Product Review – Ultima Replenisher

Ultima Replenisher – Product Review

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

It’s been a hot summer, not even that, it’s been a humid summer. We’ve have numerous warnings for the heat, and it’s only mid July. As a runner, I pay even more attention to this because of dehydration, That is why I like the chance to try new things.

Ok – so because I am honest, I have tried Ultima before, it was at the Runner’s World Festival, that was in 2016. I remember I liked them way back when, even though I was skeptical about the Stevia sweetener.

Product Specs:

  • Nothing artificial – all colors come from fruits or vegetables
  • Electrolytes & support minerals – Potassium, Magnesium, Chloride, Calcium, Selenium, Phosphorus and Zinc
  • No high fructose corn syrup – sweetened with Stevia leaf
  • Zero Calories
  • Zero Carbs
  • Vegan
  • Non GMO
  • Gluten Free
  • Paleo & Keto friendly

What did I receive?

I received a stick pack variety box, which contained 5 different flavors – orange, lemonade, grape, raspberry and cherry pomegranate.  I also received a 30 serving canister of cherry pomegranate.

The first thing I did was mix up a batch of popsicles. I even added some cherries!

I chose the lemonade flavor, and even had enough left to drink. I like this flavor the best, I can’t taste the Stevia in this one as much and it’s very refreshing!

I then proceeded to try all the flavors, I can tell you some of them are not for me as the Stevia taste is more present in some than others, making it really sweet. I would say raspberry is my second favorite flavor.  Having the powder to mix your own, I can add more water to calm down the sweetness.

Another plus is the stickpacks are perfect for travel. I always bring my own reusable bottle with me. Most convenience stores will allow you to fill it up for little to no cost, you can just bring along your stick pack, and BAM, a refreshing Ultima on the go!

Ultima is perfect for the sweet tooth without all the bad things. If you would like to try some, head on over to their Amazon store front – and use code ULTIMABR to save 15%!!!

Not sold on my review, well you are in luck as other Pros have their thoughts too: KatyNicoleKevinJenn AmyRyanKimLindsey MelissaBarb

Keep up with Ultima on the socials: TwitterInstagramFacebookWeb


Run 4 Troops – 2018 Race Recap

The 10th year of Run 4 Troops, a Marathon from Dyersville to Dubuque, IA.

Saturday, June 23, 2018.

This was my 5th year participating in the event. I have run it twice as a relay and twice as a solo marathon.

Josh and I left for Dyersville, bright and early Saturday morning. Josh was not participating in the run, but he was going to “crew” me along. I didn’t really need anything, but it was nice to have support along the way, and a ride home. Ok, so I could have met the shuttle bus in Dubuque at o’dark thirty, but it’s just easier for us to drive to the start.

We both had run Grandma’s Marathon the week before, and I was using this second marathon in 2 week as a training run for an upcoming trail 56k race.

There was nothing new about the pre-race announcements or procedures. I was able to grab my bib, which was inside a drawstring bag with my race shirt. This year the solo marathoners received a singlet. I liked this, however…. there is a race sponsor called “Gigantic” printed just above the ass. NICE! Also included was a silicone band that doubled as your trail pass, the bib with chiming time, and post race beer ticket.

The start was a little different this year. They spaced out the relay runners and made 3 waves. The first relay teams would start at 7AM, the solo marathoners at 7:15, and the last wave of relay runners at 7:30. The trail gets really congested at each transition, because each team has a vehicle getting their runners to those points. I think it worked out a little better, but as a slower runner not doing the relay, I wasn’t as affected. However, Josh and I worked on a plan to meet at some non relay intersections, which seemed to work well.

Ahhh, so how did my race go? I am so glad you asked.

I started with the 5 hour pacer. We were almost 2 miles in when I asked “Do you pace a lot of marathons?” Ha, I should have known the answer as the guy wasn’t super chatty until I broke the ice.

This was his first pacing “gig.” After, that initial question, we chatted for the next 8 miles. It was great to have someone to talk with, and the others that were running around. However, I met up with Josh and wasn’t able to keep up with them. I would miss their company the remainder of the run.

