What’s next?

WHAT’S NEXT?

“Disclaimer: I received entry into the Pittsburgh MarathonSteel Challenge to review as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review, find, and write race reviews!”

It’s been a while since I had a plethora of races on my calendar, but there was a time that the schedule was always full. I go to gatherings and what not and people keep asking me what am I running next? Well I finally have an answer, the Pittsburgh Marathon!!

A picture from a run along the river in PGH when I visited for a baseball trip


Ok, so I will run a shorter distance race here and there, in fact I am signed up for the Holiday Bowl 5k on Dec 26th and I will always try to run the Amana Freezer Run, but I need a goal.

It’s also been a hot minute since I actually trained for a marathon. I am out of shape and need a kick in the butt. This could be it!

I have been to Pittsburgh a couple of times and I have really enjoyed both trips. I look forward to discovering more about the city on foot. I also hope to enjoy some perogies.

I plan to run the Steel Challenge. This includes the 5k on Saturday (May 2nd) and the full marathon on Sunday (May 3rd.) If you want to run the full, half or relay code “BIBRAVE10PGH” will save $10

Madison Half Marathon Recap 2019

Conquer the Capital Half and Half Challenge Complete

“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 BibRave.com to review, find, and write race reviews!”

It was finally time to go to Madison. On Saturday, after a quick stop to drop off the dogs, Josh and I were on the open road and ready to get our weekend started. The drive was nothing exciting, and that’s why it’s very easy to get to Madison.

We had a full day ahead, so we planned to grab some pizza. We phoned in an order to Glass Nickel Pizza in Fitchburg, and picked up our order on the way to the marathon expo. We couldn’t wait until we stopped, so we snacked on the cheese bread as we navigated the mean streets of Madison.

Since we have been participating in this event for a while, we know that you can find close, on street parking for less. Sure it’s easy to park in the ramp at the Monona Terrace, but we are frugal. We found a spot on the street and made the walk to the expo.

It appears we made a good choice to park on the street as the Terrace was hoppin! There was also an art show in the same space. Even though there were the extra people, we were able to easily find the entrance to the expo.

It was just before noon, and the expo was very busy (or maybe it felt that way as it was in a small space.) We walked straight to the packet pick up area. I told the volunteer my bib number and he asked for my ID. I was then given a reusable bag with 2 shirts, goodies and my bib. I realized after that only challenge participants were given these bags as Josh received a plastic sack. *Josh was also running the challenge, but he was not able to register for it after the fact, so a person will be in touch via email.

I was hesitant when I saw the shirts. They are all long sleeve, gender specific and I really like the blue race shirt as it’s a soft cotton blend, however I read the tag for the gray one and was like, hmmm a cotton shirt? Spoiler alert, I wore the gray shirt after the race and it fit really nice and I will wear it!!

After we got our things, we took a picture or two, walked quickly around the expo and then we met up with fellow BibRave pro Amy.  She was working as a vendor. We stopped and talked for a minute, then needed to be on our way.

It was a quick in and out with the expo, but it is designed that way. It’s easy to grab and go, or take your time – grab a water, explore the brands, races and vendors that are on display. We, however needed to be at our hotel to grab a shuttle at 12:30

We were back to our truck and headed to the hotel. We also had a slice of pizza. (Best decision of the weekend.)

The hotel had no rooms ready, but that was ok, we were able to leave our things with them, and would just check in later. We did need to get moving though as it was approaching 12:30 and we had paid $5 for a shuttle that would take us to the Camp Randall area for the football game. This was a great option as parking is expensive and it’s super congested.

Welp at 1:02 PM we were on the shuttle. As it turns out there was only one shuttle van and every time it made a run to the stadium area it was getting caught in the traffic. The game didn’t start until 3, so we had some time, but it was annoying. The shuttle driver said he would pick us up 1-2 hours after the game by the Union South, I was like that’s a big place, what street? Even more annoying was this woman on the shuttle, having to explain to some kids that it was ok to be a Hawkeye fan, but she really hoped her team won… no one cares your thoughts, just be quiet or talk about the weather. Well, it didn’t stop there, the shuttle driver encountered heavy traffic and she was all, we have to get some tickets at this bar… and she was all amazed her phone wasn’t working and she didn’t know where the bar was. Another person on the shuttle was oh, that place is just up ahead… so the annoying lady was like, just let us out there. Well the shuttle driver was all flustered and was like, ok I will stop there and you can all get out. UM, that is not where I wanted to be dropped off. AHHHHHHHH! I understand his frustrations and running behind, but we all were hurried off, and I had no clue where we were… and because there were so many people my phone wasn’t working, so we followed the mass of people…. I was borderline going to have an anxiety attack. Finally we were somewhere where I recognized a landmark…. and we had found the location we were supposed to be dropped at, the Union South, also the location of the Hawkeye pre-game party.

