Monday, November 12, 2018

Madison Marathon Race Report

Disclaimer:  I ran the Madison Marathon as a BibRave Pro, which means my entry fee was covered for me in exchange for social media promotion and writing a review of the race.  The application to be a BibRave Pro is open for two more days (until 11/14/18) at this link!  Please also visit to read and write race reviews!

All I have to say about my Madison Marathon experience can be summed up in this sentence:

"It was going so well...until it wasn't."

But don't worry.  I like being verbose so I will give you the long story too.  And anyways - I find that most marathons can be summed up with that sentence and it's up to you to navigate the parts where it isn't going well and that is where I failed yesterday.

Des Linden's Post NYC Marathon Tweet Resonates!
I woke up Saturday and my hamstring still hurt from the day before.  GRRRR.  I made the decision to skip the shake out run.  How cold it was outside played a small role in this decision.  We packed up the kids and drove to Madison.  Our first stop was the marathon expo, which was held in the Monona Terrace.  It was a small, easy to navigate expo which I was grateful for.  My kids made some signs for me, I picked up my packet and Leah's packet (another Wisconsin Oiselle Volee), we found my name on the wall, and signed the banner that the race had for veterans and then grabbed some lunch.  After lunch we went to the Madison Children's Museum which is nice because I could sit.  We spent some time at the hotel pool and took the hotel shuttle to dinner.  We got back to the hotel room and I used some KT Tape to tape my inner thigh before bed.  I made my overnight picky oats and put them in our fridge and set out the pile of clothes.  I had not yet made any decisions about what I was going to wear.  I was struggling with how cold it was going to be (in the low 20s to start).

I really struggle with bringing my kids to races.  I love having them along the course and at the finish, but they really drive me bonkers the night before.  We got a king bed with a pull out couch in our hotel room and my daughter spent the entire night whining about sleeping with her brother.  
"Stop touching me!"  
"Stop breathing on me!".  

At 2:30 in the morning I HAD HAD IT.  I yelled at her and made her sleep with my husband in the bed which meant that I had the good fortune of sleeping on a lumpy pull out couch.  Apologies to our hotel room neighbors if my yelling woke you up.  It's a good thing that pre-race sleep doesn't really matter anyways, but I think my inability to move past FUMING was not ideal mentally.

I woke up at 5 and started eating my picky oats in the dark.  After they were gone, I chugged 24 oz of Gatorade Endurance followed by 20 oz of Gen UCan.  It was so dark in our hotel room and the bathroom was just a toilet and shower so I couldn't even use the bathroom to get dressed while my family slept.  This was not an ideal set up.  In addition, I should have taken a lot more time the night before to just make some decisions.  I left way too many decisions for race day morning and used up more mental energy before I even left my hotel room.  I put on my tall compression socks, redid one of my KT tape strips, and initially put on a tank and arm sleeves.  I panicked about that and switched my bib over to a long sleeve shirt.  Then added a bunch of layers on top.  Now shoes.  I was not sure how my VaporFlys would be in cold.  That, added to the fact that I didn't really love them at the end of my spring marathon.  I ended up bringing two pairs of shoes in my gear check bag.  I wanted to braid my hair but just.could.not.   As a result I put my hair in two pony tails and one of the elastics was at the end of its life.  

I ended up leaving the hotel room feeling very scattered.  I was trying to finish getting dressed in the hall when I heard "Is that Amy?" two doors down.  It was Chelsea, one of my Icebreaker Marathon Relay teammates!  It was fun to see her.  She was running the half.  Then my son opened the hotel room door.  ARGH!  GO TO BED! PLEASE! 

I then went down to the hotel lobby to finish my UCan and wait for a fellow BibRave Pro, Barb, who was running the half and staying at the same hotel.  I ended up finishing my UCan and using the bathroom twice which was nice to use a real bathroom, versus a porta potty.  Barb came down and we set off for the start line, which was about 4 blocks from our hotel.  Really, our hotel (Hyatt Place downtown) was a great location for the race!

We got up to the capitol around 6:15 and it was a ghost town.  Barb and I could not believe that the race was going to start in 45 minutes based on how few people were there.  I expected there to be a lot more people milling about.  There was plenty of time to use the porta potties, check my stuff, give Leah her packet, take a BibRave Pro photo and get in the corrals.  It was really cold but I felt ok about it because I had a lot of throwaway layers on.   I decided to run in the VaporFlys.  
Fun to meet up with Barb and Angie before the race! Can you tell we were FREEZING?!

With about five minutes to spare, I started removing my throwaway layers and in doing so, my hair kept falling out of the elastic.  Someone said, "Ooh. You're brave running in shorts." I replied, "I'm either brave or stupid."  Holly, who I follow on Instagram, said Hi!  That is always fun.   My final race day outfit was:  VaporFly shoes, Oiselle Compression socks, Oiselle Distance Shorts, Oiselle Crop bra, BibRave tank, BibRave long sleeve, BibRave Buff worn as an ear warmer, throwaway gloves with hand warmers inside.  I felt like I had to pee but thought it was nerves since I had already peed 4 times that morning.

The start gun went off.

Miles 1-5
My plan was to go out in 6:52 ish pace.  I also started at the front with all the fast guys so my first mile ended up being fast.  The course went right past our hotel so I saw my husband and kids right away.  My husband called out, "Have fun!" and I replied, "I'm gonna try!".  

Really the first five miles were rough.  I was so cold.  My fingers and toes were numb.  My feet felt too small for my shoes and it felt like there were golf balls on the bottom of my heels.  I was running by myself because every time I ran next to a guy, they pulled ahead a bit.  (This drives me bonkers.  Guys, it's ok if a woman runs next to you!) I knew there were two women ahead of me, but there were no women around me during this section.  I was very aware of place throughout the whole race which really messed with me in the later miles.  We had some hills during this, but nothing crazy.  But mentally I was not there.  I was already being negative at this point.  "What if today was my first DNF?" came into my mind more than once.

I took water from the aid stations and legit it was freezing.  As in, a thin layer of ice began to form and ice shards were stabbing me in my face.  Normally I don't care if I spill water on myself, but when it's in the 20s, it is not the best!

