I have pretty much winged it in terms of running gear, and through trial and error have found certain things that I have come to love. Have a product you’d like me to review? I will give an honest appraisal on this site. Just send an e-mail to me at linda@theaccidentalmarathoner.com and I will be happy to discuss our options!


Product Reviews

Race Recap: 2019 Chicago Half Marathon

October 8, 2019 12:00 pm

Disclaimer:  I received an entry to the Chicago Half Marathon to review as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review, find, and write race reviews.https://www.runmagmile.com/

Thou shalt not covet thy son’s race medal

Three years ago while (pseudo) training for the Chicago Marathon, my son asked me if I wanted to run the Chicago Half Marathon with him. I whined like a baby about the drive into the big city and decided to run a half closer to home. Queue the extreme jealousy and regret when he texted me a picture of his finisher’s medal. The Roman numeral XXs spin! He also absolutely loved the race, so when the opportunity to run this year came up, I was excited to check it out for myself. As an added bonus, since I had already run the Chicago Spring Half Marathon in May, I would earn an additional medal for completing both races.

Michael being a good sport despite the long lines

As with the Spring half, packet pickup was at the Fleet Feet in the South Loop. I planned to drive in on the Friday afternoon before the race, but the weather was horrible and even in good weather, driving in and out of the city (the big city!) on a Friday afternoon can be a pain. I decided to drive in on Saturday morning instead, but then I remembered my son and his girlfriend were coming in from the city on Saturday morning to spend the weekend with us. Um, Mike, would you mind doing me a really, really, really big favor? It was sort-of-on the way and they didn’t seem to mind at all. They arrived at Fleet Feet just after packet pickup opened and texted that it was very crowded and they would be in line for an hour. Oops. As it turned out, things moved pretty quickly and they were in and out much faster than the lines would make it seem.

I hate to sound like a broken record, but once again I was on weather watch leading up to the race. And once again, rain was predicted for the entire weekend. Here we go again. At least it would be somewhat warm. I got my things ready and went to bed early, knowing I would have to wait until morning for a final decision on the race. I set my alarm for 4:00 a.m., but thunder and lightning had me wide awake by 3:15. By 4:30 no definitive decision had been made, so I got in my car and I was on my way. I figured the worst that would happen is I would have to turn around and go home. The rain was so heavy that I pulled over at one point and debated turning around. I checked the race’s Facebook page and the race had not been called. I was more than halfway there, so I kept on going.

I had arranged for parking in the Millennium Park Plaza Garage and would take the train from there. Between the weather and the confusion as to how to enter the garage, I pulled in at 5:36 a.m., just 9 minutes before the train would depart. I had no idea where to go to catch the train. Another car pulled into the garage and the three guys that got out obviously were there for the race. Like me, they had no idea where they were going, so I said we would stick together and figure it out. We made a mad dash for the exit, ran through the plaza mall, ran down a staircase to find three locked doors, and then ran back up the stairs and found a rickety old elevator. I suggested we try it but they didn’t want to because it seemed to lead to the same locked doors. I went for it. They followed me onto the elevator and lo and behold it opened up directly to the train station. Another mad dash and we hopped on the train at 5:43, just two minutes before its on-time departure. Talk about a shake-out run!

About 20 minutes later we exited the train and walked in the rain to the start. I was wearing flip flops (that made for a fun run to the train station) and a rain poncho and also had a small umbrella that I would be fine with dumping before the race. I wanted to stay as dry as possible before the start. It would be an understatement to say the staging area for before and after the race was muddy. It was an absolute slog fest. The mud was inches thick and where there wasn’t mud there were puddles of water that were just as deep. It was raining pretty steadily and everyone’s shoes were soaked and muddy.

