Monday, February 29, 2016

TOP 10 Reasons Why you NEED to Run Twin Cities Hot Dash 10 Mile or 5K

Disclaimer:  I received a race entry into the Hot Dash 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.

In case you didn't already know it, Minnesota is awesome. 
Yes, we are bone-chilling cold in the winter and do get our fair share of snow. BUT,  we sure know how to host great road races!  You won't want to miss the hottest Spring race in town.
Register here for Twin Cities Hot Dash 5K or 10 mile!  Hurry - it's 85% full!

In case you're STILL not convinced this is the race for you.  See my TOP 10 Reasons why it should be!  Twin Cities in Motion is graciously giving away THREE pair of their Hot Dash socks.  The giveaway is at the end of this blog post - so don't forget to register!
  1. We are truly Minnesota Nice!   We greet you with a smile and go out of our way to make you happy!
  3. GREAT race swag!   All participants receive a navy blue, 1/4 zip, long sleeve technical shirt.

  5. The Medal!  HellllloooOOO!!  If you're anything like me, you love a good medal.  Twin Cities in Motion always leaves their medals "top-secret" so you'll have to finish the race to see.  All 5K and 10 mile participants get a medal.  It is a new race feature of 2016! I'm looking forward to adding it to my collection for sure!

  7.  You may just hear some Minnesota-slang.  Yup!  You Betcha!!  Ya - der - Hey!  You can't miss our lingo... it's the best! 

  9. Did someone say HOT DISH?  Yup, you guessed it! Post-race food is Hot Dish.  This year... word on the street is that it has corn flakes on top.  How Minnesotan is that?  I think you'll enjoy it.
  10. This race is lumberjack, beard and Minnesotan themed.  There is a competition for the best dressed costume for each category.  I, myself, am not very adventurous when it comes to running in costume.  However, my friend Angie, and fellow BibRave Pro has a lot of experience running in costume AND she has run this race before!  Head on over to her blog and see her previous costumes!
  12. FUN!  This race is just plain FUN!  Check out the video below for your sneak peak!

  14. Beautiful Scenery!  Skyline views from every angle.  Beautiful architecture, beautiful bridges and views of the Mighty Mississippi!

  15. Post-race Finnegan's Beer.  This race was voted Top 10 by for their post-race beer gardens.  If you're over 21,  you won't want to miss it!
  16.  Lastly, and certainly not least... Don't forget the awesome Fit-Sok themed for the Hot Dash! Enter to win these great socks here!  THREE winners will be chosen.  Drawing ends Friday, March 4th!

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Sunday, February 28, 2016

Itty-bitty Muscles, Early Mornings & Chaffing: Week 3 Marathon Training

Week Three - Grandma's Marathon Training

It's been a different week for me.  Not a bad week.  Actually, a lot has been going on.  However, most of the week I've felt like this:
Yup - you guessed it.  I want to eat everything in sight.  I've had pizza 4 times this week!!  4!  That's crazy!!  Who does that??  Apparently,  I do.   I'm chalking it up to all the mileage and tough workouts.  I'm pushing my body to limits they haven't reached before.  The sad part is, I don't crave strawberries and salads.  Twinkies, ho ho's, chips, cookies.  Just give me all the food.

Day One:  Sprints.  0.4 mile sprints 2:51 per lap.  They were insanely hard, but in the end I really love sprints. Finished the day out with about 6.5 miles.

Day Two:  Nice run to loosen up the legs after the hard sprint day on Monday.  Nothing too exciting with this workout.

Day Three:  Tempo run....and for the added "fun" of it, my trainer added in extra hills.

I hate tempo runs.  I'm having trouble keeping pace up and feeling fatigued during them, add in the extra hills and I'm spent.  But, I'm up for the challenge and I HATE to fail, so I don't allow myself to. I get the run done, whine a little about it later and then revel in the fact that I conquered the beast that is the tempo run.

Last week my tempo run was from hell; deep inside the depths of hell with fire burning everywhere.  This run wasn't that bad. Close. But, not as bad.

Day Four:  Running rest day.  I did get to the gym for some upper body strength training.  Do you see those itty-bitty muscles?  They're coming and I couldn't be prouder of them.

