Why We Run so Much Better on Race Day vs Training + Haircut + What happened?!

I’ve got a lot to talk to you about today so I’ll keep this first portion pretty short.

8 miles @ 8:45 pace with VERY sore calves from Saturday.  I don’t think my calves have felt this sore in years… WHAT HAPPENED (taper phantom pains probably).

He ran next to me for a few seconds so I took a picture of him.

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I listened to this podcast and it was SO inspiring.  Roberta is PRing left and right while being an amazing mom and nurse.  I love how she balances everything and how she is not letting her age hold her back.  I can’t wait to see what she does in New York soon.

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We did the school thing.

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Andrew has a sore throat and a bit of a cold so I’m taking this stuff like crazy!

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Skye likes to inform me that she is full by tossing her plate of the rest of her meal directly to the ground in a matter of 2 seconds.  Beretta enjoys this new game.

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I had my sister’s girls over after school and Skye was eyeing their cookies.

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Tacos for dinner…

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Hanging out on the ground as much as possible.

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And Skye had her first haircut:)  It freaked her out a little bit but Heather did an amazing job.

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I’ve got 6 miles to get done!

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Have you ever wondered how in the world we are supposed to run 26.2 miles in a race when our training has only gone up to 20 miles?  Or why our bodies can jump up to a half-marathon distance when we have only gone up to 9-10 miles for our long runs on the weekends?

For my marathon I am going to be running 26.2 miles at a 6-something pace and I’ve only gone up to running that same pace for 13 miles in training—>  BUT I know that my body is capable of going DOUBLE that distance on race day… so how does it happen?  How does race day help us to perform faster and endure longer than we do during our training?  Well, there are a few reasons and they are pretty awesome:

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(Picture above from my PR half-marathon where I ran faster for the 13.1 miles in a row compared to the mile repeats (WITH BREAKS) that I did leading up to it).

*Race day adrenaline.  You’ve worked hard to get there, you are surrounded by hundreds/thousands of other runners, music is playing, excitement is building and the adrenaline kicks in… That adrenaline that your body releases can help you feel stronger, faster and even more energetic than your pre-race caffeine shots;)  (Source for below quote)

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*The fatigue adds up during the hard weeks of training.  So yes, you aren’t running 26.2 miles in one shot during training but the weeks combined together make it so that you CAN do 13.1 or 26.2 or miles during the race.  20 miles done on TIRED legs makes it so that 26.2 miles on fresh legs can happen.  During training you are doing your long runs/workouts on tired legs from all of the miles/intervals/tempos/hills just days before.  The taper gives you those fresh legs that just feel spectacular during the race.  (Below from Deena’s book).

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*You have all of these runners around you during the race doing hard things which helps you to then do hard things.  I think that makes it a lot easier vs those solo miles out on your run!  This running community… it’s something else.

*Along with having a bunch of runners all around you, if you are a competitive person… that might fuel your flame even more which will help you to perform even better!

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*Spectators.  Unless you have spectators during your training runs then this is an awesome benefit that kicks in just on race day.  People cheering me on during a race always gives me a pep in my step.

*Races are just more fun than training (IMO) which can help you do better.  People might dress up, there is a post-race party with smoothies and fresh fruit that motivate you to get to the end quickly, there are funny signs for you to see as you run by, kids giving you high fives… Races are just really fun.  There are a lot of distractions at races to keep your mind thinking about other things than your legs feeling tired.

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*Course support.  It’s the best.  Somebody handing you water and gatorade.  People handing you gels at certain points on the course?  Popsicles and cold towels being passed out towards the end?  Bags of ice available for you during a hot race (ps trust me on this and put it in your sports bra… it is life changing).  A porta potty on the side of the road right when you need it?  It’s so nice to have all of that support and that helps us to do even better!

*We save our best for race day.  We save our best music (make a specific race day only playlist), our best outfits/shoes and our BEST EFFORT.  During training we aren’t supposed to go too deep into the pain tunnel.  We aren’t supposed to give our absolute 100% because we save that effort for race day.  Go crazy and enjoy the pain that we love when the races comes:)

*The taper always helps me to really prioritize sleep and nutrition more than I do during training and that will of course help you feel your best during the race.

