Double the meat!

Amana Freezer 5k – Race Recap

I know it’s been forever since I last wrote a blog post, I know that you have all missed me. I also know it’s been a nice break. However, here I am with a race recap of the Amana Freezer 5k.

This is the infamous meat bag event, instead of the standard race t-shirt, participants can opt to get a bag of goods from the Amana shops. This is why I come back year after year.

The 2019 event was scheduled to take place January 26th with Winterfest, but the weather had other plans. The forecast had windchill temps well below zero, so the race was postponed to February 9th. Winterfest activities still happened in January. I also understand postponing for the sake of the volunteers.

Saturday, February 9th was a cold, sunny day. The race wouldn’t start until 10 AM, and temps topped around 10 degrees, but there was still a windchill. The other part of the equation, we had just had some ice and winter weather pass through.

I arrived to the Amanas early, I had to get my meat bag and I wanted to check the course out. I am familiar with the route as I have run this event 5-6… I don’t know how many years.

The roads from Iowa City to Amana were fine, but once I was on the race course, it was a skating rink. I even stopped my car and got out to check. I was amazed the event was still going to happen.

After a stop at the local convenience store, I made my way to packet pickup. It was in a new, smaller location this year. A wood shop of some sort, but it was warm and picking up my things was easy. I was shown to a list of names with bib numbers, then proceeded to get my bib, meat bag and timing chip.

I went back to my car to finish getting ready and open the meat bag. This year the contents included a coupon to a chiropractor, some Bio Freeze, race flyers, a package with 2 smoked pork chops, a pfefferwurst and I was lucky enough to get 2 tickets to the Millstream Brewery!

I had all my layers, my ice spikes, my bib and I was ready, but the race was still 10 minutes or more out, so I went and ran a half mile to literally warm up. A key to winter running is not standing around, but keep moving and I didn’t want to stand around at the start line.

I made my way to the starting area and I would say with the postponement of the race, there was a nice crowd, but probably a little smaller than previous years. I chatted with some people I knew and told them the course was covered in ice and all the sudden everyone was moving forward. I didn’t hear a gun or a “go.” There was no sound system and I was near the back.

I don’t recall the last time I raced a 5k, heck the last time I raced was Dec 1st. The conditions would call for some slow times, but I was feeling like I needed a sub 30. I also had my ice spikes, which give me a little confidence, but they really need to be rotated as I have worn them down.

I trotted along and when I came to the one mile marker, I noticed the leader had not yet come back from the turn around in East Amana, so I knew it was really going to be a slower day. Then as I thought that, I saw him.

I ran in places that had a little snow for some extra traction and I was amazed at everyone running with no visible ice traction. Even the leader had nothing, unless he had screw shoes – which could have been the case for many.

I looped around East Amana, said thanks to the one volunteer and ran by the cows, yep it’s a stereotypical Iowa race. On my way back to the finish I noticed a lot more people taking it slower than usual, these are the smart runners…. the ice was no joke. Once you would find a decent place in the road – this would be a place with some sand or air pockets under the ice, that place would disappear.

I rounded the last corner to see Tim cheering people in, I gave him a high five with my non gloved hands as I was randomly overdressed. Then I saw the finishing clock and felt good about my effort. I finished near 28 minutes – Garmin time of 28:37.

Once I crossed the finishing mat, I bent over and removed my timing chip, then reset my watch to go for a little cool down and cheer people in.

I saw Lois and Jen crushing the race! The sun was really showing off the glare of the ice at this point. Still amazed that I don’t recall one slip, fall or broken bone. I had made it about a half mile out, so I thought I would come back… and I ran back to the brewery.

When the race coincides with Winterfest the brewery is packed, so I thought I would grab a drink and then come back to the awards and raffle. There was no line at the brewery, I cashed in a ticket for the Schokolade – which is a chocolate stout. It is stout season y’all!

Then I went back to my car and took off a sweaty layer, poured the beer in a coffee mug, and made my way to the awards. The firefighters were selling their chili in the Winterfest mugs outside the building too.

