Milwaukee Marathon Training: Weeks 5-8

Disclaimer: I received free entry to the Milwaukee Marathon race 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!

Here is another update to the training I have been completing throughout the weeks leading up to what will be my fourth marathon. It’s been up and down with my miles and the unexpected trip that I had to take, which was completed at the start of this week. So, here goes with the details of my training! Oh, and remember to use code “RUN15” to save 15% on your race entry, any distance!!

WEEK 5 – January 14 – January 20

MONDAY: Flew home from CT

TUESDAY: 42 minutes of yoga, 46 minute shoulder workout, 35 minutes on the treadmill for 4.4 miles

WEDNESDAY: 35  min abs workout, 20 min treadmill for 2.66 miles

THURSDAY: 43 min back workout, 23 min elliptical

FRIDAY: 111 min outdoor run for 12.46 miles

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SATURDAY: Shoveled Snow

SUNDAY: Samson Stomp 5K for 3.26 miles

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TOTAL MILES: 22.78 miles

WEEK 6 – January 21 – January 27

MONDAY: 40 min chest workout, bike for 20 minutes

TUESDAY: 43 min yoga, 31 min treadmill for 3.79 miles

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WEDNESDAY: Shoveled snow

THURSDAY: 40 min arm workout, 12 min treadmill for 1.47 miles

FRIDAY:  126 min very cold outdoor run for 12.83 miles

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SATURDAY: 5 min elliptical, 35 min shoulder workout, 20 min treadmill for 2.49 miles

SUNDAY: Rest Day

TOTAL MILES: 20.58 miles

WEEK 7 – January 28 – February 3

MONDAY: Shoveled snow for 80 minutes

TUESDAY: 45 min of yoga, 51 min back workout, 26 min bike, 32 min treadmill for 4.02 miles

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WEDNESDAY: -30 degree temps had me stay home

THURSDAY: 50 min chest workout, 20 min bike, 34 min treadmill for 4.29 miles

FRIDAY: 30 min arm workout, 18 min elliptical, 10 min abs workout

SATURDAY: 142 min outdoor run for 14 miles

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SUNDAY: Rest Day

TOTAL MILES: 22.31 miles

WEEK 8 – February 4 – February 10

MONDAY: 50 min leg workout, 15 min treadmill for 1.75 miles

TUESDAY: 47 min of yoga, 33 min treadmill for 3.94 miles

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WEDNESDAY: 55 min back workout, 32 min bike, 20 min elliptical, shoveled snow

THURSDAY: 30 min shoulder workout, 30 min treadmill for 3.80 miles

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FRIDAY: 22 min bike, 24 min treadmill for 2.81 miles

SATURDAY: 151 minute outdoor run for 15.05 miles

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SUNDAY: Rest Day

TOTAL MILES: 27.35 miles

And there you have it. I’m not where I would like to be and the last two weeks’ long runs were not very good. Poor would be the best word to describe them. I had a tired leg feeling on both of them and that is not a good thing. Training is smack in the middle and here I am wanting a break. Thankfully, it doesn’t seem to be injury related so that is the one positive. But April 6 is still coming no matter what and I need to be ready for the Milwaukee Marathon.

Any questions about my training, feel free to ask!! Happy running!

2019 Samson Stomp n Romp 5K Review: Better Late than Never

Another year of running the Samson Stomp n Romp 5K and another year where Mother Nature decided to show off who’s the boss in winter time. Two weeks prior to this race, the temperatures were in the 40s and there was sunshine. The morning before the race, there was a snow storm that brought in 7 inches of snow and then a freeze blew into the area. Race start temperatures? 3 degrees. With a breeze. Ugh!!

