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!

Friday, January 13, 2017

5 Ways to LOVE the Treadmill

In Minnesota, winters are just plain hard.  

But, how do I get my runs in when it's freezing outside? 
You guessed it!  I turn to the treadmill!  Or, shall I say.... DREADMILL.

This year, it's not only the cold that's getting me down, it's the snowy and treacherous road conditions!  I would MUCH rather run outside but there are times when it's just not worth injury to brave the roads.  We have had a number of days with below zero temperatures and extremely icy roads.  I'll admit, I've skipped more than my share of runs because I just dread the treadmill.  

But, in order to help me with my winter running blues, I've come up with 5 ways to help you LOVE the treadmill and get those much needed work-outs in!  

First off, let  me start by making it clear that I think treadmill work-outs are HAAAARD!  Very hard.  Anybody else feel like one minute on the treadmill is like 20 on the road?  Or, your 9 minute pace feels like your fast sprint during training?  Ugh!  We've all been there... now lets talk about ways to help us get over the dread of the treadmill!  



You know what I'm talking about.  The show your husband yells at you for watching?!  For me, it's The Bachelor. There's nothing better than watching a good cat-fight during a run.  I call it mindless TV - or is it mindless girls on TV?  I don't know, but for whatever reason, when I'm watching something that doesn't require a lot of concentration, I can just run. 


One reason I do love the treadmill is because I can wear my shorts and tank tops IN.THE.WINTER and I sweat like crazy! There really is something about a good sweat that puts me in a great mood.  Oh.. how I miss the days of teensy clothing in the winter.  It's a great pick-me-up to don my sports bra and shorts during a run on the treadmill.  If only for a second, I can forget what weather is lurking outside - unless of course I listen close to the 100 mph winds that are Minnesota Winters.  Okay - I may be exaggerating a bit. 


Yes, I said it.  Turn.It.OFF!  You don't need to worry about pace all the time on the treadmill.  Get your heart rate up to an aerobic rate and JUST.RUN.  No clocks,  no pace.  JUST.RUN.  Enjoy the cadence and don't feel like you have to be breaking records on the treadmill.   I often cover the digital read outs on my mill with a towel so I don't focus on the numbers so much.  You're getting a good work-out.  Your body is moving.  Calories are being burned.  Just run.  You'll thank me later. 


Ok, so I know that this goes against the tip I just talked about, but the treadmill is also a great place to work on your negative-splits.  Recently, I completed a 5 mile progression run on the treadmill where every mile I increased my speed by 20 seconds.  It was fantastic!  I got a challenging workout and my brain focused on 1 mile increments rather than the length of time I would be running.  This workout went so fast and the treadmill held me accountable for my splits which was great! 

Speed training can be very effective on the treadmill because the treadmill forces you to keep a steady pace.   Start out with an easy-effort one mile warm-up.  Then sprint for 2 minutes.  Recover for 4 minutes at an easy conversational pace and repeat this 8 times.  I promise you won't be bored and you will feel like She-Ra when you're done!   

Do you struggle with the dreadmill?  Do you love winter running? 

For the first time I'm linking up with Fairytales and Fitness and Running on Happy for the Friday V 2.0.  I'm excited to meet you all!  Thanks for the link-up!



Friday, January 6, 2017


If you're anything like me and a bit "style-challenged", Stitch Fix is for you!  

I LOVE this fix!

If you've been following my blog for awhile now you've probably learned that most of my days are filled with running clothes and messy ponytails.  My closet is literally 85% workout clothes and truly that is NOT an exaggeration. 

I struggle when I have to got out to actually "look-nice!"  I just don't have much to choose from in the way of my wardrobe, so I turned to Stitch Fix for some help! 

Many of you have probably heard of Stitch Fix.  Some of you may have even tried it!  If you're not familiar with how it works here's a breakdown: 


Simply click on this link which will take you directly to the Stitch Fix website.  Next, create an account and complete your FREE style profile.  This style profile lets you tell your stylist about your EXACT tastes.   One thing I like is that you can let her know just how much money you'd like to spend.  The average fix is about $50 per piece.  The more information you can give and the more specific you are with your preferences and likes/dislikes; the more successful your fix will be!  I recommend creating a Pinterest Style Board to get even more specific about your style preferences!

Once you've completed your style profile,  Stitch Fix will pair you with your own personal stylist that will select five items that will suit your individual needs!  JUST FOR YOU!  Then, the clothes selected will arrive at your door and you can try the items on in the comfort of your own home with the clothing and accessories that you already own.

It's really simple.  Keep the items you want.  Ship back anything you don’t like in the PRE-PAID shipping envelope.   There is a small $20 styling fee that you don't get back if you don't keep anything that you were shipped.  BUT, shipping and returns are FREE, and the $20 styling fee is deducted from the price of anything you decide to keep.  Do you LOVE everything in your fix?  If you do, you automatically save 25% on your entire order.

