Half Marathon #44 – New Bo

New Bo Run – Half Marathon #44 Recap


The New Bo Run was held on Sunday, September 3 in the New Bohemia area of Cedar Rapids. There is a 10k and a half marathon that are run at the same time. It was sunny, 60 ish degrees and super humid.

I am no stranger to this event, I have run the half marathon in the past. I am also a board member of the running club, Corridor Running, that helps organize the event. That being said, I did pay for my entry – if there are any questions to my thoughts. As part of the club, I help with their social media accounts, and we ran the course a week before the race.

Josh was running this year too, so we woke up early, had the usual toast with peanut butter and all the coffee, then made the 40 ish minute drive to Cedar Rapids. We were tired, but ready to run. The first Iowa football game was the day before, and the Hawks defeated Wyoming 24-3. Go Hawks!


GEAR: neon green Sparkle Athletic skirt, adidas shorts, lululemon shirt, Orange Mud hydraquiver vest pack 1, xx2i France 2 sunglasses, Aftershokz Trekz Titanium, B1G hat, Brooks Ghost 9, Garmin Fenix 3, RoadID, spibelt, Zensah socks

We were able to grab our bib and shirt before the race with no issues. It seemed many others had the same idea, there was a quick moving, short line. The club also had gear available for sale.

Josh and I needed to use the restrooms, and no matter how many port-o-potties a race brings in, it’s never enough. There were 2 banks of them, with one line for each. Now, we could also get in the debate of multiple lines or one line….. but ANYWAY… Josh and I knew there was a Casey’s (convenience store) 2 blocks away. We did a warm up to the store and passed IG friend Jaclyn on the way (she was doing the same.) Ahh, in and out in minutes, great idea Josh.


We ran back to the starting line. Which for this race is not the finish line. It starts a couple blocks away, not a big deal. Runners were starting to line up as a drone buzzed overhead.  The official race photographer roamed, as the National Anthem was sung live.

I actually stood near the start line to take a picture, then went around the starting timer mat, and hopped into the race. There were no corrals, and I didn’t hear an announcement to line up according to time. However, there were about 1000 participants, and the width of a city street, I didn’t feel too congested.


I did hop into line with social media friend Chelsea and BibRave pro Mel. Hey ladies!!! They are troopers, they had just run a half marathon the day before in Madison, WI. I, of course snapped some photos…and began my race.


Going into the race, I didn’t have a huge goal, but I was going to try and push my pace. However, the humidity was tough, and I was taking photos and posting to IG stories and the Corridor Running twitter feed as I went. YEP…that’s me.

Being familiar with the course, I didn’t expect any surprises. However, my watch beeped at mile one and I didn’t see a mile marker flag. HMMM? SO – I later learned that the mile 5 flag went missing last year at the race, and this year the mile 1 and mile 4 flag went missing. SO, if you know where these are, or know anything about this…please return them. This doesn’t help keep costs down for the race, or make our race compare with others if we have to waste time creating mile marker signs because some punk thinks it’s cool to steal. OK end rant!

I will have a “to the point” review at Bibrave.com if that is more your thing.


Ok, back to running the course. I knew there would be a couple port-o-potties near the entrance to the Prairie Park Fishery, about mile 2.5. As as noted above, there are never enough, lol. I didn’t have to use one, but there were some lines. There was also a water stop here. All the aid stations were water only stops in paper cups.


Then it was time for the 2 courses to split, the half marathon to the left and the 10k to the right. There was a sign and a guy standing there with a pool noodle directing runners.

Trotting along – there was another railroad crossing. Yep, this race has railroad tracks on the course. There are trains that will run during the event, you just need to be alert. The race does their best to work with the railroad, but it is what it is.

Just near mile 3, there is the first hill. It’s not a huge hill, but it’s a nice little climb. This takes you on the back road of the race, where there are more rolling hills. The first part of this section are a chip and seal road treatment, allowing for potholes and weird ruts from traffic, but nothing major. It eventually switches to pavement and a gravel shoulder.


There were more water stops and a few spectators out and about with some great signs. Just a nice day for a run through the back roads of Linn County.

At about the halfway point is the entrance to the Sac and Fox trail. There is a timing split mat set up here along with one port-o-potty. Also something to note is the water fountain in this parking area for the trail. The New Bo run dedicated it a few years back from race proceeds.

This trail is one of my favorite parts of the race. It’s an easy trail, really flat, gravel or packed dirt, no need for special shoes, and it’s shady. There is a water stop on the trail just after the one and only gel stop. There is no other food offered on course.


This race is pretty basic, just water and one gel stop. I knew this going in, so I had my OM pack with some orange Gatorade and a granola bar for an emergency. I am ok on some runs of half marathon with no food, and other times I need more than an electrolyte. At about mile 9 I was feeling like I needed something, so I took a bite of my granola bar.

I am not a huge watch “watcher,” meaning I rarely glance to see what pace I am going. I may check to see what mile I am at when it beeps at me. However, a race walker caught up with me, I was amazed at his form and ability to move so quick…. I also noticed that about every 10 steps he was checking his watch… I am still amazed at how he did it. (I eventually kicked it in and crossed the finish before him.)


Coming back around after mile 10, it was the part of the course that re-joins with the first few miles, so the race is an out and back with a loop in the center.

