Monday, October 31, 2016

prepping for rundisney wine and dine weekend

AHHHHH! Can you believe that it's runDisney Wine and Dine THIS weekend? It seems like yesterday that I was sweating trying to get registered before it closed haha.

This is my 5th year running (and was my first runDisney race ever... the one that got me hooked on not just Disney but running half marathons in general). I've learned a few things about runDisney along the way, and here are a few reminders while you're packing up and heading out. A lot of this was sent in an email about a week ago, but it bears repeating :)

Print your race waiver(s) before leaving & put them into your luggage. You can go here if you haven't done so already.

Are you staying at a Disney resort? Did you get a Magic Band in the mail? If the answer is yes - make sure you have it in your carry on luggage with you. If you are taking the Magical Express, you'll scan your Magic Band at the airport down in the ME area.

Study the Digital Guide (they are no longer printing programs and handing them out at the expo). While I'm glad for the environment, I will miss the printed copy. I used it OFTEN on my trips, and the digital guide is a bit difficult to access/navigate on my phone. I wish they had a version that you could at least create a PDF of or print on your own at home if you wanted (like of the race times/transportation times... I like to check on these things often as I'm paranoid I have the info wrong and need to confirm).

If you are participating in Lumiere's Challenge or Coast to Coast (or Chateau), you'll want to get your photo taken with your bib at the expo. It's usually in the Field House, so just look for signs (it's usually pretty obvious where to go). They've been doing the photos instead of wristbands, so at the end of the half, go through the tent for your challenge to receive your medal (they verify times/photo/bib in the tent).

Put your After Party card in your luggage (you should have received this in the mail within the past couple of days).

runDisney has cracked down a bit on running costumes - check out the event guide for the rules to make sure your outfit will pass the test.

Sign up for runner tracking here.

Weekend Itinerary:

Thursday, November 3
10am – 7pm: runDisney Health and Fitness Expo at ESPN Wide World of Sports

Friday, November 4
6:30am start: Mickey's Holiday 5k at Disney's Animal Kingdom
10am – 7pm: runDisney Health and Fitness Expo at ESPN Wide World of Sports

Saturday, November 5
5:30am start: Wine and Dine 10k at Epcot
10am – 4pm: runDisney Health and Fitness Expo at ESPN Wide World of Sports

Sunday, November 5
5:30am start: Wine and Dine Half Marathon at ESPN WWoS (finish at Epcot)
10pm – 1am (Novemebr 6): Post-Race Party at Epcot! Early entry begins at 8pm

I feel those are the main points, and that any other information needed can be found in the digital event guide. Feel free to leave a question in the comments and I can try my best to answer for you :)

Can't wait to be in the Most Magical Place on Earth! I'm also super excited to eat my way around the world at Epcot Food and Wine Festival. YUM. 

Who else is going? I love meeting new runners - so please say hi if you see me! I'm going to try and stop by the We Run Social meet up at Disney Springs Saturday at 1pm.

spring marathon training: week 1

Monday, October 24: Rest/Stretch & Roll
Tuesday, October 25: 6 miles (50/30) --> Wednesday
Wednesday, October 26: Rest/Stretch & Roll
Thursday, October 27: Medium Run: 6 miles (50/30) --> Friday
Friday, October 28: Rest/Stretch & Roll
Saturday, October 29: Medium Run: 8 miles (50/30) --> 15k on Sunday
Sunday, October 30: Short Run: 4 miles (55/30) --> Saturday

Total Miles for Spring Marathon Training: 25.9 miles

While I haven't figured out what my spring marathon will be (I have a few on my radar that I'm deciding between), I didn't want to lose the work and base mileage I had from Chicago Marathon and wanted to jump back in. I took about a week off post-marathon to help my body recover, but then I was ready to get back into the game.

My schedule was a bit off from what coach sent over, but generally I got it done.

I moved Tuesday to Wednesday, hit up the treadmill at the gym (heavy rains), and did my 6 miles in 1:19:38 with an average pace of 13:16 using 50/30 intervals.

Then I moved Thursday to Friday. I had to go to the gym again, and did 6 miles in 1:19:22 with an average pace of 13:13 using 50/30 intervals. 

