Droppin FBOMBS

FBOMB Nut Butter Product Review

“Disclaimer: I received FBOMB nut butter 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!”

By now you should all know I have been a BibRave Pro for over 5 years, and with that comes some fun things to test out. Enter – FBOMB nut butters! I had to opt in to try these out.

I know you are probably asking what the heck is this? Well it’s not really a bad word, but it is fun to say you dropped an FBOMB. This is a nut butter – you know like that childhood favorite you spread with jam on some bread? However, this is in a convenient little pouch that you can take with you and these are made with macadamia nuts!!

I received the FBOMB Nut Butter Variety Pack. The zippered case (hooray for  a reusable case) included 4 pouches of 4 different flavors: salted chocolate macadamia, macadamia with coconut, macadamia with sea salt and macadamia pecan with sea salt.

The first thing I noticed is that each package contains at least 200 calories. Which may seem alarming, but these are designed to be a snack to fuel you. “Fat is smart fuel.” The other thing I noticed on the packaging is the ingredients – they are all things you can pronounce and mainly nuts and sea salt. The chocolate one has a little more to it. They also specify food allergies.

Next I had to choose which one to try first. I love macadamia nuts, so it was just a matter of going with a basic flavor first or something more exotic?

I went with the salted chocolate and put it on toast. I could have just ate it from the package, but I also needed to eat breakfast. I started by kneading the pouch, then I ripped the top off and it easily flowed out onto my toast.

That first bite was very delicious!! It really had a lot of flavor or taste to it. Since the first slice of toast, I have been dressing up my breakfast with sprinkles!

I tried all the flavors, and I like them all. I would say that the coconut is the most pronounced.

I enjoy nut butters on apples and bananas, makes for a great afternoon snack. However I stopped at a produce market on the side of the road and the farmer said I needed to try his banana peppers with peanut butter on them. I thought that was a strange suggestion, but I knew just the nut butter for the job. Here went nothing… and you know what? It was delicious!! It reminded me of putting it on celery.

I am now at the point where I only have 4 pouches left, one of each flavor and I am scared to eat them, because then they are all gone. However, I could order online using code BRP10 for 10% off a Nut Butter Variety Pack (16-Count) “BRP10” https://www.dropanfbomb.com 

These are a convenient way to snack, they fit easily in a pocket or purse to take with you. They are a great topping on a fruit or perfect on their own. Don’t let the calories scare you as they offer a great way to snack without artificial ingredients and added sugar.

I will continue to drop an FBOMB! Keep up with them on twitter or instagram

Completing the Illini-Badger Challenge

Madison Mini Marathon 2019 – Race Review

“Disclaimer: I received entry into the Madison Mini 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!”

It was finally time to head back to Madtown. I am pretty sure I have wrote about running more in Madison than in Iowa City. Honestly, when there are no sporting events, it’s a great place to be. In fact this would be my 5th Madison Mini.

Josh and I hopped in the car on Friday afternoon, for the 3 hour trip… a 3 hour tour….Anyway, nothing eventful happened on the drive and we were at our hotel to check in and drop our bags off.

Next stop, the expo.

We were staying about a half mile from the expo/packet pick up at the Alliant Energy Center. In the many times I have run this, it was the first time I would experience packet pick up at this location. It was always at the Union South (way too crowded and no parking) or I had made arrangements for someone else to pick up my things.

There was plenty of free parking here, no congestion. We were able to walk right in, snake through the vendors to the back and find the letters of our last name to get our bib and shirt. They put the short sleeve, gender specific shirt and bib that was in an envelope in a plastic bag.

We wondered around the expo a bit. It wasn’t big, but if you need some last minute supplies or branded race gear you could get what you needed. We stopped by the corner of banners with names on them, took some photos, and then moved towards the exit. This is when Josh ran into social media and Hawkeye friend Jake. We said hi and then moved on to say hi to Jan at the Illinois Marathon booth, where we scored more mini boxes of Kodiak Cakes. We really didn’t see any other booths that caught our attention, so we were back to our car in a jiff!

From here we were on our way to get some grub. I had reached out to social media friend Steena – you may recall I ran with her at the 2017 Madison Mini. She suggested a place called Glass Nickel Pizza.

We had a short wait and we were seated. We thought we would start with some breadsticks while we waited. I also had a small beer. Then we placed an order for a margherita pizza and side salads. WHOA!!!  The breadsticks arrived and well it was like a whole pizza, then soon after that our salads, which were also huge and very fresh. Then, just like that our pizza arrived. We ordered way too much food! When we decided we couldn’t eat another slice, we asked for a box and were on our way.

We arrived back at the hotel to discover even though the lobby was ice cold, our room just wasn’t cooling down. So Josh bumped the temperature colder.

We caught up on social media and prepared all our things for the race the next day.

Saturday, August 17 – RACE DAY!!!