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This year I had to give the race management a five star rating. Why? Sure, there were plenty of reminders to sign up for the race via e-mail and all social media channels as well as the necessary information for packet pickup. But more importantly, the zoo grounds crew staff had this course almost spotless for a hug stretch of it. If I didn’t live nearby, I wouldn’t have guessed that it had snowed so much the day before. Amazing work! Also, with your registration you received free parking and free access to the zoo for the day, so go run and then have some fun!
I give five stars to the aid stations not because I needed to use it, but, because they were out there, offering water and cheering runners on. That is some incredible volunteer work. Standing, not running, around and cheering. Brave souls to do that in three degree weather.
The swag was the customary t-shirt that they have every year but this year it was a bit underwhelming with a weak front design and nothing on the back. The gorilla overall and age-place awards are cool (my yet to be achieved goal) but not everyone gets one of those so I can’t include that in my opinion of the swag.
Nothing for the expo because there isn’t one; just packet pickup.

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The course scenery was fun as usual but was a little sparse compared to normal. I imagine the ice cold temps kept some of the animals inside, but there were still enough of them outside to look at while running by. Also, this course, for just being a 5K, always challenges me with the various elevation changes from going up to down and then the finish which goes uphill as well. A challenge that is always fun to take on.

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All in all, it was another chilly Samson Stomp but I will crazily be back next year, I am sure. I mean, I need another chance to get one of those gorilla trophies!

Milwaukee Marathon Training: Weeks 1-4

Disclaimer: I received free entry to the Milwaukee 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!

Here I am, plugging away at training for the April 6, Milwaukee Marathon and building up those miles. There have been some bumps in the road so far (no pun intended), but nothing too crazy. Just scheduling issues that have caused some runs to be shorter than intended. I also have been having trouble skimming back my lifting at the gym and giving that time to running, although it would be treadmill running and let’s be honest, that sucks. So here is what I’ve been up to the last four weeks. Dates will be included. Also, if interested (and you should be), join me in the full marathon or the half marathon or even the 5K and use code “RUN15” to save 15% off of your entry!

WEEK 1: DECEMBER 17 – DECEMBER 23 

MONDAY: Biceps and triceps workout for 42 minutes; 23 minute treadmill run for 2.54 miles

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TUESDAY: Yoga Class; 30 minute treadmill run for 3.53 miles

WEDNESDAY: Shoulder/traps workout for 43 minutes; 22 minutes on the elliptical

THURSDAY: 56 minute back workout; no cardio

FRIDAY: Long Run Day: 1 hour 50 minutes for 12.49 miles, outdoors

SATURDAY: 30 minute chest workout; no cardio

SUNDAY: Rest Day

TOTAL MILES: 18.57

 

WEEK 2: DECEMBER 24 – DECEMBER 30

MONDAY: 31 minute treadmill run for 3.54 miles

TUESDAY: Christmas Day equals Rest Day

WEDNESDAY: 48 minute treadmill run for 6 miles

THURSDAY: Biceps/Triceps workout plus 30 minutes on the bike (forgot orthotics)

FRIDAY: 16 minute abs workout; 20 minutes on treadmill for 2.33 miles

SATURDAY: Time constricted long run: 91 minutes for 10.13 miles

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SUNDAY: Rest Day

TOTAL MILES: 22.02

WEEK 3: DECEMBER 31 – JANUARY 6

MONDAY: 52 minute leg workout; 10 minutes on the gym bike

TUESDAY: 33 minutes on the treadmill for 4 miles

WEDNESDAY: 35 minute chest workout; 13 minute treadmill run for 1.71 miles

THURSDAY: 40 minute back workout; 16 minutes bike

FRIDAY: 35 minute shoulder/trap workout: 20 minute treadmill run for 2.33 miles

SATURDAY: Long Run Day: 138 minute outdoor run for 14.60 miles

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SUNDAY: Rest Day

TOTAL MILES: 22.66 

WEEK 4: JANUARY 7 – JANUARY 13

MONDAY: 47 minute biceps/triceps workout and 17 minutes on the treadmill for 2.05 miles

TUESDAY: Yoga plus 33 minutes on treadmill for 3.92 miles

WEDNESDAY: 35 minute back workout; 20 minutes on the elliptical

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THURSDAY: 45 minute chest workout; had to fly out of town that afternoon

FRIDAY: 90 minute outdoor run for 10.13 miles

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SATURDAY: Rest Day

SUNDAY: 84 minute run for 9.62 miles

TOTAL MILES: 25.72

So this represents my first four weeks of training for the Milwaukee Marathon that is scheduled for April 6. I know I need to increase the mileage and decrease the time spent lifting weights. Always hard for me mentally to commit to that routine but if I want positive results in the marathon, I need to step it up with my training. And remember: code “RUN15” gets you 15% off your race entry!

