How to Give Back

How To Give Back on Race Day

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

There was a time I ran all the races. Lately, I have had to choose the races I want to run because I don’t have the funds to register or travel to them, or I was injured. Luckily there are still ways to be active and part of race day.

I have done many things to pay it forward, or give back to a race. Here are some of the things I have done, and ways to help:

    • Packet Pickup – Participants will come to you and you will give them your things. Really Simple job, and usually shifts are available. The toughest part can be double checking IDs.
    • Expo – This can be a more involved task, with physical labor required. You may need to move a water cooler, sign, or stantion. you might also be required to stand on your feet and direct people where to go.
    • Finish Line – This can be a busy place to help. I have had to remove timing chips from shoes, which is more difficult that you think – all the bending over. Another rewarding finish line duty is handing out finisher medals. *The day after the Lucky Run, my quad was so sore from all the lunging. 

    • Course Marshal – This might be one of my favorite places to be on race day. You might have to work a busy intersection with cars, so you need to be alert. However, most positions also allow you to be a cheer station, so bring a cowbell, sign or noise maker if there is room at your stop. *I recently helped at a road crossing at the Let Me Run 5k, very inspirational!
    • Aid Station – One of the more labor intensive positions and be prepared to get dirty/wet. This task usually requires handing liquid to runners. Someone fills cups, someone hands a cup to a person in motion, someone is cleaning up cups. Sometimes the liquid is a sticky electrolyte drink. Then you have duties where you need to stock food and have it available, cutting orange slices is also a sticky job. You also need to consider food safety with this too. I will say if you volunteer at a road event it will be more fast past than a trail or ultra event. *I recently helped at the local marathon in my community. I was on a microphone greeting runners to our stop, I was also keep the pickle juice cups full. It was a lot of fun as we were a later mile marker in the race. 

  • Behind the scenes – small local races are usually organized by a committee of volunteers. It doesn’t hurt to ask if they need help planning or marketing the event. *As you know I am very involved in my local running club, I am able to post on their social media, plan 7 races or join training runs. 

I have just one request if you choose to never volunteer. Please be kind. A volunteer has given up their time for you. Race day has a lot of logistics and a volunteer is just facilitating the transactions to make things go as smooth as possible. Please don’t yell at them and threaten to drive them over at a busy intersection. *I note this from personal experience. Small towns have more than one road, be patient, go around or park your car and help encourage the runners. Many of these races are supporting causes and charities in your community.

My next race is in Madison, WI for the Run Madtown weekend of events, if you can help volunteer please check out the link – They are also planning for some fun too. The Saturday evening events are glow themed and the Sunday half marathon is USA themed.

Fun Fact – Run Madtown will provide financial support to those in the community who support our events. They tally the hours at the end of the event and send the organization you volunteered on behalf of one check. How cool is that!!!! Get paid to volunteer.

I have written about volunteering before, but I feel it’s important to continue spreading the word. Hope to see you on race day and tell you thank you!

Stunt Puppy Stunt Runner Review

PRODUCT REVIEW – Stunt Puppy Stunt Runner Hands Free Leash

“Disclaimer: I received the Stunt Puppy Stunt Runner Leash 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!”

Kona and I were ready to hit the mean streets of Iowa City once again. This time with a hands free leash.

HOWEVER – the Iowa winter just wont quit! The sidewalks have been covered in ice or snow, making a run with Kona not the best idea. Then throw in a sprained ankle and our running together has taken a back burner.

That has not stopped me from using the Stunt Puppy Stunt Runner hands free leash. It’s also perfect for everyday dog walking. Especially in the frigid temps, when a gloved hand is almost too much for your standard leash.

The Stunt Runner consists of a belt that goes around your waist with a buckle. Then a leash with a bungee attaches to the belt.

From the walks alone, this had us purchasing the additional Stunt Runner Flexible Connector as we have two dogs. Kona is more of the runner, but Ace loves to go on walks too. This clip on addition to the Stunt Runner is perfect. It just clips to the D-ring on the belt.

These are my favorite features:

  • The Stitching – Made with quality using the same technique that can be found in firefighting gear. No glue is used!
  • The Buckles – The Duraflex buckle can handle 225 pounds of pull.
  • The Clip -The leash just clips onto our dog’s collar with ease. We have many standard leashes that the slider breaks making it hard to clip on the leash. This just snaps on with a tap, and is easy to remove.
  • The Bungee – This absorbs the shock of the pulling, that’s right Kona will pull.

More details can be found here –

I really can’t wait for spring to arrive and my ankle to heal. I know Kona would like for that to happen as well so we can hit the mean streets of Iowa City. Until then we will be taking Ace on all the walk, hands free.