My first mile was fast, but miles 2-5 were right where I wanted them to be pace-wise.  I didn't feel like I was exerting myself, but I didn't feel smooth.

Mile 1: 6:39
Mile 2: 6:52
Mile 3: 6:53
Mile 4: 6:52
Mile 5: 6:48

At the five mile mark, I went to take one of my gels out of my hand held pouch and because my fingers were so numb, I dropped it.  SHIT.  I had to back track a bit to pick it up but I easily got it down and used some of my Gatorade Endurance in my handheld to wash it down, followed by a cup of water at the 5 mile aid station.

Miles 6-10
One of my favorite pieces of advice to dole out about running a marathon is to take advantage of the times during the race when you feel good, and work through the bad parts.  Both come and go throughout the race.  Miles 6-10 were a good part for me.  A woman came up from behind me and we ran part of this section together.  I eventually pulled ahead of her and didn't see her again for the rest of the race.  I felt good during this section, despite having to run to the top of Observatory Hill. 

The first section of the course had more hills than I was anticipating, but I felt like I was generally able to maintain my pace throughout the miles.  It was difficult to ascend them, but I kept telling myself that I would feel good after cresting the top.

Mile 6: 6:42
Mile 7: 6:53
Mile 8: 6:43
Mile 9: 6:35
Mile 10: 6:47

I took another gel at mile 10, and this time I didn't drop it.

Miles 11-15
I was looking forward to seeing a pack of Oiselle women during this section, including one dressed in a banana suit.  This did not disappoint.  I saw that banana from a while away.  This section too had more inclines than I was anticipating.  Wowsa.  I was sick of running up and down hills.  But I was feeling good.  The feeling like I needed to pee never left me though and during this section my growing bladder was increasingly uncomfortable.  I flew through the half in a PR time! My half marathon PR is 1:28:35.  My half split from yesterday was 1:28:34.  I started thinking, "Hey! I really could do this! I could PR this race!"  

Mile 11: 6:54
Mile 12: 6:42
Mile 13: 6:40
Mile 14: 6:50
Mile 15: 6:47

Miles 16-20
I saw my family at mile 15 which was super fun.  My daughter tried to run up one of the hills with me.  I was sick of carrying my handheld at this point so I tossed it to my husband. My bladder was screaming at this point.  I have never peed myself during a race and I was considering it but also felt like it might freeze to my legs and ten miles was a long way to run with cold pee on myself.  I made the decision to duck into a porta potty at the mile 16 water stop.  The porta potty was covered in poop so I had to hover to pee.  You want pain?  Try hovering after running 16 miles!  I made the right call because my bladder was FULL.  It took a while to empty.  When I came out of the porta potty, I saw a woman up ahead of me, and knew I was now in 4th place.  I took a third gel at this point.  My KT tape was coming unglued and flapping and bugging me.

And this is where it started to fall apart because instead of just running my race, I got caught up in what place I was in and ran extra hard to get up to the woman ahead of me.  It is not a good strategy to try to start racing at mile 16 of a marathon.  The terrain was more of the same.  MORE HILLS.

Mile 16: 6:52
Mile 17: 7:35 
Mile 18: 6:43
Mile 19: 6:48
Mile 20: 6:55
High fiving my daughter on the course.  3rd and 4th place women at this point

Miles 21-24
At this point I was trading back and forth with the other woman and ended up ahead of her at some point.  At this point, I could feel a blister forming on my second toe on my right foot.  There is a large hill around mile 22/23 that I legit stopped when I was 3/4 up it.  My legs hurt so much, particularly my left leg which was starting to feel numb.  I tried to rally after a bad mile 22.

Mile 21: 6:59
Mile 22: 7:27
Mile 23: 6:39
Mile 24: 7:01

Mile 24-Finish
I stopped running at the mile 24 water station because I was beginning to feel woozy and didn't think I could coordinate taking a gel while running, but knew I needed one.  I took my 4th gel with a cup of water and saw the woman behind me run through the water station.  I again was in 4th place.  I saw the Oiselle group again and started crying.  I just kept telling myself to keep running.  Don't stop.  I could see the woman ahead of me but could not make my legs go faster.  At some point in this part, I knew I was also not going to get a sub 3.  And of course, we were not done with hills.  I heard my family at the finish and just tried to keep moving.  I had no kick.  

Mile 25: 7:44 (OUCH)
Mile 26: 7:12
Finish: 3:01:58, 4th female of 410, 1st age group (of 61), 29th overall (of 1,072).

I got my medal and went over to see my family and just grabbed the side rail and started crying.  Someone gave me a bear hug and initially I thought it was my mom but it turned out to be one of my best friend's Brooke.  Then Nora came over to say hi and it took me a few seconds to recognize her.  So I was a little out of it at the finish, but nothing like the finish of my spring marathon where I had to be held up through the finish chute.

Elevation Profile:

During my text postmortem with my coach and his wife (another one of my besties), he said, "You objectively ran better than your last marathon.  Temperature, hills, bathroom break.  I consider this a huge PR.  I also think you are tired.  The training block was tough and you haven't totally adapted to that volume." 

I'm not sure I totally agree with this, but I definitely do not feel as wiped as I did after my spring marathon.  I really think the chase post-bathroom break was what did me in.  I remember the whole race and I never felt really out of it like I did for the last 3 miles of my spring race.

My takeaways from this race:
1. Make a race plan that includes all details for race morning before race morning
2. Go to the bathroom one last time before entering the corrals, even if you don't feel like you have to go
3. RUN YOUR RACE.  Don't get caught up in others' race.  Look at how close 2,3,4 were.  Had I not expelled all that extra energy at mile 16, I may have been able to catch them! (Both of them are in the 18-24 age group - so fast!!)