I was glad, I stopped and met Josh as I was suffering from a horrible chafe. I felt it starting after about mile 5 or so. I stopped and Josh sprayed some Aquaphor on my back, and it was then I realized my pack wasn’t as tight as it should have been. AHHHHH…

Oh – what was I running in? As you can see the tank and pack combo was where the initial problem was.

Gear: Sparkle Athletic Stars skirt, Adidas boy shorts, Zensah sports bra, Zensah socks, Brooks Ghost 10, Coros Pace watch, XX2i sunglasses, Aftershokz Trekz Air, Wal-Mart Tank, Orange Mud Endurance Pack, Hat.

The race is run on the Heritage Trail, a crush limestone trail. It’s FLAT, with some inclines to cross the roads. I am not sure if it was too flat, but it’s a great place to run, and has some shade.

I discovered there are some race photos online. I also recall waving to a camera numerous times, however, this is the only image I could find of myself *eye roll*

R4T 180623 07517

I came to the finish line after 5 hours… in fact near a time of 5:35. My time was not pretty, and I didn’t feel “pretty,” but I finished!

A volunteer put a medal around my neck, a wet cloth on the back of my neck and gave me a bottle of water. There was a tub of chocolate milk, a tub of bottled water and a tub of bottle Gatorade. I met Josh and made him bend over to grab me a chocolate milk and snag a Gatorade bottle for later.

We chit chatted for a while, and I heard the name of someone I knew finish, Don.

Then we went to find a slice of wood fired pizza. This is actually good post race pizza, crispy thin crust, not heavy and greasy. Sadly, the slow runners got no pizza, they were out. PSA – if you did not participate in the race or volunteer, please do not take the food.

I settled with some fruit and grabbed a cookie. My frown turned around when I remembered the race added post race beer, in fact there were 2 craft choices as well! I chose the Exile brew and sat down, while searching for Don.

Josh and I chatted under the shade of a tent and watched people finish. The 5 hour pacer found me to check in (that was nice.) He said he missed 5 hours by only a couple minutes as he started cramping near the end.

I finally spotted Don and went up to congratulate him.

The day was getting late, so we thought we would go find some real food and get back home. Ha, when I say real food, I mean I need salty, McDonald’s french fries.

I like this event, it’s almost a hidden marathon in the state of Iowa, or I always forget about it when someone asks, “what marathon should I run in Iowa?” The tough part is that it can be hot, and you need to work out the logistics from getting from point A to point B.

I will always recommend this event, if you are not up to running a marathon, do the relay, it’s a fun day!!! Sadly, I see that this event is the same day as Grandma’s in 2019.

Shady Rays Review

Shady Rays – Sunglasses Review

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

Before you all roll your eyes at another sunglasses review… let me tell you why I was interested in checking these out – “Our mission to fight hunger in America has led to over 1 million meals provided to date.”  That’s right, they are more than just looking good.

I was able to choose the colors I would like from the Signature Series. I went with the Purple Sunset Ice Polarized. (Which appear to be out of stock.) I wanted something fun! These are a clear plastic frame with a purple hued lens.

Here are the specs:

  • Durable gloss clear frame with metal hinges
  • Premium Polarized mirror lenses: 100% UV protection / shatter-resistant / salt water proof
  • Lifetime Craftsmanship Warranty & Free Replacements if Lost or Broken – just pay S+H fee for lost/broken replacements.
  • Every order provides 11 meals to fight hunger in the U.S. through Feeding America

Size Specs: Front Height: 50 mm (2 in.), Front Width: 140 mm (5.5 in.), Bridge Width: 18 mm (.7 in.), Temple Arm Length: 146 mm (5.75 in.)

*Did you see they will replace a lost or broken pair?!?!?

Ok, so how does these measure up? You know I have tested and worn many pairs of sunglasses over the years, so I have some thoughts.

First I just wore them around, to work, out to eat, to the auction, kayaking – low key type activity. I will say I really like them as a fashion shade. They compare to other glasses on the market in that regards, you look good while protecting your eyes.

Then I put them to the running test. I am on a run streak, so I started with a mile. I also wear a hat and headphones. I will say they fit with all the things on my head. However, what I noticed while running. They do not have adjustable nose pads, which will allow you to set lower on your nose to allow ventilation to minimize foggy up. Also they just sit so close on your face. I did notice they will bounce if they are not in the perfect place on my face. *I also note these things as I have a few pairs of sunglasses specifically designed for running.

