Do you Strava?

A review of the Strava platform

Disclaimer: I will be receiving an annual Strava Subscription and Strava merchandise as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out to review, find, and write race reviews!

What is Strava?

Strava is a social fitness network, that is primarily used to track cycling and running exercises, using GPS data although alternative types are available – Wikipedia

I have been a Strava user for a while. I run with a GPS watch that collects all my data from the run and loads it to the platform. Similar to other run tracking sites, Strava keeps track of how many miles I have run, elevation, and routes.

I like to know how many miles I have run each week and every month, it certainly keeps me accountable. You can also count swimming and biking data.

I also use the stats overlay on my photos as another form of accountability.

Strava also personalizes your data. I use this feature to keep track of how many miles I have on my shoes. There is a place to add your gear, then after each run you can edit your run to say which shoes you ran in. Then you can set it to notify you when you have run a determined amount of miles. I am currently running in 3 pairs of shoes, so it’s nice to not have to keep track of all those with pen and paper.

Another form of personalization, is pushing you to do your best by keeping track of your times on certain routes you run. You can earn course records and PRs.

Ok, some may argue that with this personalization, it’s not private. You can set your account settings to private and you can set your routes to not show where you run within a distance of your house.

Another way I use Strava for motivation is to sign up for the challenges. Every month you can find new challenges to join such as running a half marathon, a distance challenge or virtual 5ks. My favorite are challenges that offer a discount on a product or free things. One year there was a challenge to negative split a marathon, and I won a pair of shoes. These little things keep me interested.

Strava will send emails to keep you up to date on your challenges too, and supply a summary each month.

Strava is also a social platform. You can join running groups and find running friends. Within your social feed you can comment and give kudos. If you are looking to join a running club, I suggest the BibRave Running Club –

Strava has a free version, so if you are looking to keep data of all your runs check it out at You can then sync your GPS watch to the app on your phone, or use the app on your phone on the run. There is also a paid version if you would like a little more, such as training plans.

So do you Strava?

Hotter than BALLS!

Run 4 Troops 2019 – Race Recap

Spoiler Alert: this race was HOT!!

The Run 4 Troops event has always been the weekend after Grandma’s Marathon. I have participated in both events for the past 5 years now. I was worried they would both be on the same weekend for 2019, but I was in luck and could do both.

There were some changes made this year; for starters they added a half marathon! (There has always been a marathon and marathon relay.) What does this mean? The race has always been a point to point event, running from Dyersville to Dubuque on the Heritage Trail. To accommodate the additional race, all the races would now start and finish in Dubuque, and the race would be an out and back! This also meant there was limited parking available and we had to park about 2 miles away and shuttle to the start/finish area.

I have been spoiled amd had someone drop me off at the start in Dyersville, or I have run as a relay. Dyersville is also a lot closer to my house. I wasn’t sure if I would like these changes. Suuuuuure … the half marathon is a more popular distance, and at the end of June, who wants to run a marathon? Well, besides me – running from one location to another is cool.

So, I made some changes to my routine too…. I drove to Guttenberg the day before the race. Don’t worry I didn’t go out of my way, my family just has a small motel and I helped all day Friday cleaning and whatnot. This also meant my drive to the race would be about 45 minutes instead of and hour and 40 some minutes… and at 4 AM that is HUGE!!

On Friday evening, I dined with my parents – I talked them into eating some plain noodles…ok so I fixed up some pesto sauce too. Then I gathered all my things and tried to get some rest. Race day was going to be fun, the forecast was HOT, HOT, HOT!!!

Gear: Nike shirt (I wish I could find more of these, lightweight but provided shoulder coverage from the sun,) Orange Mud pack – with Gatorade Endurance, Boco Visor, Rudy Sunglasses, Aftershokz Air, Addidas boy shorts, Zensah sports bra, Garmin Forerunner 935, Brooks Ghost 11, Salt chews, pretzels, nutter butters, Sparkle Athletic skirt, coppertone spf 50, CEP socks. 

Race Day!

I woke up early, toasted a cinnamon raisin bagel with peanut butter, then stopped at the Kwik Star for some coffee and was on the winding Great River Road to Dubuque. I knew the day was going to be miserable temperature wise as I had to keep wiping my windshield from the moisture in the air.

I rolled into the shuttle parking lot, after a small detour. I wasn’t paying attention to the signs that were posted, oops! There were attendants parking cars, which I felt was weird as there seemed like there were 2304909234 available parking spaces. Oh well, I gathered my things, and hopped aboard a bus. (There were some port-o-potties here too.)