We woke up to a stuffy hotel room, something was wrong with the air conditioning. So we kept moving along to get out of there. I had VIP access, so even though I had some hotel coffee, I was ready to take advantage of the pre-race spread.

The last time I ran this race, I drove in that morning, and the times before we always stayed within walking distance of the starting line. This year, I looked at a map for the starting line, then zoomed in to a P, for parking and mapped us to the first ramp. Well, it was about a half mile or so walk to the starting line. I am sure if we took the time to find free on street parking we could have found something closer.

I ditched Josh around 6 AM to go to the VIP room. While I might have felt a little bit guilty, I was going to enjoy. I had a green sticker on my bib, but when I arrived the person checking in names seemed a bit confused, however I was given a wristband and allowed to enter. I was also in line behind fellow BibRave pro Amy.

I hit up the buffet and grabbed a muffin and granola bar, I also snagged a cup of coffee. I say next down to Amy and her friend. We made small talk and they were ready to go warm up. I stayed and ate my muffin, drank my coffee and scrolled through my phone. I then went outside on the balcony to check out the calm before the storm.

It was getting close to starting time, 7 AM. I made use of the VIP bathroom and finally went back outside. I was in one of the last corrals, which was right outside the door, so I was never in a hurry.

It was a nice morning, the sun was out and temperatures would rise, but not be too horrible. The National Anthem was performed by a group and the race began.

While there were lots of corrals, they were not held, so it was more to encourage people to line up by paces. However, I did not see anyone checking bibs.

I was ready to run. I didn’t have a goal but to get to that finish line and get that challenge medal. With all the events I run in Madison, I can never remember which race goes with which route, it also doesn’t help that I feel each year, every race changes their route…..so I was also ready to see where we were running.

The race started with a slight uphill and then towards the Capital, where the Farmers’ Market was going on. Then we were off onto State St. This is where BibRave Pro, Jonathan caught up to me. He said he was running behind and almost started last, and he was just catching up. We ran a couple of miles together, and then he was feeling good and proceeded on just before we got to the arboretum.

I enjoy the arboretum, I know many people find it boring, but I like it. Maybe it’s because there is a small shoulder of gravel I can run on. After we ran this section we were back to running the streets of Madison. This included heading towards Camp Randall, then we were on the path that goes along the lake. The course finished by taking us up Observatory Hill, before finishing back at the Terrace.

The course was lined with 10 aid stations, many of them with energetic cheer squads, or screaming high school kids. There would be a winner of best station after the race. The aid stations offered water and Gatorade. However, each station had a different flavor  and sometime water was first. They were always in different cups. It was kinda fun to guess which flavor of Gatorade I would get, and until the last stop I thought I got lucky by avoiding lemon lime.

I really liked the course and was having a great time, but around mile 10 something happened to my calf. Out of no where it was like a rock was living inside my left calf muscle. I stopped and stretched a bit and then kept moving. It was just so tight, but wasn’t cramping. I didn’t carry my pack, so that is why I was drinking all the Gatorade. I steadily made my way towards the finish line.

I came across the finish line in a time near 2:24. Not my best, not my worst. I really am going to have to start putting in the work if I want to have better times. However, I am happy every time I can cross a finish line.

A medal was placed around my neck, I grabbed a bottle of water, and chugged down the chocolate milk. There were bananas, granola bars and 2 choices of Wisconsin popcorn.

I was on a mission to find my challenge medal. I had to walk back towards to entrance to the VIP area, just about a half block away and I found Jan handing them out. They were a nice medal. I hung it around my neck and clanged my way to the post race VIP area.

There was a new buffet set up with chicken, brats, cookies, potato salad and fruit. There was soda, water and Gatorade. Out on the balcony, overlooking the lake and the 14th mile party, was where the beer was – this year was a raspberry lemon radler from Wisconsin Brewing.

I grabbed myself a beer and then made sure to get a brat and then went to add my name to the massage list. In my journey to find the massage sign up, I stumbled upon a woman who insisted on rubbing CBD oil on my calf.

While I waited for my massage, BibRave pro Jonathon made his way to the VIP area and we chatted some more. Then just after I got myself a second beer, my name was called for my massage.

This massage was the strangest thing. I have done the post race massage before and usually they ask if there is a trouble area, or something they should target. This person didn’t ask and I laid down on my back and she proceeded with her routine. She was very fast moving. Then when I rolled to my front side, it was the same thing. I did find myself relaxed and then the karate chopping started. I am laughing just typing this. I would compare this to something my 8 year old niece would do. I did mention the pain in my calf, and while there was some weird stretching, there was no extra massage there. Like I said I was relaxed, but it was weird.

I was done and sat back down with Jonathon. He has been dealing with an injury, but still had a decent race. I had never met him before, so it was nice to talk. Then it was his turn for a massage, so I said see ya later. I went to the balcony and grabbed another beer and then made my way to Josh.

