26.2 mile Journey From MPLS to ST. Paul

2016 TC Marathon

For race specific facts check out my review at Bibrave.  – Bibrave.com 

Alright, when you last checked in with the blog I had wrote about my super hot September marathon. Well, that is in the past…by only 2 weeks, and it was time to conquer my October Marathon – The Twin Cities Marathon!!!

This was my first ever marathon in 2012. I can still remember making the decision to run my first ever marathon in the fall of 2011, after I completed by first half marathon. I was soo excited that I registered on the first day it opened!!! This was not the case this year, I waited too long and registration was over $150, yikes, lol!

For this trip to MPLS, Josh was in tow and he would be running the full marathon too. It did take some discussion, as he was considering running the Chicago marathon the same day. I really don’t care to run that one again, but I would have volunteered. Also as luck would have it, the Iowa Hawkeyes football team was playing the Minnesota Gophers the day before the marathon in MPLS, so there was the answer, run TCM!

We took off early from Iowa City on the Friday before the race. We thought we would just hit the expo so we didn’t have to worry about cramming it in after the football game.  We got to the expo and had no problem grabbing our bibs and checking out all the vendors, we even got free coffee!! Josh participated in a gait analysis and got a cooler, it was a fun expo with just the right amount of things.

Also we ran into a fellow Bibrave Pro – Andrey.  He was working the expo for a reflective sticker company. It was nice to meet him in person!

We departed the expo and met up with Kate, she would be our hostess with the mostess for the weekend. You may remember her from my adventure to the One City Marathon in March. She had suggested we dine at the French Meadow… they have great food!! After that we called it a night.

GAME DAY! On Saturday, Josh and I woke up early to get in a short shake out run by the Lake. We stopped by a neighborhood coffee shop on our way back to Kate’s and dined on some pastries for breakfast.

We traveled to the game, and paid to park in a nearby ramp, and made the short walk to the game. This walk was on the same street as all the campus Greek houses. They were all having a great time!!

We had to get our tickets at the will call gate once we got to the stadium. So, Josh got them all, and we were then led through a back tunnel of the stadium and then we were inside. Strange! We didn’t have anyone scan our tickets or wand us through security, oops!

We found our seats, and were ready to cheer on the Hawkeyes! During this time there were multiple trips to the bathroom, the most puke I have ever seen, and the most saltiest bottmless bag of popcorn.

Ugh, it was not a great game, in fact I am not sure how we won, but we did. The game is a “trophy game” and we took Floyd of Rosedale back home to Iowa City.

With a win in the books, Josh and I decided to take a nap, while Kate met up with some friends. It was then time to get our pre-marathon eating on!!! We went to a favorite, local pizza place – the Leaning Tower of Pizza. I, of course got a bowl of plain spaghetti noodles, and we had all the garlic bread! Hey, it’s what I like! After all the carbs, we called it a night.

It was another early wake up call. The race was at 8, but we wanted to make sure we had a chance for coffee. The plan was to go the nearby Bruegger’s bagels, to get a PB bagel and coffee, however it was closed!! Which is weird, because looking back at the pics when I ran this the first time, it’s where we ate. Oh well, we quickly adapted to the new plan of grabbing coffee at the Caribou across the street in the grocery store and buying some Justin’s single serves and bagels. (Pro tip, this is why you figure out what you need on race day, so you can adapt, if there is a problem)

Gear: Sparkle Athletic Skirt, Pro Compression Socks, Brooks Ghost9, GarminFenix, Hawkeye Pullover, Hawkeye Tank, BR tech hat, XX2i USA1 Sunglasses, Addidas 7″ boyshorts.

Kate was our own personal chauffeur, she then took us to the race start. The roads were closed in the area (it started at the new Metrodome, yes it will always be that to me) and she just pulled over and let us out of the car. There was parking in the area too. If you parked here, you could get the light rail back to your car.

Josh and I milled about near the first corral gear check and actually ran into a couple people we knew. One of them being another Bibrave Pro – Casey! We said a quick hello, and I head to my corral, which was the last one.

Photo cred 📸 Casey

It was a cool start, maybe 35 degrees, a huge change from my last marathon. I was huddled in a few layers of running clothes and a disposable Tyvek jacket. The wait wasn’t long in my corral, maybe 15 minutes after the first corral was off. I am not sure if there was a singing of the National Anthem as I couldn’t hear, but as my corral moved forward, I could hear upbeat music.

I really like this race course. It starts in downtown MPLS and you end up at the state capital in St. Paul. There is a church in the first mile that is ringing the bells like crazy, sounds amazing! The course is never super crowded either, it starts using the full width of the road, which are all closed to traffic. The course is all paved with minimal hills, the biggest being around mile 20. Which is great, too much flat and my legs get bored working the same muscles, they need some hills.

The scenery is great too, it’s tagged the “Most Beautiful Urban Marathon on America.” You don’t get the stuffy city feeling, especially running by the lakes as the leaves are changing.

The spectators on the course are great! So many fun signs, high fives, cheering from random strangers. It’s also not so crowded you have a hard time picking out your friends. There are also some bands along the way too.