*Your glycogen levels are topped off and ready to go.  Just think of yourself as a car.  We run so much better when our tanks are topped off with gas (aka glycogen).  Things just run so much more smoothly and faster.  The week of the race I take more time to really think about the best ways I can fuel up for my race (which let’s be honest, doesn’t always happen as a mom).  Also, It is important to keep that tank filled with gas as you are going along to avoid hitting that wall too hard… start fueling early on.  I will be taking my first huma at mile 5 (sharing my full nutrition plan tomorrow).

So, there ya have it.  Do the training, trust it and then sit back and relax during the taper and don’t worry about it… these race day benefits get us to those goals of ours!

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What things on race day help you to perform better?

I would love to hear any experiences that you have had where you have raced much better than your training went?  

Random—>  Our baby monitor broke and we need a new video monitor… I would love to hear your recommendations!

Tell me a random interesting fact about you, please!

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49 comments

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NEST CAM! It’s seriously the best. You can watch your kids, talk to them and even hook it up to things like smoke alarms and the thermostat.
I really only started training hard and racing in the past couple of years, but I definitely noticed a huge difference once I started to recover better with slower easy runs and less workouts. I used to have no problem hitting paces in workouts but then I could never do it during the race! I didn’t get the concept of saving it for race day! I was pretty shocked when, recently, I did a 7 mile tempo run that felt really hard and then raced 13.1 at a faster pace! It was so fun to race well–and the little things like, water, gatorade, competition, helped so much!

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Okay, this is so good to hear because we’ve been looking into the Nest Cam… thank you Mollie! YESSS oh I love this so much! HUGE CONGRATS on rocking that half marathon. Have a wonderful day Mollie and thanks so much for the help!

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Yes! It’s so crazy to me that we can race so much faster and for longer than in our training! When I got my PR in the half, I was starting to get pretty tired leading up to the race and not always hitting the splits I needed to in my tempo runs. But, come race day, I was ready to go! And you’re so right—the spectators and racers around us definitely help add to the fuel and adrenaline that we already have going on race day. It’s especially nice when you have your people out there cheering for you!

Random fact: I can sing the alphabet backward faster than I can sing it forward.

Have a great day, Janae! Hope that Andrew feels better SOON!!

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REALLY!?! Okay, that is pure talent Natalie… I’m going to try to learn how to do that:) Yes yes yes about your pr half!

Thanks Natalie and I know your day is going to be great:)

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When ever I start wondering how I’m going run a longer distance during the race when I’ve only run about half that before I remind myself of my rule that if I can run 3 miles, I can do 6. I feel like that’s true for just about any runner!

I love racing and I feel like it’s a big part of why I love to run. I love getting excited for the race and even a little nervous. I love the atmosphere and the feeling on race day. I love the people you meet. So many awesome things!

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YES… I love that rule, so good! I hope that you get to another race soon! You did so amazing on your half. HOW IS YOUR KNEE!?

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I haven’t even tried running for around 3 weeks. I feel like it should be getting better, but I’ve also been kind of a slacker on cross training and strengthening it so I’m not sure where I’m at with it haha.

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You have been so smart to take time off. I hope you are back soon!!

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Hey Janae~
This was all great stuff to read! I have a “tune up” half marathon this weekend to prep for my marathon, and I’m looking forward to it. I”m not sure what my plan is from my coach yet—racing? workout? strategy? It is 2 UP/the race/and then 2 down for 17 total–my longest run so far this training cycle. But, the race is in Ocean City, NJ, a beach town that I spend some time in every summer, so it’s kind of like a second home, and the volunteers/water stations sound amazing. They make it a competition to see which station can cheer the most/have the best theme! And, get this, you get a DOUGHNUT when you cross the finish line! Beach doughnuts are THE BEST! I”ll be thinking of you. ha ha

Random fact—I have two sisters, but they’re 10 and 12 years older than me! I”m actually closer to my oldest sister—it doesn’t even feel like there’s an age difference. :)

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JEN!! I can’t wait to hear about how your half goes this weekend (aka you better report back about it haha)! I LOVE when I have a race mixed into a long run/workout. It makes it so fun and fly by! I want to come do this race… maybe meet you there next year? Oh I love that you are so close with your sisters… my siblings are all a lot older than me and we don’t even notice the age difference too (well, at least I don’t;) Have a beautiful day Jen!