We made sure to take some pictures in the oversized chairs on the terrace, and listened to the band. It was a nice day, and the area they host the post race party is perfect!

It was about time to check out of the hotel, so we departed the finish area and tried to remember where we left the car. It felt like a 67 mile walk back. Once we found the car, we proceeded back to the hotel room.

We arrived back to the room to find it even more stuffy than when we left it. Blech! We were so over it, so we showered and checked out. We made sure to mention the situation as we departed.

Besides Josh eating the leftover pizza on the ride home, it was another uneventful drive back to the Hawkeye state. It was a rare trip where we didn’t buy any beer or cheese though.

The Madison Mini is nice summer race, make sure to register early for the best price.

BibRave Summit Weekend

Chicago BibRave Summit Weekend

Disclaimer: I received entry into the Rock N Roll Chicago Half Marathon as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review, find, and write race reviews!

WOW – I am about 5 blog posts behind, and it’s only going to get worse, so here’s hoping I can catch up and remember all the races and things.

Thursday, July 18.

Josh was joining for this long weekend in Chicago. We made the decision to take the Amtrak, as it’s expensive to park a car multiple days. When it’s hot the train gets delayed, and this day was no exception. We made the most of it and went to grab some lunch in Galesburg, before we hopped on the rails.

The train finally arrived and we are on our way. We were put in a double decker car with a group of boy scouts. Their troop leader was very talkative and loud and made sure everyone heard him talking. Josh managed to nap through all this. I did learn from the loud conversation that the couple he was talking to was on the train for days, traveling from New Mexico to New York.

After what felt like eternity, we had rolled into the very busy train station. We got our bearings and made it out on the streets of Chicago. We only had a short walk to our hotel, the Club Quarters.

We made it just before 6pm, which meant we made it to happy hour. This gave us access to wine and snacks! We took part before we trekked up to our room. We had never stayed in this brand of hotel before.

After we checked into our tiny room, we discovered we were near Garrett’s popcorn, so of course we went to get some! No trip is complete to Chicago without purchasing the Garrett’s mix!

Then it was time for real food, so we walked over to one of our favorite places, Miller’s Pub. This restaurant offers just about anything you would want to eat – burgers, breakfast, seafood, pasta and beer! After we were full, we walked back to the hotel as Friday would be the start of a BibRave filled weekend.

Friday July, 19

We woke up early as we were to meet up with the crew for a service project. However, soon after we woke up I received an email that the project was cancelled by the city because it was too hot. This lead to a little chat, but it was decided that we would still meet and go for a little run, followed by coffee and donuts. It was nice to meet up with new and old pros, put names to faces.

The day was packed with events, so we went back to the hotel on foot and showered to then take an Uber to the McCormick Center for the Rock N Roll Expo. I think we squeezed in a sandwich at Potbelly for lunch.

The Rock N Roll expo was smaller and quieter than I expected. However, I kept forgetting that it was Friday afternoon and many people were still at work. It was easy to get your bib and shirt, even exchange it if needed. Then there was an area to buy race branded merchandise and then you snaked through the vendors. It didn’t take me too long to go through, although I did stumble on a great new beef jerky! I love food samples!

The crew of pros had taken photos and picked up all their things, so then it was time to depart again and get ready for the next event, the orange carpet dinner. Josh and I found another Uber and went back to the hotel.

We were all fancied up and called up another Uber to take us to the City Winery North. That was fun, it was shared and the person already in the car was talking loudly on her phone the entire ride. This didn’t bother the driver as he was deaf. It was super annoying to those of us who could hear, Josh and I texted each other back and forth on the ride.

Of course, we were the first to arrive at the orange carpet event, and we were too early. We sat at the bar and ordered a wine flight. It was good. More pros started to arrive, so we chatted. Then it was time to go into our private room.

There was indeed an orange carpet rolled out for us, complete with a sponsor backdrop and photographer! I did my best smize and Kardashian pose as I worked it. We were given swag bags too! Mine had two pairs of Knockaround sunglasses, a t-shirt and candy.

A bar was set up with some wine and drink choices. I had some more wine. Then a dinner buffet appeared with ravioli, salad, and veggies. We all enjoyed the evening squeezed into tables dining, drinking and taking more pictures.

During the evening, a message was sent that the RnR 5k was cancelled in the morning due to the heat. I wasn’t running the 5k, but it meant more people could join the BibRave shake out run in the morning.

As the sun started to set on the evening, I wasn’t ready to go back to the hotel and I wanted a beer! We ended up leaving and running into more pros at a nearby establishment for a drink. Then a few more of us moved onto another establishment and had another drink. Around midnight we thought we were going to turn into a pumpkin, so we got another Uber and went back to the hotel.