What do you do for your first few weeks of marathon training? And how much strength training do  you do, if at all?

Please feel free to comment; I would love to hear your thoughts/opinions!

Happy Running!

 

 

 

 

I Signed Up for the Milwaukee Marathon!

Disclaimer: I received free entry to the Milwaukee 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, I’m  not gonna throw any bunk your way and tell you lies or make you think I’m ignorant. I truly am excited for the Milwaukee Marathon in April, 2019. And the biggest reason I’m excited? It will be my fourth marathon but it will also be my first in the state I now call home. I feel like it should have been the first but, alas, it was not. But here I am now with the opportunity to run this race as a BibRavePro (and I did choose the distance; I could have picked the half or the 5K if I wanted), and I want others to join me and see all that Milwaukee and its surrounding suburbs have to offer to the visiting public. I will also freely admit that I picked this race because it is near where I live and, honestly, it will  be nice to sleep in my own bed the night before a marathon. No surprises, just wake up and head on down to the start line. That’s going to feel real good come race morning. Then there is the fact that I can train in some of the same neighborhood’s where the course takes place. I like knowing what to expect or at least have a general idea of what type of elevation I can expect to encounter out there.

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I plan to keep you updated (and myself accountable) with a training log this time around. I won’t be crazy in depth but will include everything I am doing as the race gets closer and closer. But I won’t be punctual…since training has already started so I owe you two blogs to cover the last two weeks. I will only be getting in 16 weeks of training due to my erred judgment in how much time there was until April 6. Oh well. I am putting more effort and concentration into it this time.

Another reason you should think about joining me for the Milwaukee Marathon on April 6? Well, how about that swag that comes with this race. If you do the half marathon or the full (with me) you will receive a sweet quarter zip fleece and a tech tee! If you do just the 5K, you will receive only the tech tee.

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What about a medal you ask? They have never disappointed in the past and I don’t see that happening this year. It really is a nice one!

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And of course, there will be…..

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The post race party might be what I am looking forward to the most and not because of the free beer you receive at the finish. No, this year the party will be held at the Milwaukee Bucks’ new arena’s, the Fiserv Forum, outdoor gathering place! Screen Shot 2018-12-31 at 10.26.55 PM

So, lots of exciting aspects to the Milwaukee Marathon in Milwaukee on April 6, 2019! And, most importantly, when you sign up for your preferred distance be sure to use code “RUN15” to save 15% on your entry!!! Don’t miss out and be sure to follow my blog not only for my training updates but to see what else the Milwaukee Marathon can offer you!

Happy Running!!

Product Review: Let’s Go Zwifting!

Disclaimer: I received a Zwift RunPod 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, you’re probably wondering what the heck I’m talking about when I say, “let’s go zwifting!” Well, I don’t blame you. The word sounds bizarre but, then again, so is the concept until you use it and then everything changes! How much does a run on a treadmill suck? Let’s be honest, running by yourself or even in a gym on a treadmill is boring. There’s nothing to really drive you other than maybe a goal you have if you’re really training for something. How often do you find yourself competing with a fellow runner at the gym? Ah, I got you on that one, didn’t I? The Zwift RunPod and its corresponding apps provide an amazing experience that totally changes the “boring” treadmill run.