Save big money (on new shoes) at Menards

Except mine. Someone please nominate me for the Brilliant Runner of the Year Award.  I carried my running shoes, socks, and a small towel in my bag, along with four Menards shopping bags. If you’ve ever shopped at Menards, you know their bags are nice and thick. I also had a disposable hospital gown which is my usual M.O. as my throw-away to keep me warm before a race, but since I was wearing a poncho, I didn’t need it. I slogged through the mud to the gear check area wearing my flip flops, and about 10 minutes before the race, I laid the gown on the ground, sat on it while I dried off my feet and put my socks and shoes on, and then wrapped my feet in the Menards bags. I might have looked ridiculous, but my shoes, socks, and feet were completely dry as I made my way to the start area. Minutes before the race the rain had slowed, so I took the bags off of my feet but decided to keep them for after the race. I twisted them together and tied them around the back of my SPIBelt, and never even noticed they were there. I also kept my umbrella since it folds up very small and can pretty much fit in the palm of my hand.

Anyway, how about a race review? Despite the rain, moods were good and the race announcer was energetic and fun. He warned runners to stay away from the edges of the road and to be careful around cracks and potholes in the street since they would be full of water and there would be no way to tell the depth of the potholes or what else might be in them. The race started exactly on time which was a treat given the weather conditions. The race started and ended in Jackson Park in the Woodlawn neighborhood on Chicago’s south side. The first two miles the rain was coming down pretty heavily, so I kept my head down and didn’t notice much around me. The rain started to ease and I was getting warm under my poncho, so I took it off and wrapped it around the back of my SPIbelt, since I knew I would need it later. At Mile 2 we hit the first aid station and I was thrilled they had Gatorade Endurance, since that’s what I’ve been training with this summer and what will be available at the Chicago and New York City Marathons this year.

We headed toward the lake and at the 3 Mile mark we turned north where we would run along the lakefront for the next five miles. By the time we got to Mile 7, us slowpokes could see the elite runners on the other side of the road with only three miles left in their race. We cheered for the lead runners and I might have gone a little crazy when the first female runner passed. Girl Power! As we approached the turnaround at Mile 8 I could hear thunder in the distance. Oh no, please don’t call the race now! We made the hairpin turn and I was again thrilled at about the 8-1/2 mile mark when the volunteers were handing out Gatorade Endurance Energy Gels. They were out of my favorite flavor (Blackberry), but still had plenty of my second favorite, Mango. Yum!

I turned around and saw none other than the three guys from the parking garage. What are the chances of that happening? We ran together and chatted for a bit and then I pulled ahead. I was trying to motor since I wanted to get to the finish in case the race might be called because of the weather. The rain started to pick up again so I put my poncho back on and just kept moving. At this point I was walking more and running less, but the rain had me walking at a pretty good clip. I kept pushing through and as I made the final turn into Jackson Park I knew I was close to my goal but likely wouldn’t make it, so I decided to walk for a bit. I wound up coming in just two minutes over, which was fine by me! I ran through the finish line and was immediately rewarded with an ice-cream filled Bomb Pop. How awesome is that???

Bomb Pops at the finish is da bomb!

I rarely check a bag but because of the weather, this time I did. I am so glad I kept my Menards bags because by the time the race was over the grounds were that much sloppier. I put the bags back on me feet and slogged my way to gear check. Unfortunately it was clear on the other side of the field. I’m pretty sure most everyone’s shoes were ruined. If you look closely, you can see some of the thousands of worms on the ground!

What a sloppy mess!

After I picked my bag up from gear check, I made my way to the tent where I would pick up my challenge medal I earned for finishing both races. All three medals fit together to make up some pretty sweet bling. And you know I like me some good bling!

Chicago Spring Half Marathon Medal
Chicago Half Marathon Medal
Half Marathon Series Challenge Medal
I couldn’t love this any more!

The post-race party included Home Run Inn pizza. I grew up walking distance from the original restaurant and though I was excited about the best pizza in Chicago, there was no way I was walking through that slop just to get a piece! Instead, I chatted with the very nice ladies at the challenge medal tent and then made my way back to the train station. Since I didn’t stick around for the post-race festivities, I had to wait a little over an hour for the train, but I noticed a bright orange hat at the train station and sure enough, it was my fellow Bib Rave Pro, Brandy. Again I say, what are the chances of that happening? I introduced myself to her and we chatted the whole way back to the Millennium Park Station. Running friends are the best friends, and I love making new ones everywhere I go!