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Music on the course–a DJ or a band playing a great song–can really help perk me up during a race. It is really amazing how we can push through and endure so much during a single run based on training!

One year during marathon training, my legs were in agony during one of my long runs. I never figured out what happened that day, but each running step felt like running on broken legs. When I ran my goal race I had not only a PR, but my only BQ!
Wonder if your slippery socks had something to do with your sore calves?

Not sure how interesting it is, but a random fact about me is that I’ve never been a bridesmaid, only a bride!

Sending you resistance vibes to keep Andrew’s cold germs at bay!

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Oh I forgot about that… yes, when there is a band on the course it pumps me up big time! Corey, that is awesome! Okay, you are brilliant… thank you for piecing that together, it must have definitely contributed to my calves problem. That is interesting, usually the saying is the opposite. Thank you and I hope your day is a great one!

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When I did run I always enjoyed the races WAY more than the training. Must’ve been the adrenaline!

I tried the Candy Corn Popcorn from Trader Joe’s. Didn’t quite taste like candy corn but I ate it anyway!

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Good to know about the popcorn… thanks Samantha, I need to still pick some up. Let me know if you end up trying any other fun seasonal things from TJ’s!

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You are going to rock this marathon with your awesome training.
I just hit a new PR in the gym doing squats this morning, so that was awesome. I signed up for a powerlifting meet next April so I have a while to train, but it’s awesome being at the level of hitting new PRs now.

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ALICIA, huge congrats on your squats PR! I think I can squat about 10 lbs so I am beyond impressed:) Please keep me updated with your powerlifting meet and training. Thank you so much and have a wonderful day!

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Good tips!
I just went to “Breaking Through The Wall” panel which included Deena Kastor and Steph Bruce and a skyped in cameo by Molly Huddle. They discussed adjusting to feeling uncomfortable during workouts so you can hit those faster paces during races and tolerate the pain.

Steph also recommended that if you normally eat/drink cookie/ice cream/wine, then to definitely do it the night before the marathon! Best tip ever.

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AHHHH I wish I would have joined in watching this panel! I wonder if they have it anywhere for me to rewatch. Oh I love that tip… I’ll add some ice cream to the day before:) Thanks Molly and have a great day!

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So true – it’s amazing how different I end up feeling on race days! I usually find that my nerves are also tied with the amount of excitement I feel to run a race, so that excitement carries me through! Having people cheer you on definitely helps a lot – I’ve done races where there weren’t as many spectators because of the type of race/location, and it definitely wasn’t as fun. I always get super nervous before a race, so I give myself a solid 5 minutes to freak out and then I push those nerves aside.
The first 10k race I did, I hadn’t really trained at all, and I ended up getting second in my age group! Granted, it was a smaller, local race, but I still was pretty pleased about that! I was debating on training for another half at that time and it was a confidence booster for me for sure.
Random interesting fact – I’m named after a Fleetwood Mac song. :)

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Hey Rhiannon! Oh I love that… allowing yourself to feel and deal with the anxiety/nerves and then choosing to move a different way with your feelings. Such a great tip! 2nd in age group without training for it–> that is awesome! Okay, thank you for sharing this fact about you, I will remember this one every time we ‘chat’ online:) Have a beautiful day!