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First, the basics: what you will need. You will need a RunPod (attached to my shoe above) and you will need to attach it to your running shoe in approximately the same place as mine. You will need access to a treadmill. And you will need a device to use Zwift, the program, such as a iPhone, tablet, PC, etc. Once you have all that established and the Zwift app and Zwift companion app downloaded,  you will be able to join other runners around the world running together. Yes, around the world. Screen Shot 2018-12-30 at 11.01.57 PM

Put the battery in your Zwift RunPod, attach it to your shoe and start running on a treadmill. This will enable you to pair your pod with whatever device you have downloaded the app on and will also calibrate the pod to match your strides. Then you are all set to join a group run or just run on your own. Some of the group runs take place in London (which is really cool) and others take place in a fictional land called Watopia. Ok, that may sound odd but where else can you run past and through an active volcano?

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This was one of several screenshots that I took during the course of my run on this particular day. Now, I’ve done a few solo runs and enjoyed them but I was curious as to what a group run might like. So, using the Zwift companion app where there are listings for the group runs (various distances, locations) I found one and entered its queue. Then, you wait. Or, as in my case, I jumped into a solo run just to pass the time until the start. They even provide you with a countdown so everyone can join in. Like I said, runners from around the world compete with you on the same course.

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After the group run is finished and you’ve completed the distance, you are able to see how well you performed among all the other runners who joined the group. This is actually one of the best things I like about Zwift. It really did turn my treadmill run (or as we all call it, the “dreadmill”) into something more engaging and exciting. I was into my run and that’s not always the case on the treadmill.

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Now, with the pics I’ve posted here you probably noticed that my avatar is wearing the same thing in all of them. That’s because I wasn’t able to really venture into too many different styles because I hadn’t run enough with the pod yet. The more you run, the more you unlock for your personal avatar. More clothes, colors, haircuts, styles and more. Just another really cool way Zwift keeps you involved and entertained is what it normally a stagnant treadmill run.

Also, there are so many other great features of the Zwift RunPod. You can create a running meetup with a Zwift companion (just like any social media app, you find friends.) You can import custom running workouts should you be training for a specific distance. You can create a custom workout for yourself and then you can add it into a custom training program. All within the app and with the pod. You can chat with runners if you like and, who knows, maybe you’ll make some new running friends who join you every morning or evening on a virtual run together. That’s the power and awesomeness of the Zwift Runpod and app. Screen Shot 2018-12-27 at 10.26.49 PM

Definitely check out the Zwift website and if you like what you see, then use code BibRave15″ good for 15% off the cost of the Zwift RunPod at Zwift.com. It is good for 1000 Pods only though.

If  you have any questions, don’t hesitate to reach out or if you just have some comments. I’d love to hear from you!

As always, happy running!

Race Review: Drumstick Dash 5K

Another Thanksgiving morning, another Drumstick Dash 5K in Milwaukee! Even though it’s usually windy or bitterly cold, I do enjoy this race and the fact it supports Feeding America, an organization that helps provide food for people who may not be able to afford it. Like the race motto says, “Move your feet so others can eat!” Bonus this year for folks who didn’t want to run a full 5K was the addition of the Half a Drumstick 2K.

Swag: Each year of this race they have always provided a long sleeve t-shirt, until this year. This year they went with a thin layered hoodie. I have to say that I have loved the t-shirts but the hoodie is a nice change of pace. The swag area though is why I don’t give this race a full five stars. I really wish they would provide a medal. I see so many other Turkey Day races giving medals, why can’t this one?

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Aid Stations: They provide one halfway through with water, which is plenty. It’s easily accessible as you run by and the volunteers are awesome and there are a lot of them there ready to hand you a cup. At the finish you receive a water, banana and a cookie.

Course Scenery: Always a fun race as you run around Miller Park and the surrounding neighborhood and then across the pedestrian bridge that connects the parking lots to the stadium.

Expo Quality: Small. It is located in the club lounge at Miller Park. There is packet pickup, obviously. There are a few cutouts to take pictures with and a couple of vendors. There was another Vision Management race set up to sign up for if you wanted to. Also a table for last minute registration was available.