Overall I’m very happy with my time. My first five miles were a little faster than usual, and in fact I beat my Mag Mile 10K time by over five minutes! The race was awesome and very well organized. I learned from the Chicago Spring Half to trust the race organizers to make the right decision regarding the weather. While packet pickup is a little inconvenient for me, as it turns out, it’s not all about me! I was happy my son and his girlfriend could do it for me, but it would have been just as fine to drive into the city myself. The race swag was awesome and if not for the weather, the post-race finish party would have been a blast. I will definitely be back for this race next year!

Have you ever run the Chicago Half Marathon? It seems many Chicago Marathon runners run this race as part of their final taper. Have you ever had Home Run Inn pizza? A little bit of Chicago trivia for you:  It’s named so because the original restaurant is right across the street from what was called Lawndale Park when I grew up, later named Piotrowski Park. So many baseballs kept hitting and breaking the windows – that’s how the restaurant got it’s name!

Upcoming races on my calendar include:

October 13:  Bank of America Chicago Marathon

October 19:  Urban Bourbon Half Marathon (use code BourbonRave2019 for 10% off!)

November 3:  New York City Marathon

November 16:  RnR Las Vegas 5K (use code 19RNRBRP16 for $6 off the 5K/10K distances!)

November 17:  RnR Las Vegas Half Marathon (use code 19RNRBRP16 for $16 off the half/full marathon distances!)

March 1, 2020:  Tokyo Marathon

 

I’m linking up with Kim and Zenaida for Tuesday Topics! This week’s Tuesday Topic: Themed races – yay or nay? You can write about this or as I did, any topic you would like! If you’d like to join along, just follow this link for the linkup rules and a list of upcoming topics. Be sure to check out to Kim’s and Zenaida’s blogs, and visit some of the other linkers while you are there!

 

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On Sunday, November 3rd, I will be running the New York City Marathon as a charity fundraiser for Team in Training, an organization that helps The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS) support cutting-edge research projects in the most promising areas of cancer research. If you’d like to contribute to my fundraising efforts, you can still do so by clicking on the link below. Any donation, big or small, will help and is greatly appreciated!

Click here or on the picture to get to my fundraising page!

Race Recap: Mag Mile 10K

September 27, 2019 12:00 pm

Disclaimer:  I received an entry to the Chicago Mag Mile 10K to review as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review, find, and write race reviews.

Let’s cut to the chase. This was an awesome race and I loved every minute of it! Though I live in Chicago, I have never run this race. It’s always exciting for me to try new races and especially to explore different areas of my home city on foot. When the opportunity to run arose, I jumped at the chance!

 

Packet pickup was at the Fleet Feet located in Old Town, which is convenient to my work location. Neighborhood parking was easy to find and the volunteers were so nice! As a special surprise, when I walked into Fleet Feet I saw a very familiar face – known as Miss Strange Fitness on social media, I had just met Shera at the EMPOWER Summer Camp in Watervliet, Michigan in August of this year. Isn’t it funny (and incredible) how social media connects us with so many people we might never have met?

When I first registered for the race, this awesome colorful swag shirt was what was advertised. The race was so popular that they ran out, so later registrants received a similar shirt in black. While the black shirt looked nice, I love the cool colors of the earlier version, so I’m really glad I registered earlier and was able to receive one. The race ultimately sold out, so if you might consider running it next year (and you should!) I would suggest you register early. I arrived at packet pickup shortly after it opened on Day 1 just to be sure I would get the colored shirt, but as it turned out, those who registered early enough had those shirts reserved for them and those who registered later got the black ones.

As always, I was on weather watch in the days before the race. As predicted, the sun was shining and the weather was beautiful. I had a convenient parking spot just a few blocks from the race start, so I didn’t need to get there super early. I arrived about 30 minutes before the start, which was plenty of time. I mulled around a bit, used the porta-potty, and then made my way to the corrals. Security was pretty loose but for the most part, people seemed to seed themselves in the correct corrals. I tried to spot fellow BibRave Pro Amanda in the Elite start corral but I couldn’t find her, so I headed to the back of the bus with my fellow slowpokes.

