Madison Half Marathon Recap 2019

Conquer the Capital Half and Half Challenge Complete

“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 to review, find, and write race reviews!”

It was finally time to go to Madison. On Saturday, after a quick stop to drop off the dogs, Josh and I were on the open road and ready to get our weekend started. The drive was nothing exciting, and that’s why it’s very easy to get to Madison.

We had a full day ahead, so we planned to grab some pizza. We phoned in an order to Glass Nickel Pizza in Fitchburg, and picked up our order on the way to the marathon expo. We couldn’t wait until we stopped, so we snacked on the cheese bread as we navigated the mean streets of Madison.

Since we have been participating in this event for a while, we know that you can find close, on street parking for less. Sure it’s easy to park in the ramp at the Monona Terrace, but we are frugal. We found a spot on the street and made the walk to the expo.

It appears we made a good choice to park on the street as the Terrace was hoppin! There was also an art show in the same space. Even though there were the extra people, we were able to easily find the entrance to the expo.

It was just before noon, and the expo was very busy (or maybe it felt that way as it was in a small space.) We walked straight to the packet pick up area. I told the volunteer my bib number and he asked for my ID. I was then given a reusable bag with 2 shirts, goodies and my bib. I realized after that only challenge participants were given these bags as Josh received a plastic sack. *Josh was also running the challenge, but he was not able to register for it after the fact, so a person will be in touch via email.

I was hesitant when I saw the shirts. They are all long sleeve, gender specific and I really like the blue race shirt as it’s a soft cotton blend, however I read the tag for the gray one and was like, hmmm a cotton shirt? Spoiler alert, I wore the gray shirt after the race and it fit really nice and I will wear it!!

After we got our things, we took a picture or two, walked quickly around the expo and then we met up with fellow BibRave pro Amy.  She was working as a vendor. We stopped and talked for a minute, then needed to be on our way.

It was a quick in and out with the expo, but it is designed that way. It’s easy to grab and go, or take your time – grab a water, explore the brands, races and vendors that are on display. We, however needed to be at our hotel to grab a shuttle at 12:30

We were back to our truck and headed to the hotel. We also had a slice of pizza. (Best decision of the weekend.)

The hotel had no rooms ready, but that was ok, we were able to leave our things with them, and would just check in later. We did need to get moving though as it was approaching 12:30 and we had paid $5 for a shuttle that would take us to the Camp Randall area for the football game. This was a great option as parking is expensive and it’s super congested.

Welp at 1:02 PM we were on the shuttle. As it turns out there was only one shuttle van and every time it made a run to the stadium area it was getting caught in the traffic. The game didn’t start until 3, so we had some time, but it was annoying. The shuttle driver said he would pick us up 1-2 hours after the game by the Union South, I was like that’s a big place, what street? Even more annoying was this woman on the shuttle, having to explain to some kids that it was ok to be a Hawkeye fan, but she really hoped her team won… no one cares your thoughts, just be quiet or talk about the weather. Well, it didn’t stop there, the shuttle driver encountered heavy traffic and she was all, we have to get some tickets at this bar… and she was all amazed her phone wasn’t working and she didn’t know where the bar was. Another person on the shuttle was oh, that place is just up ahead… so the annoying lady was like, just let us out there. Well the shuttle driver was all flustered and was like, ok I will stop there and you can all get out. UM, that is not where I wanted to be dropped off. AHHHHHHHH! I understand his frustrations and running behind, but we all were hurried off, and I had no clue where we were… and because there were so many people my phone wasn’t working, so we followed the mass of people…. I was borderline going to have an anxiety attack. Finally we were somewhere where I recognized a landmark…. and we had found the location we were supposed to be dropped at, the Union South, also the location of the Hawkeye pre-game party.

Anyway that is not why you’re reading this post. We met up with some friends at the huddle, then walked over to the game. I am not sure we need to go into any details, but my team did not win.

After the game, our friends graciously offered to give us a ride back to our hotel. Whew, no more shuttle drama for us. We got back to the hotel and officially checked in around 7 PM. When we were checking in, the guy at the front desk answered the phone, and it sounded like unhappy people still waiting for a shuttle to show up.

We made it to our room and devoured our leftover pizza. Yet, we felt we needed something else, so we bopped on down to the hotel restaurant and enjoyed a salad and soup.

We were back to the room in good time to lay out all the things we needed to run, and luckily were able to get a good night’s sleep.

Gear: Sparkle Athletic skirt, Flipbelt pants, Turtle Gloves, Rabbit Tank, UA t-shirt, Long Sleeve, Rudy glasses, Aftershokz Aeropex, Garmin, Brooks Ghost 12, Big Grove Nike hat, Hawkeye stocking hat, Moving comfort sports bra.


We were awake at 5 AM and brewing coffee in the room. Then by 6 AM we were ready to go to the race start. The best part about this race is you can park on the street, just blocks away from the start for FREE!!! So after we found our spot, we just waited in the warm truck. It was a cloudy day and temps would be topping out at 30 or so.