Elevation: There is one substantial hill at the start. After that there are some rolling areas with small ups and downs. The final push to the finish line also as a decent incline.

Parking: Free! Miller Park parking lots are open for all cars, racers or just viewers.

Race Management: They do a great job with email updates and on Facebook/Instagram as well. No way you miss any information as they post often as race day gets closer.

 

Happy running!!

Orange Mud Transition Towel and Seat Wrap Product Review

Disclaimer: I received an Orange Mud Transition Towel and Seat Wrap 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!

I have to start out by saying that I’ve seen people use these before at races and I was very excited at the opportunity to test it and review it. With high expectations, it has not disappointed me at all. 100% has served its purpose for me, with still more chances to be used in the future. I’ll start with the basics first. It’s 30″ by 60″ in size and made form Terry cloth, cotton. So soft. It uses an impact resistant polymer clip that attaches to laser cut belt when you are using it as the transition towel. And if you think about getting one for yourself, it comes with a 1-year warranty. Now for the awesome uses of the Orange Mud Transition Towel and Seat Wrap.

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Nothing worse than the post race or post workout changing towel falling or constantly slipping off your body as you attempt to get out of sweaty clothes into something more comfortable. The transition towel makes this easy and risk-free. Simply wrap it around you and use the clip to attach to the belt loops and you’re all set. And don’t feel scared that it will fall off even if it doesn’t feel like it attached properly; I double and triple checked after wrapping it around me the first time because it seemed like I hadn’t gotten it to be secure. Such a great product, I even fooled myself! Makes changing a piece of cake.

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(photo courtesy of Orange Mud’s website)

The best use, for me so far, has been the seat wrap option that it provides. Wow. Awesome. Perfect. Much needed! This probably got me more excited than it should have but I hate hate hate dealing with sweaty workout clothes, especially after going hard at the gym, and then sitting in my car and bringing the smell into the seat. Ugh! Sure, just put a regular towel in there but then you need to change it out over and over. I found that the Orange Mud Transition Towel and Seat Wrap lasts longer and the smell fades as long as you air it out some. This is been a great addition to all the running gear I own. It’s simple but so useful and needed.

And it was relatively easy to attach to the car seat. Simply zip it up and wrap it around the headrest of the seat, drape it down and over the chair and when you sit down, it stays put.

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(photo courtesy of Orange Mud)

One more benefit to the transition towel/seat wrap: it’s most simplest use of all. When in a bind or if  you’re just forgetful, it can be used as a….surprise, towel! Soft material and very effective at drying you off, as you would imagine it would be. No fibers are left behind on your skin and after you use it for that you can still wrap your seat in it if need be.

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Washing it was no problem either. Wash in cold water and dry cool. Boom. Done. Simple. You shouldn’t wait to have one of these yourself. And I have a code right now for you to use. Go to the site for Orange Mud, place your order and use code “OMTRX” to save 15% off. Don’t wait!

Any questions, please feel free to ask! And happy running as always!

I Ran the New York City Marathon!

Oh boy, it’s taken me some time to finally write about this run, this event, this marathon. So much to take in that day. The start. The race. The grind. The finish. Everything was so amazing. If you like there is a version of a race review for you at BibRave.com. Check it out and other races I’ve reviewed should you have interest in trying them out! So, from here, let’s start from the beginning.

Saturday was my day to visit the expo and, wow, what a fun time that was! So many vendors to browse through. The excitement of picking up my bib. The great gear at the New Balance satellite store. And finding my name on the runner’s wall in the Bronx section! (Appropriate being a Yankees fan)

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Sleeping that night was difficult but the night before a race is always tough for me. Too gigged up. I had all of my gear ready rock the next day, even my AfterShokz Trekz Air, although I wasn’t sure I would even use them. (I didn’t)

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And then the morning came and quickly. I managed to wake up, eat and get dressed. I hustled down to catch the subway but just missed it. So I had to wait 16 minutes for the next one, which in turn made me miss my slotted Staten Island Ferry time. Good thing they weren’t being strict about that (which I had heard the day before they were not) and I was able to jump on one just as I got off the train when I did arrive at the ferry station. After the hour long ferry ride, there was another line to wait in; this time for the bus to be carted over to the start line village.