Saturday, July 20

An early and painful wake-up. We were going to the lake front to meet up with the group for a short shakeout run and a photo shoot. We were running a little behind, so we took another Uber or Lyft – at this point I don’t recall. We were dropped off at the location that was on our itinerary, but apparently that was not the correct location. There was a group of about 5 of us, that then appeared to be late as we had to hustle from the wrong location.

When we made it, we went for a short little run, and a photographer took some photos. The lake was really high, so the waves were crashing right next to the path. When we got to the turnaround point, I realized I didn’t start my watch, UGH! I also caught up with a few people who said after we left the night before then carried on and went to eat the most delicious hamburger ever. I am old, I was mad, but I am glad I got some sleep.

When we got back to our starting point, I kept going to at least get a mile because I am still run streaking. I had some time as people gathered around for more coffee and donuts and took turns getting individual professional photos.

Josh and I reenacting engagement poses


Then we took some group photos and just like that, it was time to get back to the hotel, take a shower and get ready for our next adventure. Sooooo, this time we did walk back to the hotel.

Our next adventure was a day game at Wrigley Field!! Yay, go Cubs! We both hadn’t been to see a game since they did the renovations, maybe 5 years. We found the red line near our hotel, discovered it accepted Apple Pay, and got on the train to Wrigley way early.

It was super hot! We walked around and then questioned what we should do. We didn’t have time to actually go to a bar and enjoy a drink, but we also had more time than just waiting on the group to show up. So we wondered into the McDonald’s across the street for some McNuggets and a real bathroom. It was also nice to cool off for a minute.

On the walk back to the marquee to meet the group, we purchased some peanuts and waters from a street vendor.

We waited to meet up with the others in the hot sun. They arrived and we took a photo and the tickets were passed out. We were in the 4th level, under the awning – shade!!

We did some walking around and made it to our seats. My seat was directly behind a pole. I had to lean one way to see the pitcher and lean the other way to see the batter. I was not enjoying the game. So I left the group and found an empty seat in the very top row of the stadium, there was a breeze!

The Cubs had a good game going, and I was going to stay until the end, because why even go if you are going to leave early. ( I am looking at you people who leave at the under 4 timeout in CHA!) I am glad I stayed, I think it was after we sang the stretch, there was a storm system coming in to the north and the wind changed direction and blew in off the lake. I think the temperature dropped 20 degrees, there was as roar from the crowd. It was like the air conditioning was turned on. There was only other pro left in the stands at this time, so we moved to sit together and we watch the Cubs win!! Ben, the Brewers fan was not so thrilled.

The sky was looking like it could open up at anytime and we needed to decide what we were going to do. Ben decided to go home. Josh and I had more BibRave plans to attend, but we didn’t have enough time to go back to the hotel and then to the event. We walked a bit south and thought we could get a ride easier, but the rideshares were expensive. So, just as it started to rain, we popped into some random bagel shop. Josh purchased a drink so we could use the bathroom.

We waited out the rain, and wasted time as we would be early to the next event. Josh kept his eye to his apps for a ride, but when we popped out of the bagel shop we were at a Red Line stop, so we just hopped the train and made our way to the City Winery on the river walk for our next event.

When we arrived, the sun was coming back out. We were one of the first to arrive and the best smelling – nothing like a hot sweaty day at the ballpark! I grabbed a cold cucumber, lime radler – very interesting!

This event was a live recording of the BibRave podcast with Cindy Kuzma. There was a buffet of noodles, salads and dessert. They also made sure to have the sauce on the side, wahoo that’s a win for team no sauce!!

As we dined, the events of the evening started. All the pros in attendance were asked to stand up, and they asked us to start sitting in the order we joined Bibrave. I was thinking, I feel like I know where this is going and thought, should I just stand on the table? I knew I was the only pro that started in 2014. However, I didn’t know where they were going with this. I was indeed the last pro standing and I was receiving an award. WHAT?!?

I received the BibRave Legacy award. I have been a BibRave Pro for 5 years. I was given a card and a scented pillow in the shape of a tangerine. I was shocked to be honored or receive anything. I was asked to speak and I didn’t know what to say. Thinking back, I should have encouraged those in attendance to get to know everyone in the program as that is my favorite part. I really like meeting up with the pros at races and hopefully making new friends.

Wow, after all that, I needed a cookie! We sat and listened to the live recording.

It had been a long day, so we made left with some extra cookies and made it back to our hotel room. We laid out all our race clothes and called it a night.

Gear: Sparkle Athletic skirt, Hawkeye hat, Orange Mud pack, Adidas shorts, Aftershokz Trekz Air, Brooks Ghost 12, 2xu socks, Garmin 935, Zensah bra

Sunday, July 21.

RACE DAY!! If you want my race review check out Bibrave.com. This was my second time at this race. It was my second ever BibRave partner race in 2014. I wasn’t too impressed with it then, but was ready to give it another chance.

