the world without leaving the comfort of your home or gym treadmill! You can do a pre-set training run, create/host your own event, or join someone else’s. Zwift is a fun way of having a run date with your favorite running buddy that is not local and pushing each other to finish the run!

My favorite Zwift run was the BibRave group 5k, because I was able to run with my team even though we were all physically in different places. It was my first run back post injury, so most of it was a walk, but I had a blast and was happy to have been able to celebrate such a huge milestone with some of my favorite running buddies, rather than by myself.

Heck, I’m not sure I would have even tried running as soon as December 18, 2018 if it weren’t for the group run. I’m glad I did because as of today (Jan 2, 2019), I’m feeling brave enough to attempt 2 miles and the Zwift run app will make my treadmill run less lonely and more fun. I’m so happy I have the Zwift run pod and app to take the “dread” out of dreadmill and make my return to running and beyond a fun experience!

So, are you intrigued?! Want to try Zwift run for yourself? You could even run with me 😉 Use the discount code BibRave15 for 15% off the cost of the Zwift RunPod on the Zwift website (Note: discount is only good for first 1000 Pods ordered with the code).

Do you like running on the treadmill? Have you tried Zwift before?! I’d love to virtually run with you, so let me know your Zwift user name below or contact me and we can set up a run!

Still not convinced?! See what other BibRave Pros have to say about the Zwift Run Pod:

Amanda S.

Barb

Ben

Emily

Janelle

Jeff

Jon

Linda

Mike

Nicole

Renee


2018 in review

Hello friends! Long time, no post and Happy New Year’s Eve! How is it only one day away from 2019?! 😱

Life got a little crazy since my last post in October: I ran my 1st marathon in a BQ, got injured during said marathon, finished my 1st semester of nutrition classes, and focused on injury recovery! All those recent events reminded me that it’s been a crazy fun, tear-inducing, challenging, awesome, amazing, and unpredictable year. 😜

So why not recap/reflect on the highlights from each month of 2018, so I can start 2019 on a high-note? Without further ado, here are my top moments for each month of 2018, running and otherwise:

January:  The top moment of January was running the F^3 Lake 5k and meeting a few of my new BibRave teammates. It was my favorite moment because I spent a lot of the fall injured, so it was exciting to be able to lace up and race a 5k, even though I only had a few weeks of training under my belt and no workouts. I treated the race as a tempo, somehow won, and had an overall great time. My husband ran the half marathon and earned a personal best time of 1:15! We were fortunate to have weather in the high 30s and the post race party was fun. If you want to read more about this race check out my recap 🙂 I am recovering from injury (again) now, so I likely won’t run the race in 2019, but I highly recommend the 5k or half marathon on 1/26/19!IMG_5111

February: The top moment of February was a tie between the unexpected snow day (and day off work) on Friday February 9, 2018 and being chosen by BibRave to test out the Aftershokz wireless headphones. And yes, I’m sure you’re wondering how one single day could be my top moment of 2018…but if you are a regular follower/reader here you may remember that I used to be a high school chemistry teacher. In January- March 2018 I was working as a temporary chemistry teacher for a teacher on maternity leave. The teacher had been on leave since September, and the school had trouble finding a teacher to take the maternity leave, so the students had been without a permanent teacher until I took the position in January. Without divulging every detail, it was tough situation that really tested me, especially when I was already fairly certain (not yet publicly at this point) that I did not want to teach, but rather go back to school to become a Registered Dietitian, but more on that later 😉

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Anyway, after a particularly tough Thursday with some unruly students and a mountain of grading, we got an unexpected snow day on Friday, February 9th. For those of you who aren’t in Chicago, it is incredibly rare for the Chicago Public Schools to declare a snow day. It happens maybe once every 5 years. 😛 It was much needed! I was able to fit in a snowy run with my new trail shoes, my new Aftershokz, and in the daylight hours on a week day. Friday, Feb. 9th was AWESOME! It’s still funny to me in December 2018 that a simple snow day was my top moment of February 2018.

