Virtual PGH

The Virtual Pittsburgh Marathon – race recap

“Disclaimer: I received entry into the Pittsburgh Marathon Steel Challenge 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!”

In the weird times that are upon us, many races have gone virtual. Sure I am familiar with virtual racing. I have done a few over time, but they really aren’t my cup of tea. However, when you are registered for a race and that is the option, you follow through and train for race day!

Josh and were ready to travel to Pittsburgh. We had some runner friends, Hawkeye friends and ref friends to meet up with. There were perogies to eat, but a global pandemic hit.

The PGH marathon sent out an email with options and what was next for the race. There were 2 options a refund or run the race virtually. I was shocked a refund was a possibility. I can go on and on about refund, deferment, virtual, options – but I wont. A refund is the most rare as a race organization has already committed most of the race registrations towards race day costs.

There was no question I would still plan to run this event virtually. I mean I was training to run it, why give up now? I was having a good training cycle, complete with speed work and my sad attempt at tempo runs. When the race went virtual, not only did the workouts get more difficult – I backed away from them. There is a line between being able to run and pushing yourself too far and risking injury. The last thing I need is to be at a hospital for something stupid. So I continued logging the miles.

Then a random injury hit, I think it was something to do with my sciatic. It was painful to lay on my leg and it was painful to squat or move from seated position to standing. So once I started focusing on rolling out the hinge in the nerve in my ass, things seemed to improve. In that time I backed down to just running my one mile a day, but because I have run over 30 marathons, I was not discouraged. (Yes, I am bragging!) I threw in a 20 miler two weeks before race day, and felt prepared.

In the mean time, the PGH marathon had been very communicative with emails and social media posts. They had some contests to earn more swag and announced that everyone who was registered would also be getting Knockaround Sunglasses with their medals and shirts.

Race weekend rolled around. I was sad I wasn’t on the road to run through the streets of PGH, but I was happy I had an option and the ability to run. Sometimes runners, me included, can forget that because we decided to run – we get to run.

Josh and I decided to keep with the schedule. The 5k was on Saturday, May 2nd and the Marathon was to be on May 3rd. Each event that has had to go virtual has a set of rules, we just wanted to make sure it still felt like a race, by sticking with the original race dates and as close to race start time.

I was running the Steel Challenge, I had to get in a 5k on Saturday. I prepared the night before with a flat runner and going to sleep at a decent hour. I wanted to be pounding the pavement by 8 am.

I was at the starting line, literally a crack in the sidewalk. I know about 23 different places I could run a 5k. The best part was it was a .10th of a mile walk from my house. Josh and the dogs were there at the start, and I took off.

I had an out and back route, with some hills. I really was working hard to push my pace. It helped that I was so familiar with the route, I knew the hills, I knew where I might have to stop to cross a road, but I also knew when to cruise and push. Sure there was no one to pass, no spectators – BUT it was just me trying to push me to do my best.

I came back towards the finish area and kept an eye on my watch to get the distance correct. I was pleasantly surprised to see my time and my pace. I had finished in 28.32 with a distance of 3.14. Just over a 9 minute pace, which for me is excellent!! I couldn’t have been happier. After the post race spread of generic Lucky Charms cereal and G2, it was time to rest up for the marathon.

Josh and I had been working hard on a plan to make sure we could safely complete the distance. We thank the many people that reached out to help us with aid, however we felt it best to make sure we could do this with little to no human contact. We planned a route in the country on gravel roads. It turned out the distance from my parents house to my work is exactly 6.55 miles in one direction. We would start at the house, run to work, back to the house and then do it again. This meant each location would serve as an aid station, complete with bathroom. We also train with hydration packs, so having those was a no brainer. We also didn’t publish the route, but were happy to share for anyone that asked, our safety was the number one concern. (This is just part of what you get from an organized race, so consider this the next time you scoff at race fees.)

We stuffed our faces with our usual pasta pre race dinner, and went to bed early. We were ready to conquer the distance.

We arrived at the starting location about 7:15 am. We had the dogs with us too! After setting up an aid station, we declared 7:30 am time to start. Josh drew a line with his foot in the dirt and he said, ready, set, go! We pushed start on our watches and headed out the driveway. However, Josh didn’t get far – I noticed he didn’t have his water bottles in his pack – so he circled back to get them.