I was just in time for the awards. There was still a lot of post race food available too, so I grabbed a half of a bagel to enjoy with my stout. I listened to the awards and the overall winner won in a time just under 18 minutes, that is still super fast in my book – CONGRATS!!  I placed like 52nd out of 157 finishers, and wasn’t close in my age group since it’s a 9 year span, and I am at the slower end of the spectrum. I don’t really care about winning, I was happy to be back out running at races.

The awards ended and it was time for the raffle. I have won before, I think it was some wine or tickets to the theater or something, so I had my fingers crossed. There are running store gift certificates, grocery store baskets and usually bird seed from the feed mill. Well this year had those things, but no bird seed…which had the older population a little upset. LOL

I left with an apple and made my way back to the brewery to cash in my second ticket. There was no line again. I ran into another runner and we chatted for a bit. I asked for a cream soda and was on my way. Millstream also makes a root beer.

This isn’t some big time race, it’s just a great small community event that usually kicks off the running year. I will always try to run this, not only for the meat bag, but to see the running community.

Solon Beef Days 2018

Beef Days 5k – 2018

The Beef Days 5k is part of a town celebration. The festivities start on Friday and last through the weekend. I have run this race before, in fact way back when dinosaurs roamed the Earth, I ran the one mile race.

Saturday, July 21.

It was an overcast day, with temps in the high 60’s – 70’s, and humid. The 5k and one mile were to start at the same time, 7:30 AM. (In past years they were separate.)

I had not yet registered, so I arrived early and signed up for $20. I got a timing chip for my shoe and a short sleeve, unisex, cotton t-shirt.

I had plenty of time before the race was to start, so I used the port-o-potty and headed for the nearby trail. Unfortunately the trail was closed…. but it’s for a good reason, they are connecting it to another trail. I changed my plans and was able to run a loop around the area.

It was time to race! Participants gathered round for announcements, but it seemed very unorganized, and took a little long.

Finally we were running.

Another 5k, and a goal to finish sub 30. I really try to push my pace in the smaller 5k’s, as sometimes I can place in my AG.

I was doing my best, but there are A LOT of hills in Solon, and I think we ran all of them. The course was easy to navigate and there was a water stop.

I came to the finish with a time and reset my Garmin to run another mile loop. When I got back they had started the awards. My 28:14 was not even close to placing in the 30-39 AG as the winner in my category had something close to 18 minutes. Speedy!

I grabbed a slice of watermelon and a bottle of water and went back to my car. I made a quick change into the race shirt and decided to stay in town for the parade.

Overall: This race has been part of the Beef Days celebration for years. It’s nothing special, but the community looks forward to it. It isn’t expensive and it comes with all the expectations for a good event.

A Labor day tradition


The 2017 event was on Monday, September 4th in Bettendorf, IA. It was sunny with temps in the mid 60s, a little breezy.

I have run this race many times, for the bare bone to the fact pointers, check out my review.

Josh and I woke up early – for the 3rd straight day in a row – had the usual race day fare, hopped in the car and headed east for Bettendorf.

Gear: Sparkle Athletic ice cream skirt, Spi belt, Bibrave BOCO visor, 2xu tank, xx2i France 2 sunglasses, Aftershokz Trek Titanium, Garmin Fenix 3, Road ID, New Balance Shoes, Zensah flamingo socks

We parked, where we always do, in the nearby middle school parking lot, for free. There was also a little bathroom house here.

Next, we had to grab our race bibs and shirt. The packet pickup area is in a parking lot near the start/finish area. Easy to find, just wait in line at the tent. Race day registration was also available. I think the long sleeve, unisex, tech shirt was new this year, so we both made sure to get one.

The kids races went on before the longer distance races. Then there were some announcements, mostly about Carl, who the race is named for. The National Anthem was performed and then it was time to line up for the 5 miler at 8:15. The 5k would follow 15 minutes later.

I had just run the New Bo Half Marathon the day before, I was just gonna run the race to finish. I even lined up as the second to last person to start.

The gun went off…er it did not… the lady operating the starting gun had some mishap, so the announcer stepped in and told us to go. OOPS!

The course winds through the town, on paved streets and the asphalt bike path. There are hills, nothing steep, but training hills are a good idea.

There are at least 3 water only stops on the course, all in paper cups. The miles are marked and there are a lot of volunteers and law enforcement directing participants. There are a few spectators out in their driveways too.

