Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Books # 8-13 of 2015

So I was still busy reading this summer.  Since April, I have read five more books.  I slowed way down on my reading once the weather warmed up.  But, now that I'm a commuter by bus a few days a week, I am able to get some extra minutes of reading in each day.  I'm also getting back into my routine of reading for 15-30 minutes before bed.  Even being 26 weeks pregnant, I am sleeping pretty amazing.  Reading really helps me turn my mind off and slow me down and eventually drift off to sleep.
It appears that many of the books I read this summer were movies I've seen or have an interest in seeing.  I love comparing the book to the movie and the movie to the book.  I love getting inside of the character's heads inside of the book and learning details that you don't see or hear on film.  A Scattered Life is something I picked up for dirt cheap in the bargain bin at the book store.  A couple of these were also great gifts I received for Mother's Day and my birthday.  Otherwise, I tend to borrow my books from our local library.  I'm looking forward to reading many more books this fall as the nights turn longer and cooler.
Books 8-13 of 2015 ....

A Scattered Life by Karen McQuestion

The Dog Year by Ann Garvin

Max - a major motion picture
Paper Towns by John Green

American Wife by Taya Kyle
Wild by Cheryl Strayed

Personalized Running Journal by Journal Menu Review & Giveaway

I was contacted by Journal Menu to review a PERSONALIZED running journal and training log.  I love personalization, lists and data.  So, this really intrigued me.  Previously, I always just wrote my mileage on my calendar and added up my miles at the end of each month.  I also tried an online running log for years, but that simply caused more work.  I would write down my mileage on the calendar and then upload and post weeks worth of data into an online training log. 
First, Journal Menu designed a custom cover based on my online presence and Running Diva Mom theme.  You can customize backgrounds, upload images and logos, personalize with your favorite quote or phrase.  Whatever you need to motivate you and identify with your workout and your goals, you can do it.
These journals are offered for different types of activities:  running, yoga, triathlon, general fitness, and just regular day planners.  They already have tons of great themes available online if you decide not to customize a journal for yourself.  These would make great gifts and stocking stuffers for the athlete in your life, too.
Whether your goal is to run or walk your first 5K or train for you 20th marathon, this log will help hold you accountable.  I still keep a paper calendar and this training log is right up my alley.  I love been able to flip through pages and pages of handwritten notes and detail. 
The running log features a great log to track your goals and your progress with each thing you aim to achieve.  There are also sections for weightloss and tracking your body measurements, if you trying to follow a weightloss program as well.
There are also some great tips on stretching and foam rollers - on how to target specific areas of your body.  There are specific training logs for 5K, half marathon and marathon training/programs.
You can write your own journal entries summarizing races you have completed and what you did or didn't like about the course, race day, weather and brag about all of your accomplishments from that event.
The training log itself is filled with motivational quotes and each day outlines what you ate and drank throughout the day, daily weather, your run type and pace.  This is a great way to see how your diet and your environment affect your workout - at a quick glance.
The last portion of the journal includes some great resources:  pace charts, qualifying times for specific distances/races, and of course - personal records for each distance you run.
As a running coach, I can see a lot of new runners getting easily motivated by logging all of their data in the personalized running journal.  These training logs would be easy to jot notes down at your bedside or in your gym bag.  I can also see some very serious runners loving having all of their running history in one place (not just in their head or on the back of race bibs).  I look forward to using my journal more next year, when I have more events and mileage on my agenda.  This will really motivate me in 2016 after our daughter arrives.
One lucky winner will win a
Personalized Running Journal
by Journal Menu
1 – Become a follower of my blog or already are?!  LEAVE ME A COMMENT
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3 – Visit the Journal Menu website HERE and tell me what you think is fabulous.  LEAVE ME A COMMENT
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5 – Post about this giveaway on your blog, Facebook or Twitter (@RunningDivaMom @JournalMENU  #RunningDivaMom) account. LEAVE ME A COMMENT FOR EACH.
Enter now though Thursday, October 1

[If you would like YOUR product or website featured on Running Diva Mom, please email me at ( runningdivamom at yahoo dot com ) ]
[I frequently review products for active families and am not paid for my reviews.  I do receive free products to review.]

Saucony Ride

New runners often ask me which brand of running shoe is "the best". I always tell them that they should go get fit at a local running store and an associate will watch their footstrike and recommend several options for them in DIFFERENT brands.

For the past few years, I have been a faithful
Saucony runner. I switched from the Mirage to the Ride about a year ago and my feet are the happiest they've been over the past ten years. I ran in Brooks Running for years and have also tried ASICS, Zoot and other miscellaneous brands of running shoes. But, my feet have felt the most supported, cushioned and ache-free in the Saucony Ride.

