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

Keota Fun Run 2018

Keota Fun Run 2018 – A Thundering Good Time!

Saturday, June 9. Keota, IA.

I hopped in my car around 6:30 AM to make the one hour trek to Keota. The race start time was 8 AM. I left Iowa City in sunshine, but the sky looked dark, and I hit a rain shower on the trip.

For my to the point review check out

I arrived to the Keota High School parking lot, and the sky was gray. Before I went to register, I checked the radar, it didn’t look like anything was going to happen. I made it into the school, paid the $15 – 10k race day registration fee, was handed my short sleeve cotton, t-shirt, and went back to my car. No race bib, which for a small town event, is perfect! The sky was starting to look a little more dark.

Gear: Sparkle Athletic Skirt, Wal-Mart Tank, Road Runner Sports shorts, Brooks Ghost 10, Pro Compression socks, Aftershokz Trekz Air, XX2i Glasses, Coros Global Pace Watch, Boco visor

I got all my race things ready, and then went back into the school to use the bathroom. Then I check the radar again, it was going to storm. The RD was also watching the radar.

Near 8 AM, it started raining and storming, and the race was delayed! Everyone was safe inside the school. There was no place to sit, so we all just stood around looking at our phones and chatting. This is also when I learned I was the only female running the 10k.

I actually know the RD’s – Jill and Darren, they were walking around deciding what to do. I mentioned that everything should be fine as long as there is no lightning.

With more radar watching, an announcement was made that the race would start at 8:30 AM.

Just before 8:30 we all made our way outside to the starting line, or the spray painted line on the road. 10k runners were assigned to start on the left, while the 5k and milers were told to start on the right. The local radio station was there with the music van playing tunes and music, when it was time, he played a recording of the National Anthem.

There were only 6 people running the 10k, including a guy pushing a wheelchair. A minute after the start I was already last. It was easy to tell as the course was out and back in town, then out and back on a county highway.  I passed a water stop and the main intersection and was on my way out on the long lonely highway portion. What was weird is that all the others were running down the road as if it were closed. I stuck to the side to run against traffic.

As I got further out I could also see another storm rolling in, it must have just popped up. This section is flat and surrounded by cornfields, with a view as far as the eye could see. Then there was lightning and thunder, then the rain started, followed by lots of headwind and more lightning. Where or what what was I supposed to do? crawl into a cornfield? There was no shelter? The police or fire department did not come shelter us (they were at the major crossing and turn around.) When I made it to the turn around the RD caught up with us and asked if we wanted to continue. At this point, we had run through the worst, and since I was given a choice, I wasn’t going to quit. So I carried on.

I should note, I was running with my phone in a ziploc bag, stored in a pocket in my shorts, I didn’t need my SpiBelt. I also had my headphones. All survived the soaking. I also had no blisters or any chafing. This is when training in the rain is handy, you know what gear works and how to carry it.

That was the scariest thing I have ever run through, random lightning strikes with no shelter. The RD should have got us earlier and canceled the race, however they did not have the keys to the vans to gather everyone and did the best they could with a sedan. I am also very surprised the fire department didn’t get us. The visibility was also very bad.

With all that being said, I did come in second to last, I passed one person!!! When I crossed the finish line I was handed a popsicle stick with my place of finish. I brought the stick inside, where they “tallied” the results. There were bottles of water and bagels too.

Of course, I won my division. There was an awards ceremony for age groups and overall winners. The radio station van made the announcements.

With the weather situation aside, I will always try to come back to the race. I like the price and that there are no extra logistics to worry about. Plus the event is centered around a small community that loves their town.

Oh wait, there’s more!!!

After the event, Jill and Darren wanted to know if I wanted to shower so we could all go grab a drink. Well I didn’t bring a change of clothes, so I just put on my race shirt and hopped in Jill’s truck to hit up the town.

First there was a parade. I love a good parade, and CANDY!!! We stopped at The Roost, which is the local bar. I was asked what I wanted to drink… well no craft beers on tap… and well no beers on tap, I went with a Bud Light Lime.

Then… as you do… took my beer outside to sit on the bleachers to watch the parade. It was a great parade. A nice patriotic tribute to start, lots of tractors (Darren was driving one,) lots of local businesses and of course lots of candy… all the candy! I think in the mean time I was talked into a second beer.

After the parade was an auction. They auctioned off high school students. They were auctioned for their labor, to help community members with odd jobs around their homes and the money went to the sports boosters, or back to the school.