In my opinion, the $20 styling fee is worth it!  No trips to the mall to search in countless stores for a put-together outfit.  I'm hooked and can't WAIT for my next fix to ship!  YIPPEE!!


This was my first completed outfit I put together with items I had in my closet.  I was sent the Market & Spruce - Chrissy Seam Detail Open Cardigan: $64 and the Loveappella Regena Mixed Material Knit Top: $48.  

When I pulled the striped top out of the box,  I immediately was in LOVE.  It was so right up my alley and my stylist nailed my girly style.  It is just SO cute.  The sheer floral back and cap sleeves are adorable and it is a bit flowy with a longer back - PERFECT for my black leggings (which I got at Target.)  

I paired it up with a necklace I had that honestly I haven't worn in years and.... Voila!  Perfection!  I had some high wedge shoes that really make this outfit dressy.  I decided to actually wear this outfit with a pair of snakeskin flats.  For just a bit more comfort.   STATUS: KEPT

I thought the cardigan was a bit spendy at $68.  It's certainly something I would have overlooked in a store simply because of the price tag.  I am SO happy I gave it a shot and "forgot" about the price for a second.  It's amazing. It has great detail and the back is adorable! So soft, very comfy, fits me perfectly in the shoulders and it's a great color that will match just about anything I pair it with.   STATUS: KEPT

I was also sent the 41Hawthorn Queensland Dolman Jersey Top: $48 and Liverpool Elizabeth Super Skinny Jean: $78.  The jeans are AMAZING. Yes, I looked at the price tag and almost swallowed my tongue.  In my opinion, they are expensive.  But, I've never paid more than $40 for a pair of jeans in my life.  Maybe that's why I don't like my current jean selection?

I was so excited with my fix my husband I did a little photo shoot!

Anyhoo, these jeans are so soft and comfy.  Being that I LIVE in running clothes... this was a huge plus.  These jeans can be worn dressy or casual.  STATUS: KEPT

The shirt is a beautiful burgundy/purple color and also very comfortable.  I love the side detail where the fabric slouches. I paired it with a scarf that I recently purchased and my Sorel Winter boots - in MN boots are a necessity.  STATUS: KEPT

My fix also included a pair of earrings.  These were the Marlyn Schiff Portia Ear Jacket, $28. I will admit, these are not my favorite.  I would say I'm a tad more girly-girl with my style so these were just to modern.  Had I not received a HUGE 25% discount for keeping all 5 items, these would have went back.  It made more sense to keep them.  I'm sure that I'll wear them a bit, but they will not be my go-to earrings.  What do you think?  STATUS:  KEPT

I did keep ALL 5 items and I couldn't be happier.  I think I will get a lot of wear out of all of my pieces and I'm so excited for my next fix!  The total cost for 5 items was $199.50.  In my world, that is a bit more than I'm used to spending.  But, the trade off for me was the convenience and the fact that I was styled perfectly and didn't have to do anything.  I just love that!   For a busy, working mom of two - it's just perfect! 

If you want to try Stitch Fix for yourself, use my referral link!  I get a small referral credit and I would love you forever! :)  Happy Fixing! 

I'm linking up with Nicole for her Fit & Fashionable Friday Link up!  Check her out! 

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Reflective Safety: It Just May Save Your Life.

Disclaimer:  I received Brilliant Reflective Safety Strips 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.

Nine months of the year,  early mornings in Minnesota are DARK.  So dark in fact, it's imperative for a runner to have bright and reliable reflective gear.  My morning runs are most always in the dark and I often run right on the roads, as the sidewalk is not always accessible. 

It's an absolute FACT that more pedestrians are struck by vehicles in the dark!  And, did you know that a person is 1100% MORE  likely to be struck in the dark than in daylight?

That's reason enough for ME to protect myself with reflection!

At $9.99 there really isn't a more affordable way to be seen in the dark!   Brilliant Reflective strips are 200 times brighter than a white t-shirt and they are made with the same reflective properties that protect our military.  How cool is that?!

If you look below, these strips are available in two different versions: iron-on and stick-on.  The picture was taken to accentuate the reflective properties of the strips.

The iron-on strips are very easy to use.  The directions are inside on the cover of the packaging and are clear and concise.  How innovative!  I was impressed with the packaging and the conservation of not having the loose directions.  My husband is an environmentalist,  so I learn from the best.  Make sure to check out my video below showing just how cool this really is!  A+ goes out to Brilliant Reflective on the minimalist packaging!

I found that I used the stick-on strips the most during my testing period.  I used these only because I placed them on my absolute favorite piece of winter running gear.  Initially, I was cautious of the adhesive and how it would react with my jacket.  My jacket is nylon so I was afraid it would not withstand the ironing of the strips.  In addition, this jacket only gets washed occasionally, so I was fine with the stick-on strips being placed on it.