March:  Hands down the best moment of March 2018 was winning an Instagram contest for of three months of coaching with Heather McKirdy of McKirdy Trained. She had been a runner and coach I looked up too since I made an instagram page for this blog. 🙂 She’s positive, hard-working, a dreamer, speedy, and extremely knowledgable about running. In my short three months with her as my coach, I grew so much as a runner! I set a half PR, integrated more workouts and recovery, and took my running more seriously for the first time since running for my college in 2010-2013. I also watched many of my other Instagram friends become her athletes around when I did and make awesome running gains (I’m especially looking at you Teagan, Meghan, Laura, and Nicole :P). I was very sad after my three months ended because I decided to exit the work world and go back to school to study nutrition, so unfortunately I could not and still cannot afford a coach and I loved working with Heather 🙁 It would have definitely been helpful to have one when I trained for the Chicago Marathon because my training was kind of a mess 😂 ANYWAY, if you are looking for a coach and it’s in your budget I HIGHLY, HIGHLY recommend Heather or any of the other McKirdy Trained coaches. 🙂 A majority of their athletes BQed or set PRs at their races this year and those are results you cannot ignore! 😱

Honorable mention/a close second was finishing off that maternity leave teaching position and figuring out my now public next steps. More on that below 😉

April: Okay, okay! I can’t pick just one moment because this month was freakin’ awesome. Hands down the BEST moment was deciding to change my path and go back to school to study to become a Registered Dietitian. I also ran a personal best in my second ever half marathon (1:34), while sick, under the guidance of my new coach Heather. My husband ran the full marathon that same day in a stunning 2:42, cutting 26 minutes off his previous best time and securing a ticket to Boston 2019. You can read much more about my experience at the Illinois Half Marathon here.

Last, but not least I was able to meet and become real-life friends with two of my Instagram friends: Katie of 2fabfitchicks and Danielle of Feed Me Happy. Danielle and I are also now real-life classmates and future RDs, so that’s pretty awesome. 🙂

Meeting and running with Scott Jurek during his North book release tour also deserves an honorable mention! April was truly an amazing month!

May: May’s top moments are a tie between being interviewed for my first ever magazine article in Voyage Chicago and my birthday BibRave run meet-up at Millennium Park. It was nearly 95 degrees, but I still had a blast running with Steph, Ben, and Frank on my 26th birthday! 🙂 Joining such an awesome team of supportive and fun runners/ambassadors may have been my greatest decision all year, besides deciding to go back to school 😛

June: It was a hot day and not my best race time, but I still pick my first ever 10k at the Run for the Zoo as my top moment of June 2018. I even managed third female overall somehow 😛 It was a fun race to rep BibRave and somewhat kick off my Chicago Marathon training!

July: My husband got a new teaching job and we moved to a new apartment. I absolustely love my new loft apartment and it’s proximity to awesome places to run along the Chicago LakeShore path.  I  was honestly hoping that the Rock ‘N Roll Chicago half marathon would be my top July moment,  but I just did not have a good race and you can read more about it on my Instagram 🙁 I’m still glad I ran it even if my time of 1:36 was very far off of the 1:30 I was hoping for at that point. 

August: A hot month full of marathon training and long run PRs (mileage wise) every single week. I even made it through my through my longest run ever (20 miles) and nailed my fueling strategy with Spring Energy (ElectroRide in my hand held and Canaberry gels ).

Running the Nike unsanctioned 6k race deserves an honorable mention, as well. It was a fun race and a great way to fit in a mid-week workout.

September: Oh man September was a tough month! I was struggling to balance my classes, work, my extremely long commute to/from school, and training for the marathon. I had a few 0-10 mile weeks and I even contemplated not running the Chicago Marathon. Thankfully, after turning around my training a bit, some reflection on how far I had come (despite a less than ideal training situation). and the kind words of so many of you I decided to still run. That is definitely my top moment of September 2018. It was not an easy decision!

October: Completing my first marathon in a BQ, enough said! 😛  Although, having to stop multiple times to stretch due to hip and IT band pain and then becoming so injured I just started running again a little over a week ago also serves as a bit of a low point. :/ You can read more about my race on Instagram.

I am extremely grateful that Dale of Marathoner Dale ran part of the marathon with me. She had a fantastic race (earning a 3:22 PR) and helped me at my lowest, most painful points. I am also grateful that Jess (the cofounder of BibRave) and I were able to run together for some of the race! 🙂 I am positive with better training (and honestly a coach ), I would have a had a much better and injury free race, but hey- a 3:28:01 is not bad for my first one!

