Red Shoe 2017

Red Shoe Half Marathon – Race Recap 2017

Oh – I really have been slacking, I left you all in limbo…did I run this race due to the killer headache the night before?

Well, of course I ran it!! Powered by mashed potatoes!!

If you are looking for the simple, fact filled review – head on over to bibrave.com

Gear: Sparkle Athletic Ice Cream Skirt, 2xu tank, Adidas 7″ boyshorts, Pro Compression Socks, B1G tech hat, Spi Belt, Aftershokz Trekz Titanium, XX2i France Sunglasses, Garmin Fenix, Brooks Ghost 9


Alright – race day was Sunday, May 7th, it was sunny and would warm up to around 70. The race started with the 5k at 8:30 am.


I was able to grab my packet the day before the race. It was a bag full of papers & flyers that I just put in the trash. There was my bib and there was an unflattering, short sleeve tech tee – mostly because it’s a man’s cut.

There are 2 half marathons in Iowa City. I have run them both, in fact they partner together, for an additional medal opportunity, and you can say you ran Iowa’s Longest Marathon. Personally, I prefer this race over the other, and being in my town, longer than a 5k, I HAD TO DO IT!

The race starts and finishes at the Ronald McDonald House, which race proceeds benefit. This area is also next to the University of Iowa, Carver Hawkeye Arena and Duane Banks Field. This allows for ample parking and indoor bathrooms.

I rolled up around 7:50 am, to am empty Dental Lot (the lot for the dentistry college – this area is surrounded by parking lots.) I discovered everyone was told to park in a packed Lot 75. I really thought I was at the wrong place, where was everyone?


Well, they were all huddled inside Carver (CHA,) where the bathrooms were…and also confusing, it was not that cold and the sun was shining. It still felt like there wasn’t a race happening.

Just after 8 am, and standing around alone… I decided I did not need my arm sleeves, so I walked back to car to ditch them. I also found a four leaf clover! There were now about 5 cars parked near my car.


When I started back to my car, there was some kids race happening, which caught me off guard, as there were no people around…the kids must have just appeared.

I started walking back to the race start, and it was now 8:15 ish…there were some announcements on the sound system, and someone sang the National Anthem. I was beyond confused at this point and just went with it. The race didn’t start for another 15 minutes.

They used the time to tell a story about a family that has used the Ronald McDonald House, which was nice. I really like this charity and what the House does. If you remember, I was once donating Medals 4 Mettle to the House.


After another shorter kids race, the announcer encouraged people to line up behind the starting arch. More people appeared out of CHA….. it was starting to look like there was a race about to happen.

There were no corrals and no pacers. As I said the 5k started with the half marathon, there were people with strollers all in one spot. I tried to line up where I thought my pace would be. Ran into a friend who had his dog, and it was the dog’s first race.

I have run both the half and 5k before, there have been many hiccups over time. One year I ran the 5k, I was held up by a train.  The 5k used to be the GOTR spring race, and the course narrowed within the first 500 feet, the girls would line up in the front, and be walking at the point the course narrowed. Then the last time I ran the 5k, it started separately and was a good race. I was shocked to see it start with the half again.

I knew this course too, I run this town, I knew there would be hills (seems to be what people remark about the most, when they are finished.) However, due to construction, the course was changed this year, and the biggest hill was removed.

Coming into this with a rough day before, and eating only mashed potatoes, I was just there for the miles. I started off at a decent pace, and just followed the crowd and the arrows. *Note the arrows were not race specific… so arrows lead people for both the 5k & the half marathon.

The course went down by the Iowa River, crossing the bridges, checking out more of campus. Then it went through City Park. This is where the first aid station was. There was Gatorade first, then water in paper cups. It was getting warm for me, so I made sure to stop and drink. I didn’t bring a pack with me.

As we snaked through City Park, we came to the yard sign that said “mile 3.” I looked around, and since bibs were different for different races, I noticed that there were quite a few 5k runners at this point. We were not .1 miles from the finish, GASP! What was going on? In my mind, I had been waiting for the half to split from the 5k, and I never saw it. I then asked the 5k runners, if they were fine, and advised them they could go cross country to get back to the finish, or follow the course to a point that would get them to the finish.

Many 5k runners continued on the course, as it was the safest, due to roads being open to traffic, the marked course was safer. My watch was near 4.5 miles, when it was a good chance for the 5k to get back to the finish. At this intersection, they had to cross Hwy 6, an intersection where there was no traffic control, but a stoplight with buttons to push for pedestrians. There were 2 race volunteers pushing the buttons. If you ran the 5k, you were close to 5 miles.

All I could think is WOW, and I hope there were no kids out on the course alone. I did have more miles ahead of me so I kept moving. I did call Josh, I had to tell someone, lol… plus with bluetooth headphones, you can make a phone call on the run – so easy!

The course was now taking a turn onto First Avenue into Coralville, just after mile 5, I saw someone I knew – Anne! It was a welcomed surprise, especially since I was out there by myself.

I was at the next water stop, this one had the same paper cups. The person with Powerade… yep a different kind of drink, was handing out cups, and it was after the water, which was not being handed out. I don’t know if this is a big deal, but these little details are important. All electrolyte drinks should be the same on course – people can have issues – and it should be before the water, and volunteers should be attentive to getting it to people.

Oh well, onward…. the next few miles were uneventful. I was hot, but nothing I could do, I just made sure to drink when I hit the aid stations. I had some fruit snacks with me and ate them around the half way point.

The course went on the Clear Creek path, and met up with Camp Cardinal Blvd. This is the hilliest part of the course. There were more water stops with Powerade. Nothing too exciting.

Soon, I was on Melrose and running back east, into Iowa City. In the past we took the road back to the parking lot behind Kinnick Stadium to finish back where we started at CHA. However this year, because of the changed course, we went back onto the Mormon Handcart Trail, and then back to Mormon Trek.

Oh, HEY… I saw Anne in this area again, another welcome surprise….especially when I had just passed some bored volunteers sitting on the ground, no enthusiasm or care to be there. Anne gave me a high five and I was on my way.

I was now on the path behind the softball complex. There was a last water stop, and then I realized there would be one more steep climb before the finish. Races love to add this path, it’s closed to traffic, but the hill is no joke!

I finished up the hill, and through the parking lot – lot 75, crossed the street into the CHA parking lot and I was at the finish. Then in what seemed like exactly 12 inches from the timing mat, they handed me a medal… DUDE! I need to slow down and walk it out, there was soooooo much room for me to do that, but I was handed my medal immediately after I had finished.

My time was near 2:15 ish. I was happy with this knowing I wasn’t really racing it. However, I wish people would cheer people in. Looking at my Garmin, I only had 12.9 miles, it’s still close…but short. I don’t recall seeing a 13 mile marker either.

Oh well, I did find the post race food. There was A LOT of it. Bottled water, apple juice, chocolate milk, Powerade, donuts, cupcakes, apple slices, apples, orange slices, bananas, and bagels.


I actually turned down the donuts….don’t fear I had a mini cupcake instead. I took a minute and listened to the awards. I guess I missed the part where the age groups were divided up strangely…ages up to 29 were in 5 year increments, and after that 10 year increments. OK, I am not fast, but the smaller increments are easier for me to place.


I didn’t have a lot to do, so I stuck around the finish line until the clock was at 3 hours, I think that is when the course was supposed to close. I cheered on finishers.

I then decided to call it a day. I walked back to my car, had no troubles with traffic, and made it home before lunch.

I did have a slight headache, so I tried to stay hydrated the rest of the day.

This race….. I really want to be proud of my hometown races, I want to be able to tell people to come to Iowa City and run a race. This year, I can not say that. However, in the week since the race, I have learned a few things. 1) people who ran the 5k were given free entry to next years event. 2) the 5k and half will start separately next year 3) this was the first year under new directorship 4) letters were sent to 5k participants, along with some socks, apologizing for what happened.


So now… I am torn… I run a lot of races, so I feel I have valid thoughts and opinions.  I do like the actions they have taken regarding the mishap with the 5k. I just want more details to the half too. I need great water stops, cheer stations, and an accurate course. I would give the race another chance if it fits in my schedule.

 

 

 

 

Drake Half

Drake Road Races –  Half Marathon


The 2017 half marathon took place on Saturday, April 29. It was cloudy, with a feels like temp near 40 degrees. Race start was 7:30 am. There was a 5k that took place 15 minutes after. The events are part of the Drake Relays.

Looking for a “to the point review” go here

Josh and I were awake at 4 am Saturday and on the road with toast and coffee in tow. That’s right, we were driving the hour and a half to Des Moines on race day morning. Since we discovered that we could grab our packet the day of the race we skipped the expense of a hotel.


We made it to Des Moines in no time flat, at that hour of the morning, there is NO traffic. We also made it to a parking lot close to the finish line before they started charging the $10 daily fee. There was parking information provided through pre-race emails and on the website. Since this event takes place during the Drake Relays, parking is not free. HA! unless you get in the lot before they start charging, score 1 for the Berkas!