At the point, I was hot and sweaty, but I kept moving as I found my friend Monty. He is training for the Chicago marathon, and said he has since inspired his wife to run some races too. Hope he has a great training cycle, and an even better marathon.

I was approaching the last mile. I knew that there was a slight hill, more of an incline. When you run out on this part, you don’t realize you are running down hill, but you feel that climb on the way back.


I saw the club President, Mark cheering everyone on. Always nice to see friendly faces. Also, the law enforcement officials were still out protecting all the intersections, and before I could tell them thank you, they were cheering too.

I was on the home stretch to the finish line… I could hear the announcer, but he was sharing the results of the 10k, and giving out awards. I am not sure if the faster kids had their names announced as they crossed the finish line.

I crossed the finish line to see the race photographer, hopefully I was looking fly… or on fleek or whatever the kids say these days….. I was handed my handmade ceramic medal, and reusable plastic cup. I then saw Josh.

We waited by the finish line where I saw many other people – as we were waiting for more people to finish. I then had to leave as I said I would help with the apparel sales. I also wanted my post race treats.


Josh stayed at the finish to see Mel and Chelsea. I walked over to the apparel sales and was told they had things under control. So, I went to check out the post race food. No kolaches…. WHAT?!?!?!? I wasn’t that slow, I mean I did hang by the finish line a while, but what? So, did you have more than one? I did grab a veggie breakfast burrito, but it was kinda mushy from sitting in a steamer… so I did what any runner would do… I walked over to get my plastic cup filled with the Lions Bridge Brewing beer – a Workman’s Comp. There were also water coolers available to fill your cup with water too. No plastic bottles.

I finished the race around 2:12

Of course, I would run into another person I know, Matt, and we chatted for a while. Then as I was standing there, I congratulated Dan and his dog Phil as he placed in his AG, I said hi to Horacio. I also saw Lisa, she had just completed her first half marathon. Lisa was also part of a couch to 5k group I helped with a few years back, this was amazing! Congrats Lisa!

I was then getting texts from Josh… the area is not that big, but eventually he found me, as well as Chelsea and Mel, they had finished and were going to get their beers.


We all stood around and chatted some more, cuz runners like to talk about running.


However, we needed to get moving so we could get back home to let the dogs out. We made the trek back home with a pit stop at the Iowa Running Co, they had black and gold truckers for $10.

Of course, who do we see there but more runners…and Doug… one of the RD of the upcoming Pleasant Creek Trail Run…soooo I got to hear – again – why wasn’t I registered for that race. Well, here is a run down…the race is Sept 16th, which is the home football game against North Texas at 2:30. I can make one loop (15K) get to the game, and then travel to WI for the North Face Endurance Challenge half marathon on Sunday, Sept 17th. I just wasn’t sure I could make it all work, and well I am broke. ok off topic – it happens.

Ok – so I accidentally registered for the 30k PCTR… we will see if that weekend goes as planned. It really was an accident.

Back to the New Bo Half Marathon. I like this race, registration tops out around $50 ish dollars, there is an option for no shirt. The running basics are covered, and no hassles. It’s a community event as it kicks of the New Bo Arts festival too. I do wish there was real food on course or electrolytes, and kolaches for all. I will continue to run this race if it fits in my schedule.

 

 

 

 

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Springville Extreme Quarry Run

2017 Springville Extreme Quarry Run 6k

The 2017 event took place Saturday, August 12 at 8 am. The 6k run is part of Springville fun days. (This is in Springville, IA.) It was a great summer day for a race, the sun was shining and morning temps were near 60 degrees.


The weekend was full of races to choose from in my area, all shorter distances. I choose this one as I was excited to take on the challenge of running through the quarry. I also heard the RunIowa podcast with race director Joel, and it peaked my interest further.

I woke up early and had some toast, one slice with peanut butter and one slice with jelly, topped it off with the usual black coffee. I was on the road by 6:30 am for the 45 minute drive to Springville. I had never been to this town.

Gear: Orange Sparkle Athletic Skirt, adidas shorts, *last minute change to Lululemon shirt, XX2i sunglasses, Aftershokz Trekz Titanium, Garmin Fenix 3, Spibelt, Zensah pineapple socks, New Balance Shoes, Bibrave hat. *I also realized when I arrived at the race, that my outfit was supporting the school colors.


It was easy to find where the race started, even though the online registration information said “downtown.” I just kept making turns and found the downtown. I was able to find a spot to park on a side street about a block away, and of course it was free.

I walked to pick up my bib and timing chip, I also got a short sleeve race shirt. There was a discounted rate for no shirt too. Race day registration was available for around $35.

There were 2 port-o-potties set up near the packet pick up area. Previous year race shirts were also FREE for the taking. A pancake breakfast was in this area too for a small fee. People wondered about before the race start.

I ran into Joel before the race and he asked if I was going to write a review… I told him the pressure was on… lol. I also met twitter friend Amy (@amykeating05.)

this is actually a post race photo

Near 8 am, people headed for the starting mats. Then there were some announcements, but I heard none of them. The microphone was not very loud and the people were very chatty. They did quite when the National Anthem was sung.

I really didn’t have a grand plan for this event. However, since I had some background on the event, I wanted to “race” the hill. As I mentioned above, the race runs through the Wendling Quarry. This is the only time the quarry shuts down, and non employees are allowed access without a hard hat. As part of the race, you run DOWN into the quarry, through the quarry, and then through a tunnel, to turn around and run UP and out of the quarry. There is a King / Queen of the hill challenge, where timing mats are thrown down at the bottom, and the fastest person up the hill is crowned. I was going to give this a go!

