Half Marathon #47

Half Marathon #47

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

It’s amazing how things start to add up over time, hard to believe I have completed my 47th half marathon, my first was in September 2011. This was my 6th half marathon in Madison. Find out if I will be back…..

For my no nonsense review – check out bibrave.com

Where shall I begin… I think I will fast forward through Saturday… originally when I signed up, I was excited as it was the day after the Iowa / Wisconsin football game in Madison, I would be in town anyway…why not run a marathon? Well, you can read again about me switching races…but still Hawkeye football and running, what is better?

Well as I write this we all know that game did not turn out well for the Hawkeyes, so why should we relive it…no need….I will say I got to spend more time with new friends, and I did enjoy that.

Sunday, November 12 – RACE DAY!!

Gear: Sparkle Athletic Skirt, Bibrave long sleeve shirt, 2xu Hyoptik tights, Zensah compression socks, BUFF® ThermoNet™, Pearl Izumi gloves, Hawkeye hat, xx2i sunglasses, Aftershokz Trekz Air, Brooks Ghost 9, Garmin Forerunner 935, Road ID

I was up early for a short drive to Madtown. I was staying just south in a town with a Kwik Star – I love those stores!  So, I stopped for some coffee and a bagel. The weather was also a little crappy, the temp was near freezing and it was spitting rain. I did make it to Madison without incident, and checked the weather map, it looked like I was just out of it and the race would be dry.

Oh – I forgot to tell you all about the packet pick up and stuff – but as I said – check out my bibrave review…the blog is for the rambling. Anyway, unless you pay for race day packet pick up, you have to get your bib the days before at the Monona Terrace – it’s easy and painless…and I did that before the game.

Ok, back to race day – One of my favorite things about this event, it’s on a Sunday, so all the on street parking just blocks away from the start / finish is FREE. I pulled in around 6 am for the 7:10 a start, and found a parking spot 2 blocks away.

I had time to use one of the many port-o-potties and get back to my car and sit and stay warm and relax. No standing in a corral for an hour before you start, no wondering where you need to be… just sitting and scrolling social media.

With about 15 minutes to go, I left my car and walked to the starting line. I could hear the National Anthem in the distance, so I stopped walking and listened. I arrived to the starting line to hear them announce the wheeler start at 6:55 am, then it was the full marathon start at 7:00am. I looked for my friend Dan, and kept an eye out for Steena, but didn’t see either.

After a selfie or 2, I found myself lining up into the backfed corral. These are kind of annoying, if you are fast, it’s hard to get to the front. Anymore, I just get in the corral and move forward…I try not to worry. There were pacers with signs you could stand near too.

There was a wheeler start for the half marathon, then it was time for me to start. I have never run this course in Madison before…. well as a half marathon. The course is the second half of the full marathon, which I ran last year.

There was some construction in the first mile or so of the race, so the streets we were running on were quite narrow, and at one point it was sooo narrow that we all just stopped… I can remember the collective sigh I heard from everyone at this moment… (thanks to my Aftershokz Trekz Air) the sigh was like something you hear from a crowd at a sporting event. However, after this point… the course widened again and we finally started to thin a little. Most of the participants must have been running the half marathon.

The first 5 ish miles were on some boring roads, passing businesses and gas stations. In all the races I’ve run in Madison, this course is my least favorite. We finally got closer to the lake and there were views of that.

There were parts through residential neighborhoods and a short out and back section. Each mile was marked with a sign, and I didn’t notice any timing mats. *The RaceJoy app was the tracking app suggested by the race, which is based on the participant using their phone GPS on course. This just burns my battery, so I do not use it. I should have set it up though as I think there is a way around it – really I should just look into it, lol

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Around mile 8 was a HUGE hill with a cool look over the lake… I actually checked my heart rate at the top – as a Bibrave Pro I have been testing a Garmin Forerunner 935 with the wrist HR monitor, and I noticed it was only about 173 at the top of the hill, so I happened to keep pushing the pace into the finish line.

On course there were many aid stations. At first I was confused as water was first, then Gatorade, but that was followed with water again. Also as the stops went on, the mixing of cups happened – water wasn’t always in the white cup – but the volunteers shouted what they had to offer. There were also a couple of gel stops too.

