Saturday, February 18, 2017

Grandma's Training - Week TWO - Recap

Week two of Grandma's Marathon went well this week! 

Here is the summary: 

30.7 miles
1 Kick-boxing class 
Cotton Candy Clouds


Every other week, I alternate between hills and sprints.  This week was sprints.  I hate sprints...but I love sprints.... I hate sprints....but I love sprints.   They hurt so good, and when they're over I feel like a total badass.  Especially when they go well!  

I had a great day on Monday.  I did seven 1/3 mile repeats - which was just under 600M for me.  I'm using the VDOT calculator from Jack Daniel's Run Smart Project.  It's here if you want it.  I just love it's simplicity!  I needed to have a 2:42 or less to be on target for a 4 hour marathon pace and I nailed my splits with a range of 2:27 - 2:36.  I didn't realize just how good I had done until I got home and compared with the chart.  Monday started out with a bang!  Yahoo!


Valentine's Day.  Easy 5.3 mile run.  I was a tad sore, and this is my easy day, so I took it easy. 


Ahhhhh! Rest - blissful rest.  Well, not really.  I didn't run, but I've been sleeping pretty lousy lately.  I fall asleep fast, sleep for about 4 hours and then wake up about 5-6 times from 2 am - 5 am.  What is going on?  Thankfully, I fall back asleep, but I am awake and it's disruptive.  BOO!


It was supposed to be my tempo day, but my running group was disbanded for the day, so I ran with a friend instead of doing tempo.  Got a fantastic 6.5 miles in at an easy pace.  

I also did something different today!   I decided to go to kick-boxing class before work!  I've been having trouble getting kick-boxing in, and I love it and miss it, so I had to get creative.  It was my very first "two-a-day" and it was super fun!  I got myself showered, brought a change of clothes and some make-up and I literally got my BUTT KICKED!  

I had 30 minutes from the end of the class to freshen up and get to work.  I made it no problem and I think this may start to be my regular! 




Here is where the cotton candy clouds fit in.  Can you believe it?  They are just gorgeous!  Long run - DONE.  13.3 glorious miles!

There is something indescribable and beautiful about running.  It's easy to lose yourself in the moment.  I love to breathe in the air and listen to the sound of my feet!  It's a true beauty only a runner will know! 

This week, I'm linking again with Holly and Tricia for their Weekly Wrap!  Grab your coffee and stay awhile! 

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Grandma's Marathon Training - Weekly Recap - Week ONE!

It's hard to believe that I'm already one week into my marathon training! 
I am so looking forward to Grandma's Marathon.  It's my 2nd marathon, and the 2nd time I will run this race.  I definitely have something to prove!

My weekly recap looks something like this:  

28.2 miles
One tempo run with the grim reaper
A new do
Messy peanut butter fingers

For this training plan,  I have made a conscientious effort to tailor a plan specifically for my needs and my needs only.  I also cut back running from 5 days a week to 4,  so that I can allow myself enough rest and reduce stress on my body.  Last year, 7 weeks in, I suffered a major set back that put me out of training for almost 8 weeks.   I am going to try do to everything I can so that doesn't happen again! 


Well, I guess my training started off with a bang.   Go big or go home!  I was ready.  Hill repeats.  0.7 mile repeats in about 6:20 or 9:02 per mile.  I'm pretty happy with this because my marathon pace for a sub 4:00:00 hr marathon is 9:09.  Throw in the crazy hills and I feel like I pushed myself just right.  I was going to complete 5 repeats, but for some reason everyone in my town decided to drive the hill at 5:20 in the morning, so my safety was questioned as the sidewalks were mega icy.  I was running on the road and with a blind corner, I was happy to call it a day with 4 repeats.  


6 easy miles.  No pace expectation for this run, but I did feel sluggish.  9:30/mile completes day 2 of training. 


Rest.  It's important for me this training cycle to not run more than 2 days in a row.  So there you have it.  Wednesday's are for rest and rest is what I took.  Sweet baby Jesus - it was glorious! 


I may have died a thousand deaths during this run - but still felt a tad badass when I was done.   I'm pretty sure I blacked out at least once AND saw the Grim Reaper! 

Ok, so I always did have a flare for the dramatic.  No, I did not black out, but it sure felt like I was going to! 

It was -11 with windchill that morning, so I opted for my tempo run on "Milly."  I TOTALLY stole this nickname from Kim - go check out her blog - she rocks!  The name is just so catchy, I find myself saying it a lot, so it's kinda stuck!  Thanks Kim! 