 What brand/model of running shoe do you wear to help you log all of those miles??

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Taking a Break

Working part-time in an office atmosphere, it is difficult for me to sit at a desk all day.  Luckily I only work 2.5 days per week.  On the days that I take a break for lunch, I make sure that I eat at my desk while I'm working.  I then head outside for my 20-30 minute walk break.  Taking that short time away from the computer and connecting with the outdoors really helps break up my day and reset my afternoon.
I am very fortunate that I have access to several walking paths and trails around my office.  I try to switch up my routes to include sun, shade, hills and beautiful scenery.  Views of Lake Mendota, the shade of the Lakeshore path and inclines in every direction up Bascom Hill make the University of Wisconsin Campus a wonderful place to take a break during my day.
I make sure that I wear my walking shoes to work, so that I don't forget them at home.  I also keep hair ties in my desk, along with things to freshen up - like deodorant, wet wipes, paper towel and perfume.
I really feel that break in the day makes me a better employee for my remaining hours at the office.  I look forward to the time to myself and counting those extra steps on my Vivo Fit is a bonus, too.

25 Weeks Pregnant - 6 miles with the Pup

Well, week number 25 is here.  Only 15 weeks or less to go until the little one is here.  I enjoyed a short family run on Saturday and then took the past two days off of running.  Even though we walked a lot (over 25,000 steps on Sunday), while spectating Ironman Wisconsin.  My back was aching a lot from walking on Sunday and I opted not to get my short evening run in and rest.
Someone is exhausted - this time it isn't me!
September is my favorite month of the year.  I love the change of seasons, the routines that set in and the beauty of life this time of year.  The cooler weather is always welcome, however things are warming up here again.  We have a gorgeous forecast this week.  I headed out for a few miles with the pup this morning.  I was expecting 2-3 miles on our usual route.  But, after my pretty typical painful 1-2 miles, I felt great after 25 minutes.  I don't know what it is about this baby, but .... my LEGS!  My calves are seriously on fire for the first 20-30 minutes of a run.  After that, I'm my normal self again and in my running zone.  I just have to keep reminding myself of that - every single time I head out the door.  The pup and I did a few loops around the neighborhood, he had to stop and pee about um-teen times and we stopped to get him water twice.  It was a really relaxing - and really exhilarating six miles when all was said and done.  I actually could have kept going this morning, but I am also coaching this evening. 

Not a shabby six miles

He has a love/hate relationship with running, too.
I recently loaded a few of my favorite Imagine Dragons tunes onto my ipod and those tunes really kept me pumped during the last couple of miles.  I will be posting a playlist soon.
I just registered hubby and I up for a race this fall.  I felt like I needed something on my calendar to keep me going.  I didn't want to spend money on a 5K and I didn't want to spend excessive fees for a very slow half marathon (not knowing how I'll feel later this fall).  So, I registered us for the Fall 15K (9 is miles) in Madison next month.  It will be a great way to keep me motivated and it will keep hubby refresh his legs after running Lakefront Marathon in Milwaukee in a few weeks.  The best part is that this race is only $15 and fits perfectly with our budget, too.  I've run this race a few times prior.  Parts of it are pretty with the changing of the fall colors and other parts are kind of boring.  But, it will be nice to get out of our neighborhood and race (or something close to racing!).
25 weeks pregnant with #3

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Ten Year Running Anniversary

This week marks my ten year running anniversary.  I can hardly believe it.  I can hardly believe that I have been running that long.  I can hardly believe that there were 25 years of my life that I didn't run.  And hated it.  I can't believe that I was once that shy and intimated little girl that shied away from sports and extra curricular activities.  Now I run marathons.  Anything is possible if you choose to step outside of your comfort zone and try something new.  You can change your life.  And the lives of others, too.
Ten years ago I had a one-and-a-half year old daughter and since then I have been blessed to have one more child and another on the way.  I've been divorced.  I am happily remarried.  I have moved three times in the past five years.  But, running has always been a constant in my life.  It is my therapy.  I have eventually found balance in all areas of my life.  I don't always put myself first on my list of priorities for the day.  But taking a little time for myself usually rates towards the top of the list.  It is important to me - and to my family.  It has always made me a better mom.  And I never regret a run or taking some time for myself (as much mom guilt as I may have sometimes).
Over the past ten years, my new found love of running has inspired me to:

