Sunday, April 30, 2017

It Takes An Army

I can do hard things.  Really hard things.  

Let's face it.  Running and life is hard.  But, the hard is what makes it great!   

This week I didn't focus on running.  To be honest,  I have been pretty damn scared that all of my hard training would be in the toilet because of my stupid shin.   I've touched my shin five-thousand times in the last two weeks.  'Is it hurt?'  'Am I sore?'  'Stress reaction?' ' Shin splint?'   The uncertainty consumed me. 

I drove myself mad.  I ran very few miles to continue nursing my "maybe-I'm-hurt" leg.  This new found madness forced me to focus on other areas of my fitness.  I am still attending my weekly kick-boxing class where I once again thought that calf raises were a good thing.  LOL - My goodness, I was sore!  I have also been focusing at home on core strength and have been working on my plank skills and pushups.   It's a whole new kind of sore.  

Amidst all the chaos that is life and marathon training,  I have learned an invaluable lesson.   It takes an army.  

Running and training for a marathon is not a one-man job.   Of course,  I am in control of my success. I am the one actually running the race.  I am the one with the 4:45 am wake-up calls on a Saturday morning.   I am the one with the sore muscles.   am the one who cries tears of joy after accomplishing such a feat.  I cross the finish line.   

But, we've all heard that there is no "I" in team.  There is no "I" in army.    I would never accomplish completing a marathon without the ones around me.  

My most important army is my husband and my kids.   I do try to do most of my training runs early in the morning before work and before my family is out of bed for the day.   Unfortunately,  that can't happen for my long runs.  Long runs are time consuming!  A three-hour run, then turns into an ice bath, followed by a shower and a huge breakfast to restore depleted calories.  Those Saturday long runs are entire morning commitments. 

I run knowing that my family is fine and my husband has it under control.   Sometimes, my mother and father-in-law help too.  It really does take an army. 

And, then there's YOU!  My internet army.  My friends in our little corner of the internet.   Some I've met,  some I can't wait to meet.  I couldn't do this training without YOU!  I value all of the advice.  I love the compassion, the camaraderie,  the joy,  the tears.  All of it.  If it weren't for my running and blogging friends near and far,  I simply couldn't do it.  So, thank you.  From the bottom of my heart.  Thank you! 

Saturday, I had an important 20 mile training run on the plan.  I didn't want to skip it due to my nagging shin.  But, I also wanted to be smart as well.  Grandma's Marathon is only 7 weeks away.  My training is ramping up in mileage.  I knew that I would be disappointed if I didn't at least try to run the miles.  My shin was feeling good after 5 days rest,  so I went for it. 

My plan was to take it easy, see how it felt after a few miles, and go from there.  I only ran Monday this week and the run was fantastic with great tempo splits.  5 days off did me good.  

I finished my 20 miles in 3:08:18.  9:25 per mile.  The first 16 miles were at marathon pace 9:09, which made me very happy.  I really struggled to complete the last 4 miles though.  My body was cramping from my hips to my knees.  I had strange cramping on the inside of my quads even.   My running partner told me that she only saw me eat once during the 10 miles she ran with me.  She literally willed me to keep going and pointed out that if I could continue, I should.   She knew that I would be so disappointed in myself if I didn't get to 20.  

She was right.  I didn't eat enough the 2nd half of my run.  Fueling is a weakness.  I need to work on it.   It takes an army.  If it weren't for Heather and her encouragement,  I would have stopped at 17 miles and walked home.    After the run she texted me this,  

"Holy shit.  You're hard core.  I KNEW you would've been so upset with yourself if you hadn't hit 20.  I was prepared to drag you by the pony tail if I had to.  In a completely loving way, or course. " 

I texted right back.  

"THANK YOU!!! Seriously, I love you!"

You see, we can do hard things.  It sometimes take an army.   We can make our minds and our bodies do crazy things if we work hard.    Surround yourself with family and friends who "get" you and the sky is the limit.