(PS this leash makes picking up after your dog, easy as poo!)

Looking for more information, check out or follow them on social media: Twitter, Facebook or Instagram.

Additional reviews: MattAndreaStephJessicaJenna 

Can’t Keep Me Away

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!”

That’s right, I am going back to Madison, WI. You just can’t keep me away.

I have wrote a lot about running in Madison. I think I have mentioned that I have probably ran more races there than in Iowa City.


I will be back in town at the end of May for the Run Madtown events. I will be running the 10k on Saturday night, then turn around to run the half marathon on Sunday morning. This is called the Conquer the Capital 19.3 challenge. I will continue this challenge in November for the Conquer the Capital half and half challenge – more on that later, I just like all the events all the time.

If you want to join me use code “RAVENSAVE” for 10% off (excludes kid’s race).  

Reminder there is a price increase MARCH 1st!!!

Handful Bra – Product Review

“Disclaimer: I received a Handful Y-Back bra and Squeeze Play Leggings 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 received a bag full of items at The Running Event, I will do my best to give each item their proper review.

I am constantly on the search for the perfect sports bra. I was excited when I saw the Handful Y-Back sports bra in my swag bag from The Running Event. Also in the bag were the Squeeze Play Leggings from Handful.

At the Running Event expo, the women behind Handful bra were exceptionally well at presenting their product. A passionate presentation makes the product more relate-able. In fact one of the presenters had lost their voice, and was still participating.

They displayed Handful’s mission well “to elevate, motivate, and support women to grab life! Our vision is that women confidently and unapologetically prioritize themselves and find their happy-active.” They also went on to let us know about their support of breast cancer survivors. Bras that fasten in the front, for those who can’t raise their arms. It was refreshing to see this presentation.

I received the black and white patterned bra, known as the ‘off the grid’ pattern. It is very soft to the touch, there are no visible metal clasps or hardware pieces. There are also removable pads. This pattern is on sale, but the y-back bra retails for $56. Online it is advertised as the top running bra for D+ cups.

After listening and talking with the women at the expo, and reading the information online, it was time to test this out for myself. They had me sold on their products.

I went for my first run on Dec. 5, I didn’t find it as supportive as I like, but it felt buttery soft and there was no chaffing and the band stayed in place. On Dec. 7, I put the pads in hoping for more support, to make the bra more tight as I do not need any extra on top, but it just wasn’t as tight as I need. I am thinking maybe it’s too big?

The bra is just so soft to not give up on it, but I need more ridgidness. The bra looks great! Great bra for everyday, no uniboob, but just not the support I need for a long distance run.

I also was fortunate to receive the Handful Squeeze Play Leggings in black. They are a nice feeling material with a higher waist band. The back of the waist band is “roushed.” These retail for $70.

I wish I had more to say, but they do not fit me to provide a satisfactory review. I did get them on, but they were too tight and a little too long. I didn’t want to blow out a seam. I do know that some of the other female pros received their capris and wore them to the expo, they appeared to fit and enjoy them.

As much as the products may not have worked out for me, I really like this company and the passion they have for providing women workout clothing to “grab life by the horns.” I can see myself wearing the sports bra to hang out in, or as a bathing suit top. I also think maybe another bra in their line might be for me, I love the non chaffing, soft feel.

For more information about Handful, check out their website. Or keep up with them on social media – twitter, Instagram or Facebook.

BUFF® DryFlx – Product Review

BUFF® DryFlx – Not Just a Tube of Fabric

“Disclaimer: I received the BUFF® DryFlx neck warmer and headband 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!”

Here in the midwest, it’s BUFF® head wear season. I have many of these from a baseball style hat, infinity scarf, visor, and hood. I was ready to expand my wardrobe with the new bright and reflective BUFF® DryFlx neck warmer and hat.

I came home to a package with the yellow fluor color 
BUFF® DryFlx neck warmer and headband. The package also had a catalog, I was briefly distracted by all the stocking hats and knit neck warmers. 

I was ready to rock it out. I really appreciated the bright color, and when I took a photo I liked it even more as the reflective detail appeared.

As you can see this is bright and reflective (reflective 360), but there’s so much more: 

  • 4 Way Stretch
  • 100% Seamless
  • UPF Sun Protection
  • High Moisture Management

Where I run, all these factors are important. First, because it’s winter, it’s cold. I choose to run outdoors, and I layer up. I need to protect my skin, face, ears, etc. The stretch in the fabric allows me to layer up, including hiding my headphones underneath.