Anyway that is not why you’re reading this post. We met up with some friends at the huddle, then walked over to the game. I am not sure we need to go into any details, but my team did not win.

After the game, our friends graciously offered to give us a ride back to our hotel. Whew, no more shuttle drama for us. We got back to the hotel and officially checked in around 7 PM. When we were checking in, the guy at the front desk answered the phone, and it sounded like unhappy people still waiting for a shuttle to show up.

We made it to our room and devoured our leftover pizza. Yet, we felt we needed something else, so we bopped on down to the hotel restaurant and enjoyed a salad and soup.

We were back to the room in good time to lay out all the things we needed to run, and luckily were able to get a good night’s sleep.

Gear: Sparkle Athletic skirt, Flipbelt pants, Turtle Gloves, Rabbit Tank, UA t-shirt, Long Sleeve, Rudy glasses, Aftershokz Aeropex, Garmin, Brooks Ghost 12, Big Grove Nike hat, Hawkeye stocking hat, Moving comfort sports bra.

RACE DAY!!

We were awake at 5 AM and brewing coffee in the room. Then by 6 AM we were ready to go to the race start. The best part about this race is you can park on the street, just blocks away from the start for FREE!!! So after we found our spot, we just waited in the warm truck. It was a cloudy day and temps would be topping out at 30 or so.

Around 6:30 I decided to utilize the many port-o-potties that were set up. Then I ventured to the starting area and stumbled upon Amy near gear check. She was meeting with various groups for photos. Since we parked so close there was no need for gear check, but you could use any bag.

There were announcements and the singing of the National Anthem, and around 7 AM the marathon was off. I proceeded to the starting chute and since I really didn’t have a pace goal, just found a spot. I started my music, put my watch to “run.” Then it was time to go.

As you know I have run this event before, so I was ready for what the course had to offer. It’s not my favorite route, it skips many things that Madison is known for, but I knew I had to get to the finish line.

The first few miles are a bit crowded. I found Amy and ran for a while with her. Then as we started to climb a hill, I powered forward. Around mile 5ish, someone thanked me for choosing to run in Madison and we talked for a bit. They saw my Hawkeye hat… this was not the first comment on the hat on the course. I heard many Go Hawks throughout the race. Madison is a great place, just not on game day.

From there those women were back and forth with me through the race. I was also back and forth with the weather, I was super sweaty when we were out of the wind and then I would be cold in the wind, just before mile 8 I lost my long sleeve.

I knew there was a big hill coming up just before mile 9. Ok, Madison has hills, this one is just the steepest climb. I turned the corner and there it was… and so was a guy in costume. Social media can be a fun place, just the day before Steena had run the Indy Monumental Marathon and John had spectated in a Shakespeare costume, holding fun signs…. and here he was on this hill. However, that was not all… Steena was there too. This was just the encouragement I needed at this point. I stopped and took a selfie, congratulated her on her marathon and powered up that hill!

I motored on feeling good until I heard some whoops from a police motorcycle. The lead marathoner was coming through. I was just past mile 11.5. Ah shucks, a goal is to always run my half faster than they can run a full…. but wait – they started 10 minutes before we did. Then it was time for running math, and I am pretty sure he was beating my half time. I was then on the alert for the rest of them, but the second place guy didn’t come through until a mile later maybe.

It was time for the last climb to the finish at the Capital. I kept thanking all the officers at the intersections, turned on State Street and there I was jumping across the finish line. I had a Garmin time of 2:18 or so and 13.25, but I later saw the tracking and it had me at 2:16. I should check the official results, lol.

When I was finished a volunteer placed a medal around my neck and said congratulations. (This is a small gesture, but it’s much appreciated.) I was then handed a bottle of water, and I passed on the mylar blanket. I then waited in a short line to have my finisher picture taken. Then there was the place to redeem your beer ticket for a Michelob Ultra, there was also soda available. I don’t care for that beer, and wanted a Coke. ( I don’t even drink soda and it sounded good.) When I asked for one I was told it was for 21 and younger, I hope no one pregnant received that answer. I also understand they probably have a limited amount.