I am happy to report, other than the fact that I'm walking like a 100 year old grandma and I'm sore in the most crazy places,  I have no shin pain.  WAHOO!!

Well, army - thank you!

I'm linking up with Holly and Tricia for their Weekly Wrap!

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Shin Splints, Stress Reaction, OR Overly Cautious - that IS the question?!!

Grandma's Marathon is important to me. 
Honestly, there are days that I'm consumed with thoughts of the finish line. 
Those of you who have been following me along my journey would be living under a rock if it wasn't blatantly obvious just how much it means to me. 

However, marathon training - like life, throws you curve balls.  
This week my emotions have been tested. 

Monday's workout was truly amazing; almost effortless.   I wanted to do some speed work because it had been a while since I'd tested my tempo pace for a consistent 3-4 miles.  However,  I decided to do hill repeats instead.  My thoughts were that if the hill repeats went well,  I could sprint home.

The morning was crisp and cool.  My breathing was perfect, my legs were fresh.  Even after five  - 3/4 mile repeats I was able to tempo home for more than a mile at 8:15 pace.  If runs could be rated A+ this was it.   Plus - say hello to the sunrise.  I cannot tell you how excited I am that it's light when I get home from my run!  

I was looking forward to Tuesday because I knew that I could run easy and relax.  Not right away, but about 2-3 miles into the run, I could feel my legs get tighter.  My shins were not painful and I had no problem running, but we all know our bodies and I just "knew" something was a bit off. After my run, I knew that I would be taking at LEAST one day off.  Turns out, I took Wednesday and Thursday to rest and recover. 

All day at work, in any spare time I had,  I did the jump test.   You know what I mean - jumping on the "injured" leg to see if it hurts.  Yeah - that was me.  Does it hurt?  Do I feel weak?  Is it a stress reaction?  Maybe it's just shin splints?  Is there any swelling?  Do I get pain in just one single area?  Am I crazy?  Sometimes, yes.  I am crazy.  Aren't we all? 

I won't bore you with all the answers to the questions.  But, what I will say is that my left anterior tibia is just not perfect.  No,  I don't have swelling or weakness.  I can take my stairs with no problem at all and I passed MY self-diagnosed jump test.  

When I iced on Tuesday night, the look on my husband's face was priceless.  "WHAT are you doing? Are you in pain?"  He was concerned and I was a tad concerned as well.  But I know that ice and rest are good so that's what I did.  

My leg was no longer bothering me at all on Friday morning,  so I ventured out for my long run.  I knew that I could quickly push the stop button and walk home if I needed.   I also didn't have any reservations about cutting down my plan of thirteen miles.  

Up to this point, I have gotten multiple long runs in.  Last week,  was my first 18 miler since last June and it went very well.  I finished 18 miles with an overall pace of 9:21/mile.  That translates to a  4:04 finish time if I would  hold on for 8 more miles. 

I was ecstatic.  That's 55 minutes faster than my first marathon attempt!  

After Friday's run, everything was great.    No pain during.   No pain after.   Did I know my leg was there?  Yes.   But,  I wasn't super concerned.  

I finished 9.5 miles and felt very good after.  Would you look at the light! YES!  6:30 am and it's bright.  Hallelujah!!

As I sit here today, 36 hours past my last run, I can feel my leg.   I for sure have another rest day ahead and Monday morning I will re-evaluate whether or not to go out for my run.  My first 20 mile run is next week.  I'd like to be rested and ready for it.   I built in three 20-mile runs in the last 8 weeks before the race.  Maybe, subconsciously because something like this may happen.  

I've resigned myself to "safe-mode."   But, it does feel a little bit like a bomb - will it explode?  

I will not push.  I have 8 weeks before Grandma's and Dammit  -  I.WILL.FINISH.  

But, really universe??  I've been being such a good girl.   I made a conscious effort to design a training plan that only utilized 4 days of running in hopes at doing a better job at preventing any injuries.  I never run more than 2 days in a row.  I'm cross training.  I'm training smart.   I'm sleeping well.  