Ok, so I may have started in the back… but of course… I started to pass people as I ran, it was fun. Then I was pushing my pace… yep I couldn’t just run, I had to see what I had. The last half mile or so I caught up with this younger girl, she was not going to let me pass, so I pushed her and we raced down the hill to the finish, whoa that was tough!

I had a finishing time of like 47:30 which was about the same as last year, when I set out to actually race it. So who knows…. I did feel good when I was done.

The finish area was happening! Once the announcer welcomed runners in, there was a live cover band, rocking some tunes. There was bottled water, sparkling water, bagels and bananas. If you were fast you could have got an apple too. There was a photo booth and a tent to get your results printed.

The awards were announced, and if winners were around they were encouraged to take a picture.

This race is a great event, good price, well run. The non traditional 5 mile distance is also something I appreciate. I will always try to make this race and continue to have it as my Labor Day Tradition.

The other component of why this event is so great…meeting with my friends. This year in addition to Josh, there was Kevin and Kelly. I am pretty sure we all try to make this race a must do.

When we were finished we went over to the nearby Dunkin Donuts for coffee, donuts and shenanigans. I have mentioned this many times before, but one of my favorite things about doing all the races is the people I meet.

As Kevin says… Labor Day? It’s Run With Carl Day

Places to Run – West Branch, IA


West Branch, IA

This is a small town in eastern Iowa, I grew up north of this community and went to school here. I work here during the day, where I run on the Hoover Nature Trail, so I thought I would also add a post about running in the town.

This is a general overview of the town, so there wont be a mileage topic, but getting adventurous you might be able to log double digits without repeating an area. The town hosts a few races which I have run – Bear Stampede & Fergalicious 5k.

Terrain: There is every surface to run. Pavement, asphalt, chip and seal, crushed limestone, grass. Overall the surfaces are all well kept, no need to avoid sidewalks for safety of footing.

Elevation: This town is not flat, it is also not in the mountains. That being said, there are many hills, unless you run the Hoover Nature Trail you will be climbing somewhere.

Scenery: West Branch is the home of Herbert Hoover, there is a National Park here which you can loop through on a run & includes a prairie. There is a small historic downtown area. Interstate I-80 travels through the town splitting the industrial portions from the residential.

Maintainence: As mentioned in the terrain segment, the town is maintained pretty well, there is no need to worry about footing on sidewalks or streets.

Markings: The town does not have any dedicated running or cycling paths with mile markers, however there are signs around town directing you to the National Park or library.

Features: The town has one stoplight which was installed for pedestrians to cross a busier street. You can safely run on the sides of the streets. The Nature Trail offers a peaceful place to run.

Warnings: This is a small town, if you are out and about, you might run into someone that wants to chit chat, stalling your run. Also you have to work hard to get in a long run, or head out to country roads. There are also many street crossings and cars are always looking for pedestrians.

Personal Notes: I really don’t do much running in town unless it’s a race. I sometimes feel the glaring eyes of people and I would rather stick to the trail. However, to me that’s just small town life.

Other: In the warmer months there are drinking fountains on the National Park grounds. You can use the bathroom at the Town Hall or Police department. The gas stations or convenience stores for water/bathrooms are on the other side of the interstate. Parking is FREE.


If you have anything to contribute, let me know!

Happy Anniversary

Running – the best way to celebrate 11 years of marriage.

Another Saturday morning 4 am wake up call, but when you run, this is nothing new…However, this particular Saturday, June 24th, was our 11th wedding anniversary.

Sure, we both had run Grandma’s marathon the week before, but it’s hard to miss the Run 4 Troops Marathon. In fact last year I ran both marathons.

This year, we would be running the marathon relay. We were lucky to get in on this event. More people choose to do this as a relay, so they cap the participants, mainly because the route gets so congested. I sent an email to be put on the wait list, and I was contacted quickly to say we got in!


Gear: Sparkle Athletic skirt, 2xu tank, Zensah hat, Zensah socks, Brooks Ghost, Garmin Fenix 3, xx2i USA sunglasses, Road Runner sports shorts, aftershokz headphones.

We would start in Dyersville, IA and run the Heritage Trail to Dubuque. Josh was going to take the first 3 legs and I would finish with the last 3. Since this is point to point, the person not running would move the car along the route.

