Friday, July 29, 2016

staying hydrated with ultima replenisher

Disclaimer: I received Ultima Replenisher to review as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out to review, find, and write race reviews!*

The opportunity to test out Ultima Replenisher couldn't have come at a better time for me. My old favorite had changed their formula, and I was in the market for a new electrolyte drink. I was a little weary at first of trying Ultima, as it has stevia – an ingredient I am very sensitive too (and not a fan of) and seems like I taste it (or maybe just more bothered by it) more than others – which means I was afraid I wouldn't like it. I spoke with some others that use Ultima, and are also stevia sensitive, and after hearing their thoughts and recommendations, I decided to opt in (and thankfully was chosen, because now I know how awesome it is).

Lucky for me, the stevia didn't bother me at all, and I do believe I've found my new favorite. Ultima sent me a box of Raspberry sticks (20 come in a box) as well as a small canister of 30 servings of Lemonade (so nicely packaged, too). I love that from the small canister you can get 30 servings. Plenty of bang for your buck, plus, doesn't take up much space in the cabinets. The sticks are awesome to put in your purse/bag and for on the go. I can easily store one in my Orange Mud pack when I'm out on a run if I need to re-fill my bottle, or for post-race water bottles. That's what I did for Rock 'n' Roll Chicago. I had the 5k Saturday and the 10k on Sunday, and of course it's always crazy hot and humid that weekend, so I wanted to make sure I was hydrating properly Saturday so be ready for Sunday's race. I tossed in the Raspberry powder into a bottle of water post-race, and it was delightful.

After a trail run, I mixed up the raspberry for my first test of Ultima.
It was very refreshing and I was pleased that I didn't notice too much stevia :)

I'm not one of those ladies that just glistens a little when working out. I'll step outside in humidity and start dripping in a minute. You'll find me wearing tanks, t-shirts, and shorts in temps as low as the mid-40s. I heat up quickly when I start to run, and so in the summer, my clothes are usually pretty drenched a few miles in. Super attractive, right? Whatever - I like to keep it real with you all ;)

See that small patch of light color? Yeah, my shirt was almost completely drenched.

See what I mean? Uber sweaty.

Obviously with all the sweating I do, I'm losing electrolytes, so it's important to drink something other than water. I've found that I enjoy drinking Ultima before my run, but it is crazy refreshing as a post-run drink, too. A great way to replace what you've lost during the run. I mix it up, toss in some ice, and chug away. It's so yummy and tastes amazing after a run in this crazy summer weather (so hot and humid! Seems like all of my runs have been done in 80 degrees + with about 80% humidity or more. Woof.). Electrolytes will help avoid cramping, which is a sign that your body is low on them. It's important to consume electrolytes in a consistent manner so you can go into your workout or training session adequately hydrated. Start out with everything your body needs rather than try to add them in during the workout, which is usually too late. 

Symptoms of dehydration include: headaches, fatigue, leg cramps, sluggishness, and even hunger (what often appears as hunger is the body signaling for hydration; another reason why people say to drink water if you're feeling hungry, because you might just be thirsty instead.)

After hiking Mt. Abraham it was time to rehydrate and get ready for race day.
Always fun when it matches your nails.

Side note - it's important to get these electrolytes year round, not just in the summer. Even in winter, when you might not sweat AS much (I still sweat plenty haha, just not as much as in the summer heat and humidity), you'll still need these vital minerals.

Some tips from me to you:

  • Use a shaker bottle. That whisk ball thing helps mix the powder into the water really well
  • Mix and then add ice (doing so beforehand will cause the powder to clump and not mix as well)
  • No blender bottle? No problem. I also stirred with a spoon, let it sit a minute or two, and then stirred again. Sometimes one stir works – just depends on how cold the water is. The colder it is, the more likely you'll get clumps (very small balls of powder), but if you let it sit for a minute, they usually dissolve without any issue.
  • You can also just use a water bottle and shake it up. This worked well too, and I noticed a lot of the other BibRave Pros used this method.

What are the 6 electrolytes you're looking to help replace in your body after all the sweating?
  1. Calcium
  2. Chloride
  3. Magnesium
  4. Phosphorous
  5. Potassium
  6. Sodium
You can read more about these electrolytes and why you need them here.

Ready to go for Mad Half! Ultima is in my gear check list.

Ultima's new formulation includes MORE of these electrolytes. They increased the amount of magnesium, potassium, and sodium. You can see the comparison in the below image. They've also reduced package size by 45%, so more environmentally friendly. Scoop size has decreased and it's made to mix with 16oz rather than 8oz. I never had the old formula, but I like what they've done with the new one.

