I’ve been training and preparing mentally to run the half marathon in Champaign, Illinois this coming weekend. We’re just a few hours away from the start time and I am ready to go. I’ve been looking forward to this race for a while now for one particular reason: the chance to PR my half marathon time. I ran the full marathon here back in 2018 and, at the time, PRed my marathon time by over 25 minutes!! Now the question will be can I do it?
I’ve mostly been training in cool to cold weather. The only time it hasn’t been a cold and windy run was a couple of times when the weather was moderate and a bit warmer than 60 degrees and then the few times I ran on the treadmill. There have been some other obstacles during this training period. A small head cold that lingered for way too long, some allergies when that warmer weather hit and some plants started blooming and then a recent pain in my jaw which turned into a root canal. Lucky me, right? But I’ve plowed along the way and got in my runs, even scaling back on weekly mileage while adding some bike riding and swimming to give my body some new experiences while training for a race.
Of course, here we are, just over a day away, and there’s talk of severe weather possibly effecting the start of the race or the entirety of the race itself. Obviously, this does not please me or anyone else for that matter. Very frustrating that Mother Nature may quash everyone’s fun and goals but, of course, that would be out of my control. I will simply look forward to this goal race and hope that it goes off without a hitch.
Happy running! And make sure you go after your goals too!
The 2021 Bank of America Chicago Marathon…where to begin? Of course, it was incredible but I think that would be an expectation. I ran this once before, in 2017, but I was so in awe back then since it was my first ever marathon and I just wanted to finish the race. This time, I was determined to pay attention and enjoy the nuances more all while still running competitively in order to achieve some goals I set for myself.
I arrived into Chicago in the early afternoon on Friday, driving in from Milwaukee, but I didn’t hit the expo that day. I did pay a visit to the Museum of Science and Industry and had the opportunity to enjoy their Marvel Comics special exhibit. That really was a treat and I highly recommend checking that out if you have the chance before the exhibit closes.
After a later than anticipated start on Saturday and a visit to the Shedd Aquarium, I made my way over the the marathon expo, waited in a forever long line to check vaccination status, and then picked up my bib and shirt, etc. I roamed around the various vendors for a little bit, not too long, grabbed some KT Tape, drank a Goose Island sample, and made my way out to make sure I got to my 5pm dinner reservation on time. After eating a fabulous meal at Volare Ristorante Italiano, it was back to the hotel to lay out flat me and hope to get a good night’s rest. (Full disclosure: I slept horribly, unfortunately)
RACE DAY!! It finally arrived! Felt like forever since I began the training cycle for this moment and yet it was time. After not sleeping well, I made another “error” by setting my alarm too early so I was up at 4:45am. For some reason, I thought it would take me longer to get to the start line since I was staying a little farther away than I did in 2017. So, I got dressed, had my protein shake and overnight oats, drank some water, and headed downstairs to the hotel lobby hoping to either catch an Uber or be able to utilize the hotel ride service, even though I didn’t call in time the day before to schedule myself on it. After half a cup of coffee, I secured a ride down to Grant Park and made my way, very very ahead of schedule, to gear check. Let the day begin with some dark pics and a selfie!
Thankfully, I came across a fellow BibRave runner and we chatted until the start time, getting some water from the Gatorade booth and making a final visit to the Porto’s. We also managed to find another BibRave runner and got to chat it up with her for awhile, which was really nice meeting them in person after so many social media exchanges. Now the time for stretches and breathing exercises before starting the slow, long walk to the starting line!
I’d like to say that this was a race where it all came together for me and the goals I had set were all reached and there were smiles all around…but, are you crazy?! It’s a marathon! Ha ha, and it knows how to humble you and make you respect it like no other race I’ve done. The race started in a yellow alert status meaning less than ideal race conditions but be careful and you’ll be ok. I personally started really well, maybe too well. My body felt good and I had a good pace but I wasn’t pushing it. I could feel it getting warmer and took my first water at the Mile 3 aid station, something I usually don’t do until Mile 6 on long runs. At Mile 5, a hearty shoutout from a fellow BibRaver, who was volunteering, gave me a very early energy boost. I mean, I literally felt the excitement rise up in me. And then there were all the spectators along the route. I feel I should address them all right here because they were amazing! So much support, so many funny and motivation signs, so many cheers and shouts, just an incredible feeling/moment/image for 26.2 miles throughout the city of Chicago. They truly know how to make you feel good even when things may not go right.
Above is a rare photo of me actually smiling while on the course and running. I never do this. One of the things I told myself heading into this race was to make sure I was smiling more and enjoying the experience and giving those on-course photographers smiles and not look-like-I’m-dying faces in their photos.