Saturday was another treadmill night. I got there with less than an hour until the gym closed, so really had to bust my ass to get my 4 miles in (I was pushing the '8' to Sunday because I was running the Hot Chocolate 15k). I was trying 50/30 intervals, but for the last mile I ran almost the whole thing. I made it in 50:18 with an average pace of 12:34. I had heard the gym announcements about closing in 5 minutes and really pushed myself. I didn't want to end with 3.9 or anything. I needed that 4 haha. I thought others were still up there with me, but when I finished and went to the locker, I saw it was the cleaning crew. Oops. The last gym worker was there and I apologized profusely as I tried to hurry out, but he was really kind and told me to take my time (I didn't, but nice of him to say). 

Sunday was Hot Chocolate 15k. It was my first race of that distant, so instant PR! Boom. I was up a lot of the night coughing for some strange reason, so wasn't sure how the race would go. It was a cooler, slightly rainy day, but great for running in my opinion. You can read my recap here. Garmin said 9.89 miles in 2:06:57 with an average pace of 12:50. Obviously Garmin was off a by about .5 miles as 15k = 9.32 miles, but that happens when running in the city.

Saturday, October 8, 2016

extend your energy with ucan snack bars

Disclaimer: I received the a sample pack of Generation UCAN Snack Bars 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!

I've never been very good with my running nutrition – before, during, or after my workouts. Part of my problem is if I wake up early, I just can't stomach eating for about 2 hours and honestly, I'm not waking up 2 hours before a run just so I can eat something. For the short runs, it's not a big deal, but I'm obviously missing out on an important step pre-run if it's a longer one. Plus, after a run, it's important to get some protein in ya. I often make a protein smoothie/shake, but I don't always have the time or I'm not home.

Generation UCAN came up with some snack bar solutions. They come in five different flavors, depending on what appeals to you. If you are interested in trying them all, they also have a combo pack with two of each bar. Flavors include: Peach Passion, Coffee Bean, Cinnamon Swirl, Chocolate, and Chocolate Peanut Butter. In my packet I received two Coffee Bean, two Chocolate, one Cinnamon Swirl, and one Peach Passion.

My favorites were Cinnamon Swirl and Coffee Bean (which is surprising since I don't always love coffee flavors and don't drink coffee straight - - just lattes or fraps). Chocolate was pretty good, but I did not enjoy Peach Passion. It smelled delightful, just like a peach, but for me it was not an appealing taste. However, some of the other Pros testing these bars had Peach Passion as their number one flavor, so it's all about your own taste buds and what you like.

So other than flavor, texture is a biggie for most. I'll admit that my first bar had me a bit taken aback. Texture can be a problem for me, and this wasn't super great. However, once I knew what it was like, the next 5 bars were fine. I got used to the texture and then got past it pretty quickly. It made it easier to eat the other bars and enjoy them. 

The first bar I tried eating during a medium run of 8 miles. This did not go so well. Part of the problem was that it was 80+ degrees out, so the chocolate melted a bit in the wrapper, sticking to it some. It was a bit hard for me to get past the texture to take more than a few bites. The first bite was way too big and it took me a while to chew. A bit exhausting when also trying to run haha.

Next time I ate a bar as a post-run snack. Cinnamon Swirl was the flavor and I loved it! I ate Coffee Bean as breakfast one morning, and that was quite tasty too. Definitely passed the texture concern – I was able to eat the bars no problem. I tried to eat Peach Passion before a race, but I just didn't love the taste enough to eat the whole thing. I put the other chocolate flavor in my purse, and one day I was running late for work and didn't eat breakfast, I was starving an hour in. So happy I had that bar in my bag so I could eat it to hold me over to lunch. I've found I enjoy the bars before a medium/long run (about 30 mins before) or as a snack during the day to curb that pesky hunger. For me, during wasn't a good option – just not something I could carry and eat easily enough during. Not to say others didn't enjoy going that route. Again, like tastebuds, it just comes down to personal preference.

Now, what is it about the Generation UCAN bars that set them apart from other bars? It's the SuperStarch. What is SuperStarch? 

"Our revolutionary SuperStarch is changing the way you energize! This natural, slow-releasing carbohydrate keeps blood sugar stable and delivers steady energy for your brain and body. Make your calories count with SuperStarch, the key ingredient in UCAN products. 

Sustaining your blood sugar is the key to maintaing your energy so you can perform your best. UCAN prevents the spike and crash of sugar-based fuels and is gentle on the stomach. No more bonking and GI distress!"

I did notice that it helped keep blood sugar levels stable and gave me a more steady stream of energy than other bars I have tried. Definitely better than snacking on chips or candy, right? I think if you expect a bit of a strange texture, you can get past it pretty quick and start to enjoy them. I had no tummy problems with these (though I'll be honest and say that I don't generally have stomach problems). 