This was also not my first go at the 6k distance. Way back when I ran the Drake Relays 6k, and I looked at that time to see if I could set a new PR.

With those things in mind, I didn’t push too hard until I saw the hill. The race was an out and back, and the first stretch was an uphill section. We were told to stay left of the cones that marked the course. They were easy to follow along with the arrows spray painted on the pavement or chip n seal surface.

The course flattened out, and then there was the water stop near the mile mark… which were paper cups, YAY! This is also where I got the first look into the quarry, but couldn’t really gauge the hill … so just kept motoring on. The surface also changed to dirt with gravel.

Then all of the sudden, I saw the blue timing mat on the top of the hill… and at the same time I was descending. I almost have a harder time on the downhill than the uphill, I am soo fearful of blowing out my quads…and after 3 Blue Ridge Marathons, ouch!

I wound down through the quarry and the leaders were on their way back, yet no one had started the climb. I yelled some positive words to people I passed, then it was time to run the tunnel. This is actually a natural bridge that was created to get under Hwy 151.


It was dark in the tunnel and there were blinking, lighted cones in the center. Ok, so I took my sunglasses off and I had no problems seeing. In fact, so many races through McCormick Tunnel in Chicago, and this was a breeze. Also even footing on the gravel/ dusty surface.


I looped back around and was on the way back to the finish. There were many volunteers on course in the quarry too, even though there was no confusion about where you should be running.

Then it was time to conquer the hill… so I started pushing the pace a little, and as I climbed I pushed more, then it came to the point where I had to use my arms, and I was passing people. I really felt good, until I came to the top…. I had to walk… WHEW!!! what a climb in a short amount of distance…. looking at the Strava data…


After the short walk, I stopped at the water stop and took a sip, and kept moving… It was hard to push the pace again. It was an uneventful trot into the finish line.

I finished near 34 minutes (not a PR, I shouldn’t have walked)… I got a small printout of my results; but that really wasn’t what I was concerned about, I wanted to know the hill climb times.


After some milling about and grabbing a bottle of water and granola bar, they did the awards before everyone was finished. The overall winners were announced first, and both male and female were awarded an engraved quarry rock. They were really cool!


Then it was the age group awards, and finally the King & Queen of the Hill awards. Which were a little confusing…but I did not win. I ran the hill in 1:45 and the female winner ran 1:20. DANG!

I learned that after the race there was going to be a parade. Luckily for me I had no sweaty running clothes to change into in my car.

I met up with some fellow Corridor Running Board members – Joel (oh hey the RD of this race) and Michael. We talked “shop” and then the parade started. It was a nice little parade. I love small town events!


It was then time to make the trek back to Iowa City. I did so hitting up the bulletin boards at the Casey’s Convenience Stores with some New Bo Run race flyers. (Hey, you want a flyer to post? Or hey sign up for the race!)


After a stop in Mt. Vernon, I came upon a tractor cade or something. You know old tractors that are following each other… yeah they went on and on and on forever on the side of the road. Seriously, if you never leave your house, you miss so much.


I am getting sidetracked…. To bring it back around, I would recommend this race to everyone. With so many 5ks it’s nice to have something a little different.

 

Finish one the 50?

“Disclaimer: I received a free entry to the Soldier Field 10 mile race 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!

Bibrave reviews of the Soldier Field 10

The 2016 race took place on Saturday May 28. The race started at 7 am. It was sunny and humid, starting in the 70’s – highs of 80 for the day.

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Ram Racing took over the event for 2016

This was the second year I would be running the event.

GEAR – Bibrave shirt, Bibrave Technical hat, UV Full Buff, Blue Sparkle Athletic skirt, USA procompression socks, Garmin Fenix 3, Road ID, Moving Comfort Bra, 2 Toms, Adidas Shorts, Brooks ghost 8, Disney race belt, Aftershockz Trek Titanium

Registration: Available online, super early pricing starting around $50, increasing to $90 near race day. You could also register at various packet pick up locations, until race was sold out.   Included with registration was an Under Armor, gender specific tech tee, bib with timing chip, post race tailgate party with a beer.

The shirts were nice, but I thought a bit roomy.

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Expo / Packet Pickup: No traditional expo. Many packet pick up times. A week before the race pickups were held at Fleet Feet stores in the suburbs. The week of the race you could pick up your stuff starting on Tuesday, daily through Friday at the Fleet Feet in Old Town.  A friend could also grab your things if they had the confirmation email. No race day packet pickup.

Josh (who was running this with me) and I had our packets mailed to us for a $15 fee. This was a lot easier for us who do not live near the city. 

Pre-race: As the race is centered around Soldier Field, you get all the amenities that come with the location. Gear check was inside the south end of Soldier Field, clear bags were provided when you picked up your packet. The bathroom facilities were also open, in addition to many port-o-potties lined up outside. Parking was free in the stadium too, and the nearby lot (however it was advised to arrive early)

The official race start is at 7 am, but many 3 waves with lots of corrals. The pre-race time can really stretch out. However the entrance to the corrals is near the post race tailgate area, making it easy to meet up with friends and hang out before you need to head to the corrals. The waves closed at a certain time, but you could start at a later corral.