My plan was 1 mile w/u, 4 miles 8:15/mile, 1 mile c/d.  I have to admit I cut out one mile tempo.  I hit 3 solid miles at 8:15 and thought I was dying, so I cut it short.   My mental game needs some work - but that's a lot of the reason why we train right?!?   All in all, I got in a solid 5 miles and felt great after I regained consciousness.  HA! 


Is supposed to be my kick-boxing day, but I can't bring my 5-year old anymore due to liability issues, so I'm really missing it and I'm floundering a bit for what to do for cross-training when I have my little with me all day.  Hmmm.. suggestions are appreciated! 

What I did do was get a new do!  What runner doesn't like to be pampered every now and again.  Let's be honest - my ponytail holder gets a LOT of action during the week.  Wearing my hair down is few and far between.  She made me feel glamorous!

On another funny note, my 5 year old watches my 7 year old get on the bus on Friday mornings.  He sits at the window, usually stepping on the sill while he watches.  Ms. OCD - clean freak, came into the living room to notice that he had written his name on the windows with his greasy peanut butter fingers.  My first instinct was to get upset, but I remained calm and actually laughed when I told him his printing looked great.  However, I quickly followed it up with a "please go wash your hands, and we don't write on the windows."  He thought he was quite the character that's for sure! 

You have to look close, but you can see his name written on the window! That stinker!


Oh what a glorious long run day!  It was absolutely fantastic outside.  39 degrees meant I could run in UNLINED pants!  In February!  I completed 11.4 miles at 9:08/mile and that was right on target with my marathon pace! 

There really isn't anything like perfect running temperatures and a great long run to start your weekend.  One other thing I was happy about was that my heart rate stayed comfortable in Zone 4 at 155-160 bpm.  

My little also had his 7th birthday party with friends today.  We went to a local bowling alley that had pizza, bowling and arcade games and everyone had a blast!  How is my baby 7 already??  Right now he's slightly obsessed with Minecraft! :) 

I'm not a particularly religious person, but Sunday's are my "holy-days."  I don't mean this as a dig on religion AT ALL, but I choose to do absolutely NOTHING on Sunday except relax and spend it with my family.  I'm looking forward to sleeping in until 6 and spending it with my boys!  I know... I'm an animal - but 6 am is sleeping in at my house.  :) 

I'm once again linking up with Holly and Tricia for their Weekly Wrap!  Grab and chair and a glass of wine, read, and stay while! 

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Helpful Tips For When Your Run Gets TOUGH

As runners, we've all experienced the run we'll never forget.  
We've also all experienced the run we'd like to forget.   

How we handle the tough runs 
can make or break us as runners.

The light in the picture above was exactly as you see it.  It was 7:30 am and 7 degrees on this dreary and blustery Minnesota morning.  I was approaching mile 10 of my long run and was willing my legs to finish.

Throughout the entire run, thoughts of quitting swirled in my brain.  I wrestled with calling it a day.  It was bitterly cold.  It was ferociously windy.  My legs were toast.

But, somehow,  I remembered that I had the strength to finish this run.  I could do it.

Thankfully, I did finish this run and I'm not going to lie... It was TOUGH.

Here's what I do to get me through the tough runs.


The squirrels and bunnies have probably heard me talking to myself.  Sometimes even yelling at myself.  "Just a little further, Gina."  "You got this Gina. "  "Only a few more miles, Gina."  Seriously, give yourself a pep talk.   Only YOU know what motivates you.  You are your biggest cheerleader.  Don't be shy - give it a try.  I bet you'll be surprised at just how motivating you can be!


Sometimes when the going gets tough, I need to focus my energy on small goals.    I tell myself, just finish this next mile, or even this next block.  More often than not, I am able to keep myself afloat just by compartmentalizing the task ahead.


So often, we are so focused on what is in front of us, we fail to look around us when we run.   I often look straight forward or toward the ground.  Consequently,  I miss all the beauty around me.  I've found that if I focus my attention on the sights and sounds of my run,  I often forget that I'm actually running.  My breathing becomes more controlled and my mind focuses on the beauty around me rather than the pounding of my feet against the pavement.  

Take a moment, smell the roses as they say, and take it all in.  I know you'll forget about the pain, if even for a second. 


Breath in and out slowly through your nose.  When I take the time to slowly inhale and exhale through my nose, the run feels easier.   I make sure to try and fill my diaphragm as much as possible. When we are running, our body uses all the available oxygen it has to fuel our muscles.  If we don't bring in adequate oxygen while we are running,  it is easier to fatigue - which then makes the run that much harder.  Focused breathing centers my thoughts so I can concentrate that much more on my running.  


