Running – the best way to celebrate 11 years of marriage.
Another Saturday morning 4 am wake up call, but when you run, this is nothing new…However, this particular Saturday, June 24th, was our 11th wedding anniversary.
Sure, we both had run Grandma’s marathon the week before, but it’s hard to miss the Run 4 Troops Marathon. In fact last year I ran both marathons.
This year, we would be running the marathon relay. We were lucky to get in on this event. More people choose to do this as a relay, so they cap the participants, mainly because the route gets so congested. I sent an email to be put on the wait list, and I was contacted quickly to say we got in!
Gear: Sparkle Athletic skirt, 2xu tank, Zensah hat, Zensah socks, Brooks Ghost, Garmin Fenix 3, xx2i USA sunglasses, Road Runner sports shorts, aftershokz headphones.
We would start in Dyersville, IA and run the Heritage Trail to Dubuque. Josh was going to take the first 3 legs and I would finish with the last 3. Since this is point to point, the person not running would move the car along the route.
We rolled into Dyersville around 6:30 am, we needed to grab our stuff. This was in a reusable Hy-Vee bag. There was the bib, which was attached to a really nice bib belt we would get to keep. Our short sleeve, gender specific, tech shirts were in the bag too. The Heritage trail requires a user fee, this is included in our race registration, but we are also given silicon bracelets to wear to indicate we have paid the fee.
Then it was time for the “meeting” or rather some announcements. We learned about the transitions and what to expect on the course, and then a former member of the military gave a talk, then the National Anthem was sung…then we waited around for the solo marathon to start at 7 am. We had time to use the port-o-potties.
At 7 am the marathon was off with a bang – literally! An old cannon was fired and the runners took off. A drone buzzed ahead taking photos. Then finally at 7:30 it was time for the relay runners to start. The cannon had an issue and fired a few minutes after the runners started.
In the past the marathon and relay started at the same times, but they stretched it out. I really don’t think it helped. As you read on, you will see why… but they need to stagger out the relay times…that is where the most people are that need to use the transitions.
Josh was on his way, I was going to plan to visit him at each transition. However, things were not looking good. The majority of people involved with the event were with the relay, so everyone was headed to the first exchange at the same time, causing a huge traffic backup. I even stopped to use a bathroom at a gas station, and the line was 10 people deep.
By the time I got to the actual transition the traffic was crazy. I ended up parking along the highway, and running down near the trail. I don’t do well with these things, if I know I need to be some where, I want to be prompt. I don’t like feeling rushed or late.
I saw Josh approaching, he was looking good. The sun was shining, but it wasn’t too hot or humid. The first leg went from Dyersville to Farley, and it is the leg with the least shade, it is 6.6 miles long.
I spoke with Josh as he passed, I mentioned I didn’t think I could get in and out of the next exchange due to all the traffic, also he was keeping a great pace. Some of the racers were starting to spread out, but Josh was also catching up to the solo marathoners.
Exchange 2 was at Epworth, it was 4.4 miles long. I did not make it to this exchange. I am sure I could have made it, but I also was going to be running soon too, so I wanted to make sure I had time to get my crap together. I get a little anxious.
I arrived to exchange 3. Josh would have passed through Epworth, and then had to run 3.6 miles to Graf.
I arrived at Graf, the transition was at a park, and parking wasn’t too bad, but you had to cross the course to get a spot. I parked the car and used the port-o-potty. I then trotted back to the car and put on some sunscreen, got my headphones and things, then walked to the exchange zone.
Even though I kept checking my watch, as I was guessing on Josh’s estimated time into the area, I didn’t have to wait long. It seemed like he appeared out of no where.
We made the bib exchange, and walked together on the trail a bit, discussing how busy the transition areas were, and if he thought he would be able to see me along the route. Then I took off for the next stop, 4.5 miles away, at the Budd Rd intersection.
It was a nice section of trail, lots of shade. About 2 miles in, a woman came up on me, and then started to run with me. It was nice, we chatted and ran into the exchange. I saw Josh! I think it helps that I run slow enough for him to have time to maneuver into the exchange areas. I gave him a high five, shouted my number to the timing person, and grabbed a cup of water and continued on.