The pre race announcements were over a loud speaker that could be heard throughout the area. A version of taps was played followed by the National Anthem.

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Josh and I stayed downtown Chicago, and just ubered to the stadium. We met up with some Chicago area running friends & Bibrave pals, then proceeded to our corrals. I did not see anyone monitoring the bibs to gain entrance to the corrals. 

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The pre-race announcements are very moving for this race. Lots of nice things said and reasons to remember the fallen. Great tribute to the military.

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Course / Race: The race was on the streets (south Lake Shore Drive) and lake front path, heading south, then turning back around into the city.

  • Flat, some bridges, but nothing steep
  • paved, potholes
  • section through McCormick place, dark and lots of potholes, had to be alert
  • crowded start, even though started on street, didn’t thin out til Lake Shore Dr
  • miles marked with signs and a time clock
  • Hydration stations with Nuun and water, in paper cups
  • no food or gel on course
  • street portions were closed to traffic, lake from path had recreational use (bikes, walkers, runners)
  • lake front path had trail / gravel to run on in sections
  • Free race photos
  • Not many spectators, but TNT coaches were along the course
  • Lots of volunteers
  • course well marked, even the turn around on the grass.
  • Finish on the 50 yard line of Soldier Field

This year they switched to Nuun hydration, I personally don’t care for it, but it’s not as mainstream, so at the first water stop I heard volunteers yelling “Gatorade” -I just shook my head…there were also some stations where the Nuun and water were in different cups, but some in the same cups.

I will never be a fan of the McCormick Tunnel, and with it being the main artery to many races in Chicago, I have yet to figure out why they can’t add more lights, it’s too dark and not safe. At least the potholes, for the most part were filled in. I just need to come to terms that this tunnel will always suck.

My Race: I just wanted to finish, I was coming off a crazy weekend of running for the United Relay, and this was going to be my first race of the weekend. Josh and I were headed to Madison, WI for a 10k that night and a half the next day. It was also warm and humid.  I didn’t push it, but kept a nice steady pace, finished in a time of 1:41:55. I wish I had brought some Gatorade along, as I was starting to get a headache after this race.

Post Race / Finish: The big draw for this race is running into the bellows of Soldier Field, then crossing the north end zone to finish on the 50 yard line. This year Beyonce was in town, and had a concert the Friday night before the race, and then again Saturday night. The concert staging was set up, and the entire field was covered with concert protection.

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Instead of running into the north end of the Stadium, to then cross the 50 yard line, once you entered the stadium this year, you ran alongside the field under the stands, then entered the field to zig zag to the finish, which you would assume was on the 50 yard line.

When you cross the finish, a member of the military places a medal around your neck.

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The finisher’s chute and overall area is in the south end zone, while it’s encouraged you move along to the tailgate party, it is ok to snap a few photos as you collect a bottle of water.  Most spectators of the race can observe the finish in the stands.

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Once you proceed off off the field and through a tunnel, you are given the option to chose a cup of Nuun.  There is no re-entry into the stadium, must decide if you want to watch finishers or go to post race party. There were service members available for a photo. Also on the way out was gear check, to pick up your bags.

Once outside the stadium, finishers were handed a plastic bag, pre-filled with chips, a mini Clif bar and a banana, easy to carry all the things. Volunteers were also handing out a cold wet towel. There were a few vendors with samples on the walk to the tailgate party, and the BTN was there with a slip N slide.

I was not impressed with the finish this year, it seemed like we were running forever inside Soldier Field, and once we were on the field, there was no field, all concert stage, and you were not headed towards the jumbo tron, until you crossed the actual finish line. Hopefully next year the place wont be over booked.

Josh found me at the finish line, and because it was hot, made sure to grab some bottled water. We took a few pictures and exited the field We were excited to get the post race bag, but were disappointed when it lacked in items and it wasn’t re-usable.

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Tailgate Party: The party had a lot to offer, there was a live band. Clif bar, picture opportunities, post race massage, spin to win, skin cancer screenings. You could also redeem your beer ticket on your bib for a 312 in a can. There were no chairs, but you could sit in the grass, shade was available.

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Josh and I found fellow Pro Kim and Hawkeye fan Jake, as we waited for Heather and Marge to finish. It was nice to listen to the band. I really wish races had actual places to sit afterwards, but we found shade, so that was good.

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Overall: The price is a bit steep, but a flat course and scenes along the lake make it a fun race to start summer. Finishing on the 50 yard line of Solider Field is cool, but only if nothing else is going on inside.

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Chicagoland Spring Marathon

It was time to conquer Marathon #5 for the “Marathon a Month” Challenge I have created for myself.  The Chicagoland Spring Marathon!

Yes, 2 weeks after my last race…but this one was relatively close to home, and fit best into my schedule.

Josh, was along too, he was running the half. Also since we were near Chicago, I got to say – hey – to one of my #brf ‘s Heather. (thanks for takin the pic Josh or was it Dan?)

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The 2016 event took place on Sunday May 15 in Schaumberg, IL. It was sunny and cool, about 50 degrees, and the wind picked up through the day. Race started at 7:05

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Registration: Online through the website, started near $50 ish increased to race day pricing of $95. Included was a unisex tech 1/4 zip pullover, you had the choice of color; timing chip on personalized bib.

I feel when I registered, I only paid around $50-$60 dollars, which is a great price for a full marathon.