Now, this only works if you know ahead of time you're facing a tough run.  But, friends really do make everything better.  Misery loves company.   If you have a great friend by your side, runs seem easier.  Besides, a friend is more fun to complain to than the bunnies and the squirrels. 

Tweet: How do YOU handle tough runs? Here are my tips for when the going gets TOUGH! @hanzelboyzmama #runner #bibchat

Thursday, February 2, 2017

What's UP With The Groundhog Anyway??

I'm trying something new this week.  TOLT - Thinking Out Loud Thursdays.  
Catchy isn't it?!

First of all, this meme ROCKS my socks off.  If you haven't watched Game Of Thrones, your missing out.  


What's UP with the groundhog anyway? 

Apparently, our trusty Punxsutawney Phil saw his shadow today.  Really?!?!  And, who can even pronounce Pun-xsu-taw-ney??  What even does it even mean to see his shadow?  Let me break it down for you.  If the groundhog comes out of his hole and sees his shadow, we see 6 more weeks of winter.  If he doesn't see his shadow, we get an early spring.  

Hey Phil!  Does that apply to Minnesota?  It's gross here today.  The temperature -1.   Couldn't you just lie and say for all Minnesotans there will be an early Spring?   We could all use a little good news lately and you didn't deliver today.  Shame on you. 

In addition, 

Whats UP with the t-shirt Not Running Sucks?! 

I had already resigned myself to the treadmill this morning due to the windchill.  I just couldn't get up the strength to meet my running friends for a frigid run in the blustery negative temps.  My treadmill had even piled up some boxes the last few weeks from different projects, so my husband made a special effort to get it cleaned off for my morning run.  

Newsflash:  My alarm rang and I turned it OFF.  I slept until 6:30 and it felt magnificent.  Amazing. Stupendous.  Now I feel guilty.  Very guilty.  So, not running sucks - or it doesn't?  Bleh - that's the mood of the day.  

What's UP with waiting for a parking spot? 

OMG!  This is absolutely crazy to me.  Today on the radio, the hosts were talking about the statistic that the average American spends 4 days of the year waiting for parking spots?   Really?? I actually gasped out loud when I heard this.  Of course,  I'm not sure of the validity of this statement... but are you kidding me? 

Seriously, I've seen people wait for a closer parking spot literally 3 spots away from an open one?  You have two legs. For most people they work just fine.  USE THEM.  Get off your butt and walk.  Not to mention, you'll be walking around the store you're going into, so the few extra steps won't kill you.  

Maybe this is just the runner talking?  Yes, I'd be lying if I said I've never waited for a closer parking spot... but it's been ages since I've done that.  Tip:  park farther away; less likelihood of your car getting dinged and you'll burn a few more calories! 

What's UP with the millions of small toys my children have? 

I have to admit, my husband and I keep a pretty clean house.  At any time, it's likely to be pretty picked up.  No, it's not perfect and my kids make huge messes.  However, we both make an effort to clean up regularly.  

Anyhoo, lets talk about the millions of small toys my boys have!  Holy crap - where do they come from?  We are not buying them, yet they pile up like ants on breadcrumbs.  They are everywhere!  We have an entire drawer in our kitchen devoted to the small crap they bring home.  I spend countless minutes cleaning up the small stuff.  And, god for bid, I try to throw any of it out?  WOW!   Hell hath no fury like a 7-year old without his random bouncy ball.   

And, on that note.....

What's UP with the POUNDS of scrap paper my kids bring home? 

This is NO JOKE.  Every single day, my kids bring home at least 5 papers each.  Most days, it's more.  99% of it goes into the recycling.  I can't help but think, how wasteful?  My husband is an environmentalist so we try very hard to be conscious of our uses.  Why do they use so much paper?  Coloring pages half done, cut up sheets of paper, homework, scraps of I-don't-know-whats. 

I do believe that the school has them using scrap paper so kudos to them, but it does seem wasteful.  But again,  I can't tell you how many times my kids have gone back into the recycling to pull out that 'I-don't-know-what' and plead to me about it's importance.  I begrudgingly let them keep it until they are not looking and I throw it away again.   #mommyisintrouble

What's UP with healthy eating being so hard? 

Oh Dori, you get me! 

If you've been reading my blog for a while now, you know that marathon training starts on Monday.  EEK!  One thing I'm trying to work on is my nutrition.  I truly am horrible with my eating habits.  But why is it so hard?  How can I get over the urge to not want to shove my face with all-things-bad?  It's a struggle and I fight it daily.  I may have this working out thing down,  but the healthy eating is out in left field and I'm scrambling to catch the ball.  

