Zwift into the New Year: Review of Zwift Runpod and App

*Disclaimer: I received a Zwift Runpod 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!*

Are you a treadmill runner? I’m not going to lie to you, treadmills are my last resort. I have a treadmill at home which may very well have been made in the 1990’s. But it works and does the job when there’s sleeting rain or a snow storm outside.

As part of being a BibRave Pro I was offered the opportunity to trial the new Zwift Runpod and Zwift Run app. I figured it would be worth a shot since the treadmill experience is not super enjoyable to me. And anything that could improve my treadmill workouts is worth a shot.img_7150.jpg

The Runpod arrives in a small little box with directions on how to insert the battery and connect it to your shoe. Once I did that, I downloaded the Zwift app and Zwift Companion on my iPhone. Zwift Companion is a great way to check out who else is using the app and to look up group runs that are scheduled.

For my first run, I signed up to join the BibRave TRE 5k. They had 3 different pace groups to join. Before the race, I made sure to calibrate the Runpod with my treadmill. I also used my Garmin Forerunner 935 to calibrate the speed. The app walks you through the process very easily. Once I was calibrated, I was able to join the run.

I joined the run a few minutes early. When joining a group run they line everyone up on a start line, just like a real race. However you can either just wait for it to start or start a warmup on your treadmill, where you’ll see your Zwift avatar run in place.

When the race starts, everyone’s avatar rushes out of the start corral. I thought it was cool to see people running that I knew. I even ran along side another BibRave Pro. Running with a group of people virtually definitely boosted my competitive side and made the treadmill experience a lot more enjoyable.

Since the BibRave TRE Virtual 5k, I’ve been able to run using the Zwift app several more times. Some fun perks of running with the Zwift app:

  • You can change the appearance of your Zwift avatar
  • You can change the view that you see your avatar running
  • You are never running alone – even if you can’t make one of the scheduled runs, you can always join the thousands of people who are running in Watopia
  • The Zwift app is FREE!

Ultimately I would recommend the Zwift Runpod and Zwift app for anyone wanting to enhance their treadmill running experience.  I even bought one for my brother!

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Zoinks! Don’t miss out on the Doo Good Virtual 5k!

*Disclaimer: I received free entry to the Scooby-Doo Run Series: Doo Good Virtual 5k 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!*

Now that my training is starting to taper, it’s time to focus on what is important in my life, my pup! It’s been too hot to take him out on my long runs this summer. Now with September in full gear, the temps are perfect to get my pup up and running.

I was offered the opportunity to do the Scooby-Doo Run Series: the Doo Good Virtual 5k. I’ve never run a virtual 5k before, but liked the opportunity to do a fun run with my 8 year old lab, Cooper. I’ve thought about signing us up for other runs in the area, but Cooper can sometimes be unpredictable around other people and especially other dogs.  He just LOVES EVERYONE! A virtual 5k offers us the chance to train together for a fun goal without the stress of being around other people and dogs. We still get the comradery from other runners and dogs running the 5k through social media too!

Cooper and I chose to run our race on September 19th. Sign up and join us!

More than Running: Embracing #LiveMoreNow

*Disclaimer: I received 3 Buff® products as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.comto review find and write race reviews!*

I’m taking a step back.  Running has been literally “running” my life for the past year, maybe longer.  I’ve accomplished some major goals this year alone.  But what happens when you need a break?  In the running community we almost look down on these down times from training.  When people ask, “what are you training for?” You feel obligated to have an answer.

I’m determined to not let this break from major running goals define me or depress me.  Instead, I’m opening up my options.  Buff® encouraged a few of us from BibRave to #LiveMoreNow and embrace all the opportunities around us. Here are some ways I have chosen to embrace some  non-running fun this summer!

Crosstraining – I’ve been swimming and biking primarily.  I’ve also thrown in some yoga and strength training.  It’s been nice to mix things up, especially with the hot weather. Love how easy the UV Multifunctional Buff® makes it to go from swim to bike and more.

