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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 

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 BibRave.com 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.

BJJ_3865

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).http://www.madisonmarathon.org/  

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 BibRave.com 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. https://handful.com/collections/bottoms/products/handful-squeeze-play-legging

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 BibRave.com 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 –