Josh and I run super different paces. He actually set a new PR in the marathon at this race. I on the other hand got my moneys worth.🙂 I did see Kate many times along the course, and was surprised to see another MPLS friend, Anna at a couple spots on the route. At one time Miguel, met up with Kate and there were more people cheering for me!!!

I was having a good race, but I needed to use the bathroom early on, however every port-o-pottie I passed had a line at least 5 deep. I was even searching off in the distance at all the parks we passed. I didn’t want to lose minutes waiting to pee. Finally at mile 18, I found a bathroom with no line and only lost one minute.

I carried on, and made sure to hit the Aid Stations, randomly choosing blue Powerade or water. My biggest dislike of road marathons is the lack of actual food on course, gels are so gross!! However this race had bananas, orange slices and some candy – ok so they weren’t advertised on the race website.

I was having fun running in my Hawkeye gear, since the Hawks won the football the day before. However , I got a some boos and a go Iowa State…really? I think I did yell “scoreboard”at one point.

The weather was a non factor this day too, while it was a cool start, it warmed maybe into the 50’s and was always sunny. Perfect day for running!

Then at about mile 22, after a random shout out, by name from a stranger…I was done…in other words, it was time to walk. The main issue was my lingering cold… my throat would dry out, so I would walk to the next aid station to wet it down, and it would continue…blah blah… I knew I would finish, but just done, lol.

I did finish in a time of 5:18, which was a lot faster than the last race, and actually a decent time considering. I was happy.

I crossed the finish line to get my cool shiny medal, and was also handed a bottle of water, a bottle of chocolate milk, and could grab a cup of blue Powerade. Then there was all the food choices – fruit cups, chips, nut rolls, bread, broth….many things that had to be opened to consume, or things I had to all try to carry in my hands. At some point we were given heat sheets too.


The finishers chute is large, and closed off to everyone but runners. It loops around to the gear check pick up and the finisher shirts. That’s right you earn your shirt! They tore off a ticket on the bottom of your bib to get the shirt (long sleeve, gender specific, tech shirt.)

I told Kate I would meet them at the beer area. However, since I run with my phone on airplane mode, apparently that message wasn’t passed along. I had messages of “where are you” “we are at the reunion area” I just responded with “beer!”

In what seemed like another mile walk, I did make it to the beer area, where I got a Summit in a can. I was reunited with Josh, Kate, and Miguel. Yay, friends!!

I really enjoyed this race!! It’s just nice to run a big city race, without the big city hassle. I will definitely be back! Also as Josh proved, you can PR!

Then it was time to go home…boo! We really didn’t hustle back home, as we made sure to grab some Sebastian Joe’s ice cream & Five Guys on the way out of town. Always sad to leave Kate too, she is such a great friend.

So what’s next? Oh, I am sooo glad you asked….Well there is a little event called the Runner’s World Half and Festival, some more Iowa football, then the Tulsa Run 15k — and then in November I get all crazy… Milwaukee Run Fest 26.2 and the Madison Marathon. I am still on the lookout for a good December race to fit my schedule, so let me know if you have an idea! I am looking forward to capping off this crazy with a winter trip to the Key West Half Marathon in January… who knows maybe Disney?





Quad Cities Marathon 2016

The HOT 2016 Quad Cities Marathon!

Check out my official review at Bibrave.com for race specifics.

It was time to conquer my September Marathon, for my marathon a month journey. I am no stranger to the Quad Cities Marathon, I have run it before, as well as the half marathon. The only thing that had me concerned was the weather. the week leading up to the race had the forecast in the 70s with some cloud cover. However the actual weather was warmer all week, and race day temps climbed to 85 with lots of sun.

Gear: BR Tank, Sparkle Athletic skirt, SpiBelt, Adidas 7″ shorts, ProCompression Socks, Brooks Ghost 9, Garmin Fenix, B1G Hat, Aftershokz headphones, XX2i USA1 sunglasses

It was Sunday, September 25. (day after the K2K5K) This race is only about a 50 minute drive from home, so no need for a hotel, WAHOO! Josh had stayed at my sister’s the night before, so I just had to get myself to the start line. I woke up with enough time to walk the dogs and then have some toast with peanut butter and coffee.

It was an uneventful drive to Moline, IL. I parked the car in the FREE iWireless Center lot and had to use the bathroom.There are many port-o-potties lined up near the start/finish area. I then found Josh (he was running the half) who had my bib, he picked it up at the expo the day before.

We had made plans to meet up with some of the 100 mile members prior to the start. We met up with Don and his daughter and Kevin.

It was then time to line up in the starting area. However, I knew my sister was around somewhere, she was going to be the cheering squad. In that moment she sent me a message and we quickly caught up before the race. I got a pre-race hug from my niece.

The starting area, is also the finishing area for this race. This means the tents that are set up for the post race food, massage and what not – when everyone is trying to find the right place to start the race. It’s very crowded. There are pacers though that help people determine where they should be. If you are late to the race, you have to enter in the back, and it’s hard to get to the front if you are a faster pace.

There was a live performance of the National Anthem and the race was underway. The sun was already heating up the day.

The first mile was nothing special, just needed to make sure to split from the 5k course at the correct time. I saw my sister, Amber and niece, Ella and her friend, Maddy for a high five.