What's in Ultima
"Ultima contains a perfect balance of all 6 electrolytes plus support minerals that work together to provide complete hydration without stomach upset so you can feel and perform your best. Ultima is sweetened with stevia leaf and made with real fruit flavors that taste delicious. This formulation contains Vitamin C (Calcium Ascorbate) which supports a healthy immune system, protects the cells from oxidative stress and contributes to the reduction of tiredness and fatigue. Calcium to support muscle contraction and nerve function. Phosphorus to deliver oxygen to muscles, Selenium as an antioxidant support, Zinc for recovery and neuron support, Magnesium for preventing muscle cramps, Potassium for cardiac muscle support, Sodium for muscle contraction and nerve function and Chloride for osmotic pressure support."

Ultima Replenisher is Non-GMO, Vegan & Gluten-Free. Zero Sugar, Zero Artificial Flavors, Zero Calories, 100% Awesome!

Ultima recently changed their formula. Here's some info from the website about it:
"Each serving of Ultima now has increased magnesium, potassium, and sodium — all very important electrolytes — and zero calories. By removing virtually all of the maltodextrin (except for the tiny amount that the natural flavors use as a carrier) we were able to create a formula that will hydrate without added calories. We care about what you put into your body as much as you do. With all 6 electrolytes plus support minerals, real fruit flavors and plant-based colors, vegan, nonGMO, no caffeine and gluten-free — we’re happy to be your go-to choice for healthy replenishment so you can feel and perform your best."

Rock 'n' Roll Chicago 5k.

"Our News is Good For Your...

  • 12 X more Magnesium
  • 3 X more Potassium
  • Zero Calories / Carbs
  • Removed most Maltodextrin
  • Non-GMO, Gluten-free, and vegan certifications pending
  • 100% bigger drink size!
  • Same price
  • Same number of servings
  • 40% less waste due to smaller packaging"

All the fun colors! Ultima uses natural flavors and fruit/vegetable extract for coloring.
The bright colors in raspberry, cherry pomegranate, and orange comes from beet juice!
Top: Lemonade, Raspberry
Bottom: Cherry Pomegranate, Orange, Grape

I loved the raspberry and lemonade so much, but I wanted to try the other flavors to find my favorite (and then order a 90 serving canister!). I ordered myself two of the variety stick packs, which come with all 5 flavors: orange, lemonade, cherry pomegranate (a new flavor), grape, and raspberry. While they are all delightful, cherry pomegranate is my favorite. Since it's a new flavor, it's been selling out quickly, so I am patiently waiting for the 90 serving canister to come back in stock. I think just about everyone can find a flavor out of the bunch that they would enjoy, if not all of them.

Love drinking Ultima after these hot, humid summer runs.

Do yourself a flavor (haha) and order yourself some! I have a 35% off + free shipping code for you to use = BIBRAVE2016. Ultima is already very reasonably priced, but it's always nice to save some extra cash, isn't it?

Ultima Variety Pack.

Cost of different products (before 35% discount):
20 count stick packs - $19.99 (about $1 per serving)
30 serving canister - $19.99 (about $1 per serving)
90 serving canister - $39.99 (about $.45 per serving)

Obviously, going with the 90 canister is your best option price wise, but for traveling and on the go purposes, I really do enjoy having some sticks on hand too. Whatever you choose, I'd say the price is pretty comparable to other electrolyte drinks/supplements on the market.

You'll want to buy online for as long as the discount code is valid, because hello, free shipping and save some dough (no expiration date as of now, but if there is one, I'll update the blog), but just so you know, you can also find Ultima Replenisher at local stores such as Whole Foods Market,  Natural Grocers, Earth Fare, Sprouts Farmers Market, and more. You can go to the store locator on the website, input your address or zip code to find locations near you. I found some stores or workout studios that I wouldn't have thought to look at. Pretty cool.

Enjoy cooking, baking, or finding new fun recipes? Check out the recipes using Ultima:

Ultima Replenisher will be sponsoring #BibChat over on Twitter on Tuesday, August 2 at 8pm CT. Join us for some fun chatter along with a chance to win some Ultima for yourself!

Connect with Ultima:

*All thoughts and opinions are my own, and I am always honest with you! Have a question? Just ask :)

Monday, July 18, 2016

mad half recap

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

You can read the more brief review on BibRave here.

Celebrating the Mad Half Finish with beer and pizza.