At the time I was running, I couldn’t remember how many miles were between the transitions, so I really wasn’t sure when I would see Josh next, but I wasn’t too worried, as I have run the trail before, and if I needed something there was plenty of support out there.
Looking at the map, I had 3.4 miles to go before I got to transition 5 at Durango. This was an uneventful section, I just motored on. I passed some solo marathoners, and some relay members sped passed me.
I trotted into Durango, I saw Josh again,and slapped a high five. Then came into the very crowded exchange. The exchanges and timing are set up so that solo runners pass through on one side, and relay runners on the other. The problem here is that since I was not actually passing the bib, I had to navigate through people that were, and people that were not paying attention to others running through.
After the congestion, it seemed the trail opened up to emptiness. Finally, were people spread out? Anyway, I was enjoying the trail. I had 3.7 miles to get to the finish.
Just about the 24.5 mile mark, I came upon a lady in tears on the side of the trail. I slowed and asked if she was ok, she said no. I was not concerned about time, I stopped. She described her pain, and she was having leg cramps. She was holding a bottle of Gatorade. She was able to talk to me, and she said she had met her husband at every exchange, and had been drinking that Gatorade and more at each stop. She said this was her first marathon. She was in tears, and couldn’t relax enough to just settle down, like she was in a panic.
Another woman passed us, I told her as she ran ahead to send a medic if she saw one. I encouraged the woman with the cramps to breathe. I got her back to a standing position after she drank some more Gatorade and calmed down. We were walking…. then she started to cry again, and she cramped up. She sat back down. In the distance behind us, I could see an ATV.
As the ATV approached, I flagged them down to help. They were medically trained. The first thing they asked was if she was drinking Gatorade… I am not a doctor, but I thought they could get her to finish the race. I left the situation, and told the crying woman to just relax, she had plenty of time to finish, and I would see her at that finish line.
Strangely after this, I developed the strangest pain behind my knee, just under the hamstring, but I kept moving, stopping to rub it out. Then out of no where, the crying lady passed me, but in the passenger seat of the medic’s ATV.
Wow, all the thoughts…all the freakin thoughts. At the time, she had 1.5 miles to go, and 3.5 hours to get there. As I said, I am not a doctor, but I KNEW she could do it, and still as I write this, I KNOW she could have finished. I could see the panic in her as she was afraid of the cramps, and she couldn’t just get out of her head and relax. I am sure the medics didn’t want any liability issues, so they didn’t encourage her to continue. UGH, I would have sat on that trail for an hour for cramps to subside, so close to the finish line…. but we are all built differently, and maybe she actually broke something… but dang, you see all kinds of things out there. I really wish she would have finished.
Ok, ok, back to me and finishing the race. After all the thoughts, I had to run the one and only hill on the course, this is when the pain in my leg was at it’s worst! Going up that hill really put a strain on me, this is when I thought it was hamstring related. There was no pain going down this hill on the other side of the road.
I approached the finish area and saw Josh, we ran in the last hundred feet together, and the announcer shouted our team name as we crossed the finish line. We had done the race in just over 4 hours.
The lady standing at the finish with the medals did not give us one. So apparently, relay teams did not get medals this year? I don’t know, it was way strange. I did this as a relay 2 years ago and the team got a medal. I still can’t find any information on the web either way. It was just strange to come across the finish line to a woman holding a medal, and not get handed one.
I was able to grab a chocolate milk, bottle of water or Powerade at the finish. Then, Josh and I wondered through the crowded area to check out the post race merchandise. There wasn’t anything we couldn’t live without, so we hopped in line for some wood fired pizza.
After waiting for a slice, we grabbed some grapes, orange slices and a cookie. We sat at the provided tables and chairs, under a tent. *Other races should take note of this simple feature, a place to sit! We people watched, and listened to names being announced as people crossed the finish line.
We had to get back home to let the dogs out, so we walked back to our car to make the trek home.
I like this race, and I will do it again. I think the best way to go about this is to run it solo, and have any crew meet you at the non exchange intersections. The trail is all crushed limestone and super flat, except for the one hill. There is also food and drink available at each exchange. You get a great event for your money.
Josh and I both enjoy running, it was nice to do this marathon as a team on our wedding anniversary. We are pretty simple people and don’t need a fancy getaway to celebrate, this was perfect for us.
For more race detail head to my review at bibrave.com