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The starting line village was impressive. I wasn’t expecting all the amenities besides the usual bag check area and porto potty’s, which there were plenty of those! No, there was several tables set up with various services and sponsors. Bagels to fuel up as well as Gatorade gels lined up to eat then or grab for the race. Dunkin Donuts provided coffee. Another table had hot chocolate for people. And there were medical tents set up for any last minute wraps or creams, etc that may be needed for the runners. Really cool. After munching on a bagel and a small water, I made my way to my starting corral.

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After some time to stretch and loosen up , we started to move our way to the start line. We then were revved up by the announcer as everyone was just all jazzed up to get moving across the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge. And, after a loud booming blast, we were off and running. I knew the bridge was going to be slow going for the start so I took it easy and snapped off a couple of pics just for the memory of the moment.

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Once coming down from the bridge into Brooklyn, the race was on! I enjoyed every minute of it. Going through all those city streets with so many people screaming and shouting was so motivating. Each time you moved onto a new borough you had someone yelling out welcome to wherever (I distinctly recall a woman welcoming me to Queens and a DJ welcoming everyone into the Bronx.) The weather was nice and I had a good pace until mile 19 when I suffered some pain in my inner hamstring. That caused me to have to pause along the rest of the way (usually on inclines) and stretch out the area. That ended up costing me some time and ultimately the mental goal I had set for myself; not by much but I still missed it because of these stops.

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And then the greatest part of the race (of any race, right?) was heading into Central Park and going for that finish line. What a moment! What a feeling! All those people again cheering wildly giving that extra push and motivation. Seeing friends and family along the route was a thrill and exciting and just so supportive. Crossing the finish line was a wonderful feeling and I certainly grabbed that right away.

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I was exhausted. I left a little something on those streets, I can honestly say that. I lowered my head to accept a well-earned medal. Then it was a struggle stretching out some of those muscles as I walked along to pick up my post race bag of water, etc and then further down to get my personal bag since I used the bag check option. After that was when I started to cool down from the race. The sun was setting and that added to the chill. I had my heat wrap but that only does so much. I sat for a brief moment so I could give my back a stretch before heading out of the park. What a day, what a day.

If you are given the chance to run the New York City Marathon, do not pass it up. The only reason not to run would be because of injury. Otherwise, just for the experience, you owe it to do it if possible. I’m so glad I was given the opportunity to run this race. Lifetime moment for sure, and when else am I going to get my name in the New York Times!

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Happy running!

2018 Urban Bourbon Race Recap

Disclaimer: I received a free entry to the Urban Bourbon Half Marathon race 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!

Where to begin?! The Urban Bourbon Half Marathon presented by Jim Beam was a bucket list race after I heard so many positive stories about the race itself, the post race party and the race management team. And it did not disappoint at all! The city of Louisville was a great host as well but more on that near the end. First, an interesting disclaimer on the race: you must be 21 or older to run it due to all the fabulous bourbon tasting that occurs, and that’s just part of your registration. No added costs!

There were two options for packet pickup. One was to go to the PNC Club at Cardinals Stadium where there were multiple vendors, free bourbon tasting and a chance to take a photo in front of the race logo backdrop. The second option, which was provided to me by the Urban Bourbon management team, led by Michael Clemons, was a VIP pickup at the downtown Louisville Jim Beam Urban Stillhouse.

There was a live bluegrass band, the Tavern Travelers, who were lively and really cool just having there adding to the atmosphere. There was a nice spread of hors d’oeuvres and the option to have bourbon cocktails. After some friendly mingling with BibRavePros Frank and Emily, we all went down to the Taste of History experience where you get to sample four unique bourbons while learning a little about them as well as being taught the proper way to sip and taste bourbon.