I have never been strong.  Until about 4 weeks ago,  I couldn't even do a "regular" push-up.  I'm happy to say I can do 45 total in three reps. 10 are the regular plank style!  BAM!  I've been consistent with my push-ups about every other day.  Unfortunately, I don't get to the gym too often to lift, but I'm trying to make it more of a priority.

Day Five:  Here's where the chaffing comes in.  4:20 am wake-up call.  11 miles on tap. The route was hilly for an extra added challenge during the run.  We went up "the beast."  It's nearly 1/2 mile up and ridiculous.  It seemed a bit better than I had imagined, but we never really have a reason to venture that far away from our normal route.  Today, we did.  My friend Heather and I were virgins of "the beast."  Susan sang Madonna's song "Like a Virgin" as we trampled up it.  Have to have a little fun every now and then. 

For some reason, my entire foot went numb for 3 miles.  At one point, I thought maybe I'd have to stop running to work it out, but I kept on and it eventually went away.  I'm glad the long run is over. 

And... then there's the chaffing.  OH.MY.GOD.  I have the WORST chaffing on my ASS!  Seriously?  I cannot believe it.  It hurts so bad I could cry and just walking or sitting makes it burn.  No pain - No gain.  Or, something like that.  I guess I could be losing a toenail.  I'd rather have ass chaffing.

Another really cool mail day for me this week too.  I'm a BibRave Pro, and with that comes the opportunity to test awesome products.  My merino wool buff came and it's awesome.  I've worn it so far on runs and for casual.  You can see it above.  I used it as a neck warmer today.  I've worn it as a headband and I've also worn it as a scarf for everyday.  It's a great go-to piece and I know I will be using it at TON.  Thank you BUFF and Bibrave! 

Here are my STATS:

29 miles
3169 calories burned
4.2 hours
5 workouts

Once again, I'm linking up with hoho runs and Misssippipiddlin for their Weekly Wrap!

Make sure to visit other awesome blogs in the process!

Friday, February 26, 2016

Runfession Friday!

It's that time again.  
The end of the month when I link up with Marcia for our monthly RunFessions!
I love this linkup.  It's so much fun for me to read everyone's deepest darkets secrets. :)  So here's mine!

Runfession ONE:  I hate tempo runs.  I can't quite put my finger on it.  It's not that we run amazingly fast, certainly it's not a sprint.  It's a pace where talking in long sentences is hard and I breath very heavily.  I'm pissed though because I'm ALWAYS behind the group. Not far behind, but not on their heals.  What.the.hell??!? 

I always feel great when I'm done running.  Yes, because I am done for sure, but also because I do like seeing those 8:20's and 8:30's for 6-7 miles consistently.   Tempo runs happen on Wednesday.  The third day.  Is that why I'm tired?  Maybe.  Either way, I don't see me liking them anytime soon.

Runfession TWO:  I'm HANGRY all.the.time!  Not only a little.  A LOT!  And, I eat horrible food.  My drug of choice yesterday was a package of Swiss Miss Ho Ho's!  Seriously Gina?  Are you kidding me? My friends say, " welcome to marathon training."  Problem is:  I'm not craving good food.  I want to swim in chocolate, stuff my face with lay's potato chips and drink soda!  Yeah.  So there's that.  It's a proud moment for sure.   Writing this post I'm eating a cliff bar - dreaming of what unhealthy food I can have at lunch. 

Runfession THREE:  I kinda like strength training.  Ssshhh!  Don't tell anyone. I'm developing muscles and I occasionally stand in front of the mirror and flex.  OK. OK.  FINE - so I do it every morning.  Can't help it.  I feel like Olaf in Frozen when he's so excited about his carrot nose. " It's like a little baby unicorn."  Make sure you insert his crazy voice when saying it. :)  I feel like my little baby muscles are there and they are finally peaking through! Yahoo!!

Runfession FOUR:  I took my kids to an indoor playland on Sunday so I could blog uninterrupted.  I feel guilty about this. I have so little time with them because I work full time and then I make them play by themselves?  They had a blast!  So did it! :)  Peace and quiet to write my thoughts. 

Seriously, if you were 4 and 6 years old - wouldn't you love this place?  It was the best two hours and only cost me $16.  Can't beat that!