Expo/ Packet Pickup: No true expo, packet pick up was held in Hoffman Estates at a sporting good store. You could also get your packet before the race at the start. Someone else could get your packet with a signed wavier. Packet mailing was available through online registration for an additional fee.

Josh and I got our packets mailed to us. It cost $15 each, and they arrived the week before the race. The race sent an email that it was on the way. It included our pullovers, bibs and a re-usable bag.

Pre race: The race started near an office building. There was parking near the race start for free, but needed to be aware which lot you were in, as you couldn’t leave them as some were on the race course. Lots of port-o-potties were lined up, there was last minute packet pick up. The music was pumping on the loud speaker, however no speakers in the slower corrals. Participants to line up according to pace, flags marked this. There were pacers, but only up to 4:50. No National Anthem.

We stayed a hotel within a half mile of the starting line, so we just walked to the start. However the hotel was stringent on their check out times, noon….(thankfully I was able to use their pool shower when done.)

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Josh and I run different paces, so he lined up near the front, being in the back I was worried I was missing an important announcement. I was also planning to run slower than the last pacer, and the course was open for 6 hours…so I just started in the back.

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Something new I think I will add to my recaps, the gear I had with me, just to help me remember what works. I had my Orange Mud Hydraquiver Vest pack 1, water, pretzels, fruit snacks, xx2i Hawaii1 sunglasses, Survivor Buff, B1G hat, BR short sleeve shirt, Sparkle Athletic donut skirt, Adidas 7″ shorts, Pro Compression socks, Brooks Ghost 8, and a Moving Comfort bra.

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Race/ Course: The majority of the course takes part in the Busse Woods Forrest Preserve.
-Terrain – paved roads or paved bike trail. The trail in Busse Woods is narrow
-Scenery – once in the woods, there are trees, elk, water, but start/finish have not much too see unless you are into things such as the WGN radio transmitter
-elevation – FLAT!!! there are some bridges, but no steep climbs
-spectators – few and far between, unless you have family out to cheer you on
-Aid Stations – water and orange (self mix) Gatorade in the same white paper cups- no food, some gels
-Volunteers – lots on the course, including many police officers at non crucial intersections on the woods
– photographers – pictures for purchase or free to download
-mile markers – each mile marked with a yard sign
– bathrooms on course – including park bathrooms
– out and back sections – great to cheer on others, easy to cheat

My race: I had a nice time, with a few hiccups along the way. I didn’t have a huge goal, but to finish and with the cool temps that wasn’t going to be a problem. While I was happy with my 5:15 finish time, I could have done better.  One hiccup was even though the paved trail in the woods was scenic, it was also not closed, it’s a forest preserve, and public so there is some strange permit thing. This meant at mile 17, I encountered a 5k, and I hit just as the walkers with strollers were taking over the entire path. I spent mile 17 & 18 navigating through this, and mostly running in the grass mush on the side, I might have wasted a lot of energy on this. Also I like orange Gatorade, but I had to ask via email to find this out as the website said “sports drink” was on course. The race was no frills, and maybe I raced that way, lol.

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Finish/ Post race: Before you cross the finish line a live band is playing some rock cover tunes to greet you, then you run under the arch and cross the timing mat. A volunteer hands you a medal ( beige ribbon, silver triangle shape) and a bottle of water. Then you turn back around for the post race area. Food included – bananas, granola bars, peanuts and cookies. Cups of orange Gatorade and bottled water. There was a backdrop set up to take photos and you could listen to the band.

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I finished near the back of the pack and there was still enough food for all, even saw non runners getting food. The live band made the quiet finish party – a party. The medal wasn’t really flashy, the shape itself was about the only exciting thing.

Overall: It’s a nice race, and running in the woods is a nice treat from the bustle of the Lake Front Path and McCormick Tunnel. All the volunteers were friendly. If you sign up early the price is right, and I do like the pullover.

Did you run this race? Put your thoughts on bibrave.com

Hot Chocolate 15k Chicago – Recap

“Disclaimer: I received entry into the Hot Chocolate 15k 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 Hot Chocolate 5k and 15k was held in downtown Chicago, on Sunday, November 8, 2015. 7:00 am. Cool, 40 degrees, sunny.

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Registration: This was available online. It started at $54 and increased to $79 until registration closes. The race is capped, so you might not have been able to register at packet pick up. Included with registration, bib with your name, zip up gender specific sweatshirt (embroidered if registered early), bib chip timing, drawstring bag, post race chocolate goodies, finisher’s medal. If you registered with a promo code you would have received a multi functional head wrap. There was also a 5k and a separate walk, at different costs.

A few days before the event there were only 225 spots left, and when we made the packet pickup on Saturday, it was sold out, but you could register for a charity spot.

Packet Pick-up / Expo: There were multiple opportunities to pick up your packet. Starting Thrusday at the Hyatt Regency on Wacker and going through Saturday. If you were unable to make these dates you could have arranged to have your stuff mailed to you, but had to do so before a certain date at there was a fee. There was no race day packet pick up.

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The expo had a lot going on. It was in the lower level of the Hyatt Regency. When you entered a volunteer was handing out chocolates, and directed you to pick up your bib. There were many bib stations, volunteers waving pom poms when their station was open. You could show an ID or your confirmation email, and you were given a bib only. From here to claim the remainder of your “goodie bag” (sweatshirt) you had to walk to the opposite end of the hall. The goodie bags were divided between men and woman, and embroidered and non embroidered (had to look at bib to see what to pick up.) The sweatshirt was in a plastic bag, and you were encouraged to go to the “try on” station before opening that bag, if you needed to make an exchange. Available if that size was available.