4. I love having cheerleaders!  So many people cheering for me out there and I loved it all!!  My three youngest cheerleaders were happy to take a post-race pic with me:
I LOVE the race shirts!!
5.  My race nutrition went pretty well.  I never had a crash nor did I have any nausea/GI issues.  
Pre Race: Apple & Cinnamon Picky Oats make with milk overnight + 2 scoops of chocolate Gen UCan in 20 oz of water + 24 oz Gatorade Endurance
During Race:  3 GU Roctane in Vanilla Orange, 1 Gatorade Endurance gel in Mango, Water cups throughout

6. This might be unpopular, but I am not a fan of the Vapor Flys. They were driving me more than crazy during yesterday's race. Hindsight is 20/20 but I do wish I had selected my Pegasus to wear.

7. I don't know why I opted for yucky throw away gloves.  I never took them off my hands and would have preferred one of the pairs of nice running gloves that I owned over those $1 magic mini gloves.  

I will leave you with this.  I ran the Mad City Marathon in 2002.  It was my first marathon and I ran it in 4:08:36.  The Mad City Marathon became the Madison Marathon a few years ago.  While the course is not exactly the same, I was able to knock an hour and 7 minutes off my finish time while aging 16 years.  Marathon results take time and while patience is not always my strong suit, I still think my best marathon is out there. Keeping the dream alive folks!

You can read my review on BibRave here and I claimed my result in Athlinks here!

Saturday, November 10, 2018

Madison Marathon Pre-Race Thoughts Part 2

Disclaimer:  I am running the Madison Marathon presented by SSM Health as a BibRave Pro, which means my entry fee was paid for me.  Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (applications are currently open!) and checkout to read and write race reviews!

We are about to finish packing and leave for Madison for the Madison Marathon tomorrow!  As with every race, I made a long list of all the race day gear I needed.  I just got done getting the bag of nutrition packed.

I'm trying to remain positive but after my run yesterday my inner thigh/hamstring was sore all day and it doesn't feel great right now.  The idea that this is just part of the taper crazies is diminishing for me.  But I will continue foam rolling and stretching.

Even if I don't have a stellar race tomorrow, I accomplished what the purpose of this cycle was for:  Run more miles and jump up to the next step in building fitness and base mileage to build upon in 2019.  This was the first year I have trained for two marathons in the same year.  The fact that I even got through the training cycle is a big accomplishment that I am really proud of.  This fall was a zoo:  My kids were back in school, which creates some unique challenges for my daughter, I went part time at my "real" job and started my own business, AND I finished 17 weeks of the Hanson's Advanced Marathon training plan.  I ran 843.41 miles in this buildup, which is 117.75 more miles than my previous marathon training cycle. Yes, I feel like a badass.

My other challenge is determining what to wear.  Wisconsin was treated to some snow yesterday and it will be around for the race.  Race weather is going to be in the 30s with some wind.  COLD.  I am in process of packing ALL the things.

Let's talk goals:

The first goal was always to treat tomorrow's race as a celebration, given the above.  A few weeks ago I was listening to an episode of The Michigan Runner Girl podcast and they used the phrase "Joy in Movement".  I decided that I was going to focus on that when things got tough in the race.

What about pace/goal time? The fact also is, that prior to this week and whatever is going on with my leg, I honestly feel like I am in the best shape of my life.  And so during those rock star tempo runs, I did think that I had the opportunity to PR this marathon, despite the fact that it is a very hilly course.  Maybe the stars will align and that will still happen.  I am trying to keep my emotions in check.  There is no sense in premature disappointment.  

My marathon pace that I used for training was 6:52, which is just squeaking out a sub-3, and the pace of my spring marathon.  I made this plan before training began with my friend and running mentor E, given we were increasing mileage and dealing with a hilly course. Change one variable at a time, right?  It turns out that even though 6:52 was really difficult to get to in the first half of training, once my body adapted to the extra mileage, my tempo run pace started to drop into the 6:40s and my last tempo was 6:36.   I am going to start the marathon with the 6:52 pace in mind and will to hold that through the first half, evaluating every 5 miles.  The "evaluate every 5 miles" plan is one that has worked for me for my last several marathons so my brain is properly trained for that.  This is also when I take my gels so it is easy to remember.

Once I get through the first half, if I'm feeling good, I will have to decide when to pick up the pace.  At my previous marathon, I really picked it up in the miles 13-18 because I was feeling awesome and then ended up having to hang on until the end of the race.  I think I may have pushed prematurely so my goal will be to get through the hilly Maple Bluff section of the course (mile 22) before letting it go.

Off to finish packing!  Watch for my race recap next week!

Thursday, November 8, 2018

I'm So Excited!! Madison Marathon Is Three Days Away!!! (Pre-Race Thoughts Part 1)

Disclaimer:  I am running the Madison Marathon presented by SSM Health in November as a BibRave Pro, which means my entry fee was covered for me. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador) and check out to review, find, and write race reviews!  

Three more days until race day!  EEK!

My taper has been business as usual here.  I've had some annoying aches and pains, I'm eating lots of carbs, and I'm making lists and lists and lists.  All of my taper runs have felt off.  Again, business as usual as far as me and the marathon taper are concerned.  One nice thing about documenting your training is that you can go back to previous races and see how psycho the taper makes you feel :)  The two issues that have been nagging me over the last week are 1) Tightness in my left hamstring that has come and gone, but always seems to be "there" during my runs; and 2) The Never Ending Period.  It's fun being a female athlete sometimes!

Nevertheless, I am excited to be heading to Madison to run again.  My eleven mile training run to check out the back half of the course that I did a few weeks ago just made me excited to get going.  The race organizers sent out a *stellar* race day logistics email earlier this week.  Nothing puts my anxiety at ease like a well-organized race!

I am also excited about the course!  Madison Marathon is my favorite kind of course - looped in various directions and with a start and finish at the same spot:

Madison Marathon Finish/Start Line area

I am excited for post-race amenities!  I for one am planning to cross that finish line and walk directly to that Michelob Ultra blue rectangle to get my FREE post-race beer.  It has been a while since I had a beer and I know it will taste so delicious.  Madison Marathon also offers FREE race photos!

I am excited about the weather!  As of right now the weather is looking good:  41 degrees and partly cloudy.  I still haven't finalized my race day outfit but know that I will be wearing my BibRave orange shirt!