Wow! That felt very therapeutic.  I did feel like I was bitching a bit so thanks for listening. 

Today, I'm linking up with Amanda for the first time for her TOLT link up!   Thanks Amanda! 

Friday, January 27, 2017

5 Reasons YOU Should Be a Morning Runner

Not too long ago,
 the words early morning
were not part of my vocabulary. 

But, then I found a love for running and I've never looked back!  

Does this look familiar?  

Do you cower and shrug at the thought of an early morning run? 

Do you have to pry yourself out of bed in the morning?

Look no further because here are 5 reasons YOU should be a morning runner!  


There is no better feeling than the adrenaline rush of a good run; especially to start your day!  After I run,  I feel like I can conquer just about anything the day throws at me;  that morning milk and cereal spilled by one of my kids.  My demanding schedule at work.   The list goes on.   Put one foot in front of the other.  The first mile is always the hardest.


We've all been there.  The alarm clock has been ringing for what seems like  an hour.  You may or may not have hit snooze 3 separate times.  The drag of your feet to the bathroom.  Your eyes barely open as you hit the shower.   Alas!  All of that goes away when you run!  I will not lie.  It took me a while to get used to my 4:45 am alarm.  But... trust me when I say you DO get used to the wake up call and it DOES get easier!   I feel alive and alert after my runs and you can too! 


Need I say more?   There IS science that supports the fact that morning exercise burns MORE calories throughout the day.  No, that doesn't mean you can eat that extra piece of bacon necessarily.   Or, maybe you've been eyeing that whole apple pie?!?  What it does mean is that morning exercise burns more calories than exercise done at other times of the day!  So, jump out of bed.  Lace up those sneakers and attack that run! 


If you're anything like me, your brain is always working.  There isn't a time in my day that I can just focus on me except in the mornings.  My morning run is for me and only me.  No dishes to clean.  No noses to wipe clean.  No demands from my children.  No laundry.  No cleaning.  

Just. Me.  

Peaceful.  Quiet.  Tranquil.  

Stress relief only a run can give you. 


I caught this sunrise one morning in July.  It was so breathtaking I stopped mid-run to just enjoy.  

It sounds cliche to say it but sometimes you just have to stop and smell the roses!  I have discovered so much beauty on my runs.  For me, the sunrise takes the cake.  I often think about the people who miss the sunrise and all of the wonder they bring.  

Set that alarm.  Lace up your shoes.  I dare you to tell me you didn't enjoy it.  

Do you think you could become a morning runner?  How early is TOO early?

I'm linking up again with  Fairytales and Fitness and Running on Happy for Friday V 2.0. 

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Lick Your Lips Good! My Review of Nugo Dark Chocolate Nutrition Bars

Disclaimer:  I received Nugo Dark Chocolate Nutrition Bars to enjoy 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.

When I first was given the opportunity to test out another nutrition bar I was skeptical.  I have tried many nutrition bars and honestly, in my opinion, the fact that they were packaged for convenience was really their only redeeming quality.  Many of the bars that are currently on the market today seem chalky, have a strange texture, are the size of my thumb and boast lots of information about how they are the best bar out there.   The problem is - the competitor bars "say" they are the best, but if I can't stand to eat them,  they are just going to sit in my pantry.  

BUT - I am here to tell you.  Nugo Nutrition Dark Chocolate bars are absolutely fantastic!  Truly.  They are!   They come in 7 different flavors so you're sure to find one that you enjoy!  For this review,  I received twelve bars in 4 different flavors;  Chocolate Chocolate Chip, Mint Chocolate Chip, Chocolate Pretzel with Sea Salt and Chocolate Coconut.  

YUM!  All of these flavors tasted amazing.  

My absolute, hands-down, favorite was the Chocolate Sea Salt Pretzel.  OMG - the flavor blast was so decadent.  The dark chocolate with the large pieces of sea salt had me licking my lips just "thinking" about eating it.   If there is only one bar you're willing to try, this is the flavor.

Sorry, couldn't resist the Sponge Bob reference. HA! 

What do I love about these bars? 

  • Gluten-Free
  • Vegan
  • Less than 15g of sugar per bar
  • 10g of protein
  • Real dark chocolate
  • Rich in antioxidants
  • 200 calories 
  • Great Texture
  • Great Size
  • Price

We all know that runners spend a lot of money on their sport.  Ok, so maybe it's just me?!?  One of the other major selling points for me was the availability of these bars and their price point.  They are available in many different locations and I found them two different places only miles from my home.