I had been using a run/walk interval along with Gatorade Endurance during my training, and this race would be the first time I would test them out together. My watch was set for a 2:30 run/0:45 walk interval and although I felt good enough to run longer, I pretty much stuck to that interval and instead ran a little faster than I usually do. The race started and ended in Grant Park near Buckingham Fountain. We headed west toward Michigan Avenue along Ida B. Wells Drive. The pavement was very bumpy and broken up during that first quarter mile or so, but it was smooth sailing once we hit Michigan Avenue. We headed north to Chicago Avenue and then looped around and headed back south along Michigan. We turned east toward the lake on Randolph, and at Columbus the 5K participants headed back toward the finish in Grant Park while the 10K participants headed to the lakefront. From there we looped south along the LakeFront Trail, then looped around at Roosevelt Road back to Randolph, then west to Columbus before making the turn back toward Grant Park.

I slowed down a bit after the first half of the course, and with about a mile and a half to go, I started doing some mental math and wondered if I would make it in time for my goal. I kept plugging along and about a half mile from the finish I didn’t think I would make it, but when I made the final turn I could see the finish line in the distance and I kicked it into gear. While my watch said I finished 6 seconds slower than my goal, my official time was actually 2 seconds under it. Not that 8 seconds makes that big of a difference, but I was thrilled to see I could push myself in the end and finish strong.

Looking at my splits, I ran my first mile a full 2 minutes faster than my usual pace, and then the second and third miles were 1 minute faster than usual. The last three miles were more of my ‘typical’ pace and I was happy not to have slowed down significantly in the end. I credit both the conservative run/walk intervals as well as the Gatorade Endurance for both my faster earlier paces and my endurance at the end of the race. I will definitely continue to tweak my paces as well as my fueling strategies as I continue to train for my longer-distance fall races.

The post-race party included a hearty brunch of eggs, sausage, a bagel, and diced peaches. We had the choice of a Moscow Mule or a beer. I thought I would do something different, so I chose the Moscow Mule and quickly discovered I do not like Moscow Mules! Someone offered me his drink ticket and I got a Revolution Brewing Ghost Ride beer instead, which was a much better option for me. I walked around for a bit and then headed back to my car for the drive home.

I haven’t done a lot of 10K races, and the older I get, the more I like the shorter distances! Running along the Magnificent Mile in Chicago is a fun way to see the city, and of course running along our beautiful lakefront is always a special treat. I like that there are 5K and 10K options available. The 5K route for the race included all of the Mag Mile portion of the 10K distance; just not the LakeFront Trail. The swag, the post-race party, the medal, and the FREE photos make this a race I will return to year after year!

Have you ever run this race? What is your favorite distance? Moscow Mule – yay or nay?

Upcoming races on my calendar include:

September 29:  HOKA ONE ONE Chicago Half Marathon (use code BRCHIHALF19 for $10 off the half or $5 off the 5K!)

October 13:  Bank of America Chicago Marathon

October 19:  Urban Bourbon Half Marathon (use code BourbonRave2019 for 10% off!)

November 3:  New York City Marathon

November 16:  RnR Las Vegas 5K (use code 19RNRBRP16 for $6 off the 5K/10K distances!)

November 17:  RnR Las Vegas Half Marathon (use code 19RNRBRP16 for $16 off the half/full marathon distances!)

March 1, 2020:  Tokyo Marathon

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On Sunday, November 3rd, I will be running the New York City Marathon as a charity fundraiser for Team in Training, an organization that helps The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS) support cutting-edge research projects in the most promising areas of cancer research. If you’d like to contribute to my fundraising efforts, you can still do so by clicking on the link below. Any donation, big or small, will help and is greatly appreciated!

Click here or on the picture to get to my fundraising page!

Product Review: Endure Strong Online Coaching

August 28, 2019 12:00 pm

 

Disclaimer:  I received online coaching from Olympic Marathoner Jared Ward and his team at Endure Strong to review as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review, find, and write race reviews.