Canoeing – this has been a great summer for canoeing.  The water has been high, which makes it easy to check out all the rivers and waterways in the area.

Gardening – I love growing my own food.  When my running mileage was high, I found it difficult to keep up with my garden. But now, it’s relaxing to dig my hands in the dirt. The UV Insect Shield Buff® keeps those pesky mosquitoes and UV rays away from my neck while I work out in the sun.

Hiking – One of the reasons I started trail running is because I love taking in the beautiful views around me. Hiking allows me to continue to recover from my ultra, but still do what I love.img_5633

Hangin’ with my pup – Mr. Cooper, my 8 year old yellow lab, has been a trooper throughout my training. Since he can only handle around 4-6 miles, I’ve had to leave the little man at home too many times. Now is the opportunity to make it up to him.  I love taking him to the beach and seeing him swim around in Lake Michigan.

Let me know how you embrace #LiveMoreNow this summer!

Top 5 Reasons to Sign Up for BigFoot Tri & Trail

*Disclaimer: I’m promoting BigFoot Tri as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.comto review find and write race reviews!*

It’s almost time! BigFoot Tri & Trail races take place this weekend and you still have time to register. For those of you still on the fence.  Here are my Top 5 reasons to sign up for BigFoot Triathlon & Trail:

5. Free Photos! No need for your family to have their camera’s ready at the finish. Let Ram Racing cover the photos, and your family can cheer you into the finish.137878-055-032h.jpg

4.This race has something for everyone.  Shake out your trail shoes for the Trail races on Saturday.  Or sign up for the Sprint or Olympic Distance Triathlon on Sunday. No matter your experience level, this race weekend won’t disappoint.

3. The weather looks perfect for the weekend. How img_5576often does a forecast work out perfectly for a race…not often. Saturday has a high of 73 degrees and partly sunny.  Sunday is a high of 78 degrees and mostly sunny.  Sounds ideal for Wisconsin summer.

2. The Swag – This year all participants receive a BigFoot hydration backpack. You will also receive a sweet looking medal when you complete the Triathlon or Trail race.

and finally….

1. Make a weekend out of it! Stay at one of  the local hotels or B&B’s.  Try out the local restaurants, shops, and bars. And don’t forget to stop at Kilwins for some dessert! And definitely partake in the Post-Race Party!

So what are you waiting for? Register here!
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Training for Kettle100 #LiveMoreNow

*Disclaimer: I received 3 Buff® products 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!*

 

New adventures are what I live for. All the emotions of excitement, nervousness, and fear wrapped up into one event. I love this and hate this feeling all at the same time. It seems like every year I pick a new adventure or goal to tackle. I don’t always accomplish this goal, but I always try.

This year I’ve decided to embrace the #LiveMoreNow campaign from Buff ®. My crazy adventure is to tackle my first 100 mile trail race. To this point the furthest I’ve gone is 64 miles at the Frozen Otter Ultra in January. This was a whole other adventure of its own (feel free to read my blog post about it).

Throughout the last 4 months of training, my schedule has predominately looked like this:

Monday: Strength Train (focus on legs/hips/glutes)

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Strength Training using my UV Multifunctional Headband from Buff®

Tuesday: Hill Repeats + run = 6 miles, followed by Strength Training (focus on glutes/core)

Wednesday: Mid-week long run of 8-12 miles, plus some additional Strength Training (core/arm focus)

Thursday: Speed Work =7-9 miles

Friday: Either easy 4-6 mile run or rest day

Saturday: Long trail run (anywhere from 18-50 miles depending on the week)

Sunday: Long run (usually on the road and less than the Saturday run)

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Relaxing after Ice Age 50 miler (wearing Dorn Hat from Buff®)

With this schedule, I typically put between 50-85 miles in each week. I hope I’m ready to take on the challenge of Kettle 100 in 6 short days. All I can do is give it my all, and pray for good weather. Wish me luck!