I have completed dozens and dozens of 5Ks
Raced a handful of 10Ks + other mid-distance races
Finished ~50 half marathons
Crossed the finish line of 10 full marathons
Purchased 30-40 pairs of running shoes
Ran ~10,000 miles
Encouraged my husband to start his own running journey
Finished 5Ks with both of my children
Started my blog, Running Diva Mom, six years ago
Started my own business two-and-a-half years ago
Coached more than 600 runners (primarily women and children) to their first 5K and beyond
Provided me with leadership skills
Appeared in two commercials for an athletic store
Appeared in a half dozen local and national magazine publications; wrote several articles on running and parenting
Hosted an annual womens running retreat
Became more comfortable with public speaking
It goes without saying that running has completely changed my life.  I initially started to gain a healthier lifestyle, to lose a little weight and to make some time for myself.  But running has given me so much more.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Running Thoughts at 23 and 24 weeks Pregnant

 Last week marked the 23 mile mark during my pregnancy.  Only seventeen weeks to go!  Only.

I'm finally feeling pregnant and we had some cooler temps near the end of August.  It was blissful outdoors and the lovely weather encouraged me to get out a little bit more.  In fact, my mileage was super consistent and I was able to get some longer runs in, including that half marathon I ran in Madison last weekend.  I rounded out the week with 35 miles.  35 miles at 23 weeks pregnant - I couldn't believe it.  I felt like I had my groove back.  My slow groove.

With Labor Day weekend, the heat and humidity came back.  It was pretty brutal.  I didn't get too many miles in this past weekend.  I did spend a lot of quality time with a family and tried to walk the dog and get out for some sunset runs in the evening.  Those seem to be some of my favorite short runs lately.

Today marks week 24 and only sixteen weeks to go.  The weeks just keep ticking along.  Our baby girl is the size of a cantaloupe.  I've been waiting to get that alert in my inbox for the past several months.  My little cantaloupe is moving around like crazy.  She's super active.  However, I don't feel her when I'm running.  It's still my calves that tighten up and mess with my mental toughness.  The baby bump is not getting in my way at all.  Little Diva and Little Dude have been spending a lot of time talking to their little sister and laying their heads on my tummy.  They both were tickled pink when they finally were able to feel her react to their voices this past weekend.  Those were some precious moments for all of us.

Photos courtesy of Little Diva

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Another Half Marathon while Pregnant

Well, September is here.  I am a little sad and a little excited.  I had an amazing summer with my family and a lot of time with the kids.  We knocked quite a bit off of our bucket list and experienced a lot of new things together, too. 
With the kids back in school only one day, I've already been able to tackle several things on my to do list.  I look forward to getting the house in order and the nursery ready for our baby girl in December.
I also look forward to running more than a couple of miles here and there for myself.  I was coaching 7-8 classes per week this summer.  My coaching is now winding-down for the year, as I only have one class in session right now, along with several virtual and individual coaching clients.  This is going to be a nice way to phase things out when our little girl arrives and running conditions get cold and icy outdoors.  I'm looking forward to having some more me time and developing a consistent running routine for myself again.  The weather has been really warm and humid in Wisconsin this summer and I'm also looking forward to the beautiful weather that September and October bring with it.  This is my favorite time of year to run.  Since running my last full marathon in June (at almost 13 weeks pregnant), my running has been really consistent during my pregnancy - but my mileage hasn't been as significant obviously.  I ran a couple of 10(ish) mile runs this summer, but everything else has been 2-6 miles since the marathon.
This past Sunday, my husband and I were sick of running circles around our neighborhood.  BORING!  So, we headed down to Machinery Row, near the Monona Terrace in Madison.  We loaded up the cooler and parked the car near the lake.  He is training for the Lakefront Marathon in Milwaukee in October and I am just training for me.  He always likes to hang with me, but I insisted that he go on ahead.  I wasn't sure what kind of pace I'd be able to hold up and how many potty breaks I would need.  So we agreed to meet up in two and a half hours after we each completed our own out-and-back route on the Capitol City Trail.
I again had excruciating pain in my calves during the first two miles.  This has been a problem for me during most of my pregnancy, which is probably why most of runs are around the 5K distance.  If I push past it and through the pain, it goes away.  This is what happened to me again.  By mile two, the pain was gone and I was consistently running around an 11:20 min/mile.  I sometimes wonder if it has to do with the leg cramps that I always get at night while I sleep (Charlie horses). 
I stopped at a hotel to use the restroom and at the campground along the train on the way out and the way back to use the restroom.  I really do forget that I'm pregnant while I'm running.  Other than the urge to use the bathroom.  I don't feel my belly bouncing up and down or feel all that heavy.  My pace is slower than usual, but I don't really need to take walk breaks.  And I didn't. 
I took a gel at mile five and again at mile ten.  I listened to my tunes as I ran along the lake and left busy downtown Madison on the Capitol City Path and headed into a more rural area and countryside.  I was passed by tons of cyclists out enjoying the beautiful Sunday morning.  I also encountered a few other (female) runners out on the path.
When I returned to the lake I was almost at mile 12 when my husband snuck up behind me as he finished his run.  He was approaching 15 miles.  My goal was to only do 10 miles that day, but I was already approaching 12.  I figured that this may be one of the last times I could accomplish the half marathon distance during my pregnancy, so I gave my husband my key fob out of my handheld water bottle.  And, I told him that I would be continuing on for another mile, to finish with 13.1 miles.  And that's what I did.  I ran past the car, out a half mile and finished with the final half mile at the marathon mommy minivan. 
I did it.  Baby girl and I completed another half marathon at almost 23 weeks pregnant.
I also reached an all time high on my Vivo Fit for the number of steps I walked/ran for the day.  I received it for my birthday in July.  I am super proud of moving close to 40,000 steps in one day - while pregnant.  The only thing is, now it just ups my average daily goal.  Goals are good, though.

