Friday, June 15, 2018

Put Some Spring in Your Step - My review of the Brooks Levitate Running Shoes

Disclaimer:  I received the Brooks Levitates to use and review as part of being a BibRave Pro.  Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave 
to review, find and write race reviews.



Christmas shopping.  Long lines. Black Friday Chaos.   It's much like the experience of a runner getting FREE running shoes!  Everyone is up before the birds and are standing in lines waiting to snag that "too-good-to-be-true" deal.   Except,  I was gifted a FREE pair of Brooks Levitates to review and I didn't have to stand in line!  I call that a WIN! 

But, let's get to the important review. I love running shoes.  I have tested many over the last 8 years of running!  Many have been retired after hundreds of miles; some to the running-shoe graveyard.  May they rest in peace.  

I was so excited to test out these shoes because I have been a loyal Brooks runner for about 4 years.  I appreciate the heal cushion and roomy toe-box of the Glycerins.  I honestly had never tried any other model of the shoes, so when the opportunity came to test the Levitates, I jumped at the chance.   I was one of the lucky nine who tested! 

I was like a kid at Christmas when the box came to my door, would they be white; or blue; or black?  It was all just so exciting!  I was pleasantly surprised to have the black color.  I appreciated the fact that I could wear them with anything; even out and about with athleisure.  




So how do they perform?  From the first moment I put them on, I could tell they had ample cushion.  Cushion is a very important feature that I look for in a shoe.  They were a little snug on the top of my foot, but I found that after my first run, they loosened up just fine.  The toe box was roomy which is a huge plus!  Even though I don't have a wide width, I have long toes and wear thick socks.  Those of you looking for a wider toe box will love these shoes. 

I also immediately felt the springy sole when walking.  Plus, it was as if I was bouncing on air during my runs.  My farthest run in these shoes was 10 miles, but I could easily run a marathon in them.  They are a neutral shoe and weigh 9.7 ounces; although I'd be lying if I knew the difference between how light shoes are when compared to others. 


Nice reflection on the soles

These shoes have been through rain and snow and are perfect for running on the road.  I also use these shoes daily for my strength and HIIT training workouts.  I'm finding that I am jumping and bouncing a bunch during these workouts and my feet are supported very comfortably.  

The overall look of these shoes is somewhat simple.  Usually, I go with a very flashy variety.  When picketing out my shoes, I first choose comfort and then I choose as bright of a color as reasonably acceptable.   What can I say?  If I'm spending my hard earned money on a running shoe I want them to be cute.  My only complaint of these shoes is that they didn't seem as breathable as I'm used to.  Although, I do wear very thick socks, so this may not be a fair judgement.  




Overall, these have been a reliable running shoe for me and I would definitely buy them again! They retail for $150 but right now on the website they are on sale for $119.95.  That's a great deal for quality running shoes!

 

Friday, June 1, 2018

The BEST the City Has to Offer! The Seattle City Guide is HERE!

DISCLAIMER:  I am promoting the Infinite Energy Seattle City Guide 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!


When it comes to racing, there are many things to consider in order for you to have a great race!  Of course, the most important variable for any runner is toeing the starting line with the right pair of shoes; I love my Brooks Levitate.  But, a great race isn't all about the shoes.  Although, it SURE is nice to feel comfort on your feet and to complete your race blister free!

Planning your best "race-cation" usually comes with weeks to months of careful planning.  Where will you stay on race weekend?  What will you eat for Pre and Post race fuel?  Does the city you're visiting have lots of places to eat and visit?

I am delighted to tell you about the newest City Guide!  The Seattle City Guide is a place where runners can go to experience all that the city has to offer!  It's presented by Brooks and Bibrave and will be SURE to keep you entertained and well fed after your big Seattle Rock n' Roll weekend,  June 8-10th!

You can check out this pinterest guide for all of your city needs during your stay in Seattle!

Here's a sneak peak of what the guide has to offer!



Maybe a morning jog down to the waterfront is just what your legs need to get ready for race day? You will definitely not want to miss it even if you're not planning on a jog!  There is lots to see and enjoy at the waterfront and it's close to Pike's Place Market!



Or maybe you just need to have some last minute running questions answered, or grab some new gear before your run!  Find out where in this guide!



