Friday, July 15, 2016

Friday Five: Five CRAZY Sights Along Grandma's Marathon Course

One month ago, I became a marathoner.  It's actually hard to even believe it's true!
I wrote my blog post about it last week, but realized there were quite a few sights along the way that I just had to blog about.  Since I'm a first-timer linking up with Courtney, Cynthia and Mar for their Friday Five.... I thought this was the perfect time!

If you'd like to read my race recap here that would be great!  This post pokes a bit of fun at the sights I saw on the race course! Enjoy!

Let me begin by saying this was the most incredible experience of my life.  I am thankful that even in the heat, I was able to keep my wits about me and take in all the sights along they way!  

1:  Spectators were everwhere at the race.  Most were cheering loudly at the runners with encouraging words along the way.  A few in particular stood out.  At a few different points on the race  course, a few women had a small card table set up with the sign that said something like:  'Runner's Pharmacy:  Everything except weed.'  I thought this was very clever, hysterical and actually very helpful. I'm sure that they got many runners to partake in what they had a their table.  From what I glanced at they had bandaids, tyelnol, vaseline, water, sunscreen and much much more.  I absolutely should have used the sunscreen as I was completely burnt to a crisp.  Lesson learned on that one. 

The real magic started happening in the latter half of the race about mile 20.  That's about when everything started to go hazy.  Runners were delirious, the hot sun was ruthless, the finish line was close but yet so damn far away.  

2:  I poke fun at this next photo.  ONLY because had I NOT seen the photographer a few blocks before I approached, I would have looked horrible!! I put on my best face and smiled right at the photographer.  This photo is a lie. I was dying. 

It was so hot.  Black flag conditions.  This was just after mile 21 - the infamous lemon drop hill was ahead.  All I could think of was "Oh Shit, there's the hill."   A little over 2000 runners did not finish that day.  

3:  Bacon.  Did someone say bacon?  I love me some bacon.  Bacon fries. Bacon & Eggs. Bacon on my cheeseburger. Bacon on my cereal.  No... kidding.  Basically, bacon on everything.  

But, under NO circumstances do I want bacon at mile 21 of a marathon!  OMG!  Bless this man's heart.  He had a tent all set up and was frying pounds and pounds of bacon.  This is not a new thing for this race either.  He's been doing it for years.  But honestly, the smell of the bacon was nauseating.  I coudn't have imagined trying to eat a piece of bacon at mile 21.  I could barely gut down 1/4 of a banana!  

4: Another crazy sight were the troll dolls. You know the kind. Remember? The plastic, freaky-looking neon hair kind? When I was a kid I had tons of these little demon creatures. Between mile 21 and 22 they line the block! I bet there were 100 of these babies. Maybe more. Truly a sight! 

5: I save the best for last! At mile 23 the guy in front of me BONGED A BEER!! Yes... You heard that right! I could barely put one foot in front of the other and this guy bongs a beer?!?! Amazing! He must have had some crazy frank n' beans to have the guts to do that! The frat boys were going crazy. And.... I was too! Remarkable. Disgusting. Crazy. It sure made me laugh and all I could think about was FRANK THE TANK from the movie 'Old School' with Will Ferrell. If you haven't seen the movie it's great! One of my favorites! 

There was so much more to a memorable Grandmas Marathon weekend, but that's all for now! 

This was fun! Make sure to visit Courtney, Cynthia, and Mar!! 

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Grandma's Marathon - The race Recap is FINALLY here!

My first marathon.  Hours of training.  Sweat.  Smiles.  Tears.  Injury.  
I FINALLY wrap it all up on the blog. 

I've wanted to write about my marathon for some time now.  

Three weeks ago,  I became a marathoner.  So much joy, so much emotion, so much dedication.   Unfortunately, the elation all came crashing down the day after my finish when I had to say goodbye to my beloved dog.  I was hurting so badly.  My brain was in a fog.  My kids needed me.  Work needed me.   How could I possibly talk about my "BIG DAY!"  

Fortunately and with time, my heart is mending and it's time to spill it all.   