It was a cool morning, and the clouds were covering the sun, maybe 50 degrees, PERFECT!!!

The first hill was within the first quarter mile, and Josh caught back up with me and then pushed ahead. It was just us and the gravel roads. I started with listening to music, it gives me the bop I needed to push. I had an audiobook available too, but I can get slowed up by listening to one of those.

For a while I had Josh in my sights, a farmer left their house and a dog came chasing down the drive after them, it was the same time Josh had passed and I was worried Josh didn’t see the dog – then as I approached another dog came bopping down the drive. EEK! They were howling like a hound and seemed to be friendly and not charging aggressively. I had my mace, but the dogs stayed their distance behind me – so my next worry changed to, are these dogs going to follow us and run away from their home? Whew, as we had climbed to the top of the next hill, the dogs had retreated.

The miles slowly ticked off, it helped mentally that I knew where I was, and I could always see where I was going. Sometimes in a place I have never run, anxiety sets in because I have no idea where I am going, I can’t see around a corner, I just follow the others or eventually the race signs.

In no time, we were in town, and who did I see – tailgating and family friend Carol. She was out on her front porch, She had even put some Hawkeye lawn ornaments out for us to see. At this time, Josh was passing by in the other direction. It was a nice pep in my step.

I stopped at the shop or aid station, and needed to use the bathroom – never pausing my watch. I grabbed a clementine and a drink of water – I was carrying G2, but I just needed some water. Then I looped through town and saw Carol again, this time she had a pom pom!

I got to the edge of town, on the back side of the mobile home village and I could hear a dog barking. I was thinking, oh the dog probably sees me moving and is barking from a tie down or fenced in yard, I couldn’t see it as it was behind a line of trees. Then out of no where a black, barking dog was coming at me – Holy Sh!t!!! I stopped, and the dog stopped, I saw it was a lab mix, and then it went back into the trees. WOWSERS!! (later in the evening I saw a post on FB that said their dog got loose in the trailer park, and had since been found. ) Who knew dogs would have been our biggest threat. I did see a flattened frog and many cows on the run. I also think I saw a bowling ball in the ditch.

The run back to the house was ok, I was feeling good. I also wasn’t hungry, but knew I should be consuming something other than G2 and the one clementine wasn’t going to cut it. Of course, we had our usual toast breakfast, but I needed to keep fueling. I was thinking I would eat a Honey Stinger waffle and grab water at the aid station, that thought powered me back. I also saw another runner out on the roads, I would have put money on the fact there would be 0 people running the course, but I would have lost!

About 3/4 of a mile from the house, I saw Josh headed back into town. He was moving along and looking good.

I rolled back into the aid station and was greeted by my dad. He was greeting me back to the first annual Plato Marathon!! He told me there was aid, but when I stopped for a drink, a waffle, and a collapsible flask of water for my pouch, he told me to keep moving. It was a fun touch.

Ok, back on my way into town, and the first tractor was passing me on the road. Then I saw the neighbor working on their tractor and Kenny Chesney was signing about his sexy tractor – I can’t make this up, it made me laugh. I keep my music on shuffle.

Nothing too eventful happened for a while, it was around mile 16 that the hills were taking a toll. Then a car was approaching, it stopped in a driveway and in the distance I could see people rolling out the doors. I was not sure what was going on, so I kept pushing forward. I approached and a woman with some kids were holding up signs cheering me on, the signs had MY NAME ON THEM!! It was awesome!!! At the time I had no clue who they were, I wasn’t going to get too close, so for a while I ran and was thinking, who was that??

I have run a ton of races, many distances, many style of events. I have never been super fast, but I have always been proud of what I can do. In those events I find myself running alone a lot, so the idea of a virtual marathon didn’t scare me that much. I have had to mentally prepare myself to run alone before. I wasn’t expecting to see anyone out on the rural roads cheering me on, so it meant a lot – just as it means a lot when a random stranger on a race course is pushing you in the back of the pack.

I came closer to town and saw Josh on his way back, on the home stretch. I had to ask if he knew who those people were. He did, it was his yoga instructor. It was so sweet, she took the time with the kids and they made signs, just for us!! Thank you again!!!