And, let's NOT forget donuts! There is something about a donut after a run that has my mouth watering!  Don't these look delicious!

Seattle is such a fun city to visit!  Here's to your best race yet!  Enjoy every minute and don't forget to take the guide along as your own personal tour guide while you're there!



Friday, May 11, 2018

You CAN'T WIN Them All

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




Well, you WIN some and you LOSE some.  It's not that running is all about winning or losing; it's more about the sense of accomplishment brought to you at the finish line.  This past Saturday, quite honestly I was just grateful to finish. 

I was so excited for my return to this half marathon.  First, it's in my hometown.  I know the course like the back of my hand.  It's a fun race and the SWAG and post race is so fun!  I always enjoy meeting up with old friends and enjoying the scenic course along the way.  

This was my first half marathon of the year and lucky #12.  Is twelve lucky?  At any rate, I had a decent training cycle, and I was confident I could maintain my paces.  I was shooting for a HUGE PR; unrealistic?  Maybe.   My goal time was 1:49:59.  I had been training with paces in the 8:15/8:30 range for most of my speed work and I knew that the first two miles of the course I could put up some faster paces as it was all down hill. 



I felt amazing through mile 5 and was on pace.  My breathing was under control. My legs were light.  Then as fast as the fleeting thought of my PR, I was hit like a brick wall.  I'm not sure if it was the full sun and 75 degrees, the fact that I was running solid 8:15's, or it just wasn't my day!   

The first 7 miles of the course are quite variable with slow burn hills and twists and turns, and by mile 7 I was toast.  Put a fork in me toast.  I actually called my hubby at mile 7; walking.   The frustration was palpable.  But, at the same time I had a weird sense of calm.  Why did I need to break records?  What was this competition all about?  Just for me?  To impress someone else? 

I continued walking a few minutes and then did a walk/run combo the rest of the way to the finish line.  This is something I have never done during a race and it actually works pretty well.  I was able to give my tired legs and body the rest it needed and still pick up the running pace.  

It's always so fun at the finish.  You run up a road with the river on your left and the crowd on your right. My boys are always waiting for me at the finish line with their hands stretched out for high-fives!  




Needless to say I was happy the medal was around my neck!  It's a beauty too!  My kids always ask me if I won the race.  I always giggle and say "no a chance."  But it's sure fun to share the moment with them when I'm done!  They are goofballs. 





My official finish time was 2:03:16.  Surprisingly I still finished in the top 1/3 of all finishers with a field size of 808.  I was number 16/47 for my age group.  Unfortunately, it was my slowest half marathon to date.  I'm not sure how I feel about that, although this past week I've been googling other great half marathons!  Lol - I'm sure that this won't be my last.  If you're looking for a great Spring half, this is the one.  Make sure to shoot me a message so I know you'll be there as this is one I typically do every year!  If you want to see my race review for more details about the race, you can go here.  

** On another note:  This race was a featured Athlinks Race.  Once I went to the half marathon website, I was able to look up my results and claim them, which then took me directly to the www.athlinks.com.  This is a very cool website that stores all of your race results. Check it out. Make a profile and let's be friends! 


Which half marathon do YOU recommend within driving distance from Minneapolis MN? 


Wednesday, April 25, 2018

FlipBelt Crops - In One Word - AMAZING.

Disclaimer:  I received the FlipBelt Crops to use and review as part of being a BibRave Pro.  Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave 
to review, find and write race reviews.






You may have heard of the Flipbelt before.  In fact, this belt which is a loop that fits perfectly around your waist when you're active, was my first ever running belt!  I loved it.  My phone, my keys, my money and my ID fit so nicely in the waistband; it was the only thing I needed to keep my valuables secure when I was running.   

However, fast forward a few more years, and Flipbelt has outdone themselves. When the reviews are THIS good, I was absolutely ecstatic to try the NEW FlipBelt crops! 

"Just got my running crops.....AMAZING!!!! Fit is perfect, material is great......I absolutely LOVE   them!" 
"These running tights are amazing! I wish I had them 5 years ago when I started running again!       Everyone should buy a pair!"

These multi-functional crops are truly amazing.  What makes them so unique is the waistband.  It's brilliant actually; two products in one.  A pair of crops AND the Flipbelt!   From the moment I unwrapped them, I knew they were going to be my favorite pair that I own.  And, honestly, I love them so much I almost didn't want to sweat in them.  They are perfect as a comfortable everyday crop as well!