I am excited to race! I have been tracking a lot of marathons recently:  Milwaukee Lakefront, Chicago Marathon, New York Marathon, Indianapolis Marathon.  Every one was so exciting and fun and made me even more excited for my own race.  This is one nice thing about a late fall race!

I am excited to see spectators, including one Oiselle bird in a banana suit!  FOR REAL.  I didn't know any spectators outside of my husband and kids at my last race so I know it will be a real boost to see friendly faces at different points of the race.

I am now reminded of the Saved By The Bell episode where Jesse Spano takes caffeine pills and sings "I'm so excited! I'm so excited! I'm".  This is true.  I am a little scared.  More to come on that later.

My family and I are headed to the great city of Madison on Saturday and will head to the Monona Terrace (where the hubs and I met, and, years later, got engaged!) to pick up my packet and check out the expo.  You can track me by downloading the Madison Marathon app.  My bib number is 8826.  The race starts 7 AM on Sunday.

Madison Marathon App Interface

If you are running Madison Marathon, let me know and I will #SEEYOUONTHESQUARE !

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Madison Marathon Training: Week 17 Recap

Disclaimer:  I am running the Madison Marathon presented by SSM Health in November as a BibRave Pro, which means my entry fee was covered for me. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador) and check out to review, find, and write race reviews!  Wanna run Madison with me?  Enter code MMRAVE18 at registration for 20% off!

The first half of last week was fantastic.  I had two hard workouts left to do - mile repeats and a 10 mile tempo - and I really nailed both of them feeling calm and controlled in my running.  After my great tempo run on Thursday, my runs were not so great.  I don't know if it was the mental switch to "I'm in taper mode" or the fact that my left hamstring has felt very tight ever since that tempo run.    I also have early cold/sinus infection symptoms.  I always feel like crap during tapers so I am trying not to freak out.

Another thing you may notice is that week 17 has 8 days in it.  This is because I have found that it is more manageable for me to have my long runs/hard days on Friday/Saturday rather than Saturday/Sunday like the plan calls for so I always shift the plan a day.  For Sunday races, this means I usually have an extra day to play with and I have also found that having this extra rest day is usually clutch for me in the final weeks.  So I used my "get out of jail free card" this week and thus shifted my taper week to align with the plan exactly.

October ended mid-week last week and so that means another monthly mileage update.  In October, I ran 245.81 miles!  HOLY CRAP.  This significantly blows my previous monthly mileage record of 224.18 miles out of the water and was my third 200+ miles month in a row. High fives!

Here was my week:

Sunday Oct 28
Plan says:  Off

What I did:  Nothing.

Monday Oct 29
Plan says: Easy 8 miles

What I did: 8.04 miles, 1:09:28 (8:38 avg pace)

Tuesday Oct 30
Plan says: 1.5 mile warm up, 6 x 1 mile with 0.25 mile recovery in between each set, 1.5 mile cool down

What I did: I REALLY did not want to do this workout.  Even though it was a Tuesday and a gorgeous fall day.  I had to fight with every last ounce of my being to get dressed and out the door when my kids were on the bus.  Of course, as per usual, I was glad I did it after it was all done.  And check out those miles!!!  I felt so so good on this run.  I overshot the runway on pace (goal pace = 6:37) but went with it.

1.5 mile warm up, 12:16 (8:11 avg pace)

1 - 1 mile, 6:11 / 0.25 mile 2:18 (9:15 avg pace)
2 - 1 mile, 6:17 / 0.25 mile 2:21 (9:27 avg pace)
3 - 1 mile, 5:55 / 0.25 mile 2:32 (10:10 avg pace)
4 - 1 mile, 6:13 / 0.25 mile 2:14 (8:58 avg pace)
5 - 1 mile, 6:08 / 0.25 mile 2:22 (9:29 avg pace)
6 - 1 mile, 6:01 / 0.25 mile 2:09 (8:39 avg pace)

1.52 mile cool down, 12:01 (8:01 avg pace)

Wednesday Oct 31
Plan says:  Off

What I did:  Trick or Treat!

Thursday Nov 1
Plan says: 1.5 mile warm up, 10 miles tempo, 1.5 miles cool down

What I did:  I had such a good experience with doing last week's 10 mile tempo in the mid-afternoon that I again arranged my schedule to repeat the experience.  I didn't have as great of an experience with my gels this time around but my pace was on fire.  Honestly I thought last week's 6:41 average was a fluke and then this week, surpassed that.

1.50 mile, 11:48 (7:52 avg pace)
10 miles, 1:06:04 (6:36 avg pace)
1.5 miles, 12:50 (8:34 avg pace)

Friday Nov 2
Plan says:  easy 7 miles

What I did:  My hamstring was not feeling amazing.  This coupled with the fact that my kids were off school and my husband and I were doing the work half a day to cover the other person thing, I didn't get out the door until late afternoon and had to be back to get ready for our evening plans sooner than I would need to get the full 7 miles in.

5.5 miles, 44:30 (8:05 avg pace)

Saturday Nov 3
Plan says:  easy 8 miles

What I did:  My hamstring was still not great but I thought perhaps it would loosen up on an easy run.  It didn't but it didn't get worse.

8.11 miles, 1:08:50, (8:29 avg pace)

Sunday Nov 4
Plan says: easy 8 miles

What I did:  It was pouring outside all day and, still struggling with motivation, just did not have it in me to run in torrential downpours.  I put my run off all day and then had to jump on the treadmill after my kids were in bed.  UGH.  I was so tired and not into it, I ran it at a super slow pace and only have Des Linden's interview on I'll Have Another to thank for the fact that I made it 5 miles.

5.05 miles, 49:20 (9:46 avg pace)

Plan Total: 55 miles
What I did: 50.21 miles

Monday, November 5, 2018

Product Review: SPIbelt SPIbeams LED Visor

Product Review:  SPIbelt SPIbeams LED Visor

Disclaimer:  I received a SPIbelt SPIbeams LED visor in exchange for this review.  Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out to find and write race reviews!

Are you surviving daylight savings time?  My husband and I just high-fived yesterday because for once we had zero issues with setting the clocks back.  Our kids slept until their normal time and they didn't act like crazies all day.  WIN!