The course is pretty flat overall, but because the race covers 4 cities (Moline, Rock Island, Bettendorf & Davenport) in 2 states (IA & IL), you cross the Mississippi River twice and have to climb over 2 bridges. The first bridge is part of Interstate 74, which is only closed in one lane. It’s also after the first mile, so the course still has the half marathon runners too, which means there are a lot of people on the bridge at one time, and you can feel it bouncing.

I actually met up with Kevin (100 mile friend) and we started to chat. We actually ran together until the two courses split. It was great to have a friend to chat with. It was his first official race at the half marathon, he has conquered the distance many times, but the first time he would get a medal. I think the course split around mile 8, and even though it was hot, we crushed the pavement without problem.

Then, it was as if the struggle began the minute I lost my running buddy. Ok, ok, maybe not that dramatic, but I seemed to notice the heat. My biggest mistake was I didn’t bring a hydration pack. If there is even one concern about hydration, I always run a race with one. I also had run this race before, so thought I was prepared.

Up to this point there were hydration stops with water and lemon lime Gatorade and I made sure to stop at all of them. I also was meeting my sister and crew regularly. She also had my 2toms, but I couldn’t keep ahead of all the sweat with the chafe. However the high fives and pep were great to see!

It was at mile 13, when we entered Arsenal Island, that I really slowed it down. There was a runner down on the side, getting medical attention. I knew I needed to just finish the race, as that was a wake up call as to how warm it was. I remember making some conversation with a passing runner, we wondered why the next water stop seemed soo far away.

When I finally made it to the next water stop, I really wished there was more shade. The sun was cooking me…but I kept moving on. I switched to running .75 of a mile and walking .25 of a mile. I tried this for a while, but lets face it, I am not a fast marathoner, and I just wasn’t having it.

I knew in the past at about mile 19 there is usually candy and fruit. So I changed my focus on that, an orange slice sounded wonderful. I also for the first time tried to get into my audiobook, that wasn’t working so I switched to music, and I just wasn’t having that either.

I made it to the candy / fruit stop. There were orange slices and those strange gumdrop tasting fruit slice candy pieces. The orange was great, but no water to wash my hands off. The candy was not my fave. I did have some Glukos gummies with me, but another thing I just wasn’t having. I was totally over it….

Then it was time for the worst part of this course. The last 6 miles….it’s and out and back, the thing that makes it so bad is you are reunited with the half marathon and at this point, they turn left and run to the finish, while the marathoners turn right and run out and back on non shaded pavement.

I did see the cheering squad and Josh at this point. I gave them 2 thumbs down, but kept on moving. There was a lady with a bag of ice near this section, so I grabbed some…but it was just a nice thought…I was still miserable.

I did my best to do some running, and it did help as I saw some familiar faces coming in to the finish, since it was an out and back. However it was still hot…lol

Then .. the sky got cloudier, I was out 3 miles from the finish, it was also where the volunteers were handing out wet towels…. so I’m at mile 23 and this rain cloud came out of no where and BOOM, downpour! Yep, the relief from the heat came!! Then everyone was scrambling with trying to keep their phones dry, lol. (PRO TIP, run with it in a plastic bag.) Ok, so this rain did feel good, except for all those spots that were chaffed, ouch!! Also I now had soaking wet feet. I was cool though.

I made the turnaround and was only 2.5 ish miles from the finish, and the rain was done, and the closer I got to the finish, the sunnier it got. Back to the no shade, cooking in the heat. Also I know I was finishing close to back of the pack, but I don’t understand why the aid stations were sort of closed down, minimal volunteers if any. These people are on the course the longest and at the hottest part of the day. Make sure to keep them open if the course is open.

Ok rant over…. I could see the finish line! Someone passed me and encouraged me to run with them, that was soo nice, but I knew I didn’t want to run just yet.

I did pick up the pace and ran last half mile into the finish. I was done, in every sense of the word. I needed shade and something cold to drink.

I saw Amber and the crew, just before the finish.They were hot too, lol. I got my medal and a bottle of water, someone else gave me a carton of chocolate milk. I wasn’t too hungry, but I felt I should eat something. There was cookies, bags of chips and the remaining hot dogs that were grilled earlier. I know I finished back of the pack, but some fruit would have been nice. I don’t really want a hot dog after a hot marathon…same goes to the races with greasy pizza…ok ok ok…

There was also beer! However it was Coors or Miller Lite….didn’t appeal to me, so I actually took a Pepsi. I needed something easy to digest with the salty chips I ate.

The crew talked about the race and took some pics. Even met another runner hanging out under the shade of a tent.

I finished in a time of 5:55. Yep, that time sucks, but it was all about living to run another day. I think if you take out “America’s Toughest Marathon” it’s one of my worst road marathons ever.

As I write this, (three weeks later) I am ok with my finish, I really wasn’t having this race…and that happens, but I did finish it, and knew I would. The marathon doesn’t get any easier, but I do learn more about myself with each one I accomplish.

I will run this one again someday, it’s a nice race close to home…plus I get a cheering squad.




UCAN – snack bar review

UCAN snack bars

Disclaimer: I received a multi pack of the Generation UCAN snack bars 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!