Next stop was the food line. They changed things up this year, which I was very happy about. There were 3 options – chili and cornbread, mac and cheese, or a brat with potato salad. Each came with a cookie. I choose the brat. The chili was vegetarian, but not sure if there was a GF option, and there was no fruit this time. I don’t have allergies or a special diet, but something I observe.

With my hands full, I was able to still talk to Josh on my Aftershokz headphones and we were able to discuss where to meet. I grabbed a chocolate milk  and then found the tent with my half and half medal for the challenge. Also in this space after the finishing chute there was craft beer for purchase, I like this step…. I also wish I had remembered some money as the dollar I found in the parking lot pre-race wasn’t enough.

I met Josh and he gave me my coat. My hand were freezing and it was hard to hold all my things. I stopped at a bench to get my coat on and put things in the giant pockets. I wasn’t sure where Amy was, but sent her a message as we were cold and decided to be on our way.

We stopped to take some post race photos and then we were back at our truck and headed to the hotel. We were back within 3 hours of the race start. Madison is a big place, but if you know the hacks it’s easy peasy on race day.

We didn’t need to late check out, and were out of there just before noon. We went back down to the Capital to take some photos with my medals over the years. I have one more medal to earn so I can finish the series.

Then one last Starbucks stop and we were on the road home. With such a filling post race spread we were not hungry…. well until we got to Dubuque where we stopped at a new brewery, 7 Hills Brewing Company.  It was right off the main road.

After watching the Iowa Field Hockey team win the B1G Championship game in overtime, we made the remainder of the trip home as snow was coming.

I will be back for my 4th medal next year, but I hope there are more Steena’s out there to spice it up. I also hope that the push for craft beer gets closer to being the free beer. Madison is a great place, except on game day. Go Hawks!

*Also race pics were available the next day for FREE

BibRave Summit Weekend

Chicago BibRave Summit Weekend

Disclaimer: I received entry into the Rock N Roll Chicago Half Marathon as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review, find, and write race reviews!

WOW – I am about 5 blog posts behind, and it’s only going to get worse, so here’s hoping I can catch up and remember all the races and things.

Thursday, July 18.

Josh was joining for this long weekend in Chicago. We made the decision to take the Amtrak, as it’s expensive to park a car multiple days. When it’s hot the train gets delayed, and this day was no exception. We made the most of it and went to grab some lunch in Galesburg, before we hopped on the rails.

The train finally arrived and we are on our way. We were put in a double decker car with a group of boy scouts. Their troop leader was very talkative and loud and made sure everyone heard him talking. Josh managed to nap through all this. I did learn from the loud conversation that the couple he was talking to was on the train for days, traveling from New Mexico to New York.

After what felt like eternity, we had rolled into the very busy train station. We got our bearings and made it out on the streets of Chicago. We only had a short walk to our hotel, the Club Quarters.

We made it just before 6pm, which meant we made it to happy hour. This gave us access to wine and snacks! We took part before we trekked up to our room. We had never stayed in this brand of hotel before.

After we checked into our tiny room, we discovered we were near Garrett’s popcorn, so of course we went to get some! No trip is complete to Chicago without purchasing the Garrett’s mix!

Then it was time for real food, so we walked over to one of our favorite places, Miller’s Pub. This restaurant offers just about anything you would want to eat – burgers, breakfast, seafood, pasta and beer! After we were full, we walked back to the hotel as Friday would be the start of a BibRave filled weekend.

Friday July, 19

We woke up early as we were to meet up with the crew for a service project. However, soon after we woke up I received an email that the project was cancelled by the city because it was too hot. This lead to a little chat, but it was decided that we would still meet and go for a little run, followed by coffee and donuts. It was nice to meet up with new and old pros, put names to faces.

The day was packed with events, so we went back to the hotel on foot and showered to then take an Uber to the McCormick Center for the Rock N Roll Expo. I think we squeezed in a sandwich at Potbelly for lunch.

The Rock N Roll expo was smaller and quieter than I expected. However, I kept forgetting that it was Friday afternoon and many people were still at work. It was easy to get your bib and shirt, even exchange it if needed. Then there was an area to buy race branded merchandise and then you snaked through the vendors. It didn’t take me too long to go through, although I did stumble on a great new beef jerky! I love food samples!

The crew of pros had taken photos and picked up all their things, so then it was time to depart again and get ready for the next event, the orange carpet dinner. Josh and I found another Uber and went back to the hotel.