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Sharing some watermelon with my pup after my last long run before Kettle 100

 

Review of FlipBelt Crops

Disclaimer: I received the FlipBelt Crops to review as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check outBibRave.com to review find and write race reviews

Once I find running gear I like, it stays in my running gear forever. I don’t play fast and loose with my gear and I like what I like. That being said, I can be a bit skeptical when I am introduced to new running gear. BibRave offered me the opportunity to test out the FlipBelt Crops.  I’ve heard of FlipBelt before, but was satisfied with my running belt so I never purchased one for myself.

I’ve had some issues with running belts in the past – either they don’t fit what I need, they break easily, or they tend to ride up while running. It’s never a fun run when you’re constantly messing with your running belt. I’ve also had some bad luck with running capris as well. But I wanted to try the FlipBelt Crops despite my issues trying something new in the past.

My first time trying on the FlipBelt Crops, I still wasn’t sold. To be honest, I didn’t run in them, I only tried them on and walked around a little. They were comfortable, but I was skeptical about the waist area. It didn’t fit very snugly, it felt slightly loose.  My running belt and capris are always super tight on my hips in order to keep my cell phone and keys in place and prevent them from flopping up and down. But they were comfortable, so that was a definite plus.

The second time I put them on was for an easy run after work. I put my keys on the key hook in the front as well as my cell phone in the front. I have an iPhone SE with a wallet case, so it’s not the lightest phone in the world. When I started running, I was very surprised to not feel my phone or keys bouncing around my waist. This was completely different from all the other running belts I’ve encountered. I didn’t have to adjust anything and I didn’t have to wear it super tight on my waist.  This will be especially nice when I go on long runs since I won’t have to worry about chaffing or rubbing.

Another plus with the FlipBelt Crops is, it doesn’t look like I’m wearing a running belt.  Running belts always looks like I’m wearing a fanny pack. With the FlipBelt Crops, the belt melds right into the capris, so it just looks like a part of the pants.  This makes it very easy to go from running or workout straight to running errands or having brunch with my running partners. Everything I need stays on me and you can’t even tell.

Try the FlipBelt Crops for yourself and find a discount code on my Discount page!

Rivals for life: Fun Perks of Using Athlinks

Disclaimer: I reviewed Athlinks 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!

It’s been a while since I looked into my past running records. In fact, my sister had to inform me last year that I PR’ed my 10k time. I’m not good at keeping track of that sort of thing, nor did I think I was even close to PRing that day. This year BibRave partnered up with Athlinks, and asked all the BibRave Pros to check out their profiles. I was surprised with how many races of mine were listed and ready for me to claim.

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After accepting my results, I looked at the results tab. Without having to do any work, it tallied my PR results for 5k, triathlons, all the way to my ultra trail races. Now I no longer have to rely on my sis to tell me when I get a new personal record.

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Another fun feature I was messing around with is the Rivals tab. You can follow friends on Athlinks. Then Athlinks automatically will compare the races that you both have run. It’s like a game to see who has won the most races. I even found that some friends from BibRave ran in the same Chicago marathon several years ago as me, before we were even BibRave Pros. I especially like that Athlinks shows that I’m beating my sister overall in races. We may be a bit competitive.IMG_4738

Another feature I like is how easy the app is to use. Because let’s be honest, I’m usually on my phone and never on my desktop. Now I have all my PR’s and race results in the palm of my hand!

Now the question is, will you sign up and be my rival?

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One of the Frozen Few

This was my second attempt at the Frozen Otter Ultra. MountaineeringOtter_200_0 For those of you not familiar with this race, it is 64 miles on the North Kettle trails. The only support along the way is water provided every 7-9 miles and a drop bag at mile 46.  Everything you might need you have to carry, along with required gear that you must carry for emergencies.

My first attempt at Frozen Otter ended at mile 46.  I couldn’t stop shivering, couldn’t eat or drink anything, and couldn’t feel my hands.  I’m pretty sure I had an early stage of hypothermia.  When I decided to sign up for Frozen Otter again, I knew I had to find a way to beat the cold.