Around 6:30 I decided to utilize the many port-o-potties that were set up. Then I ventured to the starting area and stumbled upon Amy near gear check. She was meeting with various groups for photos. Since we parked so close there was no need for gear check, but you could use any bag.

There were announcements and the singing of the National Anthem, and around 7 AM the marathon was off. I proceeded to the starting chute and since I really didn’t have a pace goal, just found a spot. I started my music, put my watch to “run.” Then it was time to go.

As you know I have run this event before, so I was ready for what the course had to offer. It’s not my favorite route, it skips many things that Madison is known for, but I knew I had to get to the finish line.

The first few miles are a bit crowded. I found Amy and ran for a while with her. Then as we started to climb a hill, I powered forward. Around mile 5ish, someone thanked me for choosing to run in Madison and we talked for a bit. They saw my Hawkeye hat… this was not the first comment on the hat on the course. I heard many Go Hawks throughout the race. Madison is a great place, just not on game day.

From there those women were back and forth with me through the race. I was also back and forth with the weather, I was super sweaty when we were out of the wind and then I would be cold in the wind, just before mile 8 I lost my long sleeve.

I knew there was a big hill coming up just before mile 9. Ok, Madison has hills, this one is just the steepest climb. I turned the corner and there it was… and so was a guy in costume. Social media can be a fun place, just the day before Steena had run the Indy Monumental Marathon and John had spectated in a Shakespeare costume, holding fun signs…. and here he was on this hill. However, that was not all… Steena was there too. This was just the encouragement I needed at this point. I stopped and took a selfie, congratulated her on her marathon and powered up that hill!

I motored on feeling good until I heard some whoops from a police motorcycle. The lead marathoner was coming through. I was just past mile 11.5. Ah shucks, a goal is to always run my half faster than they can run a full…. but wait – they started 10 minutes before we did. Then it was time for running math, and I am pretty sure he was beating my half time. I was then on the alert for the rest of them, but the second place guy didn’t come through until a mile later maybe.

It was time for the last climb to the finish at the Capital. I kept thanking all the officers at the intersections, turned on State Street and there I was jumping across the finish line. I had a Garmin time of 2:18 or so and 13.25, but I later saw the tracking and it had me at 2:16. I should check the official results, lol.

When I was finished a volunteer placed a medal around my neck and said congratulations. (This is a small gesture, but it’s much appreciated.) I was then handed a bottle of water, and I passed on the mylar blanket. I then waited in a short line to have my finisher picture taken. Then there was the place to redeem your beer ticket for a Michelob Ultra, there was also soda available. I don’t care for that beer, and wanted a Coke. ( I don’t even drink soda and it sounded good.) When I asked for one I was told it was for 21 and younger, I hope no one pregnant received that answer. I also understand they probably have a limited amount.

Next stop was the food line. They changed things up this year, which I was very happy about. There were 3 options – chili and cornbread, mac and cheese, or a brat with potato salad. Each came with a cookie. I choose the brat. The chili was vegetarian, but not sure if there was a GF option, and there was no fruit this time. I don’t have allergies or a special diet, but something I observe.

With my hands full, I was able to still talk to Josh on my Aftershokz headphones and we were able to discuss where to meet. I grabbed a chocolate milk  and then found the tent with my half and half medal for the challenge. Also in this space after the finishing chute there was craft beer for purchase, I like this step…. I also wish I had remembered some money as the dollar I found in the parking lot pre-race wasn’t enough.

I met Josh and he gave me my coat. My hand were freezing and it was hard to hold all my things. I stopped at a bench to get my coat on and put things in the giant pockets. I wasn’t sure where Amy was, but sent her a message as we were cold and decided to be on our way.

We stopped to take some post race photos and then we were back at our truck and headed to the hotel. We were back within 3 hours of the race start. Madison is a big place, but if you know the hacks it’s easy peasy on race day.

We didn’t need to late check out, and were out of there just before noon. We went back down to the Capital to take some photos with my medals over the years. I have one more medal to earn so I can finish the series.

Then one last Starbucks stop and we were on the road home. With such a filling post race spread we were not hungry…. well until we got to Dubuque where we stopped at a new brewery, 7 Hills Brewing Company.  It was right off the main road.

After watching the Iowa Field Hockey team win the B1G Championship game in overtime, we made the remainder of the trip home as snow was coming.

I will be back for my 4th medal next year, but I hope there are more Steena’s out there to spice it up. I also hope that the push for craft beer gets closer to being the free beer. Madison is a great place, except on game day. Go Hawks!

*Also race pics were available the next day for FREE

IMT Half – 2019

Des Moines Half Marathon – 2019 Race Recap

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

It’s felt like forever since I ran a race, I miss running all the races. However, it’s football season, so I do what I can. If you want my to the point review you can check it out here – and now for my all details, all opinionated review.