There were also a lot of law enforcement volunteers along the way. There were a lot of busy intersections. I made sure to thank them when I could. Near the finish is a hill (of course – it wouldn’t be Madison without hills) I said thank you to an officer and he made some remark instead- something to the effect of keep going or don’t give up, like your Hawkeyes yesterday.  UGH this did not encourage me at all, in fact I was mad!  I am fine if a friend lays down the smack talk, but I didn’t know this person. He should have also just been making sure runners are safe, and given the time, clap or say good job. I compare this to “good job but the things you like suck!”  Anyway, I didn’t let this cloud my thoughts on the overall event…just do your job.

I came into the finish as the announcer said my name. My Garmin had a time near 2:15 for 13.3 ish miles. I am not made about the distance… I understand that GPS gets off and I probably didn’t run the tangents.

I jumped and the photographer captured it!! Oh and the pictures were posted that night and sent to me via email for a FREE download!!

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After I crossed that finish line a volunteer placed a medal around my neck and a bottle of water was made available to me. Then I waited in line for a photo with the back drop.

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After that, a kid ran out of nowhere and placed a mylar blanket on my like a cape! I wasn’t super cold, but was grateful and took it with me as I grabbed a couple of orange slices. There were some halved bananas too. The next stop was the choice of a bagged Panera lunch – turkey, ham or veggie. I chose the turkey one and made my way to my car.

On the way I passed by a results tent, I could have had my time printed out, but passed. I could have also purchased some race merchandise and turned in the tag on my bib for a free Michelob Ultra. *I am not sure it’s necessary to mention this again… but come on, it’s Wisconsin, how about a craft beer? LOL

Alright…I made it back to my car and did a quick change in the back seat. Pro tip – get the sweaty layer of clothing off when it’s cold outside. Once that wet layer is gone, add some warm dry layers. (you can thank me later.)

With warm dry clothes and a big fluffy coat, I was headed back to the finish line to cheer on the runners. I did stop for a peppermint mocha on the way since I passed on the beer.

I made it to the finish line to see Dan finish his 32nd marathon! Then Joanne came in to finish the half. WAHOO!! Congrats!!!

I needed to get on my way, as I was headed to a men’s basketball game in Iowa City. I did meet up with Dan and then Joanne, used one of the 230948209347 port-o-potties and was on the road.

Ok…so I made it as far as the grocery store…I wasn’t leaving without beer and cheese curds.

I made it to the basketball game, but I was late…

I enjoy running in Madison, but I am not sure if I will be back when the Hawkeyes are in town. Also even though this is not my favorite course, it’s nice to have longer distance races late in the year.

I received an email after the event that there will be 4 medals that fit together to form one big piece with a center piece, looks like I will be back!

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Run Madtown 10k Review

Run Madtown 10k Review

“Disclaimer: I received entry into the Run Madtown Twilight 10k 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!”

The 2017 event took place on Saturday, May 27th at 8:10 pm in Madison, WI. It was overcast and around 65 degrees, it was humid. The 10k started, 10 minutes after the 5k.

Read about my road trip to get there.

The 2 night races are part of a weekend of events which also includes a half marathon on Sunday. If you do the 10k and the half marathon you will get an additional medal, and can say “I Conquered the Capitol.” I was fortunate to do that challenge last year, and top it off with the fall marathon, for a huge medal haul. – Ok, enough of that, back to the 10k…

Gear: Sparkle Athletic stars skirt, BR tank, Adidas boy shorts, B1G hat, Spibelt, Gamin Fenix, Adidas Ultra Boost X, Road ID, Zensah USA socks, Buff

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Registration for this race was available online, but it closed May 24th. There was a chance to register at the expo. I honestly can’t remember how much this race costs, looking at my review last year, it topped around $60.

The expo was at the Monona Terrace Community Center. It was open Friday evening and Saturday until 5pm, before the race. If you were not able to make it, it was easy to make arrangements for someone else to pick it up for you. Parking was available in the attached ramp for a fee, or in downtown at a meter – with a short walk.


The expo wasn’t huge, but had everything you might need. The bib pickup was in the back, and you had to show an ID and give your bib number, which was sent in an email the week prior. There was a station set up to check if your timing chip was active. Many photo opportunities, including a banner with your name on it. There was race merchandise, a running store and area vendors. There were water stations set up in the corners to keep hydrated.


The expo closed 3 hours before race start. Since the race starts and finishes at the State Capital there are many things to do & places to go, or you could just take a nap on the lawn of the Capital.

