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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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Review of the Orange Mud Transition and Seat Wrap

*Disclaimer: I received an Orange Mud Transition and Seat Wrap 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!*

Factoring in work, other obligations, and a training plan is a stressful balance for me. Usually I have to pack food for the whole day, have several changes of clothes ready in my car, and keep it all somewhat organized. This past month I was asked to test out the Orange Mud Transition and Seat Wrap. I was especially interested in testing out this product because of my chaotic life.

When I first received the Transition and Seat Wrap, I thought “it looks so simple!” The materials is super soft and plush. I could definitely see using it as a towel in the summer after a hot run. It’s also very durable feeling, with a heavy duty zipper on one end, and a plastic hook belt on the other.

The first time I used the Transition and Seat Wrap was to cover my car seat.  Even though it’s cold already in Wisconsin, I still get pretty sweaty after my runs. Having this extra barrier between me and my car seat helped considerably.  I’ve had issues in the past where I drove home after a morning run, and when I got back out to my car in my work clothes, my car seat would still be damp. Or I’d attempt to keep a towel in between my sweaty self and the car seat, but it would always fall down. This product eliminated all of these issues.

Another issue I have had to deal with from time to time is changing clothes in my car.  This has always involved a lot of ducking and hiding, and awkward fumbling with clothing. But when you have lunch plans after hitting the trails, what else are you going to do? The Transition and Seat Wrap definitely helped make this process a lot smoother.  The hook keeps the towel perfectly in place around my body while I change my clothes underneath.  No more awkward car changes for me!

Ultimately I would call the Orange Mud Transition and Seat Wrap a game changer for my crazy busy lifestyle. It hasn’t left my car since I got it!

Lessons Learned Accomplishing the Scoobtober Virtual 10k

*Disclaimer: I received free entry to the ScoobyDoo Virtual Run Series: Scoobtober Virtual Run 5k/10k 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!*

Cooper and I completed the Scoobtober Virtual 10k with a sturdy training program throughout the entire month of October.  Cooper was put through rigorous long runs and strength training….I’m just kidding.  We just had fun with it! We got out and ran about 2-3 times a week on roads and trails. It was great to have a running goal that involved my pup.

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One thing I learned throughout the training is that just like humans, dogs aren’t always 100% ready to run. Cooper is definitely not a “Morning dog” so all our training runs were primarily late mornings or in the evenings after work.img_6953

By the end of the month, we were primed and ready to run the race! Cooper did so well, I think he could have ran another mile with how much energy he still had left! By the beginning of November we were happy to celebrate with our awesome new swag and finisher medals for accomplishing the ScoobyDoo Virtual Run Series!

Training for Scoobtober Virtual 10k with My Pup!

*Disclaimer: I received free entry to the ScoobyDoo Virtual Run Series: Scoobtober Virtual Run 5k/10k 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!*

My pup might love running more than me….this says A LOT! Signing up for a second virtual run with Mr. Cooper was a no-brainer. Cooper did an amazing job at the Doo Good Virtual 5k last month.  This month we are shooting for a 10k! Cooper has run a 10k before, but it has been well over a year. That is why Cooper and I have a training plan. Feel free to join!

Week 1: Run/walk 2-3 miles 2 times throughout the week, Long-run = run another 5k

Week 2: Run/walk 2-3 miles 2 times throughout the week, Long-run = run up to 4.5 miles

Week 3: Run/walk 2-3 miles 2 times throughout the week, Long-run = Run 5 miles

Week 4: Run/walk 2-3 miles 2 times throughout the week, Long-run = Run the Scoobtober Virtual 10k! 

Cooper the “Raining” Champion of the Doo Good Virtual 5k

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

Rain, rain, go away….that is the motto for the month of September. Mr. Cooper and I intended on running the Doo Good Virtual 5k on a specific day after work. But it seems like the weather had a different plan.  Rain got in the way, then a new roof got in the way.  Sadly, Cooper’s Virtual 5k got delayed.

But that’s the great thing about Virtual 5k’s and the Doo Good Virtual 5k in particular.  Cooper and I were able to wait a few days till the weather was perfect for a 5k.  We weren’t forced to run when it was raining Cats and Dogs! In fact, we even had a nice cool breeze, which was a nice change from the hot and humid weather earlier in the month.  We still ended our race with a nice cool dip in Lake Michigan!

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!

Nice Knocks! Review of Knockaround Sunglasses

*Disclaimer: I received two pairs of Knockaround Sunglasses 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!*

Ultra running and working a full-time job has its challenges.  I find myself throwing clothes into a bag early in the morning, just to get some extra miles in after work. So when looking for gear, it needs to be tough and ready to get thrown pretty much anywhere.

I was offered the chance to test out two pairs of Knockaround Premium Sunglasses as part of being a BibRave Pro Ambassador. Sunglasses don’t typically last very long for me because they usually get thrown in my car, in a bag, or stashed away in my running pack.

The Knockaround sunglasses came just in time for a true trial.

My trip to Charleston, NC

I decided to take my sunglasses in my carry-on, figuring I may need them when I get off the plane in Charleston. My quick flight turned into spending 8 hours delayed in the airport. But both pairs made it safely to my destination.