We were all fancied up and called up another Uber to take us to the City Winery North. That was fun, it was shared and the person already in the car was talking loudly on her phone the entire ride. This didn’t bother the driver as he was deaf. It was super annoying to those of us who could hear, Josh and I texted each other back and forth on the ride.

Of course, we were the first to arrive at the orange carpet event, and we were too early. We sat at the bar and ordered a wine flight. It was good. More pros started to arrive, so we chatted. Then it was time to go into our private room.

There was indeed an orange carpet rolled out for us, complete with a sponsor backdrop and photographer! I did my best smize and Kardashian pose as I worked it. We were given swag bags too! Mine had two pairs of Knockaround sunglasses, a t-shirt and candy.

A bar was set up with some wine and drink choices. I had some more wine. Then a dinner buffet appeared with ravioli, salad, and veggies. We all enjoyed the evening squeezed into tables dining, drinking and taking more pictures.

During the evening, a message was sent that the RnR 5k was cancelled in the morning due to the heat. I wasn’t running the 5k, but it meant more people could join the BibRave shake out run in the morning.

As the sun started to set on the evening, I wasn’t ready to go back to the hotel and I wanted a beer! We ended up leaving and running into more pros at a nearby establishment for a drink. Then a few more of us moved onto another establishment and had another drink. Around midnight we thought we were going to turn into a pumpkin, so we got another Uber and went back to the hotel.

Saturday, July 20

An early and painful wake-up. We were going to the lake front to meet up with the group for a short shakeout run and a photo shoot. We were running a little behind, so we took another Uber or Lyft – at this point I don’t recall. We were dropped off at the location that was on our itinerary, but apparently that was not the correct location. There was a group of about 5 of us, that then appeared to be late as we had to hustle from the wrong location.

When we made it, we went for a short little run, and a photographer took some photos. The lake was really high, so the waves were crashing right next to the path. When we got to the turnaround point, I realized I didn’t start my watch, UGH! I also caught up with a few people who said after we left the night before then carried on and went to eat the most delicious hamburger ever. I am old, I was mad, but I am glad I got some sleep.

When we got back to our starting point, I kept going to at least get a mile because I am still run streaking. I had some time as people gathered around for more coffee and donuts and took turns getting individual professional photos.

Josh and I reenacting engagement poses


Then we took some group photos and just like that, it was time to get back to the hotel, take a shower and get ready for our next adventure. Sooooo, this time we did walk back to the hotel.

Our next adventure was a day game at Wrigley Field!! Yay, go Cubs! We both hadn’t been to see a game since they did the renovations, maybe 5 years. We found the red line near our hotel, discovered it accepted Apple Pay, and got on the train to Wrigley way early.

It was super hot! We walked around and then questioned what we should do. We didn’t have time to actually go to a bar and enjoy a drink, but we also had more time than just waiting on the group to show up. So we wondered into the McDonald’s across the street for some McNuggets and a real bathroom. It was also nice to cool off for a minute.

On the walk back to the marquee to meet the group, we purchased some peanuts and waters from a street vendor.

We waited to meet up with the others in the hot sun. They arrived and we took a photo and the tickets were passed out. We were in the 4th level, under the awning – shade!!

We did some walking around and made it to our seats. My seat was directly behind a pole. I had to lean one way to see the pitcher and lean the other way to see the batter. I was not enjoying the game. So I left the group and found an empty seat in the very top row of the stadium, there was a breeze!

The Cubs had a good game going, and I was going to stay until the end, because why even go if you are going to leave early. ( I am looking at you people who leave at the under 4 timeout in CHA!) I am glad I stayed, I think it was after we sang the stretch, there was a storm system coming in to the north and the wind changed direction and blew in off the lake. I think the temperature dropped 20 degrees, there was as roar from the crowd. It was like the air conditioning was turned on. There was only other pro left in the stands at this time, so we moved to sit together and we watch the Cubs win!! Ben, the Brewers fan was not so thrilled.

The sky was looking like it could open up at anytime and we needed to decide what we were going to do. Ben decided to go home. Josh and I had more BibRave plans to attend, but we didn’t have enough time to go back to the hotel and then to the event. We walked a bit south and thought we could get a ride easier, but the rideshares were expensive. So, just as it started to rain, we popped into some random bagel shop. Josh purchased a drink so we could use the bathroom.