I ventured over to get a ribeye steak sandwich and then it was time to hang out in the Roost for a while. I was thinking I had a lot to do and needed to get back home. I was convinced that I needed to check out the VFW before I left. I was also given another beer, but also at the same time I saw someone I knew from high school….all the cool people hang in Keota.

We walked a few doors down into the  VFW. It was a little less crazy, but still one of the places to be. I was now drinking water and eating parade candy. Jill and Darren saw someone they knew and they said they were only at the VFW because the beer was colder than The Roost, so they got their beer and went back to the party at the other bar.

This was almost too much fun for me, I said my goodbyes. I wish I had planned to spend more time, but I also had things to do. I guess next year I will be more prepared, and I suggest you join me!

39 Forever

Dam it’s over! 

On Saturday, June 2, I took part in the 39th and final Dam to Dam race, a 20k from Saylorville Dam to downtown Des Moines.

As always my no nonsense review is at

When registration opened mid March, the price was $39. Josh was in for this too, so he got online and immediately registered both of us. This was a good thing as the first thousands of spots sold out in no time. There were an additional 1000 spots added and all spots were full by around noon the same day.

We were no stranger to the event. In 2013 we ran the last 20k distance. From 2014-2017 they changed the race to a half marathon. For this last edition they changed it back to the 20k distance.

Josh and I skipped out of work early Friday (June 1) afternoon to get to the packet pickup and expo. There was no option to get anything on race day, so you had to make it to the expo by 8pm.

We were at the expo around 3pm. There was free parking in the lot north of the Iowa Events Center. However this was confusing as signs were posted saying that parking was $8. I pulled up the email that said free parking and we mentioned it, and they let us in. There was also metered parking on the street.

If you have never participated in this event, the “expo” is not your traditional race expo with vendors and merchandise for sale. Yes, there was a giveaway, volunteer checkiin, and one fitness store with gear, but it’s more of a pre-race party.

After we found our bib numbers and entered the giveaway, we made it to area to grab our bibs. This was simple, just tell the person your number and they double checked your name. They did not ask for ID, but they did ask what color of socks we wanted, I went with a pink, they were Brooks low cut.

Then we had to make our way to claim our shirt. We had a choice of neon yellow, blue or black. They were a Brooks technical material, gender specific, and short sleeve. I went with the neon yellow. The design was simple, a tiny logo and words “39 forever.” Nothing was pre-stuffed in a bag, but there was a small plastic bag available if you wanted.

The center of the events hall was filled with food. There was a buffet line with chips, snack mix and candy. There were two sandwich options. A table with some cake and mini cupcakes was also present. There were stations for soda and blue Powerade. Water was set up throughout. None of this was an additional cost, keep in mind we registered for $39.

Outside there was a beer tent. They were serving keg Coors Lights and Smirnoff Ice. There was live music, but it was warm and sunny. This too was at no additional cost and you could drink as many pre-race drinks as you wanted.

We found a table and sat down to eat and relax. We also checked the forecast for the race, there was rain predicted all week and it wasn’t budging.

After some chatting with friends and learning we did not win any giveaway, we moved on to go eat more food. We had reservations at Christopher’s, one of Josh’s favorite places to eat in Des Moines.

Once we were done filling ourselves with all the pasta…yes I know it’s only 20k, but we like pasta; we were already thinking about what we would be having for breakfast, lol. We found this fancy new downtown Hy-Vee and grabbed some bagels. Then we checked into our hotel. We got all our gear ready and then we called it an early night as we would have to wake up at 4 AM to catch the shuttle.

Gear: Sparkle Athletic skirt, Coros Pace watch, Brooks running Ghost 10, Rudy Rydon glasses, Aftershokz Trekz Air, SpiBelt, Road runner shorts, Zensah socks & bra


Bagels and coffee, another breakfast of champions!

It was early, but that’s race day. First a check of the weather—-oh crap! The radar did not look good. However, the big blob looked like it would move through and eventually pass on. The temperature looked fine too. The question was, would there be lightning? The race is point to point and starts on top of a dam with no shelter. Would it be cancelled? We kept glued to social media and the radar for any information, all while still preparing to grab a shuttle to the start.

There were 3 locations to catch a shuttle to the start. We would be going to the downtown location. Buses would be from 5 AM to 5:45 AM. We went to the lobby to wait for our Uber, it was about a mile walk to the shuttle pick up and it had started to rain. Meanwhile in the lobby we managed to score a 4 PM checkout time!