We also received a special commemorative shot glass for attending the event, so that was an added bonus. Fun fact about the Stillhouse: they have an actual working bottling line going through the place.

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After saying goodbye to Frank and Emily, I went out to get a bite to eat, carb up if you will, and then head back to my hotel to lay out the flat me for the Urban Bourbon in the morning.

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Race morning was chilly with a bit of mist floating through the air, but it wouldn’t last. The mist would eventually vanish and the sun would come out. Before that though, I dropped my bag off at gear check and met up with Pros Emily, Frank and Corey for a pre race photo.

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Of course it’s always all smiles BEFORE the run, lol. The start of the race was led off by a beautiful rendition of the Star Spangled Banner by the official bugler of the Kentucky Derby. Gave me chills hearing it as everyone was mentally preparing for the start.

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The course itself takes you through a portion of downtown Louisville before heading to the suburbs (of sorts) and then you hit some hills around miles 7 – 10 as you wind your way in Cherokee Park. This is one of the best parts of the race. The park was beautiful and I had the luck of running through it just as the sun was really starting to rise. The lighting that lit up the grass and created some beautiful gleams through the trees was quite mesmerizing. Eventually the course brings you back to the starting point and after you cross the finish line you are then pushed out just before the entertainment district of Fourth Street Live. I ran a good race but I am left to wonder if it could have been better. I kept my pace steady but also safe leading into those hills that started at mile 7. I might have psyched myself out into being too careful and that cost me the chance at a PR for a half marathon. That being said, I finished the race strong. So strong that I never stopped running throughout the entire course and had ample energy to make a big burst over the finish line. I have to say that my training runs leading up to this race had not felt this good at any point. These photos here from J.A. Laub Photography pretty much show what I’m talking about.

I mean, I’m smiling. That NEVER happens, lol! I crossed and received my medal but totally missed the Urban Bourbon logo backdrop for my finisher photo. Ugh! Luckily I found another spot to get a nice shot.

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And then it was time to party! And what a post race party it was! Just great, I mean really great. Bourbon Bash excitement! The wristband I received for signing up provided me with LOTS of goodies. For starters, there was live music by the Louisville Crashers and they opened up the place big time. Lot of energy; the lead singer even came out among the crowd multiple times getting people gigged up, both in front of the stage and even behind it.

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Now after a half marathon, you tend to be a little famished and the Urban Bourbon provided some great options. There was pizza, Kentucky burgoo (a type of stew/chili would be the best way to describe it) and some Falls City beer. Oh, and let me not forget the four bourbon samplings you could have from many choices that were spread out around Fourth Street.

This post race party is the best I have ever attended following any race. There is a reason the Urban Bourbon Half Marathon was rated the #1 half marathon in the United States: all and everything above, from the very start with race management and their communication to the beautiful course and then the finisher of this party. During my rounding up of food and beverages, I was able to find Frank and Emily again so we could capture that ultimate photo: the one with the medals.

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And about those medals, easily one of the coolest medals out there for a race. Also, you receive a unisex long sleeve tech shirt and the option to get a commemorative bottle of white label Jim Beam with a special Urban Bourbon Half Marathon touch to it.

Great swag coming from a great race. Can’t be beat. Now, as I mentioned above, time to praise Louisville. I made sure to give myself a couple extra days to check out some tourist type spots. I enjoyed every minute of my visits to the Louisville Slugger Museum, the Louisville Zoo, Mega Cavern and the brief stop at Churchill Downs. All reasons to make a return trip to Louisville to see more AND run the Urban Bourbon Half Marathon again! Oh yes, I plan to return!

Have you ever run the Urban Bourbon Half Marathon? If so, did you enjoy it too? Are you planning to run it if you haven’t yet? Please feel free to comment!

Happy running!

Race Review: Illinois Marathon

Disclaimer: I received free entry to the Christie Clinic Illinois Marathon race as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review find and write race reviews!!