This location was also a short walk to the race day packet pickup. This was a no frills event. There was a big white tent set up in a parking lot. You walked in, either showed an email with your bib number or told them your name. No ID asked for. Then based on the shirt size indicated on your bib envelope, you grabbed the unisex (read – boxy) long sleeve, tech shirt. There was a shirt exchange somewhere…but I have so many shirts I don’t really care if another unflattering shirt fits anyway. After that, We were handed some white Asics tube socks. Nice to get something different, but no race logo or anything, just white tube socks – sexy!


The packet pickup took us a total of 5 minutes, so back to the car we went to keep warm. We were also parked near a bank of port-o-potties. Just after 7 am we thought we should get our crap together and walk the block or so to the start.

There were people buzzing about, however at the same time, unless you saw the start line, the morning was very relaxed, not that strange hustle and bustle of race morning. OR, maybe I have just done so many races (40 half marathons prior to this) that races don’t make me nervous.


There were no corrals, but there were pacers and participants were encouraged to line up according to that. There was some music and more announcements as there was some stalling before the National Anthem singer performed the song. A few minutes after 7:30 the race was on.

I really didn’t know what to expect from myself. I was one week out from a not -so-great marathon performance. I should have been taking things easy, but you know me, I love a good race and running. So – here I was.

Way back when, I ran this race when it offered a 6k. I only ran that distance at the time, instead of the half marathon, because at that time it was a week after the Blue Ridge Marathon. At that time the race was on a Sunday, and it ended on the Blue Oval in Drake Stadium.

I had checked out the elevation profile and knew there would be some climbs, while they were not super steep, they would still be hills. I was somewhat prepared. The first plan was to keep a slow steady start with a pace group (can’t remember if it was 2:20 or 2:30) I was only a half mile in when I felt they were running way too fast… however I managed to shake em and they were in the past…. I was then passing quite a few people.

By mile 2, I was hot… weird… it was maybe 40 degrees, but it was humid. I was down to a t-shirt. Then at mile 3, I needed to pee, TMI – I don’t care. I was back on the course and this is when we went downhill into some residential neighborhood. OK, who am I kidding the entire race was mostly in a residential neighborhood, never went near actual city parts of Des Moines.

I kept on going, at mile 9 I felt myself slowing a bit, but there was a hill… at the top of the hill was one of the 10 water stops (YES 10 water stops on a half marathon!) This is where I heard “Go Angie!” I looked back around and it was Mike, with the Rival Game Relay. I gave a wave. Then after grabbing a cup of water, I hear another “Go Angie!” It was IG friend @adkins_kl. I felt that extra umph, and I pushed on. It really is great to hear some words of encouragement on a course, no matter the distance, especially if it’s a surprise.

I remarked above, about all the water stops, and they were all in paper cups. However, there was no electrolyte drink on course and no food. There was a cool crew of bike marshals though, they had back baskets full of traveling aid including tissues and candy.


The last few miles seemed long. I managed to continue to thank the numerous volunteers and law enforcement officials on the course, but it seemed to go on forever. At mile 12, I had a new to me pain in my right hamstring. My leg was done! Thankfully, I turned the last corner and knew the finishing line was near.

I crossed the finish line, to my name being announced. I was handed a medal (it really is cooler if it gets placed around your neck) and then I had chance to grab a water bottle from a table and some random guy in the finisher’s chute wanted to shake my hand, so I did. I am not sure if if was the RD or who it was? Then at the end of the chute, I could grab a red Powerade. None of this aid was handed out. Now, I am not sure if I like the special little details, or I was just back of the pack and there were no volunteers handing stuff out anymore.

Josh caught up with me here, even snapping a really great picture… or not, lol.


Speaking of back of the pack… what was my time? Well, my Garmin was near 2:15, but remember I stopped to pee at mile 3, so my official time was near 2:17. I was really happy with this time. Considering my recent race schedule and despite the hamstring pain, I was feeling good!

We walked up into the post race area where there was food, free stretching and they were wrapping up the award announcements. Then some live music started as I walked through the food line where there was bananas, orange slices, apples and cookies.

mmmm cookies!

I really needed to roll out my hamstring, so I asked if Athletico had any rollers. They did not, but I signed up for them to stretch me out. After a short wait in line, it was my time. The lady said I had a huge knot in my hamstring…. duh, it hurts, lol.


Josh had went to some random building on campus for a post race shower, and I was freezing…so we went back to the car and I changed out of my running clothes. Who needs a shower when you are a #dirtbagrunner. It then started to rain. Yep,  beat the rain, now that would have been cold.

Located on the final stretch of the race course is the Drake Diner, of course this caught my eye as I was finishing. Josh and I walked here afterwards as we needed some HOT coffee.

There was a short wait, but we had a table and cinnamon roll to split as we sipped on coffee. Then our delicious breakfasts arrived and we devoured them. YUM!


It was already noon time and we needed to get back to the big city. We made a stop at our favorite coffee shop, Smokey Row, grabbed some more hot drinks and beans to brew at home, and we were back on the road home.

HOWEVER – we are not as young as we used to be. We only made it to Newton, like 45 ish minutes from Des Moines and we needed to stop and take a nap… LOL… yep, we pulled off at the truck stop and took a nap in the car. It was much needed.

After the refreshing nap, and a trip inside the truck stop for some Wint-o-green mints, we were back on the road again.


We made a pit stop at the Williamsburg outlets, then went to pick up our dogs. Just like that, the events of the day were over…. well we topped it off with dinner at the Hy-Vee salad bar – the best hidden gem for local craft beer on tap.


Would I run the Drake Relays Half again? Sure! It’s close to home and a decent price. I would suggest they move the race back to Sunday so we can finish on the blue oval.

What’s next? There is always something next for me….. Check my discount page for any savings too

May : Ganzo’s 5k, Red Shoe Half Marathon, Run Madtown 10k

June: possible Marathon to Marathon, Grandma’s Marathon, possible Run for Troops

July: B1G 10 10k

August: Madison Mini

October: Detroit Marathon

November: Madison Marathon

Some more races will pop up, but that is what’s on tap.

A Runner’s Inclusive Event

Disclaimer: I received entry into the Runner’s World Half and Festival Grand Slam 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 really don’t know where to start with this one, but I had a great time…so enjoy the novel!

The Runner’s World Half and Festival is a weekend of events in Bethlehem, PA. There was the 3.8 mile trail run on Friday afternoon, the 5k and 10k (five and dime) on Saturday morning, and then the half marathon on Sunday. Of course, I choose to do them all, that is called the Grand Slam. Also as luck would have it the November Project had a pop up workout on Friday morning…so why not?

If you may recall, I am not a person who likes to fly. This meant Josh – yay Josh is on this trip – and I took off Wednesday evening for the car ride east. ROAD TRIP!!!

We made it to Elkhart, IN for the night. It was an easy drive, and really the most “tricky” parts were around Chicago and when we got close to Bethlehem, PA. Otherwise it was a straight shot on I-80, which has toll roads. The best thing we ever did was purchase an I-Pass, it allowed us to pay for all the tolls electronically – the entire way. (IL, IN, OH & PA)

*True story I once took a road trip to Pittsburgh and we took the toll road out, and one booth gave us change, all in dimes.

Thursday was a driving day. We even made a stop in OH to meet up with twitter friend, Tiffany. All the memories made at a roadside Wendy’s. We continued east, the western part of PA was very pretty.The leaves were in peak color,so many red and oranges.

We arrived in Bethlehem, in the early evening. We were meeting AMY!!!!! Amy is one of my #brf’s – a best running friend. We met IRL for the first time at the 2015 Blue Ridge Marathon, then again at the 2016 One City Marathon. Since then we talk everyday, so it was nice to meet up again.

Ok, so Amy was off doing some Runner’s World Influencer stuff (she’s a big deal), so we grabbed our hotel key,and took a short stroll through Bethlehem for some food. Bethlehem is also a college town, so we ended up at an Irish Pub on campus. Of course, I made sure to get some perogies and Josh ordered the pulled pork special. We topped of the night with a stop at an ice cream shop, where the kid working the place, noticed our Iowa gear, and said he had family in Iowa.

Ahh, finally reunion time with Amy!!! It was getting late and we needed to get some rest. We were going to join the November Project workout in the morning. It would start at 6:29 am at the Steel Stacks. I did have some reservations about this. I didn’t want to wake up that early, and I am just not huge with group fitness with strangers.

Fast Forward – Friday morning, just after 5am….yep, I was going to the November Project workout. I realized I would regret missing out. The hotel had a free breakfast starting at 6 am, so we grabbed some coffee and made the 10 minute walk.

It was still dark, but there were about 40 -50 people gathered around. A guy was yelling for everyone to come together, then closer and closer yet. It was nice to feel the body heat, I think it was maybe 35-40 degrees. Then the guy….ok the guy’s name is Brogan, the founder of NP.