My husband has wanted to visit Vermont for quite some time, for a special brewery that has very limited distribution, and nothing in the Midwest, but couldn't justify making the trip for only that. After he mentioned it to me recently, a few weeks later BibRave had the opportunity to race in Vermont at the Mad Marathon/Mad Half. He was actually off the weekend of the race, so I brought it up to him and he was pumped. It was super exciting when I was chosen as one of the three Pros that were able to run the race.

Mad Half Course Map.


I had debated between the marathon and half for a while, and ended up going with the half because I'm not a great summer runner and I wanted to make sure that I was able to finish the race and get the full experience (rather than attempt the full and be taken off course for being too slow). Typical summer weather there, I saw on the website, was a 'cool and breezy Vermont summer, in the 80s'. No thanks. I was glad I decided on the half, as someone mentioned to me later that there were a ton of hills on course. Of course I could have seen that if I looked at the course map/elevation, but I hadn't. Living in the Midwest where it's pretty flat, and a course elevation of 300 ft gained is a lot to me, I knew I made the right choice.

We arrived at our B&B (West Hill House) in Warren on Thursday later afternoon. It was about 15 minutes from the race events. The festivities began on Friday, with packet pickup from 4–7pm behind the Waitsfield Inn and then a concert on the Mad River Green at 7pm. We ran out of time, so didn't make it on Friday.

Mad Marathon Packet Pickup.

Saturday, packet pickup was from 9am – 6pm behind Waitsfield Inn. We got there around 10 I think. Pickup was very laid back, which was a telling of what the race weekend would be like. You looked up your number on the board – half marathoners on one side, marathoners on the other, with runners listed alphabetically. You then went to the proper bib side (again, marathon and half split), went to the 'line' (there wasn't one) with your number in it (ie 1–100, 101–200, etc). I received my bib, safety pins, race booklet with race information, and a blue drawstring bag with the Mad Marathon logo in white. It even had zippered front pocket on it - fancy. 

Farmers Market.

I was ready to leave when my husband was wondering about shirts. I saw them lined up by size on the other side of the tent, but it wasn't mentioned, so I asked the guy at the table and he said to go over and grab one. Whoa. I'm so used to it being given to you with your bib, or at another station, but it being very particular, as in: this is the size you ordered, if it doesn't fit, go over to the exchange table. Again - super laid back atmosphere and it was very refreshing. The size I had requested was the proper size, too, so that worked out well. The ladies were a mint green and the men's were a dark green (a little lighter than forest, I would say). They were also selling shirts from 2015 for $5, so we each bought one of those too. How do you pass up a tech shirt for that price?!

I also asked about parking, as it seemed there were about 1,000 registrants, but not a ton of parking in the area. They looked at me like I was crazy when I asked if there would be someone directing traffic. I guess I'm just so used to the big city races, and either having to pay $20 to park in a lot, or being worried about being ticketed or towed for parking where I shouldn't be. Here, you were allowed to park just about anywhere but the grass and the Inns lot (for guests only). Other stores don't mind if you park in their lot for 5 hours here... how strange and different ;) The one volunteer mentioned getting there early to get parking, and I asked if 6am was early enough. The other volunteer laughed and said she was running and planned on getting there at 6:45... so I guess early is all relative.

The race director Dori was in a meeting when we were there, so we crossed the street to the Mad River Green for the farmers market. We bought some honey and maple syrup to bring home. We also bought a soda made from syrup. It was really good, and we taste tested some cheeses. Yum. I wanted a photo by the Mad Marathon sign over where we had driven in, so we did that, and then went back over hoping Dori was out of her meeting. She was, and I got my post-race hug early (from what I heard, she hugs all runners when they cross the finish line). She was very nice and introduced me to a Mad Marathon 'hall of famer', who had also ran across the US last year. How cool! She obviously was busy with race things, so I didn't want to take up too much of her time, so we parted ways. 

I overheard her say that the parents of the kids' race participants were worried about the weather and wanted the kids race cancelled, so it was early one, even though she had wanted to wait to see what weather was at 'race' time. I believe the band was cancelled too, due to storms, but I wasn't there at that time so can't say for sure.

It started raining right when we were getting ready to leave, so good timing. We went back to the B&B, played some board games outside on the covered porch while it rained, watched Indiana Jones, took a relaxing jacuzzi bath, and then it was time for Mad Carbo! Our B&B made us a pasta dinner at 6 — angel hair pasta and marinara sauce, along with a salad with lots of veggie options. A lot of the guests staying there were doing the race – two with the full, and then four of us doing the half. I felt a little bad for our hosts, as all of the other couples seemed to have some time of special dietary needs... so every morning she had to prepare different types of food to fit them. It was really cool getting to meet other runners and hear their experiences. Luckily, they were all staying Sunday night too, so we saw them Monday morning to hear how their races went. It was fun knowing a few more people running that I could look for and cheer on. 