Grandman's Marathon was a race I won't ever forget.  As a "first-timer," I wasn't sure what to expect. I was pleasantly surprised at how seamless the entire race was.   My husband traveled to Duluth with me and took in all of the festivities before and after the race.  He was planning on biking much of the route to cheer me on and snap unforgettable photos of me on the race course.  There were times on the course it felt like I only kept going so that I could see him at the next stop.  Oftentimes,  I repeated to myself 'just another mile and you'll see his face.'  He was my support.  He kept me going. 

This photo was the first time that I saw Brad.  He was at mile 14! I was so happy to see him!

This race was hard.  Damn.Hard.  It was incredibly HOT, with temps in the mid-80's at the finish.  It wasn't as flat as I had expected and I didn't have sunscreen.  That was a major fail because I was burnt to a crisp!  I found out later that 2000 runners did not finish.  There were so many people walking it was unbelievable!!

Wow, saying all that out loud seems crazy!  It took me 45 minutes longer to finish than I had anticipated.  BUT,  I FINISHED!!  

My official race finish time was 5:00:16.  It's funny.  My first half I finished in just under 2 hours.  I was elated as I was on pace for my goal time.   The first 15 miles were pretty darn good and as you can see from my face I was pretty dang excited to be running this race!

The support along the race course was tremendous.  Although there aren't many spectators until you get to mile 20, the water stops were packed with people cheering loudly and shouting encouragement.     The homes, maybe 10-15 along the race course from miles 2-18,  all come out to lend aide and water.  Many had their garden hoses attached to high ladders for all the runners to run through.  Thank you for that! 

At the start of the race, the white conditions flag was flying.  By mile 20,  it was black flag conditions and I was truly worried I'd have to stop because the race officials would call the race due to the heat.  Thankfully, they did not.  This sign says it all.  This was at mile 21, and by that time, I truly had had enough.  My husband took this picture and kept saying that I could do it and I shouldn't be concerned if I had to walk a bit.

The water stops were amazing.   Each stop you were able to get ice cups as well, which quickly went right down my sports bra.  The ice lasted about 1/2 mile.  It was a great way to stay cool.  Also, at many of the water stops, we were handed cold sponges which were also amazing.  I carried them a ways and wiped my face and squeezed water on my arms and head.   

At mile 22 is the infamous Lemon Drop Hill.  To tell you the truth, at first glance the hill doesn't look that intimidating.....until you're running it and at mile 22 no less.  I refused to walk up the hill.  I would NOT let it defeat me.  

The last 4 miles to the finish line is packed with people.  I would image that in the early hours of the race there were even more.  It was incredibly hot that day, so I'm guessing there were many spectators that were calling it a day.  

Mile 25 was hard.   I rounded a corner and yet another hill,  it was ever so slight, but I had to stop and walk.  A volunteer came up to me, looked me in the eyes, put his hand on my shoulder and said, " don't worry honey, you'll get there. "  I cried.  It was just such a caring gesture.  It was like he knew my thoughts.  It felt like I was NEVER going to get there. 

The last 1/2 mile comes into canal park where you weave around the major tourist attractions.  I could see the lift bridge. I was so close.  I rounded the corner for the last .2.  My husband snapped some photos and then yelled, " you did it, put your hands up, you did it!" If you look close he's in the background in the yellow with his camera!  I just love this photo!!

To be perfectly honest, the finish line was a blur.  I didn't cry.  I walked very slowly through, was given my medal,  and basically brain-fogged it to the t-shirt pick up.  I couldn't even make the decision on my size because I just didn't have the energy. 

I met up with my husband and that's when I cried.  He was my strength that day.  He carried me through.  At times, he was biking right by my side, encouraging me the entire way!

My girlfriend Kris also met me at the finish line.  When she screamed, " you did it!"  I just sobbed in her embrace.  I'm not sure how long we hugged as I cried, but it was a looooooong time.  

I also met up with my crew.  They never let me take a picture of them on our morning runs.  Here they all are.  These girls pushed me  I wouldn't be here without them, and for that I am forever grateful.  I love them with all my heart.  