We rolled into Dyersville around 6:30 am, we needed to grab our stuff. This was in a reusable Hy-Vee bag. There was the bib, which was attached to a really nice bib belt we would get to keep. Our short sleeve, gender specific, tech shirts were in the bag too. The Heritage trail requires a user fee, this is included in our race registration, but we are also given silicon bracelets to wear to indicate we have paid the fee.

Then it was time for the “meeting” or rather some announcements. We learned about the transitions and what to expect on the course, and then a former member of the military gave a talk, then the National Anthem was sung…then we waited around for the solo marathon to start at 7 am. We had time to use the port-o-potties.

At 7 am the marathon was off with a bang – literally! An old cannon was fired and the runners took off. A drone buzzed ahead taking photos. Then finally at 7:30 it was time for the relay runners to start. The cannon had an issue and fired a few minutes after the runners started.

In the past the marathon and relay started at the same times, but they stretched it out. I really don’t think it helped. As you read on, you will see why… but they need to stagger out the relay times…that is where the most people are that need to use the transitions. 

Josh was on his way, I was going to plan to visit him at each transition. However, things were not looking good. The majority of people involved with the event were with the relay, so everyone was headed to the first exchange at the same time, causing a huge traffic backup. I even stopped to use a bathroom at a gas station, and the line was 10 people deep.

By the time I got to the actual transition the traffic was crazy. I ended up parking along the highway, and running down near the trail. I don’t do well with these things, if I know I need to be some where, I want to be prompt. I don’t like feeling rushed or late.

I saw Josh approaching, he was looking good. The sun was shining, but it wasn’t too hot or humid. The first leg went from Dyersville to Farley, and it is the leg with the least shade, it is 6.6 miles long.

I spoke with Josh as he passed, I mentioned I didn’t think I could get in and out of the next exchange due to all the traffic, also he was keeping a great pace. Some of the racers were starting to spread out, but Josh was also catching up to the solo marathoners.

Exchange 2 was at Epworth, it was 4.4 miles long. I did not make it to this exchange. I am sure I could have made it, but I also was going to be running soon too, so I wanted to make sure I had time to get my crap together. I get a little anxious.

I arrived to exchange 3. Josh would have passed through Epworth, and then had to run 3.6 miles to Graf.

I arrived at Graf, the transition was at a park, and parking wasn’t too bad, but you had to cross the course to get a spot. I parked the car and used the port-o-potty. I then trotted back to the car and put on some sunscreen, got my headphones and things, then walked to the exchange zone.

Even though I kept checking my watch, as I was guessing on Josh’s estimated time into the area, I didn’t have to wait long. It seemed like he appeared out of no where.

We made the bib exchange, and walked together on the trail a bit, discussing how busy the transition areas were, and if he thought he would be able to see me along the route. Then I took off for the next stop, 4.5 miles away, at the Budd Rd intersection.

It was a nice section of trail, lots of shade. About 2 miles in, a woman came up on me, and then started to run with me. It was nice, we chatted and ran into the exchange. I saw Josh!  I think it helps that I run slow enough for him to have time to maneuver into the exchange areas. I gave him a high five, shouted my number to the timing person, and grabbed a cup of water and continued on.

At the time I was running, I couldn’t remember how many miles were between the transitions, so I really wasn’t sure when I would see Josh next, but I wasn’t too worried, as I have run the trail before, and if I needed something there was plenty of support out there.

Looking at the map, I had 3.4 miles to go before I got to transition 5 at Durango. This was an uneventful section, I just motored on. I passed some solo marathoners, and some relay members sped passed me.

I trotted into Durango, I saw Josh again,and slapped a high five. Then came into the very crowded exchange. The exchanges and timing are set up so that solo runners pass through on one side, and relay runners on the other. The problem here is that since I was not actually passing the bib, I had to navigate through people that were, and people that were not paying attention to others running through.

After the congestion, it seemed the trail opened up to emptiness. Finally, were people spread out? Anyway, I was enjoying the trail. I had 3.7 miles to get to the finish.