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There were many areas to the expo. You had the Hot Chocolate organized events: bibs, goodie bag, registration information and the food. This race only had marshmallows with chocolate on them and hot chocolate. This area didn’t seem too crammed.

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Then there was the traditional expo happening, and this area seemed cramped. The sweatshirt exchange was in this area too. You could visit vendors, get samples, take photos, spin the wheel and sign up for other races. There was also a large area to buy Hot Chocolate branded merchandise.

The location of the expo could have been tricky to get to. There was construction on one surrounding street. I am not certain if there was parking at the hotel, it was a very congested area, both inside and out. This is also my second hot chocolate event, so I felt that there were food options missing. Also I was with my friend T, she had signed up for the promo multi-functional head wrap, she was never given it when she got her bib or goodie bag, no mention of it. Luckily she remembered to ask about it at the information table, and the way she asked and the fact I was standing next to her in my Bibrave shirt, I was given one too.

Pre Race: This event is held in downtown Chicago, you should plan ahead for a parking plan. There are ramps in the area, but traffic can be a pain, but you could take public transportation. There were many port-o-potties available near the starting area. Gear check was available, using clear bags provided. Participants were seeded to start the run in 2 waves and multiple corrals, up to letter W. The first wave started at 7:00, and the second wave was to start at 7:45. To gain entrance to the corrals and gear check, runners had to cross the corral area. At each gated entrance there were volunteers checking bibs. Corrals closed at certain times

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There were many pre race announcements and loud music. There were monitors set up displaying video. The National Anthem was performed live and the race was underway, one corral at a time, with a few minutes in between.

The entrance system into the corrals was congested. By having to cross the area of the corrals to get to the backside, it just made for some weird logistics. I also observed many scaling the fence on the closed side of the corral to gain entry, this fence scaling was not monitored and I saw a corral J bib in my corral C. Also there are a lot of participants, so those in the later corrals were on their feet a long time before they were able to start.

Race/Course: The course was on the paved streets of Chicago.

  • pavement/asphalt – lots of man hole covers, uneven spots, patched spots
  • first mile or so on lower wacker, run through McCormick tunnel, between tall buildings – not fun for the GPS
  • photographers – but only near the finish
  • All miles marked, a clock was at each
  • Water and “Gatorade” on the course. In paper cups, there were 2 different style cups, however each stop was different, just needed to pay attention to what it was. “Gatorade” was usually first
  • Chocolate on course – first stop was chocolate chips, then a strawberry marshmallow, then m& m’s, then a chocolate marshmallow. (hope I didn’t forget one) However, I missed the marking that chocolate chips were ahead, and missed the stop as I wasn’t prepared to stop.
  • Very few spectators – especially for an event with tens of thousands of runners
  • Flat – some minor inclines, but nothing major
  • Scenery – some nice parts, some boring parts, mostly city type landscape, no running near the lake.
  • Course markings – I never saw any spray painted marks or arrows, or a volunteer telling me left or right, but there were orange cones. At one point with a small out and back, you could have cut the course.
  • Volunteers – All intersections were marked with a volunteer. The aid stations had very energetic groups helping (it looked like they got swag too)
  • Bathrooms – I noticed none on the course
  • Timing mats for splits

I totally read the map wrong, I was excited that it was not running near McCormick, boy was I pissed when I got close to the tunnel. I get that it’s the easiest way to get from point A to B, but how does this continue to be the most dangerous thing??? There is even a sign for cars to turn on their lights, It’s dark and there and potholes galore! Easy to turn and ankle or trip and fall, especially when the light is blinding you as you exit. So, add some freakin lights and fix the holes, if races must use this. If I never run it again, it will be too soon! Otherwise the course was fine, could have had some better markings with chocolate stations, and course markings ( I just followed the crowd) I only drank the water on course, notes about the “gatorade” later.

Post Race: The finish was easy to find, there was an arch and timing mats, as well as lots of photographers. Once you crossed the line, a medal was handed to you, and you could grab a bottle of water. The finishing chute was long, and we continued to walk, and passed the Sport drink flag, and were offered yellow colored “Gatorade” After you passed this point, you could claim your gear check items, but you still weren’t at the post race party at Butler Field.

The post race finisher’s party was at Butler Field. There was music, t-shirts, sign up for “X” promos & free samples. This is also where you claimed your finisher’s mug all the way at the back. There is no tables, seats, or shade in this feild. There was sign near the finisher mug pick up to not stand or sit in the area. With a lot of finishers’ the area was crowded.

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The finisher’s mug is a plastic divided cup item. In the center there is hot chocolate, then surrounding it, there is a banana, marshmallow, Rice Krispie treat, pretzels, fancy chocolate roll treat, and chocolate fondue.

Runners could reunite with their friends and family members in this area too. There were letters stationed so you could pick a spot.

Oh Butler Field, such a nice wide open space to hold post race events, but it seems like you have to walk 56 miles after the race to get here. Also maybe some picnic tables or an area to sit, or step aside would be great. Many rave about the finisher’s mug, while it’s a unique item to receive, I am usually on chocolate overload at this point. Also it’s hard to hold the water bottle and this mug and have no where to be/sit, to eat the items. However it’s nice some items are wrapped and I can eat them later.  Also the free samples and such had lines, people are rude and don’t wait in the lines, and would rather budge.