I have had no trouble with them falling off while running.  The stick-on strips have heavy duty adhesive and are a fabric-like material.  I still have them attached to my shoes even in the slushy and snowy Minnesota runs!  Also, my headband has been washed several times and the stick-on strip is still there!

My only minor complaint is regarding the adhesive.  It's a pro and a con at the same time.  The strips did such a good job adhering to the fabric on my outer jacket I could hardly get them off.  After three washes they were stuck on just like the first day they were placed.

However, removing them did take effort, and on a few locations, the strip did leave a bit of glue residue.  This did not ruin my jacket and I'm sure I'll be able to get off the residue, but it will require a bit of elbow grease.  The excess adhesive left could be due to the jacket being nylon, it's a more sensitive fabric in my opinion.

It was very important that I placed these strips in a position that was conducive to bio-motion.  According to Brilliant Reflective, when you outline the human form with the reflective strips, you are more easily identified because the light reflecting back to the driver will be in the shape of a person.   Drivers will absolutely pay more attention to reflection if they think it's a person!

Just LOOK at how bright I am!  You can even see the strips on the tips of my toes! They glow nicely in this photo!

I am in LOVE with these innovative strips!  I would say these are a MUST-TRY!  How can you go wrong?  At $9.99, which includes free shipping,  these strips are an affordable way to give you a bit more protection during your dark runs. If you're anything like me, you need the extra protection in the dark!

If you still have questions, make sure to check out our #bibchat on Twitter!  Tuesday, Jan. 10th - 8 PM CST.  We will talk all things reflection and you just may win a package for yourself!

Monday, January 2, 2017

A Year Of Firsts!

2016 was an amazing year, and it's over. 

Here's a look back at my pretty crazy year of running.  

  • I completed 10 races. 
  • One challenge series.
  • Won an AG award.  
  • 2 Destination Races - if only in the Midwest! 
  • Completed my FIRST MARATHON! 
  • 6 Half-Marathons
  • One DNF - well, I walked it. 
  • One DNS ( major bummer )

It's hard to believe that it's all come to an end, and truthfully if I wrote about it all, you'd be bored by the end and it would take me all day.  But, sticking to running, all-in-all it was a pretty fantastic year!

For the last several years, I have completed the Polar Dash Half Marathon on New Years Day.  It's a Minnesota right of passage because it's always so ASS cold.  Yes, I said ASS.  Of course, the year I decided to skip the race it was 25 degrees...and for Minnesota standards that's beach weather.   Instead, my children let me sleep in on Sunday until 7:45 am.  I'm not going to lie, it was fantastic!   Yes,  I'm bummed I didn't get to run this year, but I did get in 6.5 miles this morning so that was great!

My year is STATS:

  • 10 races
  • 1,007.75 miles
  • 97,000 calories
  • 202 days run
  • 1 DNS
  • 1 DNF ( I walked it, so I guess I finished )
  • 1 Injury

Marathon training started for me Mid-February.  I was nervous and excited at the same time.  Unfortunately, about week 7,  the nag in my leg was confirmed Femoral Stress Fracture.  Thankfully, I had caught it early and had been nursing the leg for 3 weeks before I went to the sports medicine doctors.  I had 7 weeks off from my normal running schedule.  It was hard and at times I felt completely lost. 

It was during that time, that I had my very first DNS and another race a few weeks later that I stepped down to the 5K and just walked. It was a major bummer, but my eye was on the prize of that finish line! And.....

In June, I DID IT.  I crossed that marathon finish line even after my injury!  Grandma's Marathon was not something I'll ever forget.  I finished and I will relish in that moment for the rest of my life.  And... you know what?  I'm coming back for more in 2017 and will be running the course again.  I was happy I finished, but I KNOW I am capable of so much more.  Stay tuned!

Lola's Half Marathon,  Kari - Me - Lisa
Rather than talk about ALL of my race experiences, I'll talk about what I learned this year! 

I've learned that the running community is truly awesome!  Really!  Truly awesome and you have all touched my lives in different ways and I'm thankful for that.

I've learned that races are ALWAYS so much better with friends! 

I35 challenge - Kansas City & Des Moines
I've learned to never give up.  

I've learned to set big goals!  

I have so much to look forward to in 2017.  I'm already trying to finalize my race schedule and I've got BIG goals!  I hope you'll all join me for what I'm sure will be a crazy year! 

I look forward to many more laughs.  Maybe a half-marathon PR?  Another marathon finish... or two?  Hmmm..... I guess we'll see!  I'm hoping to work more on growing my blog as well as being the best mom I can be! 

And, speaking of blogs..... I changed my name to!  I wanted a blog name that was geared more toward running, but also include some of the first name!  Let me know what you think?  

It's been FOREVER.... I mean FOREVER since I've linked up with Holly and Tricia for their Weekly Wrap!  I'm excited to link up again and I'm hoping to keep a better track record into the new year!  Check out their blogs and others as well!  

Here's to a FANTASTIC 2017!