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Running during my second trimester

This pregnancy has been an amazing journey so far.  At almost 23 weeks I am still feeling great and I am still running.  I am finally looking pregnant and I feel our little peanut moving around in there.  My husband felt her kicking last night and that was the most moving experience for me.  It turned an ordinary Friday night into something extraordinary.  I teared-up several times while his face lit up.  Having this baby has changed our lives and our relationship in so many ways.  Just when I think we couldn't have a more solid relationship, something has brought us even closer.  For that, I am grateful.  I adore having him help me raise my children and cannot wait for him to have the experience of raising a child of his own ... of our own.
As I mentioned, I have still been running.  Not very fast.  Not as far.  But I am still running.  I took about six days off of running earlier this month to regroup and pull life back together.  But, regrouping has brought running right back with it.  It's so easy to just say the heck-with-it and give it up.  But, I need it.  Running is a part of me now.  I am so grateful that I have this gift and am able to feel like myself while I am pounding the pavement.  I can feel tired and lethargic after work, but then I put on my running gear and head out the door with my ipod and I feel like myself again.  I am reenergized.  I usually forget I that am pregnant while my belly bounces up and down and I can't see my running shoes beneath me.
I purchased my first pair of maternity running capris (pictured above) today at Motherhood Maternity!. I have been wearing all of my standard running capris up until this point, but I have a feeling that they will soon be too snug over my baby belly. And, I don't want them to be too stretched-out for post-pregnancy running.

Maternity activewear is REALLY hard to find - especially at a reasonable price. Luckily, I snagged the only pair of marked-down capris off of the clearance rack. I was surprised at how shocked the sales clerks were that I am still running and being active. They actually asked me if this was approved by my doctor.
This morning I crushed five miles around town with my husband.  This was coming off of a 5am run yesterday morning, with clients over five miles.  My pace is nowhere near where it use to be.  However, I was still able to pull off negative splits this morning.  A 9:40 mile - really??!!  I really pushed my last mile while I got my breathing in a rhythm with my footwork and my tunes.  I felt amazing as I wiped my brown afterwards.  I am way prouder of these miles lately than of anything I've accomplished over the past ten years.  It just proves to me that I can do anything I put my mind to.  And I want to show my clients that they can do it, too.  Life really begins when you get off the couch and move your body.  You don't have to move fast ... you just have to go.   I have approximately ten miles on tap for tomorrow morning.  I'm looking forward to trying out those new maternity capris!
At 22 weeks, our baby was the size of a banana.  I was hoping for something more like a cantaloupe (based on my tummy), but she must be well-cushioned in there!  She's healthy and active in there.
I was diagnosed with gestational diabetes during my previous two pregnancies (once around 26 weeks and the other around 12 weeks).  So, I'm really hoping that my new, active lifestyle has kept me healthy and keeps her healthy as well.  I have already been tested once for diabetes in the first trimester and will have my final testing in a few weeks.  I am really crossing my fingers that I can avoid it and experience a pregnancy without it.
Until then, I will continue to lace up my running shoes and be the best version of me that I can be ...