I am always looking for something easy when it comes to running and “fueling.” Especially for those weekday runs of 4-8 mile runs, where I run in the morning and don’t want to eat a full breakfast before hitting the pavement. I have done cookies and granola bars, but always looking for a better option.

I was excited when I got the chance to try the UCAN snack bars. The Bibrave Pros had a chance to review the Generation Ucan SuperStarch Drink Mix a few months back and after reading what they had to say, I knew I should give these a try.

Sustaining your blood sugar is the key to maintaining your energy so you can perform your best. UCAN prevents the spike and crash of sugar-based fuels and is gentle on the stomach. No more bonking and GI distress!

First things first, what is SuperStarch? Why is this so special or different?

From www.generationucan.com – This natural, slow-releasing carbohydrate keeps blood sugar stable and delivers steady energy for your brain and body.

The idea behind this bar is that you will be fueled longer and will avoid that sugar high crash. Super starch is a slower process, keeping you energized longer.

Ok, this is great news, you know eating a cookie to fuel…while it could be packed with peanut butter, it contains a lot of sugar.

I received my multi package box the day before I would be leaving to run a trail marathon. As I don’t like to try anything new on race day, the bars had to wait until I got back home.

My First taste:

Aug 23 – Peach Passion Bar with SuperStarch, 15g SuperStarch, 4 g protein, 6 g cocoa butter, 4 g fiber, 170 cals, smells good & peachy, looks strange, like a bar of soap. Tastes fine, but the texture is throwing me off, kinda chalky.

Aug 25- Chocolate bar with SuperStarch, 10g SuperStarch, 6g protein, 4g coconut oil, 5g fiber, 180 cals. Weird texture bar coated in chocolate. Better than peach, not as chalky. I was able to eat 3/4 of the bar and I headed out on a run of about 4 miles. I was hungry when I returned home. However, my metabolism is all screwy from my weird racing schedule and I didn’t eat anything else but this bar.

Sept 6 – Coffee Bean Bar – I opened this with high hopes as it smells soo good! I love coffee!! I am always starving before lunch and need something to hold me over. However, I just can’t get past the texture…so dry and chalk like. 15G SuperStarch 4G protein 6 g cocoa butter 4g fiber.

Sept 13 – Cinnamon Swirl Bar. I am really struggling, but I am remaining optimistic, so I opened this bar and took a bite. I was pleasantly surprised with this one. It didn’t have the weird chalky aftertaste texture, or it was covered by the cinnamon. I had a few bites before my 3.36 mile run. I would say this one is my favorite tasting & texture. 13 G SuperStarch, 5 g protein, 6 g cocoa butter, 4 g fiber. 170 calories.

Now, I did consider dipping these in peanut butter…yes, I am that person… I also see there is a Chocolate Peanut Butter bar available. It was not in my multi pack, I would like to try that one too, I would think oils in peanut butter would make it less chalky.

I was just looking at the multi pack available through https://store.generationucan.com/products/barboxmulti and it appears you would receive 10 bars and 2 of each flavor ( peach, cinnamon, coffee bean, chocolate, peanut butter chocolate). If you would like to do this, use code BIBRAVE for 15% savings.

After trying all the flavors I was given. I am not sure I can get passed the texture to enjoy these, or to say they actually work. I am a different breed, I get thrown off by texture, it’s why I don’t like the traditional gel/gu – however many people like those too.

I think I prefer a bar with nuts, seeds or fruit vs this style of bar. I was glad that I had the chance to try these. I think if you are the person who likes the texture of protein bars, these are for you. I do think superstarch is a great way to fuel a run.

If you would like to read more about these, please check out what my fellow Bibrave pros had to say: GINAMARK – HEATHERJESSICABRIANSAMANTHA

Connect with UCAN : websitetwitterFacebookInstagram

One GIANT Medal!

Kickoff to Kinnick – 2016

Well you might remember I ran this race last year, and I didn’t really enjoy it. Even heard feedback from some people that helped put it on. Which is “whatever” I feel running as many races as I do, my opinion has some merit. Anyway, I did come back to run it again..mostly because I told people I would be running it, and it’s a race 3.5 miles from my house.

I added my more factual thoughts on Bibrave.com ( I will admit it was hard to keep my opinions out of it, lol)

This race was held on Saturday September 24, 2016. This was an away game for the football team, as the race finishes on the football field. I wish the race actually kicked off the season, instead of in the middle of the season, but logistics happen how they happen. It was a cool, cloudy 68 degrees, but the humidity was over 90%.

Gear: Sparkle Athletic Skirt, UA Iowa tank, Adidas 7″ boyshort, Hawkeye hat, Aftershokz Trekz Titanium headphones, Garmin Fenix, 2xu short socks, Brooks ghost 8

I registered late for this race, because that is just how it happened. Online registration was still open at this point and I paid $49 – OUCH! (ok I still paid it) This is an example of where registering early is beneficial. You could also register on race day for $50…yep for a 5k. (Keep reading, you will see why) *Also the race benefits the UIHC and Tim Dwight foundation*

Included with the registration was a fancy, colorful bib with timing chip; gender specific cotton short sleeve shirt; finisher’s medal; finisher’s party; and a finish on the football field. There were also 2 coupons, one was $10 off a $30 purchase at the local running store.