Heather, Susan, Myself, Kris

I am a marathoner.   I set my goal high and I completed that goal.  There was disappointment and worry during the journey,  but I never gave up.  Will I run one again.  Absolutely.  In winter.  In 30 degree temps.  You think I'm kidding. :) 

This week I'm linking up with Holly and Tricia for their weekly wrap.  I am very late with this post, but couldn't wait to share it with all of you!   

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Review of MeStrength - Electrolyte Performance Hydration Drink Mix

Disclaimer:  I received MeStrength Performance Hydration Drink Mix to 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. 

Imagine yourself at your race expo.  Vendors everywhere, gear spilling out onto the narrow walkways between vendor booths, hundreds of excited runners, eyes wandering, heart pumping, wallet jumping out of your pocket ready to spill it's contents and buy you all.the.gear!   It's almost race day.  You can hardly wait to cross that finish line.

Now, imagine yourself sampling any and every item that these vendors want you do try.  Some may be great, while others are not.  Some products you are so excited to try and then your heart sinks after you realize you were fantasizing over a product that just didn't live up to your standards.

How many times have you tasted a performance energy drink;  wanting so badly for it to live up to your expectations?  I know I have.  So many times I have been disappointed with how theses performance drinks have tasted.   Guess what?!?  I do not need to look any further.  MeStrength to the rescue!  I absolutely LOVE this product.

MeStrength comes in 5 different flavors so that you can pick the very best one for you!  It is gluten - free, vegan, sugar-free and all natural.  I have to admit I really love the lemon-lime and orange flavor! The fruit punch rounds out a solid 3rd place for my flavor palate.  I didn't taste the grape flavor.  I should have but I don't like grape anything, so I gave that to a friend.  The kiwi-stawberry was a bit too tart for my taste.

I took the below picture about one month ago with a few of my best running girlfriends.  I told them about the product and gave them some samples to try for themselves. 

This race was my 6th half marathon.  It was a super hilly course on a very humid day!  My flavor of choice that morning was lemon-lime.  It tastes great and has just a subtle hint of flavor.  This race was a great one for me.  I truly believe that the extra push I got from drinking MeStrength throughout my race kept me going on a tough course!  

What makes MeStrength unique is two simple properties: creatine and electrolytes.  For our muscles to properly function during runs, these key ingredients are vital.  When our muscles fatigue their cells lose fluid.   These 5 electrolytes replenish the lost fluid to help us stay hydrated during our workouts and our muscles are less fatigued. 

MeStrength is also sugar-free and that is very important!  The concept is simple.  When an energy drink, or energy chew for example, uses sugar - that sugar uses energy.  Unfortunately, that sugar takes away from cells that really need that energy.  Consequently, it leeches fluid away from our muscles causing them to dehydrate.   Have you ever crashed during a race because you've only been fueling with high sugar fuels?  Gummy Bears anyone?  Because MeStrength is sugar-free, our cells are NOT inhibited and we can properly hydrate from the onset of exercise.   I'd say this is a pretty darn important part of why MeStrength is so great! 

This is me with a big smile at mile 14 of Grandma's Marathon!  I had just connected with my husband.  One bottle of MeStrength was gone and my reserve was ready!

Another fantastic property of MeStrength is creatine.   The creatine in the drink helps to increase muscle performance and decrease muscle soreness.  I ran my very first marathon fueled by MeStrength.  I was pleasantly surprised that on day two of recovery I was walking "normal."  I wasn't even using hand rails in the bathroom anymore.  You laugh....but we've all been there! 

MeStrength is easy to use.  Just mix one packet with 20 oz. of water!  I use it mostly during my long runs but have recently started drinking it after as well.  It's very convenient for me to mix up a packet after my run.  I'm already thirsty and the flavor just makes it so much better! 

Curious to try out this super drink for yourself?  MeStrength is offering a great discount through September 2016.  Get 25% off your own pack with CODE: "Bibchat716."