After an afternoon at a nearby brewery, I came back to downtown and was able to find on street parking, which was now free as it was after 6pm. I had to find the starting line, it was on a street alongside the Capital, but which one? There was also some construction, so it didn’t start where it did last year.

Once I easily located the start, which I arrived too early, I saw Dan from Iowa City, so we chatted a while, and then I met up with fellow Bibrave Pro Lisa, who was also running the 10k.


We all paused for the recording of the National Anthem. (It sounded like the Jordin Sparks version at the Super Bowl.) We then watched the wheelers start the 5k, and then the 5k runners follow. It was then time to get into the corral – which was just one big corral, and for the most part people self- seeded.

Going into this race, I thought I would have a decent time. I did my best to prepare for an 8:10 pm start. I would also like to note I was wearing the Adidas Ultra Boost X shoes, I am testing for Bibrave – I have run up to 7 miles in them, so thought this would be a good race test. (Foreshadowing – I’ll have a review coming, but I have to keep them tied loose, for the best fit for me.)

The course is a nice tour of Madison, it’s short, but it takes you by many things including Camp Randall and the Kohl Center. It is on all paved surfaces. This year, as I mentioned there was construction, so there were areas you needed to watch out for potholes or road drop offs.

It should also be said, Madison is not flat, and every race I have ran, always includes Observatory hill. However, once you are at the top you are rewarded with a really cool view of the lake.

There were a few spectators out on the course, but the volunteers where the ones that were energetically cheering everyone on. Speaking of the volunteers, they were at every intersection, making sure everyone went the right way.

There were 3 aid stations, and at least one had lemon-lime Gatorade (2nd – after the water.) Liquids were all served in paper cups.

Now, I previously wrote a post about how the course was lit well enough in the past, but I noticed the bike path we ran on to be a tad dark this year. It was also open to other users, including bikers, one of which almost ran over me.

Each mile was marked with a sign, and there was a timing mat at the half way point, with a clock. The timing tag was located on the back of the bib.


There was also an app called RaceJoy available for spectators to track you, My phone battery was already at 34% at the start of the race, so I put it on airplane mode while I ran. The RaceJoy app needed you to open it while you ran. This app also allowed spectators to send you cheers.

Now that I have mentioned all the bells and whistles of the course. How did I do? Well, I was having a good time tackling the hills, and pushing my pace, being familiar with Madison also helped. However, since I keep my shoes – double knotted – tied loosely, I just kept felt like they were slipping off my feet. At mile 3, my double knotted shoe came untied. Have you ever had to stop, bend over, tie your shoe, then continue racing? UGH, huge momentum crasher.

I tried to keep pushing the last half, but I felt the humidity, just couldn’t get back into it. Then there was the above mentioned bike path incident. I could hear this noise behind me, and by the time I looked back, this dude was off on the side passing me. Oh well, before soon, I was back at the finish at the Capital.


When I came across the finish line, and announcer said my name, a volunteer placed a medal around my neck, and another volunteer handed me a bottle of water. There was a backdrop set up for taking pictures. The race provides FREE pictures, which were posted online in 2 days. After a photo opp, there was Rocky Rococco’s pizza. Sorry, but the last thing I want to eat after running is a greasy slice of pizza, there were no other food options…a banana would have been great!


I looked at my watch, and I finished with a time near 1:01, which is alright, not bad.

After the long walk of the finishers chute, you could leave, or turn the corner into the post race “party” area. There was a tent set up to get your results printed, and a place to buy some race branded merchandise, then there was the beer tent, where you could grab your FREE Michelob Ultra. I think you have heard my thoughts on this… it’s the land of 23948092384 craft breweries, I passed on the Mich Ultra.


I found Lisa after the race, we chatted and took a picture or two, and just like that it was after 9:30 pm. This old lady was going to turn into a pumpkin. We departed ways and I was back on the road to Iowa.


Overall, Madison is a great place to run. While this race is shorter, it offers a great tour. The expo is easy to get to, the price is competitive and the volunteers are great. I hope in the future to see a different post race food & beer option – which, really, is just me being picky.

Did you run this race? Tell everyone what you thought with a review at bibrave.com

Watch out Madison, I am making a return to the Madison Mini!