I also noticed that while the shades are fun mirrored purple color, they are not that dark. This does not take away from their polarization. They are also great on cloudier days or on trails.

That’s right, just because they are not my favorite pair for running, I find myself grabbing them to run a quick mile or because I am already wearing them when I go to run. For example, I ran a 5k in them as it was in the evening, and the glasses were on my head.

Overall thoughts: With the mission of feeding America and the warranty, these are worth the $45 price tag. However, as a running pair of glasses, I think I would reach for something else. For me these are more for looking fashionable…and I think I do!

If you would like to purchase a pair you can use code  “BIBRAVE” good for 50% off 2+ pairs: 

If you would like more input, check out what the BibRave Pros have to say: VanessaKaty BenLissaJenn

Keep tabs on Shady Rays by checking out their website, twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

Kayaking in Iowa City

Live More Now – Kayaking

“Disclaimer: I received three BUFF®️ products to use on new adventures 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 finally did it… I tried kayaking.

I mentioned in a post related to this BUFF®️ campaign that I wanted to push myself and explore the urban adventure in Iowa City, kayaking was one of those activities.

It was a sunny, Sunday afternoon. I had some time, so I drove myself the 4 miles from my house to the Terry Trueblood recreational area. Lots of free parking spots available, bathrooms, ice cream and food.

The local outdoor store, Fin and Feather runs a rental business in the summer. You can rent a canoe, kayak, paddle board or paddle boat,

Once I parked my car, I grabbed my phone and plastic bag to put it in and my bottle of water.

I walked up to the rental area and was greeted by a worker, “would you like to rent?”

I remarked that I would like to try kayaking. I was given a form to sign – in 3 different places. Then I was given the oar and an oversized life jacket. If I went overboard, it was going to slip over my head.

I was told to then follow the trail to the water and I would be greeted and helped to a kayak. Well, there was someone there and they pointed to a kayak. I crawled in and was given a note about using my hips to balance, then shoved away from shore.

EEK! Ok, I should note that I have canoed a few times before, so I was familiar with this kind of water activity, but it’s different.

There was a slight breeze, so not only was I trying to feel comfortable, I was trying not to panic.

I paddled out further and noticed something weird.. I was sticking too close to the shore, I was hitting the bottom of the lake with my paddle, oops. SO I tried to go more towards the center of the lake. Hmmmm, where should I go?

The lake is not that big and after a few minutes I felt I had the hang of it, so I went a little further. Then I felt comfortable enough to take a photo. Whoa… it’s hard to selfie in a kayak, but I made the best of it.

After some people watching and just floating around, I was bored. Sure, it’s kinda fun. I just think if I had a task or somewhere to go, or if a friend were to join, I wouldn’t be bored.

I saw that some how I had wasted an hour of my time, so I paddled back to the shore. The rental is $13 and hour, and then they prorate the charge ever quarter hour.

When I got close, the workers were busy and I was not sure what to do. I did manage to successfully beach the boat, but to get out, I would have to step in the water. It looked shallow enough, and I had survived the time with not going overboard, now was not the time to fall in. Plus what do I do with the paddle?

I managed to gracefully exit the kayak, whew! I then pulled it up further onto the beach. I asked the worker if that was ok, she said “Yep.” SO, I just walked back to the rental place and returned my life jacket and paddle. They asked my name and I checked out. That’s it!

Now, I have always thought about doing this, I am glad I just went ahead and did it. Sometimes getting out of your comfort zone is simple, easy and only takes an hour of your time.

So what’s next… hmm should or could I do stand up paddle boarding?

*This is unlike any other product campaign I have been a part of, a review is not required. However, I would like to share that this is a great visor!! It has an adjustable strap on the back, so it will fit any head. It also is made of a lightweight technical material. I also love the bright color.

Gatorade Endurance – Product Review

Gatorade Endurance – Product Review

“Disclaimer: I received Gatorade Endurance Formula and Energy Gel as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out to review find and write race reviews!”

There are a lot of hydration products on the market, and even more that contain electrolytes. I have always been a fan of the Gatorade drink products, so I was intrigued to test out the new watermelon flavor Gatorade Endurance, and I was willing to try the new mango energy gel.