The Uber showed up and on the ride the driver was amazed that anyone would run for 2 hours. I kept my mouth shut….. I guess running for 7 hours would be asanine!

We made it to the buses, there seemed like an endless line. Runners were just lining up to board them. I did not see anyone in charge of the process, there were police officers directing the next buses ahead on the road.

Once in the bus, Josh and I didn’t care what happened. We were in a dry spot. If they had to delay or cancel, we were in a relatively safe spot. We spent the time scrolling social media pages for the event. Things were going so great for people who drove into the downtown bus pickup, traffic was reported as backed up. Another location at the mall was reporting there were no buses. It was a fun way to pass the time.

We got close to our drop off point at the Dam, but the line of buses was really long, so it took a while. This was fine as what appeared to be the heaviest part of rain was going through. We were still dry.

The time came and we had to get off the bus. There was a light rain and there were some dedicated volunteers who had been standing outside for a long time directing the drop off.

We made the walk to the starting area. There were a lot of people in ponchos and plastic bags, and people wearing trash bags on their shoes. Insert eye roll… ok maybe this is mean, but it could rain on race day, had these people never ran in the rain? You just get wet, those training runs you can find the sock and shoe that works for no blisters. Also have you ever run in a rain coat/trash bag or poncho? I find the sweating from the inside is worse and you have all this crap stuck to you, you are not dry. Ok, so maybe they were going to ditch the coats after the start… more on that later. Also was no one watching the radar? The rain wasn’t going to last.I guess I am no nonsense, the weather happens….

We bypassed the port-0-potty area, and continued walking to the start as 7 AM was quickly approaching. I stopped near the sign that said 10 min per mile. It was an ambitious pace, but it was a good place to stop. I said good luck to Josh and he forged ahead.

As I stood there and waited to start, I kept my eyes open for someone I might know. As luck would have it, twitter friend Scott was waiting near me too. I made my way over and we chit chatted. I then saw local running friend Tim and gave a wave. The rain continued and we waited more… it was now after 7 AM.

At 7:23 AM an announcement was finally made, the race was going to start at 7:30, there was a half an hour delay…. um thanks for the heads up. I didn’t see any lightning when we were standing there, so I am thinking there was a backup with getting runners to the start on time. Standing in the rain is different than running in the rain… and a little cold, but I still don’t wish I had a poncho.

Finally – it was time to run!! Then out of no where the wind picked up, and was driving rain at us. What an AWESOME way to kickoff the last Dam to Dam. Just as we started, local running friends Horacio, Logan and Jennifer passed me and we all battled the weather through the first mile.

The race as I mentioned is point to point and the idea is you start at the Saylorville Dam and run to the Dam in downtown Des Moines. It’s all on paved roads, first in the countryside and then through parts of Des Moines. The course is overall downhill, with a bigger climb at mile 7.

The rain finally let up after a mile or so and it really wasn’t a bad day, especially since the day before had been so hot. The worse part now was dodging all the plastic – trash bags and ponchos everywhere. Thank you to everyone that took time to clean that up. Also, do they make a compostable poncho? So much waste! The rain also cooled down some of the pavement.

As far as my race, I just wanted to finish and do my best. I tried to run on the gravel should as much as I could. I stopped for water and Powerade when I needed it, although each stop was set up different. I even detoured for a port-o-potty off course. There were always lots of people on course with my pace. This made the part along the river path a little crowded. There were lots of spectators in the areas they could get to, but I would suggest cheering for everyone and not just your friends.

I came to a very busy finish area. The announcer was catching the names as he could. Once across the timing mat, you had to weave through finishers waiting for loved ones to find a medal. *I saw a race official arguing with a participant to leave the area.

I found a medal and then saw Herky… so I was now part of the problem, he did not have a line , so I quickly pulled my phone and snapped a selfie!

I proceeded through the crowded chute and got a cup of water, and picked up a bottle of red Powerade. Then it was time to exit the area. There were people everywhere….. runners and non runners. A volunteer pointed in directions…”food that way, beer back there, photos here” I just wanted room to breathe!

I finally found a way to the food. It was line up along the outside of Cowles Commons. It would have made sense for a line to be formed and people to follow through, but instead people – and I mean runners and non runners – were just walking up and grabbing things.

I started at the far end and followed through, it took a while as people were just walking up. I grabbed a chocolate milk, ice cream, cookie, kettle corn and apple. I felt greedy taking all those things, mostly as I looked silly and couldn’t carry them all. I even skipped the pulled pork sandwich, oranges and bananas.