I am proud, but am also dreaming bigger (and training MUCH smarter) for my next marathon! 😛 I had a blast meeting a lot more of my BibRave teammates at the Chicago Marathon summit and the race and would not change the race or this weekend for anything, though. I can only hope to perform at what I am actually capable of next time I run a marathon 😉

November: No running at all for me in November, as I focused on cross training, resting, and gaining hip/glute strength. BUT the best moment was watching my husband cut two more minutes off his personal best marathon time at Indy Monumental in a blazing fast 2:40! 🔥 I am also grateful for Ashlyn, who is the kindest human and an amazing friend, who put together a strength training plan and will make a running plan once I am able to run more. I am not sure what I did to deserve her help, but I am grateful because this injury has been a struggle and an uncertain time for me. :/

December: After not being able to run post-Chicago marathon, hands down the top moment of this month was the pain-free mile (even if it was on the dreadmill) I ran three days ago! I am cautiously optimistic about my return to running as enter 2019! I am not sure anything I will do in the remaining hours of 2018 can top that, unless I am able to run 10 miles 😉 But don’t worry, I’m won’t try such a foolish thing!

Finishing my first semester nutrition school finals and earning good grades also earn an honorable mention, but clearly being able to run again is more exciting to me 😛 I also got accepted to be a BibRave Pro for another year, so I am grateful that they want to keep me! 🙂

So now, I want to hear from all of YOU! What were your top moments of 2018, running or otherwise?! 👇🏻

A long overdue Chicago marathon training update

Hello friends!

I’m really struggling. REALLY. STRUGGLING. And then I saw this e-mail… but only after I dug through my junk e-mail folder before emptying it.

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It’s like the Chicago marathon knew that seeing this e-mail would not be in my best interest, so it went right to junk. But I saw it and it’s already something I’ve been considering since late last week.

So yes, it’s true I’m considering NOT running the Chicago Marathon as my first marathon. I know this may come as a complete and total shock to you..especially if you follow me on Instagram. There you see that I update my training pretty frequently, but that is not the whole story, especially lately.

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I offically made the decision in April 2018 to change my path and pursue my dream to become a Registered Dietitian. At 26 years old, you could say I’ve never been one to do things conventionally 😉 But my former jobs will only make me a better RD in the long run. I’m two weeks into my classes and new job as a nutrition assistant. I’m loving it, but things have been tough. I don’t want to sound ungrateful-I’m so fortunate to have the ability to take out loans and go back to school, be healthy enough to run, chase my dreams, and rely on the support of others, especially my husband. I could not make this dream a reality otherwise.

But, there have been a lot of doubts.

I keep questioning myself: “Is it worth it to change my career after I already have a BA in a related field and MA in a different field? How do I balance sleep/ training/ work/ classes? What does it say about me if I chose sleep after a late night of studying versus an early run? Am I passionate enough? How can I utilize my time more effectively on my 2.5-3 hour commute? As a future RD, isn’t it ironic that I struggle to eat enough to fuel my training/life sometimes? How can I expect to run a marathon on 30 miles per week when I was doing better mileage  earlier this summer?”

Then, I feel like I turn these personal questions into EXCUSES, EXCUSES, EXCUSES…

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(My longest run last year since college almost exactly a year ago that resulted in another injury)

I spent most of my college running career and the years after nursing injuries/not running. I got hurt again last year at this time when I was trying to finally make my return to running! I later realized the key for me to staying healthy is doing most of my runs at a very easy pace. It took me until this year to master that. I’ve spent years just wanting to get to this point of healthy, consistent running! And now I’m there (or was, except for last two weeks of training)…

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(throw back to 2011 college cross country)

In college, I had a demanding science major, a very part time job (I was allowed to do my homework during it :P), cross country practice (sometimes twice a day), and a few other extracurriculars.  So, now that I’m older, back in school, and healthy, it’s frustrating that I am struggling to balance my schedule. But I’m only on week 2, so it will get better! It doesn’t help sometimes that when I am talking to other people training for a marathon in person or on social media I see so many who juggle even more than me crushing their training. And the first thing I think after being inspired and excited for them is, how? What is their secret? I don’t mean for that to sound pessimistic. But it’s hard to not to play the comparison game. I know I’m not the only one.

But my husband reminded me that some of you may look at me here, on social media, etc. and think that I too am crushing it and have the perfect training/life balance. I assure you I don’t! I am a firm believer in less is more, but America teaches us to be busy, busy, busy. Who can work the longest? Who can eat the healthiest? Who can run the most miles? Who can do the most extracurriculars? Work the most jobs? etc. etc. It’s not realistic to do everything, all the time, and you never know the whole story until you ask someone. We are all just trying to figure it out.