Let’s face it. I am worse than bad when it comes to training for races. The thing is, I simply enjoy participating in them, but I really don’t care much about my time. However, I’m not getting any younger, and completing long distance races isn’t getting any easier. So when the opportunity to receive online coaching from Jared Ward and his team at Endure Strong came up, I jumped at the chance.

Who, you might ask, is Jared Ward? He is a 30 year old distance runner who qualified for the 2016 Summer Olympics, where he came in sixth place in the marathon (and first place for U.S. men) with a time of 2:11:30! He was also the first place U.S. men’s finisher at the 2018 TCS New York City Marathon. That right there is a pretty impressive resume, but you can read more about him here.

Given my history of not training for races, I have tossed around the idea of hiring a coach just to add some accountability into the mix. But since my work and travel schedules can be very hectic, I never thought working with a coach would be an option for me. As it turns out, working with an online coach was the perfect solution. With online coaching, I had 24-hour access to not only my training plan, but also to the online forum where I could ask questions, post comments, review group calls, etc. Even though I wouldn’t expect an immediate response in the middle of the night, it was a nice option to access the platform at any time, day or night, when it worked best with my busy schedule.

When the call came out for BibRave Pros to apply, there were a few criteria. First, it was preferred those opting in had busy schedules that made traditional coaching programs difficult to do.   Check. I do not have a regular schedule when it comes to anything. I work as a nurse practitioner in an inpatient hospital setting. Since we are a 24-hour operation, 7 days a week, 365 days a year, my schedule varies from week to week. I work weekdays, weekends, days, nights, holidays, 8 hour shifts, 10 hours shifts, 12 hour shifts…you get the picture. I also own a busy consulting business where I travel fairly frequently, and am typically gone four or five days at a time. I have a house, a husband, a family, and a blog! My 90-year old mother lives with us and although she doesn’t need a tremendous amount of physical care, she does need a lot of help, and it can be time consuming. People often ask how I do it all. My usual answer? Ineffectively.

But I digress. The point being, I easily met the first criteria. The second was to have a big goal race coming up, preferably somewhere around the end of summer and no later than the first week of September.  √ √  Check check. I had several ‘big’ races on my calendar at the time I opted in, and have since added more.  The timing worked out that I would make the Napa to Sonoma Half Marathon on July 21st my ‘first’ big goal race and then continue training for the Chicago Marathon on October 13th and the New York City Marathon on November 3rd.

Once everyone was chosen to participate, we received an e-mail from Andrew Webb, who is Jared’s partner in coaching and our primary contact at Endure Strong. We received instructions on how to set up an account with Final Surge, the online platform we would be using to choose our training program, log our activities, and communicate with other participants and the coaches. The process was easy. Program options include level of experience (beginner, intermediate, advanced, or elite), duration of the plan (12 or 16 weeks), peak mileage within the plan (20 – 30 weekly miles for the beginner plans, 35 – 45 weekly miles for the intermediate plans, 55 – 75 weekly miles for the advanced plans, and 85 – 105 weekly miles for the elite plans), and goal race distance (5K, 10K, half marathon, and marathon). The plans also include options for cross training and strength training each week.

I seriously contemplated choosing a beginner plan just because of the more manageable weekly miles, but after looking through the different programs, I chose a 12-week intermediate half marathon training plan with 35 peak weekly miles. To be honest, I didn’t necessary think I would hit my planned miles every week (spoiler alert:  I didn’t), but it was the option within the intermediate category that had the lowest miles, so that is what I went with. I plugged in the date of my July half marathon and that put Day 1 of the plan at April 28th. On the plan’s schedule for that day:  2 easy miles. On my calendar that day:  The London Marathon. What could I do? I canceled my flight to London.

Psych. Of course I didn’t. The day after the marathon was a scheduled rest day, and then the following day was a 2-mile easy run. I contacted Andrew and asked him what I should do. He advised I take a few days off, and in fact could take the rest of the week off if I needed to. I wound up taking Monday and Tuesday off (we flew home from London on Monday), and then I did a 2 mile walk on Wednesday, a 1 mile walk on Thursday, a 12-hour work day on Friday, and then a 2-1/2 mile walk on Saturday.