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Any race I have ever done where I performed well, I never even considered my training paces in relation to my race pace. Training is so much different and I loved how you compiled all this research here. I think it also has something to do with pressure – pressure in a controlled, healthy way encourages us to rise to our highest level on race day and execute to our bodies capacity. Too much, and it doesn’t matter how we trained, we will always underperform. Going from zero pressure training to a high pressure race can either make or break it and I think it “makes” it for a lot of people because they taper that pressure in a healthy way and capitalize on it to benefit them. That pressure makes diamonds metaphor, right?
Everything and nothing can go wrong on race day, but if we are confident and happy, we generally rise to the best level we can that day, and seeing that side of ourselves is so empowering it is just nuts, irregardless of the finish time. Sometimes I wish I could talk to myself all the time, the way I talk to myself during a confident race because boy, would life go a lot smoother.

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I just shook my head up and down YES while reading your entire comment. I loved this. Thank you for sharing Kaytlin, it was just what I needed to read!

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I like that reminder about training being about the accumulation of miles on your legs so that 26.2 on fresh legs is totally doable. I think what helps me most in races is having other runners to latch onto! I do much of my training solo, so being able to race with others going around the same pace is a huge benefit.

Random: I’m going to New York this weekend to run the Wineglass Half Marathon – state 18 of my Race 50 States goal :)

I hope Andrew feels better soon!

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YES YES YES!! I am just like you Amber, it helps so much to have other runners all around us. 18 STATES ALREADY–> You are amazing Amber! Let me know how it goes and have a great time!

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Hi Janae! =) Your littlest is so cute with her new haircut! Hope Andrew feels better soon too – Just wanted to ask if you had wanted to look through or buy any Usborne books as I am having another party going on now! Our books are amazing, not only fiction and nonfiction but fun activity books {think fun sticker books, wipe clean books/cards, etc!!} I know you had mentioned you might be interested!

No pressure though! Let me know! =)

You could order here ~ https://f7870.myubam.com/

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Hey Sarah, thank you so so much! I haven’t had a chance. We might hold off for a bit (we just bought Brooke’s bday stuff last month and Knox this month) but I’ll let you know when we are ready to go again. THANK YOU and have a great day!

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I definitely feed off the other runners and the energy. I love giving people little words of encouragement as we pass and I feel like it gives me a boost too (my pace is waaaaaay slower than yours so I can afford the spare words; if I was running in the the 6 somethings there’s no way I could talk, haha).

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YES YES YES… it’s amazing how when we try to help others it helps us too! You are doing amazing Michelle and thanks for sharing this. Have a great day!

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Yes! All so true! There were 3 girls I could tell were in my age group that really kept me going in my half marathon on Saturday! Apparently I’m more competitive than I thought haha!
CAN’T WAIT for your nutrition post!! I need all the help I can get. I have a sensitive stomach and it seems like that gives me more problems on race day than anything else! So annoying!

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Usually the more nervous I am before a race, the better I perform. I know some people are the absolute opposite but for me nerves=good running.

For my marathon my longest run was 21. I felt incredibly dead afterwards and cried (partly happy tears that I was done). I hit the wall on that run around 16 so the last few miles were especially tough. I didn’t hit a wall in the marathon until 20 but it didn’t last as long as it did in my training run. Overall I felt much better after the marathon than I did after my 21 mile training run. Crazy!!!

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Hi Janae – I have boy/girl twins who are 8.5 months. I would love to hear more about what all you are feeding Skye for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. I struggle to make sure i am giving them enough variety and texture, especially since they still do not have teeth! You have a beautiful family!

Thanks,
Kellee Simmons

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Hey Kellee!! TWINS–> You are my hero. You must be so busy! It really is so hard trying to figure out what to give this age… for Skye she has a lot of eggs, avocado, sweet potato, peaches, banana, baby oatmeal, mashed carrots, pancakes (cut up tiny) and she LOVES shredded cheese and yogurt. Her favorite is peanut butter on toast. Let me know of any good ideas that you have too:) I wish we could have a playdate! Have a great day!

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Thanks for this Janae! I needed it! I have a half on 10/7, and it’s so hard to trust my coach and training (that sounds horrible that I can’t trust my coach ha)!! I really want a PR, but I’m like, how do I know I’m ready?!!! <3

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Great Post! I really worried about this when I was marathon training but you’re absolutely right – race day just makes you dig deep and the atmosphere makes so much difference. Both of my headphones failed on race day so I didn’t have my music but the crowd was amazing and I didn’t miss it. Last year I trained hard for our local half marathon but I had hip pain towards the end and had to miss the last few weeks of training. Then it poured with rain on race morning and I was cold, wet and not at all up for it! But then the skies cleared (my headphones worked!) and the crowds and local surroundings made me fly! I got a totally unexpected 4 minute pb and loved it.