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I pride myself on being honest in the hopes that others can relate. Last week I ran only 35 miles (instead of my goal of 40-45). I struggled with the timing of runs with my new classes, my 2.5-3 hour commute to school, and the heat/humidity/weather. This week I started working on top of my classes and that further complicated things. I’m still trying to get in the rhythm of a good schedule because this is all new to me. I’m only at 8 miles this week and may reach 25-30 miles depending on the next 24 hours. I’ve been demoralized about my paces during runs and I feeling worn down on more runs than energized. Also, I’m competitive and put a lot of pressure on myself to run a certain time. Yet, I know no one will judge me if I run a 3:15 marathon or a 4 hour one because it’s amazing to just finish one! Although, I cannot decide if I have enough training to still run Chicago, especially if this trend in my training continues…This is why I desperately wish I had a coach and/or team. 🙁

I thought it might help me decide to reflect on the majors lows and highs of my training so far. Lows first, then highs because I  am doing my best to remain positive!

Training lows:

The Rock ‘n Roll Chicago half marathon (week 8) where I ran much slower than I expected, but it was a tough day for all in the monsoon-like conditions:

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My first “true” long run of training cycle was 14 miles (week 10) where I learned that 12 ounces is not enough water, you need to wear sunscreen, and one gel is not enough:

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Last week’s long run (week 14) that was supposed to be 14-15 miles and I only completed 12. It was my worst run this training cycle and left me feeling defeated and questioning if I have what it takes:

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Training highs

The first tempo run in the training cycle (week 11) that felt good/strong. I did a 4 mile tempo in 6:51, 6:54, 6:40, and 6:49:

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My first ever 16 miler (week 11) with my husband while on vacation in Michigan, where I nailed my nutrition and first started feeling like the possibility of me running a marathon was not so crazy:

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My mile repeat workout during week 12 of training where I exceeded my expectations and ran a 6:24, 6:13,  6:11, and 6:22. I realized I am in better shape than I thought! Nowhere near where my mile repeats in college, but this is a new era of running for me, so I was proud of myself that day:

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My 18 miler (week 12) where I ran 12 miles with my old college teammates and 6 miles on my own. I nailed my nutrition on this run! The run made me realize I am tough and can run further than expected:

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My 20 miler during week 13 done all on my own. I nailed my nutrition on my run and ran it at an easy pace, but was able to pick up the pace a little at the end, despite it being 85 degrees out.  The run was actually pretty fun and it made me realize I am mentally and physically strong enough to run farther than I though!

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The Nike race last week (week 14) where I ran a decent 3.4 mile race (22:04) in the middle of my first week of school where all my other runs that week were subpar. It was fun! It reminded me that I miss racing, especially the shorter ones and training with a team. The positive energy at the race was contagious!

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If you stuck around to read this…thank you! 🙂 It was helpful for me to formulate how I have been feeling. I have until Sept. 18th to decide what to do. As of tonight, I do not know the best decision, but know that your support of my running, my new career path, and me means the world. Know that whatever I decide about Chicago, I am still rooting for all of you! Keep crushing your runs and workouts! At the end of the day we run for fun, so what’s the point if it’s not fun? I am taking the pressure off myself and thinking through this decision. I have a feeling that even if I don’t run Chicago I will find another race to do since I have increased my fitness a lot the last few months 😛

Have you ever deferred a major race (or any race)? Why did you make that decision? 

 

Mercury Mile review

Disclaimer: I received 50% off the contents in my Mercury Mile box and a waived styling fee 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!

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I have been eager to try Mercury Mile since I saw other runners receive boxes earlier in the year on Instagram. I was excited to finally try it myself! So, what is Mercury Mile? Mercury Mile is a service that creates a personalized box of running clothes and gear based on your answers to a running profile. It is NOT a subscription service, so you only receive one box, but if you want more boxes in the future you can do so with the same account. How Mercury Mile works: an actual person (stylist) reads your profile, looks at your social media accounts (if you want them to! :P) and picks out some items they think you will like based on your profile and social media! I love that I was given a little note detailing what was chosen and why the items were chosen from my stylist  Helen. It really gave the experience a personal touch! 🙂

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Shoutout to Helen, my amazing Mercury Mile stylist!

The profile asks about your likes/dislikes (as related to running), your ideal budget, favorite colors, ideal brands, types of activities you participate in, your size, etc. Then a box of all of the stylist’s chosen items is shipped directly to your door! Shopping you can do without leaving your home? That’s something I can get on board with! 😛 What’s even more rad is that you can return anything you do not like free of charge with the enclosed postage paid shipping envelope.