Brogan told us to jump up and down, then we had to repeat some words and chants and shout and more jumping. Then that was done. He also told us not to cross our arms, that was negative body language. (It was cold!) Then we had to hug the people next to us…so in addition to a hug from Josh, Amy, some strangers I recognized from social media – I got to hug Bart Yasso!!

Then it was time for some more “drills.” We made a few lines, and had to do some sprints, some basketball side shuffles, some getting up off the ground (which was wet and dirty.) Our heart rates were definitely elevated. However, everyone had a smile on their face, and it was never a competition.

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That part was done, and we had to raise our hands and grab 2 other people, I was standing next to Amy, and we grabbed Mike – a cool new friend. Now was time for a circuit type workout with the group. We each had to decide who would do each station (pushups, box jumps, dips, run stairs) and then see how many we could do as a group, if you weren’t doing a station you had to do a plank or wall sit. Ok, so maybe now it was getting more competitive.

Mike was not participating in any of the actual running events, so after the first round, we decided he should do the running…well that plan didn’t last long and then we were all just doing whatever. I think we ended up with around 11 rounds or something, it was fun, but I was feeling it…and in the back of my mind I knew I had 4 races to go.

There was one last round to finish off the workout. It was a lap around the stairs, starting with 5 burpees, and this was an actual race. The first 2 females would win a beer! Ha, I knew I wouldn’t win, but I just didn’t want to be last. What a work out and fun time, maybe I am a convert?

If you’re still reading you might want to get up and take a stretch break.

Josh and I walked back to the hotel and made some waffles only to get ready to go back to the expo and packet pick up at 11 AM.

We were one of the first at the packet pick up which was on the second floor of the Arts Quest building. The actual expo with vendors was on the third floor. Running the grand slam entitled us to a long sleeve tech shirt, a pair of socks, and a stocking hat. We then followed the path through the vendors grabbing samples and learning about new products.

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We grabbed a quick bite at a Subway and headed back to the hotel to get ready for the afternoon trail race. What else do you eat in a new place for a 2pm race?

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We were back to the Steel Stacks to catch a shuttle bus to the trail race start. We arrived during Golden Harper’s (founder of Altra shoes) speech about trail running in general which was followed by Bart’s speech about this specific trail.

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We met up with fellow Bibrave Pro Chadd (Oh hey he was at the NP workout too) and we found Amy again. Chadd was running his first trail race so we made sure to listen to the speakers.

We were back loaded into the woods and all of a sudden the race was on. I am no stranger to running trails but this race was tough. I left my specific details on my Bibrave review but let’s just say there were a lot of rocks with some hills. I was also passed by Dean Karnazas.

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The finish was cool and the announcers shouted my name, I even got a high-five from Bart. After I got my medal, I met back up with my friends. Also finally met PGHCityGirl!!

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We (Chadd, Amy, Josh and I) got back on the shuttle into town. We decided to hang out and have some drinks and appetizers at a local bar. Talk about a great time! This is what running is all about for me, meeting all the cool people that live in my phone, sharing stories, over a beer!

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Ok, maybe we stayed a little too long, we were all running the 5k and 10k the next day. So we finally called it a night, but not before stopping at Lehigh Pizza for some giant slices.

Saturday- (whew, I am already exhausted)

Another early wake up call, Josh, Amy and I stopped in the hotel lobby for a quick bite to eat, then did the daily walk to the Steel Stacks area.

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This day, Chadd set up a tent and had some snacks, water and Bibrave koozies for anyone that wanted to stop by. The Bibrave banner even made it’s RW debut! Chadd’s awesome fiance watched the tent while we ran, so we were able to leave our things behind.

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The 5k started at 8 am, it was a cool 45 degree morning. Amy made the decision to run both the 5k and 10k with me, I was so happy!!! I just wanted to make it through the events all weekend, and Amy wanted to race the half marathon, so I kept her slow.

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The 10k started at 9:30 am. So in between the races the gang all met up back at the tent, and while the sun was up, this cooling down period was tough. However, we were all ready to go again.

If you want the race specifics, make sure to check em out at Bibrave.com

As for my morning of running with Amy – BEST TIME EVER!!! We chatted, we danced, we told Bart he had nice legs, and we gave high fives…. I know I was feeling all the hills, but running with Amy took my mind off of that. Such a fun time, I can’t encourage running a race with a friend enough!! (Remember when I ran the NFECSWI with Laura or the BTN 10K with Heather and Kelly?) Run with a friend!

When we had grabbed all the post race food a second time – OMG Godiva bars! -ok getting sidetracked by chocolate…we all met back up at the tent, hoping to meet anyone from twitter. A few people stopped by to grab a koozie, even social media pal Dane!  Also, I would like to mention Chadd’s sister, Tiffany, who was hanging at the tent with her family, she ran her first 10k! So great to see people accomplish their goals!

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The day was getting away from us, and Chadd had to be on his way, so the tent came down. It was now time to switch gears…. Amy needed a nap, while Josh and I needed food and to watch the Hawkeye football game.

The Hawkeyes were playing Purdue and had a solid lead going into the second half. Josh and I walked back to the sports bar we found Thursday night to watch the game. I only mention this as I want to share with you that I ordered the perogie burger. OMG!!! Mashed potatoes on a pretzel bun, I was in carb heaven! We wrapped up at the bar, and came back to the hotel, and saw the Hawkeyes eventually win, then it was time for a nap of our own.

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It was then time to make the decision of what to eat for supper – yep that is what we call it here in Iowa. The race was hosting a pasta dinner, but it was over $30 per person. There would be speakers, and in addition to pasta they were featuring recipes from “Eat Slow, Run Fast” Decisions – Decisions?!?!?  Amy was going to the pasta party….but we decided to actually go check out Bethlehem a bit, since we were there and all.

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We used the magic of google and found this fun Italian restaurant. The place was packed, but some how we only waited like 5-10 minutes for a seat. They brought complimentary garlic knots to us. Josh ordered a baked pasta dish, and I ordered what I thought was plain pasta noodles with fresh tomatoes and basil. However the tomato part was more like a sauce… I survived by just picking out the noodles. We were downing the water, but thought we needed to cap off the evening with dessert – mostly because Josh saw canoli on the menu. I opted for a fancy lemon sorbet.

We still had some time to check out the local running store across the street. Actually we both wanted to know what Team Vark was all about, as we had seen them on the race course. It was actually members of the Aardvark Sports Store. They have an aardvark as a mascot. When we arrived it was close to closing time, but they didn’t rush us out the door. Instead they encouraged us to grab a bottle of water, granola bar and banana they had set up for the runners. What a fun store!! We browsed around, but didn’t want to keep them. That reminds me, I need to order a shirt.

We called it a night, even though we caught a nap, the weekend was catching up with us, we needed more sleep! It would be another early wake up call.

SUNDAY – Wakey Wakey, time to racey! Actually we set 3 phone alarms, LOL.

It was time to cap off the grand slam with the half marathon. After our hotel breakfast, Amy led us to the start, even though it was near the Steel Stacks, it was in a little different area. I don’t know why we listened to her, I think we walked a mile or so…guess we were warmed up.

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We arrived in time to give Bibrave co-founder and Runner’s World managing director, Jessica, a hug, she was going to sing the National Anthem, and then run the race.

Amy, Josh and I all split to line up in the respective pace corral. Even said hi to Dane again!

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If you want all the race specifics check out my bibrave.com review .

Ahh, what a race, all the hills! and I was tired in all sense of the word. I wasn’t sure how I would do, but I made a choice early on to stick with the 2:20 pace group. I did stick with them until mile 10. It was a strange pace group as I heard rumblings that the pace was off from other runners. She was trying to stick with 10:30 mins, but I rarely look at my watch I wasn’t keeping track. At mile 10 after running all the hills, I felt good enough to push it a little more, so I ditched the group. At mile 11 ish, Eminem’s “Til I Collapse” came on my playlist and I turned on the jets. I finished with a time around 2:16.I did look at my overall stats (on Strava) and the mile splits were all over the place, never a constant 10:30. It would go 10,10:40, 10:20, then 10 again, however my last 2 miles were 9:32 and 9:07, so BAM! on tired legs too!! I was happy! and a week after a marathon!

*I am also noting the aid stations had Ultima electrolyte drink, it’s all I had during the race for additional calories, I ran this race without actually eating anything*

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The post race for this event was the place to be!! In addition to the food and craft beer, the cover band was rockin!!! I went immediately to the beer area (duh), where I thought I would find Amy…but no? I did see Dane again and another twitter person…then finally Amy appeared, and we danced and had a fun time. Josh showed up later, he was cheering in the finisher’s with Jessica.

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It was time to leave, and we saw Chadd again, so we snapped one last group photo, and it really meant the weekend of fun was coming to an end.

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The packing up of all the things was not fun. However, between Amy and Chadd, we were packing up some PA beers to bring home, while we brought them some IA brews.

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It was time to say “see you later” to Amy. It was sad, we had sooooo much fun! However, I can’t wait to see her later in Florida at the Key West Half…not sure if we can stay out of trouble.