What is so special about Gatorade Endurance Hydration? It contains two times the the sodium and more than three times the potassium as traditional Gatorade. It also contains no artificial flavors.

As a salty runner, I was ready to give the extra sodium a try. I have used Gatorade post run to fight off the dehydration headache, so maybe if I drank this during the run I would have no headache?

I have been mixing up my Gatorade as instructed on the canister, then drinking it before runs. I recently ran two different marathons carrying the drink with me. I am happy to say I had no post race headaches and no stomach issues. The flavor reminds me of candy, yet it’s not super sweet like a competing brand on the market. I can taste the saltiness and I like it!!!

What is so special about Gatorade Endurance Energy? The energy gels contain 20 grams of carbohydrates that are easy to get down.

Ok, time to be real… I am not a person that enjoys gels. I would rather eat real food. The main issue is the texture and taste. If I can’t get past that, it doesn’t go in my body.

I gave the mango gel a try. I was pleasantly surprised by the light fruit flavor, and how thin it was. It wasn’t goopy. It reminded me of syrup, and I really do think this would be great on waffles!!! I will note it is very sticky.

I look forward to giving it a try on a run. I wasn’t brave enough to try it on my last 2 long runs as they were marathons. I gave the drink a go as I have ran with Gatorade before.

Would I recommend this? I would definitely recommend the drink, especially if you are someone who requires more salt. It’s light and not super sweet. Also, the best thing when you mix a powder formula, you can adjust the taste to your liking.

The gel, while I am not certain how it would perform for running, I can get past the taste and texture, which is a win in my book.

For fun I decided to make popsicles. I am not sure if I missed a certain way to mix it up, but they just tasted like a salty ice cube. I will do this again, but I think I will add fruit. However, Gatorade ice cubes are a good idea too.

You can keep up with Gatorade Endurance via their websiteInstagramTwitterFacebook

If you need more insight, check out these reviews by other BibRave Pros: Lindsey Karen LissaKatyJessicaKevinAmyJennVanessa

Marathon #26

Grandma’s Marathon – 2018 

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

It’s really hard to imagine ever running a marathon, but here I am ready to conquer my 26th. With running I have learned that anything is possible.

If you want a to the point, fact filled review, check out 

In my last blog post I wrote about the William A Irvin 5k, which is part of the Great Grandma’s Challenge. Run the 5k on Friday and the marathon on Saturday, I was participating in this. In that post you can learn more about going to the expo, etc.


With an early 4:36 am wake up call, the first thing I did was check the weather forecast. All week I had been on looking at the forecast, the rain chance hadn’t budged. We all know I will run in the rain – as evidenced in my last two weekends of races but I was done with it!!! SO what was the weather when I woke up… 50 degrees, clouds and NO rain… I couldn’t believe it!! Plus the last 2 years have been soo hot, I really wished I had put in more training effort, the weather was perfect for great racing times.

Josh, Miguel and I went to the hotel lobby for the runners continental breakfast. There was a lot of choices, but I kept it simple with a bagel topped with peanut butter and some fruit. I could tell Miguel was nervous, it was his first marathon.

Back to our room to grab all our things. The hotel has shuttle buses that come right to the front door, we needed to be on one by 6:15 am. This is so much easier than trying to get back to the DECC, fight through the traffic and either get on a bus there or the train. (which we did last year, nice ride – not enough toilets.)

Gear: Sparkle Athletic skirt, Zensah socks, Orange Mud Endurance pack, Zensah bra, Rabbit tank, Addidas short, Coros Pace Watch, Rudy Rydon glasses, Aftershokz Trekz Air, Brooks ghost 10, Hawkeye hat, spi belt

The bus ride was long….. only because we got caught in the traffic and construction area back in Duluth. However, we had plenty of time and made it to the starting area around 7 AM. The race would start at 7:45 AM.

While the start area can be a congested mess, with a little time it’s easy to navigate. The race starts near Two Harbors next to a car dealer lot. There is no good place to be dropped off or to park, just buses. Once off a bus there is the spot to check your bag, and the car dealer lot is full of port-o-potties as far as the eye can see. While there is never enough, just get to the ones furthest away and the lines will move quick!