We waited out the rain, and wasted time as we would be early to the next event. Josh kept his eye to his apps for a ride, but when we popped out of the bagel shop we were at a Red Line stop, so we just hopped the train and made our way to the City Winery on the river walk for our next event.

When we arrived, the sun was coming back out. We were one of the first to arrive and the best smelling – nothing like a hot sweaty day at the ballpark! I grabbed a cold cucumber, lime radler – very interesting!

This event was a live recording of the BibRave podcast with Cindy Kuzma. There was a buffet of noodles, salads and dessert. They also made sure to have the sauce on the side, wahoo that’s a win for team no sauce!!

As we dined, the events of the evening started. All the pros in attendance were asked to stand up, and they asked us to start sitting in the order we joined Bibrave. I was thinking, I feel like I know where this is going and thought, should I just stand on the table? I knew I was the only pro that started in 2014. However, I didn’t know where they were going with this. I was indeed the last pro standing and I was receiving an award. WHAT?!?

I received the BibRave Legacy award. I have been a BibRave Pro for 5 years. I was given a card and a scented pillow in the shape of a tangerine. I was shocked to be honored or receive anything. I was asked to speak and I didn’t know what to say. Thinking back, I should have encouraged those in attendance to get to know everyone in the program as that is my favorite part. I really like meeting up with the pros at races and hopefully making new friends.

Wow, after all that, I needed a cookie! We sat and listened to the live recording.

It had been a long day, so we made left with some extra cookies and made it back to our hotel room. We laid out all our race clothes and called it a night.

Gear: Sparkle Athletic skirt, Hawkeye hat, Orange Mud pack, Adidas shorts, Aftershokz Trekz Air, Brooks Ghost 12, 2xu socks, Garmin 935, Zensah bra

Sunday, July 21.

RACE DAY!! If you want my race review check out Bibrave.com. This was my second time at this race. It was my second ever BibRave partner race in 2014. I wasn’t too impressed with it then, but was ready to give it another chance.

We were up early again, we had to make a race day picture at the starting arch. We were able to just walk over from the hotel. We found the group and smiled pretty.

Josh threw some more smack talk to Jess as they had some contest to see who could run the race the fastest. They are close in race times, so it was for fun. It was a hot, humid day, so I kept encouraging them to be smart.

There were lots of corrals, many complaints they were too crowded. However, I wasn’t in a rush to join one as I was going to say, hi to my friend Heather who was also running. I happened to catch her on her way to the loo. After that, I hopped into to some random corral and proceeded to the start line.

I had no goals for this race, except get to the finish line. I did have expectations for a Rock n Roll race, and hoped it to be better than the last time I ran it.

I ran and saw some pros on the course, saw the BibRave cheer station, heard a few bands, but as usual, there is not one every mile in Chicago, especially downtown. Then came the dreaded McCormick Tunnel. At this point it’s just part of about every running event in Chicago as there is not a better place to get from point A to point B.

When I left the tunnel, we were rerouted onto the sidewalk. I was shocked and saw a man getting chest compressions on the road. I was about in tears, this shook me up. To this day, I have no idea if that man is ok. It also puts things into perspective. Whoa….

I just kept putting one foot in front of the other, and aimed towards the finish line.

I made the finish. I was given a medal and a cold towel. There were bottles of Gatorade, boxed water and pineapple juice. Apparently they were out of chocolate milk. There were Pringles and granola bars. I kept walking over to the park to meet the BibRave group, this is also where the post race band was performing. You could also get a Michelob Ultra.

We stood around, chatted, took a photo, then some people left. I knew there were still a few pros and Heather out on the course, so Josh and I waited for them to finish. We also were able to listen to the music too.

I don’t know if the race is better than when I ran in 2014, but maybe because I didn’t have too high of expectations in the first place? It’s tough when other Rock N Roll events get huge headliners as the musical act and then this one is usually someone I have never heard of. I also understand each event can only do so much in each city. I have said this before, but I think if I would pay to do another Rock N Roll it would be Las Vegas. ( I would have to do the half though as the marathon cut off is 5 hours. )

It was getting close to the time we had to be out of the hotel, so we walked back and got cleaned up, packed up our bags and left them at the concierge. We had one more event to attend.

We arrived at the Public House for a post race brunch. I had a bloody mary and a huge breakfast scramble. I was sooooo exhausted! We only stayed a while before we had to make the trek back to the hotel, grab our bags and then get to the the train station to get on the Amtrak back to our car.