Now, back to the race. Somewhere in the early teen mile markers, the race went into a red alert status which meant dangerous weather conditions (the humidity had increased) and be extremely wary of dehydration and cramping and your body, in general. But I was still doing OK. I wasn’t feeling the humidity, I felt hydrated enough, and my legs were still holding strong. It wasn’t until Mile 18 where I started to feel soreness in my feet and my left lower back extending into my glute starting to talk to me. I’d say it was here where my race goals began to lean in the direction of harder to reach. But I kept plugging along. There were more stops for water and I began taking in Gatorade. I had had some pickle juice at Mile 8 (a decision I later felt was incorrect timing by me) and my Honey Stinger waffle.
Weird side note here: on long runs, I find that I don’t get hungry or I don’t feel like ingesting food even though every rational thought says I should and would need food.
Back to the race and my pursuit of glory, haha. The struggle started to hit at Mile 21, especially with my left side. And then I had some side cramps, something I never ever get when running, so that was just bizarre. Mile 23 led to some right quad spasms which slowed me some. But I managed another smile at the photo stop!
As I hit Mile 25, there was one more, last second energy boost provide by yet another BibRaver who was volunteering his time! Thank you so much! And then it was the finish! I’m proud to say I crossed the finish line in a time of 4:03:35! I had three goals going into this marathon but only achieved one of them. Goal #1 was to better my 2017 Chicago Marathon time which I did and by a very decent margin. Goal #2 was to get a sub-4 hour time. To be so close and not get it will sting for a while, for sure. A couple less walking water stops and I might have hit that goal. Goal #3 was to set a marathon PR which I knew coming in would be a long shot but sometimes that’s what your goals are supposed to be, otherwise they wouldn’t be special. But, bottom line, I’m a Chicago Marathon finisher for the second time!
A lot of good feelings finishing this race and some great photos as well to document it. So happy to have met some of my fellow BibRave members and gotten to talk to them. Happy that I came out of this marathon without any major injuries and my health intact. Just happy in general. And I made sure to celebrate that night after driving home.
Disclaimer: I received an entry to the Air Force Marathon 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!
So, my training for the Air Force Marathon half marathon has not been for naught! It just wasn’t utilized the way I expected it to. A few weeks back, the race went to an all virtual format. So…..that meant no traveling to Dayton, Ohio anymore since the race couldn’t take place in its normal course, the Wright-Patterson Air Force base. Federal regulations being stricter than normal city ordinances and whatnot made the race impossible to take place. So, I’ll be running my virtual half marathon sometime in the near future. But that doesn’t mean I sat on my butt this past Saturday, September 18, what would have been race day.
No, I chose to do a monster training run of 20+ miles to really tire out these legs, ha ha ha. The weather was nice and perfect for this type of run. My pace was right where I wanted it and my legs never died on me. It makes me extremely optimistic for when I take the plunge on my half marathon for the Air Force Marathon!
Disclaimer: I received a race entry to the Air Force Marathon 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!
The month of August has begun and my training runs for the Air Force Marathon continue each day. I will be running the half marathon distance in the race that takes place on September 18, 2021 in Dayton Ohio. I’ve been really looking forward to this race for a number of reasons, including the fact that it will be a travel race for me and it’s always exciting to visit somewhere new.
Now, as for my training…well, it’s been going up and down for the majority of the summer. I’ve been doing my best in keeping a variety of methods with preparing my body for the half distance. These include yoga, strength training, and, of course, runs of various distances. One thing I have NOT been doing a good job with: stretching and foam rolling. I can’t say that that has led to my issues in this cycle but I am confident that it didn’t help my situation. I had hoped performing yoga (and even that ended up getting missed for a few weeks) and doing more core strength work would help, but it only does so much.
So, on Father’s Day I ended up suffering a left hamstring pull or strain. Not sure how since I am very very good on being hydrated but I guess that day I just wasn’t enough. Maybe it was because I was rushing the run, I don’t know. What I do know is that my left hammy nagged and nagged for 10-12 days following where it limited my activity and none of my runs were in that time frame. Once it started feeling better (and that coincided with increased foam rolling…shocking, I know, haha) I picked up my miles for a week. Why just a week you ask? Well, because that’s when my RIGHT hamstring acted up, also for no real reason. It wasn’t as bad the left leg and I was able to smooth it over sooner. But then there was a camping vacation that took me away from training in general. I did get a couple long runs in there but it was still a pretty decent amount of time off.