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I was hesitant to try Mercury Mile because I was concerned I could not afford it on my soon-to-be RD student budget, but it is surprisingly affordable! And no, not because I received a discount, but rather because you can tell the stylist your ideal budget and you can return anything you do not like! I ended up liking all of Helen’s selections, but one and it was SO EASY to return that item in the pre-paid envelope. The box opened my eyes to a brand I had never heard of and some old standbys, so it’s also a good way to learn about different fitness brands.

My favorite part about my Mercury Mile box besides reading the note, was using social media to help me chose which items to keep. I did polls on my Instagram stories where I asked all of you to help me chose. It was really fun and helped me make decisions in a fun way!

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Brooks tank top that I kept! My favorite item from the entire box! 🙂

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Craft sports bar that I kept!

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Adidas tank that I kept!

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Body Glove capris that I returned. They were a little big and I did not love the pattern.

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Asics running shorts that I kept!

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Asics spandex that I kept!

As you can see above, Helen my stylist was pretty spot on! I kept everything, but the Body Glove capris. They were a little big on me and not quite my style, but I kept everything else and where the items all the time! 🙂 So now I bet you want to try Mercury Mile, don’t you?! 😛 If you do, I have a discount for you! There is normally a $20 styling fee just to get the box and check out the stylist’s selections, but you can save $10 with the code “BibRave10”. The styling fee goes toward the price of an item in your box if you keep any of the items, so that’s really nice! It can be as fancy or as budget friendly as you want, just indicated your desired price range in your profile!

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Have any of you tried Mercury Mile before?! What did you think about it? I know I definitely want to gets my hands on another box-it’s so fun and a great deal! 🙂

Also, see what other BibRave Pros have to say about Mercury Mile:

Ali

Connie

Jenn

Jonathan

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! 🙂

 

Illinois half marathon training week 10

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!

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Good evening friends! I can’t believe we are 11 days away from race day! 😱

I am definitely getting nervous because it’s my 1st big post-college race, but I also feel prepared. This training cycle started out rocky with my crazy schedule during my temporary teaching job, but getting a coach a month ago has been a game changer. Plus, my teaching job is over now, and although I am working two part time jobs, I have been able to train more consistently than when teaching. And I’m just generally happier and more motivated about training because now I am on a path to pursuing my passions. 😍

I sometimes have to be creative about when to fit in my runs, though, because some weeks I work mornings/days and other weeks I have to work evenings/nights. Regardless, the change in jobs has allowed me to run more often with others, go to fun events, and meet new people as you will see in this week’s training recap. I even hit my highest weekly mileage since college over the last two weeks. 30 miles per week may not seem like much, and I was running more in college, but I’m just so happy to be running injury free again! 🙂 So without further ado let’s get to the recap!

Week 10: Monday April 9th -Sunday April 15th

Monday April 9th: My friend Ben has a somewhat a flexible work schedule and I was off work, so he came to Chicago to run 5.1 miles (7:47 pace) with me. Afterwards, I took him to one of my favorite coffee shops. He’s silly and got a cold drink even though it was chilly and it had snowed earlier in the day! I got an oat milk chai and I would 10/10 recommend. It was fun to spend the afternoon running and talking to another fellow running nerd. I’m grateful for all the awesome people I have met through Bibrave!

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-Tuesday April 10th:  I ran 4.5 miles with some 6x 30 second strides at 6:16 pace mixed in. Then, I went to one of my favorite Thai places to finally meet up with Danielle in real life. We had been following each other on social media/our blogs for a while and talking nearly every day prior to dinner about all things running, health, and nutrition, so I was not scared at all to meet up! The two and half hours really flew by at dinner and I cannot wait for more adventures with another fellow future RD!

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-Wednesday April 11th: I helped lead an easy 3.1 mile evening fun run with Scott Jurek and then attended a question/answer session and book signing. It was amazing and honestly I’m still star struck that I met one of my favorite runners in real life! I cannot wait to read North, his newest book! It was worth the long line to get it signed and have him write personal note to my husband, who was coaching track and unable to attend the event.

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-Thursday April 12th: A while ago Katie messaged me saying she’d be in Chicago for a business trip and asked if I’d want to run this week. Katie is another runner that I connected with through Instagram. We decided to run together on Thursday. We ran 5 miles at an easy pace (7:53/ mile) along the Lakefront Path. The weather was amazing and actually spring-like, unlike Monday when it snowed. The miles flew by far two quickly and we bonded over being former division 1 runners and our love of training/racing even in our busy adult lives. I hope we can run again soon! I love how social media and this blog has connected me to so many amazing people.

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-Friday April 13th: REST DAY. Spent some time doing yoga and foam rolling because it was much needed.