Also because it’s cold, moisture management is very important. There is nothing worse than your gear getting wet and being exposed to the elements. You might as not be wearing anything then. In the times I have run with this, and breathing through it, I don’t feel the cold due to the moisture in that area…if that makes sense. 

The UPF 50 and reflectivity are a no brainer. No matter how obnoxious you look, cars still never see you. And all added sun protection is a bonus.

I don’t feel I have to explain the 100% seamless, but to some this may just seem like a fabric tube. In addition to the above qualities, having no seams makes for a comfortable fit. 

I am happy to have this BUFF® collection join my wardrobe. While there are imitations, there is nothing like the original!

If you are looking to upgrade your collection, check out all the colors of the BUFF® DryFlx. 

Keep up to date with all things BUFF® on social – TwitterFacebook Instagram

Need more information, here are what the BibRave Pros are saying: JanelleKatyPreston – 

Sabre Safety – Product Review

Product Review – Sabre Safety

“Disclaimer: I received the Sabre- Runner Pepper Gel with Adjustable Hand Strap 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!”

Safety on the run is something at the forefront these days. I recently wrote a post about runners safety due to an unfortunate local situation. This prompted me to purchase the Sabre pepper spray after a recommendation from the University Police. When the opportunity came to test the gel, I was intrigued.

I was surprised when I opened the package to find the personal alarm with clip and light, the duathlete pepper gel with adjustable arm band, and the 3 in 1 runner pepper spray with adjustable hand strap

I opened the personal alarm first, after some work to get the battery in place. I gave it a test – the light lit up green. While a little apprehensive, I also tested the alarm. It was shrill and the light flashed red. I clipped it to my belt and went for a run. It never accidentally got bumped, nor did it feel like I was wearing it.

I next opened both the spray and the gel. I was really interested in taking the gel with me, but it came with an arm band. I am not too excited about running with anything on my arm, plus seems like it would be more difficult to access. I switched the the containers. I had the gel in the hand held elastic holster, however the container was taller than the spray container.

I make the observations as to the ergo-dynamic fit into my hand. I am not sure the taller can works as well as the designed spray size. I did take it for a spin. The way the strap is designed to carry the spray works perfectly in the palm of my hand. My grip naturally fits around it, with or without a clenched fist. It didn’t feel like anything extra.

I then decided it was time to actually test the gel. The whole idea is that I will never have to use this product, however if I do, I want to make sure it works and I know how to.

“Pepper gel virtually eliminates wind blowback and only affects what it directly contacts.”

I took to the snowy trail for this task. The trigger on the container is locked, but a swivel and it becomes unlocked. I unlocked the trigger and pushed down with my thumb…nothing…I then put the opposite pointer finger and pushed really hard – an orange liquid spit out and in a direct squirt. Hmmm, it shouldn’t be that difficult. 

I was baffled, and then I thought, maybe the temperature has something to do with the gel, it was a feels like 10 degrees. I tried a few more times…ending with a situation on my glove. I was happy to be wearing gloves and happy I could easily clean it off in a snow bank.

“Pepper sprays deliver a concentrated burst of capsaicin, the chemical found in peppers that give them their heat. When it comes in contact with mucous membranes — including the eyes, nose or throat — it triggers a strong inflammatory response. Along with intense pain, the target’s eyes may swell shut and he or she may have difficulty breathing. The combined effects can incapacitate a person for at least a few moments, potentially up to several minutes , giving you the time,you need to get to safety.” –

I also thought that maybe due to the taller canister, it just wasn’t fitting the right spot on my thumb for it to spray. I want to be prepared, this took too much time. Or, perhaps I am a weakling and I am not strong enough to push it? I will have to wait for a warmer day to test it again.

I was looking through the FAQ on the website and it says it has been temperature tested and not to store below 32 degrees. 

Beyond this issue, I will continue to carry a Sabre Safety product with me on my runs. From the simple press of an alarm button, to a handheld gel or spray, Sabre makes safety easy. 

Sabre makes a variety of products that are tailored to specific needs, make sure to check out their website –

Keep up with Sabre on  Twitter or Instagram.

Check out what the BibRave Pros are saying: GinaAmyVanessaJennAndreaEricaStephanieLindseyPreston – 

Half Marathon #50

Madison Half Marathon – 2018 Race Recap

“Disclaimer: I received entry into the Madison Marathon Half Marathon 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!”

The day finally came and I ran my 50th half marathon. It’s amazing how they just start adding up. Read on about my experience at the Madison Half Marathon.