I'd definitely recommend giving these bars a shot, and if you don't like a flavor, don't write them off. There are a few different options and you should try them all to find which one you like best. You might find you like them all and can't pick a favorite! Though I saw cinnamon swirl is my favorite, it was a close second with chocolate and coffee bean. I have to get my hands on some of the chocolate peanut butter – sound awesome. 

Get yourself some of the bars (or any of the UCAN products) saving yourself 15% with code BIBRAVE. 

Connect with UCAN:

What do the other BibRave Pros think? Check out their reviews:

GinaAngie | Jessica | Mark | Brian

chicago marathon 2016: expo and race day goals

Ahhhhh! The time has come! It's Chicago Marathon weekend! Yesterday I went to the expo. I was hoping to get there right at opening, but traffic (and a little extra sleep) had me arriving closer to 9:30. You know, since once you hit the parking lot it's another 15 minutes to walk all the way over to the Lake Side Exhibit Hall.

I knew there would be a ton of people there I would want to try and meet up. Plus... I knew all of the gear from the exhibitor would be amazing and I might have trouble controlling myself. 

When you arrive, you head to an open table/volunteer with a computer to give them your QR code (either from the email they sent or the participant guide sent in the mail) and show them your ID. Then they tell you what table to head over to, and when you get there they double check your name and give you a folder with your bib number in it. Then you head instead the hall to get your bag/shirt at the back of the hall. I didn't have any trouble with lines - plenty of workers. I really like the shirt this year. It's a nice design and it's neon yellow, which I'm a fan of (love bright colors).

After that I met up with Mark and his wife to chat and shop around. We stopped for a Bartie with Bart Yasso (he's so awesome) as well as get a photo with Shalane and Elyse (there wasn't a line so even though I had a photo with them the previous night at their Book Tour event, I had to get another!). 

Then I headed to the Nike customization shirt line. I didn't even know it was a thing, but Frank texted me about being in a long line for it, and figured it was good and should check it out haha. In line I made friends with the folks in front and behind of me. The women in front of me were friendly – for one if was her first marathon. The girl behind me was going into her third like me. We all chatted about who we were getting shirts for and what we'd put on them. There was a 10 character limit, which hindered a lot of the ideas we came up. Lots of brainstorming happening – Chi Marathon, Chicago 26.2, Chicago 2016... most didn't fit haha. I actually just planned on grabbing a shirt for myself with my own name, then heard someone else say it was weird to wear a shirt with your name on it ha. I ended up just doing that anyway, as I was like, I can wear it, look down and it's motivation haha. The girl behind me did the same. I also got a shirt for my mom. Then it was a 2 hour wait for the shirts to get made. No problem - lots of other exhibitors to look at. I think the line took about 40–50 minutes to get through to order. I saw Frank pass a few times and Mark once.

I do love the running community because it's so easy to talk with everyone. I talked with everyone that I was in line with, with all of the people checking me out. Such a friendly and open group.

At Goose Island I grabbed a Chicago Marathon 26.2 t-shirt and glass.

Next I headed to get official Nike gear. I loved all the shirts, sweatshirts, and jackets. The sweatshirts this year had the awesome neck (it's like cowl or whatever it's called). SO COMY. I loved the one from 2015 so of course had to get one of those. Also grabbed a white element and a t-shirt or two. It was a long line, but it moved very quickly.

After that I met up with Frank and Mark to get some BibRave Pro photos together. While we talked about Sunday, how to find Mark at the aid station, game plans for post-race, etc, Jessica ran up to us! I was so happy. I didn't think I'd see her until after the race so it was a nice surprise. She said she spotted us so easily since we were all wearing our orange.

Then I was able to meet up with Amelia and chat for a little bit about the race and life. Love getting to see her. 

Then I hit up North Face that had some awesome sweatshirts and shirts for men and women, and New Balance that had some really cool Chicago themed shirts and jackets. I only bought a shirt (hard to decide which one, but just one) at NB, and a sweatshirt at NF. After that I just wondered around and waited till about 2 hours had passed and then went to grab my shirts. That part was a bit of a pain. There wasn't an official line, so just kind of had to step up with your ticket to see if your stuff was ready. Luckily, I ran into some ladies that were close to my number, so we stood together and were helped in a group. They did have workers coming out with the bags and announcing the numbers, but often times those people weren't there waiting. Anyway, the one worker took our tickets and was pretty quick to help us out after about 10 minutes waiting. She couldn't find the one shirt, so they had it made while I waited. That didn't take too long. I did appreciate all of their hard work and efforts. It did seem like a bit of a jumble, but most people seemed patient and polite, so always happy to see that.