At this point, I was feeling decent, I knew I would complete the event. However, it was the point things were getting annoying – I started walking the uphills, my pack was feeling heavy and I needed to eat, but didn’t want to. So I decided to give some fruit snacks a go.

I was back in town and Carol was back out cheering, I told her I would be back in a few. I stopped at the shop and ditched my pack. I took out a granola bar, refilled the collapsible flask, stuff the things in the side pockets of my shorts and was back on the course to finish the last stretch.

I stopped at Carol’s to empty the rocks out of my shoes. It was great to chit chat for a bit, she was impressed by the storage in my shorts. Thank you Carol for taking time out of your day!

I walked up the hill and checked a text message from my friend Kelly, complete with a noisemaker!! I was also posting updates to my Instagram account.

I passed the point on the edge of town and didn’t see the black dog, and just kept motoring. Around the time my watch hit mile 23, the cloud cover was gone and the sun was burning bright in the sky. I was thirsty and trying to ration my water. I just needed to keep going. I tried eating some granola bar.

Around mile 25, Josh called and wanted to know where I was. I told him my location and we chatted for a while. I was ready to be out of the sun. We were lucky to have the cloud cover for so long, but that sun was starting to bake me.

I was running down the hill and could see my parents house, as I got near my dad and the dogs were standing in the yard, Josh was resting on a planter. I turned into the driveway where there was a spray painted sign with arrows marking the finish. Kona (the dog) ran me across the finish – which was actually a newly appeared line that said start.

WAHOO!!! The virtual PGH Marathon was complete!!! My finish time was near 5:24, but since I never stopped my watch the overall time was near 5:31. This is about average for me, yes my PR is about 4:43, but given the circumstances, I was happy!! I really didn’t want to push myself too hard, I wanted to also feel good when I was done. The race website has a place to submit results, so I made sure to claim my spot in the virtual results.

It was cool to celebrate with my parents, the dogs and Josh. We had packed some Big Grove Beers to drink at the finish line party. We sat and visited, enjoying the day. I ate 2 more clementines and half a Coffee Crisp candy bar (thanks Ron!)

After chasing Ace (the dog) to come back after spotting some birds, we packed up our things, stopped at work to clean up the aid station, and headed back to our house. Another perk, no 11 hour car ride home.

Our big plan was to splurge on Five Guys burgers and fries and drink more beer. We are party animals!!

Virtual racing is what you make of it. While I have opinions on virtual events, I am glad there was an option to continue training for something, thank you for the opportunity to push myself. I support the races that are transparent and communicating with their participants. I look forward to one day running on the streets of Pittsburgh and enjoying a pierogie!

Stepping Up To The Challenge

Stepping Up To The Challenge  

“Disclaimer: I received a gift card to promote FitnessBank 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!”

When I heard the word challenge, I was in!!

Ok, so maybe a little background on the Fitness Bank app first. This is an app that connects to your fitness trackers (or health app) and keeps track of your steps for the day. Those steps add up and you can use them to increase the interest rate on a Fitness Bank Savings account. That’s right, Fitness Bank is an FDIC bank that offers a way to keep moving while earning money on a savings account.

Fitness Bank’s mission: have lots of fun, make even more money for our customers and partners, and change the world, one step at a time.

The app also has a section to host step challenges, you can join groups and challenges to hit your steps to earn a higher interest rate.  It was easy to create an account – and I didn’t have to enter any personal information to just do the step challenge. If  you want to earn money, you set up an account like you would at a bank or financial institution.

After I made an account, I joined a group and then I proceeded to join a step challenge. I was part of a challenge at the beginning of the year, it was a month long endeavor. I use a Garmin watch and through that app, it connects my steps. I can check in everyday after it syncs and see my place on the leader board. During that challenge, I did suffer from some strange toe injury and had to cut back.

Enter the new challenge – the Des Linden step challenge ! I was ready to try again. This is a 2 month challenge from April 1 thru May 31. (If you are reading this through April 30th, you can still join and steps are pulled from your device from the last month, April 30th is the last day to join.) This challenge will offer prizes like shoes, signed posters and race entries.

As I highlighted above this is an app – Fitness Bank, so after you download and create an account you can join the Des Spring step challenge group. Or you can join or create any group you want. Want to motivate your work colleagues? Challenge your running group?

