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! 

Monday, February 26, 2018

Bringing home Medal #3 - The Festival Foods Granddad Half Marathon!

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.

WOW!  It seems like it's been forever since I last raced.  And, in actuality - it's been almost 6 months!  To me that seems crazy and up until a few weeks ago, I didn't have anything on my 2018 race calendar.  To be honest, part of me didn't care all that much.  The other part, craved the finish line.  

My last huge race was Grandma's Marathon in June.  This was my redemption race; my 2nd marathon.  Same race.  Same course.  My finish resulted in a 23 minute PR and I was over-the-moon!  But, then came the runner crash.  The elation of not having to train with countless miles and hours on the road - the ability to just enjoy my running with no goal in mind.  

Life got super busy. I took on a new business opportunity that has taken my focus away from ONLY running and focusing on other areas of my health and fitness.   But, to my core, I am a runner.  I love it.  I crave it. 

Which brings me to the Spring racing season.  I went from no races on the calendar to three within only three weeks!  Normally, that would be too much but I start with a 15K in mid-April at the Allstate Hot Chocolate 15K.   I will then be in New York on a getaway with my sister and my mom and I absolutely CANNOT, I say that in big letters, miss out on an opportunity to run a 10K race through Central Park.  It's a no-brainer right?  

I will end with my hometown race.  The Festival Foods Granddad Half Marathon.  I am SO excited for this opportunity.  This race takes place in La Crosse, WI and touches on so may nice qualities about my little town.  The race starts on the beautiful bluff that overlooks the entire city. It then meanders 1 1/2 miles down the bluff, through residential streets with the finish along the river just past the iconic blue bridges! 

The post-race celebration will be sure to include beer and bratwurst and there is always activities for the kids too!  If you'd like to check out my last race review check it out here.

The medals are amazing and I'm very excited to add a third to my collection! 

I have been really focusing on my strength training over the last 6 months and I have definitely noticed a difference in my speed.  My comfortable runs are now in the 8:50's so I hope to push myself for this race and PR this course.  My best time for this race was a 1:59:00.  My half marathon PR is 1:54:45 - I think I can do it!  

If you want to join me, reach out!  I will have a discount code SOON for you at registration!  

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Super Connected, Zero Gravity! My review of the Under Armour HOVR Sonic

Disclaimer:  I received the Under Armour HOVR Sonic running shoes 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.

Runners are a specific breed.  We like our running gear to be perfect;  especially our shoes.  After-all, it's our shoes that can make or break our performance in a run.   When we find a running shoe that works for our very particular feet it's certainly hard to get us to sway our opinion or even glance an eye at another shoe brand.   

Over the last seven years, I have been very loyal to one brand.  However, I must say, after wearing the Under Armour HOVR Sonic exclusively for 6 weeks,  I think I've found a new favorite!  

A few characteristics that makes a running shoes appealing for my tastes and specifications are: 

  • Comfort
  • Light-weight
  • Breathability
  • Cushion
  • Durability
  • Style
These shoes check off those boxes.   PLUS!  Later in the post, I will talk about the technology INSIDE these smart shoes that make them appealing! 

Upon receiving these shoes I was, in my 'girly-girl' fashion, very pleased with the color.  They are a vibrant coral color and look very sharp!  Don't worry if this color isn't your favorite, of course they have different colors to choose from.  I noticed that they were incredibly lightweight and the zero gravity technology helped me feel light on my feet.   They are constructed of mesh material and fit snug but not too tight.  I ordered true to size and I always size up 1/2 size.  These shoes fit perfect. 

I immediately took them for my first run on the treadmill and was happily surprised at just how comfortable they felt.  

What gives these particular shoes an edge up on the competition is the RECORD SENSOR technology inside the shoe!  Did you know that these shoes have the ability to give you detailed metrics of your runnning?  They sure do!  The idea behind this shoe is so that every runner can be connected with an individulized training plan that uses your own specific stats.  The shoe works hard for you so you can get your best results!  

With the UA MapMyRun application these shoes sync effortlessly and you are on your way to finding out ways to improve your running.  How cool is that? 