As I mentioned it is football season, so this meant in order to complete my transfer from the marathon to the half, I needed to get to the expo on Friday. However, it was also homecoming weekend and the U of I parade started at 5:45 PM. So, I was in my car and on my way to Des Moines just after 1PM.

I arrived and found that parking near the Iowa Events Center would cost $10. I am a small town girl, paying to park to in a GIANT lot designed for the event space, isn’t something I was going to do. I strolled around the block and found a parking meter on the street. As luck would have it, there was already 24 minutes on the meter, I threw in another quarter and I had 44 minutes to get through the expo.

I found a door to the event complex, but it was a walk to the actual event space. There were many signs guiding the way. I found the expo and proceeded to the back to get Josh’s bib first, which was super easy, no questions asked by providing his bib number. *The bibs came in pre-filled, clear bags. They were full of goodies like food, toothbrushes and papers. The bag also doubled for gear check.

Then I went to get my bib, but asked how I should proceed to complete my transfer. I had to get my full marathon bib first, then go to the registration computers. I then had to go through the online process of registration, but there was a check box for transfers. Participants could switch to either race for a fee. I was confused why I couldn’t have done this online in Iowa City, and someone else could have grabbed my things for me? Maybe just to be sure it was me? After I had a new registration email, I went and gave them my old bib, they gave me a half bib. It was simple and easy.

Then I went to the line to grab our finisher jackets. The race does a great job, no t-shirts. Instead they give gender specific, zip up light weight coats. They are also race specific.

I was watching my Garmin and had a few minutes, so I did a walk through of the expo vendors. There was a variety of things to explore: area races, products, race merchandise, speaker series, etc. I stopped by the Grandma’s booth to try for a free entry. I then noticed a stocking cap at the race merch booth… it was black with a gold stripe, and the race logo. I could not resist, when is the race gear Hawkeye colors? I then walked by Jeff Galloway and made my way out of the expo to see more vendors set up in the hallway. Nothing I needed, so I hoofed it back to my car. I had 2 minutes left on the meter, phew! Parking for $0.25!

I made my way back to Iowa City and was only a few minutes late to the homecoming parade. It was just as I remembered except there were not any Greek floats?? I did meet up with Josh and we ate Chipotle for dinner and called it a day.

On Saturday, I met with my tailgating friends and we cheered the Hawkeyes onto victory against Purdue, in the rainy mist. Then we packed it up and Josh and I made the trek back over to Des Moines. We were both very tired and looking forward to getting some rest.

When we got back to Des Moines, we checked into the hotel and just decided that Fuzzy Taco’s would be the place for dinner, something cheap and quick. Well, it was cheap, but it took some time. After some tacos, it was time to call it a night.

Race Day!!

I woke up at 4:30 AM… oh yes, the race didn’t start until 8 AM, but I had been presented with a unique opportunity, and when do I ever say no? Through BibRave and with the help of Corridor Running, the race allowed us a space in a parking lot near the festivities to set up a tent. This tent could be a meeting area, a place to showcase the group, and a place to keep gear during the race.

I met up with the club president around 5 AM and we popped the tent up, and made our space eye catching – banners, table cloths, swag to giveaway. We are the dream team!! However, it was only about 5:30 and I needed coffee! The nearby Starbucks didn’t open until 6 am, but it is located in a Hy-Vee. When it finally opened I was able to grab some coffee and a bagel with peanut butter. When I got back, Mark went on a journey, but brought back donuts and bagels!

As race time approached, the sun started to shine. It was going to be a beautiful day for a race. People gathered around the tent, pictures were taken, luck was shared. Then it was time for the race to start.

I was not in a rush, but made it near the starting corrals to listen to the singing of the National Anthem. Then I proceeded to get in the corral, which are back fed, so I just had to be happy with where I was starting, as I couldn’t get ahead to a faster pace group because there were so many people. We started with the full marathon. There were some announcements on the loud speaker too. Jeff Galloway was there and so was our governor, and for some reason the announcer kept pushing the fact our governor was there. I was not impressed, don’t make it political. I would have been more impressed if she were running. Anyway………..

I took off on the streets of Des Moines. The first 3 miles are run near the downtown area. My friend Bethany found me in the first mile, she was running her first marathon. Time passed so fast as we ran together until the two courses split. I wished her well as she climbed the hill into the residential neighborhoods of DM.

The half marathon course then went out to Water Works park. To get to this area, there was a small portion of out and back. It was cool to cheer on the other runners as we passed by each other. I saw some people I knew including Josh!

Then we had a loop around this area. There were many aid stations with water and Gatorade, however they were all different. It was hard to tell which liquid was in which cup, I then had to ask. I was also on the look out for some vaseline, there were plenty of medical stops, but no Vaseline in eye sight. I finally asked at a stop, the medic said he did not have any, but there was a traveling bike support guy and of course he had some in his bag of tricks. The traveling bike people were the best!! They had candy and tissues too.

I left the Water Works area to the Gray’s Lake area. There were also a lot of musical acts along the course. Solo acts, symphony bands, and DJ’s. I would say they give the big name race with musical acts a run for their money.