Chicago is a fun place to visit, however I am so glad I do not live there. I like being able to get in my car and go where I want, when I want, park where I need to park. I guess it might be different if I didn’t have a car and could walk everywhere I needed to get.

We were on the train back to Galesburg, and of course Josh was asleep before we were in the suburbs. I passed the time scrolling my phone and playing games.

We were back at our car, and ready to get home. However, I wouldn’t let Josh leave Galesburg without celebrating National Ice Cream Day.

What a fun time in Chicago!

Powered by Pie

Grandma’s Marathon Race Recap 2019

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

It’s the most wonderful time of the year… Grandma’s Marathon!

For those who may not know, this is one of my favorite races ever. This is my 6th year in Duluth and in addition to running it, I would be helping Aftershokz at the expo.

I headed north on Wednesday, June 19. It’s a short little drive about 7-8 hours. I made a stop just south of Duluth to log a run on the Munger Trail. I have a run streak to keep in tact.

From there I kept the car headed north and ended up in Two Harbors. This is where the marathon starts. For years I have said I need to take more time to explore the area. I stopped at Castle Danger Brewing and enjoyed a Summer Crush. I mistakenly thought they had food.

I decided to head a little further north to Betty’s Pies. I wasn’t ready to dine, so I got a strawberry rhubarb slice to go.

I then headed back to Duluth, but drove the race course. It felt really long. I was having some doubts about running it on race day. It has been a long time since I have run this long. It was a beautiful day though.

I was back in Duluth and decided this was the year I would eat at Grandma’s Saloon, the restaurant near the finish. When the race started in 1977, this was the only business that would sponsor the event. Inside you can find a wall dedicated to the Grandma’s Marathon hall of fame.

I took a seat outdoors, with a view of the famous aerial lift bridge. Lots of sail boats were coming in off the lake. I was informed I missed out on the races. After a wild rice salad and fries, I decided I should probably check into my hotel.

I trekked across the bridge into Superior, WI where Barkers Island Inn had a room for me. We have stayed at this place every time, it’s a nice place that doesn’t require a 2 night stay. There is also an early morning race breakfast and a shuttle to the start.

Thursday, June 20

It was time to go set up at the expo with Aftershokz. I met Evan in the hotel lobby and learned the third person was having issues with his flight and would meet us later.

We arrived at the DECC to get our 2 booths ready for the expo, that would start at 4pm that night. Ok, sooooo Evan started unpacking the stuff and getting things set up, and I followed suit with his instructions.

We were in and out by 11:30. I went back to the hotel to grab my car, I knew where I wanted to go – the beach!

I was back to Duluth and across the lift bridge to Park Point Beach. I first got in a mile run. I originally thought I might be able to run on the beach, but it wasn’t optimal. Then I walked the beach collecting drift wood and rocks. It was a beautiful day.

I didn’t want to leave the beach, but I needed to attend to my duties. After rolling through a sandwich shop for lunch, I was ready to go sell some headphones.

The first day of the expo was good. We informed people about Aftershokz as we sold them for the running store. However, in other news the third person that would be showing up to help us, could not get a flight. So it was just going to be the 2 of us and help from the running store.

I managed to sneak away and grab my bib in the back of the expo space. I didn’t have my bib number off hand, so the nice volunteer helped me look it up.

We packed up things around 8pm and needed some food and a cold beer. Even and I decided to try out Canal Park Brewing. It was the place to be!!! While we waited for a table we saw some of the wheelchair athletes.

I ended up with a bowl full of mac and cheese and a strawberry beer. We also had some chips and salsa. Then it was time to hit the hay, Friday would be a long day at the expo.

Friday, June 21.

I woke up in time to get my mile run in and redeem my $5 breakfast voucher. A decent 2 egg, bacon and toast offering, and of course coffee.

I met Evan back in the lobby, but this day I would drive separately. My friend Kate was hitching a ride with BibRave Pro Tia. Kate and Tia would stop at the expo, and then Kate would take my car to the hotel. Anyway…..

The expo was off and rolling at 10am. We were back in our sales pitch mode. The Air has an upgraded microphone and the base is enhanced and weighs 20% less…yadda yadda…. all day long. I also think it’s funny the things people will tell you at a expo too… but hey I will listen.

Lunch time rolled around and my stomach grumbled…. The Duluth Running Co offered to buy some pizza. Around 2-3pm I had time to eat a couple slices. It was bananas!! I also started to get a headache, so had to grab some red Powerade. I am pretty sure it was the lack of food, and all the time just being crazy busy.