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Tips for Running in the Heat

           Modify your workout with run/walk intervals

           Bring a water bottle filled with ice water to run with

           Bring an extra bottle of ice water to drink while you are stretching after your workout

           Wear light-colored clothing

           Wear tank tops and shorts

           Wear wicking/breathable clothing and avoid cotton

           Wear your hair up

           Wear a baseball cap or visor for shade

           Wear sunscreen

           Bring a hand towel for after your run

           Choose a route where you can run in the shade when you can

           Run early in the morning or at dusk if you can

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Balini Sports Apparel Review

I received some fabulous apparel from Balini Sports to review recently.  I sent them my measurements and my standard size.  However, with my growing belly, I wasn't sure I was going to be able to squeeze into their apparel before the end of the year.  Wrong!  I squeezed right in.
When I looked at their apparel online, everyone pictured was fit and trim and pretty thin.  I honestly wasn't sure if their apparel was going to be a good fit with my curvy, mamas body (that is now expanding more day-by-day with #3).  However, I really (REALLY) like their stuff.  Some of their pieces are a little too revealing for my personality and body-type.  However I think they are adorable for someone that is willing to flaunt what they've got.
These Yogini Yoga Capris are amazingly soft.  I was sent a size 8 and typically wear a size 8 pant.  These are available in five sizes from XS to XL and are available in black or purple.  The purple were something really fun for me to try.  I also love mixing and matching my bright running gear with contrasting colors, so I paired it with a great top.  I honestly couldn't get over how soft they were. 
About the capris:
Yogini Yoga Capris is designed with comfort in mind, it comes in 2 colors.  Royal Purple and Black.  Stylish active wear yogi pants wrinkle gathering provides a simple elegance that adds a touch of sophistication to your workout.  If you practice hot yoga you need these yoga capris in your collection. Our yogini slim capris is designed for high performance, lightweight design, and rapid drying for maximum comfort in even the longest hot and bikram yoga sessions.  Four way stretch for your practice, 1 second moisture wicking,  Nylon Spandex for extra softness, flat lock gusset to avoid camel toes.
I loved the detail on the sides of the waist band and the gathering at the bottom of the capri.  It was really flattering and comfortable.  These were super light and airy and perfect for a warm day like today.  These capris are geared towards yoga.  However I decided to take them out for a run.  They fit great and were comfortable while walking.  However, as I started to pound out the miles, I was complaining (and giggling) to my husband as I had to keep pulling them up over my belly and my sides during our first mile.  I thought I may have to cut the run short and head back home to change (or not continue our run).  However, after a mile in and my big belly was sweaty they pretty much stayed in place for the last three miles and were comfortable during my remaining miles.  Since I needed more room over my belly, I also hiked up the bottom of the capris, so that I would have more room at the top of the pant.  I love these and hope to get a lot more use out of them next year, when I'm not pregnant.  They are adorable and super flattering.  The capris retail for $69.99 online.
I also tried out the Miranda Sport Bra.  I was sent a size 6 bra and typically wear a medium or large size sports bra.  Again, this bra comes in both black and purple - to match the capris and also comes in five different sizes.  This bra retails for $45.99 online.

About the bra:
Miranda Yoga Bra is the improved version from our best-selling Miracle Yoga Bra, our new design gives a firm lift without wires that feels as good as it makes you look.  After multiple revisions resulting from rigorous testing, we replace our stretch band with a specially engineered fabric that produces the same level of support without restricting your breathing. Women with enhanced breasts find they want to wear this bra inside the studio and out because the superior level of comfort and support.  We are proud to say this is the best yoga bra ever created.
This bra is again geared towards yoga, but I absolutely loved it for running.  It gave me some lift and I even received a nice compliment from my husband while running!  The bra wasn't restricting at all, yet I felt comfortable and in-place.  It is super soft and there is a removable padded liner inside.  I wasn't sure if I would like the criss-cross style for running and intense cardio, but it worked perfect.  I also wasn't sure if I would like the bra closure in the back, as I don't typically run with sports bras with this style.  But it didn't bother me in the least.  I felt so comfortable in fact - that I'm willing to post this belly picture (above)!!

Balini Sports:  http://balinisports.com/
Balini Sports on Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/BaliniSports

For Two Fitness - Maternity Tank

I local mother runner no longer needed this adorable maternity running tank.  I am so touched that she thought of me and sent it my way.  I have had this tank from For Two Fitness for a couple of weeks and it arrived right when my waistline was starting to expand - as I started my second trimester.  Now I'm in week 15 and have already sported this tank a least a half dozen times.  It is so soft and comfortable and is super long, flattering and fitted at the sides.  I love this maternity tank and can't wait to purchase more!  I receive so many great compliments on it at races and group runs.  It makes me even more proud to be an expectant mother runner.
For Two Fitness - http://fortwofitness.com/
For Two Fitness on Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/ForTwoFitness