Maybe a good loud scream outside will feel good?  

I've been here before.   But this time,  I refuse to get "officially" injured or let this nagging pain-in-my-ass get any worse.  I am prepared to run much less.  I have a good base.  I will overcome this.  

What would YOU do?!

On another note, I know that I'm late to the party and this is so last year,  but I am officially obsessed with Snapchat.  I have laughed so hard the last few days.  Yesterday,  I discovered the voice changer and OMG - I nearly peed myself.  

I actually don't ever send my chats.  I just save my photos so I can laugh at them from time to time.  Here are a few of my gems. 

Do YOU Snapchat? 

Of course,  I'm linking up with Holly and Tricia for their Weekly Wrap.  The link is live on Sunday, so I'm a tad early.   Enjoy! 

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Eagle Creek Pack-It Sport Review

Disclaimer:  I received Eagle Creek Pack-It Sport 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.


Running stinks!  It really really stinks! 

Don't fret!  

I actually really love running.  I even sometimes dream about running.  Running clears my head.  It makes me stronger.  It makes me a better mother; a better wife; a better friend.  

However, among all of the wonderful things running gives me... it also gives me some pretty funky smells too!  I have been told to go "take a shower" once or twice!   I hate to admit it, but it's true that sometimes I smell like death after a run. 

I found this meme a while ago and I knew that I kept it for a reason.   It's funny, but true!  Sometimes,  my smell could rival a ripe skunk!  Are your nose hairs searing yet?  Can you put yourself right into that air stream of fresh skunk in the morning?  We've all been there.  

Now imagine yourself after a long race.  Reaping in the victory of that finish line.  The medal still freshly hung around your neck;  your banana in hand.   The sweet/salty mix of crusty salt on your face from your sweat.   Don't forget your wet, sweaty clothes.  They can be just gross!  P-U!  

At my race a few weekends ago, my clothes went directly into the Pack-It bag! 

After I run a longer distance,  I am wet with sweat from my head to my toes.  Sounds adorable guys, right?!  WRONG!  

Before I found my Eagle Creek Pack-It,  I'd toss my clothes in an airtight bag and hope to not gag when I got home to throw them in the wash.  Don't even get me started for a destination race.  What DO you do with your clothes that you can't wash in your suitcase?  

In the past,  I have taken the hotel bags that hang in the closet for dirty clothes.  You can't miss them, they are usually labeled LAUNDRY.   I've even brought ziplock bags with me on vacation for my stinky clothes.  However, the problem with these bags is that they are not breathable and my clothes stay wet.  How gross!  But, I no longer have that problem.    

Eagle Creek Pack-It to the rescue! 

Eagle Creek has "Gear That Gets Rocked and Keeps On Rolling."  I am loving this bag.  It even comes with a separate bag for my shoes!  The shoe bag zips closed and fits up to a Mens Size 13!  It's perfect for packing my shoes away from all of my other clothes!   My dirty, smelly shoes can be packed right next to my clean clothes and there is no smelly transfer! 

Here are some specifics on this great bag! 

  • Antimicrobial
  • Odor controlling
  • Water Repellant
  • Machine-Washable
  • Ultra-light
  • Packable
  • Compact
  • Breathable
  • Separator to put clean clothes on one side and dirty on the other

The bag comes in 4 great colors and is a reasonable $40.  But, if you use code 'SPORT15' you get 15% off any order!  Make sure you check out the entire Eagle Creek website because they know gear!  They have everything from luggage and duffel bags to backpacks and travel accessories!  I'm sure you'll find something you love.

Don't forget to tune into our #bibchat on Twitter this Tuesday, April 25th, 8PM CST.  You could win your very own Eagle Creek Pack-It sport!   

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

APRIL - Stitch Fix Review

It's time for another Stitch Fix Review! 

If you haven't jumped on the Stitch Fix train, I highly recommend that you do! 

But, first.... let's get the information out of the way:  


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!!