Gray’s Lake is a really pretty place to run, there is really long bridge that goes across the center of the lake. I just kept plowing along. I really felt great! I also managed to see Tim, and eventually Lois. I like a race that’s big enough, yet small enough to see running friends.

After this portion, there is a small little hill and then we are headed back towards downtown. The miles really go by quickly on this course.

I kept searching for the best song to bring me to the finish, I landed on “Some Nights” by Fun. It reminds me of my friend Kelly, so I hustled the last few turns and I could see the finish line.

I could hear the announcer, but he was excited as the lead marathoner was turning the corner behind me. I knew I had to beat this guy!

I crossed the finish line with a time near 2:16. However, the lead marathoner was just behind me, so the finish line was a mess. The half marathoners were told to go to the right, but everyone who had finished was lined up at the finish line with their phones out to take photos of the lead marathoner. There was a GIANT bottleneck to get through. I was not happy, I found a bottle of water, but could not find the finisher medals. There were so many people in my way and they might have met the wrath of Ang. Everyone should get the same finisher treatment, snaking through lollygaggers that only wanted to congratulate the fast guy did not make me happy.

There was another woman that was also on the hunt for her finisher medal, eventually we found someone handing them out. This did not leave me with a good feeling, luckily as I walked the finisher chute, I had time to cool down.

I passed on the photo with the backdrop as MarathonFoto was the official photographer. I then ran into Tiffany in line for food, so I was able to talk with a familiar face. The food line was insanely long, so I took a pass on it for the time being and hit up the beer area.

The next block was filled with a stage for the band and an area to get a Sam Adams or a Truly seltzer drink. It took me seconds to grab a beer, wahoo!! I then remembered there were donuts back at the tent. I took my beer and went and enjoyed a sprinkle donut!

This was my 56th half marathon and my 5th of the year. I was very pleased with my finishing time. It’s a far cry from the days of running sub 2 hour, but it was the best of the year for me. I also felt really good, no aches or pains.

I celebrated with friends at the tent. People came and went and we had chairs to enjoy the beautiful day.

I checked the time of day and realized Bethany should be coming towards the finish line, so I walked over to the finishing chute. I also then downloaded the race app (yes, it took me that long) to see where she was. The app had her near the finish, but I didn’t see her. So Josh and I way made our way to the last turn and found Jen and Molly cheering runners in near DJ Hollywood. We danced and cheered, then we saw Bethany coming towards us, wahoo!!!

I then walked back to the tent to follow the progress of Carol and Amy. Carol was running her second marathon in as many days, and Amy was running her second in 3 weeks. We watched the app as the wind picked up.

We saw that Carol finished and then Amy. They each came back to the tent area and we congratulated them. The tent was the perfect thing for the organizations to have at a bigger race.

It was after 3 PM and I was tired! We picked up all our things and loaded them in the vehicles and it was time to make our way back to Iowa City. I drove as far as Williamsburg, as Josh napped. Then I made sure we stopped at McDonald’s for french fries to switch drivers.

What a weekend! A great race and a Hawkeye victory.

I may have some issues with the aid stations and finish line, but it is a nice event just a few hours from my door step. Plus those things can easily be fixed and happen with volunteer turnover year after year. If it fits in my schedule, I will always try to run this race, and I think I will always try to train for the full, just a better tour of the city, and some hills.

*A note on my time. I never watch my Garmin for timing splits. Every once in a while I check to see what mile I am at, but I am never watching my pace. A few days after the race I took the time to review my stats and discovered I ran negative splits. The course is flat and the weather was so great, I just kept pushing myself and had a good run. Sometimes it really isn’t about winning, it’s about doing your best.

QC 5k – Race Recap

Quad Cities Marathon weekend, 5k Race Recap

What a busy weekend, so I am gonna dive right in.

Friday, Sept 20

I was working the expo for my local running club, Corridor Running. I had left work a little early and made the trip to Moline, IL. My car was loaded with the things I would need to set up our space at the expo.

After discovering which entry to use at the Mark iWireless Tax Center…. whatever it’s called, I met up with fellow board member Carol. Together we assembled a back drop, hung up shirts for sale and set up the appearance of our booth. We had it ready to go in no time!

I departed and met up with my sister for supper in Blue Grass, about a half hour drive away. I stopped at the convenience store to pick up my home made “baked” chocolate chip cookies to add to her delicious home cooked meal of stuffed shells. Don’t worry she loves me so much she made some with no sauce and some with enchilada sauce. After some crafting with my niece, we called it a night.

Saturday, Sept 21

I was up and at em early, my sister had the coffee on and it was some strange bourbon blend. I enjoyed a granola bar on my ride back into Moline. I was going to catch up with the shakeout run at 8 am.

I met up with my friend Kevin, you may recall him from training for Crandic or Run For Carl posts. We listened to some announcements, including some from a guy who was run a lot of marathons… I can’t remember at this point… and really Kevin and I were chatting and not paying attention, happens to the best of us.