There was a packet pick up the Friday before the race at Scheels (local sporting goods store) or you could get your things on race day, starting at 7am (no mention when this would close.) Last year the race was on a Sunday, and they had 2 PPU before the race, so they are very accommodating for this.

I left my house just around 7 am, the race started at 9 am, but I wasn’t sure when they would close PPU. I wish I would have known, so I wouldn’t have to wait around. I got to the race area, the start is different than the finish, and parking is scattered in many lots in between – all FREE!

Ok, so I rolled in and parked, then walked to the PPU. There was a table no signs, so just waited in line, told them my name and they seemed to know which box to find my bib in, but it seemed a little disorganized for them. However they found it quick, and it was marked with my shirt size, I was given that and on my way. Easy Peasy! There were a lot of volunteers just standing around though, but maybe they would be busier later.

I now had a lot of time to waste…thankfully there is social media, lol. Here is one example where the race could cater more to runners, start it earlier! I guess that is my main problem with this race, it caters to the casual runner…the running is just something you do to get you to the medal or fun. There is room for both!

Once it was closer to the race start, I made my way to the starting area. I did run into some people I know – Hi Anne!! Hi Wendy!!.

The starting “corral” could use some improvement. The music was playing in the background and people were told to line up. I am not sure if they were encouraged to line up by pace as I couldn’t make out the actual announcement words. There were some pace signs. I saw one for 7-9:00 mile pace, it was held up into the air for all to see. However when running a 5k a 7 minute mile is a lot different than a 9 minute mile, that many people shouldn’t be grouped into the same area. There was also a 10 min plus pace sign, however unless you were standing next to the person holding it, you couldn’t see it as it was held chest high. I didn’t see a sign for walkers, maybe there was and maybe people just missed it.

I think this starting thing is my biggest “beef” this year, it causes a huge problem at the start and during the first mile. I am slow, but if I am lined up in my 10 min per mile pace area, I shouldn’t have to stop due to walkers a couple tenths into the race (ok maybe the Olympic race walkers did this?) It doesn’t take much effort to add more pace signs, or because of the increased popularity of this race how about actual corrals with wave starts. There is chip timing, so why not? It will then make the race pleasant for everyone, there wont be a huge bottleneck the first mile or so with people. People wont have to run outside the coned off area. Or is it the time the course is closed? Start the race 5 minutes earlier.  Easy fixes…what am I missing?

Ok, the race was underway. It started near Carver Hawkeye Area and we went down the hill on Hawkins. It took a left turn onto the Coralville Strip. It was here that some runners took the sidewalk, when there was one lane of the road coned off, there were runners running on the grass between as well. Also on the stretch was the Coralville Police Department yelling over their loudspeaker to stay inside the cones. To say this was crowded is an understatement.

The course approached Mormon Trek and we took another left. The sidewalk is up against the street here and participants used both the sidewalk and street again. I also wonder if they had a shorter race distance doing this, or did they care?

The City High drumline was near the softball fields, that was a cool pick me up!

The field started to thin out, and it was easy to find a pace and not worry about bumping into someone or having to go into the open lane of traffic.

At the halfway point, volunteers were on both sides of the course…but this mean for the road lane and the sidewalk lane…handing out mini plastic bottles of water. Sigh…I understand the ease for volunteers, but IMO for a 5k, a sip of water is enough, that is a huge waste of water and plastic.I am hoping those bottles were all recycled. Maybe I am wrong and people prefer these? Give me a paper cup to pinch for a sip any day… on a side note I didn’t feel the need to stop and get a drink.

Then the course hit the intersection of Melrose, where we took a left. This part has some rolling hills, nothing steep. This takes the course back towards the stadium, passing by the golf course and through University Heights.

There was a spot where we all had to run on the sidewalk due to some construction. I did not see any construction. However the sidewalk is wide enough here and the field was spread out enough, it wasn’t a problem. Although those pushing a stroller could have encountered a problem if they didn’t get on the sidewalk when told, as they had to navigate the curb.

Once near Kinnick, the route took another left, and we ran alongside the pressbox side and entered the stadium at Gate, where is a direct shot into the tunnel that leads to the field. Yep only one direct way onto the field. The tunnel is at a steep decline, with sharp turns and in places has low clearance. All the hazards were marked, but you should pay attention.

After some twisting and turning, you see the light and enter the field at the NW corner.  This is the cool part, running out onto the football field. Spectators are allowed inside and are lining the both sides, cheering everyone on. You can spot yourself on the jumbotron as you cross the finish line.

*the overall course is a fair challenge for everyone, and it’s easy to navigate, just a tad crowded at the start*

Once you cross the finish line a volunteer gives you a GIANT finisher’s medal. (Ok I am almost embarrassed to say I was given this medal for just participating in a 5k, LOL) There were some Hawkeye Spirit Squad members there too. Then you can mill about on the field. However, some milled to close to the finish area, it was a little congested. There was room to take pictures on the field, if you just walked away from the finish. There was no food or drink on the field, so if you needed to exit the field to the post race tailgate for a bottle of water.

