Red, White, Boom and a BBQ!

Disclaimer: I received free entry to the Red White and Boom 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!

July 4th has come and gone, BBQs and fireworks have happened, and I finally knocked off Minnesota off my 50 state half list. Last week, I headed off to Minneapolis for the Red, White and Boom Half Marathon. It was my first half marathon on a holiday and my first weekday half marathon race (it only took 90+ half marathons!). I spent Tuesday getting caught up on adulting (microwave delivered, fuse blown that required an electrician and a worn out Moe the cat).

I flew out to Minneapolis Wednesday morning and got in just before noon. I arrived to some pretty humid MSP weather and Ubered my way over to packet pick up at Summit Brewery in St. Paul (10 minutes from the airport). Had a fun conversation with my driver and who else gets to say packet pick up is at a Brewery?! Pick up was small, which I was ok with. I’m a fan of no frills pick ups where you’re in and out, not pressured to buy anything. They did have some gear for purchase and bib look up. Beer fan? Beer tastings were available too!

I headed over to my hotel in downtown Minneapolis, just a short walk from the start. After checking in, I found some lunch and explored downtown some. I went for a quick shake out run in the hotel because of 90* and humid weather. After some dinner, I hung out in the hotel room for a little bit and went to Whole Foods (because let’s face it, I wish I had one in eastern Washington) to find some pre race breakfast for the 4th. Because of the heat and humidity, the race was good about communicating with us about race updates, which is always appreciated.

Race morning started bright and early. The half marathon started at 630 AM and the 5K started at 6:50. For quite a while, I was worried we were going to get rained on, though we got lucky, in that the rain held off until after noon. Because of the humidity and weather, we actually started out as a yellow flag on the EAS system and runners were given the option to downgrade from the half/relay to the 5K at no cost. While in the starting corrals, I actual ran into Mary Jo (a fellow Bibrave Pro) and we chatted prior to the start. The start was at the Mills Ruin Park and it’s actually in a residential area. The organizers are mindful of the community, so there wasn’t loud music or an MC on the microphone due to it being so early. After the national anthem, we were off and running. We went through West River Park and Theodore Wirth Parkway until you got to Victory Park before making your way back through the streets of Minneapolis. Be ready for some hills the first part of the race (all before mile 6), some fun facts along the way and some fun people and volunteers along the course. By 9 miles in, we were red flagged to run with extreme caution, but overall, us 2000 runners were able to finish. Aid stations every 1.5-2 miles, though with the humidity, every mile would have been nice to have. Something I did miss were something like oranges or bananas, or even sponges. The last 2 miles were back along the Mississippi River where we started with the finish being across the Stone Arch Bridge (lined with flags)

The race finish was hopping and the place to be. It was a big old BBQ and a party waiting for runners to finish. You were met with medals, water, chocolate milk and popsicles at the finish (red, white and blue of course). The post race party was filled with games (corn hole and hanging donut contests), post race recovery, BBQ and a whole bunch of family fun. There was plenty to do for runners, family and friends a like!

Overall, a fun race and a race to look at for Minnesota. Looking for a holiday race with a great post race party?? Come looking at this one! Great communication, good course. I bu wish there were a few more aid stations on course. Be prepared for some humid weather, but be prepared for it in the midwest. Great people, great atmosphere and a fun time

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You Strava, I Strava, We all Strava!

Disclaimer: I received an upgraded membership and swag to Strava in order to review Strava 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!

Strava. You know, that thing people use to keep track of all the activities and all the things. No? Not quite?? I’ve been on strava for the past few years, though have actually been doing more actual outdoor running in the past year to actually be able to utilize it. Not convinced? Take a look at what you can keep track of. Emails once a month after a month wraps up to see how well you did the past 28-31 days or see how you’re doing for the year. Not just a runner? Biking and swimming are options too!

Looking for a way to stay motivated? We all know winter is cold and miserable and summers can be rough (in Eastern Washington, we have fire season, cue the smoke), so challenges are always a plus. Strava has challenges to help keep you going! Distance challenges, climbing challenges, challenges for fun that get you discounts to favorite activity or retail places (Lululemon, good running places, entry into drawings for race entries). Did I mention I got a 25% off discount to a favorite running place for completing a challenge?!?

Another reason to love strava? different ways to support different causes. This month, add a rainbow emoji to your work out title for your runs and your route becomes a rainbow. Get a special badge for completing the #bravelikegabe run on her birthday.

What else to love? Connect with a whole bunch of cool people, get and give encouragement and join meet ups and challenges, see who’s going to certain events and join groups for local/national groups!