Near the end of the line I saw someone I thought looked familar, it was BibRave Pro Michael… so I stopped and chatted. He was telling me that his running group had a fun day and would stop and help the water stations give out cups.

I then had to find Josh, he had sent me some texts as to his whereabouts. I did find him, thankfully his IOWA shirt stood out. We sat and enjoyed the people watching.

I decided even though it was Coors, I would get a post race beer, so I headed over to get one. It was crazy! I ended up finding a dumpling instead….. sooo the next time Josh went back over to the beer line with me… we found out a runners bib got you a bib, non runners got a wrist band…to which I am not sure they had to pay for.  We waited in what we thought was a line, only to have 4 people budge in front of us… lots of crap for a crappy beer.

Finally a cold beer in our hand, we went back to listen to the live music and more people watching. The sun was in and out of the clouds, it was a nice day. The crowd started to thin out, so we decided to walk back to the hotel. As luck would have it, the GIANT farmers market was happening, so we got an iced coffee.

We were back to the hotel just before noon. A shower sounded great… nothing more enjoyable than being rain and sweat soaked, but it was time to move on.

Next stop, lunch! – Yes all we do is eat. El Bait Shop was next to the hotel, we just had to go here, there are over 250 beers on tap…WAHOOOOOOOOO!!! Also, Josh wouldn’t shut up about the bacon wrapped tots.

We ordered a flight of beer, each of us picking 2. MMMM sour beers are my jam! The tots were delish! We topped off the trip by splitting a tray of nachos.

As much as we would have liked to stay and explore Des Moines, it was time to get home. However, we only made it as far as Newton before we had to stop at the gas station and take a nap… when did we get so old?

So what’s next for the Dam to Dam? I told you this was the last year…. well it was the last year as the Dam to Dam. The former race organization was all done by a volunteer board, they are done! The race was bought/sold/acquired by a race event management company – Rip Roar Events. I even received and email to sign up for next year – but it will be called DAM to DSM. I am not sure if it will be a half marathon, or the same idea.

I am also not sure if I will be back. I think I had the same feelings when I ran this in 2013, I just wasn’t that “thrilled” for the event. We signed up because it was to be the last and it was only $39. Guess I will just keep my eyes open and see what happens.


Run Madtown 13.1

Run Madtown 13.1 – Race Recap
“Disclaimer: I received entry into the Run Madtown Conquer the Capitol 19.3 Challenge to review as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out to review find and write race reviews!”

If you missed the first part of the Conquer the Capitol Challenge, the 10k, you can check that recap here. For my to the point half marathon review, check out

Sunday, May 27, 2018.
Rise and shine!!! Hotel coffee and gas station bagels, breakfast of champions.

Another hot day was upon us, pre-race emails had warned us of this. We had been drinking all the water and Gatorade. The forecast had race time temps in the 80’s.

There was no race day packet pick up, to get your things you needed to attend the expo/packet pickup the day before. I will say as a challenge participant we had 2 different bibs with the same number to wear. We also got a shirt for each event, as well as a long sleeve light weight hoodie for the challenge.

We made it to the Capitol with plenty of time before the race, and again with the most awesome on street, FREE, parking spot, a block from the finisher’s party. There were port-o-potties set up in the area too.

Josh and I parked ourselves near the gear check area. We managed to meet up with Dan again as well as fellow Corridor Running board member Warren. They all were talking race strategy and what not, I just wanted to finish.

As we chit chatted, I spotted another BibRave Pro, Dye. I had met her last August at the Madison Mini. We took a photo together and she realized her bib was missing. Luckily the kind race folks got her all taken care of.

After all the pre-race pleasantries and mosquito bites, we all proceeded to take our places in the corrals. There were pacers for this event so you could self seed near them. The National Anthem was sung and we were moving.

The beginning of the half marathon course was similar to the 10k he evening before. started with the hills, including Observatory…oof! However, the reason I like this event was in the past we always ran through the arboretum. This year the course was very similar to the fall Madtown event, and took a western route, through residential neighborhoods and boring roads.


FREE race photos!

Don’t be fooled though, there were still hills! I think I am still climbing the one near mile 9. Once on top you could see the Capitol across the lake, so that was cool.