The shuttle was super quick. I was at the race start/finish location in minutes, which was good as I had to get my bib. I checked in with my name and they gave me a drawstring bag with my bib, bracelet for trail usage, gender specific tech shirt, and a protein bar (which is best refrigerated.) I had to check this bag as my car was about 2 miles away… it’s not a huge deal, but something I need to remember to grab when I am done.

I pinned my bib on as I waited in line to use the bathroom. Then a volunteer said there was a bank of of port-o-potties “over there.” So, no waiting, wahoo!!

I then had some time to wait for the race to start. As luck would have it I bumped into Jill (from the 100 miles in November group) and more Corridor Running members Michelle and Amy. It’s always nice to spot familiar faces.

I sprayed myself with sunscreen and walked towards the starting corral. There were some race announcements, including a note about the course. We would be going out and back one direction for a total of 3 miles, and then out and back on the gravel trail the remainder of the course. Then there was a live singing of the National Anthem.

Just before the race, I spotted another runner John… he had just arrived with a minute to spare. Plenty of time, small races are the best! The full marathon started at 6:30.

I started out near the 5:30 pacer when the race began. I just didn’t feel comfortable at that pace, so I ran ahead, and stuck with the 5:15 pace group. I need to learn to stay with the pace groups, and I tried!

I asked the 5:15 pace guy what his name was, it was Bob. My friend Amy told me to keep an eye out for Paul, so that is why I was asking. Bob was chatty and had a little mantra to start out with. Sadly, I just didn’t keep with this group and all the sudden I was with the 5 hour pace group.

I had found Paul! He was working the pace group…perhaps maybe he is still talking as I write this post. I was with them until they walked a water stop… then I was in front of it when I heard “Hey, I know that runner up ahead!”

To which I said, “Hey Robin!” I noticed as I passed the group at the water stop, it was Robin from Iowa City. So, I slowed up and chatted with her for a bit, and Paul then asked about me too and we made small talk about out things, including Amy. LOL.

I really should have stayed with this group longer, but I ran ahead… always my mistake.

We hit the mile 3 marker and were back at the start/finish area. Which was also the same time the first wave of the relay started. The trail/path was congested for me. They did have some cones up to make sure marathon runners were kept to one side. It was nice to see spectators as we came through the area.

I just kept plowing on. I came up on Michelle and then kept running. The trail is shady, but there was not much air moving. It was just the beginning of a hot, humid, muggy day.

There are a few climbs in the race, they are overpasses or road crossings. All the road crossings had volunteers, they also had Gatorade and water. These aid stations were in addition to the aid that was provided at the relay transition areas. Those had grapes and pretzels – oh and some gels.

I was carrying my Gatorade with me, but I also grabbed water at about every opportunity. I even would grab a tiny plastic bottle at times and put it in my pack. The aid stops just had colder beverages. I was also chewing my salt tabs and eating my pretzels.

I eventually was passed by Paul, then Robin, then Michelle… I was toast at about mile 10. I switched to my walk a quarter mile, run 3/4 mile plan. It was how I was going to smartly get to the finish line. I had 8 hours.

The good thing about out and backs is that you can see more runners and slap some high fives and good lucks. Just before the turnaround I saw John, Paul, Robin and Michelle again…so that helps the moral.

I came through the turnaround just after mile 14. This stop had grapes and wet towels!!!! I also took the chance to spray on some more sunscreen. It might have been at this point I turned my phone off of airplane mode, and checked the weather. The feels like temp was 92 degrees.

Nothing too exciting was happening, I just keep going. Then around mile 17 ish… I started walking with another runner from Virginia. She had chosen this race as part of her quest to run a marathon in every state. We walked and chatted for a while. Then I needed to use the bathroom.

This is when the chafe happened! I was soo sweaty and my clothes were soaked, so after the bathroom stop, my shorts just didn’t get back into the correct position. UGH!!

However, I did spot Jen at this aid/ transition stop. She had also run Grandma’s last weekend, and was doing this event as a relay with one other person. Trail racing offers these opportunities to continually meet people on the route, throw in small town atmosphere and they really are the best kind of events.

I trekked forward and received a message from another friend, also named Jen. She had paced the half marathon and was done, and was checking in on me. I told her I was taking my sweet ass time!

Then another runner came up and asked me about my socks. She was wearing compression sleeves and rocks were getting in her socks. I said they were better than the sleeves, but rocks still get in your shoes. I walked and ran back and forth with this person for a while, until about the last transition point in Durango. She stopped for the bathroom.


SOOOO HOT!!!! Just keep moving forward! I was given a bag of ice at this last stop… but it was an entire ziploc bag. I first put it on my head under my visor. Then I decided to dump it into my pack… ahhh cold Gatorade!!!!