Overall, love my strava, will connect it to every Garmin I own to keep an update on my activities (or use the app on my watch). Looking to download the app? Head over here for iTunes/Apple!

 

 

 

Napa Valley Race Week!

Disclaimer: I received free entry to the Napa Valley Half Marathon 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!

I’m heading back to California! Over the winter the past few years, I’ve noticed increased California trips to get out of the winter weather, and the snow that is taking over my yard in Spokane (I’m running out of places to put it! I just finished a 10 day stretch at work and the Napa Valley Half couldn’t come at a better time!

This year, the half marathon is in it’s first year for Napa Valley and I’m so looking forward to it. The course (between the half and the full) has something like 6 wineries on it. Is it wrong to hope they have wine at some of the aid stations?

Big things to look out for this weekend:

1. Follow Napa Marathon on Social Media (Facebook, Twitter and http://www.napavalleymarathon.com) because we’re looking at rain this weekend (seems to be recurring theme for my CA races this year!). Hopefully no course changes though

2. Bib look up: be ready for the expo!

3. Shake out run: good way to get the legs loose: meet up is on Saturday Morning at the Marriott. RSVP here!

4. Don’t forget your bib. Expo happens from 9 am to 8 pm with a whole bunch of fun stuff. Check out what’s happening!

5. Pasta Dinner: get some good carb loading and hear from some awesome runners on Saturday night!

Things to do in Napa:

1. I’m probably spending most of Friday finding some wine in the area, not going to lie

2. Hot air balloon rides

3. Wine train, this sounds kind of fun!

4. For more, head here http://napavalleymarathon.org/race-information/

Hope I catch up with anyone running while there and look for the Bibrave orange!

Race Review Bahamas Half Marathon

I’ve been sitting on this race review for a few weeks thanks to work (the noon to midnight shift really takes a toll on you!), but with the coldness of winter and the Polar Vortex that is the Midwest, I figured it was appropriate to think back on the Bahamas.

I went to Nassau with a friend of mine from residency, because let’s face it, it gets depressing over the winter in the PNW. One can only take the cold so much. I left Spokane on the Wednesday prior to the race. No trip is a trip without flight drama as our flight form SLC to ATL was delayed and we somehow got on a flight from SLC to KC and KC to ATL before making our flight (and grabbing lunch) to Nassau. We spent Thursday and Friday enjoying island life, taking in the rum distillery and the sites of downtown.

On Saturday, after running the Koman 5K, I showered enjoyed some beach time and lunch and then took a cab out to the expo at the Melia Resorts. The big issue I had with the expo was that the only time you could pick up your packet was from 3-7 pm. If you missed it, you were out of luck in a sense. The other issue is that it was at least 3-4 miles from downtown and not close to the start/finish or where anything else was.The expo itself was pretty simple, not a whole lot there. I was in and out in about 5 minutes.

Race day itself started early. At 6 AM sharp. I stayed about a 5 minute walk from Junkanoo Beach, so it was fairly easy to get to. Everyone started together and relay participants were shuttled to their locations if they were points later in the race. Though it started early, it was already warm and humid. You started running towards town the first mile and then went over the bridges to Atlantis before coming right back over the opposite way. We headed towards Montegue Beach before heading back towards town and the start. After 6.5 miles and getting back towards the start, we headed towards the Fish Frye and Melia. You were right on the coast, so you got good ocean views the entire time. About 10 miles, the half marathon did a U turn and headed back towards town. The heat, humidity and early hills took its toll but I finished in 2:20 or so. There was at least water and gatorade every mile or so starting at mile 2, which was so needed. Post race, you got medals, food and water as well as some beach partying. The race itself only had roughly 375 half marathoners, so it’s a good smaller destination race.

Overall, good race, but be ready for some humidity and hills. One thing I’d look at is the expo location as it’s not close to anything. If you’re looking for a good winter get away, take a look at this!

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Bibrave Product Review: Buff DryFlx

Disclaimer: I received a Buff DryFlx and headband to review as part of being a Bibrave Pro. Learn more about being a Bibrave Pro and check out http://www.bibrave.com to review, find and write race reviews.

Buff. ALLLL the Buff. I’ve tried and still use Buff throughout the years and have Bibrave to thank for introducing me to the Buff. It’s one of the few running things that can be used all year in a whole host of ways, and they’ve come out with a new line that I’m excited about.

The Buff DryFlx is lightweight and has a design for cooler outdoor use (read, winter weather in Washington State). Additionally, this design is bright. It’s meant for you to be seen! Warm, lightweight, reflective, what more can you ask for?

Well, there’s the fact it has this 4 way stretch thing going on. And it’s seamless. And UPF 50 Sun Protection….