I won’t, of course, go through my entire training calendar here, but the point is, these guys get it. They have busy lives, complete with jobs and families, and they work their training into their schedules as best they can. Things come up. We do what we can.

The program was great in that every evening I would get an e-mail reminder of what was on my training schedule for the next day. I loved getting these daily reminders as an incentive to get my butt out the door. I would say on average I hit my goal weekly miles about 2/3 of the time throughout the 12-week program. That’s pretty good for me.

One of the best features of the program is the biweekly coaching calls with Jared and Andrew. Because of my work schedule I was unable to participate in most of them live, but by the following morning they were available to watch on the Final Surge platform. These calls included specific topics along with Q & A sessions where participants could get advice directly from the experts. What I liked best about these calls is that many of my own questions were posed by other participants, giving me the answers I needed. I also had access to coaching calls from outside of my own training period.

The Napa to Sonoma Half Marathon was last month and I am happy to say although I didn’t hit a PR, I did beat my previous half marathon time by 14 minutes! I’m continuing with Endure Strong and I am becoming more disciplined about my training as the weeks go by (read:  I am taking the very hilly NYC Marathon course VERY seriously!) I switched to a beginner plan for my marathon training because the peak weekly mileage goals are more realistic for me. As I continue using the program, I am learning more about myself as a runner and I am finding ways to fit my training into my hectic schedule. The Final Surge online platform makes it very easy to lay out a plan that is manageable and to make necessary adjustments along the way.

Have you used an online running coach? What was it like for you? What big races do you have coming up this year?

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On Sunday, November 3rd, I will be running the New York City Marathon as a charity fundraiser for Team in Training, an organization that helps The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS) support cutting-edge research projects in the most promising areas of cancer research. If you’d like to contribute to my fundraising efforts, you can do so by clicking on the link below. Any donation, big or small, will help and is greatly appreciated! Want to join me? You can still register for the NYC Marathon as a charity fundraiser for Team in Training! Use code NYCBIBRAVE to have the $100.00 team registration fee waived (you still have to raise the require funds).

Click here or on the picture to get to my fundraising page!

Feeling EMPOWERed after a Weekend at Camp

August 12, 2019 12:00 pm

Disclaimer:  I received a complementary weekend stay at the Empower Summer Camp at Ronora Lodge in Watervliet, Michigan from FitApproach in exchange for my honest review and various social media postings as part of being a Sweat Pink ambassador. All opinions are my own.

Last weekend I had the amazing opportunity to join other fitness enthusiasts, bloggers, and influencers for a weekend of fitness, friendship, and fun. When the invitation arrived, I immediately checked my schedule and was thrilled to see that with just a little bit of shuffling, I was available to attend. The fact that it was an easy drive from my home sealed the deal for me. I woke up early on Friday and had every intention of leaving my house by noon Chicago time but as is my M.O., I had a million things to do and ultimately didn’t get on the road until almost 2:30 p.m. This turned my expected two-hour drive into a painful three-hour drive and with the one-hour time change, I didn’t arrive at camp until about 6:00 p.m. Michigan time. Deep breath in, slow breath out; I’m here to relax and rejuvenate, after all!

I checked in with Nic and Alyse and received not one, but two huge bags of amazing swag! I was directed to my digs for the weekend, otherwise known as Main House 1. Several of my bunk mates had already arrived, so I plopped my stuff down on an open bed and made my way back to where Jamie‘s outdoor yoga class was already in full swing. I found an open spot in the back, rolled out my mat, and joined the group. Since I didn’t have time to change, I wasn’t wearing an ideal outfit for such a warm outdoor session, so I sweated my way into the start of the weekend.

 

After yoga we headed into Chadwicke Hall for a huge taco bar made from fresh ingredients, many of which came from the lodge property itself. This meal set the stage for many amazing meals to come. I ate soooo much yummy food over the weekend and all of it was healthy and good! Over dinner I was able to catch up with Marcia, Erica, and Wendy, and I finally got to meet Rachel, Missy, and Sandra in person.