Jen kept messaging me… and I might have picked up my pace a tad…. but I wanted to make sure I could run that last tenths of a mile…so I was back to walking.

The ATVs started roaming the trail in these last few miles. They were dropping off coolers of bottled drinks as there were no crossings or aid. They were also asking how we were doing, and a simple thumbs up was all they needed.

I saw mile marker 26! My watch had been ahead all this time, but oh well. I picked up the pace and ran it in. They even announced my name as I crossed the finish line.

This was my slowest marathon to date, finishing near 6 hours. I am not mad about it either. Anymore if I know I am not properly trained I wont push it as I want to feel good the next day.

A wet towel was placed around my neck, a volunteer had bottled water and chocolate milk in her hand. I grabbed the milk. Then another volunteer placed a medal around my neck. They asked me if I needed ice… I said I need a beer!!! I had been wanting a beer since about mile 12. Easy digestible carbs!

I grabbed some more grapes, passed on the cookies and the pizza. I found my friend Jen and met up with Michael and Dan who also paced the half. They were chatting with the other Jen who ran the relay and Robin. I said I need a beer, and redeemed my ticket for a Naturday! Stop judging – it’s so light and refreshing!!! (Oh, I also got carded!!)

We chatted and commiserated. Jen showed off this cool board they all got for pacing the event. We tried to stay in the shade. I then thought maybe I should eat something more, but when it’s so hot, it’s hard. I redeemed my food voucher for chips and 2 pickles as I did not want the pork sandwich. I could have used another beer, but I didn’t have any cash.

It was getting late and we were all melting. We snapped a group picture or two and I actually remembered I needed to grab the bag I checked, except no one was there. So I just went and got it myself. Also remember when I said there was a protein bar… yeah that stayed out in the heat all day.

We all made our way to the shuttle bus, and proceeded to our cars. We said our goodbyes and parted ways.

I traveled back to Guttenberg, stopping to take in the views.

So with all that said, did I like the changes for 2019? Well, I love the trail and I do like that you can cheer each other on with the out and back. However, I still miss running the entire trail. I am not sure the race will get big enough to support to 2 starting locations, but I can hope. I also think the relay benefits with a point to point as the locations for transition don’t have to double up. The shuttle was great!

With all that said, it’s a well organized race, with a great small town feel. I will try to run it again.

Powered by Pie

Grandma’s Marathon Race Recap 2019

“Disclaimer: I received entry into Grandma’s Marathon to review as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out to review, find, and write race reviews!”

It’s the most wonderful time of the year… Grandma’s Marathon!

For those who may not know, this is one of my favorite races ever. This is my 6th year in Duluth and in addition to running it, I would be helping Aftershokz at the expo.

I headed north on Wednesday, June 19. It’s a short little drive about 7-8 hours. I made a stop just south of Duluth to log a run on the Munger Trail. I have a run streak to keep in tact.

From there I kept the car headed north and ended up in Two Harbors. This is where the marathon starts. For years I have said I need to take more time to explore the area. I stopped at Castle Danger Brewing and enjoyed a Summer Crush. I mistakenly thought they had food.

I decided to head a little further north to Betty’s Pies. I wasn’t ready to dine, so I got a strawberry rhubarb slice to go.

I then headed back to Duluth, but drove the race course. It felt really long. I was having some doubts about running it on race day. It has been a long time since I have run this long. It was a beautiful day though.

I was back in Duluth and decided this was the year I would eat at Grandma’s Saloon, the restaurant near the finish. When the race started in 1977, this was the only business that would sponsor the event. Inside you can find a wall dedicated to the Grandma’s Marathon hall of fame.

I took a seat outdoors, with a view of the famous aerial lift bridge. Lots of sail boats were coming in off the lake. I was informed I missed out on the races. After a wild rice salad and fries, I decided I should probably check into my hotel.

I trekked across the bridge into Superior, WI where Barkers Island Inn had a room for me. We have stayed at this place every time, it’s a nice place that doesn’t require a 2 night stay. There is also an early morning race breakfast and a shuttle to the start.

Thursday, June 20

It was time to go set up at the expo with Aftershokz. I met Evan in the hotel lobby and learned the third person was having issues with his flight and would meet us later.

We arrived at the DECC to get our 2 booths ready for the expo, that would start at 4pm that night. Ok, sooooo Evan started unpacking the stuff and getting things set up, and I followed suit with his instructions.

We were in and out by 11:30. I went back to the hotel to grab my car, I knew where I wanted to go – the beach!

I was back to Duluth and across the lift bridge to Park Point Beach. I first got in a mile run. I originally thought I might be able to run on the beach, but it wasn’t optimal. Then I walked the beach collecting drift wood and rocks. It was a beautiful day.