I mentioned the pre-race emails and the heat warnings. There were supposed to be 10 hydration stops with water and Gatorade. I was too lazy to count, but in 6 miles I had one Gatorade stop. Running at different paces makes for different race experiences, and when it’s hot it’s hard to staff those aid stations. I just wish if it’s advertised, it’s available. Also the water and Gatorade were different at each stop, sometimes second, sometimes Gatorade was sandwiched between water. I am happy this was available, just makes it nice when it’s all the same.

Alright…. I was just running my own race and about 3 miles from the finish when I came upon an ambulance loading up a runner. I hope the person is ok. This also got me thinking for the next mile. I looked at my bib and saw that it had a printed sticker on it with my information, but nothing if there was an emergency. When I removed my bib there were no lines on the back to write information in case of an emergency. Yes, the race has your bib number and would know who you were, but what if someone stole your bib, or you illegally transferred it? Next, just run with an ID, there are many options – for you shoes, a bracelet, or add to a watch band. Safety is this easy.

Am I done running yet? The heat was proving to be tough, but a guy speed walking had managed to pass me so I had a new goal, beat that guy!!!! It also helped as I could see Dan up ahead. They both pushed me to the finish up that last hill.

A 2:24 finish time, definitely not my best, but also not my worst. A finish is a finish!
I crossed the finish line and a volunteer placed a medal around my neck. I went straight to that bottle of water. I hate the post race headache. There were also boxes of banana pieces and orange slices – orange slices are the best! Then you could grab a bagged lunch from Panera – a sandwich, chips and cookie. From here was the post race party. Chocolate milk was back and as cold as ever!


There was a separate tent in this area for challengers to grab their third medal. clink, clink, clink.

I was with Dan and we were in search of shade, I found Josh, Warren and Dye and met a new friend, Julia. We talked about our races and whined about the heat. It was so hot I even drank a Michelob Ultra – GASP – and despite what the can says, it is not the Superior Light Beer, LOL.

We all parted ways after a brief photo shoot. It’s always nice to catch up with others. If you see me at a race, say hi!

I registered late for the challenge, so it was kinda pricey at $145, but I enjoy running in Madison and visiting when the Hawks are not playing a sport. The races I have done, while they have some hiccups, are always well managed. Hope to get back soon, perhaps again for the Mini.

Josh and I had enough time to go back to the hotel for a shower, sometimes that is rare post race with check out times. Then we made sure to hit up a local brewery. We checked out Vintage Brewing. It had an old school diner vibe.

After another stop at the Hy-Vee, with 3 new Wisconsin beers in tow, we were back on the road, and headed towards the Hawkeye state.

Don’t forget to claim your results on Athlinks!

Market Stampede

West Branch Bear Stampede 10k

Saturday, May 5th, West Branch, IA. It was sunny and would warm up to around 70 degrees.

The race usually falls on the second weekend of May, but this year it was moved to the first. It just so happens that the little farmers market I am a part of was also the same weekend. The two events joined forces and were at the same time. This meant I would at the least be selling my headbands as part of the market on race day.

I am no stranger to this event, I have run it many times. I have also sold my headbands in the past. However, when I arrived on race day I was still uncertain if I would run the race. I would need someone to watch my stand while I ran, and I was on my own that morning. When I had my stand all set up my fellow market vendors agreed to to keep an eye on things, so I went to sign up.

Small town races are the best, we have a lot of them in Iowa, you could run 2-3 every weekend. One of the best parts is you can register on race day for a reasonable price. The 10k was only $30 on race day. I feel if I asked I could have received a t-shirt too, but that’s the last thing I need. I even got a timing chip for my shoe.

As I stood at my market stand waiting for the race to start, I think there were some announcements, but I was on the other side of the bouncy house, where it was hard to hear. Everyone moved towards the starting line, so I went that way too. It was a mass start with the clock, no starting timing mat. There was no National Anthem.

As I said I have run this race many times. I knew where the course was to go, which also meant I knew the hills and West Branch has hills. Hey, fun fact – Iowa is not flat.

The course starts by going down the main street, there are cops at every intersection and a few people around town stop and take notice. It happened to be the same day as a community cleanup, this meant that just within the first mile there was a situation with some extra traffic hauling their junk to a special trash drop off. I really wasn’t bothered, I just kept on going.

Up the big hill and then through Beranek park to loop back around to head out the Hoover Nature Trail. There is a 5k with this race too, both of them start at the same time. When we get to a certain part on the trail, the 5k turns around and heads back into town. It’s easy to cheer the leaders on as they pass by.