I had 3 hot and sunny days in Charleston to wear my new sunglasses. I went on tours, walked around the city, went to the beach, and even snuck in a short run on the last day.  They were comfortable for all occasions and durable enough to be thrown in my purse whenever I didn’t need them.

Marquette 50k Trail Race

The following weekend, I raced at Marquette50.  This race has 4 peaks all along Lake Superior. The weather was 72 degrees and sunny, ideal for a race in Marquette during August. My Knockaround sunglasses were perfect for climbing to the top of the peaks.  They were comfortable and kept my eyes protected from the mid-day sun.  They also withstood being thrown in my pack for when I didn’t need them in the more forested areas.

 

 

After putting the Knockaround Sunglasses to the test, they held up through all types of conditions, even through a tough ultra race. They were comfortable and could fit on many different face types, including my boyfriend’s big noggin’. Get a pair for yourself with the coupon code on my Discount Page.

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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New Adventures: My First 100 Mile Ultra

*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!*

The weeks of constant planning and anxiety came to an end. Kettle 100 race day was finally here. I couldn’t plan any more and whatever happens, happens. I tried to mentally prepare for every disaster and at the same time prepare myself to take whatever mother nature handed me.

Saturday morning was cool with img_5464-e1529352052692.jpga slight breeze and cloudy.  Pretty much ideal race conditions. I placed my drop bags on the designated tarps, hoping that I had everything I could possibly need. I had some goal times in mind, but at the same time, I just wanted to finish.  It was my first 100 miler after all.

My friend Sarah was also running the race, which was nice to have a running partner for the start. I told her right away that I was going to take the first 64 miles excruciatingly slow. The last thing I wanted was to show up at mile 64, dreading the final 36 miles. Another worry of mine was the bugs.  Trail reports throughout the week warned us that the mosquitoes and ticks were the worst they’ve ever been. So keeping a steady pace was necessary to keep the bugs off, but not too fast that I wear myself out. Good thing I packed my UV Insect Shield Buff®.

The race began at 6 a.m. sharp. Sarah and I started out nice and slow, chatting with some other runners around us. We got to the first drop bag in no time and that’s where things became a bit more challenging.  I was waiting for Sarah, all the while, she thought I had already left and she was trying to catch up to meIMG_5466. Eventually I headed out to continue the race, hoping I’d catch up to her at some point. After the first drop bag, the runners started to disperse considerably.  There would be long stretches of time before I’d see another runner. For the most part I kept to myself, and that’s pretty much how things went for the next 49 miles. I would have quick chats with runners here and there, but nothing substantial.  This was probably the longest I’ve ever run by myself – around 12 hours of running alone. At first when I was 4 hours in to this lonely stretch, I got nervous on what mental state I’d be in once I arrived at Nordic (where my pacers were waiting). But after a while, I kind of enjoyed taking in the trails, going my own pace, and really absorbing everything.

By the time I got to Nordic, mile 64, I was ready for some company.  There was no more IF at this point, it was WHEN will I finish.  I didn’t have a difficult time leaving the transition area like I thought I might.  Probably because I just spent the last 12 hours running alone and couldn’t wait to talk to my friends. It also started to thunderstorm soon after leaving Nordic, which allowed me to focus on something besides the soreness that was setting in my legs and feet.

Miles 70-75 threw a whole other curve ball at me. The rain basically made this section into a major mud pit of technical trails. The leaves from the surrounding trees were sunken down, blocking the light from my headlamp. It was slow, and long, and made me very sleepy. But the last thing I needed was to trip and fall 30 miles from the finish. When the trail opened up just before HWY 12, I felt refreshed and so glad to experience the beautiful sight of the moon and stars shining overhead with my friends.

HWY 12 was the area I was most intimidated by. I knew this section would be difficult to maneuver through at night, especially after already running for 20 hours. I kept my head down and just kept moving. After the mud-apocalypse section, this 4 mile out and back section wasn’t so bad. I was back at HWY 12 in no time.

The Final Stretch

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I had 14 miles left – That’s it! I felt great. The sun was coming out and I felt a burst of energy. Things were going well, and I was keeping a strong pace north of HWY 12, until I started to feel the blisters expanding on the balls of my feet.  They were getting worse by the minute and there wasn’t anything I could do till the next aid station which was over 4 miles away at this point. I had to keep moving because the clouds of mosquitoes were ready to bite if I were to stop.  Because of stupid blisters, I had to change my running form completely, which is never a good idea. The 4 miles felt forever until I finally stumbled to the final crew allowed 34308696_10211835446510308_7385648302189969408_n.jpgaid station – Bluff Road.

There, my awesome crew put mole skin on my blisters.  They wanted to pop them, but even the thought of it made me want to puke. But the moleskin at least gave it a buffer from my socks. Thankfully the final 7 miles I was allowed up to 5 pacers, and without even a second thought, 5 of my best running friends were there to see me finish up this final stretch.

34500183_1743058969093994_5805364065433812992_n.jpgThe last 7 miles didn’t seem real.  It was like I was there on the trails, but not there at the same time. It felt amazing and sad all wrapped together. This event that I’ve trained so hard for would be done in just a few short miles. The last 7 miles, my friends made me laugh – and made me feel slightly embarrassed for reasons that will stay on the trail. It was the perfect ending to this great journey of training for my first 100 mile trail race. I couldn’t have asked for a better crew and pacers. #LiveMoreNow

 

 

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