We were up early again, we had to make a race day picture at the starting arch. We were able to just walk over from the hotel. We found the group and smiled pretty.

Josh threw some more smack talk to Jess as they had some contest to see who could run the race the fastest. They are close in race times, so it was for fun. It was a hot, humid day, so I kept encouraging them to be smart.

There were lots of corrals, many complaints they were too crowded. However, I wasn’t in a rush to join one as I was going to say, hi to my friend Heather who was also running. I happened to catch her on her way to the loo. After that, I hopped into to some random corral and proceeded to the start line.

I had no goals for this race, except get to the finish line. I did have expectations for a Rock n Roll race, and hoped it to be better than the last time I ran it.

I ran and saw some pros on the course, saw the BibRave cheer station, heard a few bands, but as usual, there is not one every mile in Chicago, especially downtown. Then came the dreaded McCormick Tunnel. At this point it’s just part of about every running event in Chicago as there is not a better place to get from point A to point B.

When I left the tunnel, we were rerouted onto the sidewalk. I was shocked and saw a man getting chest compressions on the road. I was about in tears, this shook me up. To this day, I have no idea if that man is ok. It also puts things into perspective. Whoa….

I just kept putting one foot in front of the other, and aimed towards the finish line.

I made the finish. I was given a medal and a cold towel. There were bottles of Gatorade, boxed water and pineapple juice. Apparently they were out of chocolate milk. There were Pringles and granola bars. I kept walking over to the park to meet the BibRave group, this is also where the post race band was performing. You could also get a Michelob Ultra.

We stood around, chatted, took a photo, then some people left. I knew there were still a few pros and Heather out on the course, so Josh and I waited for them to finish. We also were able to listen to the music too.

I don’t know if the race is better than when I ran in 2014, but maybe because I didn’t have too high of expectations in the first place? It’s tough when other Rock N Roll events get huge headliners as the musical act and then this one is usually someone I have never heard of. I also understand each event can only do so much in each city. I have said this before, but I think if I would pay to do another Rock N Roll it would be Las Vegas. ( I would have to do the half though as the marathon cut off is 5 hours. )

It was getting close to the time we had to be out of the hotel, so we walked back and got cleaned up, packed up our bags and left them at the concierge. We had one more event to attend.

We arrived at the Public House for a post race brunch. I had a bloody mary and a huge breakfast scramble. I was sooooo exhausted! We only stayed a while before we had to make the trek back to the hotel, grab our bags and then get to the the train station to get on the Amtrak back to our car.

Chicago is a fun place to visit, however I am so glad I do not live there. I like being able to get in my car and go where I want, when I want, park where I need to park. I guess it might be different if I didn’t have a car and could walk everywhere I needed to get.

We were on the train back to Galesburg, and of course Josh was asleep before we were in the suburbs. I passed the time scrolling my phone and playing games.

We were back at our car, and ready to get home. However, I wouldn’t let Josh leave Galesburg without celebrating National Ice Cream Day.

What a fun time in Chicago!

Mad Mini Anticipation

What is the one thing you are most looking forward to on race day?

Disclaimer: I received entry into the Madison Mini 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!

Race day is less than 2 weeks away. I am no stranger to the Madison Mini and I am excited to run it again. I will be meeting a couple of BibRave Pros and Josh will be joining too. I know why I like to run this event, but I thought it would be fun to hear what they had to say. I asked them each the same question – “What is the one thing you are most looking forward to on race day?”

If you know anything about me or my husband, you know we are HUGE Hawkeye fans. So, of course, this is what Josh had to say, “I’m looking forward to running past the Wisconsin band and saying ‘Go Hawks’, and enjoying the post race party on the Union Terrace.”

On the flip side, Amy had this to say, “I love the race because I went to undergrad in Madison so it gives me an excuse to take the fam back for the weekend and it’s fun to run through campus and see how it has changed.”

Jonathan has never been to Madison and had told me this, “Well, Ang I had looked forward to running by Lake Mendota and was excited because this race has been on my list for the previous 3 years before this year but my schedule never worked with the date and time of the race. But my selling point has/was to be to enjoy the beautiful city of Madison, which oddly enough I have never gone to.”

As a refresher, I am looking forward to the post race party on the terrace, it’s such a great place to celebrate the day. If you see any of us, say hi!

Maybe these reasons have enticed you to register, well good news I have some codes to help you save. If you are interested in the 5k, use code BIBRAVE5 to save $5. If you are interested in the half marathon, use code BIBRAVE15 to save $15. Registration is thru August 16. https://www.madisonminimarathon.com/ 

Do you Strava?

A review of the Strava platform

Disclaimer: I will be receiving an annual Strava Subscription and Strava merchandise as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review, find, and write race reviews!

What is Strava?