The 10k keeps running further out on the trail. This is the trail I run a lot on at lunch time. It is an old rail bed, so this part is really flat and it’s crushed limestone. On this portion the runners were really thinned out. I did pass another woman, I made a remark at the time that she would probably pass me again because I knew there were 2 hills at the end.

As I was getting closer to the turn around, a man who was on his way back shouted, “first female!” I was shocked, no…not me?!?!  Then the mental game was on.

On the way back on the trail, I knew the woman I passed was close behind me. I kept repeating – this is the flat part, keep pushing, build some time. However the first mile I ran an 8:41 so it was kickin my butt, also I was a little hot, oh and I had just run a marathon 6 days prior. I wasn’t gonna give up.

I made it back to the 5k turnaround water stop, I grabbed a styrofoam cup of water and saw that woman was really close now. AHHHH ok, will I be happy with 2nd female? I went back and forth in my head.

I was off the trail, and at the base of the first big climb, and then it happened, the woman passed me. I looked at my watch, 5.78 miles… I lead for this long, ugh, I didn’t have anymore in me. Then …. the woman started walking… I was still shuffling up the hill… I could do it!

I got to the top and I was again leading, I knew I had a little flat spot before I needed to climb the last hill, I just kept moving forward. I pushed up that last hill – Oh and I saw my friend Carol and her daughter Susan drive by, so that was a nice pep in my step. I knew I was gonna make it!

I got to the top of the hill, only to make sure I could make it back down to the finish line without tripping or doing anything stupid.

I DID IT!! I was the first female in the 10k!!  Ok, ok, ok sooo there were only 12 people who ran the 10k, but I am counting this as a victory, wahoo!!! I had 6 ish miles in 56:55.

I crossed the finish line and found a bottle of water. There were some baked goods and bananas. Since I had baked cookies and Krispie bars for the market, I just went back to my stand.

I wasn’t sure if I was going to get an award, or what was happening. In the meantime there were a couple of kids races and I kept tabs on my market stand. I wished I had picked a spot in the shade.

It was time for the awards, I gathered and listened and learned that part of the announcements I didn’t hear earlier, was that the courses were short due to cutting out a block because of the trash cleanup event. Ahh, that made sense, safety was taken into consideration.

Anyway it came time for the 10k awards, my name was announced and I was gifted 5 – $1 coupons to the farmers market and I had a choice at a plant from the school FFA. What a fun, unique race award. I went with a petunia.

I walked back to the market and picked a home made raspberry jam and a bag of snack mix. Other award winners were given market bucks too. When the event was over, if you wanted the race would exchange cash for any market bucks the vendor received.

Then, just like that the event was over. I packed up all my things, and headed home to mow the lawn and plant my petunia.

As I have said, I have run this many times. This year felt a little different, only because there weren’t as many participants. I know how hard it is to get people to volunteer their time to make these races possible. I hope this event continues, it’s always great to run on the trail and in turn support the school. It was also fun to have the market at the event, maybe a little more cross promotion (or promotion in general) and next year will be even better!

If you ran the race, don’t forget to add your thoughts to a Bibrave review.

Chocoholic Frolic – Race Recap

Recap of the Chocoholic Frolic 5k & 10k – 2018

Saturday, March 31, 9 AM at Big Grove Brewery in Iowa City. The temps were near 40 with wind that would pick up and change direction.

Before I get into run details…how bout some background… As always I will have a review at

This event is new to Iowa City. With some research it appears that a race management company is responsible for 5 of these chocolate themed runs around the USA. It’s my opinion that due to the popular Hot Chocolate races, this series exists. In my area we do not have a lot of race management companies come from outside, most races are organized locally.

I first started to see advertisements for this event on Facebook. Something would appear in my news feed daily. Then, that same ad had a discount code to save $15. The registration period for that code expired, and a new one was advertised. I did try to contact the event via FB messenger on Feb 14th.

Ok, I couldn’t resist a 10k for $30, so I eventually registered. I was very hesitant. There was very little information on the website. However, because the run was soooo close to my house, I wanted them to prove me wrong.

There was no published course information, all the website said was the run was at Big Grove Brewery. As someone who knows that area well, I know it’s under construction, I was curious where we would be running. I also know running one direction out and back is roughly 5.5 miles.

There was also no information about the expo, as it said there would be one. To this day it still says TBD. It did say you could register on race day, so that usually means you can get your stuff on race day. However, with lack of information…who actually knew?

Next, proceeds from the event were going to a charity. The only way to learn about this was through the registration process. All it had was an option to donate more to “local charity.” What is this local charity? I still don’t know.