I have been training for a marathon,  and I also added walking at least a mile a day in April, so my daily average is around 18,000 steps. I think this is good for me, but it’s crazy that during the week this puts me around 15th place and on the weekends I drop to around 51st place. That’s right, through the month it draws on your average. It is interesting to see how active people are.

The one thing I have learned with this app is patience. I am not sure if there are too many users, but it can take a while for steps to sync up. I do know that it always seems to catch up though, so just need to be patient.

I have one more month of this challenge, I don’t have any personal goal, maybe with the push of seeing the daily averages, I can hit 20,000. I love seeing what I am capable of, you never know until you try.

Earth Day 2020

Earth Day 2020 

“Disclaimer: I received a pair 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!”

Earth Day is April 22 and for me it’s about encouraging others to “do better” with our environment, while also celebrating the things we have done to improve our surroundings.

I was presented a unique opportunity to celebrate Earth Day with Knockaround sunglasses. Originally the idea was around plogging – the act of picking up trash while you run. If you follow me on Instagram, you know I have been doing this on my one mile run days. (I have a run streak and on rest days, I run one mile.) I have found a variety of discarded items. I have also found some keepers and even money.

However, we are living in the present. I really don’t feel comfortable picking up trash these days, so it is time to switch the focus to general “tree hugging.” I want to encourage people to enjoy the outdoors and take better care of our environment.

These practices are not new to me. In high school I was in the Ecology Club, we would clean up the school parking lot. I have joined river cleanups with a country conservation board – that was a long day in a canoe! A couple years ago I joined my running club in a cleanup on a popular running path, even found scrap metal we redeemed for cash.

Ironically an article popped up in one of my social feeds about tree hugging. It’s based in Iceland where they are encouraging people who are missing out on hugging other humans, to hug a tree! You can read that here. What a great idea!! I mean a tree isn’t going to hug back, but it’s an option for those who like to hug and maybe it opens up your thoughts on how to take better care of your environment.

I do miss plogging, so I am stressing that we all need to be more mindful of our waste. I see lots of cigarette cartons and things that are easily thrown out of moving vehicles. I am simply just asking that if you feel the need to throw trash, throw it into your passenger seat, then throw it out in the proper receptacle when you arrive at your destination. I am not sure I need to get into the science of how long it takes certain materials to breakdown in our environment.

We are currently living in weird times, so let’s make the best of it by trying to do better AND a contest! I have been a fan of Knockaround for a long time – I mean I have just a few pairs.

In addition to disposing of your trash properly, take a picture of you enjoying the environment by hugging a tree. Get creative and post it to social media – make sure to tag Knockaround and Bibrave. Also include #EarthDayKnocksBR on the post and you could win a pair of sunglasses!!!

Twitter handles – @knockaround @bibrave

Instagram handles – @knockaround @bibrave 

If you can’t wait to win the contest, you can purchase your own pair, they are super affordable. BUT WAIT THERE’S MORE – use Use BibRaveKnocks4 – 20% OFF entire order. https://knockaround.com/

I can’t wait to get back to plogging. I really enjoy the thrill of the hunt. You never know what you are going to find out there. I have been running country roads and the ditches are full of things, including redeemable beverage cans.

Nabee Compression – Product Review

Nabee Compression Socks – Product Review 

“Disclaimer: I received a pair of Nabee Compression Socks 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!”

Did someone say compression socks? Seriously, I am not sure how many pairs I own, but I am always looking for the next best product and was excited to try out Nabee.

Why compression socks anyway? For me it’s like a hug on your legs. However, there is a lot of science and medical reasons to wear them. Nabee socks are graduated compression, meaning they have more compression at the base and then decrease as the sock goes up your leg. Compression allows for increased blood circulation. The socks are designed to reduce swelling, reduce pain and soreness, energize your legs & feet, and prevent spider and varicose veins. The socks are also available in two different compression tightness. You can read more about the Nabee Sock technology here – https://nabeesocks.com/pages/whatarenabeesocks

In addition to the general benefits of compression, Nabee adds some great features. There is no seam on the toe. For me this means less chance for a blowout and an unwanted blister. The cuff on the top is designed to take the sock on and off easily, no need to feel trapped getting your socks on or off. These are also medical quality with an FDA patent, designed by nurses! Also I enjoy the selection of fun colors and the affordable price around $30.00.

Ok, enough about the general information you can find on their website, how did they hold up for me?