Pasta dinner & a note Susan gave us the morning of the race —
giving us more sleep.  How cute.

After a filling meal, we all headed to our rooms to prepare for race day and get to bed. I showered, laid out all my gear for my flat runner, and packed my bag of running gear and a shirt to change into post-race. I don't sleep well race nights. I was in bed around 9, was watching a movie on my iPad, and tried to go to sleep at 10. I was up constantly to go to the bathroom and was tossing and turning. 5 am came too soon, as usual.

Flat Heather

Our B&B had an early breakfast for us (again, I felt bad they had to be up so early with us for a 5am breakfast) - bananas, plain bagels, cream cheese, juices, veggies, meats, etc. I assumed it was buffet style, and since I don't eat much anyway, I stayed upstairs to get ready before heading down around 5:30. Everyone was sitting at the table chatting and eating, and then I felt bad I wasn't there on time. I forced down a plain bagel and split a banana with my husband, and drank some water. We all wished each other luck and went back to our rooms to finish preparing. We left around 6ish and arrived about 6:15. We were able to get one of the last spots in the same parking lot we had used the day before, phew. It was raining when we left, and so we both debated if we should wear our long sleeves/rain coats to stay warm before the race while we were standing outside.

Fun to see Kathleen and Tom – both Chicagoland pals.

Around 6:30 we went to the portapotty line. One long line for about 10–15 bathrooms. It moved quickly. While in line I was able to quickly chat with fellow Pro Brenda, but then she also had to get in the line. I also found my friend Kathleen and chatted with her pre-race. She was there with Chelsea, who I had interacted with online, but hadn't met in person yet. We walked over to the start line around 6:55 or so. Took some photos, then they moved up a bit. I like to start more towards the end, so I can take my walk breaks sooner (when it's super crowded, I try to run longer until I feel like there's enough space to take walk breaks and it's easy enough for others to pass). Crazily enough, I ended up next to Jennifer, a social media friend. She recognized me and said hello, and we talked for a quick minute. I also found BibRave Pro Tom briefly before the race. We had a quick chat and photo, and then it was race time. It was great to see so many familiar faces so far from home!

The race started at 7am (maybe I should mention it was Sunday, July 10). No corrals or waves, as it was a small enough race it didn't need one. The streets were wide enough to allow the crowding to dissipate around the half mile mark. It started with a small downhill, a right turn, over a bridge, and then hills. Lots and lots of hills. I had talked through a strategy with my Sweat Tracker coach, and the plan was to walk up and run down, rather than attempt intervals on the hills. That worked out well, even though it sometimes meant walking for 5 minutes. We were able to make up time on the downhills, at least.

Towards the start of the race.

There were plenty of aid stations, with both water and gatorade, as well as a portapotty with each one. Some of the community came out to cheer, which was really sweet. I think even one or two of the aid stations weren't official aid stations, but sweet families from the area. I received a lot of compliments on my Sparkle Athletic skirt, too :) A few kids cheering made my day when they told me they liked it. Super cute.

The husband drank too much coffee in the morning and stopped at just about every bathroom along the way. Luckily, he's quick (he was nice enough to run with me for the race), so I would keep going and he'd catch up. There were a few out and backs where you got to cheer on other runners, and it was cool to high-five Kathleen as she ran by, and to see Tom and the runners from the B&B. It made time go by quickly, too. 

The course was clearly marked with signs and mile markers.

Some funny signs. The one on the bottom is blurry,
but said 'Secret Shortcut' with an arrow.

More signs marking where to go. Also plenty of volunteers/course marshals
on course to help point runners in the right direction.

At one point we were coming up to what looked like a massive hill, and as I pointed it out to the husband, a guy behind me said, 'you don't see a hill. It's not really there.' That made me laugh. It ended up not feeling as bad as what it looked like from afar, so that was good.

I mean, that looks like a massive hill coming up, right?! EEKS.

Having a great time!

I took a ton of photos, as it was so beautiful. There were only two spots that were super smelly - one farm with manure, and one spot that smelled of dead fish. I used my BUFF to cover my noes so I could breathe through those spots. The one time I asked my husband if it was gone and he said yes, so I took it off my face, but he was lying. Ugh. Haha.