Thursday, June 25, 2015

2015 Grandma's Marathon Race Report

We made the five hour drive north to Duluth, Minnesota for Grandma's Marathon this past weekend.  We drove up on Friday and stayed through Sunday.  We registered last fall and had a difficult time finding a hotel already at that time.  And did I mention that the rates were through the roof?!  We paid close to $200/night to stay at a decent hotel in Superior, WI, just across the bridge and state line.  It worked out well, as all of the local hotels had shuttles to the start line on Saturday.  This hotel was also dog-friendly, so we were able to bring along our new pup.  The hotel was the Bestwestern Bridgeview Motor Inn and it turned out to be much nicer accommodations than I had expected.  The lobby was all decorated for the marathon and the hotel staff were dressed in Grandma's Marathon gear and super helpful and accommodating.
After checking in at the hotel, we drove to packet pick up at the expo - just a few miles away.  Parking was $5 and traffic was backing up because the 5K was being run on Friday evening.  We went inside and the sea of runners coming out of the expo was amazing.  We made our way back to packet pick up.  We didn't receive shirts, because we would be receiving our finishers shirts at the finish line of the race.  We walked around the modest size expo, but didn't purchase anything.  I could have easily blown hundreds of dollars on Friday, but I am currently in penny-pinching mode.
On our way out, we were discussing where to grab some pasta.  The expo's pasta dinner was $12 and unlimited.  We decided to stay and participate.  The photo below doesn't grasp just how many tables were full of runners and their families and friends enjoying this carb-loading experience.  It was really amazing and fun.  We had our dog bag at the hotel and didn't want to waste time driving around town looking for somewhere to find some pasta.  So, this worked out great.  We received unlimited spaghetti, bread, Caesar salad, wafers, Ben & Jerry's ice cream, popsicles, bottled water and white or chocolate milk.  I thought it was a great deal.  It was also fun to sit around with other runners that we didn't know and chat running, racing, strategies, goals and ... weather (ugh!).
We got our running gear out and headed to bed around 9:00 and watched tv until 10:00.  Unfortunately, I was obsessing so much about the race that I couldn't turn my mind off - typical.  I tossed and turned until midnight.  The forecast had been for rain on Saturday morning - just Saturday morning.  The rest of the weekend in Duluth looked great.  From 7:00-11:00 am thunderstorms were predicted from 80-100%.  I must have slept at some point, because I do remember dreaming.  But then I kept waking up worrying that my alarm wouldn't go off at 4:45 am.  I ended up getting up again before the alarm went off and started to get ready.
Hubby took the dog for a quick walk.  Breakfast was served at the hotel starting for runners at 4:30 am on race day.  We were able to stop by shortly after 5:00 am.  I enjoyed oatmeal, mini donuts and yogurt, and apple juice.  I have trouble chewing before a big race.  Later during the race, I wished I had tried some protein (sausage, peanut butter, something) to help keep me full.  This would also be my first race without any caffeine, as I was twelve weeks pregnant.
We quickly boarded a bus to head north to the startline.  Buses were coming into our hotel parking lot as soon as one was full.  It was super convenient and very well orchestrated.  The bus was full and dark from the cloudy skies.  Soon it started misting and as we got to the startline, the rain got heavier.  Our bus had to wait in a long line to park.  The lines at the port-o-potty lines were already looking lengthy and the crowds were in mass.  Many of the runners had garbage bags or ponchos - something we failed to bring with us.
 And then we headed to the dreaded bathroom lines.  There were so many bathrooms, however it was extremely disorganized as lines were overlapping and not moving.  Our line seemed to be the slowest of course, as we stood line for 45 mins.  The rain started and got heavier and then it just downpoured.  There was now where to go and nothing you could do about it.  We were standing on soggy ground, our shoes and socks were soaked, our clothes were drenched, my hair looked like I just got out of (or was in) the shower.  It was miserable.  And it was cold.  Temperatures were in the mid-50's - and it was wet.  Body temperatures cooled down quickly.  I chewed my sleeve of Shot Blox while my clothing got wetter and wetter.  We opted to get out our long sleeves from our sweat bags and put those on - I was so relieved we brought these along.  Mine was a zip-up, his was not.  Hubby then dropped our sweat bags in the designated areas - again very well organized. We had a few folks in front of us as the National Anthem was sung. And then I ran into the port o potty for relief and cover.  I quickly ran back out and hubby and I discussed the possibility of not running and heading back to the hotel.  However, all of the buses seemed to be gone.  There was a passenger train adjacent to the startline, but you needed tickets to ride it back and forth.  I asked in the medical tent where our first option would be to drop out, if we decided we could not continue.  She didn't know.  OK, one mile at a time.
We headed to the startline. My teeth were chattering.  The girl next to me had blue lips, her tank top looked miserable and her teeth were chattering uncontrollably.  Soon the race started and five minutes later, we were to the startline.  Here we go.  Oh lord, help me.
The route was considered pretty flat, except for a small incline that was talked about at mile 22.  The route is pretty much one straight shot, minus the twists and turns through downtown Duluth during the last few miles.  We ran along much of the same highway the entire time - with the lake to our left and the forest to our right.
We were thinking that we may stick together, but then again maybe not.  Hubby was worried about me being pregnant and said that he thought he would stay by my side.  I kind of wanted to run solo, however I felt safer with him by my side.  My fastest marathon time is 4:02 with my first marathon time being 4:37.  Typically, I am able to run a 4:10 for 26.2 miles.  This would be my tenth marathon and my husband's fifth.  He is a lot faster than me in the half marathon, but I have more endurance in the marathon and am able to keep my pace pretty consistent until the end.  Since I was planning on running this race really slowly, we were hoping that our paces would coincide.  I was aiming for about an 11 minute mile for this race, assuming I may slow down to a 12 min + mile with some walk and potty breaks.