Strava is a social fitness network, that is primarily used to track cycling and running exercises, using GPS data although alternative types are available – Wikipedia

I have been a Strava user for a while. I run with a GPS watch that collects all my data from the run and loads it to the platform. Similar to other run tracking sites, Strava keeps track of how many miles I have run, elevation, and routes.

I like to know how many miles I have run each week and every month, it certainly keeps me accountable. You can also count swimming and biking data.

I also use the stats overlay on my photos as another form of accountability.

Strava also personalizes your data. I use this feature to keep track of how many miles I have on my shoes. There is a place to add your gear, then after each run you can edit your run to say which shoes you ran in. Then you can set it to notify you when you have run a determined amount of miles. I am currently running in 3 pairs of shoes, so it’s nice to not have to keep track of all those with pen and paper.

Another form of personalization, is pushing you to do your best by keeping track of your times on certain routes you run. You can earn course records and PRs.

Ok, some may argue that with this personalization, it’s not private. You can set your account settings to private and you can set your routes to not show where you run within a distance of your house.

Another way I use Strava for motivation is to sign up for the challenges. Every month you can find new challenges to join such as running a half marathon, a distance challenge or virtual 5ks. My favorite are challenges that offer a discount on a product or free things. One year there was a challenge to negative split a marathon, and I won a pair of shoes. These little things keep me interested.

Strava will send emails to keep you up to date on your challenges too, and supply a summary each month.

Strava is also a social platform. You can join running groups and find running friends. Within your social feed you can comment and give kudos. If you are looking to join a running club, I suggest the BibRave Running Club – https://www.strava.com/clubs/bibrave

Strava has a free version, so if you are looking to keep data of all your runs check it out at strava.com. You can then sync your GPS watch to the app on your phone, or use the app on your phone on the run. There is also a paid version if you would like a little more, such as training plans.

So do you Strava?

Powered by Pie

Grandma’s Marathon Race Recap 2019

“Disclaimer: I received entry into Grandma’s 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!”

It’s the most wonderful time of the year… Grandma’s Marathon!

For those who may not know, this is one of my favorite races ever. This is my 6th year in Duluth and in addition to running it, I would be helping Aftershokz at the expo.

I headed north on Wednesday, June 19. It’s a short little drive about 7-8 hours. I made a stop just south of Duluth to log a run on the Munger Trail. I have a run streak to keep in tact.

From there I kept the car headed north and ended up in Two Harbors. This is where the marathon starts. For years I have said I need to take more time to explore the area. I stopped at Castle Danger Brewing and enjoyed a Summer Crush. I mistakenly thought they had food.

I decided to head a little further north to Betty’s Pies. I wasn’t ready to dine, so I got a strawberry rhubarb slice to go.

I then headed back to Duluth, but drove the race course. It felt really long. I was having some doubts about running it on race day. It has been a long time since I have run this long. It was a beautiful day though.

I was back in Duluth and decided this was the year I would eat at Grandma’s Saloon, the restaurant near the finish. When the race started in 1977, this was the only business that would sponsor the event. Inside you can find a wall dedicated to the Grandma’s Marathon hall of fame.

I took a seat outdoors, with a view of the famous aerial lift bridge. Lots of sail boats were coming in off the lake. I was informed I missed out on the races. After a wild rice salad and fries, I decided I should probably check into my hotel.

I trekked across the bridge into Superior, WI where Barkers Island Inn had a room for me. We have stayed at this place every time, it’s a nice place that doesn’t require a 2 night stay. There is also an early morning race breakfast and a shuttle to the start.

Thursday, June 20

It was time to go set up at the expo with Aftershokz. I met Evan in the hotel lobby and learned the third person was having issues with his flight and would meet us later.

We arrived at the DECC to get our 2 booths ready for the expo, that would start at 4pm that night. Ok, sooooo Evan started unpacking the stuff and getting things set up, and I followed suit with his instructions.

We were in and out by 11:30. I went back to the hotel to grab my car, I knew where I wanted to go – the beach!

I was back to Duluth and across the lift bridge to Park Point Beach. I first got in a mile run. I originally thought I might be able to run on the beach, but it wasn’t optimal. Then I walked the beach collecting drift wood and rocks. It was a beautiful day.

I didn’t want to leave the beach, but I needed to attend to my duties. After rolling through a sandwich shop for lunch, I was ready to go sell some headphones.

The first day of the expo was good. We informed people about Aftershokz as we sold them for the running store. However, in other news the third person that would be showing up to help us, could not get a flight. So it was just going to be the 2 of us and help from the running store.

I managed to sneak away and grab my bib in the back of the expo space. I didn’t have my bib number off hand, so the nice volunteer helped me look it up.

We packed up things around 8pm and needed some food and a cold beer. Even and I decided to try out Canal Park Brewing. It was the place to be!!! While we waited for a table we saw some of the wheelchair athletes.