Photo courtesy of James Pancoast Photos

After dinner we all headed back to our cabins to freshen up and get ready for an evening campfire, complete with s’mores (made with all natural, 100% vegan marshmallows from Dandies) and a corny camp song competition. My bunk mates let me know they discovered another room in our cabin that had plenty of beds for all of us, and as an extra bonus it was air conditioned! I’ve had my share of sleeping on the ground in hot, humid tents. Air conditioned cabins with real beds were quite the welcome treat! We had two bathrooms for the five of us to share, both well-stocked with a variety of products from Now Foods for us to sample and share.

 

Saturday morning it was up and at ’em for a morning hike fueled by Cold Brew Butter Coffee with MCT oil by Grass Fed Coffee. Missy and I took our time enjoying each other’s company while still being able to listen to music using our new Aftershokz Trekz Air bone conduction headphones. After taking some obligatory photos along the way, we arrived back at base camp for an awesome breakfast buffet.

Photo courtesy of James Pancoast Photos

After breakfast we heard stories from Jamie, Cam, De, and Tasha, who overcame various struggles to emerge as the strong and inspirational women they are today. They definitely gave us some food for thought and reminded me of my mantra to not sweat the small stuff (and it’s ALL small stuff). After that we hit the pavement for a Tabata-style HITT workout with Kasey. Let’s just say I did my best to keep up! We started the session with a Now Sports BCAA Big 6 supplement drink. I chose Watermelon. It tasted delicious and I think it actually did put an extra pep in my step!

Photo courtesy of James Pancoast Photos

After this amazing sweat sesh, we headed indoors to make customized smoothie bowls using the base recipe created by Annmarie. Packed with incredible ingredients from Now Foods, I chose the Red Velvet Beet Endurance version. I let my artistic side take over by adding fresh strawberries, blueberries, Raw Organic Cacao Nibs, and Unsweetened, Shredded Organic Coconut. I have to say, this recipe is a keeper! Afterward, I went back to my cabin for a little downtime and to check out some of the goodies in my swag bag. Spoiler alert:  Everything was awesome! As if I hadn’t already had enough to eat, it was time for lunch so I chose a modest salad from the expansive salad bar. After that we were treated with a presentation by Christine, who offered some great tips on creating great content. I will definitely be using some of her ideas to help improve my future posts.

 

 

After Christine’s presentation we had the opportunity to make our own Momentum wrap bracelets. It was a fun project but the perfectionist in me wishes I had done a better job with centering. Still, I love my bracelet and it is a fun reminder of my time at camp. Wiped out from a busy morning and afternoon, I took a pass on the afternoon HITT and Flow Workout with Nic. I did not, however, miss the 5:30 p.m. Happy Hour! This was a great time to sample some snacks (the Jade Leaf Matcha Fruit Bites were to die for), meet some more camp participants, and yes, have a glass (or two!) of wine.

Happy Hour Crew
Photo courtesy of James Pancoast Photos

 

After another healthy and delicious dinner, I bowed out of the after-dinner festivities and hit the hay early. With an early morning run, more activities, and the long drive home ahead of me, I wanted to get a good night’s sleep. It seems all that fresh air (or was it those two glasses of wine?) really knocked me out!

On Sunday morning I was up by 6:00 a.m. so I could start to pack and get ready for my 7:00 a.m. run. There were two main groups with the faster runners in the front and the slower runners and walkers in the back. I ran a (very) short distance with the faster runners and then slowed down and did my own thing. I did my typical run/walk intervals and got a total of three miles in before joining the group for a big breakfast. After a relaxing break, we had a Morning Flow Yoga class with Jamie. It was just what I needed after a full weekend of physical activity! We had our closing circle where many participants shared what they gained and what they appreciated from spending time with the others. Our final meal was lunch before I would hit the road for the two-hour drive home. We said our goodbyes and I think I might have spied a few tears!

Photo courtesy of Marcia’s husband, A.K.A. The Cave Man

 

I tried to hit the highlights here, but this post is already starting to become a novel! As expected, we all came home with so. much. swag. Other items I failed to mention but loved receiving include Goodr sunglasses, oatmeal and snacks from Bob’s Red Mill, an insulated stainless steel water bottle and a drawstring bag from Takeya, cassava strips with sea salt from Artisan Tropic, a water bottle, sleep mask, and copper-infused cooling towel from Suja Organic, coffee enhancers from ThinkNOO, and a reausable hot-cold pack from Bioenergy Life Science.