Then my friend Dan stopped by to say hi! Ok, I had seen him a few times during the expo, but this time we snapped a picture.

Around 5PM I met up with the BibRave pros – Mai, Tia and Juan. We snapped a quick picture before Tia had to get to the 5k, and I went back to selling headphones.

BAM – Just like that the expo was over…at 9 PM. I was exhausted, but we had to tear down everything and pack it all up into boxes. Near 10:30 ish we were done and loading up the car.

At 11 PM, I met up with Kate at the hotel and she had saved me some of her dinner, thank you!! I also had that slice of pie in the fridge. So, working the expo and eating a slice of pie would be how I prepared to run my 30th marathon.

Gear: Sparkle Athletic skirt, 2xu socks, Brooks Gylcerin, Garmin Forerunner 935, Rudy Sunglasses, Aftershokz Air, Hawkeye hat, Bibrave tank, Adidas boy shorts, Zensah bra, Orange Mud pack.

Saturday, June 22 – Race day!!

The alarm was set for 4:13 AM. I made my way down to the lobby to have some fruit, coffee, and a bagel with peanut butter. There were a few others shuffling around too. I was ready to board the shuttle bus around 5:50 AM.

It was your average bumpy school bus ride to the race start. I enjoyed the peace and quiet for about 2 minutes. Then there was a very loud, chatty guy sharing all his stories as a former CO at a prison. The lady sitting next to me said something, and I made the comment that is was nice to not be talking after a busy expo. Then we made some small talk, mostly about the weather. It was the most beautiful day, with a gorgeous sunrise. The temps were near 50 degrees.

I departed the bus at Two Harbors and instead of just standing in the starting corral, I thought I would just stand in line at a port-o-potty. There are a lot of them, but never enough.

On my way, I spotted the bright orange and Tia!!!

Then I said hi to local Iowa runner Jen and I met up with Nicole from the 100 miles group.

Finally, waiting in line to use the bathroom. I wasn’t nervous or the usual basket-case I can be, when I am not familiar with race day logistics. In fact, I heard the last verse of the National Anthem inside the “biffy.”

I made my way to the back fed corral. Meaning you enter in the back and if you want to line up with a faster pace, you have to snake your way through all the people to get there. Me? I just joined the back and waited for things to get going – which felt like forever. (One reason I don’t care for HUGE races is the standing in a corral for a ridiculous amount of time.)

Ok, Ok, Ok let’s do this! I was on my way to Duluth on the scenic north shore. I hit start on the Garmin and set out to enjoy the day.

At mile one I could see the back of Tia’s singlet in the distance. I made my way to catch up with her. We chatted for a bit and I believe around the mile 5 water stop, I kept going as she grabbed a drink.

I was going along and feeling good, I met up with the 5 hour pace group. I really need to stick with a pacer in the beginning of a race. My strategy of just going until I can’t go any further only really works on a perfect day, with perfect conditions, including a perfect training cycle. Bottom line, even though I thought I needed to be running faster than 5 hour pace, they eventually passed me.

I did develop a weird foot problem around mile 6. It was like this hot spot under my big toe on the foot pad. By the end of the race it was like the bottom of my feet were asleep. All I wanted to do is get my shoes and socks off.

However, no worries. I then encountered Bobby and Jan. They were both running their first marathons!! I chatted with them and we continued going back and forth with each other, they would pass me as I used a bathroom or I would pass as they stopped for water.

Grandma’s remains one of my favorite marathons, mostly because how you feel and are able to enjoy the distance. The views of the lake are gorgeous. From what the runners see, the local support the race  – coming out to cheer in their driveways, offer coffee, high fives, polka bands, string quartets, bacon, beer, troll dolls, pickles. There are what feels like 5000 volunteers available at all times. The aid stations are well stocked for all paces.

All of the above reasons is how I got to the finish line, especially from mile 20 on. I had the slice of bacon, and a lady I met at the expo told me to say hi at mile 21 where I had some pickles. Then I listed to the polka music and had a slice of watermelon. A volunteer cheered me up Lemon Drop hill. Then I saw twitter friend Ed, who I met at the expo, he had run the half marathon. I also made a quick call to Josh on my Aftershokz to check in.

I think this year the only thing I was sad about is I missed the grapes on the course as they were all out when I got there. Oh and MarathonFoto was the race photographer.