If you're having trouble locating a store near you, they also can be purchased online.   I was pleasantly surprised to see that you can get an entire box of 12 for $19.00.  That's less than $1.50 per bar.   Very reasonable.    In an expensive sport,  it's refreshing to see a nutrition bar that doesn't break the bank! 

I love the convenience of these bars as well.  Not only are they easy to stash in my purse, they are easy to eat.  They have a great texture and I really felt like I was getting a guilt-free chocolate fix.  I found that I ate these bars mostly on the way to work with a piece of cheese for breakfast or as an afternoon snack for that pick-me-up much needed after a long work day.  

I am a busy mom of two boys and work full time.  I always have one of these bars in my purse to help me when an emergency strikes!  We all know what happens when I get "HANGRY."   On another note;  my kids loved them as well!   I actually hid them so they wouldn't eat them!  #momoftheyear 

If I had to place my favorites in a list it would look like this: 
  1. Chocolate Pretzel with Sea Salt
  2. Chocolate Coconut ( a very close second to the pretzel )
  3. Mint Chocolate Chip
  4. Chocolate Chocolate Chip
I truly enjoyed all of the bars I tried.    If you just HAVE to try these bars for yourself, and I strongly suggest you do, you may order online at Nugo Nutrition and receive 15% off your order with code "BIBRAVE1".  Hurry as this code is only good through Feb. 8th, 2017. 

I promise you'll find a bar that you love!   

Monday, January 23, 2017


5 hrs: 00 mins: 16 seconds. 

It's a significant number.  A number I think about often. 
A number that sometimes I'd like to forget.  
It's a number that makes me proud. 

When I think about my first Grandma's Marathon in 2016, I am flooded with emotion.  Mostly good emotion and happy memories.  But, I often contemplate the "what ifs."  What if I hadn't been injured?  What if I wasn't forced to take 7 weeks off? What if I had done more long runs?  What if it hadn't been in the 80's on race day? What if I would have worked harder on my nutrition? 

This past month, I have been working hard researching a marathon training plan that is tailored specifically for me.   Because, in the end, this race is just for me.  No one else.  Much like my first marathon training plan, my goal is still a 4:00:00 finish time.  To be honest,  I KNOW  I can accomplish this goal.  Self doubt does sometimes take over.  I'm working on squashing that self doubt.   

I have compiled my 4-month training plan to include specific workouts where I maximize my training.   Except this time, I'm only running 4 days per week  - hopefully to minimize injury.  Only 4 days per week will require that I make my training runs count; making sure I include a combination of hills, sprints, easy, and long, marathon-pace runs. 

This go around,  I definitely feel that I'm more ready.  I'm smarter.  More patient.  More consistent. And,  to be honest,  I'm looking forward to this marathon more than the first time.  I have an advantage now that I didn't before.  I know this course.  I know what to expect.  I know how to train. Just look at how beautiful it is!  Note to self:  Pay more attention to the beauty that is Grandma's Marathon! 

My goal is to stay injury-free and to train smarter, not harder.  I have 16 weeks to prove my potential! 

Let's fast forward to today's run.  OMG!  It.was.FANTASTIC!! 

Previously, my 9:30 paces were requiring effort.  My motivation was dipping.  I have been envious of everyone else's paces.  Everyone else's training.  And... in the running and blogging world we can't compare ourselves to anyone... yet I was?!?  But why?   We are there to support each other - which by the way is SO awesome! 

Today, my stars aligned and I believed for the first time in a LONG time that I really can get my 4 hour goal time!  The weather,  minus a few crazy black ice patches, was amazing!  32 degrees felt warm and fantastic!  I started my first mile with a 9:36 and from that point on just took off.  My final mile was a 7:55 and believe it or not, I felt like I was flying.  My breathing was on point, my legs felt light and fresh.  I was on top of the world!

After my run today,  I almost cried.  The feeling of fresh air in my lungs was undeniable.  That crazy runners high after a good performance had me almost skipping!  Most of all, I realized that I can do it.  My goal is not too crazy. It's not way out in "left-field."  I know I can do it and today I realized I am capable of great things! 

Here's the numbers - I'm fairly analytical and needed a plan tailored to my specific needs. 

Half PR - 1:53:45
10K PR- 52:25
5K PR - 23:33 

Based on previous history - a 4 hour time is within reach.  You better believe I'm coming for it! Grandma's Marathon - you better be waiting.  Here.I.COME!