I ended up with a bowl full of mac and cheese and a strawberry beer. We also had some chips and salsa. Then it was time to hit the hay, Friday would be a long day at the expo.

Friday, June 21.

I woke up in time to get my mile run in and redeem my $5 breakfast voucher. A decent 2 egg, bacon and toast offering, and of course coffee.

I met Evan back in the lobby, but this day I would drive separately. My friend Kate was hitching a ride with BibRave Pro Tia. Kate and Tia would stop at the expo, and then Kate would take my car to the hotel. Anyway…..

The expo was off and rolling at 10am. We were back in our sales pitch mode. The Air has an upgraded microphone and the base is enhanced and weighs 20% less…yadda yadda…. all day long. I also think it’s funny the things people will tell you at a expo too… but hey I will listen.

Lunch time rolled around and my stomach grumbled…. The Duluth Running Co offered to buy some pizza. Around 2-3pm I had time to eat a couple slices. It was bananas!! I also started to get a headache, so had to grab some red Powerade. I am pretty sure it was the lack of food, and all the time just being crazy busy.

Then my friend Dan stopped by to say hi! Ok, I had seen him a few times during the expo, but this time we snapped a picture.

Around 5PM I met up with the BibRave pros – Mai, Tia and Juan. We snapped a quick picture before Tia had to get to the 5k, and I went back to selling headphones.

BAM – Just like that the expo was over…at 9 PM. I was exhausted, but we had to tear down everything and pack it all up into boxes. Near 10:30 ish we were done and loading up the car.

At 11 PM, I met up with Kate at the hotel and she had saved me some of her dinner, thank you!! I also had that slice of pie in the fridge. So, working the expo and eating a slice of pie would be how I prepared to run my 30th marathon.

Gear: Sparkle Athletic skirt, 2xu socks, Brooks Gylcerin, Garmin Forerunner 935, Rudy Sunglasses, Aftershokz Air, Hawkeye hat, Bibrave tank, Adidas boy shorts, Zensah bra, Orange Mud pack.

Saturday, June 22 – Race day!!

The alarm was set for 4:13 AM. I made my way down to the lobby to have some fruit, coffee, and a bagel with peanut butter. There were a few others shuffling around too. I was ready to board the shuttle bus around 5:50 AM.

It was your average bumpy school bus ride to the race start. I enjoyed the peace and quiet for about 2 minutes. Then there was a very loud, chatty guy sharing all his stories as a former CO at a prison. The lady sitting next to me said something, and I made the comment that is was nice to not be talking after a busy expo. Then we made some small talk, mostly about the weather. It was the most beautiful day, with a gorgeous sunrise. The temps were near 50 degrees.

I departed the bus at Two Harbors and instead of just standing in the starting corral, I thought I would just stand in line at a port-o-potty. There are a lot of them, but never enough.

On my way, I spotted the bright orange and Tia!!!

Then I said hi to local Iowa runner Jen and I met up with Nicole from the 100 miles group.

Finally, waiting in line to use the bathroom. I wasn’t nervous or the usual basket-case I can be, when I am not familiar with race day logistics. In fact, I heard the last verse of the National Anthem inside the “biffy.”

I made my way to the back fed corral. Meaning you enter in the back and if you want to line up with a faster pace, you have to snake your way through all the people to get there. Me? I just joined the back and waited for things to get going – which felt like forever. (One reason I don’t care for HUGE races is the standing in a corral for a ridiculous amount of time.)

Ok, Ok, Ok let’s do this! I was on my way to Duluth on the scenic north shore. I hit start on the Garmin and set out to enjoy the day.

At mile one I could see the back of Tia’s singlet in the distance. I made my way to catch up with her. We chatted for a bit and I believe around the mile 5 water stop, I kept going as she grabbed a drink.

I was going along and feeling good, I met up with the 5 hour pace group. I really need to stick with a pacer in the beginning of a race. My strategy of just going until I can’t go any further only really works on a perfect day, with perfect conditions, including a perfect training cycle. Bottom line, even though I thought I needed to be running faster than 5 hour pace, they eventually passed me.

I did develop a weird foot problem around mile 6. It was like this hot spot under my big toe on the foot pad. By the end of the race it was like the bottom of my feet were asleep. All I wanted to do is get my shoes and socks off.

However, no worries. I then encountered Bobby and Jan. They were both running their first marathons!! I chatted with them and we continued going back and forth with each other, they would pass me as I used a bathroom or I would pass as they stopped for water.

Grandma’s remains one of my favorite marathons, mostly because how you feel and are able to enjoy the distance. The views of the lake are gorgeous. From what the runners see, the local support the race  – coming out to cheer in their driveways, offer coffee, high fives, polka bands, string quartets, bacon, beer, troll dolls, pickles. There are what feels like 5000 volunteers available at all times. The aid stations are well stocked for all paces.