I didn’t want to leave the beach, but I needed to attend to my duties. After rolling through a sandwich shop for lunch, I was ready to go sell some headphones.

The first day of the expo was good. We informed people about Aftershokz as we sold them for the running store. However, in other news the third person that would be showing up to help us, could not get a flight. So it was just going to be the 2 of us and help from the running store.

I managed to sneak away and grab my bib in the back of the expo space. I didn’t have my bib number off hand, so the nice volunteer helped me look it up.

We packed up things around 8pm and needed some food and a cold beer. Even and I decided to try out Canal Park Brewing. It was the place to be!!! While we waited for a table we saw some of the wheelchair athletes.

I ended up with a bowl full of mac and cheese and a strawberry beer. We also had some chips and salsa. Then it was time to hit the hay, Friday would be a long day at the expo.

Friday, June 21.

I woke up in time to get my mile run in and redeem my $5 breakfast voucher. A decent 2 egg, bacon and toast offering, and of course coffee.

I met Evan back in the lobby, but this day I would drive separately. My friend Kate was hitching a ride with BibRave Pro Tia. Kate and Tia would stop at the expo, and then Kate would take my car to the hotel. Anyway…..

The expo was off and rolling at 10am. We were back in our sales pitch mode. The Air has an upgraded microphone and the base is enhanced and weighs 20% less…yadda yadda…. all day long. I also think it’s funny the things people will tell you at a expo too… but hey I will listen.

Lunch time rolled around and my stomach grumbled…. The Duluth Running Co offered to buy some pizza. Around 2-3pm I had time to eat a couple slices. It was bananas!! I also started to get a headache, so had to grab some red Powerade. I am pretty sure it was the lack of food, and all the time just being crazy busy.

Then my friend Dan stopped by to say hi! Ok, I had seen him a few times during the expo, but this time we snapped a picture.

Around 5PM I met up with the BibRave pros – Mai, Tia and Juan. We snapped a quick picture before Tia had to get to the 5k, and I went back to selling headphones.

BAM – Just like that the expo was over…at 9 PM. I was exhausted, but we had to tear down everything and pack it all up into boxes. Near 10:30 ish we were done and loading up the car.

At 11 PM, I met up with Kate at the hotel and she had saved me some of her dinner, thank you!! I also had that slice of pie in the fridge. So, working the expo and eating a slice of pie would be how I prepared to run my 30th marathon.

Gear: Sparkle Athletic skirt, 2xu socks, Brooks Gylcerin, Garmin Forerunner 935, Rudy Sunglasses, Aftershokz Air, Hawkeye hat, Bibrave tank, Adidas boy shorts, Zensah bra, Orange Mud pack.

Saturday, June 22 – Race day!!

The alarm was set for 4:13 AM. I made my way down to the lobby to have some fruit, coffee, and a bagel with peanut butter. There were a few others shuffling around too. I was ready to board the shuttle bus around 5:50 AM.

It was your average bumpy school bus ride to the race start. I enjoyed the peace and quiet for about 2 minutes. Then there was a very loud, chatty guy sharing all his stories as a former CO at a prison. The lady sitting next to me said something, and I made the comment that is was nice to not be talking after a busy expo. Then we made some small talk, mostly about the weather. It was the most beautiful day, with a gorgeous sunrise. The temps were near 50 degrees.

I departed the bus at Two Harbors and instead of just standing in the starting corral, I thought I would just stand in line at a port-o-potty. There are a lot of them, but never enough.

On my way, I spotted the bright orange and Tia!!!

Then I said hi to local Iowa runner Jen and I met up with Nicole from the 100 miles group.

Finally, waiting in line to use the bathroom. I wasn’t nervous or the usual basket-case I can be, when I am not familiar with race day logistics. In fact, I heard the last verse of the National Anthem inside the “biffy.”

I made my way to the back fed corral. Meaning you enter in the back and if you want to line up with a faster pace, you have to snake your way through all the people to get there. Me? I just joined the back and waited for things to get going – which felt like forever. (One reason I don’t care for HUGE races is the standing in a corral for a ridiculous amount of time.)

Ok, Ok, Ok let’s do this! I was on my way to Duluth on the scenic north shore. I hit start on the Garmin and set out to enjoy the day.

At mile one I could see the back of Tia’s singlet in the distance. I made my way to catch up with her. We chatted for a bit and I believe around the mile 5 water stop, I kept going as she grabbed a drink.