I was very excited to get this fix.  Of course, once my box shipped I cheated and looked at the clothes my stylist picked for me!  I had the same stylist as I did for my last fix, and I was very happy because I think Anna did a great job last time.  

For this box, I asked for fun and flirty spring and clothes for my upcoming Colorado trip in May.  I told her that I had a blue jean jacket already and that I love flats.  She scored big with my skinny jeans in the last fix and I was excited to see what she picked out! 

Unfortunately, and with a big tear, I kept nothing from this fix.  NOT because I didn't like the clothing that was sent, actually quite the contrary.   I just felt like the clothes were just too expensive at this point in time. 

These were the first two items I tried on.  The shirt was adorable!  I mean, very very cute.  Had it NOT been for the fit I would have kept this.   As you can see in this picture I was holding the fabric in on the side.  The size was great - the cut, not-so-much.  It appeared very boxy and square when I had it on.  I was not in love, so sadly I returned this.  STATUS: RETURNED

Q & A Tarria Pleating Detail Blouse - $54

Lila Ryan Dorianna Skinny Jean in Lavender - $98

Say what??  $98 colored jeans?   These were absolutely fantastic on my body.  I loved them from the moment they were out of the box.  They fit like a glove. I could dress them up or down.  I liked it best when I paired it with my black lace top and black wedge sandals.  I also paired it with a previous fix top that I received in January (shown below.)  Both worked well. 

My little guy had to get in the picture with me! :)  

I just couldn't get over the price tag - SO pricey and being that they were so "seasonal," I knew that I wouldn't get the wear that I wanted out of them.  Regrettably, my fiscally sensible head - and my practical husband talked me out of these.  They are in my heart always.  Lol  STATUS: RETURNED

Loveappella Caroleena Front Pocket Knit Top - $48

This shirt was incredibly comfortable.  Soft as can be, but the fit was just not right.  I didn't love it and it was a bit big, even in a size small.  It just couldn't be kept.  STATUS: RETURNED 

Nine West Marie Doted Laser Cut Ballet Flat - $78

I personally loved these shoes.  I felt like they would be versatile with many clothing items.   I asked for flats in this fix and Anna delivered. They were a very "on-trend" blush color and quite comfortable.  My husband hated them from the get-go and because of that, and the price, I just couldn't keep them. The only shoes I spend THAT kind of money on are my running shoes!   Runners can you relate??

Verse, Navy Flo Knit Dress - $48

This dress was sleeveless and a great material, but I wasn't in love.  Maybe it was the pattern?  I'm not sure.  It was much cuter with the jacket than without, and I don't have any accessories on with this, but I just was kinda "it's okay" on this one.  

The price on this dress was just right.   I think in a different pattern it may have been a love for me. Also, because the fabric was so light and thin, I felt like I would need to suck in my belly.     STATUS: RETURNED.

This fix didn't go as planned, but I'm okay with that.  Last fix I kept everything!!  I have already ordered another box, specifically asking for less expensive items.  We shall see!  I'm excited for it to arrive.  

If you are dying to give this a try.  Here's my referral link!  I think you'll love it!  

What do you think? Did I make the right choice? 

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Scheels Mankato Spring Half Marathon

I took it easy this week in anticipation for my first race of 2017! 
The Scheels Mankato Spring Half Marathon was my tenth half marathon! 

This week also wrapped up week 9 of Grandma's Marathon Training.


23.5 miles
Short Course

The medal is really beautiful! 


I started out the week with a tempo run.  It went pretty well, considering I ran 16 miles two days before that.  I was happy with my overall 8:37 pace and started Monday off on the right foot.  


On Thursday, I caught up with a good friend and ran some relaxed easy miles in preparation for my half marathon.   It was definitely nice to "let go" and run "just to run."  I was able to remove myself just a bit from the intensity of marathon training this week and it was really a treat!  

I was really looking forward to running my first half of the year,  and I had some pretty lofty time goals.  I have been running pretty solid paces for my tempos,  so I wanted to push for 1:49:59.  8:23/mile.  It would have been about a 4 1/2 minute PR.  

