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.

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