Just about the 24.5 mile mark, I came upon a lady in tears on the side of the trail. I slowed and asked if she was ok, she said no. I was not concerned about time, I stopped. She described her pain, and she was having leg cramps. She was holding a bottle of Gatorade. She was able to talk to me, and she said she had met her husband at every exchange, and had been drinking that Gatorade and more at each stop. She said this was her first marathon. She was in tears, and couldn’t relax enough to just settle down, like she was in a panic.

Another woman passed us, I told her as she ran ahead to send a medic if she saw one. I encouraged the woman with the cramps to breathe. I got her back to a standing position after she drank some more Gatorade and calmed down. We were walking…. then she started to cry again, and she cramped up. She sat back down. In the distance behind us, I could see an ATV.

As the ATV approached, I flagged them down to help. They were medically trained. The first thing they asked was if she was drinking Gatorade… I am not a doctor, but I thought they could get her to finish the race. I left the situation, and told the crying woman to just relax, she had plenty of time to finish, and I would see her at that finish line.

Strangely after this, I developed the strangest pain behind my knee, just under the hamstring, but I kept moving, stopping to rub it out. Then out of no where, the crying lady passed me, but in the passenger seat of the medic’s ATV.

Wow, all the thoughts…all the freakin thoughts. At the time, she had 1.5 miles to go, and 3.5 hours to get there. As I said, I am not a doctor, but I KNEW she could do it, and still as I write this, I KNOW she could have finished. I could see the panic in her as she was afraid of the cramps, and she couldn’t just get out of her head and relax. I am sure the medics didn’t want any liability issues, so they didn’t encourage her to continue. UGH, I would have sat on that trail for an hour for cramps to subside, so close to the finish line…. but we are all built differently, and maybe she actually broke something… but dang, you see all kinds of things out there. I really wish she would have finished.

Ok, ok, back to me and finishing the race. After all the thoughts, I had to run the one and only hill on the course, this is when the pain in my leg was at it’s worst! Going up that hill really put a strain on me, this is when I thought it was hamstring related. There was no pain going down this hill on the other side of the road.

I approached the finish area and saw Josh, we ran in the last hundred feet together, and the announcer shouted our team name as we crossed the finish line. We had done the race in just over 4 hours.

The lady standing at the finish with the medals did not give us one. So apparently, relay teams did not get medals this year? I don’t know, it was way strange. I did this as a relay 2 years ago and the team got a medal. I still can’t find any information on the web either way. It was just strange to come across the finish line to a woman holding a medal, and not get handed one.

I was able to grab a chocolate milk, bottle of water or Powerade at the finish. Then, Josh and I wondered through the crowded area to check out the post race merchandise. There wasn’t anything we couldn’t live without, so we hopped in line for some wood fired pizza.

After waiting for a slice, we grabbed some grapes, orange slices and a cookie. We sat at the provided tables and chairs, under a tent. *Other races should take note of this simple feature, a place to sit! We people watched, and listened to names being announced as people crossed the finish line.

We had to get back home to let the dogs out, so we walked back to our car to make the trek home.

I like this race, and I will do it again. I think the best way to go about this is to run it solo, and have any crew meet you at the non exchange intersections. The trail is all crushed limestone and super flat, except for the one hill. There is also food and drink available at each exchange. You get a great event for your money.

Josh and I both enjoy running, it was nice to do this marathon as a team on our wedding anniversary. We are pretty simple people and don’t need a fancy getaway to celebrate, this was perfect for us.

For more race detail head to my review at




Spillway & Sunburn

Hawkeye 50k – Race Recap

The race took place Saturday, April 8th in Solon, IA, around Lake MacBride, starting at 8 am, with the 25k starting at 8:30.

First, I have to thank Deb for giving me her bib for this event. This is a capped race, and registration sells out quick. I mentioned in a previous blog post how I missed out, and she contacted me.

The main reason for my excitement – an ultra in my backyard – well not really, but a 20 minute drive from home. There are a bajillion 5ks, and some 10ks, a couple 13.1s, but not many options for longer distances close to home. Ok, don’t get me wrong I love the adventure all my travels have brought me, but for once I get to sleep in my own bed, no travel expenses, no hotel costs.

Alright… Friday night I ate my usual, plain old noodles, and prepared all my gear. I also made cupcakes and mini muffins as the post race was a potluck. I contemplated if I should carry my pack, given all the details in the pre-race email about the aid stations, but the forecast was predicting temps about 20 degrees warmer than I had been “training” in.