What to say about my experience at the Illinois Marathon? It started out not so good but that was all on me. I left my house about two hours later than I had intended which made me get stuck into some nasty traffic more than once on the way. What should have been a three and a half hour trip turned into a four hour and forty-five minute trip and left me dangerously close to missing the designated packet pickup time. Thankfully, I got to the on-campus center where the expo was being held to pick up my bib and grab a pic or two. But, as you can see, the expo was really wrapping up and I missed all of the fun and informative stuff. Bummed about that but call it another lesson in traveling to a race, something I am still a relative rookie at doing so far.

I enjoyed what was left of the expo and did have the chance to talk to a few of the race representatives for some other local races in Champaign. It was brief and not as memorable as I would have liked, but, some is better than none. After the expo, I then headed to my hotel to check in and find a place to eat. This was not the best way to start my marathon night experience. By the time I found a place to eat that didn’t have too long of a wait, it was 8:45pm. I had dinner, got back to the hotel and wasn’t falling asleep until close to midnight. Why was I up so late you may ask? Because of being behind all day, I wasn’t even race prepped at all. So I got everything ready to attempt to make the morning run a little smooth.

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But, of course, I then proceeded to sleep like crap. Tossed and turned and woke up once around 3am. Nothing like going into your second ever marathon on a restless night of sleep. Eventually my alarm went off and I was up and getting dressed for the race. Thank goodness for the abundance of parking at the start line area. The line of cars to get in moved smoothly and swiftly. Where for one moment I thought I was going to be late, then there was no worry at all and I had plenty of spare time to check my bag, stretch out some and get into my corral.

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I was in corral F and it took about 20 minutes for us to move up and get into the front of the line. Oddly enough, somehow I ended up at the actual front of our corral; something that never happens. And then we were off! I had a great start. And that was after overcoming the weird feeling of something missing from the start. But that was just me. My only previous marathon experience was the Chicago Marathon and that was crazy noisy and boisterous crowds for miles. I remembered not turning on my music until mile 16. Here, it was amazing how the cheering and yelling at the start line just slowly disappeared about 300 yards down the road. Not completely quiet but definitely a difference. That being said, there was plenty of crowd support with families cheering on the side and students from the University of Illinois as well. There were DJ’s, rock bands, country bands and even a violinist at the split mark for the half and full marathon points. Plenty of aid stations with water and Gatorade. A couple of gel stations were sprinkled in as well with two orange stations. The volunteers were great! So supportive and helpful; they were the cheering section I needed at the end. I loved when running through the residential neighborhoods and there are folks offering up beer to drink; always cracks me up. And I’ll tell you what, I was ready to have one but I was making incredible time on my run and didn’t want to risk botching it up.

As the race went on and mile 6 became mile 13, I was still doing really well. Too well as it would turn out, but that didn’t rear its head until later. I was still averaging 8:33/mile at the 16 mile point which is really good for me. It wasn’t until mile 22 that things slowed down and my right hip started aching a little bit. By the end of the race, my hip was not happy but I muscled up enough energy and power through to the finish line and set a PR for myself. By almost 28 minutes!!! And I was able to break 4 hours too, which was my main goal.

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I was more than happy with my performance with this race and how manageable the course was for me to navigate and dominate (at least for my level). The post race spread of food was awesome as well. Choices of chips, pizza, pasta with rolls and chocolate milk along with water were all available. And then the Riggs Beer Company beer for runners. I went with their IPL and it was awesome!Screen Shot 2018-05-07 at 11.39.15 PM

All in all, I had a great time with this race. The Illinois Marathon knows how to do it and do it well. They blended the full, the half and the 10K runners into one course at the same time (for the most part) and it was flawless in its operation. Would I run this race again? Hell yes. The full again? Perhaps. The half would be a fun challenge as well I think. You owe it to yourself to give this race a shot and earn yourself a sweet medal and maybe even a PR!

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Did you run this year’s race? Have you run it in the past? I would love to hear your thoughts or respond to any comments or questions you may have about it!

Happy running!!