My Iphone6 fits comfortable!  HINT:  I even have a PopSocket on the back! 

The material of these crops is a polyester-spandex blend, but I was especially excited about the details that make these crops so special.  Maybe it's just me, but I love that the bottom, which sits about mid-calf, is tapered and skinnier.  What that means is there is absolutely NO riding up!   I have other crops that start out tight at the bottom, but inevitably within minutes I'm adjusting and pulling them back down.

There is also a special clip for your keys which tucks nicely into the belt while running or doing other exercise.  Overall, they are perfect for storing your race day essentials!




Over the past month, I have done a variety of different exercises in them; from running, to strength training and even dancing.  You can see from the video below just how well these crops do with any type of exercise!

Strength Training For RUNNERS: With the @FlipBelt crops!

They are amazingly comfortable and versatile! Two HUGE thumbs up! 👍 Use code “BIBRAVE” for 25% OFF!! #FlipbeltBR #bibchat #bibravepro #mwpro @bibrave pic.twitter.com/CMUv4lzpYK

— RUN gina RUN (@ginahanzelfit) April 5, 2018

Running is my passion!  I have been pleasantly surprised by how well these crops perform on runs.  I have run shorter tempo runs as well as longer runs; up to 9 miles.  Most recently, I ran 6 miles in the early morning hours with little light.  Safety is a concern for me when I run in the dark, so I carry my Iphone6, and mace.  My valuables can be safely and securely stowed away in the waistband. You can't even see them in the photo below and there is NO chaffing or slipping!




These are the silkiest and by far the most comfortable pair of 3/4 tights that I own.  My only regret is that they are not in different colors because I would be ordering more!  If you must have a pair for yourself.... and you MUST;  make sure to use BIBRAVE at checkout for 25% off your very own pair!! 


Monday, April 16, 2018

Sleet, Rain, Snow OH MY!

Disclaimer:  I received a race entry to the Allstate Hot Chocolate 15K as part of being a BibRave Pro.  Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave 
to review, find and write race reviews.


photo credit @beardontherun



Well,  if there ever was a race that Mother Nature had her way with, it was for sure the Allstate Hot Chocolate 15K in Minneapolis this past Saturday.   Weather reports were confident that the metro area was going to face serious weather concerns in the form of freezing rain, sleet and inches of snow.  Even as I write this post on Sunday evening,  it's still snowing in the Minneapolis Metro area.  Storm totals will reach 18 inches or more before it's all complete! 

I knew early on that my one-hour drive in to the starting line was in jeopardy; safety was my first concern.  It was also on the race directors minds as well because the day before the race, they alerted all runners that the 15K would be shortened to a 5K.  Runner safety was at the forefront of their minds,  and I cannot imagine the difficult decision they had.  But, indeed, it absolutely WAS the right decision!  I appreciate the timely notification of the race change and the communication from the team of people organizing this race!



Thankfully, a friend of mine who works near the expo, was able to pick up my race packet and I received this amazing 3/4 zip fleece-lined shirt.  With thumbholes and comfy material, this will be a favorite in my running wardrobe!  I had to snap a pic before the winter wonderland took hold.  Although you cannot see it in this photo, rain was coming down pretty hard at the time.  

Because I had trained for the 15K, on race morning, I was going to get those miles in no matter what.  Luckily, I own a treadmill and with lots of Netflix to catch up on, I completed my 15K right at home.  Safe and sound!  I was determined to make it happen! 

This was early after 2 inches of freezing rain and sleet!


Even though I absolutely wanted to race that day, I'm happy that I could race in spirit!  But, if you want to see a truly amazing finish line photo, here's my friend Casey!  He decided to make the journey to the race to complete the 5K and he did it in style!  Way to GO Casey! If you want to check out his blog, follow along here.  I'm sure he is going to be posting his race experience soon! 




On another note, isn't it cool that the race provides FREE race photos!  What a great perk!  Hopefully in 2019, Mother Nature will cooperate and I'll be able to toe the starting line!  Until then, Happy Running!!