To get started, you are asked to perform a jump test.  The directions are simple and once your jump test is completed, you are given a detailed summary of your training options and your fatigue reports.  I found that when I was consistent with doing my jumping tests before my run,  the results for how hard I should push were spot on!    As you can see from the data below, I had a range of fatigue reports where some days I was told to run easy, and other days I was told to run hard!  

When my runs were completed, I was also provided with data that included my pace, cadence, stride length and distance.  This is the area that I would say does need to fine-tuning.  Although I'd like to tell people I can maintain some of these paces, I found that the data had me running about 15-30 seconds faster than I actually was.  I  didn't find this to be burdensome because I'm always relying on my watch for particular pace goals anyway. 

I DID however find the fatigue reports and training schedules a VERY helpful tool.  One feature I really enjoyed was your goal race time.  You can plug into MapMyRun your goal race and time and the shoes will help you train by giving you your own personalized training plan and adjust as necessary depending on your individual fatigue reports.  Now THAT'S smart technology. 

Now let's talk performance! 

Due to the insanity that is the Minnesota Winter, it's been bitterly cold with temperatures far below zero for most of the month of January and into February.  This left me with most of my miles on the treadmill this month.  However, I did get to test the shoes outdoors on several occasions.  A couple of occasions even after fresh snow!  I was pleasantly surprised at the traction control these shoes had and the road felt amazing under my feet.  No blisters, no hot spots, no rubbing.  A+ for comfort. 

My only negative is that once I took these shoes to the road, and with our sloppy conditions with snow and slush, the front toe box of these shoes became dirty quickly.  I'm someone who tries to keep my shoes as clean as possible for as long as possible, so this bothered me a bit.  In one particular run, the wetness did seep onto my toes.  A suggestion I would have is to increase the covered area of the toe box to help with splash-up during the run.  You can see this by my photo below.   

All in all, these shoes get an A.  I appreciate all of the extras but most of all the breathable comfort.  As you can see below, I was able to log a significant amount of miles and I will most definitely continue to run in these shoes often.  

In addition, the price point on these shoes in my opinion is accurate.  At $100 and FREE website shipping and returns, you can't go wrong with this zero gravity, super connected shoe!

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Bibrave and Athlinks are Partners!

Exciting News!  Bibrave and Athlinks are now working together to deliver the best in race experience!
Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave 
to review, find and write race reviews.

If you're anything like me, you have hundreds of race bibs that you've carefully preserved in a special spot in your house.  Each bib with it's own unique story.  It's own unique journey.  Until recently, when I staring using Athlinks,  my race bibs also were the spot I recorded all of my individual race stats; pace, time, ranking. 

Here's where the new partnership with Bibrave and Athlinks comes in.  You now have the capability to get your race stats for hundreds of races all in one place.  Plus - if your race is not there on the app, that's OK.  You can add any race you choose! 

So what is Athlinks?  It's a destination to view, save and share every finish time for every finish line you’ve crossed. You can connect with other runners across the world, discover new challenges and races and store your stats for the best in data comparison.

The first time I downloaded the application on my Iphone, I was connected with past race results in minutes! I had 31 races that were listed, some I had even forgotten about! Here are some fun race photos of races that were already loaded and ready to GO!

This is a pretty cool app! I really enjoy that I can compare all of my race results in one place. At the top, it also lists your individual race PR's and it averages your race results for a race you have run multiple times! It is easy to use, and will definitely be a fun platform for data geeks like me! Hop over to their page and give it a try!

Also, Athlinks is running a giveaway!! Just follow this link and complete a NEW athlinks registration to be eligible! You could win a FREE race entry!

Friday, December 1, 2017

BOCO GEAR - Review; Your GO-TO performance Visor!

Disclaimer:  I received the BOCO Gear Visor 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.

I have to admit, I am slightly obsessed with this visor.  It is hands down THE most comfortable visor I have ever owned and I wear it for all of my races and running events.   Plus, I don't know if you've noticed, it's sporting the coolest name in the running business!  

I have been blessed to be a member of the BibRave community for three years and over that time, I've tested some pretty cool gear.  When I was asked which BOCO Gear item I would like to review and use, it was a no-brainer choice for me.  I love visors! 