I know.   I know.  The time goal "may" have been a bit of a stretch,  but I had a great running partner by my side the entire time who kept me going and motivated! 

The temperature for the run was perfect!  It was upper 40's at the start.  Absolutely perfect running weather.  But, and this was a BIG BUT - 30 mph winds.  That, my friends...... was the kicker.  OH, Wait....  THE HILLS!  Yikes!  There weren't many, but they were difficult and the wind in your face doubled the intensity.  

Ummm, NO.  The course wasn't flat.   It was quite hilly actually.  Even the little "speed bumps" on the course proved to be difficult with 30 mph winds.  

What I will say is there were parts of the course that were absolutely beautiful.  About 3.5 miles were paved trail and secluded in the woods and truly awesome.  This was a time when I could regulate my breathing and concentrate on running a solid pace.  I did just that. 

I held a steady goal pace until about mile 9.  But,  at the 9 mile hill,  my body was ready to stop.   I sure wanted to walk the uphill in some parts, and I should have paid more attention to just how long this hill was,  but I know that it was 1/2 mile for sure!  

Positive self-talk took hold and my friend Hannah started talking about her previous marathons to keep me distracted.  

We crossed the finish line at 12.79 miles.  Say what???  The course was nearly 1/2 mile short!!  We, as well as several other runners,  noticed the mistake after mile 4.  The turnaround revealed mile 5  much to quickly, and sure enough, at the 5 mile marker - GPS read 4.5 miles. 

Consequently, the mile markers held exactly 1/2 mile off until mile 12.  We knew that we absolutely were going to be running a short course.  

I was disappointed the course was short,  but I was also relieved,  because after the relentless wind,  I really was ready to finish.   There was a whole lot of PR talk amongst all the runners at the finish line and also a whole lot of talk about a short course from others.  I hate to break the bubble for these runners, but their PR was imaginary.  Refer to sponge bob above.  LOL.  

Of course I still celebrated at the finish.   Per tradition, I nailed my celebratory jump!  

I posted on social media... does this still count as half marathon #10?  Even though I didn't run 13.1 miles?  The general consensus is YES.  

I did fall short of my goal by 5 minutes.  Here's my rational:  I was 0.4 miles from my watch reading 13.1 miles at the finish.  I'm adding 4 minutes to my time to have a realistic half marathon finish.  If my "adjusted" time goes to 1:54:43 I narrowly, by seconds,  beat my best half PR.    I will factor in the hilly route with crazy winds and my finish time is solid.  

Here are my stats: 

If I compare myself to others in the race,  I am very happy with my placement.  We ALL ran a short course.  Other than the finish time and the average pace,  every other stat is correct.  Yeah!!  

Will I run this course again?  Absolutely.  It was the inaugural run and there was bound to be a few kinks.  I can just about guarantee you that the course will NOT be short next time.  

Here are the PROS and CONS.


  • Great SWAG
  • Flush Toilets inside Scheels as well as Porta-Potties
  • Easy parking
  • Friendly Volunteers
  • Scheels was open early
  • Parts of the course were truly beautiful and tranquil
  • Small running field
  • Chip-timed
  • Certified Course


  • Short Course - come on Final Stretch,  you're seasoned race planners! 
  • Pricey - I paid $72 after fees to run! 
  • Hilly
  • Crowd support is minimal
  • Parts of the course were farm country - no cover from the elements

I am competitive with myself,  and while I can't control Mother Nature,  this race is on my list to do again.  With two conditions;  correct distance and no wind.  Here's to hoping! 

I'm once again linking up with Holly and Tricia for their Weekly Wrap!  Grab and snack and have a read! 

Sunday, April 2, 2017

Grandma's Marathon - Week 8

If there could be a perfect, 
textbook training week.....

This.  Was.  IT! 

Grandma's Marathon Training Week 8 was out of this world!!