Another win is that my morning runs will end in daylight!  I was fortunate to be able to test the SPIbeams LED Visor made by SPIbelt for the last couple of dark weeks and love it.  I opted to test the visor over the hat so that I could easier wear it over a warm stocking hat if necessary.  The visor has become part of my morning run pile by my front door:

My morning run necessities pile by my front door includes the SPIbeams LED visor!
The SPIbelt SPIbeams LED visor has four small LED lights on the brim of the visor that you easily turn on with the push of a button located on the right side of the brim.  This makes it easy for me when I start my morning run in super dark and when the sun peaks out I can easily click the button to turn the LED lights off.
SPIbeams LED visor is easy on/off with a click of a button
The back of the visor has two small red LED lights to also help with visibility.  These also function with a push on/off button and can be on, blinking or off.

The visor is adjustable via velcro so you can make it fit to what size you need.  I have a large head so I like this feature.  And if I wear it over my stocking hat (like in the photo above), I can also adjust it easily for comfort.

The lights provide 128 lumes of light.  This is a nice alternative to a headlamp for me.  As I have said before on the blog, when it is dark out, I stick to running loops around my neighborhood and the adjacent neighborhood because they are well lit.  I still like to have extra illumination with me to make sure that I don't step on something (once this was a raccoon.  Yes, I screamed.) and avoid weird cracks in the street.

SPIbelt SPIbeams LED visor with hat underneath for warmth!

Overall, I have found this to be a great product and one that I will continue using through our dark Wisconsin winters.  HIGH FIVE.

If you would like to order the visor (or hat), or any product from the SPIbelt website, enter code BIBRAVE at checkout for an extra 20% off until 11/12/18.

Oh, yeah.  I also used it to trick or treat.  Better to find all the good candy with, MWAH HA HA.
I love Skittles. The End.

Monday, October 29, 2018

Madison Marathon Training: Week 15/16 Recap

Disclaimer:  I am running the Madison Marathon presented by SSM Health in November as a BibRave Pro, which means my entry fee was covered for me. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador) and check out to review, find, and write race reviews!  Wanna run Madison with me?  Enter code MMRAVE18 at registration for 20% off!

I ended up doing a combination of weeks 15 and 16 last week in an effort to catch up to my plan.  If you missed last week's recap, I discovered that I am a week behind my training plan due to miscounting weeks.  I know.  Some days it is hard to count up to 18.  {Eye roll to myself.}  Anyways, I didn't want to entirely just skip week 15 because that is peak week on my plan so I ended up coming pretty darn close to peak week mileage.  Plan for week 15 called for 63 miles, plan for week 16 called for 56 miles.  I ended up with 61.7.

Overall it was a decent week.  I was very nervous about the 10 mile tempo and I felt so good that I ended up running it in 6:41 avg.  I think a lot of this has to do with afternoon vs. morning running.  I just do not usually feel good running first thing in the morning; and because of that, I am opting to really take advantage of some flexibility in my work schedule to accommodate afternoon runs during the week.  I had to choose between the 3 x 2 mile workout or the 4 x 1.5 and I chose the 3 x 2 because I find that to be more difficult. 

Here was my week:

Sunday Oct 21
Plan says:  8 easy miles

What I did:  8.15 miles, 1:09:21 (8:30 avg)

Monday Oct 22
Plan says: Off

What I did:  Off

Tuesday Oct 23
Plan says: 1.5 mile warm up, 3 x 2 miles with 0.5 mile recovery in between each set, 1.5 mile cool down

What I did: This was challenging as my legs felt tired, but I was able to complete the workout and execute my pacing better than the first time I did this workout, a few weeks ago.  I had one of those "An OTQ marathon is running 6:17 pace and I struggled through running that for 2 miles, how am I eventually going to do a full at that pace?!" mental spirals that are so not helpful!

1.5 mile warm up, 11:43 (7:49 avg pace)

1 - 2 miles, 12:46 (6:23 avg pace) / 0.5 mile 4:15 (8:31 avg pace)
2 - 2 miles, 12:36 (6:18 avg pace) / 0.5 mile 4:19 (8:39 avg pace)
3 - 2 miles, 12:54 (6:27 avg pace) / 0.5 mile 4:02 (8:04 avg pace)

1.52 mile cool down, 12:19 (8:07 avg pace)

Wednesday Oct 24
Plan says:  easy 6 miles

What I did:  Squeezed this in on the afternoon.  6.51 miles, 53:10 (8:10 avg pace)

Thursday Oct 25
Plan says: 1.5 mile warm up, 10 miles tempo, 1.5 miles cool down

What I did:  I left work early to get this done in the afternoon.  I was so so nervous about much so that my legs felt shaky in the first few miles.  Good practice for race day, I guess.  I used the Gu Roctane gels and loved them so I think I will be using them for race day and just dealing with the viscosity.  (I have used Gu gels in all of my races to date and have been trying some other options because I find it difficult to choke down Gu in the last miles.  No other gels have been quite as successful as the Gu gels for me, so I'm just going to stick with them for race day.)

1.50 mile, 12:06 (8:04 avg pace)
10 miles, 1:06:53 (6:41 avg pace)
1.5 miles, 12:01 (7:59 avg pace)

Friday Oct 26
Plan says:  easy 7 miles

What I did:  7.5 miles, 1:00:47 (8:06 avg pace)

Saturday Oct 27
Plan says:  long 16 miles

What I did:  This is my third and final 16 miler on the plan.  My 16 milers have not been that speedy - and truthfully, I have felt tired for every single one.  As I mentioned earlier, I think a large part of this is that two of my 16 mile runs have been done at 5 in the morning, off of little fuel.  My best 16 mile run was the first one, which I had the ability to do in the afternoon, off of lunch fuel.  I haven't freaked out too much though because even though my pace is on the slow end, it is still within the range prescribed.  This is a case where I see other people's long runs on social media and comparison sometimes gets the best of me.  Head down...stick to the plan.  It hasn't failed me yet!