I was going along and feeling good, I met up with the 5 hour pace group. I really need to stick with a pacer in the beginning of a race. My strategy of just going until I can’t go any further only really works on a perfect day, with perfect conditions, including a perfect training cycle. Bottom line, even though I thought I needed to be running faster than 5 hour pace, they eventually passed me.

I did develop a weird foot problem around mile 6. It was like this hot spot under my big toe on the foot pad. By the end of the race it was like the bottom of my feet were asleep. All I wanted to do is get my shoes and socks off.

However, no worries. I then encountered Bobby and Jan. They were both running their first marathons!! I chatted with them and we continued going back and forth with each other, they would pass me as I used a bathroom or I would pass as they stopped for water.

Grandma’s remains one of my favorite marathons, mostly because how you feel and are able to enjoy the distance. The views of the lake are gorgeous. From what the runners see, the local support the race  – coming out to cheer in their driveways, offer coffee, high fives, polka bands, string quartets, bacon, beer, troll dolls, pickles. There are what feels like 5000 volunteers available at all times. The aid stations are well stocked for all paces.

All of the above reasons is how I got to the finish line, especially from mile 20 on. I had the slice of bacon, and a lady I met at the expo told me to say hi at mile 21 where I had some pickles. Then I listed to the polka music and had a slice of watermelon. A volunteer cheered me up Lemon Drop hill. Then I saw twitter friend Ed, who I met at the expo, he had run the half marathon. I also made a quick call to Josh on my Aftershokz to check in.

I think this year the only thing I was sad about is I missed the grapes on the course as they were all out when I got there. Oh and MarathonFoto was the race photographer.

The last stretch again this year was not down the cobblestones of the main street, which is fine, but there is a short little downhill out of nowhere. Hello quads!

It seems like this part of the race takes forever, mostly because it has so many turns. One of the more iconic fixtures in Canal Park was not there this year, the William A. Irvin freighter was out of the harbor, so it looked a little different. It’s also the area where Kate always takes an epic photo. Never fear, there was a walkway set up and there she was cheering me into the end!! Kate’s the best!

Just before this point, Jan had passed me. I was worried about Bobby as they weren’t together. After I saw Kate, I looked behind me to see Bobby approaching. I slowed down and waited up for him… he was doing great and I chatted with him around the last turns to the finish line.

I cross the finish line, stopped my watch and gave Grandma a high five! Grandma is the cutest!!

A volunteer then placed a medal around my neck and another one handed me a bottle of water.

I caught up fellow Iowa City runners Dan and Nisha.

From here you claim your finisher shirt. This year I was hoping it was going to be purple as they introduced it into the 2019 logo, and it was purple!!!

I finished with a time near 5:15. I was happy with that!!

A volunteer approached me and wanted me to wear the mylar blanket, and I wasn’t ready for it yet, it was so nice out. I was also handed my beer ticket. So, I skipped the post race photo opp and went to find the strawberries in the post race food area. I was disappointed to not find them this year. I did grab a chocolate milk, orange slice, a bag of chips for later, and I saw the everything bagels – except I picked a bottom piece with minimal topping… oh well, where is the beer?

I rounded the corner after a quick phone call to Kate. I was in the beer tent area…and bonus there was a person with a strawberry on their head. They had some fruit truck, you played a game, received a coin and redeemed it for berries!! YAY!!

I made my way to the beer tapper trailer, and what did I see – A SOUR BEER!!! I stepped right up and redeemed my ticket!! I found Kate and we found some seats. There were many beer choices, sodas or coffee. The live music was pumping through this area. There was also a live feed of the finish line, we witnessed many awesome finishes.

I took the time to take off my shoes and socks and slip into my OOFOS. There was nothing physically wrong with my feet, maybe just in need of a pedicure? I had also run my last 20 in the same shoe/sock combo.

I did appreciate the awareness of race day waste. The beer tent area disposal area was guarded with volunteers making sure all items were recycled and taken care of properly. I hope in the future maybe compostable cups could be used at the aid stations.

Then we met up with Tia and enjoyed some people watching.

We moved the party to Little Angie’s – a post race tradition like no other. Tacos, fried ice cream and more sour beer!!

It was time to part ways, I said see ya later to Tia, and Kate took us back to MPLS. I was sooo tired. Then after a night’s rest, I would make the trek back to Iowa.

I am not sure I recommend working a busy expo all day and running a marathon the next day, but I will always recommend Grandma’s Marathon. They do race day right!

See ya next year!

2 weeks until Grandma’s

“Disclaimer: I received entry into Grandma’s Marathon to review as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out to review, find, and write race reviews!”

Seems like just yesterday I had registered for Grandma’s Marathon… like months ago! However, here we are and the big day is just 2 weeks away.