I was running a marathon the next day, so I didn’t have plans to go all out, just the usual Sub-30…which I did with a 28:59.

There was one way off the field, the stairs on the NW corner, so that backed up a bit. Then you were at the concourse level, which was not closed off, so I used the real bathroom and popped out in the stands to take a picture.

Then I made my way to the tailgate party. This was in the parking lot behind the pressbox (lot 43.) There were many things going on. There was a silent auction, race sponsors, a live band, a beer area, brats being grilled, granola bars, chips, bananas and bottled water were available.

This was fun! There was a back up in the beer line. (at one point it was crowding the race course) ID’s were checked before you were admitted to the gated off area. It was taking some time as they had to put a bracelet on your arm. Once inside the beer area you were given 2 tickets for Millstream Beer. There were bar height tables available to lean on, rest that GIANT medal on. I guess the downside was the tailgating games were inside this area as well as the craft root beer. So I am not certain if your ID was checked and you just didn’t get a bracelet?

The live band was a lot of fun. They even played background music while they announced the AG winners.

Then it was all over and time to go home…the post race was fun. I didn’t have a chance to stay for it the last year, so glad I was able to enjoy.

I really want to like all aspects of this race, maybe it’s why I keep coming back. I would say the actual running parts have a lot of room for improvement, but the post race events and finish on the field are a lot of fun.

NFECSWI – half marathon

The North Face Endurance Challenge – Wisconsin

Disclaimer: I received entry into the The North Face Endurance Challenge Half Marathon 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!

Hey guys, it’s been a busy week of blogging! However it feels good to catch up and tell you what I have been up to, and what’s happening next.

My last race was the Half Marathon for the North Face Endurance Challenge in Kettle Moraine State Park in WI.  You might recall I ran the 50k here last year and had a blast! When Bibrave had opportunities to run here again I was excited, however I could only make the Sunday races as there was a home Iowa football game on Saturday. GO HAWKS!

If you are looking for the facts of the race, check out my review at Bibrave.com.

I arrived to Milwaukee around 8:30 pm Saturday night. I met up with fellow Bibrave pros Laura B and Jessica S. They were having dinner, and I made myself at home and had some pasta too. I am pretty sure we could have talked all night, but with the 8 am race start about a 45 minute drive away in the morning, we made sure to get some rest.

Gear: Sparkle Athletic skirt, Pro Compression Socks, Addidas 7″ boyshorts, On Running Cloud Surfer shoes, Garmin Fenix, Corridor Running hat, Aftershokz headphones (never used), SPIBelt, BR tank, Buff(r), XX2i usa1

We  (Laura and I) woke up to the Arthur alarm clock…Laura’s cute dog, and I had some toast with peanut butter. We left the house and in what felt like no time, had made it to the park.

We arrived and just pulled right up to the entrance, no questions asked and were given a day parking permit, for FREE. We were guided to a parking spot, which was maybe a minute walk to the start/finish area.

I had to use the bathroom, and exchange my shirt(Laura picked up my packet the day  before, with no problems) The shirts are gender specific, tech short sleeve…anymore I never know what size to get, but I was happy I could exchange for a better fit. However I am not sure if the neck is made for someone with 2 heads, very roomy, lol.

After we took care of the things we needed, we had some time to mill around the area. There were all kinds of tents, race information, merchandise, sponsors, area races, etc. Then it was time to race.


The half marathon was first on Sunday, followed by the 10k and 5k races. It started in waves and I was seeded into wave 5, which was no big deal. Laura chose to start with me and we would run together.

The sun was out, it was a pleasant day, but it would warm up to around 80 degrees.

The half marathon route is also part of the 50k route I ran the year before, so I knew what to expect. The trails in this park are great, true trail in my mind. There are areas of rocks, dirt, sand, and grass. There are also many rolling hills. However the trail is such you really wouldn’t need trail shoes to run them.

Laura and I came upon the first aid station, and were greeted by lots of friendly volunteers. The first thing I noticed was there was no real food, just Gels and some Tailwind and water in the same clear plastic cups.The volunteers made sure to tell us with was Tailwind and which was water.

I was not carrying anything with me but my phone, no food or drink, I had to change my fueling plan.  I knew I would be ok, as I had my toast, but with weird low blood sugar problems earlier in the summer, I like to be prepared.

Laura and I chatted some and I asked her about Tailwind, I think she mentioned it tasted fine. I am all about nothing new on race day…however I also know I can eat/drink a lot of crap and be fine. I also know an electrolyte drink and no food will get me through a half marathon.  Also I don’t do gels…. *I totally read the course guide wrong, apparently the marathon and 50k get the real food on course, the shorter distances have gels*

With my race fueling adjusted, Laura and I kept chatting away. We didn’t even hook up our music, we both ran with our headphones around our neck.

There were sections of the course that were out and back, or loops, so we would see other runners. We cheered for them, and they for us. Great field of participants. There were a few spectators out on the course too, mostly people that were familiar with the area, and knew where to go on the trail.

The trail was easily navigable with ribbon markings. Each race distance had a different colored bib, that bib color corresponded with the ribbon marking color on the trail. There were also some arrows directing runners at corners. A few mile markers were out there too.