-Saturday April 14th: 12 miles at 7:53 pace. This was supposed to be a hard workout within my long run, but the freezing, windy, rainy weather made that tough. I did the best I could, but only completed 4 of the 6 tempo miles. It’s tough when you are supposed to run 3 miles at 7:00-7:15 pace, 2 miles at 6:49 pace and 1 mile at 6:49 pace or faster and you know you can hit all those paces, but running into the crazy headwind you get a 7:09 as your fastest… My husband was helping me pace the workout (all my paces are easy for him because he is super speedy) and together we decided the time on my feet was much more important than hitting the paces. We decided to just finish the run as a regular long run rather than tempo more into the crazy wind. I was super frustrated on Saturday, but now reflecting back on the day I am proud I got my long run done! It would have been easy to turn around, head home, and throw in the towel.

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-Sunday April 15th: REST DAY.

WEEKLY TOTAL:  29.7 miles

Tonight’s question: Are you racing this month? If not, want to last minute join me at the Illinois half marathon? They also have a 5k, 10k, full marathon, and marathon relay! So there’s a race for everyone!🤗 Use the code “2018bibravebonus” code for $10.00 off your entry if you want to join me!😉

Top 5 reasons to run the Cinco de Miler on 5/5/18

Disclaimer: I received a free entry to 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!

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As is tradition this year, this will be my first time running Cinco de Miler and I’m super pumped! Even though I have lived in Chicago for nearly 4 years, I have not run many races because of injury and running burnout. I’m happy to be back to running healthy!💪🏻 Cinco de Miler is a 5 mile race that starts and finishes at Montrose Harbor at 8:30 am sharp on May 5, 2018. Event though it’s a week after my half marathon and my legs are going to be tired, I’m excited to run Cinco de Miler because it is such a fun race. YOU SHOULD RUN CINCO DE MILER TOO!!!😉 Need more convincing?! Check out the top 5 reasons why you should run Cinco de Miler below. And by the time you reach the bottom I can (almost) guarantee you will want to sign up! There will even be a discount waiting for you at the bottom. So, what are you waiting for?! 😜

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Top 5 Reasons Why You Should Run Cinco de Miler:

1. The race is a unique race distance. How many other 5 mile races do you know of in and around the Chicagoland area? Plus the course is USATF certified, so you know that the 5 mile course is in fact 5 miles and not 4.98. 😜 A unique race distance= a likely PR! And we all want to earn that elusive PR, am I right?! 😉

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2. To cater to the competitive, seasoned runner there is chip timing, elite coral assignments for those that qualify, and cash prizes for those in the elite corral. So, if you want to run with some of Chicago’s best and earn a PR and/or bragging rights, there is a spot for you at Cinco de Miler!

The cash prizes are as follows for the top 3 overall men and women in the Elite Corral:

1st Place = $400
2nd Place = $250
3rd Place = $100

Additionally, if you break the existing event record will receive an additional $100!

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3. Speaking of PRs…even if you don’t earn one, you can still get this super sweet finishing medal just for crossing the finish line! And the medal even doubles as bottle opener so you can easily open post-race beers!  😜🍻

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4. Not a competitive runner? No worries, there is plenty of fun at the post race fiesta! There will be a mechanical bull, human fooseball, mariachi bands, and live Lucha Libre matches, Not to mention there will be plenty of beer breakfast tacos, Horchata, and Mexican sweets!🍻🌮

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5. Last, but not least you will get this sweet technical tee for running, plus other awesome swag in your race goodie bag! You will get the goodie bag and tee at packet pick-up.

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So, what are you waiting for?! Sign up today! 🙂

Have you run Cinco de Miler before?! If so, what’s your favorite part of the race? If not, are you joining me at the race this year?! Sign up by using the code “BRCinco” for some extra swag on race weekend – a pair of super awesome sunglasses!

Running into 2018: goals and dreams for the new year: spring check-in

Hello friends! Happy Easter (if you celebrate)! I hope you all had a fun and relaxing Sunday. Mine was busy because of work, but now I’m happy for some time to relax. 🙂

For those of you who don’t know, my temporary teaching job ended last week, so I acted quickly and snagged two part time jobs. Both of the jobs are at places I adore and are perfect for this somewhat “limbo” phase of my life. I’m still figuring out what my next steps are, but I have a really good idea what they will be and will share when the time is right…

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In the meantime, I thought the 1st day of April was the perfect time to check-in with my 2018 goals. This is mainly a way to hold myself accountable, so feel free to skip this post if this sort of thing bores you 😛 If not, I appreciate your support by reading and commenting! I’d love to know if you set goals for 2018 and have accomplished some of them, so feel free to share with me too!