I was clocking in the first couple of miles at 10:30-sub 11:00 min miles.  Faster than expected.  At mile four, hubby and I were still running together.  We both said we had to use the bathroom.  There were 2-3 port o potties at approximately every mile marker.  However, the lines were 5-8 people deep and I wasn't interested in waiting in line.  He ducked into the woods along with all of the other men doing so.  I kept trucking on, knowing that he would catch up with me.  And he did.
Finally at mile 7, I found a stop with bathrooms and only a couple ladies in line.  We used up 2:30 while I made this stop - and then we were off.  My clothes were still soggy and it was difficult to reassemble myself.  Luckily, my shoes were drying out as well as my socks.  They were still wet, but not soaked.  It was still raining on and off for the next several miles.  The drizzle felt good and at mile 13 it stopped - completely.  The sun came out and it got humid.  At mile 13 there was a sea of dozens upon dozens of port o potties.  I couldn't figure out why there were so many, but took advantage of one.  Later, my runner-brain realized that this was where the half marathon runners started a couple of hours ago (they got a very early start to the morning).  The lack of lines was welcomed! 
I then hit a wall. I already felt like my legs were buckling and like I was barely moving.  I expressed my disgust to my husband and told him to go on ahead.  He had a ton in the tank and I had nothing.  I was running with tunes and he was not - which made me feel like we were running separately even though he was alongside me.  But I needed the motivation from the music to keep propelling forward.  He seemed to almost be running in place to keep up with me.  I was mad at myself and not in a good place.  I was reflecting on my awesome training earlier this spring, and then the light mileage I'd been completing the past month since the pregnancy became a reality, I was thinking about the baby, the weather - my attitude stunk.  And I was HOT.  The humidity and the cold ground were causing a fog and mist to come from the ground.  I could see the same with my breath.  And I had to get this long-sleeve zip-up OFF.  I ran while taking off my race bib and eventually handed my water bottle over to my husband, while I replaced my bib number on my short sleeve shirt underneath.  I tried tying my jacket around my waste - but it must have weighed 4-5 pounds.  It was so heavy and this just wasn't going to work.  My husband tried tying it around his waist, but he agreed that it was just too much - it was falling down and would eventually be around our ankles.  I insisted that he throw it to the side of the road, with all of the other jackets, shirts, ponchos and garbage bags.  So we did - one of my favorite (cheap) running jackets.  But I felt so much lighter and dryer without it. 
I grabbed a wet sponge at the next water station and a cup of ice.  It was just what I needed.  I told my husband that I wasn't going to talk for awhile (not that we were anyway) and I cranked up my tunes.  I opted to find some slower, motivational songs instead of the upbeat Top 40 and rap that I typically use to push me.  That was just what I needed.  I got into a rhythm and into a comfortable pace.  But more importantly - my mindset was great and was going to do this.
The water stations were coming up one after another after another.  They were every other mile, but they seemed to be flying by quickly, as each mile passed.  At each water station I was grabbing some blue wild berry Powerade and at several towards the end, I would also grab a cup of water to refill my handheld water bottle.  I consumed four Honey Stinger energy gels during the race - taking them at miles 5, 10, 15 and 20 - just as planned.  I tend to sip on them for an entire mile and then down some water.  My plan always works well for me.  At one station I enjoyed some orange slices.  They also offered fresh strawberries later on. 
I made another quick potty break around mile 17.  There were no lines at the later bathrooms after the half marathon point.  I had never used a restroom during a race ever - and today my plan was just to stay comfortable and enjoy the experience as much as I could and keep baby comfortable as well.
At mile 19, I knew that mile 20 was right ahead.  Mumford and Sons, "Below my Feet" came on my ipod and I played it twice consecutively.  This song always is just what I need at the right time.  It moves me - sometimes uncontrollably.  I started crying.  The words, the music, the movement.  It all gets me.  Hubby asked what was wrong. I couldn't talk.  He asked if they were good tears, bad tears, what was happening.  I was just moved and couldn't believe that I was approaching mile 20 of my tenth marathon - pregnant, with my husband alongside me.  I was doing this.  Looking back ten years ago, I never imagined that I would run a 5K, let alone 26.2 miles.  I was doing this and no one was doing it for me.  I was so grateful that I changed who I once was - shy, intimidated, inactive.  Now I was going to be a ten time marathoner.  This was me.  The new me.
Hubby grabbed a beer from some spectators that were having fun along side the road.  He also had the energy to toss a football back and forth with another group around mile 22.  I was happy he was feeling so good as we headed into downtown Duluth.  There were spectators along the entire course, however the downtown area brought out the most of them.  At mile 22, the 5:00 pacer passed us andI picked up some speed.  I kept looking back the last few miles and told my husband that my goal was to stay in front of her.  Around mile 24, he started complain about his legs buckling and hitting some sort of a wall.  We kept moving one foot in front of the other. I looked back and couldn't see the balloons from the 5:00 pacer.  We were really picking up pace.  We headed down towards Lake Superior to do all of the final twists and turns of the race.
Race photographers were snagging photos of  us coming into the final stretch.  As we were in our final half mile, the song "Timber" came on my ipod and a dog that looked just like our dog, Timber, was standing with spectator to our right.  I pointed the pooch out to my husband and thought that it was a sign of some sort - either he has destroyed our hotel room, or that was the motivation I needed to move forward in these final moments. 
We could hear the finish line and then soon we could see it.  We grabbed each others' hands and propelled forward to the finish line, even passing a few people.