There was the option for a beer or water stop around mile 11 (14th Star Brewing Co Wheat Beer). We chose beer. The two guys there were awesome and told us that we just had to stay within their taped area. We split one – I took a few sips out of the cup and then gave the rest to the husband, took off while telling him to catch up. I didn't want to waste toooo much time. Haha. As if stopping for other photos didn't, anyway.

If you know me at at all, you know I went to the right.
I would only have passed it up if it wasn't good beer ;)

It was around this time that I noticed we might be able to make a 3 hour finish time. I decided to try and give it all I could to meet that new goal. Instead of run/walking, I ran as much as I could. I took 3 breaks to catch my breath (1 was to walk up the final hill on course). It started downpouring at mile 12, but it felt so good I didn't mind. I was pretty much drenched in sweat anyway, so it's not like my clothes weren't already wet. The last part was running back the way it hard started, so it was over the bridge, turning the corner, and up the hill. At the corner, the street was only blocked off by cones at the shoulder so cars could drive normally in the lanes. Instead of running in the small area, I just hopped up on the sidewalk until the area near the finish where it was blocked off again to traffic. 

Tom and I at the finish

We ended up just over 3 hours, so in a small way I was disappointed, but also seeing as my main goal in my head was 3:15, I was very happy. I never expected to do that well with the hills. I'll be honest, I had talked those hills up in my head so much, that I was expecting the worst. And so, they weren't nearly as bad as I had imagined, which made the course even better. My problem is when I don't know there are hills, then I'm surprised and I find the race to be so difficult, but expecting to have a really hard time with huge a$$ hills, I managed to do better than I thought I would. Funny how that can work sometimes. Obviously, still a very challenging course with the half having a little over 1200 feet of elevation gain, but for me, 'easier' than expected.

The finish area.

Enjoying my post-race beer.

A photo with Dori the RD.

At the finish, I got my Dori hug, a medal, and then went to grab some food. They had cider, donuts, chips, bananas, bagels, and water. They also had a blow up pool with rubber duckies for runners to cool down in, though it didn't really seem needed this year. Weather was in the 50–60s, overcast, sometimes drizzly until the end where it poured, and overcast (loved that) with 95% humidity. Being soaked, I was then cold, so grabbed a heat sheet. Eventually, we found out the beer was across the street where pickup was. They had 14th Star Brewing Co Valor (a hoppy beer), and then some other options if you wanted to pay $5. There were also some pretzels, chips, and salsa. AND an adorable, sweet 2-year old boxer.

The finish line. They did a great job of making sure it wasn't too muddy or slippy.


After drinking the beer, we headed to the car to change into some dry clothes, then back to the finish line to cheer on the other runners. I got a photo with Dori, and a little while later I was starving so we left to get some food. We went to Bluestone Pizza, had some beer, and a delicious pizza. Then went back to the B&B to shower and warm up. We began the packing process, then went to dinner at Mad Taco. More beers were consumed along with more delicious food (seriously, I want to move there - amazing craft beer scene and such great food everywhere!). We walked across the street to grab beers to bring home, but what the hubs wanted wasn't in stock. Womp womp. Walking back over, we saw a Creemee place open, so grabbed some sundae cones. They were amazing! One of them had 'maple floss' on it - not even knowing what it was. Turned out, it was similar to cotton candy, but made with maple. Yum. Mine had brownies, chocolate creemee, spiced chocolate dip, and salted caramel in a waffle cone. Oh yeah.

Wearing my BibRave sweatshirt to keep me warm.
Usually post-race photo with my medal.

This race was so fantastic. I really hope I can fit it in the budget and schedule next year. I'd love to try and challenge myself even more with the full marathon next time.

chicago marathon training 2016: week 8

Week 8 of Chicago Marathon Training
Monday, July 4: 6 miles at CP, 40/30, 1:19:00, 13:10 average pace, and Strength Training (week 3, workout 1)
Tuesday, July 5Rest/Stretch/Roll (travel day)
Wednesday, July 6: 8 miles at CP, 40/30, 1:51:34, 13:56 average pace (I stopped a few times to take photos, and it was hot, so we took our time and enjoyed the sights)
Thursday, July 7: Rest/Stretch/Roll (travel day)
Friday, July 8: 4.77 miles Hiking Mt Abraham
Saturday, July 9: Rest/Stretch/Roll
Sunday, July 10: Mad Half Marathon (13.19 miles), 3:01:34, 13:46 average pace

Week Total Mileage: 27.19 (running miles only)
Marathon Training Mileage: 227.86
YTD: 654.18

I was traveling this week and so I rearranged a bit to fit things in. Originally, it should have been 6 on Tuesday, 8 on Thursday, 4 on Saturday and then the half on Sunday. I knew with traveling Tuesday I wouldn't have time to run, so I ran on the 6 on Monday. I thought I could manage without any water for 6 miles, but by mile 3 I was cursing myself for not brining anything. I get so thirsty in this heat! I went home and chugged down some Ultima. It was so refreshing.