Josh and I were on our way back home, shortly after 12:30…oh wait 1pm… the entire time we were staying in a hotel less than one block from a Dunkin Donuts…of course we had to grab a donut and some coffee.

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This section of the ride home was uneventful, more looking at leaves and just driving and stopping to stretch. We eventually called it a night in Elkhart, IN again.Which was a good thing, we met fellow Bibrave Pro, Mark. We had worked out a banner hand off, as he was running the Urban Bourbon race for Bibrave the following weekend.We really only hung out for 5 minutes, but so nice to say hi!

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The next day – Monday already…we woke up early, snagged some food at the hotel, but didn’t grab any coffee, as we knew there was an oasis on the tollway in a few miles with a Starbucks. We stopped and they were closed! Instead of waiting another 20 minutes, we got back on the road…it’s wasn’t for along time before we actually found some coffee. We also picked up a rock chip in the windshield.

Luckily, those were the only events of the road trip. We made it back to the Iowa City area around 10:30 am. Enough time for me to squeeze in a recovery run (ouch) but it’s what the training plan called for, and then get to work.

These kind of weekends are what I live for. As someone who runs a ton of races, the events where I get to hang out with friends are the best. It’s not about racing your best time, it’s about sharing your passion with others. Thanks to Bibrave for this opportunity, I hope to get back to this event, I really felt I belong in the running community.

Colorado!

“Disclaimer: I received a free entry to the Fort Collins Human Race as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check outBibRave.com to review find and write race reviews!

As you just read above, I went to Colorado to run a race for BibRave. However, the hubs decided to run it too and make it a vacation. As a warning, this will be a long post about our Colorado adventure… for all the race specifics please check out my review at Bibrave.com 

As some of you may know, I don’t do well flying. I don’t mind driving, but Colorado is about 14ish hours from home. Lucky for us Amtrak has a train that could take us there. It would be an overnight ride from Mt. Pleasant, IA to Denver. While there are sleeper cars available, we just had 2 regular seats on the upper level.

We rolled into Mt. Pleasant Wednesday, July 27. We checked our large suitcase at the train station and went to find some food. The great thing (or not so great thing) is you can bring a lot of stuff with you, including all the food. We found some Chinese food and ordered some to go. (so you can buy food on the train, but the prices are crazy)

The train was 20 minutes or so behind, which wasn’t a big deal. We just waited in the hot station. Also to note when traveling Amtrak, there is no formal security in a small station…no one checks anything… (at this time)

We boarded the train, and took our seats. It was roughly 7pm CT.

I am no stranger to riding Amtrak, it’s a great way to get to Chicago. I was most excited to get some things done with the wi-fi. However this train had no wi-fi, and I wasn’t prepared. I didn’t have anything else with me to read, just the couple of puzzles on my phone. I am not used to having absolutely nothing to do.

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We were settled and cruising along, we ate our Chinese food, listened to some music, then it was quiet time. We tried to get some sleep, but every time I would get comfortable, something would ache and you need to re position. Oh well, the sun came up soon enough and just like that we were in Denver, it was around 8am MT.

Thursday July 28

After a short wait, we claimed our bags and had Enterprise “pick us up.” They took us to their office and we had our choice of a white or black Chevy Camaro. Ok, we tossed our luggage in the black one and were on our way to our first stop…. Voodoo Doughnuts. (If you recall, I once bought a bucket of day old donuts for $8)

We found a spot to park on the street, and went inside. As always there are so many options when it comes to donuts. Josh picked a cruller and I went with the Old Dirty Bastard. YUM!!

Up next, a tour of Coors Field. This is the home to MLB’s Colorado Rockies. They were playing out of town (the Mets) so instead of going to a game we thought we would check out where they play. However we arrived too late to get a spot on the 10 am tour, it was sold out. Instead of waiting around for the next one at 12, we changed things up and walked around Denver…then grabbed a bite to eat a place call the View House.

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After talking to our waiter, he changed our minds for our afternoon plans. Instead of heading to the water park, we hopped back into the car and headed for Boulder. We were going to take a hike at the area called Flat Irons. We have water parks at homes, but no mountains.

Not sure how we would have traveled or made plans without googlemaps.

Somehow we figured out to park in the Chautauqua area, it appeared to be some private music venue or something. Oh well, we snagged our Orange Mud packs, since we didn’t know what to expect and headed out on the trail.

There were maps and trail markers along the way, but really you could hike around anywhere. It wasn’t a park. We hadn’t even made it a half mile and saw a deer. There were many other people using the trail too.

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We motored along, but came to a place where it appeared the trail disappeared. We let some others with hiking poles pass us, then we followed them. The trail seemed to do this in many spots. We didn’t know what we were getting into. Then we came to a place where we could see climbers scaling the sides of the Flat Irons…no climbing gear. CRAZY!

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It was then time for us to have an adventure of our own, the trail turned into loose rocks. If you hit the wrong one you could slide down into the ravine. We could see the dirt trail up ahead, we just needed to get there. We made it after taking our sweet ass time. It was obvious we were not experienced hikers.

We stopped to take a break, ate some trail mix. When we started hiking again, we struck up a conversation with a friendly woman from VA. She suggested we go to the Garden of the Gods. (we didn’t have time for that) She also went on to suggest checking out the tram in Estes Park. She wasn’t the only friendly person we ran into, in fact everyone out on the trail was super nice.

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When all was said and done, according to the stats on my Garmin we hiked about 2.75 miles at 5500 feet above sea level. We wanted to make sure we were adjusted to the altitude before our half marathon on Saturday.

Next stop – Longmont. This is where we would call home for a few nights.

After checking into the hotel, we thought we should check out one of the 20 or so breweries in the area. We made a trip to the Left Hand Brewery. I chose a Blood Orange IPA, it was 8.6% and Josh went with a 4% beer. As with many of the breweries in CO, they didn’t serve food, but some snacks, and a food truck was parked outside.

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The night was still young, so we went to the Pumphouse Brewery. It was ladies night, and the house drafts were only $3. There was a short wait for food, but some games in back, we gave Skee Ball a go and tied with a score of 210. We got a table, ordered food, and stuffed our faces.

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It was a long day, we were tired, we called it a night, more adventure was ahead.

Friday July 29

The tentative plan was to check out Estes Park and Rocky Mountain National Park. With the one hour time difference, we were up early and on our way to Estes. (It also helped the hotel had a sweet breakfast available)

Once we got to Estes Park, we decided to take the Aerial Tramway to the top of one of the peaks. We were early, but that was a good thing. There were only 2 tram cars, one went up while the other went down. Each car could hold approx. 8 passengers.

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While waiting in line and throughout the day, we were asked if we were in town for the race. Little did we know the Rocky Mountain half marathon and 5k was the same weekend. I guess the people of Estes Park recognize Bibrave gear.

We were on the second tram to the top. There was a coffee shop and a gift store. We talked to the lady behind the cash register and she told us to hike off the beaten path, she also told us to buy some peanuts to feed the chipmunks. (No thanks!)

Josh and I walked the additional mile to the summit and did some more hiking once we got there. The Garmin says we were about 8,432 feet at our highest point, 3,000 more than the day before.

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We did some shopping around at the gift shop and waited in a short line for the return tram. While we waited there was a hummingbird feeder set up where 4 birds were battling out the 2 spots to feed. I have never been so close to these birds, they were used to people.

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It was close to lunch time, so we braved the downtown, talk about a tourist trap. The parking situation was crazy and there were people everywhere. Since we couldn’t find any parking we opted to go to the Estes Park Brewery (shocking, more beer!) it was a little removed from the craziness.

We ordered some sandwiches and actually passed on a beer. Well….we did check out the tasting room where each person was allowed 4 samples. We topped off the visit with the house brewed root beer float.

Our next plan was to hit up Rocky Mountain National Park. I had done some light research about places to hike, but really wasn’t sure where or how you went about doing it, or if you needed to pay someone? So we just hopped into the car and headed to the park.

We were traveling on hwy 36 and passed the Beaver Meadows Visitor center, but it just didn’t feel like the main place to be, (even though it’s park headquarters) so we looped around the lot and got back on the road and drove some more. There it was, the actual entrance or pay station.

We handed over the $20 for the daily park pass and made sure to get a map. Which was the best thing we ever did. There is no phone service. Ok, so there are not many roads in the mountains, but it helped us decide to take the Old Fall River Road up and then Trail Ridge Road (Hwy 34) back down. Otherwise we would have just kept going and ended up on the west side of the mountain range.

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I mentioned Old Fall River Road…now this was an adventure. This road is the original road around the park. It is still gravel, it’s only open from July-September, it’s only one way up, it’s 9 miles long, and the speed limit is 15 mph. Oh remember the part where we have a Camaro as a rental car? Yeah it sits really low to the ground, the road was rutted at all the hair pin turns, so that was fun. It was also fun to have one side of the road drop off into a ravine, while the other was a rock wall.