And there it was, the finish line.  We had made it.  26.2 miles - together the entire time.  My pace had been exactly what I was hoping and I finished in less than five hours, as I was secretly hoping.  I was so proud of my husband and always appreciate his commitment to me and to this sport.
Finish time:  4:52:58
11:11 min/mile pace


I stopped my watch and walked towards the volunteers. I cried as the man placed my finisher's medal around my neck.  A woman then handed me a flower and we then grabbed our finisher's shirts - which is now one of my favorites.
The results that Grandma's Marathon provides you with are incredible.  I have never seen such detailed information.  Usually I place in the top half of the race.  This was a different race - but I was just as proud.  Overall, my pace was pretty consistent - even with four potty breaks.  We figured we used up about ten minutes in the bathrooms and lines.

We hobbled on over to get our sweat bags.  Ouch.  I hate nothing more than the 5-10 minutes post marathon.  It hurts - terribly.  But the trick is to stretch and then keep moving.  Hubby wanted to get going, because he was cramping up and it was getting cold, cloudy and raining again.  And we had nothing warm to put on in our sweat bags now that we ran in our long-sleeves.  We ran over to the refreshments - they had several tents.  I enjoyed some chocolate milk and greek yogurt.  It really hit the spot.  They also offered the usual bagels, fruit, fresh strawberries and much more - oh yeah, and beer.  We also both received beer tickets but didn't use them.  We headed back to find the shuttles/buses for the hotels.  They weren't well marked, as we wandered back to find them.  We eventually got on a bus to Superior and headed back to the hotel. 
After I took my shoes off, I realized that my feet weren't as dry ad I thought they were.  Our feet were puffy and white and the existing blisters on our feet were white and water-logged.  I also received a new badge of honor, another blister under and around my left foot.   I will also thank the rain for that.
We grabbed the dog and headed to Little Caesars for a cheap pizza, breadsticks and some wings which we enjoyed in the hotel room.  We didn't end up eating much actually.  After a big race like that, one would think you'd have this huge appetite, but you don't always.  I showered up - which felt amazing - minus some minor chaffing.  And soon, we passed out and the dog and I both slept the entire afternoon away.
After our nap, we cleaned up and headed back down to the finish line area.  I took some photos of the area we ran through the last mile.  I enjoyed it much more and observed more this time around.  There was also a concert going on that night and a lot of post-race partying going on.  It was a really fun, hip area.  We walked with the dog around the boardwalk area and after awhile my legs were feeling great again.  It was just what we needed.


Proudly sporting my Grandma's Marathon finisher's shirt - approaching 13 weeks pregnant and the second trimester.