16.01 miles, 2:14:38 (8:25 avg pace)

Plan Total: Between 56-63 miles
What I did: 61.7 miles

Sunday, October 28, 2018

Product Review: Now Foods BCAA Big 6

Product Review: Now® Foods BCAA Big 6

Disclaimer:  I received both watermelon and grape BCAA Big 6 from Now® Foods in exchange for this review.  Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out to find and write race reviews!
Roar talks about the benefits of including BCAAs in your diet, particularly if you are a female athlete

I first heard about Branched Chain Amino Acids, or BCAAs, when I read Roar (a book I also recommend for female athletes).  I was excited to have the opportunity to test the Now® Foods BCAA Big 6 supplement through the majority of my training for Madison Marathon.
Just add water!

So what are BCAAs?  They are essential amino acids that serve as building blocks of protein, which helps fuel muscles during workouts and can help support recovery post-workout.  "Essential" means that your body cannot make them on their own, so you have to get them from your diet.  The Now® Foods BCAA Big 6 product makes this very easy.  You add a scoop of powder to 16-20 oz of water, shake, and drink.  Now® Foods sent me a shaker for this product, but I have found that it blends very easily by just shaking it in a regular water bottle too.
Watermelon and Grape BCAAs

There are two flavors, watermelon and grape.  I received the watermelon first so I have used that the most and liked the taste.  I prefer it with really cold water and ice so I keep a tub of it in my desk at work because we have an ice and water machine there.  This also helps me with recovery because often if I do a tough workout in the morning, I am racing to get to the office.

Yes, my desk drawer is really messy.
Then I got the grape in the mail and all bets were off.  I am forever Team Grape :)

I also like that the company, Now® Foods, is a highly-tested brand.  The company conducts more than 16,000 tests each month for identity, purity, strength and composition to ensure that what is on the label is in the bottle.  They are also third-party certified via Informed-Sport for added purity assurance.  This program certifies that their products have been tested for more than 200 banned substances by their anti-doping lab.
Recovery Day! Calf sleeves + BCAAs

My typical use of this product has been to aid recovery and I have been impressed with how my recovery has gone this training cycle.  If you have been following my training log, you know that I just bumped up to the Hanson's Advanced Marathon Training plan and it is a doozy.  I was super tired from all of the initial miles in the early weeks and I feel that the BCAAs are working for me.  I also like drinking a full bottle of the product before going to bed the night before a tough workout.

If you are interested in trying either the watermelon or grape, use this Amazon link to save 20% off.  This is a one-time promo code for your use.  It is not an affiliate link (i.e., I do not make any money off of it.)  You can also enter code 20NOWBCAA on for either flavor of the product.  The link or code are good until 11/15/18. 

You can also join in #BibChat on Twitter this week, which will be sponsored by Now® Foods!  Tuesday night, 8 PM Central Time.  Follow @bibrave for instructions.  (While you are at it, follow me @amyschlott )

Have you ever used BCAAs?  Let me know in the comments!

These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.

Thursday, October 25, 2018

CHI Marathon 2019

Do you know where you will be in 353 days?
On October 13, 2019 specifically?

I know where I'll be?


I applied to the American Development Program two days ago and my acceptance just arrived!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Madison Marathon Training: Week 14 Training Recap - And a BIG OOPS!

Disclaimer:  I am running the Madison Marathon presented by SSM Health in November as a BibRave Pro, which means my entry fee was covered for me. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador) and check out to review, find, and write race reviews!  Wanna run Madison with me?  Enter code MMRAVE18 at registration for 20% off!

The biggest thing that happened last week is that I realized that I am a WEEK BEHIND IN TRAINING.  Seriously.  I am not sure how this happened.  Obviously, I miscounted weeks.  I should have started the week of July 8 instead of July 15.  So annoying.  All in all though not a big deal.  What this means is that I will be missing a strength workout and a tempo run.  Given that I have been consistent throughout this training block, I do not think this is that big of a deal.

Last week was a recovery week.  It went well, although I was feeling decent all week - none of that deep fatigue that I have had in previous weeks which led me to have much less variation in pace than I typically do.  My easy runs were at a faster pace than usual. 

Sunday Oct 14
Plan says:  6 easy miles

What I did:  6.15 miles, 49:33 (8:03 avg)

Monday Oct 15
Plan says: Off

What I did:  Off

Tuesday Oct 16
Plan says: 1.5 mile warm up, 2 x 3 miles with 1 mile recovery in between each set, 1.5 mile cool down

What I did: I didn't feel great for the first 3 miler, but felt AMAZING for the second.  As I posted on my Instagram after this, I have noticed that the time it takes for my body to warm up seems to be increasing.  Also, I need to have a bit more fuel in the tank before doing a workout like this. Again, my goal pace for strength workouts is 6:37.

1.5 mile warm up, 11:43 (7:49 avg pace)

1 - 3 miles, 19:40 (6:32 avg pace) / 1 mile 8:17
2 - 3 miles, 19:07 (6:21 avg pace) /

3 mile cool down, 23:28 (7:49 avg pace)

Wednesday Oct 17
Plan says:  easy 6 miles

What I did:  Afternoon run!  This felt great.

6.01 miles, 47:17 (7:52 avg pace)

Thursday Oct 18
Plan says: 1.5 mile warm up, 9 miles tempo, 1.5 miles cool down

What I did:  I had to do this in the dark morning, which I was NOT excited about.  My time for the tempo run was a full minute longer than last week.  I tried a Huma gel on this and it didn't exactly sit well with my stomach.  I think I will skip those for the marathon.

1.50 mile, 12:52 (8:35 avg pace)
9 miles, 1:01:38 (6:50 avg pace)
1.1 miles, 9:12 (8:21 avg pace)

Friday Oct 19
Plan says:  easy 10 miles

What I did:  I have been increasingly worried about the hilly course and mid-week, I found out that the woman I ran part of the Madison Mini half with was going to potentially run the Madison Marathon.  I am excited at the possibility of having someone to run with on race day!  I took advantage of my flexible Friday and actually drove to Madison in the morning to run part of the second half of the course and check out the hills first hand.  The good news is that I think the course is manageable, and that there are two hills in particular that stand out in my brain.  I anticipated that this would feel harder than it actually did given that I was doing it the day after my tempo run.