It was time to go, and I was watching the clock as I wanted to be back in enough time to get the booth ready to go for the 9 AM expo opening.

Kevin and I fell in line and ran a mile out and a mile back. The whole time I think I never shut up. I need to run with Kevin more often, we were also throwing down some fast times for me.

We were back and coffee and GIANT muffins appeared! I made sure to grab a half a muffin and more coffee. I then proceeded to move inside to our club booth.

I met Carol again, she was ready to expo all day…. more board members would show up, but I had to keep moving. Oh yeah, I needed to get back to Iowa City for a bridal shower at 10:30.

I was back at my sister’s house, hopped in the shower and we were loaded up and on the road to Iowa City. We were also right on time at the shower.

It was a very fancy shower, complete with bloody marys! The bride requested biscuits and gravy and pickles…. so that is what we ate. Then it was time to move on and play some games and open gifts. I got married in what feels like forever ago, but really all showers are still the same, celebrating the bride with some fun!

The time ticked on and I needed to get back to the expo. It would close up at 5 PM, but I also wanted to relieve anyone that had been there all day. With a quick stop back at my house in Iowa City, we were back on the road and I was back to the expo around 3PM.

There were many board members gathered around. We discussed how the day went, and the things people were interested in hearing about the club. I told people if they wanted they could go home, so they did.

In the meantime I was also offered a race entry from the expo director. I gladly accepted, and registered myself for the 5k – as it would fit in my schedule for Sunday.

Finally 5 PM and the expo had come to a close. Jennifer, Michael, and Craig helped take down all the things we had set up. Many hands make light work!! The hardest part was getting it to all fit in my car as storage overnight.

The next step was to then get a tent to the finish area for race day. This was a cool option this race provided the club. On race day we would be able to provide a shelter for participants on race day. However, the weather forecast was rain and we weren’t sure if the tent would stay up overnight so we put the tent on it’s side for the night.

Around 6PM I joined Michael and Jennifer for dinner at the TGIFriday’s nearby – hey it was in walking distance. It was very busy with marathoners and homecoming kids. After dinner, I was back on the road to Blue Grass to get some much needed rest.

Sunday, Sept 22 – RACE DAY

I was up before 5 AM getting ready to head back to Moline one last time for the weekend. My sister was magically awake too and had brewed me some coffee. The forecast was calling for rain.

Back to Moline – parking is super simple for this race. The lot near the Mark tax iWireless place is free and has plenty of spots. I was parked and back to the start/finish area around 6:15AM to get our tent set up, but no one else was there yet. I waited a little while and help arrived.

Michelle, Michael and Dan were part of the club’s relay team and with their assistance we had the tent up in no time. I brought along a tailgating style bench and we had one folding chair. It was like our private little gear check area.

At 6:57 AM Carol arrived, just minutes before the marathon, half marathon and relay would start at 7. The start area does get a bit crowded as all the tents are set up in the area for when it becomes the finish area, however it’s been this way for years.

After the National Anthem and a cannon blast the longer distance races were off. I then waited around for the 5k to start at 7:15AM. Dan waited with me as he was running the 4th leg of the relay – You all know Dan from running in Madison with me. The cool thing about this relay is the city bus system works with the race and every 15 minutes takes runners to their posts, the buses were just across the street from the finish.

I lined up for another cannon blast and I was off! I lined up way to close to the back of the pack, it took a while to get free of the walkers and strollers and such, but I broke free to run the flat out and back course. The 5k course is also where the last 6 miles of the marathon takes place.

There is a water stop you hit twice. The turnaround was clearly marked with a lift and sign in the air. We even had a marching band on the course. Out and backs can be boring, but the best part is that you can cheer on the people. I was trying to keep tabs on Instagram friend Liz, she had introduced herself before the race and said she was nervous and wanted to do well. I was able to see her strongly running back as I was running out.

I had good splits for me. My running is all over the place, but I was happy with my time as I crossed the finish line. Another sub 30 5k, at just over a 9 minute pace.

The race gave us medals…for a 5k!! Then because it was the same finish as the longer events we had access to all the finish line amenities as them. Bottled water, chocolate milk, chips, cookies, grapes, watermelon, hot dogs, pulled pork, Soda and Michelob Ultra. There were also tents with massage therapists. *As the day went on I noticed those who finished the marathon back of the pack did not get all that food.

I grabbed a bottle of water, grapes and a bag of chips and joined Dan back at the tent. It then began to rain. I ran my race in no rain, but what felt like 500% humidity. Craig joined us under the tent as he would be running the 5th leg of the relay. We chatted and stayed dry.

The guys took off on their buses and I remained under the tent, staying dry. I visited with many people who needed to take refuge under the tent. I also met more social media followers as well. The tent was the best thing!!

I was keeping tabs on time and wanted to be able to cheer the relay team in as they finished, so I went out on the course to about mile 21 and met up with the Fleet Feet Struggle bus and found Kevin cheering on participants.