What's great about any visor is that they usually have a lot of breathability on my head.  And, I really like wearing something on my head to wick sweat.  Headbands are great, but they don't keep sun out and I'm no very comfortable running in sunglasses.  I especially like the wicking fabric on the forehead.  It's very comfortable and doesn't get sticky and hot like some visors do! 

The band is a silky stretch material that holds it's strength.  This is an important feature for me because there is nothing worse than getting a visor you love and then after a few wears it stretching out and not fitting snug on your head!  Way to go BOCO Gear! 

Crossing the finish line this October - Twin Cities 10 mile

Here are some of the other features of this very cool visor:

  • Lightweight wicking woven or dry tech polyester outside
  • Wicking internal sweatband to move sweat from your forehead
  • Soft brushed elastic back for comfort and fit 
  • Relaxed fit front panel for a better performance and comfort
  • Black underside of the bill to reduce glare
  • Curved Bill
  • Machine Washable 
I find this hat very stylish and comfortable to wear.   And, just like the specifications say it IS machine washable.  It's holds up very nicely after several washes too!  

I jump for joy for BOCO gear and I think you should too!  At $24.00 the price is right to add to your collection!  Make sure to check out our #bibchat on Twitter every Tuesday at 8 PM CST.

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Garmin Forerunner 935: Review

Disclaimer:  I received the Garmin Forerunner 935 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.

It's hard to contain my excitement with my latest product review!  I have been an avid runner since 2011.  In the last seven years, I have been extremely loyal to Garmin.  It's the only brand I've ever owned. 

I still remember my very first GPS watch.  I was so excited to have a running watch that tracked GPS and told me simple statistics like time, pace and mileage. I felt like the coolest cat on the block.  I had arrived, officially, as a serious runner.  

Fast forward another year.  I upgraded.  Then, I upgraded again to the forerunner 235.   The forerunner 235 was the GPS watch that I felt was the absolute "Taj Mahal" of running watches.  It had so many specs and notifications, I was in heaven!  It is truly a watch that does everything.   How could any watch do more? 

But then.... enter the Forerunner 935!   When developing this watch, Garmin thought of everything; from the sleek design, to the multi-sport functions and even the silky feel of the band on your skin.  Yes, as a female, the silky feel is definitely something I noticed. 

I could honestly discuss every aspect of this watch, but in an effort to keep my blog post from becoming a novel, I will concentrate on just a few.  If you are interested in learning more about this watch, please visit the website here.  


Being a Minnesotan, I'm used to running in all weather conditions, but sometimes it's just impossible to run outside; especially at -20 degrees.  I do own a treadmill and I use it frequently.  Until receiving the forerunner 935, my data for indoor runs was sub-par.  Sure, after several runs it seemed that my previous watch would calibrate relatively close to the actual pace and mileage.    

However, I was very excited to see just how awesome this watch does with indoor treadmill runs.  After my first run, I was immediately prompted with a message to calibrate and put in my actual treadmill statistics.  I was very impressed with this function and I'm happy to report that my second run indoors the watch data was EXACT.  Now that's a cool function!  Way to go Garmin!   It's certainly nice to be able to record your stats while using the treadmill.   

VO2 Max 

What is VO2 max?  It's the maximum rate of oxygen consumption after incremental exercise.  Essentially, the higher the number, the better the runners cardiovascular fitness is.  It also reflects the endurance capacity of a runner during exercise.  Elite runners are in the very high 60s and low 70s usually.  Over the course of that last month, I have seen my VO2 max increase which makes me happy! 


The Forerunner 935 syncs effortlessly with the Garmin Connect App and my Iphone 6.  It is in this app, that I gain so many other valuable statistics.  I am definitely a data nerd so I enjoy browsing the app to find my daily stats.  One in particular that I really love is the sleep functionality.  I wear this watch 24/7.  The only time I take it off is to shower (even though it's waterproof) and to charge.  Sidenote:  I rarely charge this watch.  It's battery life is amazing!