Funfession FIVE:  So a few days ago, I tried to post a suprised and exhausted picture on Instagram to talk about how my trainer killed me during my workout.  It was hard, but very rewarding. Today, she actually said that " noone has cried yet. "  I love you Susan.  You are amazing. 

Anyhoo, I took the picture and then my husband reminded me how horrible it looked all day long. He was kidding of course, but it made me self conscious. Certainly it wasn't a flattering picture - but real life nonetheless. Sweat dripping from my nose, no make up and utter exhaustion. 

To make light of it, we had some fun with this picture last night.  I laughed so hard I cried and the sound of my laugh wouldn't even come out!  So, hopefully you'll get a kick out of it too!

I think this is a pretty darn good comparison picture for sure!  However,  the llama is for WAY cuter!

I just love this linkup. Make sure to visit other blogs as I will be doing the same!  OH.WAIT!  ONE.MORE.THING.  Go to my post here to enter my Giveaway.   Tiux compression socks are graciously giving one of my readers their very own pair.  Hurry, it ends Sunday!!


Sunday, February 21, 2016

Tiux - Run, Jump, Play

About a month ago, I was contacted by Steven Saepan at Tiux to review their compression socks.  I was excited to give them a try for two reasons: because I love all things running and I've never worn a pair of compression socks!  I know!! It's a travesty right?! #runnerproblems

Don't forget to enter my giveaway at the end of this post! Tiux has been gracious enough to give away a free pair to one lucky winner and YOU get to choose your color!

For those who are wondering, Tiux is pronounced "Tee-oo" and it means to run or jump in Mien.   

These socks are adorable! The sizing chart on-line was spot on and they arrived very quickly to my door.   I also feel they were packaged beautifully! 

These compression socks come in a variety of colors for men and women and are quite comfortable.  The fabric feels especially nice on my feet!  They allowed my feet to breath and wick sweat nicely and performed very well in the cold MN temperatures. I tested them in 11 degrees and my feet stayed toasty the entire run! 

I have tested them out multiple times during many different types of runs; from shorter speed workouts, to long runs, to treadmill runs.  And ladies... I've received lots of compliments on how cute they are!  We always want to be cute when running right?!

Let's talk shop for a second though.  These socks are the REAL DEAL! I suffer from sore shins when I increase my mileage above about 25 miles per week.  My calves have been particularly tight as well.  I think this is due to my hilly location.   I tend to run on the tips of my toes when I train on hills.

If you want more information on the benefits of graduated compression socks, go here.  There is a detailed description of all of the benefits to wearing these fancy and stylish socks!  

These socks help aid in my recovery very nicely.  My shin soreness is minimal or even absent most days and my calf muscles have been less sore as well.  I was skeptical because I just thought that shin and calf soreness were part of being a runner.  Not anymore!  My soreness is not completely gone.... But it for sure is better!  I am pleasantly surprised by the functionality of the socks for sure! 

They wash great and I hang dry them.  It was a bit comical the first time I put them on though.  Be sure to check out the Tiux website for a video about how to properly put them on.  Little did I know, inside out is best and then you simply roll them up!  It really is very easy!

At $35, the cost is reasonable for a great product!  Make sure to visit their website and snag yourself a pair!  Or better yet... Enter my giveaway below!   The giveaway ends Feb. 29th!  Please leave your e-mail for contact information!

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Saturday, February 20, 2016

Scraped Knees and Bruised Egos. Week 2 - Marathon Training Complete

Week Two- Grandma's Marathon
Training Complete 

This week started off with a bang, and then somewhere in the middle I lost a bit of mojo.  I managed to throw in a half-marathon and a fall on the ice..... and then I capped it off with a 6 mile easy run. 

Day ONE:  
Yup, hill sprints!  Susan is a great trainer; fantastic really.  But, there is part of me that knows she enjoys to torture us just a bit too much!  2 miles of hill sprints, or as she says a good pace up.  Day one total was 6 miles.  

Day TWO: 

32 degrees at the 5AM start was absolutely amazing.  I could dress lighter and we ran easy.  5.5 miles - nothing too exciting.  Just another day, another grind. 