Gear: Orange Mud Endurance Pack, XX2i France 2 sunglasses, Aftershokz Trekz Titanium, Nathan race belt, Bibrave tank, Blue Ridge Pullover, Zensah technical hat, Adidas 7″ boyshort, Pro Compression Socks, Brooks Ghost 9, Garmin Fenix 3, Road ID, 2 Toms.

Yeah…. you noticed training in quotes above. After last year and the crazy marathon a month, I knew I would be able to complete this race. However, I was not training for it. I have been training for the Illinois Marathon, thankfully I had picked a plan that had me prepared.

Josh was joining me at this race, but he would be running the 25k, or one loop. We took off for Solon after my usual toast and coffee breakfast. We arrived at the Timber Dome with time to grab our ankle strap chips and use the bathroom one more time. Josh had already grabbed our bibs and short sleeve, unisex tech shirts the day before.

While waiting to start, we saw fellow Iowa BibRave Pro, Mel. She was running the 25k. We chit chatted for just a short while, and then it was time to start!

I lined up near the back, and waved to Josh & Mel as I was on my way.  I knew I had to run the loop twice, and I was familiar with about the first 4 miles. Other than that… I was ready for the unknown.

The course featured crushed limestone trail, some pavement, single track and a spillway crossing.

In the back of my mind I knew I had a chance of setting a new PR at this distance. My current PR is 7:09, and I was close at my last 50k. So, I just kept the first few miles slow and steady.

Then we all came upon the first giant puddle on the trail. This spot is just low, and is prone to minor flooding. I mention this only because there were so many people going off the trail into the woods to avoid this puddle… um there is a spillway crossing coming up, and everyone was avoiding the puddle. I splashed on through…. think I turned my audiobook on.

I always get geographically confused around Lake MacBride and the Coralville Reservoir. I know I am in Johnson County, but I have no idea really where I am. After the flat limestone trail section, there was a short climb to a road, which led us into the main beach of Lake MacBride…. I knew where I was… temporarily. There was one of the aid stations here, stocked with gummy bears, chips, cookies, Gatorade, water and much more.

I stopped for some gummy bears and kept on moving. It was back to some flat limestone, this was the section that lead to the spillway. I wasn’t scared, I have run trail race with creek crossings, so I was ready to welcome the challenge.

The spillway………. I approached and noticed there were some guys in waders near the bottom, they also had a rope across the water for helping runners too. There was also an area to cross near the top. If you chose the bottom route, you had to climb down some rock, which meant you had to climb back up.

There are pictures of this, but even though the proceeds go to a charity… I don’t need to buy more race photos.

This first loop, I went with the bottom crossing as this is where there were people helping you across. I had a harder time getting down the rock to the actual water, than crossing the water. Once at the water, I held onto the rope and walked through the rushing water. Then it was the tough climb back to the top. Oh, and once to the top, there were stairs in the trail, to climb back up on the trail.

I was now on more traditional trail, or single track type terrain through the woods. This was my favorite part. It was also the most up and down part of the course. I just kept moving. Another great part of ultra and trail races is all the other participants on the course, everyone that passes me I get to cheer on, given there aren’t many spectators out in the woods.

I came upon the next aid station, grabbed some more treats, and moved along. I was just enjoying the day. I was back in the woods, following the pink flags. Then it happened…. I fell.  Well, I knew it was going to happen at some point, but I just tripped on the air or maybe there was an actual tree root, but I was now on the ground.

What does one do when this happens? First – you look around, did anyone see me? Second – am I ok? Welp… as luck would have it, on a course where runners were so spread out, there was someone that saw me. I was also ok, it’s dirt…softer than pavement, just some scratches.

Ok, so who was that someone that saw me fall? I was lucky enough to get to run the majority of the rest of the race with her. Meet Tenile!

She made sure I was ok too, I was fine and embarrassed, and for a while I felt the fall on my hip, but it subsided as I kept moving. We chit chatted forever and in no time we were at the last 3-4 miles on Mehaffy Bridge road. This was my least favorite part, who likes running on the shoulder of a busy road? It was nice to have someone to chat with.