So, as August starts to hit its stride, my hope is that I can get into a better flow of running and getting in those miles. But, even as I type that, I am cognizant of both my right and left toes hurting for an unknown reason. Not blister-hurt. More like they don’t want to flex and offer up some pain to the touch. Ugh….Anyway, I shall persevere and be ready to at least enjoy my time in Dayton.
Would you like to join me? Visit the Air Force Marathon website and register for your preferred distance! It isn’t too late and it you have already been training for a longer distance, you’re ready. If not, they offer up a 5K and 10K as well! Use code AFMBR21 to save 10% on your registration! I would love to see you there! And if you have any questions, please ask me and I will do my best to answer them.
So after running my first trail race in 3+ years in September, I thought why wait to do another one? I knew a friend who had signed up for this race, which had 5K and 10K options as well, and was doing the half marathon, so I was excited to sign up and run a race with her. This trail race, like the one I ran in September, did not disappoint. No Killer Hill’s this time but everything about it was pretty good. I’ll outline it all right here.
Course Scenery: The trails were beautiful to run on. This course was more dirt trail than grass field running, which I prefer. Many trees were in full fall foliage colors while the several pines had dropped needles throughout the trail making feel softer, if only to the imagination. There was some water that we ran around but it wasn’t easy to see much of through the trees. I also liked that this course stayed on trails and never crossed over any park roads. There were also some rustic old barns and sheds (probably used as county park facilities now) scattered along the course. Just gave it a nice feel.
Elevation Difficulty: Like I said above, no Killer Hill’s but, whoa, there were many ups and downs, several that were sharp inclines and steep declines where you had to be careful with your gait going down. And the one killer that did come, of course, was at the end of the half marathon portion of the course. No lie, it was a brutal, steep incline that led up to the final half mile remaining. My calves still remember it well, haha.
Aid Stations: Due to the COVID-19 virus and safety precautions, there were no water stations on the course and you were encouraged to bring your own water.
Expo Quality: No expo for the same safety reasons. Bib and packet pickup were accomplished one hour prior to the race at the race location itself.
Parking Access: Easy to find and right next to the starting point of the race. My only beef was that it was a county park but charged $5 for the parking. Not a fan of having to pay to park for a race.
T-Shirts/Swag: Nice long sleeve tech shirt and a cool looking medal for finishing. I COULD have gotten an age group medal too but I came up just short by one place. Boo!
Race Management: Another great job by Silver Circle Sports with organizing this race and keeping everyone safe with social distancing prior to the race. The packet pickup was quick and efficient. The race announcer had a lot of energy (and we needed it, so damp and chilly that morning) and made people laugh before their waves took off on the course. Great volunteers offering support and guidance on throughout the course as well. This group knows what they’re doing. I would recommend running any of the races they sponsor; they truly do a good job.
Any questions or comments, feel free to drop me a line!
Disclaimer: I received a $25 gift card to review Raley’s Supermarkets 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!
Now, that the Napa Valley Marathon is over it is NOT the time to neglect your body and all you did to prepare for that race. It’s been a week since you ran, so you need to make sure you not only rest but keep putting fuel into your body. Specifically, recovery fuel. And, yes, Raley’s can help you in that department as well. Visit their website to see how simple it is to find exactly what you’re looking for and how to spot it in the store. They have every category for you from Clean Label to Gut Health to Organic to Keto-Friendly. And everything in between too!
Post marathon is an important time for the body. There’s a lot of recovery going on so be sure to take advantage of Raley’s nutrition strategist who provides the necessary tips and information to make your marathon experience not only enjoyable on race day but afterwards as well. I mean, you need to prep for that next marathon!
I hope you take the time to visit Raley’s website and utilize all the free information, tips and advice they offer as well as visit the store and stock your pantry with some great products that fit whatever need you may have in your dietary lifestyle.
Disclaimer: I received a $25 gift card to review Raley’s Supermarkets role as a sponsor for the Napa Valley 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!
OK, raise your hand if you like grocery shopping. There’s never a “good” time to go and do it. There are always so many distractions of foods you need not be buying and then there’s the challenge of finding the right food for you. Throw in that you’re training for a race and need the right nutrition to supplement your hard work and it can be a nightmare! And that’s where a business like Raley’s comes into play. They sponsor the Napa Valley Marathon so they can better help their runners get associated with a healthy diet and the right foods to provide the energy they’ll need to have a successful race experience. So, how do they do it?