Push pace day.  Run as fast as reasonably comfortable for the entire duration of the run.  It was 11 bitterly cold degrees and this run was horrible.  Everything about it was horrible.  I lost my mojo for the day, couldn't keep up with the group, had frozen fingers and couldn't WAIT to be done.  I talk about it in detail on my last blog post.  I won't bore you with all the details, but look here if you want more. :)   But basically, I felt like this after.

Amazingly, I finished 6.6 miles at 8:22/mile.  Super fast for me for this distance.  After some great social media contact and positive comments,  I reflected with this.  


I took a rest day on Thursday and did some light weight training.  My arms actually still hurt from the workout three days later. Apparently, it was a good one!

Day FIVE: 

Long run day.  We decided to do this on Friday morning.  Because I need to be home for my husband to go to work at 6:30 am, my alarm rang at 4:20 am.  I got in 2 miles before meeting the girls at 4:45 am to complete 13 miles; all before breakfast. 
The temperature was amazing at 34 degrees.  Surprisingly, for a day when I was up so early, the run really did feel effortless.  We quickly realized that we were going to be a bit slower because the roads were very icy from the re-freeze over night.  So icy in fact, both Susan and I took a nasty fall at mile 12.  I skinned my knee and elbow right through my clothes.  Stunned I laid there for about 60 seconds and my last 1.2 miles was a bit slower.  

I was surprised to see the break in skin even through my tights!

Even with the fall however, the run felt fantastic.  Pace was great at 9:01 per mile and I felt pretty damn excited to run a half marathon before breakfast.  I tried fuel for the first time during this run and it went just fine.  No stomach it's a WIN! 

Day SIX:

Today was a day I probably could have skipped. I was pretty darn sore coming off of 13.2 miles the day before and I am still nursing my knee.  My husband encouraged me to go out and do a recovery run.  Had I not, I woudn't have seen this beautiful sunrise.  It's such a welcome sight.  I rarely run in light until late spring when the sun rises about 5:15.   I'll take any sunrise I can get!

6 miles to complete week two! Although they weren't easy because I was so sore, I sure am thankful for the beauty around me!


37.3 miles
6 workouts
5.6 hours
4098 calories burned

Today, like last week, I'm linking up with Hoho Runs and Tricia at MissSippiPiddlin for their Weekly Wrap! Make sure to check out some other great blogs when you visit! 

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

It's Not All Unicorns and Rainbows!

It's NOT all unicorns and rainbows in Minnesota today! 

This is me, post run, lucky to be alive!  Okay, so yes I'm being a little dramatic, but today's run sucked!  Not just hand-held vac sucked, like HOOVER sucked!   My motivation was low, it was bitterly cold, my legs were tired, my fingers were frozen, my core was cold, I was huffing and puffing and the run just plain sucked!

Stats:  6.6 miles @ 8:22/mile.  Just looking at them, I actually think - Woah!  I nailed that "push-the-pace" marathon training run!  And, in actuality, I was surprised to see that number on the Garmin when I finished. 

It was 11 degrees today. Thankfully, there was very little wind, but it felt bitterly cold.  It was strangely cold out and so quiet.  At about mile 2, I lost my running group.  Not entirely of course, I could still see them in the distance.  However, I was so far behind, I barely saw the lights blinking on their arms. 

This was frustrating in itself because I was mad I couldn't keep up.  Instead of dwelling on that fact, I decided to focus on steady breathing through my nose and I listened closely to my footsteps.  This meditation of sorts helped me get out of my head and calm my thoughts.

But, here are a few thoughts during that dreadful 6.6 miles today.

  1. Good God, when will this end?
  2. It's so cold, why do I live in this state?  Really? Why?
  3. But, then if I didn't live in MN, we wouldn't have our awesome cabin on the lake.
  4. I can't feel my fingers.  But, hey at least my feet aren't cold.
  5. Another hill?
  6. Damn it's dark out.
  7. Why did I wear this jacket? It doesn't wick my sweat and now I'm wet.  Note to self: Never again.
  8. I have ice on my eyelashes. Oooh! That will make a great post-run selfie!
  9. What will I have for breakfast?
  10. Is this run done yet?
  11. My ass is cold, why is my ass so cold? Oh yeah... because it's 11 degrees outside.
  12. Will this winter ever end?
  13. I wish I was still laying in bed.
  14. I have 13 miles on tap for my long run on Friday, maybe I can find a half marathon to run instead?  Then at least I get a medal for my efforts. :)
I have to laugh at some of these.  I made sure to write most of them down after my run just so I wouldn't forget.   Usually, my mind is fairly blank when I run. I try to focus on my next landmark goal or the end of the street, so I stay fairly grounded. 