The last stretch again this year was not down the cobblestones of the main street, which is fine, but there is a short little downhill out of nowhere. Hello quads!

It seems like this part of the race takes forever, mostly because it has so many turns. One of the more iconic fixtures in Canal Park was not there this year, the William A. Irvin freighter was out of the harbor, so it looked a little different. It’s also the area where Kate always takes an epic photo. Never fear, there was a walkway set up and there she was cheering me into the end!! Kate’s the best!

Just before this point, Jan had passed me. I was worried about Bobby as they weren’t together. After I saw Kate, I looked behind me to see Bobby approaching. I slowed down and waited up for him… he was doing great and I chatted with him around the last turns to the finish line.

I cross the finish line, stopped my watch and gave Grandma a high five! Grandma is the cutest!!

A volunteer then placed a medal around my neck and another one handed me a bottle of water.

I caught up fellow Iowa City runners Dan and Nisha.

From here you claim your finisher shirt. This year I was hoping it was going to be purple as they introduced it into the 2019 logo, and it was purple!!!

I finished with a time near 5:15. I was happy with that!!

A volunteer approached me and wanted me to wear the mylar blanket, and I wasn’t ready for it yet, it was so nice out. I was also handed my beer ticket. So, I skipped the post race photo opp and went to find the strawberries in the post race food area. I was disappointed to not find them this year. I did grab a chocolate milk, orange slice, a bag of chips for later, and I saw the everything bagels – except I picked a bottom piece with minimal topping… oh well, where is the beer?

I rounded the corner after a quick phone call to Kate. I was in the beer tent area…and bonus there was a person with a strawberry on their head. They had some fruit truck, you played a game, received a coin and redeemed it for berries!! YAY!!

I made my way to the beer tapper trailer, and what did I see – A SOUR BEER!!! I stepped right up and redeemed my ticket!! I found Kate and we found some seats. There were many beer choices, sodas or coffee. The live music was pumping through this area. There was also a live feed of the finish line, we witnessed many awesome finishes.

I took the time to take off my shoes and socks and slip into my OOFOS. There was nothing physically wrong with my feet, maybe just in need of a pedicure? I had also run my last 20 in the same shoe/sock combo.

I did appreciate the awareness of race day waste. The beer tent area disposal area was guarded with volunteers making sure all items were recycled and taken care of properly. I hope in the future maybe compostable cups could be used at the aid stations.

Then we met up with Tia and enjoyed some people watching.

We moved the party to Little Angie’s – a post race tradition like no other. Tacos, fried ice cream and more sour beer!!

It was time to part ways, I said see ya later to Tia, and Kate took us back to MPLS. I was sooo tired. Then after a night’s rest, I would make the trek back to Iowa.

I am not sure I recommend working a busy expo all day and running a marathon the next day, but I will always recommend Grandma’s Marathon. They do race day right!

See ya next year!

2 weeks until Grandma’s

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

Seems like just yesterday I had registered for Grandma’s Marathon… like months ago! However, here we are and the big day is just 2 weeks away.

What have I been doing since I registered? Well if you remember I was all excited to use a training program provided by the race. In that time I sprained my ankle, so the training was way off. It had my long run at 13 miles over the entire training cycle. So, I ditched the plan and made up my own. GASP!

I don’t know all there is to know about running a marathon. However, with 29 of them under my belt, I know when my body should run long and step back. So with that I ran my last long run of this training cycle yesterday. 20 miles, 80 degrees, almost 1100 feet of gain. It was miserable, I was slow, but I am going to call it a win and be ready for race day.

Also in that time I have re-started my run streak. March 31 was the first day. So, while I have been making up a training plan, I am back to running at least a mile a day. Who knows if this is the best idea, but my marathon PR was set last October during my last run streak, not using a training plan.

So now with 2 weeks to go, what should I expect? Many experience taper tantrums or go a little stir crazy. I will have my run streak to keep me going. I also have many hobbies.

Also, it’s time to get excited to visit Duluth again!! There are many things to do in the area, including many opportunities with the race itself.

Ready or not, I can’t wait to get back to Duluth. If you are headed that way look me up and say hi!

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 BibRave.com 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 – http://runmadtown.com/volunteer/. 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 BibRave.com 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 – https://www.stuntpuppy.com/collections/leashes/products/stunt-runner?variant=12358184304738

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 StuntPuppy.com or follow them on social media: Twitter, Facebook or Instagram.

Additional reviews: MattAndreaStephJessicaJenna