6 miles on Monday went pretty well.
Rehydrated with Ultima Replenisher Raspberry when I was done.

Thursday, while in Portland, Maine, my husband and I woke up a little earlier so we could go for an 8 miler around the town. The husband, being so wonderful, had looked up some (mostly paved) trails to run. I'd like to point out that while he does run, he is not one that likes to do races, or generally would use vacation time to go running. He was very nice in allowing me to go for my training run, and even nicer that he wanted to do it together. This was the first time I ever ran on vacation that didn't include a race. I've never done training on vacation – I gave myself permission to just enjoy time with whoever I was with, but it was so great to be able to stick with my schedule (for the most part) and still spend time with the hubs. It's a great way to explore a new city. 

It was so pretty running by the bay. Very calming.

We ran one that then connected to another that went around a lake for 3 miles. We had about .25 miles left at the end, so we ran to the Starbucks that was a little farther away to hit the full 8. There, we ordered some Trenta Refreshers and some water, since we only brought the one 16oz bottle with us on the run, and that needed to be preserved in order to last. He usually doesn't drink a lot of water when he runs, so I figured the one bottle would be plenty... but he ended up drinking more than I anticipated haha. Oh well, we survived.

The rest of the day we checked out breweries, Mead Works, and ate some delicious food. Thursday we left Portland (but first had stopped at Starbucks for coffee and Holy Donuts for the best donuts ever!) and traveled to Hill Farmstead Brewery, then Alchemist, and then checked in at our B&B. We settled in, went out for dinner, and had an early night.

Some photos from our hike.

I ended up skipping the 4 mile run on Saturday because it was storming most of the day. Also, we had done a 4.77 mile hike up and down Mt Abraham on Friday. To get to summit was about 2.6 miles, and about .25 miles away we saw storm clouds rolling in. Since the last part was mostly scrambling up some rocks, and we both only had gym shoes on, we figured it be best to just head back down early so as not to have to deal with slippy rocks. Mind you, we still had some slippy parts to deal with, and I might have fell once or twice, tripped a ton, and got pretty frustrated by the end at how tired my quads were, but we both made it back down (one of us with a few more bruises than when we started). 

We went back to shower and relax a bit, then headed to Ben and Jerry's Factory Tour where we had some ice cream cones, saw the factory, and got a free sample of Americone Dreams. Yum. We then had some beers at Blackback Pub and dinner at Prohibition Pig. Great food and beer in Vermont!

There were hills, rain, beer, and a fun medal. Great time!

Saturday was a rainy day, and we didn't have many plans. We picked up our packets, checked out the farmers market, and then spent the rest of the day at the B&B. We played some Scattegories out on the covered porch while the rain came down and then watched Indiana Jones. Pasta dinner that night and an early bedtime (or at least an attempt at one).

The Mad Half on Sunday was amazing. After hearing about the killer hills, I honestly was just hoping to finish in 3:30. I did much better than that, and was so pleased. At mile 11 I saw we were close to hitting 3 hours or maybe even under, so I ran way more than I ever do without taking a walk break. I think the last two miles I took maybe three walk breaks to catch my breath, but ran the rest of it. I was very proud of myself for pushing so hard. 

I'll have a recap up on the blog later today. As you can see, I'm busy trying to catch up on real world life now that I'm back from vacation, and over this past weekend it's been races galore, so I'm quite behind ;)

Monday, July 4, 2016

chicago marathon training 2016: week 7

Week 7 of Chicago Marathon Training
Monday, June 27: Rest/Stretch/Roll
Tuesday, June 28: 6 miles at CP, 40/30, 1:18:39, 13:06 average pace
Wednesday, June 29: Strength Training (week 2, workout 1)
Thursday, June 30: 8 miles at CP, 40/30, 1:50:21, 13:47 average pace
Friday, July 1: Strength Training (week 2, workout 2)
Saturday, July 2: 18 miles at CP, 30/30
Sunday, July 3: Rest/Stretch/Roll

Week Total Mileage: 32
Marathon Training Mileage: 200.67
YTD: 626.99

First workout up this week was a Medium Run. 6 miles at Conversation Pace with 40/30 run/walk intervals. It. Felt. Awesome. I was feeling kind of slow and sluggish the first 2 miles, but when I saw what my pace was I was surprised. I definitely was expecting my legs to feel like lead since only two days ago I had done 16 miles. They didn't. I just sort of let them go at the pace they felt comfortable with, and if it weren't for mile 2, I would have negative splits for the whole run. Still, negative split from mile 2–6 is awesome for me, and I was so proud when I was done. The temps were perfect for a summer run — unusually 'cool' with 68 degrees, cloudy, and 60% humidity. Pretty sure having a cloudy/coolish (compared to the 80s and 90s we've been having) day really helped me out here. 