Ok, I also think I noted this in my Hot Chocolate St. Louis review, I really don’t think the “Gatorade” on the course is Gatorade, it taste’s like lemonade because it is super sweet, and doesn’t have that electrolyte after taste. I know I can’t be the only one.

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Overall: I don’t mind Hot Chocolate races, they are not a race designed to set a PR, or run a serious race, but rather a fun time. It’s nice to get a sweatshirt, medal and chocolate as something different.  However they can be crowded. If you want to have fun with friends, these events are perfect for that.

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Personal: People ask me how was the race, I say, it was just another race. So, not sure if I am burnt out, or just over the crowded scene, or need a break from Chicago. I didn’t have a bad time, just little things that drive me nuts. I wouldn’t not recommend the race, just not sure if I would run another without free entry.

Results: 1:30:46. I had to look and my St.L time was 1:29.

Make sure to add your review to Bibrave.com

MLL 5k – recap 2015

Saturday July 4, 2015, Sunny HOT ok it was humid 70 degrees. 9 am.

There were a lot of area races held this 4th of July, but the husband and I decided to run the McKenzie Lown 5k in Oxford, IA. Mostly because some friends were back in town and would be participating. It’s also a great cause / fundraiser.

Registration: This is a small town 5k, so registration could still be done by snail mailing in form with a check. If this was done by June 20, you could save $5 on registration. Otherwise you could sign up online with fees or on race day for $25. Cotton unisex t-shirts were only guaranteed for early registrants, however everyone received a reusable bag with a granola bar and fruit snacks. Also included was a bib with a chip timing strip on the back.

No Expo, all packet pick up was held on the day of race. One port-o-pottie near the registration area, but this took place at a ball complex and real toilets were nearby. All parking was alongside the road near the start/finish.

Josh and I waited to register on race day. It was easy, just fill out a form hand over your cash. We were also told we should enter the raffle drawing, which the lady said we didn’t need to be present to win. I asked as we were leaving as soon as we finished to hit the parade in Coralville.

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Pre/Race: There were some announcements and nice words said about the race and the reason we gathered. Then a gun banged, for the bikes, then one for runners, a little confusing.

It was confusing as kids on bikes were allowed to race, so they were on the first gun, then a second gun went off for the runners. The start was crowded, the starting line is not where we actually started, they had us corralled in the finishing chute. Only announcement about this was something about bikes to the front, couldn’t hear too well. Josh, who runs a lot faster than I, was still standing next to me when it was time to run, so he had to snake through the crowd to get to his position.

Race/Course: Run through Oxford, IA then towards the country on an out and back course.

  • all paved or asphalt, nearby gravel would be on the roads, roads banked on the sides
  • lots of water on course in bottles
  • RR crossing
  • few spectators, mostly family members
  • no official course photographer
  • can’t remember mile markers on the course
  • some hills, but nothing steep
  • course marked with spray paint, but only marked for the way out until the turn around
  • Volunteers and law enforcement at the intersections
  • no shade

I was able to see Josh just after the turn around, he looked good, gave him a thumbs up. I was hot! The pavement was hot! It was humid! Such a late start for a summer race, but I pushed to my best ability. However a lady even passed me opening a water bottle and drinking.

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Finish / Post Race: The finish had a clock and timing mats, small chute. Bottled water and watermelon, but had to turn around and walk back to get them. There were awards for the overall winners and the first finisher in each AG. Also a raffle drawing.

Josh was already done when I crossed at 27:07, which would eventually place me third in my AG. He placed first in his AG winning him a $25 Scheels Gift Card. We also found out you had to be present to win the raffle prizes.  We didn’t stick around for this, a friend grabbed Josh’s card, and we left to get to the parade in nearby Coralville.

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Overall: Nice community 5k, average price, but starts too late in the day for July. However a good race to run at least once.

I have run this race before, so I knew what to expect, nothing too flashy, but just a good event to remember McKenzie.

Read and write race reviews at bibrave.com 

Interact 5k Recap

Friday July 3, 2015. Sunny 70 ish degrees, humid.

If you read my blog, or follow along on twitter, my actions of the day wont surprise you, however this is the recap and how I placed 4th overall female and the Clayton Ridge Interact 5k.

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I am currently training for my next 50k, ok when am I not training? Well this is the next BIG race. So picking up miles through races is a great way to break up things, and add some confidence. My 4th of July was looking busy, but the training plan called for 22 miles.

SO – I hopped in the car and headed north to Guttenberg, IA, where the 5k would be taking place. Lucky for me my family owns property there and I could crash on the couch for the night. Now follow along, as it is crazy to drive 90+ miles for a 5k.

I arrived late, about 10pm, but my parents were still awake, and had rainbow sherbet to share. It was a short night.

I woke around 6:30 am. The race was to start at 9am. There is no expo at a small race, and race day registration is a breeze, there was no hurry to get to the start.

With 22 miles to go, I broke it up into sections. It was hot and sunny. I know the point in a long training run is to get those miles all at once & build endurance, but this is how it went.

I left the house, on foot, around 7:45, hoping to get in any extra miles before the race. I met this nice woman who was also on a walk, so instead of getting in 1.5 miles of running, I chatted and walked with her to the race start area. Get outside people, you never know what you will run/walk into.