I have a q about half marathon fuelling. I’ve never felt I’ve really got this nailed – do you replicate what you’d do in a marathon? I assume your body needs less than half what you’d use in a full marathon but I’m never really sure how early or late to leave taking a gel!

Random fact – I love sewing and I’ve sewn some of my favourite running gear :)

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I love the spectators and excitement of race day….it helps me a lot!
I hope this race Saturday is better than the training….i have had good long runs but training in the summer is soooo hard!
Random fact…..I love wrapping presents!

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This is pretty much unrelated to the post, but we made your white chicken enchiladas recipe tonight and it is SO GOOD! Every time we make it, the whole family raves about it, and then we forget to make it again for a few months, until we eventually put it back in the rotation and everyone raves about it again! Seriously, it’s so simple and delicious.
(random fact about me – I’m 40 and just started doing a part-time Bachelor of Education along with my full-time job, so meal-prep and yummy suppers are KEY for our family right now)

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Jill. This. Is. Awesome. Huge congrats on going back for a Bachelor of Education! I am so excited for you! Now you have me craving those enchiladas haha. So glad you love them. Thanks Jill and have a great night!

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I think a big part of what helps us run faster on race day is knowing that we won’t be running for a while afterward, so we can give it everything we’ve got, in contrast to a daily run when you don’t want to burn yourself out.

I think I mentioned this here before but my last marathon was in July, and I signed up for it less than 24 hours before after having run 70 miles that week already. I wasn’t even sure I would be able to run the whole thing but I ended up finishing in 3:24, which is just 4 minutes short of my best time. But I firmly believe that if I had properly tapered I would have set a new PR!

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Oh, and random fact: like Jill (above), I will be getting my Bachelors in Education in May!!

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Oh man, crowd support makes such a big difference. I ran my first half-marathon in Detroit, and then a few months later ran my second in a very small town on the north shore of Lake Erie. I think there were 400 participants. Beautiful scenery, running alongside farms and eventually down to the lake shore. However, there was very little crowd support and very few other runners. My time improved but I definitely wished there had been more support. A few high-fives or funny signs can distract from the discomfort of pushing yourself hard.

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I needed this today!! I’m running Chicago (Oct. 7th!!!!) and started thinking some negative thoughts like “how in the world will I run race pace for 26 miles when my last long run only had 12 miles at that pace?!” and have been telling people my goal is only realistic under the most ideal conditions and weather. But this post makes me stop doubting myself … I put it the work and need to trust the process. Thank you!!

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I love your tank top in the first photo! May I ask where you got it?

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I have a camera suggestion, I have the CocoonCam which monitors their breathing and goes directly to your cellphone. I can literally check on my son from work if he’s home with dad! It mounts to the wall and then that’s it, you control everything from your phone, I highly suggest checking it out! Good luck next week btw, I know you’re going to do amazing <3

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Cloud Baby Monitor. It’s an app for the iPhone. You need an extra Apple device (iPad, iPhone) to go in the baby’s room. We use my iPhone from like 2012 so it’s fine if it’s old. I think the app is $3.99 per device. Yes, like $4! Works via WiFi. Plays white noise or music if you want, has audio + video or just audio if you prefer, we are on kiddo #2 with it and it seriously works great. I’d really recommend trying it before you spend $$$ on a monitor

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Great thoughts and explanation on running on race day on fresh legs. GOOD LUCK and take care of yourself too! I have caught a cold or two myself before marathon day in the past and it’s definitley no fun running 26.2 sick! I ran Rome with full blown bronchitis a few years ago and It was the hardest thing I have ever done in my life….but it was ROME. I survived but it wasn’t pretty. AND I swore I’d never run sick again:-)

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