This watch is sleek and comfortable to sleep in and I absolutely love the alarm!  It gives me a gentle vibrate to wake me up.  Because I wear it to sleep, I have completely eliminated my noisy clock alarm and my husband doesn't even know I leave the room for my early morning wake-up calls.   For an added bonus, there is a snooze function.  I must admit that I've used the snooze function a few times. 

Along with the alarm, the Forerunner 935 will record your sleep statistics based on your movement during sleep.  With two little boys and early morning visits to their bedroom, it's funny to see where I spike and when I'm sleeping deeply.  


One of the most exciting things for me to see after I complete a run is my GPS map.  The Garmin Connect App does a fabulous job pinpointing your exact locations.  Someday, I'd like to try to make a cool pattern out of my GPS map.  How cool is this data? 




I truly believe there is not much else this Garmin can do.  But, here are a few of the added statistics that this watch has:
  • Heart Rate - I really enjoy knowing my heart rate at my fingertips while training
  • Steps  - I have a 10,000 step goal daily
  • Intensity Minutes
  • Floors climbed
  • Stress - according to my stats, my stress level is low.  YIPPEE!
  • Calories in/out
  • Sleep - I could get more sleep, but couldn't everyone?
As I stated before, I am a data nerd and notifications are one of my favorite aspects of this watch.  This watch will receive text, call, movement, and social media notifications. Don't worry, if you don't want to get all of them, you can use your phone settings to turn them off!    It has also completely replaced my Garmin Vivosmart for all of my activity notifications. 
I honestly could gush about this watch for days and days.  I am a Garmin lover for life and this watch has made me a true believer.  In my opinion, it does have an above average price of $499.  But, what I will say is - this watch delivers!  If you are debating at all whether this watch is for you don't be nervous.  It will absolutely fill your needs and then some! 
Happy Running! Now, go buy that Garmin!

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Eagle Creek 60L Duffel - Fits The Kitchen Sink!

Disclaimer:  I received the Eagle Creek Hauler Duffel 60L 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.

Being the avid fitness enthusiast and outdoorsy girl that I am, when I found out that I had the opportunity to test the Eagle Creek 60L Duffel I was crazy excited.  First of all, I love the products that Eagle Creek produces.  If you haven't read my review of the Eagle Creek Pack-It, you can check that out here.

Second, who doesn't love a great duffel?!  But, the coolest feature of this bag is that it transforms from a small package for easier storage, to a duffel AND a backpack!  Check out my video below to see the transformation! 

My favorite feature of this bag is the ability to use it as a backpack.  With two crazy little boys, I like to have as little in my hands as possible.  For those of you who are parents, you know that excursions can quickly get out of hand if your children need to bring the kitchen sink with them when they go!  Between having enough snacks and water and changes of clothes, your ordinary bags can get full quick and they get heavy!

Not with this duffel.  It only weighs 1 lb. 12 ounces and holds the kitchen sink! The straps around your shoulders are cushioned enough to feel comfortable for the long haul.  I recently took it on a shorter hike with my family and hardly knew it was on!  Plus, isn't this color fantastic?  Your husband's will approve.  On that note:  My husband is 6'8" and this fit him comfortably.

If you can believe it, aside from our enourmous back-packing packs, my family only has one other sport utility backpack.  When we purchased it a few years ago, the claim to fame was that it could fit all of your esssentials.  Honestly, I barely get water bottles and a few jackets in it.  My kids have now started using it because it is just so small.  

That is absolutely NOT the case with the Eagle Creek Duffel!   The main compartment seems gigantic and we have had no trouble hauling our essentials with us.

This bag is also water-repellent and I just learned it even has straps to fit on your car rack!  Although, if you're planning on driving through heavy rain, I'd keep the bag inside.  This bag is small enough to be used as an airline carry-on, but big enough to have all of your much needed essentials at your fingertips when traveling.

I'd say for it's price point of $99 you can't go wrong.   If you're looking for a perfect bag to pack and go or take on a weekend excursion, look no further.

Don't Forget!! You have an opportunity to WIN one for yourself at our #bibchat on Tuesday, Nov. 21st.  8 PM CST.  Be there or be square!