For my to the point review, check out

Gear: Sparkle Athletic skirt, Brooks Ghost 10, 2xu Thermal tights, Zensah socks, Zensah bra, Garmin Forerunner 935, Aftershokz Trekz Air, Spibelt, 2xu tank, Nike thermal turtleneck, UA Bibrave Shirt, Hawkeye stocking hat, BUFF, Pearl Izumi gloves.

Sunday, November 11.

2 AM – wake up, grab all the coffee! While this seems like an extremely early wake up call for a 7:10 AM race, I was meeting a friend and we were driving to Madison from Iowa the morning of the race.

3 AM – meet my friend Jen, leave a car at a friends house. Drive to Madison. Stop judging, runners only do crazy things….

As you know it’s not my first trip to Madison, in fact I have road tripped the morning before a race before. There was a home Iowa football game the day before, and the logistics just made more sense to leave early morning, plus Jen was on board!

This also meant that neither of us would be able to get our bibs at the expo. While there was a pick up on race day, it was an additional $30 or something. Lucky for us our friend, Dan, was able to grab our things at the expo. Also, 5 cheers for the race for allowing others to grab our things. 

6 AM – After a few stops here and there, Jen and I rolled into Madison. What I remembered from the past was being able to park on the street, for FREE, just blocks from the start line. We circled around and put the car in a spot. We met up with Dan, who had our bibs. THANK YOU DAN!!

I was also meeting up with fellow BibRave Pros, Amy and Barb. Dan actually found these two before he found us, as he spotted them wearing orange. Dan and Amy would be running the full marathon, while Jen, Barb and I would run the half marathon. 

It was not too warm out, so after a stop at the port-o-potty I was back at the car. If it were January, I am sure we would have been warm, however we hadn’t had much for cold weather running, so we were cold! This also made it difficult to decide what to wear.

I made it back to the start line around 7 AM to see if I could find Dan or Amy before they started…nope. So, I just proceeded into the corral. It was back fed, which meant there was one entry in the back, and you could find a pacer to line up next to, with the slower paces in the back. 

I didn’t have a specific goal for this race, I didn’t specifically train for it, I just wanted to finish. I knew the course as I ran it last year. I was in it for the medal – they started a 4 year medal series last year and I had to complete it.

I had no issues during the race. I stopped to use a port-o-potty, which lead me to ditching an under layer. Taking off an under shirt while walking is a lot of fun! 

I said this last year and I can say it again this year – I really did not care for this course. It was one of the more boring routes I’ve run in Madison, just running busier roads, so I welcomed the hills as something different. There is just so much more to see and this half course does not show case it.

However, the course is well supported. There are a lot of hydration stations. This year they were even prepared for the colder weather with ice melt. I believe there are so many as parts of the half marathon join with the full marathon. There were some stops with Gu too, but no real food. 

I finished with a time near 2:20 on my Garmin, but because I used the facilities I had an official race time of 2:22, which is fitting as that is the time I ran my first half marathon.

Once I crossed the finish line I was given a medal. I found the mylar blanket and made my way to the photo backdrop. The race photos are free, so I tried to take advantage. I also caught Barb at the finish too!

I then passed by the post race food, bananas, orange slices and pre-bagged Panera meals. I grabbed a turkey sandwich and walked around the corner to the beer area. They had Michelob Ultra again and I passed by as someone handed out the last radler. 

I met back up at the car where Jen was keeping warm. We sat there for a while and checked in on the tracking app. We were following Dan and Amy. I just missed Amy, she was speedy!!! We warmed up while we waited for Dan.

We made our way back to the finish when we thought Dan was near. It’s always fun to cheer on finishers. It was strange though as the time Dan was to come in, there was some nearby bell ceremony going on, so the announcer and music went away and it was just bells ringing in the distance. 

We spotted Dan and couldn’t get our phones to take a photo, but cheered loudly! We met him in the finisher’s chute where he grabbed some post race grub and chocolate milk. I totally missed the chocolate milk the first time through, so I grabbed some too. 

We said goodbye to Dan, took some photos of the medal and called it a day ourselves.

I am not sure if it was an error on my part, but I failed to realize there was a challenge medal up for grabs for me. I ran the spring race events and the fall half marathon for the Conquer the Capital half and half challenge. I thought it was just for the fall full marathon. With the proper papers, I could have received another medal. Why is this important – I noted this on twitter and the race management sent me the challenge medal!!!

2:00 PM Crossing the border back into Iowa. 12 hours after I woke up, I was almost back home. 

I run a lot of races in Madison, they know what they are doing. I will be headed back in the spring for Run Madtown, and I need to complete the four medal set….so expect to read more posts about it.

As always if you ran add your review to and claim your results on