Then all the sudden we were crossing the main road back towards the finish line, where had the miles gone? I also survived fueled by Tailwind. It was like I called my best pal up for a run…it was great, I had so much fun.  We even entertained the photographers with our mid race jumping skills.


Thanks Laura for sharing your pictures!

Running never felt like a task, but we were always aware of our surroundings, and walked some of the uphills, and were cautious on the downhills.

We had to decide how we would finish the race, would we jump across the finish line, throw a thumbs up?

Well we both sprocketed into the air as we crossed the line. Ha…so much fun! Our time was around 2:38, which is really good considering my past few half times, and this was trail.


Once we were done a volunteer handed us a medal, they were all the same for the weekend, but each race distance had a different ribbon. Then we were handed an empty reusable water bottle we could fill with water or more Tailwind. There was a small finishers food area with bananas, orange slices, epic bars, bagel bites and bpi products.


Laura and I stood around snacking on some food, and noticed some greedy 5kers taking more food than necessary. I hope the people still running got their share of food.

We spotted fellow pros Kim and Lisa. They were working the North Face tent, you could play games for swag. Laura actually won a cool trucker hat playing “bags.” I was impressed with Lisa, she had completed the 50 miler the day before and she was still standing. Kim ran the 5k and placed 2nd in her AG. These pros are awesome!!!  We chatted some more and then it was time for our post race beer.

Sierra Nevada was back again for the post race fun. I love real beer!!! Laura and I took advantage then stopped to talk with another race, hey hey looks like we might do a 100 mile relay next year…or maybe not.

We found a picnic table and sat and enjoyed the sunshine. I guess you could say we closed it down as volunteers were packing up their booths.

It was sad to call it a day at the event, but I had a 4 hour drive and needed some real food. The post race real food was for purchase only. We said our goodbyes, and I was on my way home. * I will be back soon enough for the Milwaukee Running Festival*

I did make a stop in nearby Eagle, WI to get a sandwich. I stopped at some dive style bar, filled with motorcycle riders and Packer fans. I got a chicken sandwich and cheese curds (fried) and really wanted a Spotted Cow, but I had no one to drive me home.

I finished up and stopped at the local gas station to top off the tank, I wasn’t leaving Wisconsin empty handed, I grabbed a 6 pack of spotted cow and some fresh cheese curds… “when in Wisconsin…”

This is the second year being involved with this event.  I have enjoyed both times, and I hope to get back again next year. The trails in this park are great, in addition to the volunteers and everyone that makes it happen.




Run With Carl – 2016

Run With Carl

This race has become my labor day tradition. I think I have ran it the past 3 or 4 years. I have a few reviews at Bibrave.com if you want to check em out, but the race goes so smoothly, they are usually the same.

This race has a great history. Over 20 plus years ago, Carl Schilling, at age 15, lost his life in an car-pedestrian accident. He was a cross country runner. The race went on, in his name to raise money for scholarships for area schools. A few years back the family put on the last race, however with help from a title sponsor the race goes on today. This race is a great example of community.

Alright…so this year the event took place on Monday September 5, 2016 at 8:15 am in Bettendorf, IA, It was a sunny start, 70’s and humid.

Gear: Bibrave Tank, Donut Sparkle Athletic Skirt, Pro Compression socks, Ampla Fly shoes, Addidas shorts, XX2i USA1 sunglasses, Aftershokz headphones, Garmin Fenix

Josh was once again running this race too, and we met up with Kelly. Not only has this become my Labor Day tradition, I think these 2 have been running this race as long as I have.

We arrived in Bettendorf around 7:15 am, as Josh and I still needed to register. Race day price was only $25 and we were running the 5 mile distance. If we wanted a shirt we could pay extra…believe me, we don’t not need another shirt.  I emphasize this price, it’s a steal! I have paid $40 or more for 5ks, I don’t know why but I have….so this race keeps it affordable.

We have always parked at the Middle School, which is a short walk from the race start. There is plenty of parking and it’s free. Just make sure to get there in enough time before the road is closed for the race.

There are also plenty of port-o-potties behind the registration area. I also think the fitness center is open if you really needed to use an actual toilet. However the race is small enough and it’s first thing in the morning the porto’s are clean…and as many races as I have done, a porto isn’t a big deal.

We were all ready to run the race, so we stood near the start and listened to the pre-race announcements, and the live singing, by a quartet, of the National Anthem.

Having run a half marathon the day before, I wasn’t sure what to expect. I did plan to race this though. I was also in the testing period for the Ampla shoes, which helped create force in running so I would improve my mechanics and run faster.

I made sure not to start too fast, and being familiar with the course, I also made sure to watch my footing, as the first section is on the road and there are crack and some potholes.

Once off the road, the race goes onto the bike path. This area can be congested with runners, but it eventually spreads out. The bike path is an asphalt surface. It follows a little creek.

There are 3 water only stops on the course, with easy to pinch paper cups. Each mile is marked and there is a volunteer standing at each one shouting the overall time.

From the bike path, the course then goes through a residential neighborhood and then finishes on a busier city street. This year the last street was under construction, so the course was on the sidewalk, which was no problem as it is really wide.