I couldn’t resist the bubblegum pattern, I love all the colors! I also was able to choose a size, based on shoe and calf size. I was in between and it was recommended I use my calf circumference vs my shoe size. I pulled em out of their packaging and easily put them on under my tights, well because it’s forever winter, and headed out for my 16 mile run. Perfect timing during marathon training. I had no issues, they didn’t fall down, no blisters, they didn’t itch, didn’t feel too tight, nor did they bunch up anywhere.

I then decided I would wear them for recovery. This is not new for me, I will sleep in my compression socks. Some socks are too tight for this especially at the cuff, causing me to take them off in the middle of the night. These are just right, and they are also not too long for me.

I would also like to note, these are not foot specific socks. Some compression socks like to make left and right foot socks, so the arch compression works on each foot. Those are nice features, but I have issues then with the toes blowing out because my big toes are always in the same spot, these you can wear on either foot and still get the appropriate compression.

These socks have made the cut. I will gladly wear them as part of my running sock rotation. I should probably purchase another pair. If I decide to do that, I can save 20% with discount code BIBRAVE20 – One time use. I also saw on their Instagram page that if you purchase a pair, 2 pairs will be donated to frontline healthcare workers.

If you are looking for more information, check out The Nabee Socks website, Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.

Canceled!

Canceled – or is it cancelled?

“Disclaimer: I received entry into the Run Madtown Conquer the Capitol 19.3 Challenge 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!”

Weird times, that is how I have been describing the current global pandemic. Things are just weird and and at times are super frustrating. However, I just keep taking one day at a time.

Spring racing season was upon us and I was actually working on training for a marathon on May 3rd. I was feeling optimistic, I had a race before that as training. Then things began to change. The April 11th race was postponed to a date during football season, the May 3rd marathon was made virtual, then came my June marathon – canceled and made virtual. I still had one race on the calendar for Memorial Day weekend in May, The Run Madtown Conquer the Capital Challenge.

Then the news came, canceled! The May event consists of a 5k or 10k on a Saturday evening and/or a half marathon on Sunday morning. I was registered to run the 10k and the half marathon.

I was not surprised the event was canceled, I was surprised at the options provided. From an email:

 In an effort to preserve our ability to continue to provide amazing events that support our local community, we must uphold our no refunds policy. The effort that goes in to planning an event of this magnitude is well underway and a large portion of our expenditures have already occurred. We appreciate your understanding during this unprecedented time. There are however options to defer your race entry to Run Madtown 2021, transfer your entry to the Madison Marathon 2020 (including 5K and 10K routes), or donate your registration fee

I appreciate all these options. Also did you see, a chance to defer your entry to next year. I feel people need to hear this – deferrals are not always possible, this means taking the registration dollars from one event to the next event – no new money comes in for the new event. Races can not always do this as the costs for the old event may have already been sunk. This option is rare and is great!

Also, please read any and all waivers you ever sign, I would imagine most of those race registrations say NO REFUNDS.

Then there is the option to transfer your entry to the fall event, the Madison Marathon weekend. Which is also no new money to that event. This is also where it gets tricky for me – I am also already registered for the half marathon that weekend. So get this – the race has an option for those doing both.

  • Defer my entire Half & Half Challenge to 2021. If you choose this option, you will no longer be registered for the 2020 Madison Marathon. If you would still like to participate in the 2020 Madison Marathon, we are happy to offer a 20% discount towards registration.
  • Participate in the Half Marathon at the 2020 Madison Marathon on Nov 8 AND refund my Half Marathon registration from the 2020 Run Madtown at $75.

WHAT?!?!? A Refund??!?!? This is crazy, the race is doing everything they can for you to participate at one of the events. *More information on options can be found online at runmadtown.com

What am I going to do? I am going to run a 10k on May 23rd and a half marathon on May 24th. There was no virtual option, but when I say I am going to do something, I do it. I signed up to run that far on those dates.

Next, I am going to continue to support this event as I can. Maybe it’s just a retweet on twitter or a positive comment on Instagram. I have all the opinions in this weird time and the one I would like to drive home is that if you’re willing to support your local, small businesses – you should also support your small town events. Look at what these events do for your community, many bring in tourism dollars and support charities.