I did get to the registration table with about 30 minutes to spare before the start. I passed them $15, yes only $15, and signed my life away on a piece of paper, in exchange they handed be a bib, lucky #23. There were no t-shirts to deal with, woohoo! I took that extra time and ran 2 miles along the levy on the Mississippi River.

So before the race I had walked 1.5 miles and ran 2. I was loose and ready to race 3.1 miles. It was a small race, maybe 100 participants. It was also the first year for it.

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No timing chips, no National Anthem. However there was a short announcement that the first 5 males and first 5 females would be getting prizes. Ok that lit a fire under me, because it wasn’t 30 seconds later someone shouted, ready, set, go!

I was also racing in my Mizuno Enigma 5 for the first time. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I knew I needed to be in the top 5.

As always I started to fast, but the course was FLAT!!! Ok there was a small hill just after the first mile, and one just after mile 2.5, but nothing to worry about. I was cruising along, passing people, feeling good. There were tables with water in plastic cups set up. The miles were marked with chalk on the paved running surfaces, cement and asphalt.

Around mile 2 is when I couldn’t hang anymore. I was running behind the 2nd place female. Yes I was sizing up the competition the entire time. There was one point I thought I may take her, but I just couldn’t do it, then a woman passed me, GASP!

At this point the tank was running low, I was hot, my feet were strangely hot in my shoes. So on the side of caution and the remaining mileage I had, I just kept a steady pace to the finish. Also in the back of my mind, I knew I was in 4th. I also couldn’t catch the other women as they technically cut the course and ran on the sidewalks the last half mile. The volunteers near this area, were just keeping us safe, really didn’t know to keep runners on the course.

Then the last turned happened, I was securely the 4th place female. Each finisher received the royal treatment as they restrung the streamer tape for everyone to break. I was handed my prize just after I crossed the finish. It was a $10 gift card to a local floral/gift store. I checked my watch, the only timing I saw, 3.16 miles in 25:48.

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There really wasn’t a lot happening post race as prizes were handed out as you finished. There was a local chiropractor doing post race stretch. I always try to take advantage if there isn’t a line, so he stretched my calves.

I walked a little further to the registration area, where coolers of bottled water and granola bars were available. I asked if there was any thing I should stick around for and the answer was no. However I did stick around for a little while, everyone was so nice and they liked my outfit.

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My official race review is at Bibrave.com

It was time for me to leave and get on with my day, I did run over to the gift store to see when my certificate would expire, they just said don’t let 2-3 years pass by. Got to love small towns. With this little jaunt, I made it back to the house with another 2.25 miles. The last mile to the house is a beast, all up a river bluff, I also snagged the road barrier and put a small hole in my sparkle skirt :(.

It was not approaching 10:30, sun was getting warmer, but I had 1.5 miles walking and 2+3.1+2.25 = 7.35 miles down, only 15 to go. I had the perfect place in mind, actually the reason I traveled this far in the first place. I would run on the Heritage Trail in Dyersville, flat and soft surface, it was on the way home to Iowa City. I had also just done the Run 4 Troops relay on the trail a week ago.

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After a slice of watermelon with my dad. I traveled the 40 minutes or so to the trail. When I got there, I wasn’t sure if I should be there as it looked like this was the area the town used to stage their fireworks. Oh well, I grabbed my hand held water bottle, loaded with nutter butters and fruit snacks, and took off down the trail.

There is a user fee for this trail, it’s only $2.10 and around $10 for a season pass, which I should get. I would be running 7.5 miles out and back, or that was the plan.

It was hot, this section of the trail provided little shade, but I did change into a shirt with sleeves to protect from sunburn. It was getting tough near the 7 mile mark, I also knew I had walking miles and .25 miles extra built in, If I turned back early. I made it to 7.37 before I turned around.

It also helped there were blackberries along the trail. Passed a few natives filling up buckets to take to their homes. Then the struggle happened. I was soooo hot and exhausted, and only had so much water left, there were also red winged black birds.

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At mile 9 I started walking .25 then running .75. This method seemed to be working. BAM, then I realized I was still trying to get back to work, to ship packages as my local post office was open. (with what I do with ebay, it helps if I ship same day as payments) I looked at the time of day, I wasn’t sure if I was going to make it. I didn’t want to push it with the conditions.

I kept plugging away, it was slow, and those damn birds kept following me, at anytime they were going to swoop in and attack me.  Thankfully, they only buzzed close. I made it back to my car at 2:47. I had at least an hour and half to get back to work, was I going to make the post office closing at 4:30.

I had hit my mileage goal, I ran 14.89 on the trail and the miles earlier, I was over 23 miles on my feet for the day. My math is probably off, but I published it on dailymile at 23.39. Luckily I had some G2 in the car and more water. There was no time to stop. That G2 was sooooo hot, but I drank the entire bottle. Dehydration is a serious issue folks.

Ahhh made it to the shop at 4:03. Time to get to work, and someone else purchased something, so I had a total of 5 things to get packaged in 27 minutes. I DID IT!!! I might have had 5 minutes to spare.

So that is just another day in the life. I like to do so many things and go so many places. I hate that there is never enough time in the day. However I do my best with what I am given to get it all done.

Speaking of…I had to rest up for my next race, the next morning….lol