I learned she would also be running the Illinois Marathon in a few weeks, and she was helping her husband train for his first hundo. (I think that was the distance, it’s been a few weeks)

We came across the timing mat together after the first loop. The time on the clock was just over 3 hours, which for me was HUGE! I could totally PR.

I ate a pb&j and looked around for Josh. He was going to take my pullover. However, he was not at the finish area… I looked and saw him in the distance, I yelled, he did not hear me. Tenile was already back on the trail… I was like… um… I am wasting time…. so I dropped my pullover with the aid station volunteers and left to catch back up with Tenile.

We were back at it, one more loop to go. The sun was out, and the temperature was rising. It was also the part where we both were starting to struggle, so one would walk and the other would go on, we would catch back up with one another here and there.

I forgot to mention the pelicans. Since the run is around the lake, there are many things to see. There are the usual people fishing and what not, but there were tons of giant pelicans out there too. Very cool.

Then, just like that, Tenile and I were running together and about to cross the spillway again. This time, there were no men helping people cross at the bottom. They were up at the top instead. Really, this was a nice added perk…. these people didn’t have to be out there, but here they still were.

The upper part of the spillway was a little deeper, but nothing past my shin. I did witness a few people stop to take off their shoes and socks before getting into the water. Hmmm, not sure what that’s about, guess they like dry feet. Well… I enjoyed this second trip through, the water was soo cold and refreshing, felt great!  While I didn’t have to climb down rocks and back up, there was a steep little exit to this crossing. With the help from the guys wading in the spillway and Tenile… we successfully crossed and now climbed the steps again to the top of the trail.

This is when it really got tough for me, I kept moving, but lots of walking and running and walking… once I finally caught back up with Tenile, we missed a pink flag marking the course, oops! There were sections the course could have been marked better. From that point on, it was panic if we hadn’t seen a pink flag in a while.

We kept going back and forth, and finally I turned on my music around mile 25, it was the boost I needed. It was also hot now.

Coming out of the woods, I was back running with Tenile again to do the final 3-4 miles on the highway. Just before getting to that road, we saw Josh! He has some Gatorade and encouraging words…

We were back to the highway, the sun was blazing, there was no shade, and it was windy. We stuck together for a while, running from mail box to mail box, then walking to the next mail box.

Tenile’s husband was then dropped off, so I kept going, and she chatted with her husband, as he ran in with her.

This stretch of the highway was tough!!! I kept rolling though, along with the hills…and I felt Solon kept getting farther away. Then finally, the last turn into the finish.

I could see the finish line! Then out of his car, from the parking lot, it was our friend Joel. I was surprised, hey Joel! What the heck? He was on his way back from the QC and on his way home, so stopped by, and as luck would have it, it was the same time I was finishing.

I used the last spurt of energy, and I finished around 7:15. Whew! So close to that PR, but the hot conditions did me in. I really wanted someone to take be back to the spillway, to just sit in it.


Josh was there with a cup of ice for the Gatorade. There were also many others still laying around enjoying the day and cheering on finishers.

I used the bathroom and then grazed the potluck selection. There were a lot of cookies and chips. I grabbed a scotcheroo and went to talk with Josh and Joel. I noticed I was very sunburned.

I managed to drink the Gatorade and decided I was hungry, so I went back in and got a plate of cheesy Doritos a popsicle, and more scotcheroos, I wasn’t sure what I was hungry for but this was going to do.


I joined back with the guys and we waited for more finishers to come in. The course was open for 8 hours (even though the timing company stayed there for the last person to finish – 9 and half hours.) We also chatted with the others and learned the winner of the 50k had a finishing time of 3:21, DAMN! All I could think was, at least I wasn’t lapped, lol.


There was no beer here, but as luck would have it, Big Grove Brewery was just around the corner. I convinced the guys that we should go get one. We said our goodbyes, thanked everyone as volunteers were still milling about, and were on our way.

I enjoyed a beer and tried to eat some more food, but I was now at the point were nothing sounded too great. I tried to eat some fries, but they were not hitting the spot, however I ate a salad with salt that was good. I ended up taking my tater tot casserole to go.

We said goodbye to Joel, and Josh and I were on our way back home, a whole 20 minute drive.