 

 

Phew! I think that’s about it, but there’s a good chance I missed something because it was just that good! Have you ever been to summer camp? I bet it was nothing like this! We will be in Roanoke, Virginia camping again this time next, so keep an eye out for details. Be sure to click on my links in this post to check out some of the other bloggers, and be sure to check out all of the amazing sponsor companies! Here are a few discount codes for you to use:

$10 off $40 Now Foods with EMPOWERNOW (expires 8/31/19).

$50.00 off Aftershokz Trekz Air and Trekz Titanium Endurance and Adventure Bundle with code EMPOWER.

20% off one order at Great Lakes Gelatin with code Empower20off (expires 9/13/19).

20% off Takeya with code EMPOWER20 (expires 10/1/19).

20% off Jade Leaf Matcha with code EMPOWER (expires 8/9/19).

10% off THINKNOO with code COFFEE.

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On Sunday, November 3rd, I will be running the New York City Marathon as a charity fundraiser for Team in Training, an organization that helps The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS) support cutting-edge research projects in the most promising areas of cancer research. If you’d like to contribute to my fundraising efforts, you can do so by clicking on the link below. Any donation, big or small, will help and is greatly appreciated! Want to join me? You can still register for the NYC Marathon as a charity fundraiser for Team in Training! Use code NYCBIBRAVE to have the $100.00 team registration fee waived (you still have to raise the require funds).

Click here or on the picture to get to my fundraising page!

Product Review: Shady Rays Allure Polarized Sunglasses

August 5, 2019 12:00 pm

 

Disclaimer:  I received a pair of Shady Rays Allure Polarized Sunglasses to review as part of being a BibRave Pro (ambassador). Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro, and check out BibRave.com to review, find, and write race reviews.

As someone who has not historically been good about protecting her eyes from the sun, I’ve surprised even myself with my new obsession with sunglasses! Although I already own a pair of Shady Rays Signature Series sunglasses, I was thrilled at the opportunity to try another style. For me, the Signature Series style is more sporty and I love using them for running and biking. I think the Allure Style is a little more ‘dressy’ and stylish and are unique from the styles I’ve worn in the past.

Like all Shady Rays, the Allures provide 100% UV protection and are shatter resistant and salt-water proof. Each order provides 10 meals to help fight hunger through the organization Feeding America, which is a fantastic excuse to own more than one pair! Shady Rays offers free replacements if you break or lose them, which is very unique to their brand.

     

My sunglasses arrived in their signature pouch that can be used both for storage and for cleaning the lenses. I chose the Twilight Belle, which have a black matte finish with gold temple accents. From the front the lenses look black, but from the inside they actually look deep blue/purple, which is pretty cool! They feel very lightweight, both in my hand and when I am wearing them. I really like the style, even though it’s not one I have historically worn.I’ve now been wearing one or the other of my Shady Rays for more than six months, and I can’t say which is my favorite. Maybe it’s like having kids – where they are all your favorite! I absolutely love them and I will say, I’ve been much more disciplined about wearing sunglasses because of them.

Interested in trying Shady Rays sunglasses? Check out the Shady Rays website for more information and for a limited time, get two or more pairs for 50% off using code BIBRAVE!

Check out more reviews by some of my fellow BibRave Pros:  Laura, Becky, Vanessa, Alastair, Ken, Melissa, and Barb!

 

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On Sunday, November 3rd, I will be running the New York City Marathon as a charity fundraiser for Team in Training, an organization that helps The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS) support cutting-edge research projects in the most promising areas of cancer research. If you’d like to contribute to my fundraising efforts, you can do so by clicking on the link below. Any donation, big or small, will help and is greatly appreciated! Want to join me? You can still register for the NYC Marathon as a charity fundraiser for Team in Training! Use code NYCBIBRAVE to have the $100.00 team registration fee waived (you still have to raise the require funds).

Click here or on the picture to get to my fundraising page!

 

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