One of the best features the within the store itself offers is what it calls “Shelf Guide Icons” that are located throughout the store. Each of these icons makes it easier (and more time efficient) for you, the shopper, to get in and get out and get what you need. Some of the icons used include: Plant-Based, Organic, Keto Friendly, Clean Label, No Sugar Added, Carb Friendly, High in Protein and Gluten Free. Obviously, this make it easier for you to navigate quickly through the store and acquire the foods you need/want that will assist you in your race preparation.
Another amazing option provided by Raley’s is their Run Smart! nutritional campaign. They GIVE you the tips and suggestions to have a great race experience and how to properly train for the race, what to do to take care of yourself during the race and, finally, what you need to do at the completion of your race.
This is how you sponsor a race! Raley’s has it down pat and has your back for the Napa Valley Marathon. And, more importantly, they have your health on their mind. They are there to suggest, to help or just to assist in any way.
I suggest you take a look at some of my Bib Rave Pro friends who have also contributed blogs discussing the benefits of Raley’s Supermarkets and how they work hard to make your race day experience a great one.
What a race, what an event and what a city! OK, I knew the city was badass already before the race but this was my first visit to Las Vegas that wasn’t just for gambling and drinking. This had purpose and, therefore, I needed to behave and not get too involved with the excess that is Vegas. This is a race I’ve been excited to do for a while; a destination race that had been on my bucket list. And it did not disappoint! Running down the Strip with various bands playing all types of music from rock n roll to old Vegas crooners to Elvis classics, all with the bright neon lights brightening up the course was simply magical. The crowds on the Strip were lively with their cheers and the starting line was electric as each wave was released onto the course with a giant fire display pulsing up from the start line overhang.
EXPO QUALITY: The expo was easy to get to; just had to jump on the monorail and it dropped you off right by the Las Vegas Convention Center. I went on Friday afternoon and there was no line to get my bib so that was really quick. After that, I perused several rows of race merchandise and Brooks shoes too. Bought the special race designed Brooks Launch and a pair of the new Adrenaline GTS 20s since they were 15% off; couldn’t pass that up! I also grabbed a couple of other items in the merchandise area before heading out to the vendors. I need to make a racing list from this point forward as I realized at the expo I had forgotten a couple of items at home, so a new running belt for storage was needed as well as some fuel for the race. The forgetting of the fuel was more frustrating than anything since I had just restocked at home, but, oh well. Lots of vendors to go through, from Honey Stinger to Geico to Knockaround to many others. Lots of photo options as well in front of signs such as #StripatNight and Vegas Strong.
T-shirts/SWAG: A fun race shirt that was made to match whatever distance you were running for the race. The medal for the race was also pretty cool with a Strip design and at the top a spinning wheel that has the date of the race and the distance you competed at.
Parking Access: No parking really. But most people stayed on the Strip or nearby. And if you lived in the area, Uber/Lyft/taxis were suggested to use to get to the start line.
Aid Stations: The volunteers at the aid stations were 1005 awesome! Shouting out cheers and support at every one. Full of enthusiasm. They were one of the best parts of the entire race. Loud enough to know where water was, where Gatorade was, when there were gels or bananas., just so helpful.
Course Scenery: The Strip was awesome to run down and through, and even heading towards downtown Las Vegas was pretty nice, going past wedding chapels and some smaller casinos. There were some quiet parts on the course as well, not well-lit and more residential, but, where they could, the organizers put bands out in those places as well to keep you grooving.
Elevation Difficulty: Moderate if you did ran the marathon, none at all if you ran shorter distances. The marathon was the only distance that had elevation. When you headed away from the Strip the course had you run over the freeway system and circle back a few times so there were a couple of going uphill, but nothing too strenuous.
Race Management: Plenty of communication in the months leading up to the race. A lot of help at the expo answering questions. As I previously stated, the volunteers were amazing and prepped excellently. The starting line was smooth as was the Start Village, where all runners congregated prior to going into the corrals. The finish line was perfect with not every handout right next to one another; they provided space for you to collect yourself and your free items as you walked along to the exit point.
The Rock ‘n’ Roll Las Vegas Marathon was a great race, plain and simple. I had a blast and I would highly suggest that this be the race you aim to run in this series if only for the opportunity to run the Strip at night.
Well, this is going to be the most boring update you could ever possibly read. Ever since the wondrous month of April where I set personal bests in my marathon finish time and in my 5K finish time, I have done almost nothing in the last six weeks. I ran twice in the month of May, accumulating just over 13 miles for the month and so far zero miles for the month of June. Why? Because of what is likely a sports hernia.