One reason Frozen Otter is so difficult, despite the obvious, is that you never know what conditions will be on race day. There have been years with 3 feet of snow on the course, or other years with -30 degree wind chill.  This year, we were fortunate not to have snow, but we had temps as low as -6 degrees, and the ground was icy and frozen solid including many mud potholes from people’s footprints and deforestation.  We were fortunate to not have to carry the extreme weather gear, but we still had the severe cold to contend with along the way.

There are 2 types of runners at the Frozen Otter. 1) People who pack the bare minimum, go out fast, and hope that their water doesn’t freeze and nothing causes them to slow down.  2) People who want to be a little more prepared because things always go wrong at these temps, so they start at a slower pace and carry a lot more emergency gear.  I chose the #2 path.  I had experience with frozen hoses and bladders before, as well as my sweaty clothes causing hypothermia when I slowed down.  In my pack I had 2 Liters of Nuun water with an insulated hose, a change of clothes, extra down mittens, my food for 46 miles, hand warmers, vacuum sealed Yeti container, and the required gear (emergency bivy, emergency blanket, whistle, headlamp with extra batteries, cell phone, fire starter, medical kit). In all I would guess my pack weighed 10-15lbs.

26805515_10159799807410394_2446310567768996792_nThe race started at 10 am.  Because I packed extra clothes, I started out at a faster clip knowing I would change at the first turn around spot at mile 23, right when the sun was going down. Right away my nozzle on my hydration pack was freezing, even after blowing the liquid back into the bladder each time I used it.  I was forced to detach the nozzle every time I needed a drink. I eventually was able to keep the nozzle from freezing by keeping the nozzle stuffed between my layers of clothing and closer to my body.  I kept to a strict schedule with food and hydration.  Every mile I took a good drink, every 3 miles I ate 200-300 calories, and every 2 hours I took a salt tab.  I originally planned on eating more at the aid stations, but extended stops were causing my hands to freeze so I stuck to minimal stops along the race.  26733703_10159799807455394_8956338696081112329_nI wished I could have spent more time at the aid stations, since my friends and sis were there to cheer me on.

I was feeling awesome until around 25 when I tripped on one of the many frozen potholes in the mud.  At that point my right knee and ankle started to go downhill.  I was relying more and more on my trekking poles.  This took a toll on my hands and wrists since the ground was frozen.

The timing couldn’t have been more perfect since my first pacer, David, was joining me at mile 30. He pushed me hard and helped me stay optimistic all the way to mile 38.  My buddy Jeff joined me from mile 38 to 46. He helped me focus on the beauty of the race.  The ice on the ground and trees sparkled like glitter from our headlamps.  And the stars were brighter than I’ve ever seen them before.  This was a great distraction from some tough miles. Mile 46 was the aid station for my only drop bag, and the place I stopped last year.  I knew that this would cause a major mental hurdle for me.  But Jeff and my friends helped me focus on changing out of my wet gear, grabbing more fuel, and setting out for the last 18 miles.

The last 18 miles were the most challenging physically and mentally.  I started mile 46 at around 1 am, 15 hours into the race.  Chris was joining me for this leg. He was great with keeping me distracted from the severe pain in my leg and the fatigue setting in.  The ground seemed to sparkle even more bright as the night went on. And it was uplifting seeing a dozen or more people heading back from the last check point, ready to become one of the frozen few. At the last check point, Faith was ready to help me chase the sunrise.  We left just before 5 am, giving me 5 hours to finish the last 9 miles. I knew I just had to keep moving, which was becoming more and more of a challenge. But Faith kept me focused and excited about the beauty of the trails and the finish line. I couldn’t have picked a better pacer to watch the sunrise with on the last leg of the Frozen Otter.  This leg was definitely the coldest, dipping down to -6 degrees. My hands were frozen and I had no interest in my food anymore. But once the sun started peaking over the hills, my spirits were lifted and my pace picked up  (probably not much, but it was all I had left).

IMG_0109One of my best memories of the race was going around the last turn of the race and seeing Steve and Jeff waiting for Faith and I with big smiles on their faces.  I made my way to the finisher area, dropped my trekking poles, and announced my number for the

last time. A group was huddled together and they all welcomed me to the Frozen Few! The race director came over with the coveted Frozen Otter dog tags, and congratulated me on my finish.  It took me just over 22 hours, leaving about 2 hours to spare before the cut off.