I like to collect pint glasses, but unfortunately the official merchandise pint glass was the same exact one as last year, just with a year change. Boo. Instead I bought a water bottle (not that I need another... but oh well). 

I got my parking validated and headed out. The expo got full FAST. It was tough to maneuver around and was a bit stressful. It's why I like to get it done two days before the race so I can spend the next day relaxing. I was there for about four hours.

After I got home, I was so exhausted, but I ate my lunch late (2:30) then headed grocery shopping, unpacked, and then went for my 4mile run. It was the last one before race day, and weather was fantastic. In the low 60s and the sun was beginning to set, so it was amazing for a run. I was keeping it easy, and was so surprised at my pace when I was done. I wasn't out of breath or felt like I had to walk more. I did 50/30 intervals and saw lots of other friendly folks out for a walk or run. Lots of smiles. One guy walking, when I passed by the second time, was even like 'here she is, going so fast'. That is not something I've ever hear someone say about me haha. Another guy was running on the paved track on the left, and I didn't want to surprise him, so said 'passing on your right' so he knew I was there, and he said thanks and that I was having a great run. So nice when others around you are nice, friendly, and polite too. Made me even happier. 

So on to my goals and game plan for the weekend. I am going to wear my newer shoes that have about 40 miles on them. They have better cushion and feel better than my older shoes I originally planned to wear. Intervals will be 45/30 for the first 8, 40/30 the next 8, and then either stay that way if I'm feeling good come 16, and if/when I'm getting too tired for that, it'll be 30/30 to the finish line.

Now my goals. I shall list them in order of 'easier' to 'tougher. Then, if I hit more than the first, I can say I hit 2 or 3 of my goals haha.

Goal 1: Finish in 6:30. That's a 14:53 pace and the cut off time. I didn't make that last year, so even if I finish at the cut off time, then at least I did better than last year and will be an OFFICIAL finisher. I know I can make that happen. This is my most realistic goal.

Goal 2: 14:30 pace with a finish time of 6:19:54. I managed my 20 miler with this pace, and that was back on August 21. About a month and a half has passed and I feel stronger and more capable, so I don't think this is too much of a stretch.

Goal 3: Average pace of 14. That is a finish time of 6:06:48. This is a bit of a stretch, but it's the goal I'm gunning for. 

I like to have a bunch of goals, so that I know I'll hit at least one of these, and in the end, I'll be proud of myself no matter what. I'm going to finish, and it's going to be awesome.

I trained even harder this year, put in more miles, and put my body and mind through the ringer. I am ready and feeling confident, though there are of course plenty of nerves too. That's natural.

I'm spending today gathering all of my gear, post-race clothes, doing laundry, and hydrating / laying on the couch watching tv. I slept in until 9 and it felt awesome. I am ready to go. How about you?

Sunday, October 2, 2016

be seen in the rudy project sterling fluo helmet

Disclaimer: I received the Rudy Project Sterling Fluo Helmet 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!

So excited for cooler weather! Bike rides, sweatshirts, and PSL!

For years my husband has been trying to persuade me into registering for a triathlon. There have been a lot of excuses as to why I have said no, but not being a competitive cyclist in one of them. I feel like now I can't use that excuse, as I have the most amazing helmet in the market and it gets me maybe 1/3 of the way towards being more serious about cycling.

Very nice packaging.

As of now, however, I am more of a leisurely biker. I don't even like using the term cyclist because to me that means someone who is speedy on their bike haha, and that's not me. I like to take my bike out for flat, slow rides around the neighborhood or on local paved trails. I'll be honest and say I hadn't gotten my bike out of the garage in... oh a few years. I know cross training is important, but I've never really taken the time to add it to my schedule as I do with running and strength training. Having the opportunity to test out the Rudy Project Sterling Fluo Helmet helped change that, because now I have a helmet I trust to actually keep me safe (and SEEN - it's so bright and amazing).

Initial try on. I was so excited and anxious I didn't even take off the tags haha.