All of the above reasons is how I got to the finish line, especially from mile 20 on. I had the slice of bacon, and a lady I met at the expo told me to say hi at mile 21 where I had some pickles. Then I listed to the polka music and had a slice of watermelon. A volunteer cheered me up Lemon Drop hill. Then I saw twitter friend Ed, who I met at the expo, he had run the half marathon. I also made a quick call to Josh on my Aftershokz to check in.

I think this year the only thing I was sad about is I missed the grapes on the course as they were all out when I got there. Oh and MarathonFoto was the race photographer.

The last stretch again this year was not down the cobblestones of the main street, which is fine, but there is a short little downhill out of nowhere. Hello quads!

It seems like this part of the race takes forever, mostly because it has so many turns. One of the more iconic fixtures in Canal Park was not there this year, the William A. Irvin freighter was out of the harbor, so it looked a little different. It’s also the area where Kate always takes an epic photo. Never fear, there was a walkway set up and there she was cheering me into the end!! Kate’s the best!

Just before this point, Jan had passed me. I was worried about Bobby as they weren’t together. After I saw Kate, I looked behind me to see Bobby approaching. I slowed down and waited up for him… he was doing great and I chatted with him around the last turns to the finish line.

I cross the finish line, stopped my watch and gave Grandma a high five! Grandma is the cutest!!

A volunteer then placed a medal around my neck and another one handed me a bottle of water.

I caught up fellow Iowa City runners Dan and Nisha.

From here you claim your finisher shirt. This year I was hoping it was going to be purple as they introduced it into the 2019 logo, and it was purple!!!

I finished with a time near 5:15. I was happy with that!!

A volunteer approached me and wanted me to wear the mylar blanket, and I wasn’t ready for it yet, it was so nice out. I was also handed my beer ticket. So, I skipped the post race photo opp and went to find the strawberries in the post race food area. I was disappointed to not find them this year. I did grab a chocolate milk, orange slice, a bag of chips for later, and I saw the everything bagels – except I picked a bottom piece with minimal topping… oh well, where is the beer?

I rounded the corner after a quick phone call to Kate. I was in the beer tent area…and bonus there was a person with a strawberry on their head. They had some fruit truck, you played a game, received a coin and redeemed it for berries!! YAY!!

I made my way to the beer tapper trailer, and what did I see – A SOUR BEER!!! I stepped right up and redeemed my ticket!! I found Kate and we found some seats. There were many beer choices, sodas or coffee. The live music was pumping through this area. There was also a live feed of the finish line, we witnessed many awesome finishes.

I took the time to take off my shoes and socks and slip into my OOFOS. There was nothing physically wrong with my feet, maybe just in need of a pedicure? I had also run my last 20 in the same shoe/sock combo.

I did appreciate the awareness of race day waste. The beer tent area disposal area was guarded with volunteers making sure all items were recycled and taken care of properly. I hope in the future maybe compostable cups could be used at the aid stations.

Then we met up with Tia and enjoyed some people watching.

We moved the party to Little Angie’s – a post race tradition like no other. Tacos, fried ice cream and more sour beer!!

It was time to part ways, I said see ya later to Tia, and Kate took us back to MPLS. I was sooo tired. Then after a night’s rest, I would make the trek back to Iowa.

I am not sure I recommend working a busy expo all day and running a marathon the next day, but I will always recommend Grandma’s Marathon. They do race day right!

See ya next year!

2 weeks until Grandma’s

“Disclaimer: I received entry into Grandma’s 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!”

Seems like just yesterday I had registered for Grandma’s Marathon… like months ago! However, here we are and the big day is just 2 weeks away.

What have I been doing since I registered? Well if you remember I was all excited to use a training program provided by the race. In that time I sprained my ankle, so the training was way off. It had my long run at 13 miles over the entire training cycle. So, I ditched the plan and made up my own. GASP!

I don’t know all there is to know about running a marathon. However, with 29 of them under my belt, I know when my body should run long and step back. So with that I ran my last long run of this training cycle yesterday. 20 miles, 80 degrees, almost 1100 feet of gain. It was miserable, I was slow, but I am going to call it a win and be ready for race day.

Also in that time I have re-started my run streak. March 31 was the first day. So, while I have been making up a training plan, I am back to running at least a mile a day. Who knows if this is the best idea, but my marathon PR was set last October during my last run streak, not using a training plan.

So now with 2 weeks to go, what should I expect? Many experience taper tantrums or go a little stir crazy. I will have my run streak to keep me going. I also have many hobbies.

Also, it’s time to get excited to visit Duluth again!! There are many things to do in the area, including many opportunities with the race itself.

Ready or not, I can’t wait to get back to Duluth. If you are headed that way look me up and say hi!