I had last minute plans to meet with some BibRave Pros in the area at 7:15. I knew the area, and suggested the entrance to the corral system. At 7:10 I meet Jenn, she had traveled from PA for the race. I waited until 7:20 am and missed anyone else. I was kinda bummed, I knew there were 3 others running. However, as I said the area is very congested.

In the meantime I had said goodbye to Josh and Miguel. Josh was off doing his own thing, he had something to prove with this race. The heat from the previous years did not treat him well. Miguel needed to use the bathroom. I wished em good luck… and didn’t see them for hours.

The thing is, when it’s your 26th marathon, you still get nervous, but you are a little more confident in your ability to finish. I used the bathroom and took my time getting situated in the corral. Where I still stood forever until I crossed the starting line.

I mentioned how I wished I had trained better, but the week before the race I also registered for a 56k, so this was a training run too. I really love this course, and all it has to offer. I just wanted to enjoy and get to the finish.

It was a little gray and while you couldn’t see much of the lake, you knew it was there as every once in a while a cool burst of air fell over the course.

I ran on the gravel shoulder in as many spots as possible. The road was closed to traffic the entire course, so if you wanted to run the tangents that was possible.

The course is well supported with official aid stations offering water, Powerade, Ice, sponges, gus and oranges and bananas. Spectators are in all the spots they can get access. In the early miles the course is on old Hwy 61, and at any intersection there are groups with signs, or at camping or lodging areas there are bands or loud music. When you get closer to Duluth the spectators set up many unofficial aid stations with bacon, watermelon, pickles and even ibuprofen.

Then near mile 22 is the infamous Lemon Drop Hill. I think this course is relatively flat, some will tell you different, but that is why this hill is significant as it’s the biggest climb in one area. It’s actually an overpass bridge.

I had to use the bathroom for the second time… ahh, I had hydrated maybe too much? I was loving the new Watermelon Gatorade I had with me, not as sweet as the Powerade, where you feel you need to brush your teeth at the end of the race.

About mile 23 now, I turned my phone off airplane mode and thought I would call Josh. He answered quickly, so I knew he had finished, YAY!! However, he said he was in the medical tent again….um? This time it’s because he was sooo cold and couldn’t warm up. This race…..

The end of the course was re-routed as there was construction in Duluth. I liked the change, however it added what felt like a steep, short downhill. It did eliminate the brick streets which are tough at the end.

I was really close to the finish and I spotted my number 1 fan, Kate cheering people on…so I did what anyone does at the end of a marathon… jumped for photos and stopped to chit chat. I was feeling really good, slow but good!

I left Kate and decided I should get my medal. I saw Josh near the finisher chute, yay he was no longer in the medical tent. I crossed the finish line with another jump. (While there is a Marathonfoto of that, I am not paying for it.)

I am sure I have mentioned this before, but after you get a finisher’s medal and a bottle of water, you get your finisher’s shirt. You not only have to earn a medal, but you earn your shirt. This year it was a darker green, short sleeve, gender specific tech shirt. Very similar to my 5k shirt.

After the shirt pick up, I saw Miguel…or maybe it was before… YAY, Miguel made it to the finish line!!!! Congrats on your first!!! He did look a little rough, but he was up right.

He walked with me through the finisher area, as it was the easiest for us to all reunite. I grabbed some strawberries, there was also orange juice, oranges, and apples. Then I saw the chocolate milk, I needed one of those!! There were chips and bagels with cream cheese too. This was also the area to grab your gear checked bag.

We departed this area and I wanted my beer!!!! The beer area is also the post race party. The race merchandise is set up, coffee, soda and a band is performing. There’s a giant video screen for viewing the finish and a results tent as well.

I turned in my  beer ticket for an O’dell’s IPA. Dear races with crappy beer…. this is how you do it! They had the lighter choices, but then beer that actually tastes good.

I was trying to carry all my things, which is always difficult. I wonder if this is how they police people from taking to many post race things? Miguel and I stood even longer while communicating with Kate. She was nearing the area and would be at Little Angie’s Cantina, so Miguel went out to find her.

I drank my beer and met up with Josh. He waited at the finish to watch some people he knew cross the line in their first marathon… and as luck would have it, they gave Josh their beer tickets…. MORE BEER!!