We reached the Alpine Visitor Center, in about an hour! We stopped here to use the bathrooms, check out the gift store and hike to the summit. We ended up at 12,000 feet. It was cool and breezy, Josh estimated maybe 50 degrees.

We looked at the map and discovered the Continental Divide was only a few more miles down the road before we would turn back. We took the obligatory picture with the sign, did some more hiking, and headed back to Trail Ridge Road.

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On the way back, the traffic came to a stop. We couldn’t figure out what was happening, did someone have car trouble? Then we saw a set of antlers….and another…there were 2 Elk just chillin by the roadside.
“Did you see the rack on that one?”

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We continued on our way, taking all the pictures and admiring all the views. The paved road was a lot easier to navigate, and there were guard rails on the steep ravine sides. We made one last stop at the Hidden Valley Ranger Station area. There were actual flushing toilets and it was solar powered. This was cool to see in such a remote area.

I really wish we had more time to spend here, or drive the entire way around and do some hiking.

On the way back we stopped at a cherry store. We grabbed some things to bring home, but most importantly grabbed a slice of cherry pie. I love a good road side attraction or food stand.

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Up next…dinner with fellow Bibrave Pro – Katherine. I’ll bet you’ll never guess where we dined….ok it’s obvious, another Brewery. This time it was Oskar Blues. We sat outdoors, the weather was ridiculously awesome, no humidity! OMG the beer menu was insane here, if I really took the time to read it all, I would still be there. I chose a sour and Josh went with an IPA. We split a pizza, as we had 13.1 to run in the morning. We enjoyed each other’s conversation and had a great evening. At one point a giant thunderhead started to form in the distance, and people came outside to take pictures, like it was a rare occurrence.

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We said our goodbyes after making some rough plans to meet up the next morning, and Josh and I went back to our hotel….where we discovered cookies on the front desk.

Saturday July 30 – RACE DAY

As I mentioned 65 chapters ago, I have all my race details in a review on Bibrave, if you want to check that out.

The race was in Fort Collins, about a 45-50 minute drive from where we were staying in Longmont. We woke up at 4:45 and brewed coffee in our room, and ate the bagels we snagged from the previous days breakfast bar (oh sneaky.)

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Gear: Sparkle Athletic Skirt, BR tank, Procompression socks, Brooks Ghost 9, Addidas &’ boy short, BR tech had, SPIbelt, Garmin Fenix, Moving Comfort Bra, Plantronics bluetooth headphones 

We arrived near the start/finish area and easily found a place to park on the street, for free!! We had yet to get our bibs, so we walked the block to the packet pick up and got our things. We had received confirmation emails, but we just told them our names, and got our stuff. I was disappointed in the race shirt. I have 2 of the exact same shirts, same color, same brand….so now I have 3 of the same shirt, just must be a popular color this year.It does fit nice though.

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We met up with Pro Katherine again, her Boyfriend, and their dog Ellie. Bibrave Pro Alex was also running the 5k, and we snapped a picture together.

Then as a surprise, we spotted Carol and her daughter Susan. Carol is a family friend from Iowa, and her daughter lives in FoCo. They had surprised us and signed up to volunteer for the race. This was awesome, races don’t happen without volunteers.

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After using the facilities, we were ready to start. There were some announcements shouted to the crowd, then someone yelled “Go!” The half marathon was off…it started a half hour before the joint start of the 5k and 10k. The unique thing about the 5k was you could race the trolley.

Anyway….. I was off running the half marathon. It was 2 loops around town, part of it on the Poudre Trail, with some gravel spots. There was a spot we went downhill (actually a busy street, I wished we were coned off to run against traffic.) It never felt like we went uphill, but the Garmin stats showed we did some climbing, so I thought it was mostly flat. I also wasn’t bothered by the elevation of around 5000 feet. All that hiking paid off!

There were liquid Aid Stations only, and I knew ahead of time (thanks to all the website info) there would be water and Nuun, which I don’t care for…however I didn’t bring anything else with me, cuz I just didn’t…sometimes I hate carrying all the things with me…hello chafe! (ok so I had some 2Toms…OMG I am rambling here, are you still reading?) Alright I knew that I would need something, so I took the plunge and actually drank some Nuun…along with stopping for every water stop.

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FREE PICTURES- WAHOO!
I had a good race, I enjoyed the low humidity and new place to run. I crossed the finish line in 2:18 something, with a Garmin distance of 13.31. It was also at the same time the kids race was finishing, on the same finish line. I was not happy as I had to come to an abrupt stop to not trample anyone. I also had a hard time getting to my medal, and to some cups to get a drink of water. Perhaps they can make 2 finishing areas….

I found Josh and Katherine and we made our way to the post race festivities. Katherine waited with a friend as the results were announced for the 10k. Josh and I went through the post race food line. A Snooze pancake was part of the spread, but just one with fancy icing and granola. There were orange slices, bananas and watermelon too. There was a table with cups to fill with water or lemonade. The race is very environmentally conscious and there were compost, trash and recycling bins.

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From this area we took our food and went to the beer!!! Each participant was carded and given 2 tickets for 3 choices of O’Dell’s Beer…Yep more drinking! We lounged in the grass, and discovered Katherine placed 2nd in her AG, YAY!!! Carol and Susan showed up after their duties, they were given pancake vouchers and beer tickets too. However they were out of pancakes, and the beer packed up before we were able to cash in the second ticket.

It was time to move on with our day, so we said our goodbyes to Katherine…hope to meet up again.

Susan offered her shower to us, WAHOO!!! We were prepared to take a water bottle bath in the parking lot, but this was great!

After we were cleaned up, we had to go check out another brewery..of course! We drove over to Funkwerks. I really like the raspberry sour I can get in Iowa, they had it on tap!! They also had it brewed with peppermint and cocoa notes, so I got that. Josh got the regular raspberry. It was their 6th birthday! They had a raffle going on, for every beer you purchased you had a chance to win a prize. Sadly Carol and Susan won nothing…however I put my hand in and pulled out 2 free tacos (from the cart outside) and Josh won a 4 pack of beer!!! They also had munchkins on a tray for all.

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We sat in the shade outside and enjoyed each other’s company. Susan smartly packed some delicious snacks. Including this snack mix Carol travels to Colorado to get…apparently the Costco at home does not sell Utz snack mix.

It was time for us to say goodbye. It was so nice to meet up with them.
Josh and I decided to stay in Fort Collins for the remainder of the day. We walked around the downtown area. We stopped to get a key lime cookie ice cream sandwich, YUM!

Then of course, we stopped at another Brewery…this time New Belgium. This place was huge! All the brew tours were sold out, but we managed to snag some tasters and a flat bread from one of the food trucks on the property.

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It was almost too busy for us, so we took off and headed back towards LoCo. What will we do when back in Longmont? Well drink more beer of course…this time it was different. Josh found a running store with beer taps in the back room – Shoes N Brews!! PERFECT!!!

We shopped the store, ( I got a sample of Run Gum to try) then when they closed up, walked around back to have some more beer and a giant pretzel.

At this point, we were both tired and hungry for a real meal. Instead of leaving and going to another brewery, we found a Mexican restaurant where we loaded up on all the water!!! Plus chips and a little bit of salsa, as it was kinda hot. Once we were full, we called it a day and crashed back at the hotel.

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Sunday July 31

A day to sleep in! However we were awake by 7 am.

We didn’t have much planned for the day, but we managed to fill it with lots of things.

We grabbed a breakfast muffin, juice and coffee from the breakfast in the lobby. Then decided to go run on the path that goes between Longmont and Boulder.

We drove to the Kanemoto park to get on the “trail.” After we started moving, we quickly decided to only make it a 3 mile run, our hammies were sore. We enjoyed the weather, the company, the sights along the way. Colorado is just great for running!


Once done, and back to the hotel, we grabbed some more breakfast – just oatmeal then got our things packed up to head back towards Denver. We had a train to catch at 7pm that night.

With a lot of time to kill, we thought we would eat a real meal. I scoped out a place, thanks to Google, called The Buff in Boulder. It was a breakfast joint near the University of Colorado campus. It was a happening place. (Note it was not a brewery!) We had a 45 minute wait, but really didn’t have much else to do.

Once seated, we noticed they had a deal on 99 cent mimosas and bloody marys with food purchase, score!!! We each ordered a mimosa. We also ordered the most delicious breakfast!! Then of course had an additional drink, I had a bloody mary this time.


It was now about 1:30 and we still had some time. We drove over to the University of Colorado football stadium to check things out. We noticed they had a real grass field, they also had barbed wire fence around the area, they didn’t want anyone to get it. We wrapped up here with still more time to kill…so I suggested going to Red Rocks as it was sort of on the way.

In the mean time Josh had been checking the train schedule to make sure it was on time, and it still was.

By the time we got to Red Rocks the weather had started to cloud up and it was really windy. It didn’t however stop us from more sightseeing. Red Rocks was gorgeous! The bad part was we could only see the surrounding area as there was a concert that evening and they had closed everything down for sound check. We were glad we stopped and checked things out.