Black Bean Queen’s fifteen 2018 goals check-in #1:

1. A minimum of 5 minutes of stretching/foam rolling after EVERY RUN

9 times out of 10 I have accomplished this goal since January! So that feels good. 🙂 Just knowing that I shared this goal publicly with all of you made me think twice when I wanted to slack on stretching and rolling 🙂 Plus I am recovering from my runs well so far…but we shall see once I start ramping up the miles 😱

2. Strength training a minimum of 2x/ week (particularly glute/hip exercises)

Not doing well with this goal…I’m at once a week when it’s a good week. When I was teaching I barely had enough time to fit in my runs, let alone my strength workouts, but this isn’t optional for me or I will get hurt. 🙁 Strength training at least twice week, focusing on hip strength, is my top goal moving forward. 

3. Yoga 1x/ week (a class or YouTube video)

Also not doing great with this goal for the same reason as #2…BUT now that I am done teaching and working two PT jobs that do not require outside work (i.e. lesson planning, grading, etc) I will be able to better fit in the “extras” that enhance running training. Yoga will be my second top goal moving forward. However, I have done yoga twice in the last week for what it’s worth.🤷🏼‍♀️

4. Finish my first marathon in October (my ultimate goal is 3:30 or faster so I can Boston Qualify)

Not accomplished yet 😉

5. PR in the 5k and the half marathon by increasing my mileage (SLOWLY) and adding in more track/speed workouts (5k goal is sub 18 minutes & half marathon goal is 1:25)

Same as above. I’ve only done one 5k in 2018 and no half marathons yet. My first half marathon is the Illinois half marathon in less than a month!

6. Run my first 10k race

Same as above. My first 10k will be on June 3rd at Run for the Zoo

7. Run a trail race of any distance

Not accomplished yet 😉

8. Hire a coach in the spring/summer to help me with Chicago marathon training

Accomplished sooner than expected. A few weeks ago, I won two months of coaching with Heather Szuba of McKirdy Trained and it could not have come at a better time! I’m at a new phase in my life where I can prioritize my training a bit better than when I was teaching. I can already tell this is going to be huge for my running and so far I love working with Heather. I can’t wait to see where working with her takes me! 🙂 

10. Join a running group or racing team

Not accomplished yet 😉 Since one of my new jobs is at a running store, I think it is time for me to finally do more group runs or join a team. Stay tuned…😜

11. Read 24 books (2 books/month)

Not accomplished yet 😉 Sadly, I’ve only read one book in 2018 so far 🙁 On the bright side I am an extremely fast reader, so I am confident I can still accomplish this goal!

12. Connect with more liked minded people by growing Black Bean Queen to 1,000 subscribers. I also want to grow my social media presence on Instagram and Twitter to at least 1,000 followers and my Facebook and Pinterest to at least 500 followers.

Partly accomplished! 🙂 Last I checked this blog has over 1,060 subscribers, so it has grown a bit in the last few months. My Instagram is also over 1,000 followers, but I am not at my Twitter, Facebook, or Pinterest goals yet. I’m concerned less about actual numbers and more about connecting to even more awesome runners, fitness enthusiasts, plant based eaters, etc. 

13. Be kinder to and less critical of myself by reflecting on the positives in my life at least 1x/week

Working on this! One of the best things I did to help me with this goal was buy 52 Lists for Happiness by Moorea Seal. I love starting a new week with one of the lists. Thanks to Connie of Constantly for the recommendation! 🙂

14. Take my vitamin everyday

I was really good about this in January and February, but fell off the wagon during March. It’s a new week and month, so time to be better about taking my vitamin again! 😛 

15. Cook a new vegetarian/vegan recipe with my husband 1x/month

Working on this goal! We got in a bit of a rut cooking the same old favorites the last few months..BUT we just bought the Run Fast, Eat Slow cookbook and I flagged some of the vegetarian/vegan recipes to make over the next few weeks. Plus, I still need to make a bunch of the recipes from Oh She Glows Everyday, which we bought a year ago. So ideas are not the problem 😛 One way that has helped us in the past has been by turning it into a date night to make a new recipe. I highly recommend this tactic for any couples out there who keep making the same things or go out to eat for many meals. 

Are YOU accomplishing your 2018 goals, running related or not? I’d love for you to share, so we can support each other! 🙂

F^3 training weeks 3-6 (12/25/17-race day 1/20/18)

Good evening friends!