I am also planning to run the fall half marathon, and if we are being honest, I need to finish my 4 year medal series! As you read in the disclaimer, I am running this as a BibRave Pro, so I will make sure to dot all my “i”s and cross all my “t”s.

I am looking forward to having this as something to do at the end of May. As these weird times continue, remember it is one day at a time. It’s ok to be frustrated and work through the feelings. Try to stay informed, healthy and supportive.

First Race of 2020

First Race of 2020… is it my last?

I couldn’t start the year off without running my favorite little 5k, the Amana Freezer Run! I have participated in this event for years and I was ready for my 2020 meat bag!

Ok, so if you are not familiar with this one, the race takes place as part of the Amana Colonies Winterfest. That’s right a party in the winter! The Amana Colonies are made of of 7 small villages, celebrating their German heritage. The race is held in Middle Amana where there are many gift shops, wineries and restaurants. The festival includes a ham put, a chili feed and tree carvings among many other activities. So, when you come to run the race, you can choose to spend all day exploring a new community.

The race celebrates that unique little community by offering a meat bag instead of the traditional t-shirt. Of course, you can get the meat bag and buy a t-shirt too. My husband will tell you I have too many shirts, so I look forward to the meat bag surprise every year.

Saturday, January 25th. Cloudy, winter conditions, little icy.

Josh and I made the trek to Middle Amana with enough time to pick up our bibs, bags and run a short little warm up.

While Josh made an effort to do some stretching, I ripped into that bag to see what was included this year. My bag had a block of Muenster cheese, a package of meat sticks and a bag of roasted field corn (corn nuts.) There were also coupons, including the a post race beverage from the nearby Millstream Brewery. I made sure to put that in my waist belt, and we departed the truck for the starting line.

I said hi to many of my running friends, discussing the course and what not. I have run this event in all conditions, last year it was covered in ice. This year there may have been a slick spot or 2, but it was the wind on the way back that was going to be the challenge. I didn’t have a huge goal, I had not been doing any speedwork and had yet to start my marathon training.

Then everyone was moving forward, the race was underway. I pressed start on the Garmin as I cross the timing mat. I stayed with runner friend Amy for a while, well until we got to East Amana, this is where we looped and came back on the out and back course. This is also where there is a little incline. She went ahead and I just kept chugging ahead.

As I hit the 2 mile mark it was fun to encourage everyone still going out. This race is great that many abilities are able to participate and they wait for everyone to finish to announce awards and raffle prizes.

I was in the home stretch and I could see Amy up ahead, she was my goal to push it in. I caught up with her, but she kicked my butt across the finish line. I did managed to squeak out a sub 30 5k, so I was happy. It was nice to race!

I found Josh and gave some finish line high fives. Then we quickly walked over to Milstream before the awards. I went with a cream soda as I had to get to work that afternoon. We had enough time to enjoy the drinks and walk back to the post race.

We did not place in our age groups, but that’s ok. We were there for the raffle prizes. It’s the best part of the event. I had my eyes on the gift baskets from Hy-Vee. There were also local running store gift certificates and the infamous bird seed gift certificate! We did not win anything, so we took another home made baked good and headed for the truck.

We were sad to have to leave, but work was calling. A couple of times we have participated in the Winterfest activities and shopped around. We just need to go visit more often.

At the time of the race, I had no clue it might be the only race I run on 2020. I am writing this mid April and my next real race wont be until October. (well unless I find something.) So, if this is the only race I ran in 2020, I am glad I got to participate in it and I look forward to doing so again.

National Funding 5k

National Funding 5k at the Holiday Bowl

Oh, hey! Remember that time I had a blog, well I almost forgot I had one myself. However, here were are and this is my recap of a race I ran while in San Diego at the Holiday Bowl.

It’s time to rewind to December 2019, and the Iowa football team was playing in another bowl game. Of course I was going and of course I was going to run a race while I was there. The only race offered in my timeline was a 5k that was part of the bowl game festivities.

Now, in true fashion I wasn’t going to fly, so I grabbed my road trip pals, Scott and Kelly, and we took 2 days to drive through the SW USA. We saw the world’s largest pistachio, the Big Well, Cadillac Ranch, and I escaped to dine at the Waffle House.