What did I know? I would be running a 10k that started at 9:45 am. I would receive a chocolate bar medal, a chocolate bar, and get a 1/4 zip pullover. I also read there would be a chocolate beer made special for the event. Apparently this was enough for me to justify spending the money (or to do some market research?) Is this enough for the everyday runner?

The week of the run/race, I finally got an email. Up until this I wasn’t sure if I paid $30 for a chocolate bar, as I still hadn’t received answer to a my FB message or one through the “contact us” form I submitted.

The email had the important information the website was lacking. First, it did call the event the Chocoholic Frolic Run – but went on to state “race” details. No where did I see “fun run” and I do think there is a difference between race and run and what to expect. It had both course routes and information about times to pick up your bib. This email also said the 10k would start at 10 AM. There was also another discount code to share with friends. Did anyone ever pay full price? This information needs to be on the website, it’s very helpful in deciding on registration.

Whew… you still with me?

So on the Wednesday before the event, I attended my running club’s shop local event. Prizes were race/run entries… and as the cookie crumbled, there were leftover entries to this and I was gifted one and gave my husband an entry. This was on the heels of a discount going out to the running club. Lots of codes and complimentary entries.

I talked to my friend who I convinced to register as she LOVES chocolate, and she still claims she never saw this event advertised anywhere. She does not have Facebook, where I saw an ad daily. So, maybe the reason for all the codes?

After all this and the codes, I found myself registered for the 5k as well as the 10k. I’ll keep things upfront and honest, I used one of the complimentary entries. There is no expectation I do anything in return. I always write a recap… so here I am.

There was a packet pick up the night before at the brewery. Josh and I decided to go and get our things. The brewery was packed, but there were signs leading us to the packet pickup area. We just had to tell them our names and they grabbed us a bib and assigned our information. Since I had registered for both races they asked if I wanted 2 pullovers, or a different size. While I thought about it, the lady asked me if I wanted some of the merchandise on the table. This was all really nice and totally not necessary. I did decide on another pullover color, but discovered it was too big when I got home, so Josh has another pullover. They thanked us many times for registering for the race.

I had organized all the things I was going to wear for the run. The weather is crazy here, it’s never going to be spring, so it did take some time to decide what to wear.

Gear: Sparkle Athletic ice cream skirt, Flipbelt crops, Zensah socks, Brooks Ghost 9, Moving Comfort bra, Mission t-shirt, Chicago Marathon hat, Aftershokz Trekz Air, XX2i France 2 sunglasses, Nathan race belt, Garmin Forerunner 935.

In true race day fashion, I was anxious about getting there in time. Why? I don’t know, I am used to traveling far and being unfamiliar with things… I really could have rolled up minutes before the start.

The brewery opens for regular business at 11 AM, but they had the doors open for people to stay warm or use the indoor bathrooms. The patio fireplaces were on. There is lots of parking, including at the neighboring business.

Inside, on the top of the bar were the plates of goodies finishers received. In the back game room computers were set up for race day registration. A selfie station tent was set up on the patio. 90s hip hop music played on the speakers. An announcement came over the system and the kids race was to begin, followed by the 5k.

Another strange thing is the 5k is before the 10k. With time and whatnot, you think they could run them simultaneously or start the 10k first.

As I mentioned before, I am familiar with this area. The City of Iowa City has been re-working an old waste water plant to make the area to the west of the brewery a small park with paths that connect to a trail system. This project is close to complete, but the connection to the brewery is not finished, so a wood chip trail was added to get to the starting line. It wasn’t difficult, it just wasn’t ideal.

At about 9 AM, runners were gathered at the start. There was a teardrop flag blowing in the wind and a rubber timing mat across the sidewalk. There was a bike out front to show the way.  After some announcements, the race was on.

Josh gave me a high five and I followed the pack. The course is on the Iowa River Corridor Trail. It heads south along the Iowa River, to the ball fields, and eventually around the Trueblood Rec Area. It’s relatively flat, a small little hill here or there, and it’s all paved.

I passed the first mile marker and my watch agreed with the distance. After this, I took a turn as suggested by signs, to run through the ball fields and make a loop. I passed the water stop and did not take anything as it was cool. I am not sure if there was anything but water. The email stated “water and chocolate will be located along the route and at the finish line.”

I was on my way back, and keeping note of the mileage on my Garmin, for a basic out an back, things were not adding up, but what could I do but keep moving.

Also a side note, as a Bibrave Pro I was trying out my FlipBelt cropped leggings for the first time, and I had the phone in the back zippered pocket and I had to keep pulling my pants up. This kept me occupied as I ran back.

When I got close to the starting line, which was also the finish line, I looked at my watch and it was around 2.6? I knew the 2 guys (Dan & Horacio) handing out finisher medals, so I motioned to my watch, and raised my arms. They motioned me to the finish line, so I crossed the timing mat and they handed me my luggage tag medal. My Garmin read 2.75 miles. I was not happy. Someone with the race management company caught wind and told me they didn’t want to deal with the construction, so it was short. Ok, then don’t have the race/run or advertise it as a 5k. I am sorry to my friends Dan & Horacio who got to hear and see all my displeasure with the situation. Horacio wanted me to make sure I told everyone the guys handing out medals were the best!

I met up with Josh who had my 10k bib, as I needed to switch because the timing strips were registered for each race. I went inside to get my 5k? finisher plate and found the place very busy with participants. The finisher plate was PACKED with treats, like an insane amount of things for a 5k?. It was more than just the chocolate bar.

I had to get ready to go back out and run, so I put my plate in the car. I met a few of my running friends and we all discussed the short course and someone said the 10k course was spot on. Ha… the email might have said that too, but it also said the 5k was 3.4 miles.

I walked back over to the start area, while Josh did some warm up strides. There were not as many participants in the 10k. There were some more announcements, and the bike lead was back. This course started with a loop around the park path (um this could have been added to the 5k) and then we took the same Iowa River Corridor Trail south along the River, but this time a cut by the water stop table to the sidewalk along S. Gilbert St. There were signs in the ground with arrows pointing the way. There were no human volunteers on the course, except 2 at the water table.

I continued on, and had to cross a road. While it had a 4 way stop, there were no cones, no traffic control, nothing here. I took the loop around Trueblood, and then BAM….the wind was at my face or had switched direction or something, it was like running through mud. Anymore I can’t win with the weather, so you just wear all the things and expect the worst.

After my loop around the lake, there was a fork in the road….I was behind some women who were just as confused as I was at this fork. Those ahead of my just cut across the 2 cones and sign flopping in the wind. I had glanced at the course and felt like I needed to take a left and follow the Iowa River Trail. I went that way and I knew I was going the correct direction as there was a sign with an arrow on this route. The ladies in front of me basically cut the course, but really are they at fault if the intersection, with no human, was not clearly marked?

I was mad. I was really thinking if they were in my age group and they placed as the winner that would not be fair, then I was thinking this would be a great story for marathon investigation, lol.

After thinking I was on the correct path back to the finish, I passed one of the women who cut the course, but she was running the wrong way. She mentioned something like, the course is short. I was like, you cut the course, but neither of us stopped. I was no longer mad.

Are you still reading? Thanks!

It seemed as the wind was getting worse, so I was battling that the entire way back. I even dodged a falling limb. I also moved my phone to the front pocket of my FlipBelt Crops, and had no issues.

I got closer to to the finish and had to do another loop around the park area, before I crossed the timing mat. I was sad that Dan & Horacio were no longer handing out medals. I hit stop on my Garmin and it said 5.87. Wow! I met Josh and all I could think was get me some beer!

Inside the brewery, I grabbed another finisher plate and made my way to the beer. I said I wanted one of each brew, and showed them both of my bibs. I even got Josh’s beer as he didn’t care for it. There were not many participants hanging out at this time.

We joined our friends who ran the 5k? and discussed the event. I ate the items on my plate that were not individually wrapped, there was soo much! We chatted about getting what we paid for and discussed if this was a race or a run. When we solved all the problems we parted ways, and called it a day.

My overall thoughts….ha, you had to read a ton to get to this point. I feel I got $30 worth of stuff – the pullover, all the chocolate, the medal and the special beer. I do not feel I got any of that in the actual running part of the race.

Would I run it again? Hmmm maybe still on the fence… I am not sure I would pay to do it, knowing what I know. a lot of things have to improve.

This also has me wondering, what do people want in a race? Do they want the swag and material things? Or do they want a well supported course, an accurate course, volunteers, posted information? Am I looking to much into this, is this just a race for fun? Is this one of those events to get the non runner out and moving?

I am also a member of my local running community, and a member of our local running club. As a volunteer club that hosts 7 races we strive to do our best for the running community, and we hope to set a standard of what people should expect when registering for an event.

Thanks for reading.