11.5 miles, 1:29:07 (7:45 avg pace)

Saturday Oct 20
Plan says:  easy 10 miles

What I did:  I had wanted to get 10 miles in but I didn't have a lot of time this day because I slept in and didn't do the early morning run so I did the amount of miles that I needed to do to hit the weekly mileage mark.

8.51 miles, 1:04:32 (7:35 avg pace)

Plan Total: 55 miles
What I did: 55.31 miles

Monday, October 15, 2018

Madison Marathon Training: Week 13 Recap

Disclaimer:  I am running the Madison Marathon presented by SSM Health in November as a BibRave Pro, which means my entry fee was covered for me. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador) and check out to review, find, and write race reviews!  Wanna run Madison with me?  Enter code MMRAVE18 at registration for 20% off!

I began this week staring at the intended weekly mileage number.  62 miles.  That is how many miles I had to cover in six days of running.  Last Sunday was a bit of a zoo - I had had very little sleep the Saturday night before and then got up to spectate at the Lakefront Marathon, quick zoomed home to change for a baby shower and then I just could NOT will myself out the door to go running.  So I started off a high mileage week with an unplanned rest day.  Not exactly the best start.

Except that it was.  Starting my week with a rest day was exactly what I needed.  I had a decent week and I logged 62.14 miles, a new weekly mileage PR.  I got all the workouts done and even CRUSHED my tempo run, which is mentally the most challenging workout for me.

My long run, the second 16-miler of the 3 prescribed over the course of 18 weeks, was actually my worst run.  I am attributing a lot of it to the weather.  I had to wake up EARLY on Saturday morning to get it done if it was going to get it done and it was dark for half of this and also freezing.  As in the temperatures were in the 20s.  I know as winter progresses, temps in the 20s will feel heavenly, but Saturday was not that day, especially when temps at the beginning of the week were in the 80s. For real!

All in all, I know not to rest on any one workout, good or bad, and the accumulation of miles is really my goal for this training plan to put myself in a good position to chase an OTQ in 2019.  I am doing well with this - a few stats:

  • This October, I have already surpassed my monthly mileage from one year ago.  I logged 105.65 miles in October 2017 and today, 10/15/18, my monthly mileage is already at 116.41 and I have 16 days to go!

  • I have already put on 114.55 MORE miles in this marathon buildup at this stage than in my previous marathon buildup.  After 13 weeks of training for Grandma's Marathon (my current PR and first sub-3), I had logged 504.23 miles.  This cycle, after training for 13 weeks, I have logged 618.78 miles and I am feeling good.  I mean, I am definitely tired, but I don't have any weird pains, niggles or anything.  Project Pile-On-The-Miles-And-Get-To-The-Start-Line-Healthy is going well so far!

Generally speaking, I was terrified of the Advanced Plan, but it isn't too different than the Beginner Plan in these last weeks.  I thought the beginning weeks of the Advanced Plan were more difficult for me because the mileage ramped up so fast as compared to the Beginner.

Well, enough blabbing.  Here was my week last week:

Sunday Oct 7
Plan says:  Off

What I did:  The plan didn't really say "off" - I was supposed to do 8 easy miles - but as I already mentioned, I took my rest day a day early.  The gamble paid off.

Monday Oct 8
Plan says:  8 easy miles

What I did:  Here again Monday should have been my rest day, but having taken it already, I had 8 miles to do.  Ok. Done.

8.3 miles, 1:11:21 (8:36 avg pace)

Tuesday Oct 9
Plan says: 1.5 mile warm up, 3 x 2 miles with 0.5 mile recovery in between each set, 1.5 mile cool down

What I did:  I felt a little off on this and did not do a good job pacing it - as you will see, I got slower with each rep.  Part of this was that the temps were unusually high.  It was sunny and already mid-70s when I did this. On the positive side, at least all 3 reps were under/at my goal pace of 6:37/mile and the second mile for each set was faster than the first.

1.5 mile warm up, 12:34 (8:23 avg pace)

1 - 2 miles, 12:38 (6:19 avg pace) / 0.5 miles 4:37 (9:14 avg pace)
2 - 2 miles, 13:00 (6:30 avg pace) / 0.5 miles 5:00 (10:00 avg pace)
3 - 2 miles, 13:14 (6:37 avg pace) / 0.5 miles 4:43 (9:26 avg pace)

1.5 mile cool down, 12:56 (8:37 avg pace)

Wednesday Oct 10
Plan says:  easy 7 miles

What I did:  A tired, slog of 7 miles

7.01 miles, 1:02:00 (8:51 avg pace)

Thursday Oct 11
Plan says: 1.5 mile warm up, 9 miles tempo, 1.5 miles cool down

What I did:  I am sensing a theme of oversleeping on tempo run day.  ARGH.  I left work early to get this done before my kids came home and really it was a perfect run.  I felt a little creaky to start but all of a sudden, it was on.  I played it safe and did a shorter warm up in case I had to bail.  I didn't have to bail and made my cool down longer to accommodate.

1.01 mile, 8:03 (8:00 avg pace)
9 miles, 1:00:38 (6:44 avg pace)
2.01 miles, 16:59 (8:28 avg pace)

Friday Oct 12
Plan says:  easy 8 miles

What I did:  I felt really good, unexpectedly, for this and probably ran it too fast which came back to bite me on my long run.

8.2 miles, 1:06:59 (8:10 avg pace)

Saturday Oct 13
Plan says:  long 16 miles

What I did:  As I said - it was mentally so challenging to even get out the door for this.  I had to pull out the winter running clothes.  It was dark.  It was so so cold.  I was still tired because I went to bed late.  Mental victory here!  But wow, physically this was difficult and never got easier.  Mental victory here for not giving up!  I JUST squeaked by in the pace department for this one.  My "long" runs should be in the 7:17-8:47 range and my avg pace for this was 8:38. 

16.1 miles, 2:19:07 (8:38 avg pace)

Plan Total: 62 miles
What I did: 62.14 miles *New weekly mileage PR

Sunday, October 14, 2018

Product Review: Buff® Original Reborn Headwear

Product Review:  Buff® Original Reborn Headwear

Disclaimer:  I received a Buff® Original Reborn headwear for free in exchange for a review as part of being a BibRave Pro.  Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out to find and write race reviews!