Josh and I went inside the band tent to sit, listen to the music and just enjoy the event. Then we discovered that GRANDMA was singing… yes, there is a lady that dresses in a Grandma’s costume to greet people all weekend, and here she was signing cover songs on the stage. It was the coolest thing!!

We cashed in our second beer tickets, this time I tried an Alaskan brewing white ale. It was good, but not my favorite. We checked out the merchandise tent and then thought we should catch up with Kate and Miguel.

They were seated just outside Little Angie’s. For some reason Josh and I thought we would order some more beer and food. Little Angie’s has been the post race tradition now for 5 years. It’s right at the finish line, plus you can never go wrong with Angie.

We were all tired, so another year passed and I still hadn’t went in the lake post run…I am thinking the lake was almost the same as the air temp.

After some lounging at the hotel, we did do some more discovering of Duluth. We always say we want to spend more time in the area, but then always are too exhausted to explore. This year we went over the lift bridge and drove the island. We discovered Park Point Beach, what a cool spot.

Then some how it was time to eat again. By a suggestion of Josh’s friend we went to Sammy’s pizza. We each ordered an individual pizza… we know how to party!! Then it was time to call it a night.

SUNDAY, June 17

Time to go home, Duluth is quite the drive. I didn’t leave before getting in another mile in my run streak, such a great place to be…plus it was also about 90 degrees at home.

We gathered our things, hit up a popular local coffee spot and made our way to MPLS to drop off Kate and Miguel.

Then had an uneventful trip to Iowa City, complete with a road side attraction photo.

Grandma’s is one of my favorite marathons, ever!! The race organization is top notch, the course is beautiful. I really thought this was the year to finally eat at Grandma’s restaurant and jump in the lake… maybe next year….

If you ran don’t forget to add a review to and claim your results on Athlinks

William A Irvin 5k – 2018 recap

Great Grandma’s Challenge – William A Irvin 5k Recap

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

Ahh, I struggle on how to start each and every blog post… I wish I had some catchy phrase or sentence to grab your attention…. but my mind is sizzling out, so you will just have to deal with my rambling…*snickering*… and as always for a to the point review, check

Thursday, June 14

Josh and I packed up the car, to then unload it all into a rental. Then we were on the road to MPLS. We had made arrangements to stay with our friend Kate, as she would be joining the weekend fun!

We avoided I-35 as Kate told us that construction around the city was a nightmare. This allowed us to stop in Rochester for dinner at Noodles. I could eat pasta or noodles everyday.

Around 10 pm or so, we arrived at Kate’s and got settled in.

Friday, June 15 – RACE DAY

Kate had to work until noon, and then we would continue the trip to Duluth, also picking up Miguel. I just had to get my race stuff for the 5k before 5pm. (packet pickup for Saturday races was open until 11 pm.) With a 2 ish plus hour drive to Duluth, I felt we had plenty of time. However, it seems every year there is more and more road construction, making the drive a little longer.

Josh and I ventured to one of our favorite places to eat, French Meadow and had a leisurely morning as Kate and Miguel worked.

Kate was keeping in touch via text and just after noon time, we were packing up the car with her things, and then on our way to pick up Miguel. It was probably near 1 pm when we left downtown MPLS… *I just need to be there before 5… race doesn’t start until 6, I can get a little anxious.

As we chatted away, and eventually searched the radio for the perfect song, the GPS suggested we take a different route… UGH, construction was backing things up. In addition to the race goers, the city dwellers are headed north to their cabins, lots of traffic on one highway.

After all the crap, we pulled close to Duluth just before 4pm. We had about a mile to go and were stuck in traffic. This always happens. The exit ramp backs up onto the interstate. There’s also an exit you can take before the mess, but as luck had it, downtown Duluth was under construction, so it caused even more backups.

I kept thinking it’s less than a mile, I could just walk and get my bib… I also had an hour… I also knew that we would have to walk after we parked, and the bib pickup is in the back of a very crowded expo hall.

We kept moving, but I kept getting a little more anxious…. oh and I still had to change into my running clothes. When we were close, I hopped out of the car and just went to get my packet. I couldn’t take it… and told em I would meet em inside.

I made it to the expo, and it was CRAZY!! There were people everywhere, all walking in different directions. There are many entrances into the space, but they all start with the big area with the pasta dinner, then leading to the smaller expo and packet pick up.

I of course waited in the wrong line first, so after waiting in the 5k pickup, I went over to the Great Grandma’s Challenge line. Packet pick up was super simple, they just wanted my bib number, no proof of ID. I was given all the things! I also was given my 5k tech shirt, short sleeve gender specific. I received a tote full of goods, and at the time I did not have time to see what was all inside.

I left the pickup area, checking the timing chips to make sure they would register in my name, which they did and kept moving. My next deadline was to get into a starting corral by 5:30pm. I had no time to check out anything in the expo, I like to get free samples and what not, but there was no time.

I did make time to meet fellow BibRave pro Amy at the Bondi Band booth.

Then things got a little crazy, I had to find Josh with the car keys so I could change. After some texting I found them and trekked to the car. I made a quick change in the car (not my first time) and made it back to the DECC. People were still buzzing everywhere, it’s kinda crazy and I would suggest getting there early if you want to check things out and not feel rushed.

Near 5:30 I was ready to get into the corrals, but really I didn’t need too. I wasn’t going to race the 5k the night before a marathon. So instead I checked out the free Clif bar samples and some local beer samples, which were stationed right near the corral and finisher area.

I said later to Josh, Kate and Miguel and finally went to stand in the corral. There were some announcements. This was the 25th year of the 5k. We had just got into town after a lot of rain and were told the course had some puddles. Then the National Anthem was sung, and corrals were released. They were just set up by pace, nothing official on the bib or proof of time.

Just after 6 pm, I hit play on the Aftershokz, and was on my shakeout run. I saw Josh right away.

Then it was the first puddle…. I have never seen anything like it, the length people went to avoid this puddle, everyone bunched up to one side and slowed down…. I of course, ran on the edge and splashed right through…no one has time for that.

The course was thankfully a lot different from the time I ran this in 2015, while we did go down the road towards the industrial part of town, it was just a small part and we turned back towards Duluth. It was all flat, and we ended up running along the lake front, which was gorgeous.

There was a water stop in this area too, but I didn’t need to stop. There was also another puddle here and a volunteer stood guard with a flag…so we were detoured to the boardwalk along the lake, which was almost harder to navigate as we had to go through some loose rocks. Again, I have never seen so much hate for a puddle.

It was weird to route through the area where the marathon post race food is set up, but that is how we got to the finish near the William A Irvin freighter.

I came across the finish just over 30 minutes, darn, no matter what I have on the docket, I always strive for a sub 30. Oh well, a finish is a finish.

A volunteer handed me a medal – yep there was a 5k finisher medal. I got a bottle of water, chocolate milk, bag of Old Dutch chips and a Clif bar.

I spotted Josh, and he said Kate and Miguel took an Uber back to the hotel. Miguel was running his first marathon, and was getting nervous. Understandable.

We decided this year we would not be eating at the pasta party supplied by the race. The price had increased to $14, and while you get your money’s worth and it’s really easy to eat there. We thought we could get more of what we wanted for that price somewhere else. As luck would have it our hotel was having a runners dinner special.

The hotel is in neighboring Superior, WI. It may not be the fanciest of places but it caters to the runners. In addition to the dinner, there is a breakfast in the morning and a shuttle to the start.

Josh and I decided to leave the crazy DECC area and get to the hotel too. It’s nice to be well rested before a marathon.

We got back to the hotel and went to the restaurant. For $14 there was a pasta buffet with potatoes and breadsticks. I was in carb heaven!!! They also had salad and pasta sauce.

After stuffing our faces, we made it back to the room to lay out all our marathon gear. I also finally had time to check out what I got in my awesome tote. The clear race bag (doubled as a gear check bag) was full of flyers. There was a separate envelope for my 2 bibs, one for each race. There was also an insulated tumbler- which I later found out is also a coozie. Then I receive a pair of fitsoks for the 5k too. So many great surprises for the Great Grandma’s Challenge.

It was then time to call it a night – marathon #26 in the morning!

Overall 5k thoughts: This would be a tough race to run as a stand alone if you didn’t live in the area. I feel the logistics of getting your bib is tougher than most. The price is a little higher too, near $40 but you do get a medal and a great view of the lake.

If you ran the race, make sure to add your review to and claim your results on Athlinks