I've never tried on a helmet that was so light-weight and comfortable. I have a smaller head (and often can't get caps to fit well even on the smallest setting), so I was surprised how I could adjust this helmet to fit perfectly. There's a comfort ring and retention system in the back that allows you to adjust the helmet to your head – whatever size it might be. I'll also mention that you have your choice of helmet sizes: Small/Medium or Large. I of course went with the Small/Medium with my child sized head haha. I never really think about my head being or feeling small until I put on hats or helmets haha. I'm so glad that this Rudy Project Sterling Fluo Helmet doesn't make me feel like a little kid haha.

Even on a warm or hot day, my head is able to stay cool thanks to all of the vents in this helmet. It's also able to stay bug free when you have the bug net padding. I felt no need to take that out for riding, though I did take it off just to see how it all worked (for testing and research purposes). It was very easy to do.

Some amazing features of the Rudy Project Sterling Fluo Helmet are:
  • The Rudy Project Sterling was designed with the aid of an Italian hat craftsman to provide the upmost in comfort & safety. 
  • 18 vents assure you’re properly cooled while the RSR7 retention system provides on-the-fly, single-handed adjustment. 
  • The Sterling is available in number of bright Fluo colors and comes with a removable bug net and visor.
  • The most comfortable & bestselling helmet from Rudy Project
  • Very lightweight at only 310 g
  • Easily adjustable via the RSR7 point retention system & 3 position Head Ring
  • Eyewear Dock to hold your sunglasses when you’re not wearing them
  • Comes with snap visor, additional padding & Bug Stop net padding
  • Safety Certified: CE 89 686 EEC, EN 1078, CPSC 12.03, AS NZS 2063

Fastex Buckle Closure System
The Fastex™ system consists of a simple and quick snap-lock buckle for securing the throat strap which is ergonomically shaped and ensures perfect regulation and maximum stability.

Removable & Adjustable Comfort Head Ring
Rudy Project has created helmet systems that are adjustable on the nape of the neck. They can be adjusted to 3 positions in the case of Head Ring 3, and to 2 positions in the case of Head Ring 2. These mechanisms allow you to adapt the height of the retention system to your individual morphology and fit the helmet to your head securely.

Adjustable RSR7 Retention System
Accidental knocks when cycling can cause sudden movements of your helmet in every direction. Therefore it is essential that your helmet is totally secure to prevent it from detaching from your head and resulting in dangerous knocks. Rudy Project helmets have efficient, easy-to-adjust retention systems which can be adjusted using handy cursors offering you maximum comfort and total safety.

Interchangeable Custom Padding
All over the world, individuals of different races have different physical characteristics and personal morphology. Thorough analysis of the various different types of heads and helmet ergonomics has allowed Rudy Project to optimise the caps of its cycling and mountain bike helmets and so we are able to satisfy the fitting requirements of all individuals and ensure top-level comfort and stability.

Integrated & Removable Visor
The visor is a useful accessory which protects the face against knocks and scratches caused by impacts with branches and other sharp objects and acts as a shield against sunrays, so that you have an optimal view of the terrain at all times. Almost all Rudy Project helmets have a light, removable visor which, as well as making the helmet safer, also adds an aggressive look.

Blue and Pink are my favorite.

I love that this helmet is so versatile. It can be used by cyclists who are on the slower side, who prefer to go for leisurely bike rides (like me at this point in time), or for the serious cyclists, who take part in Ironman competitions (like our own BibRave Pro Jessica who took on Ironman Chattanooga like a boss! She's a BA!). It works for everyone, for whatever cycling life you live. Fast. Slow. Leisurely. Trails. Road.

I also love all of the colors. I had a hard time choosing which was my number one preference, but went with Pink/Blue because that's two of my favorite colors. Mainly I debated between that and the green. The bright color options are: pink, green, orange, and yellow. They are SO very bright (and to me fun), but that also means SAFETY. The bright colors = high visibility to drivers, cyclists, and/or runners.

Interested in this helmet? Go over to this Rudy page and enter your name and email address – you'll receive 25% off your first purchase and be the first to know about their killer Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and other Holiday deals.

Rudy Project will be sponsoring #BibChat over on Twitter on October 4 at 8pm CT. TWO lucky winners will get a Sterling Helmet! How awesome is that?! You don't want to miss out. Make sure to follow BibRave and Rudy Project, answer the 6 questions posted by BibRave and use the hashtag #BibChat so others can follow along, chit chat with like-minded athletes, and have a fun-filled hour with friends :) 

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Read what the other BibRave Pros thought about the Rudy Project Sterling Fluo Helmet: