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*

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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.


BTN B1G 10k – New for 2018

What’s new for the BTN B1G 10k?

“Disclaimer: I received entry into the Big Ten Netwok B1G 10k as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out to review find and write race reviews!”

Watch out Chicago, I am headed your way for the Big Ten Network B1G 10k on August 12th. Oh and just so there is no confusion – GO HAWKS!

It will be my 4th year running this, the friendly banter between B1G teams, the tailgate like post race atmosphere, and meeting friends has me returning. Also, I am looking forward to having the event back at Soldier Field.

THAT’S RIGHT – for 2018 the race has moved back to the Soldier Field area. The first time I ran the event it was located here. All the lots surrounding the field were filled with games, music, tailgate activities, contests, food and school tents. It really adds to the tailgate atmosphere and I am looking forward to having it back there and to any surprises that come with it.

Also for 2018 – check out the shirts, they are school specific in additional to a tech material, short sleeve and gender specific. This is also a race where participants wear the race shirt on race day. Don’t scrunch your face at me… while I am no one for new shirts on race day, the participants are very passionate about supporting their schools.

Big 10K AllShirts_Women

Last for 2018 – check out the medal! A fun ribbon representing all schools with the B1G logo.

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WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR? Register NOW!!  AND save 10% with code BIBRAVE!!!!  This is good for the 10k or 5k.


Make sure to add yourself to the start line on 

Take the Challenge

Do you take the challenge?

“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!”


What challenge am I talking about? This weekend is Grandma’s marathon and just in the last few years have offered a 5k the night before the longer distance events. If you do both of these it’s called the Great Grandma’s Challenge.


I did this challenge, maybe the first year it was introduced. I jumped on board the minute it was announced. I love a running challenge. I did the inaugural Dopey Challenge, Conquer the Capitol, ran multiple events at the Louisiana Marathon, plus many others. If I am in town, I need a shakeout run anyway, why not pin on a bib and have some fun? Usually another bonus, more swag and bragging rights!

If you haven’t learned this already, I am a different breed. I don’t race every event I run, I just enjoy the events and the people. However, I still respect each distance and train (even though I haven’t followed a plan in a long time) and then show up and do my best to get to the finish line. I think this mindset makes taking on a running challenge something that is doable.

Would you take on a challenge like this? Why /Why not?

If you are starting Grandma’s Marathon weekend with the William A. Irvin 5k Friday night, make sure to grab your bib before 5pm, and get to the starting area by 5:30pm. Don’t worry the expo (closes at 8 pm) and pasta dinner (closes at 9 pm) will still be open when you are done.

Also a pro tip – get to the area early, it’s very congested.



A Toasty 10k

Race Recap – Run Madtown 10k

“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 are new to the blog, my typical race review is more of my personal journey for the day; for my to the point review check out


Gear: Asics BibRave Tank, Sparkle Athletic skirt, Rudy Rydon Glasses, Aftershokz Trekz Air, Brooks Ghost 10, Coros Pace watch, Spibelt, Adidas short, Zensah socks

Saturday, May 26, 2018.

I was running both the Saturday 10k and the Sunday 13.1, which is called Conquer the Capitol 19.3 Challenge. The Saturday race didn’t start until after 8 PM. This is the second time I have done this challenge and the 3rd time at the 10k.

Josh was joining me for the trip. We departed Iowa City around 10 AM to make the trek to Madison. We didn’t have huge plans, but we knew we had to get out bibs at the expo before it closed at 5pm. There was no pickup at the race start.

We rolled into the Capitol City and because I had done this event before knew just where to park. The location of the expo / packet pickup has a $5 fee, however there are many metered spots around downtown which cost less, hey I like to save a buck or two. After plugging the meter, we walked over to grab our bibs.

The expo was easy, nothing big, or overwhelming. There were signs on where to go depending on the distance you were running, just display your ID and you received a pre-packaged bag with your things. For each race I received a soft blend ladies v-neck shirt and for the challenge I received a soft blend hoodie.

We wandered around the sign making stations, took some photos and checked the timing chips on our bibs. There were multiple stations with cups and ice water. I kept checking the 8pm start time and it was not cooling from 83 degrees.

We left the expo to check into our hotel. With the many times we have been to Madison, and the parking situation. We stayed over in Middleton, about a 20 minute drive. This also happened to be the home of World Of Beer, which was located next the hotel.

I will mention this a few times, with an 8 PM race start, it’s really difficult to eat supper and prepare for a half marathon the next day. We ate a late lunch at the World of Beer, hoping that would settle before the 10k. Then we checked into the hotel

Around 5:30 PM we decided to head back to the race start. We were in no rush, but since we had just spent too much time in the air conditioning, we thought we would go sit around the Capitol and acclimate to the heat. Also, I should note while we did try some beer, we had been drinking our weight in water and purple G2.

Parking on the streets near the start line is free after 6 PM, and we were parked a half block from the Capitol. This is my favorite part, easy logistics!

We made our way near the starting area and we bumped into fellow BibRave Pro Renee. I had never met her in real life, and it was good to chat. She was going to run the 5k that started a few minutes before the 10k.

As the time passed, there were port-o-potties set up and people started to arrive. Josh got jittery and did some walking around and warming up and nonsense. On one of his trips he brought back running friend Dan. I think I have run into him every time I have done this race.

The race had an app that would add filters to photos.

Over the PA system announcements started. There was gear check available, the 5k would start, then Team Triumph, then the 10k. As the time neared, participants were then encouraged to line up in the corral. There were no pace signs, it was all self seeding.

The National Anthem was sung, and the 5k was on time, as well as the wheelers. Then there was a short delay for the 10k as I believe there was some sort of emergency along the course. Safety first is fine by me.

Then the air horn sounded and the crowd moved forward. I am not sure how many participants were running, but the start area and following first quarter mile were very crowded.

Then, just like that we were climbing our first hill. In case you missed it, Madison is not flat. There are lots of little hills, and of course Observatory hill, which was just after the first mile. The view from the top of this hill across the lake at sunset is worth it!

This was followed by a small section on a paved trail, and then the first water stop. I did not see any Gatorade. I just kept moving, it was hot! There were not many spectators along the route.

The course was a little different this year, I knew we would be running near Camp Randall Stadium, but we didn’t go around the side that we have in the past. Also as luck would have it, my random music played “Black and Gold” by Sam Sparro. Go HAWKS!

More running, more sweating. Thanking the law enforcement officers. Just your usual 10k shenanigans.

I was now on the greenbelt or bike path thing and found some Gatorade, but it was second. I had sticky hands when I left the aid stations. The liquids were in different paper cups. The bike path was dark in areas.

I was getting close to the end, which was a little jaunt on State St. This part had some race photographers. *Race photos were posted within 24 hours, for FREE!! Then it was time to cross the finish line.


YAY I was done! I finished with a time near 1:02. Pretty good considering the heat and a half marathon the next day.

A volunteer handed me a medal and I grabbed a bottle of water. There were some backdrops set up for photos. There were slices of pizza as the post race food, which doesn’t appeal to me after a hot race. However, the chocolate milk was super cold and delicious!! On the other side of the Capitol was some music and the free Michelob Ultra.

Josh and I met up with Dan to discuss our races, we were all HOT!! We also didn’t stick around long as we needed some real food and needed to prepare for the half the next day.


Now, what to eat it’s after 9:30, what is open? We thought we would keep an eye out for a sub type sandwich on the ride home, but found nothing. We settled for the Kwik Star, where we grabbed a sandwich and crispy treat.

We were back to the hotel at just after 10… time to do it all over in the morning.
This is a nice evening event. I wish the bike path had more lighting, but I did feel safe. Madison is a great place to run.


Did you run? Make sure to add a Bibrave review and claim your results on Athlinks.

If You Run, You’re a Runner

This past weekend I was invited to be part of a 5k/10k. There was no race registration, there was no discount code to promote, and there was no sparkle skirt to wear. So, why did I commit?

Saturday, May 12th. 11:15 am. The weather was overcast and rain was forecast, temps were cool around 60 degrees.

I arrived at my destination and handed over my ID to get checked in. I waited for the other runners to arrive and we were given a technical shirt and trucker hat. However, this event was different, we were all checking into to race in a prison yard.

Now that I have caught your attention, I am writing my first ever prison yard race recap.

Maybe I should give a little background. The prison in my area has been doing this program for a few years now, modeled after a program in Oregon. In fact, last fall there was a half marathon offered. This is not the only rehabilitation program at this facility, I am amazed at the opportunities. Politics aside, I believe these are positives and can help inmates adapt to the outside world.

Personally, I was a little intimidated. I have never done anything like this; I was way out of my comfort zone. Second, I was a female going into an all-male establishment. I did get a chance to talk to past participants and they eased my concerns, so I was ready to give this a go.

Ok…now that all the running visitors had checked in, and the inmate count had been done, we were allowed to enter the main part of the facility. We gathered in the gym and signed some photo waivers as we waited for — what, I am still not sure? In the mean time we learned more about things, including a dog training program.

It was time to go out into the yard. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I just followed the crowd. Then I saw a tent, and things were set up just like any other “outside world” running event. There was a bib pickup. Inmates running the 5K were given bib numbers under 100, those running the 10K were given bibs over 100, and visiting runners were given bibs over 200. Very simple and easy. Also, just like some of the bigger races, inmates had their names on their bibs.

The weather kept the timing company away, but that didn’t dampen anyone’s spirits. Some had watches and the visitors were allowed to bring in their watches. The race team of volunteers – which were easily identified in another color t-shirt – would be counting our laps for us.

It was time to line up at the starting cones, and just like any other race, announcements were made. The direction was decided, which way we would be running the circles. Then spitting was addressed, as well as staying to the right so the faster people could pass on the left. Oh, and it was suggested slower runners move to the back.

I couldn’t believe how much this was just like any other 5K I have paid to do. I was still a little uncertain about how it was going to go. I wasn’t sure if I could say, “Good Job”, or other encouraging words as we would all pass along each other.

Oh well, the race began and I started my watch, on indoor run as I wasn’t sure about the GPS thing. I am a ‘by the rules’ person.

Then for the next half hour, I ran circles around a prison yard. It really wasn’t any different than running around a track, but you could see people the entire time. As I ran longer I started to feel more comfortable telling people words of encouragement. There was even a water stop (with paper cups!)

There was no time I felt uncomfortable. I just remained aware at all times.

My watch said I had ran 3.3 miles, but with the indoor setting I wasn’t sure, so I double checked with a lap counter and he said I was done. I know I could have run longer, but I decided to join the small visitor crew that was cheering people on as they came close to the finish.

Again, this was just like any other running event, the smiles and sprints to the finish were really awesome to see. People accomplishing what they set out to do.

As everyone started to finish there was post-race food. Each participant received two chocolate milks, two hard boiled eggs, trail mix, a banana, and a Gatorade. This is better than many events I pay lots of money to do. This is also a reward for those that worked hard to get to the finish line.

The idea of this is simple. Show up, run, and celebrate your accomplishments. Yes, this is within the fences of a prison, but everyone that participated is a runner…it doesn’t matter male/female, fast/slow,  or a criminal/law abiding citizen…. Inside those fences we just ran! This is the running community! *Sometimes I can forget it’s really a simple as …you run, you’re a runner.*

I was told a story about an inmate that was worried about connecting with his daughter on the outside world. He signed up for the running program and has plans to run with her when he is released. These are always great stories, and I hope he was able to run with her.

There are many ways to give back, especially with running. There are fundraisers, programs for school kids, or volunteering at your area races. While this was something that pushed me out of my comfort zone, I feel honored and proud to have done this. I encourage you to seek out the opportunities in your community, you never know who you are helping to improve their quality of life.

*It would be cool to do the half marathon in the fall — maybe I will get asked back.

More Notes:

From Dan (visitor runner:) “I think it’s worth mentioning that this program was started by a member of Corridor Running — That it’s the first in the state of Iowa — And that it’s now being copied by the prisons in Anamosa, Newton, & Forth Madison!”

From Michael (visitor runner:) “They have a running club inside of the prison, and they put on this event. They limit the number of outside runners to about 10 each time. We run the event, provide encouragement, and offer any running advice we have. It has been a very rewarding and positive experience, and I have been honored to take part in it.
The other cool thing is the inmates use this event to fund-raise, and have used the proceeds to purchase tv’s for their treadmills, and have also donated proceeds to outside charities like Shelter House!”

Watch out Madison!

Headed back to Madison

“Disclaimer: I received entry into the Run Madtown Conquer the Capital 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!”

I just can’t stay away. This trip I am bringing Josh with me and we are going to Conquer the Capital (again!)


I also ran the Soldier Field 10 the same weekend as my last Conquer the Capital 19.3


If you are a regular reader of the blog, you know I have run in Madison many times and I frequent many sporting events. Last year we even hit up the farmers market. It’s only a quick three hour drive and of course beer and cheese!


This event is unique in that there is a 5k/10k on the evening of May 26th (starting at 8pm.) Then there is a half marathon the next day. You can also run both events for an additional medal, which is called Conquer the Capital 19.3. ALSO the fun doesn’t end here, there is a marathon in November you can participate in to get MORE medals.

While I struggle with that late night start time, all other race logistics are easy peasy. There are two days of packet pickup, close parking, and lots of port-o-potties. Don’t forget the perks, including: race tracking, Michelob post race party and FREE picture downloads.


If you want to join us, online registration is open through May 23rd – – use code “RMRAVE18” for 10% off, not valid on kid’s race.




Seeking Adventure

Looking for Adventure

“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 am using this opportunity to take on the adventure in Iowa City. I know it exists! Urban adventure is out there, I just needed the final push to do those things I have been to timid to try.

In addition to drinking all the patio beers, playing trivia, and frequenting all the local ice cream shops. I am ready to try stand up paddle boarding (SUP), go kayaking, get lost on the trails and any other trouble I can find.

I was able to choose three products from BUFF®️. I have many of the multifunctional head wraps, which are great in colder weather. As the seasons change I decided to go with more appropriate items. I choose the Trucker Tech Cap, visor, and merino wool infinity scarf.

I have mentioned the activities I am planning on doing, but what am I missing? What are the hidden gems in the Iowa City area? I am on the search for adventure, especially since the kayak and SUP rental places aren’t open yet.