Even though I won't have an official Athlinks finishing time, when YOU race, make sure to head over to Athlinks.com to claim your race results for your upcoming races. Don't forget you can also review any and all of your races on BibRave.com too! If you're wondering, my Athlinks profile stores results from all my past races, and I can even find friends who might be running future races that I want to do. Check out results on Athlinks and follow me so we can be friends (or maybe even rivals!)



Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Don't Miss Out on This Race!

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




The Festival Foods Grandad Half Marathon is just three weeks away.  It's my first half marathon of 2018 and my 12th overall.  This race holds a special place in my heart because it's run in La Crosse, WI; my hometown.   I know the course well, and it's nostalgic for me to run by some of the most beautiful parts of my town.

If you are looking for a very well run race, with a great post-race celebration and net downhill course, this is your race.  But,  just in case you need a bit more convincing, here's some fun facts about the race!



The race starts at the top!  The first two miles are straight downhill.  You are sure to have your fastest miles at the start.  Don't worry, your quads won't be too burnt out by the time you're done.  You will have gorgeous views of the entire city and if you look into the distance you'll see the iconic Missisippi River Bridge.  That bridge is your finish line! 




Riverside Park is where your race ends.  It doesn't get much more beautiful than running up the Mississippi River to your finish line.  Plus, the post race food does NOT disappoint.  In true Wisconsin fashion, you'll have beer from the local Pearl Street Brewery and a brat!  YUM.    There is plenty of wide open space to stretch and rest after your race and fun bounce houses for the kids too; make sure to bring your family with you!

Along the course, you'll also have plenty to look forward to.  The water stops are plentiful and are all themed.  You can vote for your favorites at the end of the race.  My absolute favorite is the Green Island Ice Arena water stop at Mile 11.  Just when you don't think you can run anymore, they are ready with a gigantic pile of freshly made snow.  Feel free to throw a snowball or just jump right in like I did! 




If you like race bling, and who doesn't, you'll be impressed with this race!  Each year, they incorporate the iconic blue bridge.  It bridges the gap between Wisconsin and Minnesota and has really made La Crosse famous!  It's nice to know that we're not just famous for the worlds biggest SIX PACK.  Although, the six-pack is a sight to see, so if you want a short walk from the race finish, be sure to check it out.  

Here are the medals that I have from this race!


And... just because I think it's a great talking point; here's the World's Largest Six-Pack!



So, HURRY!!  You have three weeks to register.  I can't WAIT to see you there! Make sure to use code "BIBRAVE18" for 10% OFF your registration!



Monday, March 19, 2018

Who doesn't LOVE chocolate??

Disclaimer:  I received a race entry to the Allstate Hot Chocolate 15K as part of being a BibRave Pro.  Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave 
to review, find and write race reviews.




Who doesn't love a good theme race?  When you add in chocolate goodness and sweet and salty confections, it doesn't get any better.   It's been a few years since I've ran the Allstate Hot Chocolate 15K and I'm very excited.  I ran the race for the first time in April of 2015 and due to scheduling conflicts I haven't returned in 3 years.   

I Finished!  15K  1:23:27



That was at the top of a blog post I wrote about my first experience running this race.  If you want, you can check it out here.  My average time was 8:58/mile.  Going into the race this year, I have a goal of finishing with a time of 8:30/mile.  1:19:14 would put me over the moon.  Challenge accepted!  I have been working hard with strength training and varying up my workouts.  I feel stronger and I know that I'm faster. 

So, WHY run the Allstate Hot Chocolate? 

The SWAG is pretty cool!  Just check out the awesome pull over!  I love purple!



The medals.  Don't they look good enough to eat??  I don't know about you... but I love running races that have nice looking medals!  It's a great reward at your finish line! 





It's a USATF-certified course that has been certified for accuracy.  Is there anyone that hasn't run the 15K distance yet?  It's just enough to feel like you're challenged, and in my opinion, a great race to really work on maintaining speed!  Here's the course map! 

The course winds through some of the most beautiful parts of Minneapolis with beautiful city-scape views most of the run!  It does have some slight elevation changes, but nothing too concerning.  If you can, train a few hills before this race as it's not flat.  




When you register, make SURE to use code  BRHCMINN18 at checkout for a special FREE baseball cap!


I hope to see you in Minneapolis on April 14th!  I'll be there anxious to cross that finish line and fill my belly with yummy chocolate goodness!