I saw Dan pass and then knew our team had about 5 miles or so to go. I also saw friend Jennifer run by too and kept cheering for runners for a while. Then I made my way back to the relay reunion point. I was clearly not a relay runner, I didn’t have a bib, just my 5k finisher medal and I was allowed to stand in the area. However, there were many spectators in the area too – mostly because it was under the shelter of a bridge.

I found Michelle, then Dan and we kept our eyes open for Michael, but he was no where to be found. Then Craig running the last leg came down the course, so I positioned myself to take a picture of the 3 of them as they finished. *Michael knows my thoughts on his missing this, lol.

I met them back at the tent and we chatted some more, it kept on raining. I told them Jennifer should be coming in, and she did and she came to the tent.

Then it was just time to hang around the tent, I also had a hot dog. People came and went. I knew Carol and Amy were still out on the course, so Dan and I went to wait for them closer to the actual finish line. In the mean time I was able to grab a friends AG award too.

Carol came to the finish line with Amy, and I missed them. However I was able to congratulate them just after Amy rang the PR Bell.

I didn’t want to rush them, but we went back to the tent to chat for just a little longer, and then it was time to take it down and load it up! Carol helped haul somethings to the area, so she would haul the dry items back, and I would take the wet tent.

After I had loaded things up, I saw Kevin again, so I said see ya later and one last time I was in my car on my way back to Blue Grass.

I was exhausted! I grabbed my things at my sister’s house and hopped back in my car to Iowa City. What a weekend!!

As busy as these weekends are, I truly enjoy these things. I really like working expos and sharing the love of running with others and learning their stories. The Quad Cities Marathon treated the club well, and myself. It’s rare you are able to talk to the race director without problem or fuss to find them. Oh for actually running this race, I had never run the 5k before… it wasn’t my favorite course, but everything is done right. Fun fact, this race is where I ran my first half marathon in 2011. I always recommend this event to anyone looking to run in the area.

BTN B1G 10k 2019 Review

BTN B1G 10k 2019 Race Recap

It feels like we were just in Chicago, but here we are again representing the Hawks in the Windy City at the Big Ten 10k.

Josh and I had a late start as the Saturday before the race was Kids’ Day at Kinnick Stadium. I think this is just a football scrimmage or practice, I never go, but Josh had to work the event.

After that, we had an uneventful drive on the tollway into Chicago. The Park Whiz app had us parking a block away from our hotel, and just like that we were in the room and off to dinner with Kelly.

After some googling of places nearby we settled on the Burger Bar just down the way. We each decided on a different style of burgers and fries, no better way to prepare for a 10k. I also ordered a beer, because beer.

We were back at the hotel to get all our things prepared for the race. If you don’t post a flat runner on social media, how will everyone know what you are doing?

*You might have noticed we did not attend a packet pick up or an expo. This race offers packet mailing, and we always choose that option as our schedules are crazy. Our race shirts, bibs, gear check bag and safety pins arrived about a week before the race. We just always have to remember to bring them along. The one time we did attend the bib pick up it was a disaster, but I think logistics have changed over the years.

Sunday, August 11 – RACE DAY

It was an early wake up call, but we were ready to go and at the starting line quickly, The hotel was a 10 minute walk away. The weather started as overcast, but it was the usual summer conditions of humid.

We stood around by the corrals. Which seemed to be organized differently on a side street. Corrals A & B were side by side, and corral C was behind Corral A, and then Corral D was behind B. Everyone seemed to get in them with no problem.

I was in Corral B, but I stayed near the back. There were some announcements and the National Anthem, then each corral was released. It took a while, because we immediately took a left and started on the sidewalk.

After all the times of running this event I am not sure I have ever run the same course. This course took us a little south, passing Soldier Field, but then turning back around at McCormick – Wahoo, no tunnel!!! However, now we were on the Lake Front Path. Which is never closed, so there are always angry bikers, who miss the signs that say “race in progress.” We took the path along the lake for a while, which is always a nice view…. I really thought we would take it quite a bit north, but we were turning back south again by the marina. Then we were running along the sidewalk on the main drive. Back and forth and back and forth. Finally we were coming back north again, and a left and a left took us to the finish – on the sidewalk.

As I finished the 5k winner was coming in. The 5k starts after the 10k. There was a lead bike clearing the way as the lead runners were smokin’! They were shouting that the runner was coming through, well they had all the path cleared except on woman who the bike guy about pushed over because she didn’t hear him. *This is where I go on a rant about headphones – you may know I am an Aftershokz Ambassador, but it’s more than that. If your music is too loud you can’t hear race communication, it’s not safe. If you ever read all the fine print on race registrations, it usually says no headphones. So here is my PSA – turn your music down, put only one ear in, or consider a pair of Aftershokz. ( I have demo pairs if you need to try them, or a discount code.) End of rant.

When I finished I was handed a medal and I could grab a bottle of water and/or bottle of Gatorade. Then I was at the post race area. This year, for the first time it was surrounding the Buckingham Fountain.