Strength training went well this week. I was back to week 2 of the plan, and man, these exercises are still tough! That one-legged deadlift seems to be my worst enemy, as I wake up with sore glutes anytime I have done that exercise. 

8 miles on Thursday was interesting. It was my longest run on a weekday that didn't count as my long run. And it was the longest run to have 40/30 intervals for the entirety. Up until now, it has only been used up to 6 miles. I was feeling pretty good most of the run. It was back to warmer temps, but was feeling ok. At mile 4 I had a weird pang in my knee, but it went away just as quickly as it came. Then at mile 6 it came back with a vengeance. I had to stop and stretch and walk when I should have been running. I wasn't sure if I'd be able to make it home. I kept on moving, and eventually it mostly went away so I was able to finish up the 8. It didn't hurt too bad when walking, just running. I don't know if something flared up from doing so many miles or what, but I was afraid it wouldn't go away for my long run Saturday. I made sure to ice it and I taped it for my LR, in hopes that it wouldn't be around. 

On Saturday, I was actually awake early and ready to get running – a rarity for me, as I prefer to sleep in the morning haha. Unfortunately, I woke up with a horrible stomach ache. I gathered all of my gear, but ended up needing to lay down a while longer. I didn't get to the trail until close to 9 and the parking was jam packed. Luckily, I found someone leaving and was able to pull in after they left. I sun screened and bug sprayed up and was on my way. The first few miles were so slow, due to the stomach ache. I gave myself 3 miles for the ache to go away before calling it quits and trying again on Sunday. Luckily, around mile 2 they subsided and I was able to run the rest of my miles without much trouble.

I was pretty surprised at how well I was feeling after the first 9 miles. I had taped my knee up, and was having no trouble with it. I refilled at mile 10 and mentally broke up the run into two more parts of 4 miles. It made it easier to keep running rather than thinking 8 more. I kept a pretty good pace and was feeling good until about mile 16 where I got a bit tired and the sun decided to make its appearance. Temps ranged from 65–74, mostly cloudy (thankfully), and 60% humidity. I was able to maintain the 30/30 run/walk intervals for most of the run until that 17th mile, and then I did a little more walking. I also ended about .75 miles from my car, so once I hit 17 I stopped the watch and walked the rest of the way as a cool down.

When I got back to the car, I mixed up my newly acquired Ultima Replenisher Raspberry packet with some ice water I had in a cooler. It tasted really good and was really refreshing, especially since I really had to ration out the water I had with me on my run the last few miles. By mile 16 I was nearly out, so I told myself the treat for finishing 18 miles strong was that I would get to finish what was in the bottle. Problem was, I was so thirsty on the walk back all I could think about was that Ultima/cold water in the car ready for the drinking. When I got home I chugged some chocolate milk, showered, ate some watermelon and feta cheese, and then relaxed the rest of the day until dinner time, when I headed up to my favorite brewery for my favorite food truck (grilled cheese and loaded fries!). Yum. Probably not the best way to reward myself, but I did feel like I had earned it haha.

I ended up with a 14:32 pace, which is pretty fantastic for me. I had to go back and look at my past runs to compare, and I found a 19 miler in September where my pace was 15:40, so an improvement of over a minute per mile (I know that was a mile longer, but couldn't find any data for another 18 miler, though I'm sure I have it somewhere...), and it was pretty warm out, to me at least. How awesome is that? I also had very little pain the next day. My quads were a little sore, but no pain so bad I had trouble walking or using stairs haha.

I'm sure I've said this so much already in the past few weeks, but I'm very pleased with how training is going this cycle. Sweat Tracker has been helping me improve immensely, and I know for certain I wouldn't be seeing these improvements without their help. 

PS If you're interested in trying Ultima Replenisher yourself, head on over to the website and use code BIBRAVE2016 for 25% off + free shipping. 