#ForTheLoveOfMisery

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Review of the BOCO Gear Run Hat

*Disclaimer: I received a BOCO Gear Run Hat 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!*

Headgear can be tricky.  I’ve been in the middle of a race or a long run when all of a sudden the hat I’ve been wearing the entire time starts to itch or feel uncomfortable. Whether it’s over heating, sweating, lack of coverage or not fitting properly, these are all things likely every runner has experienced with their headgear at some point.

img_38401.jpgI received the BOCO Gear Run Hat several weeks ago to review. The BOCO hat is different than my other running hats.  It is super flexible.  So flexible you can bend and fold it and don’t need to worry about any permanent damage to it. The bill can be snapped up or molded in the more traditional curve. This came in handy when I stuffed my hat into the bottom of my running pack.

I used the BOCO Gear Run Hat during my last two 50 milers.  I appreciated it’s wicking capabilities, especially during the 90 degree race, and that it stayed light weight. The hat kept my head nice and cool, and was breathable the entire race. My second 50 miler I used it over my Buff ®. The BOCO hat has an adjustable back snap feature which made the hat fit comfortably over the extra material.  It also kept the rain out of my eyes the entire race.

And probably my favorite feature of the BOCO Gear Run Hat is that it is machine washable! I’ve been using my BibRave orange BOCO hat a lot lately since it’s hunting season in Wisconsin.  It’s nice that I can throw it in the wash along with my running clothes and it will be ready without any hassle.

Now the next question is, what color BOCO Gear Run Hat should I buy next?

Review of the Bellin Women’s Half Marathon

*Disclaimer: I received free entry to Bellin Women’s Half Marathon 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!*

It’s been a long time since racing a half marathon.  My nerves were already going crazy the day before the race.  I got out of work at 4:30pm, just in time to hurry home, pack the car and the dog, and head up to Green Bay for packet pickup. I was hoping to get into Green Bay in time to partake in the pre-race dinner and festivities, but traffic was a bust going through Milwaukee.  I arrived with 15 minutes to spare before the expo was over.  There were a ton of vendors lining the KI Convention Center.

I quickly viewed some of them before retrieving my packet.   Inside my packet was a cute green long sleeve cotton shirt, a beautifully printed drawstring bag, and of course my bib.

The next morning was race day, with the half marathon starting at 8am. When we arrived, I thought parking might be difficult, but we parked only 1 block away from the start! There were also tons of port-o-potties and indoor bathrooms for people to use.  This is always a plus.  At the start of the race, approximately 1100 people were running the half.

The race ran along the Fox River.  The first half ran south down Broadway street.  We then crossed a bridge and followed the Fox River path north, back to the KI Convention Center.  I especially liked the Fox River Trail because you could see the river to your left and beautiful trees and flowers on the right.  The spectators were also amazing on the last half of the course.  Friends and families followed their runners along the entire course, which isn’t always easy to do.

The last mile was packed with spectators.  I put all the effort I could muster into one last push at the end.  There was no time to look pretty for the camera.  About 20 feet from the finish, I hear the announcer call out my name, calling me into the final stretch. Sprinting to the end was a great feeling, and finishing was an even better feeling! I was very pleased with my finishing time of 1:55:47!

Once I caught my breathe, the real fun began! Instead of a medal, finishers received a Finisher Necklace. Right after the finish, vendor tents were lined up along the river, each with a delicious food or beverage.  Some of the things they handed out were: yogurt parfait, iced tea, non-alcoholic champagne, strawberry shortcake, brownies, chocolate milk, dark chocolate bar, and a bunch more that I didn’t grab.  I eventually made my way to the after-party, where there was a DJ, free massages, and a free beer for every runner. I’ve never been this spoiled after a race, even with a VIP package deal! img_3651.jpg

I hope more people take advantage of this great and well run event in the future. I know I will!