What have I been doing since I registered? Well if you remember I was all excited to use a training program provided by the race. In that time I sprained my ankle, so the training was way off. It had my long run at 13 miles over the entire training cycle. So, I ditched the plan and made up my own. GASP!

I don’t know all there is to know about running a marathon. However, with 29 of them under my belt, I know when my body should run long and step back. So with that I ran my last long run of this training cycle yesterday. 20 miles, 80 degrees, almost 1100 feet of gain. It was miserable, I was slow, but I am going to call it a win and be ready for race day.

Also in that time I have re-started my run streak. March 31 was the first day. So, while I have been making up a training plan, I am back to running at least a mile a day. Who knows if this is the best idea, but my marathon PR was set last October during my last run streak, not using a training plan.

So now with 2 weeks to go, what should I expect? Many experience taper tantrums or go a little stir crazy. I will have my run streak to keep me going. I also have many hobbies.

Also, it’s time to get excited to visit Duluth again!! There are many things to do in the area, including many opportunities with the race itself.

Ready or not, I can’t wait to get back to Duluth. If you are headed that way look me up and say hi!

Blue Grass Days 5k 2019

Race Recap – Blue Grass Days 5k

The calendar still says spring, but the weather feels like summer. In Iowa, that means all the small town festivals and gatherings. These are great for finding a hidden 5k. Enter the Blue Grass 5k. This year it happened to fit in my schedule.

Originally, I was going to run the 1 mile event with my niece, but she was sick. However, since race registration was $10, Josh and I still decided to run it. That’s right, that is not a typo, registration on the day of the race, an hour before the race was ONLY $10!!

The race started at 7PM and Josh and I rolled into town about an hour out. We caught the start of the one mile event while we went into the community center to register.

For $10 more we could have received a t-shirt, but we don’t need anymore. We did receive a timing chip, bib and a beer token.

We wondered around for a while and bumped into Dan and his dog, Phil. Without planning we were all wearing orange.

The time approached to race. It was still sunny and the temps for the day had topped into the 80s. The pre-race announcements said there were going to be 2 water stops on the course, they described the course, and then there was a singing of the National Anthem.

Now, if any of this sounds familiar, I have run this race a few times before. While the course has been different over the years, it’s generally the same as the town is not that big.

I took off and followed the others. We did a loop on east side of town, through a residential neighborhood, down and up the one hill on course. We passed the convenience store, which was the first water stop – with plastic bottles. Then we went out and back on the road to the north. There was another water stop here, which you would hit twice and they had paper cups. The course was all paved, some cement and some asphalt – which is toasty after a hot day in the sun.

Lately I have been in the I don’t care camp of running. I just show up and run, no goal but to finish. This race was the same. I hit the first mile and my watch said 8:51 – I think I muttered, what the heck?!?!?!? It was also really hot and gross, but I just kept my nose to the grindstone and moved.

I came to the finish under 30 minutes, I think official time was 28:48, which was good for 6th in my AG. I think I am in the competitive ages, I keep saying I wish I would have ran in college, my time now beats that AG every time!! My watch also had elevation gain of 62 feet and a course that measured 3.13 miles.

Josh and I checked in with Dan and Phil. Dan placed second in his AG, but had to get moving. Josh said that he lost his timing chip just after the beginning of the race. Someone found it, so he didn’t have to pay for it. Also, the timing company honored his Garmin time for the results. However, Josh did not check to see his placement.

We redeemed our beer tokens inside the community center, nothing fancy, but the Coors Light was cold. There were also popsicles and every type of cookie imaginable. We also discovered someone took photos along the course and they would post online for FREE downloads.

We listened to the awards, the overall winners received a backpack and a gift certificate. AG winners received a cool medal. Josh found out he didn’t place top 3, but again our AG is very competitive. We snagged Dan’s medal and called it a night.

As we walked to the car discussing what we should get to eat for supper, I thought – maybe I should go back and give this race more money. Where else do you get all this for $10 race fee?

If you are in the area, put this event on your running calendar!!

Capital Conquered!

Run Madtown – Conquer the Capital Challenge Recap 2019

“Disclaimer: I received entry into the Run Madtown Conquer the Capital Challenge to review as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out to review find and write race reviews!”

Back to Conquer the Capital for 2019. I have run this event many times, once I even ran the 10k only. For 2019, I was back to take on the Twilight 10k at 8 PM on Saturday to turnaround and run the half marathon on Sunday at 7 AM.

If you are looking for my to the point, less opinionated – check out

If not, have I got the novel for you!! I honestly don’t know how to condense the fun into some short blurb… so sit back and relax.