The weather has TURNED in Wisconsin.  What a crazy week.  Earlier in the week, our temps were in the 80s and yesterday, I did my long 16 mile run in the 20s.  What the What?!

It was a good week to test out my new Buff® Original Reborn headwear.  This is not my first Buff® (it's actually my 4th) so I have to say that before getting this in the mail, I was already a fan of the company and its products.  I was first introduced to the company several years ago while helping a colleague who had lost her hair to chemotherapy try to find comfy headwear. 

The Original Reborn line continues to live up to the high standards of the company.  It is pretty cool because each Buff® in this line is made out of 100% recycled material.  In fact, each Buff is made out of two water bottles!  The fabric might be new, but the product still delivers on high performance and versatility.  It is also nice and soft.

I like wearing the Buff® either as a headband or a neck gaiter.  The headband helps to keep my hair and sweat out of my eyes and on cooler days, I will just bring the fabric down around my ears.  You can also still have a nice ponytail going with this look!  I had an AMAZING tempo run last week, thus the thumbs up:

The Buff®-as-ear-warmer also works well with headphones and sunglasses.  I had a mid-distance easy run on Friday that I listened to Rich Roll interview KJ Dell'Antonia about being a happier parent (highly recommend that one too).  My Buff® fit nicely over my headphones and sunglasses without being too tight or irritating.

In really cold temps, I prefer the Buff®-as-gaiter for extra warmth around my neck.  The first really cold run of the year is always a bit shocking.  I had thought I was going to be overdressed, but I was thankful for each and every one of my layers on Saturday morning:

The gaiter is nice for warmth when I am not doing physical activity.  I put it on the other day to wait for my kids' bus to arrive!

Do you have any Buff®s?  How do you like to wear yours?

Monday, October 8, 2018

Madison Marathon Training: Week 12 Recap

Disclaimer:  I am running the Madison Marathon presented by SSM Health in November as a BibRave Pro, which means my entry fee was covered for me. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador) and check out to review, find, and write race reviews!  Wanna run Madison with me?  Enter code MMRAVE18 at registration for 10% off!

Another week of marathon training under my belt.  I had a hard time gearing up for another week after the sixty one mile week.  I honestly was so tired and poured a lot of mental and physical energy to hit all of the miles in the previous week that I couldn't fathom doing it again. 

But the fact is the miles still got logged.  If marathons reward consistency than I better get a big reward come November 11.

Sunday Sept 30
Plan says:  Easy 6 miles

What I did:  My son announced that he wanted to go running so of course I took him up on it.  He is four years old so I knew it would be an interesting adventure.  He made it 0.5 miles of running super fast, then stopping to walk, then restarting with some skipping and shifting to galloping.  It was a fun way to start a recovery run, and one that I felt every step of coming off a high mileage week.

6 miles, 54:08 (9:00 avg pace)

Monday Oct 1
Plan says:  Off

What I did:  Off

Tuesday Oct 2
Plan says: 1.5 mile warm up, 4 x 1.5 miles with 0.5 mile recovery in between each set, 1.5 mile cool down

What I did:  I've taken to doing my speed/strength workouts on Tuesdays because I work from home on Tuesdays and it allows me to sleep in a bit more and run in the daylight.  This workout went very well.  I felt really strong.  My goal pace for these is 6:37 and I ran them too fast, but again, I decided to go with it.

1.5 mile warm up, 12:30 (8:20 avg pace)

1 - 1.5 miles, 9:25 (6:17 avg pace) / 0.5 miles 4:38 (9:16 avg pace)
2 - 1.5 miles, 9:25 (6:17 avg pace) / 0.5 miles 4:43 (9:26 avg pace)
3 - 1.5 miles, 9:31 (6:21 avg pace) / 0.5 miles 4:48 (9:37 avg pace)
4 - 1.5 miles, 9:30 (6:20 avg pace) / 0.5 miles 4:37 (9:14 avg pace)

1.5 mile cool down, 12:55 (8:37 avg pace)

Wednesday Oct 3
Plan says:  easy 6 miles

What I did:  WOWSA.  I was TIRED for this one.  This is what I get for overdoing it on the strength workout!

6.1 miles, 55:37 (9:07 avg pace)

Thursday Oct 4
Plan says: 1.5 mile warm up, 9 miles tempo, 1.5 miles cool down

What I did:  EFF.  I woke up at 5:37 AM for this which is 37 minutes late.  I had no choice but to try to get as much done as possible that morning because the calendar was not going to allow any makeups later in the day.  I ended up shaving off a mile from the cool down.  This was a tough one for me.  My legs felt fine but overall I think I was fatigued because I felt like I was running faster than I actually was and could not make the legs fire faster. 

1.5 miles, 13:28 (8:59 avg pace)
9 miles, 1:02:21 (6:55 avg pace)
0.5 miles, 4:16 (8:32 avg pace)

Friday Oct 5
Plan says:  easy 10 miles

What I did:  You can run when you are tired.  Are you sensing a theme this week?  There is a such a fine line between the cumulative fatigue that is a normal part of marathon training and "bad" fatigue that is counterproductive.  I think I toed that narrow line last week. 

10 miles, 1:26:46 (8:40 avg pace)

Saturday Oct 6
Plan says:  easy 10 miles

What I did:  I was excited to run with some of my high school cross country teammates this morning as part of a reunion run that a friend organized.  Logging miles solo can get old so a group run was a welcome refresh.  I did five miles with the group and then stayed on the trail to do 5 miles by myself to get my 10 logged for the day.  I was feeling really good on my second set of 5 that I was clocking MP miles without trying.  {Insert SHRUG}  Marathon training really messes with your head!  I mean the day before I was spiraling down the "Omg am I overtrained? Why am I so tired?" path and twenty four hours later I am effortlessly running sub 7 miles.  Who knows?!

4.98 miles, 43:19 (8:43 avg pace)
5.02 miles, 35:50 (7:08 avg pace)

Plan Total: 55 miles
What I did: 54.13 miles