Because of travel, I’ve actually had the chance to use my Buff in both Washington State (where I’m running in 20-30* weather when I can get outside), and Arizona (currently here for a conference). Ever been to Washington? It gets cold over the winter, so having something that’s lightweight but keeps. You warm is important. I’ve used the buff and the headband, which I love, however, my head is a little small for the headband. It makes a really good wrist version of the Buff though, if you’re looking for ways to help with sweat control!

In Phoenix, it’s been in the 50s-60s, so a world of difference compared to what I’ve been dealing with the last 6 weeks. The lightness of the Buff makes it so you don’t feel it and you don’t feel like you’re overheating either. Additionally, the whole reflectiveness idea makes it so you’re seen (can’t help the people who don’t pay attention).

Overall, love my buff. If there could be some sort of way to get a smaller headband for us small headed people, that’d be awesome, but a great product overall!

Race Review: Smuttynose Rockfest Half Marathon

When one is traveling and also training for a marathon, there often involves searching for races within a decent distance to make sure a long run happens. At the end of September, I was in Boston for a conference. As it stands, the north eastern states are ones I haven’t been able to get to in my quest for half marathons in all 50 states. After some research and looking at feasibility of getting there, I went with the Smuttynose Rockfest Half Marathon in Hampton, NH. Our conference ended on a Friday and after some site seeing and sleep, I headed to the airport where I rented a car and drove just over an hour north to Hampton. I got there shortly after noon and ended up getting some food before picking up my packet at the start/finish area.

Packet pick up was nuts and bolts. They did have an area with shirts, etc for sale, an area for bib pick up and an area for fleece pick up. It was open from 1-5 ish PM the Saturday before the race and race morning. Don’t get your bib, don’t get your fleece, pretty simple. I kind of wish they would have started around 11 or 12 because people were standing around waiting if they got there early. There were some hotels on the beach, though most of them were booked prior to me registering for the race. I stayed about 10 min from the race, which worked out well though.

Race morning, the half marathon started at 8 AM. I got to the start at 715 ish because roads were going to be shut down for the race. I got in a few miles pre race before lining up at the start. We were let loose at 805. The first two plus miles were loops around part of the beach before going out on Ocean Blvd and back. Around mile 5-6, we continued on the beach before heading on to some local roads with trees around mile 9 for a few miles. The last 3 miles or so were along the ocean again and had you finish in town with a party waiting for you at the finish. The course itself was fairly flat. Some inclines over the bridges, though nothing terrible. Aid stations I feel like were a bit off. They were intermittent and there were some I wish that were in the middle of road so you could hit them easier on the way out and back. Water and gatorade combinations

Post race, plenty of entertainment, chocolate milk, beer and food. I couldn’t enjoy the post race festivities though because I had to catch a shower and drive back to the Boston airport.

Overall, a great race though and if you like flat, go for it!

Bibrave Product Review: Under Armour HOVR Sonics

Disclaimer: I received a pair of Under Armour HOVR Sonics 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!

Running shoes. Something where I have what I like and tend to be loyal to them unless the next generation changes and my feet hate me because of it (yes it’s happened!). I had the opportunity to test out a pair of UA HOVR Sonics after Bibrave paired up with Under Armour. I’d been curious about Under Armour in terms of their running shoes for awhile. In all honesty, I have two other different pairs of UA Running shoes, but I use them more for day to day life rather than running. The HOVRs seemed to peak my interest a little bit more.

 

The Sonics have two flavors, as I like to call it: the connected version (that connects wireless to an app and provides a bunch of good info) and an unconnected version. Mine were a black fabric with white sole version of the unconnected Sonics.

The shoe itself is very light with mesh fabric for the shoe and foam soles to help provide some molding to your foot. If you’re looking for a neutral shoe, this is something to look into. It’s also very breathable because of the mesh, which makes running in ridiculous temps a little more bearable and your feet don’t feel like your dying.

I’ve taken my new friends out for some running and have kept it on the shorter end of things, no more than 3-4 miles. Since they’re 8 oz, I tend to forget I’m wearing them. My only concern is I’m thinking I need a little more in terms of arch support while running, so I may need switch out the soles to help me out a little bit. They’re also good for leg day at the gym and lifting (and may have made my trainer a little jealous).

Price wise, the non connected version of the HOVR Sonics run $100 (connected version is $110). They also come in a wide color range (mine are primarily black with some white). Trust me, I plan on having fun with socks with these guys since the mesh is a bit see through on them.

Overall a good pair of shoes, especially if you’re a neutral foot runner. I may need to tweak the soles a little bit, but they’ll be a good pair of shoes for short runs, cross training and to use while out and about!

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