Overall: This race is great! I mean with all races there can be some tweaks made here and there, but the price is right, course is challenging, people are top notch! I hope to register before the cutoff next year.


This recap took forever, check out my official review on too … but up next Easter Egg Scramble, Illinois Marathon & 5k, Madison 10k, Grandma’s Marathon.





Amana 2017

The Amana Freezer 5k – 2017 Edition

This is my favorite winter race in eastern Iowa. You may have caught my previous posts about this, even calling it “January’s Hidden Gem.” Well 2017 didn’t disappoint.

In addition to the meat swag bag and the hospitality of Amana, IA, what makes this race so great is that the local running community comes out of winter hibernation.

So, it was a foggy and unseasonably warm day, temps over 40 degrees. This was a nice change from the freezing temps I have run this race in before.

Since I haven’t picked a training plan for my upcoming marathons – the IL Marathon and Grandma’s… I should probably do that….I didn’t have any goals, or a set amount of miles to run that day. After I arrived around 8:30 to pick up my packet and meat bag, I set out to run some pre-race miles, that ended up totaling 4 miles.

Gear: Sparkle Athletic skirt, Corridor Running hat, Brooks Ghost 8, Aftershokz, SpiBelt, Moving Comfort pullover, Adidas short, Procompression socks, Garmin Fenix 3.

I attached my bib to my belt, and the timing chip to my shoe and made my way to the starting line. This is where I saw running friend, Joel.  We chatted and then everyone was moving forward…ha we weren’t paying attention and someone jingled some bells and the race started.

A refresher on the course, it’s an out and back on the paved road, you run out to East Amana, circle around and come back to Amana. There is a hill when you get to East Amana, but nothing steep. The road is open to traffic, but the locals don’t seem to mind. The most scenic thing on the course is the occasional beer can in the ditch or the cow pasture. Hey, this is Iowa 🙂

I had an ok race for already logging 4 miles. My 5k goal is always sub-30 and according to my Garmin I finished in 28:05. I felt like I pushed my best, even though each mile split was slower… oh well, I had a year of distance running, it’s hard to get the speed back.

At the finish line, I saw a lot of friends from the 100 mile group and Corridor Running. I felt like a social butterfly. One of my favorite things about running is meeting the people.

The crowd moved towards the post race food and awards in the building where packet pick up took place. Usually it’s jammed packed, but since the weather was so nice, there was room to breathe.

There is always a great post race food spread, really quite a lot for a 5k. Clementines, bagels, bananas, fruit pizza, Fig Newtons, and cookies. Then there was bottled water and hot chocolate.

I chatted with more friends, including a reader of the blog, Hi Rosemary!! That was a nice surprise…as we chatted I chuckled as the lady tried to start the race awards. Every year it’s the same old problem, she has this microphone, but you still can’t hear her, and then she gets mad…I am still laughing. Someone eventually get her a bull horn, which you really can’t hear either as everyone is chatting.

We all stood around listening to the awards, then it was time for the raffle. I remember the year Laura won the bird seed and she didn’t want it… ha! I always am happy to win anything….and this year was my year, I won a bottle of wine, 2 wine glasses, and an opener!!  Joel was standing around with us too and he won a gift certificate for a bottle of wine too.  He really doesn’t drink wine, so he thought he would trade the bird seed winner….that didn’t work when the bird seed winner took her prize and immediately headed out the door. People want that bird seed!

Once all the prizes were handed out, it was time to redeem the Millstream Beer ticket that came with registration. The Brau Haus is located just across the street, and you just walk in and choose a craft beer or soda. I happily chose the Iowa Pale Ale. As I was leaving to drink my beer outdoors, someone asked “What is most similar to Coors Light or Miller Lite?” The guy pouring the beer chuckled, and said “tap water.” I laughed too.

I met Joel back outside and he was telling me how excited he was to tour Amana, and check out all the stores. The small town takes pride in their winter festival, so it is fun to check out all the shops. I couldn’t stay though, I had to get back to Iowa City and the Iowa Woman’s Basketball game. GO HAWKS!

I will always try to run this race. First, the meat bag! Second, the town rolls out the red carpet for the weekend. Third, the local running community wakes up for the year! Oh and the price is always right, around $25 (you can even get it for less if you want no meat bag or shirt)