We arrived in San Diego on Christmas day and headed straight for the zoo. We spent the entire day there with my long time friend, Laura. I think my favorite thing was the bucket of popcorn, ok ok, ok, the animals were pretty cool too. We departed and finally met up with Josh for supper.


The next day, December 26th was race day!!! However, it was filled with too much activity. We started with breakfast at a local coffee shop, visited Coronado, attended the Battle of the Bands, followed by the Bowl luncheon. Time was ticking and I needed to ready for the race.

Maybe I should provide a little background. I attend the games with my friends and Josh usually has to work. This trip was nothing new. I also try to support Josh and attend some of the work functions with him. The day of the race had me super anxious.

The race started in the afternoon. I had to get back to the hotel and change into my race gear and then head back in the other direction to the race start. I was able to leave the luncheon early, it was like I dined and dashed. However, Josh was still there and planning to run the race. So, Scott, Kelly and I came up with a plan to get him his running things and make sure he could run the event.

I made it to the race start with time to spare. The plan was for me to get my bib and Josh’s bib – except they wouldn’t let me do that. That’s right everyone had to sign a wavier to pick up their bibs. *Dear race directors, while I know safety is a priority, they make it possible to include this when you register online.* This was also not a HUGE race and sure there is the risk someone else grabs your bib. Anyway I was mad, upset, frustrated! Josh was not there and I couldn’t get his bib.

Now the fun begins, trying to communicate this to Josh. The phone service was not working for me. I was out of area and I couldn’t get a text to go through. I tried calling. Finally I heard from Scott who said Josh had his running clothes and was on his way.

Then, out of no where, Josh was spotted. Of course, he was on the wrong side of the cattle rail, and in a mood. We were finally able to get his bib and then get into running mode.

The unique part of this event is the race takes part on the parade route. There is a parade that is part of the Bowl Game, and it follows the race. The floats and balloons were lined up behind the runners.

There was an announcement made before the race that the start would be a few minutes delayed. I think, Josh and I exchanged eye rolls. However, the announcement went on to say that due to some extra rain the course had to be shortened as part of it was flooded. This extra time also allowed us to meet up with fellow Iowan, Kimberly!

I was mentally exhausted, but also ready for some running!!

The race started and the first mile was a ton of fun. Not only did we run by the USS Midway, but it was lined with parade spectators. Of course, I was decked out in my Hawkeye gear and it was a constant “Go Hawks” as I ran.

The route took us along the water, near a marina and around some small park. It was an out and back. I enjoyed the scenery and the ability to cheer on an familiar faces and yell “Go Hawks!”

The race had no hills, I don’t recall a water stop, but it’s also about 5 months after the race. It was a race any ability could participate in.

I came to the finish line and it was indeed a short course. That didn’t bother me as an announcement was made about it. Each participant received a finisher’s medal. The post race area was in a small grassy area with tons of post race sweet treats. In the background the parade had started.

Josh, Kelly and I were done running and we met up with Scott to watch the Hawkeye Marching Band go by. That was the highlight of the parade, as it seemed to be very spaced out and take some time.

Race Thoughts: It’s nice to have a race around a bowl game, I enjoyed the course, a medal, lots of post race food, and the unique opportunity for spectators. I would suggest adding the wavier to the online registration, it also reduces paper.

Now if you are wondering how the rest of the trip went, the day didn’t end with the race. There was the Hawkeye Huddle, where we could enjoy some fanfare and the marching band again. We were all hungry and tired, so we left and dined on some tacos!

The nest day was game day! I woke up and got a run in with Josh, we found the hills! Then as Josh had to get to the stadium early, Scott, Kelly and I toured the San Diego Padres ballpark, which was next to our hotel. We learned brown is back!

After eating all the tots and a Matt Capenter sighting, it was time to hit the transit and get to the football game. Ok, so we were early, but we didn’t know what to expect. We found a tailgate, thanks Kevin and Jen! Then went in to find our seats. Laura met us there too.

While the stadium left much to be desired, we enjoyed the game immensely! It started with paratroopers and ended with a victory! GO HAWKS!!

It was late, but we all met back up for diner and more tacos after the game. We were tired!

The next day, Scott and I got back in the car for the long drive home. Even though it was long andt here was snow and bad roads, we made the best of it with some roadside attractions and a stop at In and Out. I suggested the wrong route home. Anyway, 2.5 days later we were back in Iowa.