From here it was time to get the rental car back to Enterprise. They closed at 4pm, which was approaching. The plan was to park near Union Station and check our one suitcase, then take the car back, but of course there was no parking available.

Being flexible, we drove to Enterprise and returned the car, then Ubered back to the train station. There was no way we were going to haul all our bags around Denver (remember Josh won beer.)

Uber dropped us off and we checked our bag with Amtrak, where we learned the train was running about a half hour behind. The guy at baggage check says the heat out west causes the train to slow down, and he estimated the train would be later yet, not until 8pm.

We sat down at the train station and discovered FREE WIFI!!! So we just sat and chilled for a while. We had been on an adventure the past few days. We would decide what to do next, as Josh kept checking the Amtrak schedule.

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Well, we ended up chilling in the train station too long and never went anywhere else. We used the facilities and got some sandwiches to bring on board. Then we went outside to wait in the line to board the train. We wanted to make sure to be in line early so we could get 2 seats together.

Then the train was delayed more…but a nice older gentleman came up behind us in line, Phil. Phil was on his way to Osceola to get a ride to the Winnebago dealer in Iowa, to then take an RV out west, as they can’t be shipped. He loves to travel and his wife doesn’t, this was a perfect way for him to do so. It was nice to talk to him, we learned about all kinds of things, and how we originally lived in Holbrook, IA. It made the never ending wait go faster.

Finally at 8:27 pm, one of the conductors said the train was backing in. Finally at 8:35 we saw the train, but it had to unload first, then all 180 new passengers had to load back up. It wasn’t until 9pm MT we were on our way back to Iowa, about 2 hours later than planned.

Josh and I got our 2 seats together and settled in, finally eating our sandwiches. This is when I discovered my tray table was broken and I could barely reach the foot rest, did I shrink? While the seats are much roomier on a train, I just couldn’t get comfortable.

It was late, but I wasn’t tired, so I started typing this novel of a recap of events…are you even still reading? It was something I could do without wifi. I also played the Sudoku game on my phone.

We had invested in neck pillows as we thought we would be more comfortable to try and sleep. They were a good investment, but I was never in the right position… I suppose I got 4 hours of sleep. Then we woke up….Josh grabbed us a bagel and some coffee from the cafe…and that was the good news…

Quiet time was over and the conductor was making all the announcements. The first announcment was there was only one driver of the train and he had to make notes, and in order to do that, we had to stop…ok no big deal, we were rolling once again…

Then the next announcement “Ladies and Gentlemen, there was a rollover accident up ahead and they need to clear the tracks” So we were stopped again.

Then there was another announcement “Ladies and Gentleman, a crossing arm is broken ahead” So we were stopped again

Then “Ladies and Gentleman we are stopping to pick up a BNSF worker” — stopped….

Then the lady that is working on our car tells us our shitter is full…AHHHHHH!!!! Will we ever get home???!! I have to pee!

We start rolling again, and this time keep moving. I wrap this novel up as we are about 40 minutes from our stop. Only now about 3 hours from our original arrival time. (We got off the train at 1:30pm CT)

I really did enjoy the train, but as with all travel there will be bumps in the road. I will take it again. I will also go to Colorado again, I hope to get to spend more time hiking around.

There is so much to see and do. I also hope to run more races, especially in the summer when the humidty is about 40%, such a treat for us Iowans.

However before we return, we need to take a break from drinking and maybe eat more salad.

Thanks for reading the lengthy post….stayed tuned for the next adventure.

Medals in Madtown

“Disclaimer: I received a free entry to the Madison Marathon Twilight 10k & Half series, conquer the Capitol 19.3 race as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check outBibRave.com to review find and write race reviews!

If you have been following along at home, I like to do all the races…so when the opportunity came to run 3 races in 2 days to earn 4 medals, you bet I jumped on board.

So, we left off with the Soldier Field 10 miler…Josh and I quickly grabbed a bite to eat and headed to Madison…well we got stuck in Chicago traffic…but eventually arrived in Madison, we were both going to run the 10k Saturday night and the half marathon Sunday morning.

For my official race review check out Bibrave.com

Registration: Available online and at the expo, prices started at $105 and increased to $165 on the day of the expo. Included was a bib with your name, finisher’s medal, timing, post race beer, gender specific short sleeve tech shirt, and free race pictures. 

Since we were conquering the Capitol, we would receive an additional medal and a quarter zip tech pullover.

Expo/Packet pick up: The expo was held at a convention center. Parking was on-site in a ramp for a fee. There were also other events going on here. With the proper paper work someone else could grab your packet. No packet mailing. There was a place to check that the timing chip worked on the bib.

The expo was a decent size. There were area running stores, and local races. There was race specific merchandise, information and plenty of photo opps. There were even water coolers provided.

*The parking was actually quite tricky for someone coming out of town, easy to miss the entrance to the ramp. No close on street parking. We actually drove around forever trying to figure out how to get into the ramp, as we missed the entrance.

Josh and I met up with fellow Bibrave Pros – Cass and Lisa. We arrivednear the end of the expo and scored a deal on race merchandise. It was buy one, get one free, and with each item purchased we got another tech shirt.

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Once we grabbed our things, we found our Airbnb. Madison has many hotels, but only a few actually close to downtown, and you pay $$$ for them. The Airbnb is always a good option, but this one was strange…it was the top floor of this house that looked like a college rental property, definitely no curb appeal. However it was a mile walking distance to the race.

So then the struggle began……we ran 10 miles in the morning, and we needed to eat something for dinner, but fuel for a half marathon, while running a 10k in the meantime. Where we were staying was close to no food options, and the race start/finish had the roads around the Capitol all closed. It also doesn’t help when it’s hot and I need to be drinking all the liquids and I am not hungry.  After some “discussing” we found a Jummy John’s…that wouldn’t deliver…but we had a sandwich and called it good.

Pre race: The race started and ended at the Capitol at 8:10 pm after the 5k and wheel chair start. . The National Anthem was sung before the events. Lot of announcements. There were no corrals,and very crowded.

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Pro Lisa was also doing the challenge.

Gear- BR shirt, Sparkle Athletic neon green skirt, Disney race belt, UV Half Buff, Aftershock Trekz Titanium, Brooks Ghost 8, Garmin Fenix 3, RoadID, Zensah calf sleeves

Race/Course: The course was all on paved streets in Madison, highlighting some of the “sights”
-elevation – hilly, while it’s not mountains, it seemed we never went down hill
– aid stations – 1 water stop, 1 water & Gatorade stop. Always in paper cups, but they were the same white paper cup, very energetic volunteers
-scenery – passed by Camp Randall, the Kohl Center, Observatory hill area overlooking the lake at sunset
-photographers on course – FREE pictures
-mile markers
– no major potholes, but just needed to keep a heads up
-all intersections with marshalls or police
-crowded at times – start area was tight and one area on a bike path
-the race starts at dusk time, so some areas get kinda dark
-a few spectators on the course, but mostly family & friends

My Race: UGH! After running 10 in the morning, and with a half yet to go, I didn’t push it. I was still really humid, as a storm had just passed through, and it was 70 degrees. There were also all the hills! The course was nice, but the bike path seemed a little dark. I finished in 1:06 ish…I’ll take it.

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Finish/Post race: The finish line was under the starting arch. Photographers there to snap a memory. A volunteer handed you a bottle of water. Then you were given a medal. There was an area for finisher’s photos with the backdrop. Then there was the food line, with bananas, oranges and a slice of pizza.

Once out of this area, you could proceed to the beer area to redeem your free Michelob Ultra.

I like pizza, but it’s not something I want to eat immediately after a hot run. Also the line was really long, and until you were on top of the food, I had no idea what line I was in.  I also am not a huge fan of Michelob Ultra, not sure why races keep offering this as a perk.

With this race under our belts, we decided since it was late, we would just Uber back and call it a day. Well not before the obligatory #flatrunner picture.

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On Sunday, we woke early enough to enjoy our coffee and some bagels with peanut butter we had brought along for the journey.  The race started at 7 am, and it was sunny with a high of 80 predicted.

We walked to the start. Always fun to get the stares when I am dressed in compression socks and skirt. What is even more fun is wearing a tigerhawk in Madison.

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Once we got to the start, everything was similar to the 10k, but the corrals had pacers in them, and participants were encouraged to line up next to them. We caught up with Cass and Lisa.

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Gear- BR tank, Nathan race belt, Aftershockz Trek Titanium head phones, Nike Iowa hat, BR Buff, xx2i Hawaii1 sunglasses, ProCompression Jailbreak socks, Brooks Ghost 8, Garmin Fenix 3, Orange Mud Hydraquiver Vest pack 1, Sparkle Athletic Skirt.

The race course was similar to the 10k, we ran by Camp Randall again and the Kohl center, but did a lot of miles around Lake Wingra in the arboretum. (this was nice and shady) These areas I am all familiar with as they are part of the Madison Mini course. The hills felt twice as brutal.