34.5 miles
Speedy Gonzales
Long Run Bliss


The day started with sprints.  I actually love sprints!   Or shall I say,  I've grown to love sprints.  There is something about pushing my body out of my comfort zone that feels so good.  I finished with 7 miles at an overall pace of 8:30/mile.   I did 0.41 mile splits,  so I used the 600m. recommendation to measure my progress. 

One of these days, I'll be running in light again. :) 

My splits were consistent from 2:57-3:01 - which equates to 7:18-7:25/mile.   I completed 7 total and headed home.   These felt amazing!  I'm right on point for the run smart calculator.   I couldn't have been happier with how the day went. 


This was the only crabby wrinkle in my week.   I needed, for my personal training, to run slow and easy for recovery.  But, the group I was running with had other plans.  That's absolutely fine, but it wasn't what I needed.  I completed 5.5 miles and crabbed my way to the shower that morning.  

I didn't want to run as fast as I did,  but I didn't want to be left in the dust in the dark either.  I may have to visit Milly on my easy run days so I can be in control the entire time.   We shall see.  


Wednesday..... lovely Wednesday.  Oh -  how Tuesday evenings have become my favorite day of the week.   I know I don't have to get up in the morning. 

I did go to my weekly kick-boxing class at 6:45 pm.  I love it and so wish I could fit more classes in.  My arms were shaking. 


This was the morning I started really believing in myself!   I had lofty goals for this run,  and they paid off!  My original goal was a tempo run at 8:20's for 3 - 4 miles.  My running partners wanted no part in that,  but said they'd lag behind and keep an eye on me. 

My first mile was a warm-up at 9:19 and then I took off.  

My splits weren't consistent, but that wasn't my goal.  I truly just wanted to be able to run at or faster than 8:20's for 3-4 miles.  Mile 3 was brutally hilly - I should have known.  I know the route like the back of my hand.  I told myself,  just get through mile three and then you can slow down for the last 2 miles home.   However, when I finished with mile 3, I knew that mile 4 would be mostly downhill.  I went for it.  By the time I got to mile 4,  I said to myself - "just ONE more mile home, YOU GOT THIS!"  I went for it and freaking DID IT! 

5 tempo miles with splits of 8:03, 8:11, 8:19, 8:15, 8:16.  I ran my fastest ever 10K in 52:00 and nearly cried at the end.  To be honest, I could have gone longer!  

It was amazing.   I'm hoping to channel my inner speedy gonzales on race day!  


Rest day.  Yippee!!


My parents winter in Florida, so we don't see them for about 4 months.  Since they had just gotten back to Wisconsin, this weekend I took my boys back to La Crosse to visit them.  That meant my long run was there.  Even though I know every road in town,  I was a bit perplexed about how I was going to get my long run in.  With some careful planning,  I found the perfect route. 

I tried very hard to run slow for this run so that I would be able to go the distance.   I paid close attention to my HR as well.  For nearly 90% of the run,  I was in zone 3 and zone 4.  I ended up splitting the zones nearly half and half!  I ended with an average HR of 149.  My max heart rate is 175.  I am extremely happy about that!  I even got a kudos from Garmin! 

I ran the beautiful blue bridges across the Mississippi River into Pettibone Beach Park and ran trails all along the river.  It was a blissful and mind-clearing morning.  The temperature was about 40 and there was absolutely NO wind.   

Of course,  I had to stop to take some pictures along the way too!  Here is a highlight! 

I ran 16 miles with an average of 9:20/mile.  

Week 8 proved to be the best week of training yet.  

I took a jump to celebrate the great long run!   I'm surprised my legs let me!  

This week,  I'm looking forward to my first race of the year on Saturday!  I'll be running half marathon #10!  I've set a pretty high goal for myself for the run.  I'll keep that secret for now.  Of course,  I've already scoped out the weather and it's mostly sunny and 49 degrees at the start!  PERFECT!  

Make sure to link up with Holly and Tricia for their Weekly Wrap this week!