The Twilight 10k would not start until 8pm on Saturday night, so Josh and I had all day to get to the expo, grab our bibs and get to the starting line. This meant – adventure!!

Madison is a short drive up 151. We arrived in Madtown sometime just before noon. The GIANT farmers’ market was still happening around the Capital, so we walked some of it and took in the sights, smells and sounds.

Since we were close to the Monona Terrace, we hopped over to grab our packets at the expo. On the drive up I had been following the race on Instagram and saw that the first 40 people to check in at the race day events booth would get free light up glasses. I made sure our first stop was that booth – I claimed a pair of purple shades!!

Then we finally made our way to grab our bibs. We were both doing the challenge, an email was sent ahead of time with our bib numbers. We gave them that and they still checked our IDS. We received 2 bibs, one for each race, but the bib colors were exactly the same. We made note to use the correct bib. Also, all races received the same short sleeve tech shirt. If you did the challenge you got a hoodie, but they were out of our sizes and we we’d be contacted about getting them at a later date.

The expo is always small, but easy to navigate and get what you need. I stopped and chatted with my next Madison race, Josh spun the wheel and bought a hat. We saw my name on the car and we drank some water that was provided.

Then it was time to find something to do. We headed for New Glarus!! Josh had never been. We found it to be a quiet day at the brewery. We strolled through the self guided tour and purchased some beer samples. We also left with some bottles to take home.

The town was also having some festival, so we stopped and visited the Planters Nut mobile and purchased some goods at the bakery. However, with all this adventure we were tired and decided to check into the hotel for a nap.

Around 5:30 we gathered our things and tried to figure out where we should park. The 10k race course had changed for 2019, putting the start and finish at the State Street Mall. This meant that the on street free parking wasn’t available, and we needed to pay to park in a ramp. We found a ramp, but it was close to full!!

However, we were close to the start and we were there quite early. So, we sat around, did some people watching. Then Renee found us!

It was finally time for the race to start, wahoo!! It was close to 80 degrees all day, so I wasn’t sure what to expect. The wheelchair division started, then the 10k and then the 5k.

We ran on the gravel trail along the lake, going out and back and then ran up and down all the hills to the finish line. Now, if I were out on some leisurely training run, I would have liked the course. However, a night race on a crowded path, it wasn’t ideal. The 5k leaders approached us on the narrow trail and I felt bad when the 10k runners wouldn’t get over. The out and back was kinda dark too. I also was surprised that the first aid station, water only, was at mile 3, followed by the next at mile 4. When I got to mile 4 they were out of cups. I was HOT and needed a drink. I brought my hydration pack, but didn’t wear it. I was happy to see Gatorade at mile 5 and cups!! It just seemed uncharacteristic of this race.

The finish line party was popping!!! I found Josh after I passed on the post race pizza. I just can’t do that in the heat… I keep wishing for a banana. I did try the spiked seltzer water though and a chocolate milk.

We took some pictures and listened to the DJ. The lights were spinning and our glasses were flashing. It was getting late, so we walked to the nearby Chipotle and went back to the hotel. We had a half marathon in less than 9ish hours.

We woke up early and got our crap together. I was running with my pack today, even though it was cooler and there was a cloud cover. We hit the Sbux near the hotel for a pastry and coffee. Hey – it’s A-1 fuel for 13.1 miles….if you have time to sit and drink the coffee… spoiler alert.

We arrived to the Capital Square area to easily find a free parking space on the nearby street. We walked around and  BibRave Pro Danielle spotted us on our way to the port-o-potties. While waiting in line we also saw Azeem. I will note I feel there were less port-o-potties this year, but we made our way through quickly.

We met back up with Danielle. It was her first time in Wisconsin. It was nice to chat.

Then just before 7AM we were encouraged to line up in the back filled corral. There were pacers, and we were told to line up accordingly. I had no goal, I was using the 10k and half marathon as training for Grandma’s marathon. I was near the 2:30 pace group though.

Some National Anthem singing and announcements and the race was underway!! I was running with the 2:30 pace group and didn’t want to pass them, but it was hard to stay with them. I did my best.

Then around mile 4, which is also Camp Randall Stadium. I needed to use the bathroom. You see I thought I had used the bathroom, but I just didn’t get enough time to let the coffee set. Oh well, there were enough port-o-potties available I made the necessary pit stop.

When I came out of the pit stop, I was no longer with the pace group, but I saw Azeem again! I ran with him, but started to pull away. I just kept moving.

I was also noticing the course felt different. Now, I know I run a lot of events in Madison, and I might be getting them confused. However, I swear last year the spring event ran the same half marathon course as the fall event. It’s a little more boring, you run on a different side of town through more residential neighborhoods.