In addition to race sponsor tents and the DJ stage, each B1G School had a tent giving out school branded swag. Each tent had a multi use charger cord, and then depending on the school’s marketing plan, there might have been more or less things.

At the Iowa tent, the Chicago I Club was in charge. There were many people giving out small reusable cloth bags with plastic cups and coozies. The football schedule posters and magnets were on the tables too. The Iowa tent always does a great job with swag and fun things. This I believe is also dependent on what is easy for the school, for example Penn State might find it harder to travel to Chicago or not have a chapter of fans in Chicago. Towards the end, many schools abandoned their tents.

After a walk through the school tents was the race provided post race Amylu’s sausage and beer tent. I was actually in line for the Rita’s Ice that the Hulu tent was giving out while Josh went and grabbed my sausage and beer. This year they had Oberon.

We met up with Kelly, Heather and Marge and chatted. The school mascots were walking around so we made sure to snap a photo. Thank you Marge for you beer ticket!

It was getting to be the time where we needed to be out of the hotel, so we said our goodbyes and walked the short jaunt to the hotel.

We were checked out, and were on the hunt for Garrett’s popcorn – because when in Chicago. We threw our things in the car and took a walk to get some popcorn. Then we stopped at a Potbelly for some lunch. While we didn’t have anywhere to be, we made the walk back to the car to head back home.

The B1G 10k is always fun as you get to represent your school and tailgate when you are done. It’s one of the only races where wearing the race shirt on race day is the norm. It does get pricey, the race date changes as well as the race course – but maybe that is what keeps it interesting. I am sure I will try to keep running this event if it works with my schedule.


Completing the Illini-Badger Challenge

Madison Mini Marathon 2019 – Race Review

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

It was finally time to head back to Madtown. I am pretty sure I have wrote about running more in Madison than in Iowa City. Honestly, when there are no sporting events, it’s a great place to be. In fact this would be my 5th Madison Mini.

Josh and I hopped in the car on Friday afternoon, for the 3 hour trip… a 3 hour tour….Anyway, nothing eventful happened on the drive and we were at our hotel to check in and drop our bags off.

Next stop, the expo.

We were staying about a half mile from the expo/packet pick up at the Alliant Energy Center. In the many times I have run this, it was the first time I would experience packet pick up at this location. It was always at the Union South (way too crowded and no parking) or I had made arrangements for someone else to pick up my things.

There was plenty of free parking here, no congestion. We were able to walk right in, snake through the vendors to the back and find the letters of our last name to get our bib and shirt. They put the short sleeve, gender specific shirt and bib that was in an envelope in a plastic bag.

We wondered around the expo a bit. It wasn’t big, but if you need some last minute supplies or branded race gear you could get what you needed. We stopped by the corner of banners with names on them, took some photos, and then moved towards the exit. This is when Josh ran into social media and Hawkeye friend Jake. We said hi and then moved on to say hi to Jan at the Illinois Marathon booth, where we scored more mini boxes of Kodiak Cakes. We really didn’t see any other booths that caught our attention, so we were back to our car in a jiff!

From here we were on our way to get some grub. I had reached out to social media friend Steena – you may recall I ran with her at the 2017 Madison Mini. She suggested a place called Glass Nickel Pizza.

We had a short wait and we were seated. We thought we would start with some breadsticks while we waited. I also had a small beer. Then we placed an order for a margherita pizza and side salads. WHOA!!!  The breadsticks arrived and well it was like a whole pizza, then soon after that our salads, which were also huge and very fresh. Then, just like that our pizza arrived. We ordered way too much food! When we decided we couldn’t eat another slice, we asked for a box and were on our way.

We arrived back at the hotel to discover even though the lobby was ice cold, our room just wasn’t cooling down. So Josh bumped the temperature colder.

We caught up on social media and prepared all our things for the race the next day.

Saturday, August 17 – RACE DAY!!!

We woke up to a stuffy hotel room, something was wrong with the air conditioning. So we kept moving along to get out of there. I had VIP access, so even though I had some hotel coffee, I was ready to take advantage of the pre-race spread.

The last time I ran this race, I drove in that morning, and the times before we always stayed within walking distance of the starting line. This year, I looked at a map for the starting line, then zoomed in to a P, for parking and mapped us to the first ramp. Well, it was about a half mile or so walk to the starting line. I am sure if we took the time to find free on street parking we could have found something closer.

I ditched Josh around 6 AM to go to the VIP room. While I might have felt a little bit guilty, I was going to enjoy. I had a green sticker on my bib, but when I arrived the person checking in names seemed a bit confused, however I was given a wristband and allowed to enter. I was also in line behind fellow BibRave pro Amy.

I hit up the buffet and grabbed a muffin and granola bar, I also snagged a cup of coffee. I say next down to Amy and her friend. We made small talk and they were ready to go warm up. I stayed and ate my muffin, drank my coffee and scrolled through my phone. I then went outside on the balcony to check out the calm before the storm.