Today, the run got the best of me.  Tomorrow is a new day.  I'm done dwelling.  Thank you to my awesome friends on social media for picking me up out of my slump and making me realize I still got it done!  I truly love you all!

Sunday, February 14, 2016

And So.... It's Official! Week ONE: Marathon Training Complete

Week One - Grandma's Marathon
Training Complete
For this post I'm linking up with HoHo Runs and Tricia at mississippipiddlin for their Weekly Wrap.  What a perfect week for the link-up as it's the start of my marathon training! :)
This week started off with a bang in true Minnesotan Fashion:  Negative temperatures for my first day of marathon training.  Imagine my surprise ( insert sarcasm here ).  One very positive start however is that I got my official Grandma's Marathon Track Jacket.  It's says finisher, so I'm not going to jinx myself and wear it early - it proudly hangs in my closet awaiting June 18th!

I was very much anticipating the start of training.  Sunday night I hardly slept.  I knew that because of the weather I would be training with my girls at the indoor track so I literally had dreams all night about sprinting. 
This is the place I coined the "hamster-wheel"

Day One:  Monday went well and surprisingly I really enjoy sprints.  They are hard as hell and really work me out, but they also make the workout go by very fast.  I enjoyed it tremendously.   We did a 2 mile warm up and then 2 miles of sprints - 1/4 mile sprint with one lap cool down - and repeat.

THIS is the stretch of a runner. :)  Definately a work in progress! 

Day Two: Easy run day.  I completed just over 4 miles at a comfortable pace.  I welcomed the easy pace because my legs were fairly tight from the sprints the day before.  Unfortunately,  it was the track again because the temperatures were below zero.

I think I'm getting a bit soft when it comes to the temps outside.   :(  I hear that San Diego is nice this time of year!  Our indoor track is a great facility to have, but because I need to drive there, I don't get the mileage that I'd like to get in.  But, any miles are better than no miles.

I do love that I can wear shorts and tank tops! I feel so much more free when I can wear these clothes!   When it's freezing cold outside I'm so bundled up...some days I feel like a marshmallow.
Day Three:  Ladder Sprints!  Awesome and motivating day.  But, next time I want to train with Usain Bolt I'll eat my wheaties first!  Just kidding.   My friend Susan runs like a freaking Cheetah!  She led the ladder and all three of us took nearly a lap to even catch up! :)  Needless to say, I worked my ass off and it felt good.  Seriously, she is so damn fast!!!  I guess that means I'll only get better and faster!! 

Day Four:  I know now it was supposed to be a rest day.  Instead I went to lift at the gym and ended up doing three easy treadmill miles followed by one mile at 7:33/mile.  Whoops - I got a little carried away.  But, I also got some killer arm workouts in too!
The whole cross training/lifting thing is new to me!  I feel a little bit like a fish out of water, but I'm learning and I am getting stronger.   One month ago, I couldn't even do 1 pushup the "normal" way. Now I can do 3 sets of 15 on my knees and 10 "regular" pushups!  I'm starting to see a bit of definition in my arms and that makes me feel pretty good!

I ran into my neighbor there a week ago.  He is a veteran weight lifter so he really taught me some great exercises that I can do with all of the equipment and free weights!  Thanks Bill!

Day Five:  12 degrees.  Negative temps with windchill.  Hence the running ninja picture!  We just couldn't bare another day inside.  Besides, the hamster wheel for 11 miles would have driven us all mad so we braved the elements and got it done!  Like a BOSS!
Last day of training for the week called for 11 very chilly miles.  My alarm rang at 4:30 am and I met the girls at 4:45 am.  I had to be back for my husband to leave for work so we left a tad earlier than normal.  We had great pace at 8:45/mile and I completed the miles before breakfast!  Overall, I can't complain.

All told my mileage came to 27.93 miles.  A bit shy of the 35-40 goal, but I'm happy with week one!  