The one thing I forgot about this race is the hills! They are not steep, but there are quite a few that make pushing the pace a little more of a challenge.

I came across the finish line, and found Josh cheering in finishers. I waited next to him and we saw Kelly finish the 5k. Wahoo!

We all walked into the finisher’s area and where there was bananas, apples, bagel pieces and cookies. We were all too late for the cupcakes.😦 I wish they would have enough for all, but a cookie did the trick.


There was a tent printing out results, just had to show them your bib number. Ugh, my time was slower than last year by about 2-3 minutes. I really felt like I was flying through the race course, just must have had tired legs. My time was 47:30, which is still a great pace of 9:30.


We milled about for a while, but it was time to go to Dunkin Donuts and get some coffee and donuts of course. So we said our goodbyes to Kelly and were on our way.

Ok so we didn’t eat all the donuts… But left them with my niece. 🍩

I like this race and will always try to run it, let the Labor Day tradition continue. I am happy the community has stepped up to make this happen. See you next year Bettendorf!


New Bo Half Marathon

New Bo Half Marathon – Race Recap

Ahh man it’s halfway through September and I am just getting to this review. I guess football season and all the races have taken over…Anyway, here I have for you my New Bo Half experience…

For my official race review, please check Bibrave.com. I would also like to read your review, so add one!

The 2016 event took place on Sunday, September 4, at the New Bo Market in Cedar Rapids, IA. It was a cool morning, about 60 degrees, and partly sunny. It would warm to the upper 70’s and the sun made an appearance.

I arrived with plenty of time before the 7:30 am start. I needed to grab my packet and was planning on taking some pictures for the running club. There was plenty of free parking in a lot about a block from all the festivities. This lot was also easy to leave from, you weren’t blocked in due to the race route.

Gear: Sparkle Athletic skirt & Visor, Orange Mud Hydraquiver, Brooks Ghost 9, Walmart Tank, Procompression socks, Garmin Fenix, Addidas boy short, Aftershokz headphones, XX2i USA 1 sunglasses

I had registered online for only $40 and if I wanted a shirt, I could pay extra. I don’t need another shirt, so I love this option. There was also race day registration available. The line looked to go fast, I noticed it as I picked my packet up in the neighboring line.

Included with my $40 was a bib and timing chip, sticker, post race reusable cup and beer, and a handmade ceramic finishers medal.

I had some time to kill before the race started, so I milled around, talked to a few people and took those pictures. There was an announcer telling people all the happenings as well. I was on the lookout for my friend Jen. She was running her first ever half marathon.

It was close to starting time, and all the participants lined up at the start, which wasn’t the same as the finish. I happened to bump into Jen at the start. I was happy to see her. She looked very nervous. I hope my “it’s just another race attitude” didn’t frighten her more.

We listened to the National Anthem, which was sung live and the race was off! The spectators were lining the course the first few blocks, I made sure to slap some high fives.

Jen and I stayed together for a mile or so. I had to get to the North Liberty Farmers Market after the race, like immediately when I was done. I really wanted to stay with her, but she insisted I go ahead, and it made sense due to the time crunch. I was also stopping to take pictures for the the club too.

The course was an out an back, with a section on trail before we ran back. There were some rolling hills. Each mile we passed was marked with a flag. Once we got out of town, there were very few spectators. There was a photographer around the start and finish, pictures were provided for FREE! So many volunteers on course, and they were all friendly! There were police at the major intersections.

There were a lot of aid stations, but they only had water in plastic cups. There was no electrolyte drink on course. There was however a Gu stop at the halfway point. I need my electrolytes and I don’t do gels, so I made sure to carry my own. This was all mentioned on the website, so I was able to plan ahead.

I had a decent race, nothing to write home about. I finished…my time was 2:20:18.

I crossed the finish line and a medal was placed around my neck. These are really cool hand made ceramic medals, they were in the shape of Iowa.

I then grabbed my reusable plastic cup and filled it with water from the cooler at the finish line. Then up next was the post race food, there was a lot to choose from! The New Bo market is short for New Bohemia…so the post race takes pride in that and offers kolaches and pretzel rolls, there are also bananas and breakfast burritos.

I emptied the water from my reusable cup and made my way to the beer! The lady took my cup and filled it with a Lions Bridge brew, Yum! She never checked my ID and I am not sure she looked at my bib or medal to see if I ran the race. I only note this as later Jen told me she didn’t get any beer, they were out.

So I had walked through all the post race beer and food, and who do I see is also already finished…yep, JEN!!! She totally crushed her first marathon. She was thinking sub 3 hour and came in sub 2:30 or something. That is amazing!!! Congrats to her!!!

That was about it, I had to get moving to the farmers market. I said my goodbyes and walked the short walk to my car. I was out of the parking lot and in NL in no time.

This is a really nice race. For one – $40 for a half marathon is a steal!!! Next – it’s a fair course, not too flat, and some good hills. Love the personal touch of the handmade medal. My only one suggestion is to add some electrolytes on course. If I can do this again, I will.

Also instead of my traditional post with 23094820934  pictures, I will share my youtube video I created from the pictures I snapped when running.