No, I am not making a self-diagnosis here. I waited those first couple of weeks in May doing nothing and then attempted to run. After having pain and discomfort return almost immediately, I shelved myself again and made a doctor’s appointment. The doc did some tests and said it wasn’t a hernia as far as he could tell but that it was likely a sports hernia. I was also given the card of a hernia specialist if I wanted to be absolutely positive of the diagnosis. So, what have I been doing instead? Well, a lot more lifting with upper body (carefully) and some lower body (even more carefully), some bike riding at the gym and, finally, walking. Lots of walking.
Lots and lots of walking….
As you can see, I’ve tried to keep my humor up with these walks but it hasn’t been easy. It has been extremely frustrating and I am close to losing my mind. This is not how I envisioned my Madison Mini Marathon training taking place. I am not in the danger zone yet, but it is getting close to where I will not be prepared by mid-August for this half marathon (where I was greedily hoping to set another personal best.) It is Wednesday, June 12, today and I plan to run or attempt to run before the end of this week. This is mainly to see if I have healed enough. If I have not, then I plan to call the specialist to see what is going on and if I will be healed and ready to race by August. Worst case scenario then would be I could run it but it would be for fun and nothing else. Fingers will be crossed. I’m just really sick of walking at this point. And don’t let the smile fool you, haha.
If you’ve been running and training out there, maybe you’d like to race the Madison Mini Marathon this August! It isn’t too late to sign up! And if you use code BIBRAVE5 at checkout you will save $5 on your entry! Hopefully we will run this together!
If you have any thoughts or questions, feel free to ask or comment!!
Call me a believer in a product I didn’t think I needed and certainly never had a want for before having the opportunity to test it out. It’s a hydration vest. “Why would I want one of those?” “I can map out running routes to come across water fountains.” “I can bring a sport belt with water bottles attached to it if I want.” “This vest thing is going to be cumbersome and annoying bouncing around my body.” These are all phrases and questions I said at one time or another. This product review will explain why I was wrong and, to be frank, an idiot thinking that this was a piece of gear I didn’t need.
I will address each of my questions above to answer why an Orange Mud Gear Vest Pro is a great item to own. Yes, I can map out running routes that take me past multiple water fountains, but wouldn’t it be nice to venture down new paths without being concerned about where necessary hydration will come from. And this vest makes it possible to carry plenty of water for marathon training runs. The included bladder fits 35oz of liquid and you can add a 500mL bottle and a 600mL bottle to the front pockets on the vest.
Why wear this when I can wear a sports belt that hold water bottle as well as everything else I may need: driver’s license/ID, energy chews, reserve battery charger for phone, energy waffles, etc. If you check out the picture above here, you will see the answer for my ID and charger. A zippered pouch right in the middle that is out of the way but completely secure leaving me no worries of anything falling out or being in the way if I am trying to pull out energy chews/waffles. And where am I putting those items? The two pictures below show the front access pockets that can be used for those items. In the first photo, I am using one of the extra water bottle pockets to store my energy waffle. The second picture shows one of two over the shoulder velcro pouches that held my energy chews. Both easily accessible and my fuel remained intact and not mushed down.
ADDED BONUS MOMENT: On the top clip in the front of the Orange Mud Gear Vest Pro is a whistle. Yes, I said whistle. When using this vest in the early mornings or late evenings, what better option to include in the makeup of the vest itself. Scare away coyotes (or other aggressive animals) while using your pocket space for pepper spray if desired.
The final question/concern was why would I want something bulky filled with water bouncing around as I ran? The fact is that it IS NOT bulky and bouncing around your back. Honestly, every time I have worn the hydration pack, I haven’t even noticed it being there. It isn’t on too tight but it also doesn’t flop around when running or when trying to get a sip of water. It has been the perfect complement to my runs and other gear options I take with me on long runs. I truly do love this product and am glad I had the opportunity to test it out.
Still on the fence about trying out the Gear Vest Pro? Give them a try while saving some of your money by using code “BIBRAVEGVPRO” to get 15% off any Orange Mud product! And have faith in what you are buying! Orange Mud provides great customer service and backs their products. Manufacturing defect? Lifetime replacement. Have an accident with your pack? Leave it on the top of the car and take off? They understand and will offer a replacement at a “fair charge.” Also on their website are guidelines and suggestions for proper care and cleaning of their packs and bladders.
I hope you have found this product review of the Orange Mud Gear Vest Pro to be helpful and useful in guiding you to getting your own hydration pack if you were in the market for one. Solid product, solid company!
Should you have any questions or comments, please feel free to drop me a line and I’ll be sure to get back to you!