27.93 Miles
5 workouts
4.2 hours
3044 calories

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Falling in LOVE with Running and Perfect Bars!

Disclaimer:  I received a sample pack of Perfect Bars 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.
It's no secret that my diet is horrible.  It's not horrible everyday, but I do struggle to make healthy food choices.   Am I eating enough vegetables?  Do I eat enough fruit?  What about fiber? What about Protein?  

I'm a busy mom of two rambunctious boys.  I work a full time job as a dental hygienist and I maintain 5 days per week on the road doing what I love:  Running.

I am doing everything right in regards to exercise,  but my nutrition still struggles.  I find it difficult to make the time to prepare healthy and nutritious foods that will sustain my hunger and fuel me for my long days of running, working and mothering.  I love my children. I love my job. I love running.  But balance is key,  and the missing component that connects them all is nutrition.   It's funny - the definition of nutrition is: 

The process of obtaining the food necessary for health and growth.

How can I grow as a runner and how can I grow healthy if I don't have the proper nutrition?   Perfect Bars are JUST THE TICKET!  What's a Perfect Bar you ask?  Read on and don't forget to enter my giveaway! 

This giveaway couldn't haven fallen at a better time.  It's Valentine's day this week and Perfect Bar and BibRave want to help YOU fall in love with them and with running!!

I love running.  I love crossing finish lines.  I love the social aspect of running. I love the way I feel when I'm running.  The list goes on and on.  

Recently, I've fallen in love with my post-run nutrition!  Typically, I run anywhere from 6-10 miles at 5AM.   When I get back from my run, "mom-mode" kicks in as I shower and get the kids ready for school. 

Breakfast is usually an afterthought.  So many thoughts all at once, snowpants, school bags, lunches, bus schedules, dog, breakfast for the kids.  It's not until I get in my car on my commute to work that I even have time to think about my needs;  my nutrition.  How many of you have felt this same chaos?  

Some days,  I only manage to grab a stick of mozzarella cheese.  By 9:30AM I am so hungry I eat everything in sight!  I am not joking.  Any and all food that even crosses my eyes is toast!  Get in my belly.  I think that's the runner term coined "Hangry."  Give me ALL.THE.FOOD before I get ANGRY!  RIGHT NOW!  ALL.THE.FOOD!
Insert loud chewing and slurping noises here. :) 

In all seriousness, you absolutely NEED to check out Perfect Bars!  These magical super-food bars have everything you need to have a successful morning.  No, they are not only for breakfast!  However, I have found that they fit best into my life as a post-run meal-replacement option.  If you check them out yourself, I'm sure that you can find the perfect spot they'll fit into your life as well!

Every Perfect Bar is handmade in a certified organic kitchen.  They are Kosher, non-GMO, gluten-free, high in protein and loaded with 20+ organic superfoods.  They are so fresh they MUST be refrigerated! That's a sign that this company means business! 

There is so much goodness packed into each bar, I can't possibly write it all down.  Please go check out their website for yourself to see all the goodness!
Almond Coconut!  Vegan and 100% organic! 8g Protein, 6g fiber!

The Almond Coconut is my *TOP-PICK!  It tastes amazing and fills me up so that I don't get Hangry! It will surely become my go-to meal replacement option for my morning hussle.

I have sampled every flavor available and have compiled my list of my favorites.  Disclaimer:  This list is specific to my needs and my palate - it does not mean that I didn't like the bar, but I do have my favorites.  
  1. Almond Coconut - the flavors are distinct with a little sweet 
  2. Almond Butter -  creamy, smooth with a great texture and whole sesame seeds
  3. Almond Acai - Lighter, and a bit nutty with sweet hints of flavor
  4. Cranberry Crunch - smooth and peanut buttery with whole cranberries
  5. Carob Chip - really taste the sweetness and the organic honey
  6. Peanut Butter - very creamy, tasty and smooth
  7. Fruit & Nut - plump raisin, nuts, very thick texture

Fall in love with Perfect Bar and you may just fall in love with running!  Go on!  Give it a shot.  You have everything to gain:  especially your nutrition!

To win your VERY OWN sample pack and cooler pack, enter the giveaway below using Raffelcopter! You will NOT be disappointed. See below for your chance to WIN!  And remember:  You MUST include your e-mail as your way of contact. 

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