I know that technically I raced yesterday…BUT I will finally recap all my training or lack thereof that led to the race. In the very near future I will also review the F^3 Half Marathon and 5k here and on BibRave! I will say now that it was fun and very well run! I am pleased with how the race went, but not with my training. You will see what I mean below…I am giving myself some credit, though, because I just started a my first ever teaching job where I am teaching chemistry to high school students who did not have a teacher for almost three months AND finals are in a week!!!! 😱

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Things have been crazy, so my sleep and my training has definitely suffered: I get to school by 7 am most days and do not leave until 445-6 pm most nights and often still have work to do when I get home. I’m not making excuses, but rather giving an explanation for the many zeros/low mileage weeks below. I pride myself on being real with all of you! Even though I am a former college runner, I want to remind all of you that now I am just a regular person with a real job, trying to fit in my runs and live my life. Please be kind before commenting on my situation! I know I did not train adequately and that is why I took yesterday at tempo effort, rather than an all out race. As I figure things out and get the students caught up, my hours will be better and so will my training. I am looking forward to better weeks of training for the Shamrock Shuffle and the Illinois Half Marathon. I am forever grateful that I am no longer injured! 🙂

Week 3: Monday December 25th-Sunday December 31st:

-Monday December 25th: 3.6 miles at 7:23 pace with my husband & sister-in-law. Furthest run since my injury! I foam rolled and stretched after the run.IMG_4738

-Tuesday December 26th:  REST

-Wednesday December 27th: 3 miles at 7:25 and it was freezing! It felt like -3 outside!

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-Thursday December 28th: Yoga/strength for 60 min

-Friday December 29th: Wintery weather caused me to move this run to the dreadmill and it did not feel good. 3 miles at 7:29 pace followed by stretching and foam rolling.

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-Saturday December 30th: Yoga for 30 min

-Sunday December 31st: 4 miles at 7:19 pace with my husband followed by foam rolling and stretching.

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WEEKLY TOTAL: 13.6 miles

Week 4: Monday January 1st-Sunday January 7th 

-Monday January 1st:  REST DAY

-Tuesday January 2nd:  5 miles at 7:21 pace (2.5 with my husband and 2.5 alone) followed by foam rolling and stretching.IMG_4834

-Wednesday January 3rd: Cold weather makes it tough to tempo. 1 mi w/u, 1 mi tempo (6:33), & 2 mi c/d followed by stretching and foam rolling.

-Thursday January 4th: 30 minutes of yoga

-Friday January 5th: 3 miles at 7:20 pace followed by stretching a foam rolling.

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-Saturday January 6th: REST DAY

-Sunday January 7th: 6.1 very windy miles at 7:31 pace followed by foam rolling and stretching.

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WEEKLY TOTAL: 18.1 miles

Week 5: Monday January 8th-Sunday January 14th (WEEK 1 OF TEACHING)

-Monday January 8th: REST

-Tuesday January 9th 4 miles easy (7:40 pace) after a long two days of teaching, followed by foam rolling and stretching.

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-Wednesday January 10th: 30 minutes of yoga

-Thursday January 11th: REST

-Friday January 12th: REST

-Saturday January 13th: Tempo workout: 1 mi w/u, 1 mi tempo at 6:46, and 2 mi c/d. Overall pace was 7:12 and I stretched and foam rolled after the workout.

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-Sunday January 14th: 7 miles at 7:57 pace. I think the face below says it all…I felt terrible on this run for some reason 🙁

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WEEKLY TOTAL: 15 miles

Week 6: Monday January 15th-Sunday January 21st (RACE WEEK)

-Monday January 15thREST

-Tuesday January 16thREST

-Wednesday January 17th: REST

-Thursday January 18th: 2 miles on the dreadmill at 7:30 pace my new AfterShokz headphones!

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-Friday January 19th: No run, but lots of foam rolling and stretching.

-Saturday January 20th (RACE DAY!): Due to my lack of training and injury history I decided to treat this 5k race as tempo run. I did my tempo 5k in 21:08 (6:48 pace) and that was good for 1st place… My husband ran the half marathon in 1:15:58! Will do a full recap and review on the blog and BibRave in the very near future with more pictures! It was fun to meet up with the other BibRave Pros who ran the race. Pictured below is the BibRave Pros who ran the 5k.

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WEEKLY TOTAL: 5 miles

Today’s questions: Did you race this last weekend? If so, how did it go? Also, has your running ever suffered due to a new job? If so, how did you reestablish a new running routine?