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There were plenty of aid stations, and some with Gu and one with bananas. However something to note, the Gatorade and water were in the same white paper cups, and there was no telling what you were going to get, unless you called out what you wanted. One liquid wasn’t always in the front or the back, it was often mixed.

The race also used the tracking app, Racejoy. I felt there were more spectators out and about, and even runners or bikers out cheered us on.

The finish was just the same as the previous day. If you did the challenge, the additional medal was under a tent. There was an area for finisher’s photos with the backdrop. The post race food was already bagged up from Panera – a sandwich (meat or veggie) chips and a cookie and chocolate milk.

Once out of this area, you could proceed to the beer area to redeem your free Michelob Ultra, where there was a live band playing. There was a results tent and race merchandise for sale. You could also just camp out on the Capitol grounds.

I found Josh, he was not doing so well. So we crashed on the Capitol lawn for a bit and relaxed. It was hot and humid! We weren’t hungry but needed to eat. After eating the cookie first, then our bagged lunch, we started to feel better.

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Once we felt human again, we went to check out the results. UGH my worst half time ever 2:27…but it’s been a grueling few weeks of weird running with no training, but all the races. We also gave our beer tickets away. FOR REAL—the race is in Wisconsin..you know…known for beer, brats and cheese.  Ok, free beer is good.

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We decided to walk the mile back to the Airbnb. We needed to recover, and this was a good way to start.

We always have a good time in Madison, and even recently on game days. This is a good race, and challenging. I will be back in November to get 2 more medals for this series….so hopefully there is real beer and the aid stations are sorted out. Lovin the free pictures.

We made sure to stop and grab some Wisconsin brews and cheese curds on the way out of town, but we had to get back home to let the dogs out.

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Lincoln Presidential Half – 2016

“Disclaimer: I received entry into the Lincoln Presidential 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!”

Saturday April 2, 2016 at 7:30 am, windy, sunny, 30 degree day in Springfield, IL.

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I was excited to be running a Bibrave race so close to home, this was only a 3 hour 20 some minute drive for me, wahoo!!! Ha, yes, 3 hours is close…

Registration: Available online and closed about a week before the race. Price increased as race day neared. You could also register at the expo for only $60 (no shirt). Included in registration: unisex short sleeved white tech shirt, chip timing on bib, finisher’s medal, printed results sheet, admission to the Lincoln Museum, and post race food & “real” beer.

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*a half marathon for $60 max*

The race also sent about 3 emails the week of the race from Abe; highlighting the important things, expo, visiting Springfield, etc. Perfect amount of race communication, some races can send too much email.

Expo: The expo and packet pick up was held at a hotel in downtown Springfield, the evening before the race. You could also grab your bib the morning of the race, up to 15 mins before it started. Someone else could get your packet for you, providing your license. Parking was available in a nearby ramp, or on the streets, meters free after 5. The expo was small, there were shirts for sale for $1, the Rolling Meadows Brewery had samples (beer served post race), a running store had some items for sale, information on the pacers, and there were a few other organizations with tables.

The expo was small, and I was picking up a total of 4 bibs, the volunteers giving out packets were very friendly and laid back, no hassles. I also met up with Pro, Frank for the first time at the expo.

It was then time to find some food, I asked on twitter for a good place to grab some dinner. Joel (you may remember him from other running adventures) suggested I go to Gallina’s. I walked in and wasn’t sure of the process, but it was laid back and I just needed to place an order at the counter. I ordered noodles with garlic & olive oil and a side of garlic knots.  I didn’t know, until it was served, but an additional side of bread came with the food.

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Ok, I know you are thinking, it’s just a half marathon, that is a lot of carbs. Well in fact it was, and there was a lot of garlic, however being away from home, eating this bland food, keeps all the guesswork out of race day.

I met up with Bibrave’s Community Manager, Julia (& Dylan) to hand off their packets, then waited for fellow pro, Christine to arrive (remember from One City) I had time to lay out all the things I would need to run.

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Pre race: Participants began to gather near the start. Abe and Mary were milling about, and available for pictures. There were port-a-potties lined up. If you didn’t stay in town, there were many parking options on the street or in ramps. There was no gear check. The race started after some words from the announcer and a speech from Abe, followed by muskets firing. No National Anthem. There was no starting arch, just a timing mat to cross.

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I really didn’t know what to wear, as there was no gear check, and the hotel was a couple blocks away. If you are super fast, it would be easy to grab your warm clothes or take a shower and make it back for the post race festivities. If you are slower, it be great to grab your things at a gear check so you have time to still hang at the post race fun.  Ok enough about no gear check, not a huge deal…but something to consider. Also you could just park on the street and keep your things in your car.

I woke early to stop at the coffee shop across the street. I was early, but I was the second in line, as everyone else had the same idea. I forgot to plan ahead for breakfast, and the Sbux didn’t have their pastries ready, so I grabbed a Kind bar.

I was able to meet all the pros (Julia, Frank, Dylan, Christine and Cass) before the race, and take a great picture with Abe. By the way the Abe and Mary Todd impersonators were awesome! Their speech and body language were spot on! (It was really cold and windy)

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Race/Course: The race takes you through the city of Springfield, passing all the things to see. Starting and finishing at the Old State Capital, by Lincoln’s house, the current Capital, and his tomb.
-Terrain – there were many surfaces. Paved with potholes (but after winter in the midwest, it’s expected) gravel trace, bricked roads.
– Elevation – The first 6 miles were flat, the last half were hilly, running through the park and the cemetery. Nothing too steep, but they were rolling
-Scenery – residential neighborhoods, parks, historical buildings, businesses, cemetery
-Photographers – many on course, pictures available for purchase a day after the race
-Spectators – the course wasn’t lined, but all the people that were out and about were loud and enthusiastic. Abe was in front of his house giving high fives.
-Aid Stations – there were 6 hydration stops with water & Gatorade, in different colored paper cups. one stop had gel. no food on course
-Volunteers – on the course at all intersections, and the busy intersections had law enforcement officials. There were volunteers everywhere, very friendly
-Mile markers at every mile, marked with a flag.
-Pacers – starting from 1:45 (I think and for every 5 minutes after) LOTS of pacers!

My Race:I hadn’t raced a half marathon since the NYE half in California, so I was ready to tackle the distance. I also hadn’t been specifically training for this distance either. However, I feel at some point when you run all the races, you learn what you are capable of. I started just behind the 2:10 pacer, which was being very optimistic, and I was able to stick right behind them for the majority of the race. The second half of the course had some hills and my lack of a decent breakfast (or what I like to eat) caught up with me in the last mile, I really felt light headed. However the cheering crowds at the finish pulled me through to finish with a time of 2:09:59.

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Scenes from the course–

My hair…looks excellent in a visor!

Finish: There was no arch to mark the finish, but you could hear and see the crowd increasing as you neared the finish. Once across the finish, a volunteer placed a shiny penny medal around your neck, another handed out a bottle of water. There was a table of Gatorade as well. Runners had mylar blankets.

When I finished, I found it super crowded and hard to navigate, everyone was bottle necked. I was looking for someone handing out mylar blankets and wasn’t sure where they were, it was cold. I never found one. I did make sure to grab some Gatorade immediately, so I wouldn’t pass out with the weird light headed feeling, and dang it was very grape. After I got through the area, I found it less crowded in the post race area.

THE MEDAL!!!!

Post Race: The post race was a great party, it was held on the lawn at the Old State Capital. The folk band “The Blue Gs” were performing. There was a tent with the post race food of oranges, bananas, Kashi bars, Krispy Kreme donuts, chocolate milk and kegs of Rolling Meadow beers. (they never checked ID’s, or limited how many you could have) Abe was available for post race pictures. There were some re-enactors and 1840’s demonstrations. A tent was also set up to get a print out of your race results. Awards were announced when everyone had finished, AG winners received posters.

I have blogged before about how sometimes it’s not the race itself, but the people you hang out with surrounding the weekend’s festivities. The post race to this event is no exception. The Bibrave gang met up to enjoy the beer and donuts and take some silly jump pictures. The best part of this race….no limit on keg beer…of course we all drank responsibly.

Thanks to Cass for the above pictures—

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Overall: This is a great race, organized well, great price, “fair” course.

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After the race events, I collected my things from the hotel and took advantage of the Lincoln Museum admission. I played tourist for the afternoon. Capping off the trip with the $5 runner’s meal at the Alamo…where Abe was in plain clothes hanging out too.

Thanks Bibrave and Springfield for a great weekend

 

Urban Bourbon Half Marathon – Review

“Disclaimer: I received entry into The Urban Bourbon 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!”

Saturday October 24, 2015. Louisville, KY. Cloudy, 65(ish) degrees, humid. 8:30 am.

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Registration: This was available online, price increased closer to race day. You could also register at packet pickup, but there was no race day registration. Registration included a gender specific long sleeve tech shirt, a bib with timing strip, an Uber discount, and the Race Joy Mobile App.

I did not use the Race Joy Mobile App, which was the race tracking service, and included cheers. My phone is low on storage. I prefer a text update service, but it was nice to allow participants this service at no cost. It looks like family could purchase for 99 cents.