Friday, July 1, 2016

chicago marathon training 2016: week 6

Week 6 of Chicago Marathon Training
Monday, June 20: Strength Training (starting over - week 1, workout 1)
Tuesday, June 21: 6 miles at CP, 40/30, 1:23:35, 13:56 average pace
Wednesday, June 22: Strength Training (week 1, workout 2)
Thursday, June 23: 6 miles at CP, 40/30, 1:20:12, 13:22 average pace
Friday, June 24: Rest/Stretch/Roll
Saturday, June 25: Chicago Bears 5k, 3.22* miles, 43:26, 13:30 average pace
Sunday, June 26: 16 miles at CP, 30/30 planned. 8 miles outside - 1:53:52, 14:14 average pace. 1.8 miles outside - 26:21, 14:46 average pace. 6.2 miles on treadmill, 60/60 intervals, 13:00 average pace (we know that's not completely accurate)

Week Total Mileage: 28

Marathon Training Mileage: 168.67
YTD: 594.99

I started my strength training over this week, since I had completed the 8 weeks. I'm really working on form, and when I can, I add some more weight or do the advanced form of the exercises.

My run on Tuesday night didn't go so well. I wasn't feeling great when I woke up, so decided to snooze a bit longer and run after work. I didn't get home until after 8, which meant half of my run was done in the dark. I was ok until mile 4ish when my stomach started giving me some issues. I had to slow down a bit so that I wouldn't puke. I also encountered two coyotes running together. Luckily, they saw me, but kept on running. Phew. The weather wasn't too bad, since the sun had gone down and wasn't beating down on me. Half the time, that's a major downfall, so it was nice not to have to deal with that. 

Thursday's run felt much better. Cooler weather (mid-70s), but high humidity, so lots of face wiping to stop my eyes from burning from sweat. I managed the 40/30 through the first 4 miles, then needed a few longer walk breaks after that, but mostly kept with the 40/30. Very happy with an average pace under 13:30.

Crazy hair, don't care.

The Chicago Bears 5k was a lot of fun. I wasn't running for time, but running with my mom, taking it easier so that I could save some energy for the 16 miler on Sunday. You can read my BibRave Review of the race here if you're interested. I'll eventually get a recap up on the blog too, but as you can see from my last recap, I'm a few months behind.

Hot day, but super cool to finish on the field!

Sunday's run was a bit of a tough one. I woke up early so I could start my run before it got crazy hot out. Well, thunderstorms prevented that. I don't mind running in rain, but obviously it's not safe to go out when lightning is in the area. I waited it out, and it finished around 9. The next one wasn't supposed to be until 1, so I figured I should be done before then. The humidity hit me like a wall when I got outside. I knew it would be bad, as our windows were all fogged up. I didn't think I'd make it 3, so was happy that I went to 8 before feeling like I couldn't go any farther outdoors. By this time, it was 90 degrees out with 70% humidity. I did stop briefly at mile 5 to fill up my water bottle and wipe down my face. 

It was the week of coyote sightings! Didn't think one would be
running out in the open in the middle of the day. Also, super sweaty me.

At 8 I stopped home to grab more electrolytes and to head to the gym. I forced myself to run to the gym, hence the other 1.8 miles outside. I was annoyed that I had stopped my watch, but impressed with myself for making the decision to run to the gym rather than drive, knowing how hot it was out there. By this time, I was having trouble keeping the 30/30 intervals and found myself walking more. At the gym, I did 60/60 intervals on a 1 incline for 6.2 miles. The towel I used to wipe my face was drenched. I tried new fuel for this run - the Skratch Labs fruit drops. They were really good. Anyway, I then walked home as a cool down.

I'll also note that it didn't storm again that day. And for a day that was supposed to be thunderstorms the majority of the day, it was awfully sunny out when I running. Boo. I kept thinking the night before, at least it will be cloudy. And I welcomed rain, just no lightning, since it would have felt oh so good. Oh well, that's Mother Nature.

That 16 miler was a doozy – took a lot of mental strength along with physical strength to finish in the heat and humidity, and even though I finished on the treadmill, which I was hoping to avoid, I'm glad I managed to get almost 10 outside before I let myself go indoors to finish, even though I was pooping out sooner. Having to push myself through these conditions will help me come marathon day, especially if it's a hot one like last year. I can tell I'm fairing better than last year, even though running in summer still isn't my favorite thing to do. Seeing improvements in speed through the hot days shows that I'm doing better than last year, so that's a nice reward.

*I do my mileage based off of my Garmin. I know the race was 3.1 and not that my watch was off (and the fact there was all the weaving and not running the tangents), but for me to keep track it's just easiest to use my Garmin stats and monthly totals. When adding everything up, I'd forget about the differences and confuse myself haha.