Racin & Road Trippin

How to plan your next race road trip

“Disclaimer: I received entry into the Run Madtown Twilight 10k 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!”

If you caught my post about preparing for a night race, you know I was headed to Madison, WI for a 10k that started at 8pm. Also if you are familiar with my blog, you know I drive to all the races. While this is a shorter road trip, I am going to highlight the essentials that made my trip to Madison great!

I have to state the obvious – make sure your car is ready for the task. Always check the tires, and make sure you’re current with your oil status an fluids, then fill it full of gas and get ready for adventure.

Where are you going? The first thing in planning your road trip is to locate the exact address and the time you need to be there. This way you can count backwards and plan from there. We needed to be to the race expo at the Monona Terrace before 5pm, and then to the race start at 8pm. This left all day Saturday for planning shenanigans, with a 3 hour drive both ways.


Grab your friends. While solo road trips can be just as fun… bringing along a friend can be even more fun! I picked up my road trip buddy, around 8 am, Saturday morning. We were up for anything. This also allows for you to switch drivers, for when you are tired or need to tweet your happenings. *Spoiler alert, driving home after an 8pm race, it was nice to have 2 drivers.

Snacks. You never know when runger will strike, it’s best to be prepared. The snacks at a convenience store are over priced and are few and far between, and does anyone really want to eat something from a rest stop vending machine? Bringing along what you like is also healthier and wont jeopardize your race. We had packed some waters, granola bars and bananas. Ok – fine we stopped and I purchased some gum.

Music / podcasts. Sitting in silence can be refreshing, but when the open road is calling, you need something to keep your mind off the boredom of the pavement. Some suggestions: bring along your favorite mixed tape, a CD, create an new playlist on your device, XM radio, download a podcast, grab an audiobook. While we were occupied with chatting most of the time, we did rock out to some tunes on the XM radio as well as catch up on the Forenic Files. XM plays old episodes of the show on Headline News, nothing more creepier than driving through the night listening to murder mysteries.

Places to stop. It is important to know where you need to end up, but it’s also important to know what is on your route. Will there be a museum? A store? A Brewery? A tattoo parlor? Since we had planned ahead and knew when we needed to be where, we had stopped at the Madison Farmers Market and made a trip to New Glarus Brewery. There are sooo many things to see and do, why not put them on your to do list?


Be spontaneous. Sometimes the most fun is when you haven’t planned it. Allow yourself to try something new, or take the road less traveled… a little cliche? I don’t care, it’s so true…life is very short, enjoy it! We made sure to add some spontaneity to our trip, we saw a sign on the road for some historical site – Pendarvis, so we just pulled off the exit and followed the signs through town. It really wasn’t anything, I mean I wouldn’t even stop to buy a post card…but it was fun and led us to make a stop at Crazy Franks consignment store, which led us to a bag of 25 cent popcorn.


We also enjoyed another spontaneous adventure that afternoon. Our trip to the New Glarus Brewery led us to Belleville, WI. At the brewery they gave us coupons for a free draught at a local establishment. We randomly picked a place, and “bellied up to the bar.” As we were sitting there, we met a guy who travels to Iowa City a lot.  


I’ll get to the actual details of the race in my next post, but maybe this will give you some more insight as to why I like to travel, by car to all the races. Don’t let a few miles discourage you to travel to your next race. With a little prep and some spontaneity you can have an excellent road trip.

So what’s next for me? Well I will be trekking back to Grandma’s Marathon in Duluth, MN.