Expo/Packet Pick up: There were 2 days to pick up your packet at Louisville Slugger Field. Thursday and Friday before the race. For an additional fee, participants could chose to do a VIP packet pick up at the Evan Williams distillery. There was no race day packet pick up. A virtual race bag was sent to runners a few days before, in addition to many informational emails. There was free parking.

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There was a small expo at the general packet pick up. Bib numbers were posted, and then you proceeded to the correct volunteer, where you were handed a bib after checking your ID. Then because the race was for people 21 years or older, a wrist band was placed on your wrist, to wear until the post race was over. This band had the tickets for the post race food & drinks. After grabbing a bib and band, then it was off to pick up the race shirt. The shirt was in a sealed plastic bag, volunteers encouraged you check out the shirt station, before opening your bag. At the shirt station they had opened bags, available to look at or try on. If the better fitting size was available, you were allowed to exchange your shirt.

There was some merchandise available to purchase from the local Fleet Feet, where the pace team could also check in. There were race cotton shirts available to purchase. Evan Williams was there with 4 bourbons to sample and a gift basket drawing. There was one table to find out race information. There were a couple of massage tables for free.

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*On Friday there was an additional event held at the same location.

I was running this race with Laura. We had no problem with parking or getting in and out. I was happy there was a shirt exchange and the fit was off and I had to size up. The sleeves fell really short and the shirt was short at the waist. We also arrived at the time when there was to be a race director question / answer session, nothing happened at that time, however the table with information was more than happy to help answer all questions.

Laura and I hit a local place for supper that night, as a recomendation from the information guy. It was an old service station, great atmosphere. It appeared it was the place to be for happy hour. We ordered a delicious pizza and I introduced Laura to kale.

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Pre-Race: The race started in downtown Louisville, in front of the Yum! Center. There was an arch signifying the start line and a gated off starting area, with one entrance at the back it was about a block long. There were no corrals, but once in the gated area runners were encouraged to line up according to pace, or near a pacer.

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Pros – Erica and Jessica were able to meet the RD, the evening before, and mentioned a pre-race photo. Great work ladies!

Parking available in many downtown area ramps, which you had to pay for.

There were bathrooms open to the runners at 2 nearby hotels, and some port-o-potties set up under the bridge in the area. There were volunteers standing in the area with signs that said something like “How can I help?” There were a couple water coolers with paper cups for water.

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There was a gear check set up, it was in a congested area near the one entrance to the gated area. Clear bags were provided and a tag on the bottom of your bib was used to identify your bag. There was no security I saw (doesn’t mean it wasn’t there.)

There was a trumpet player who played “My Old Kentucky Home” followed by a the National Anthem on trumpet.

There were not enough bathrooms close to the start, the lines were insanely long, and the hotels were a couple of blocks walk away from the start. I am not sure what the policy is or cost, but starting in front of the basketball arena, maybe they could use the facilities in there in the future. 

As a fun fact, the trumpeter hails from Cedar Rapids, IA. We asked to take a photo with him (cred Pro Jess) and he noticed the tigerhawk on my hat. Laura kept up the conversation, and eventually found out all the Iowa details.

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Race/Course: The race started and finished in downtown Louisville, and took you through Cherokee Park.

  • Surface – the entire course was ran on pavement or asphalt. There were repaired areas or small holes, nothing major.
  • Terrain – Downtown Louisville is flat, but the areas around the park are hilly. Nothing too steep, however if you don’t train on hills, the course can prove to be a challenge.
  • Scenery – There was the pretty park in the fall with the colorful leaves, downtown buildings and an all men’s homeless shelter along the course.
  • Mile Markers – Each mile was marked with a big sign, there were clocks at these.
  • The course had spray painted arrows on the cement
  • Volunteers  – There were volunteers at each intersection, law enforcement at busy intersection, however some would be clumping and talking amongst themselves.
  • Bathrooms – there were a few on the course, but could have been more
  • Hydration – There were many stops. A few with water only. Then a few with water and powerade. Each stop had the same design paper cup. They weren’t very spread out and it was hard to figure out, unless you heard the volunteer say which liquid they had.
  • No food on the course
  • Course Entertainment – a couple of DJ’s on the course pumping loud music, cops blared music from unmarked patrol cars
  • Spectators – very few, but the ones that were out and about were very energetic and cheering for all
  • Photographers – only saw them at the finish line
  • Some roads were open to traffic, running areas were coned off, but most of the course was closed to cars.
  • Timing mats throughout the course.
  • Course was open from 8:30 am until 12 pm

There were a lot of turns on the course, which made my watch record a longer distance, (13.38) which isn’t much. About halfway through I started cutting the corners, running the tangents, hoping to stick truer to the course. When I started this, I managed to get ahead of Laura, but she had twisted her leg strange getting to a water stop, and decided to slow down a bit, and walked some of the hills. I motored on without her after about mile 7, I thought I was crushing the course, until I saw a familiar face, apparently I slowed down too much, and there was Laura, just before mile 13.

No major frustrations, just a little tweak to the hydration stops. It was humid and I stopped at all of them. They were crowded, if they could have spread them out a bit, had the electrolyte drink in a different colored cup, and before the water, that would have been great.

Finish / Post Race: The finish line had the majority of spectators, and could be seen with a timing mat, arch, clock, and photographers. Once across the line, a small bottle of water (maybe 8 oz) was handed to you, an Evan Williams bottle shaped medal was handed to you, then a heat sheet wrapped around you.

A quick turn to the post race area, and you walked by the Powerade, chocolate milk, grapes, bananas and Panera bagels. A sign was posted for runners to be respectful and only take one.

After this there was the area, in a field, near the Ohio River, for the post race party. Free to runners, and $20 for non runners. The wrist band each was given at the packet pick up was good for 4 free bourbon samples, one beer, one slice of pizza, and once cup of burgoo. Hi Five Donuts were there selling donuts. Massage was available for $1 per minute. A band was playing cover songs, the lead singer actually sang as he wondered through the crowd.

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There were many bourbon brands set up, each under a tent. In the big tent was the main sponsor Evan Williams and the Falls City Beer. The bourbon was spread out, but there was a very long line to get beer. There were a few picnic tables scattered about. The burgoo (soup/stew) and pizza were under the same tent. The pizza “sold out” quickly, but they came back with more pie about a half hour before the party stopped.

There were a bank of port-o-potties in the area, or you could use the hotel. The party wrapped up at 1pm, which gave the last finishers an hour to party, however the music just stopped, but no harsh instruction to leave. The t-shirts went on sale at this time too.

The finishers medal is one of the coolest medals I have seen, it is shaped like a bourbon bottle, but it’s then hand dipped in wax. I was told there is one medal that is half dipped or sideways dipped, if you received that, you were comped an entrance to next year’s event. The ribbon also has the date on it.

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The post race party was a lot of fun. It allowed me to hang out with the other Bibrave Pros attending the race. Also all participants were super friendly, everyone having a good time.

However the beer line was crazy long, perhaps having a couple stations spread out like the bourbon would help. The pizza disappearing so quick, was a shock as they knew how many wristbands were sold, people must have been doubling up, it was nice they brought more near the end, I was then able to have a slice. (which was good as I had claimed 2 beers and at least 3 bourbon samples)

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I, of course, purchased a $6 donut. The Peach Screech, it tasted just like peach pie!!

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I think it was at this party I also realized I am not a huge fan of bourbon, that stuff is strong, I can almost feel the one kind burning my throat. I also came to the conclusion that burgoo is an acquired taste, it smells good, but just has too much going on.

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Once the post race was over, there was another event happening in an area called “Whisky Row.” Participants could collect up to 5 different pins, from 5 different establishments. Non runners, could get the pins if they purchased a drink with KY bourbon.

Some of the bars were open before the post race ended, and were out of pins before we could claim them, each place only had 250. There was only one place opening at 4pm, but it appeared they were giving out pins before that time. We were only able to claim 2. It was a neat idea, but not fair to everyone as it became a contest.

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Overall: Only a few minor things that can be fixed easily, a reasonable price considering all the alcohol, a good challenging course (fair hills) and friendly people. If you can get this race on your schedule, I would recommend you run it.

Personal: Coming off Chicago, I wasn’t sure how my feet would feel on another road race. I had been training on trail leading up to the event, and my feet felt good. I pushed to do my best, as always, and hadn’t run a half since August, I wasn’t even training for one. I am also always pushed by Laura, she keeps pushing the pace from the start…even if she walks and meets me again at the finish.

I finished in 2:11:14, Laura in 2:11:19. She even met another friendly face to talk with the last few miles.

We had a great time in Kentucky, we stayed with family in nearby Lexington, and got to explore the area and enjoy hanging out, and catching up with an old friend. Laura is always up for a good time and a great road trip. Even when we have to take her car at the last minute, she helped me write up this review on the way back in the car.

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I always encourage people to travel to new places, take your friends and meet new ones, you wont regret it.

Make sure to add your reviews to Bibrave.com

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