I was pleasantly surprised when we came to the Arboretum!! YAY! I like running through this area, it’s wooded, there’s water, maybe some wildlife. I was treated to the wildlife as I saw and heard many turkeys.

As I was running, I was posting to social media to keep my mind occupied. As luck would have it, the photographers caught one of those moments. LOL

Once through the arboretum we were treated to a GIANT hill. That is when out of no where Azeem passed me… he CRUSHED that hill!!! When I got to the top I made it my mission to catch him. Which I eventually did for the last mile. It was great as we chatted past the Kohl center and down State street to see Josh cheering us on.

I had finished the race in about 2:30. Sadly, running is always celebrated by how fast you run, but I was happy with this time. I also had just finished my 53rd half marathon!!

I grabbed my finisher’s medal, a bottle of water, a bagged Panera lunch and some orange slices. I downed the water and ate the oranges. I stopped at the backdrop for some photos, then made my way to get my Conquer the Capital medal.

Then I met up with Josh and we were able to chat with Danielle again.

After giving away our beer tickets, we took some photos around the capital and then walked back to our car. In that process I snagged the bag of chips from my bagged meal and handed the rest to a guy on a bench.

We still had time to shower and officially check out of the hotel.

We had our sights on our next stop. We usually plan the things that are necessary, but then go with the flow and find some fun. The nest stop was lunch at the Grumpy Troll Brewery in Mt Horeb. We also pass these places 2203948 times, so we figured since we had time, we would stop.

After a bratwurst and a beer, we were back on the road. We had our eyes on another new stop. However, since we are old, we had to pullover and take a nap. Yep!! We both were too tired to drive any more. Maybe we need a conversion van?

After a power nap, we were following the GPS to the Potosi Brewery. Talk about some rural roads, but it’s fun to be off the monotonous highway.

Potosi, WI is a quaint little town, but there is a lot going on! It was a battle to get the last table on the patio. There was live music going on and people were having a good time. We sampled the craft brews with a flight of 6 kinds. We also made a point to get some curds and the bacon popcorn.

This is my favorite thing about a road trip. You can just say you want to go somewhere, and you just turn the car in that direction and go exploring. Madison is only 3 hours ish from my house, and these stops are within that circle.

After all the fun, it was time to get back home, we had to pick up the dogs and we were tired.

I will be back in Madison for a race in August and then I will finish my Conquer the Capital half and half challenge in November. Who knows what new adventures will happen, but I am excited to experience them. As always, thanks for a great time Madtown!

Shady Rays X-Series Product Review

Shady Rays X-Series Product Review

“Disclaimer: I received Shady Rays X-Series Sunglasses to review as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out to review find and write race reviews!”

I might have a thing for sunglasses. When I was introduced to my first pair designed for running years ago, I haven’t looked back – and rarely leave the house without a pair. Ironically I would rather wear my contact lenses than my prescription glasses, however on the run I need the protection sunglasses can provide.

Within the X-series line, I was given many options to choose from. I decided on the emerald ice version. They are clear frames with blue/green mirrored lenses. Gotta look good right?

When they arrived, my initial reaction was how sleek they look. I thought they would wraparound my face for a more aerodynamic fit. I also had to try them on with my gear. I always wear a hat/visor and headphones. The glasses fit fine with all my accessories!

I then took them on their maiden voyage. It was a warmer day so my face was sweaty. They were not fitting like they should, I took them off to squeeze the nose pad and discovered it doesn’t cinch. They kept sliding on my sweaty face, and sitting too close to my eyes, and then fogging up as there was no air flow. I kept pulling them down.

I wasn’t going to give up just yet, they looked fancy and they protected my eyes with their “Premium Polarized blue-green lenses with grey tint and 100% UV protection.” The older I get, the more interested in the things I ignored as a college student.

I am currently run streaking, so I gave them another go on a mile run. I was still having fit issues.

Then I was thinking, maybe this pair of sunglasses is just made for a bigger face. I never thought I had a smaller face, but maybe I do. So I drug out my trusty measuring tape…. My face is about 5″ across and the shades are just under 5-5/8″.

I was excited to try this design. Shady Rays is a great company with a great mission, giving back to the community. With every order they provide 10 meals to fight hunger in the U.S. through Feeding America. 

Plus they offer a “Lifetime Craftsmanship Warranty & Free Replacements if Lost or Broken – just pay S+H fee for lost/broken replacements.” They stand behind their glasses.

If you have a larger head, this is the sunglass for you! Use code “RAVE” for 50% off 2 or more pairs from the Shade Shop.

If you are looking for more input on the X-Series, check out these reviews: BrendaCorey Katy Renee Lissa