Guest blog – Madison Mini 5k

My friend Tereasa ran the Madison Mini 5k, here is her race recap: The 5k started at the finish line for both the 5k and Mini. We immediately headed towards the dirt trail that runs along Lake Mendota. There was a brief bottle neck less than 5 minutes after the start as the course veered behind a building which had an odd overhang. Participants seemed to be patient and the area cleared with in 20-30 seconds. As I rounded the building there was an elderly couple who had seemingly been walking the trail completely unaware a 5k was headed their way. They stood off to the side seemingly waiting for unending the stream of runners/walkers to pass. The trail opened up nicely and it was beautiful being next to the lake. The first water station came about a mile in...several volunteers stood ready on both sides of the trail which was now cement. As they passed water they were encouraging and full of smiles. The course then made a turn off the lake trail back onto the UW campus. There was a live band just starting to play and we approached the second water station. Again there were many volunteers on both sides with kind words and smiles, this was approximately mile 2, at this station there was also cups of gatorade available. To this point of the 5k course the Mini participants would be running towards the end of their 13.1. The course than turned on to Observatory Drive...a street the Mini runner would not visit and they should be thankful for. 🙂 Turning onto this street to tackle the final mile we were going directly into the sun, much of this stretch you could have some shade by staying near the curb. As I looked ahead I could see the something...oh no ...a hill. I prepared myself mentally to attack as I my legs knew they were nearing the finish. A steady incline as I approached the top I began to look forward to the downhill. But alas it was small and there ahead of me was an even steeper incline and finally I saw spectators, though they appeared to have cheered on their family or friend with signs and a cowbell they continued to encourage those still coming. The course leveled out briefly and finally like a glowing star was the downhill.....ahhhhh......glory. Not only was this a graded downhill it also was a 2 ess curve which it felt you did not remain in control one could easily splat. As you came to the bottom of the hill you quickly rounded a corner which led you directly into the finish line. There you were met by music, the UW cheerleaders and Bucky (no high five by this Hawkeye fan...lol) and the race mascot. Upon crossing the finish you received a medal placed on by a volunteer, with water and bananas quickly next. From the finish line area the que continued with more water, milk, gatorade, 2 types of popcorn and granola bars. Plenty of options but sadly no popsicles...my favorite! Next is was photo options in oversized patio chairs or Madison mini backdrop. The area then opened to the lake...absolutely beautiful setting. This being only my 3rd race event I would definitely return. Registration was reasonably priced at $25, loads of volunteers to ensure who got where and what you needed and many, many, many kind people and words of encouragement. Kudos Madison Mini 5k!!!!

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Madison Mini – 13.1

This re-cap may run a bit long, but I will do my best to keep most details in chronological order & to the point, enjoy!

Madison Mini

Pre-Race: Registration was available online and at the expo.  It was a pricier race at around $75-$100 depending when you registered. Received many emails prior to the race. Expo was held at the Union near Camp Randall. Parking in the ramp was a nightmare, so found an on street spot. Expo was nice, merchandise to buy, sponsors, signs to make. Packet pick-up was easy, just show an ID & grab your stuff, could pick up another’s bib number with their ID. Entrance guaranteed you a tech tee, also chance to get free socks. No race day registration or packet pick-up.

Race Day: Saturday August 17, 2013. Sunny, cool, perfect, 60 ish degrees. No humidity. 7:00 am start in corrals. National Anthem sung live about 5-10 minutes before start. Music pumping over speakers. Started on time.

Course: Passing the state Capitol, the University of Wisconsin campus, Lake Menona & Lake Mendota; the race snaked through Madison on paved streets, asphalt and dusty trails. No major cracks or potholes. ( I thought the course was relatively flat, apparently I have legs of steel as others thought this was a hilly course) Chip on back of bib.  Spectators were present in populated areas, always cheering. Water & Gatorade stops,  each in different color paper cups. No food on the course.  Miles were clearly marked with stands holding a clock & flags. Live music or loud music could be heard too. Finish line clearly marked.

Post Race: Medals hung around your neck by volunteers, at the same time a bottle of water & a banana were handed to you. More food available by choice, granola bar, fruit & nut bar, white popcorn, cheese popcorn, cookies, & chocolate milk, too much to carry.  Photos on a terrace chair & in front of finishers back drop. Drink ticket provided on bib for a draft beer from a local brewery or a bottle of Gatorade. Finisher’s were able to gather at the terrance on Lake Mendota. More food & drink available for purchase.

Overall: This is a great race, no headaches.  Only downfall is the price. I would definitely run this again, and I would recommend you add it to your must run list.

Personal: I was joined at this race with my husband, and my friend Tereasa ran the 5k.  I was also able to meet up with some #runchat folks: @runbangrun @rasberirunner @librarian262 @aHappyPace & @beccah732. The after party by the lake was a great way to end the run.

I was disappointed with my corral placement, but it forced me to stay slow at the start.  I caught up with the 2:10 pacer & stayed close until about the 8 mile mark when I left them in the dust.  I set another PR this year. I cut my half time by 5 minutes! I felt great, it was just my day to have a good race. This was my 9th half.

Angie 2:06:09 ( someday I will break 2 hours!)

Check out #runchat-er  @librarian262 Amy’s recap

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