It was getting close to starting time, 7 AM. I made use of the VIP bathroom and finally went back outside. I was in one of the last corrals, which was right outside the door, so I was never in a hurry.

It was a nice morning, the sun was out and temperatures would rise, but not be too horrible. The National Anthem was performed by a group and the race began.

While there were lots of corrals, they were not held, so it was more to encourage people to line up by paces. However, I did not see anyone checking bibs.

I was ready to run. I didn’t have a goal but to get to that finish line and get that challenge medal. With all the events I run in Madison, I can never remember which race goes with which route, it also doesn’t help that I feel each year, every race changes their route… I was also ready to see where we were running.

The race started with a slight uphill and then towards the Capital, where the Farmers’ Market was going on. Then we were off onto State St. This is where BibRave Pro, Jonathan caught up to me. He said he was running behind and almost started last, and he was just catching up. We ran a couple of miles together, and then he was feeling good and proceeded on just before we got to the arboretum.

I enjoy the arboretum, I know many people find it boring, but I like it. Maybe it’s because there is a small shoulder of gravel I can run on. After we ran this section we were back to running the streets of Madison. This included heading towards Camp Randall, then we were on the path that goes along the lake. The course finished by taking us up Observatory Hill, before finishing back at the Terrace.

The course was lined with 10 aid stations, many of them with energetic cheer squads, or screaming high school kids. There would be a winner of best station after the race. The aid stations offered water and Gatorade. However, each station had a different flavor  and sometime water was first. They were always in different cups. It was kinda fun to guess which flavor of Gatorade I would get, and until the last stop I thought I got lucky by avoiding lemon lime.

I really liked the course and was having a great time, but around mile 10 something happened to my calf. Out of no where it was like a rock was living inside my left calf muscle. I stopped and stretched a bit and then kept moving. It was just so tight, but wasn’t cramping. I didn’t carry my pack, so that is why I was drinking all the Gatorade. I steadily made my way towards the finish line.

I came across the finish line in a time near 2:24. Not my best, not my worst. I really am going to have to start putting in the work if I want to have better times. However, I am happy every time I can cross a finish line.

A medal was placed around my neck, I grabbed a bottle of water, and chugged down the chocolate milk. There were bananas, granola bars and 2 choices of Wisconsin popcorn.

I was on a mission to find my challenge medal. I had to walk back towards to entrance to the VIP area, just about a half block away and I found Jan handing them out. They were a nice medal. I hung it around my neck and clanged my way to the post race VIP area.

There was a new buffet set up with chicken, brats, cookies, potato salad and fruit. There was soda, water and Gatorade. Out on the balcony, overlooking the lake and the 14th mile party, was where the beer was – this year was a raspberry lemon radler from Wisconsin Brewing.

I grabbed myself a beer and then made sure to get a brat and then went to add my name to the massage list. In my journey to find the massage sign up, I stumbled upon a woman who insisted on rubbing CBD oil on my calf.

While I waited for my massage, BibRave pro Jonathon made his way to the VIP area and we chatted some more. Then just after I got myself a second beer, my name was called for my massage.

This massage was the strangest thing. I have done the post race massage before and usually they ask if there is a trouble area, or something they should target. This person didn’t ask and I laid down on my back and she proceeded with her routine. She was very fast moving. Then when I rolled to my front side, it was the same thing. I did find myself relaxed and then the karate chopping started. I am laughing just typing this. I would compare this to something my 8 year old niece would do. I did mention the pain in my calf, and while there was some weird stretching, there was no extra massage there. Like I said I was relaxed, but it was weird.

I was done and sat back down with Jonathon. He has been dealing with an injury, but still had a decent race. I had never met him before, so it was nice to talk. Then it was his turn for a massage, so I said see ya later. I went to the balcony and grabbed another beer and then made my way to Josh.

We made sure to take some pictures in the oversized chairs on the terrace, and listened to the band. It was a nice day, and the area they host the post race party is perfect!

It was about time to check out of the hotel, so we departed the finish area and tried to remember where we left the car. It felt like a 67 mile walk back. Once we found the car, we proceeded back to the hotel room.

We arrived back to the room to find it even more stuffy than when we left it. Blech! We were so over it, so we showered and checked out. We made sure to mention the situation as we departed.

Besides Josh eating the leftover pizza on the ride home, it was another uneventful drive back to the Hawkeye state. It was a rare trip where we didn’t buy any beer or cheese though.

The Madison Mini is nice summer race, make sure to register early for the best price.

Durant Dusk Hustle – 2019

Race Recap – Durant Dusk Hustle 2019

Friday, August 2. Durant, IA. 7 PM. Sunny, 80 ish degrees.

This is a fun, small town event. I have participated many times and this year I was going to test my legs and actually try to race the 5k.

I don’t mind an evening race, except for the wait all day to run. My body is actually a little looser at the end of the day too.

I left work for the day shortly after 5pm. It’s maybe a 35 minute drive. I found a parking spot on a side street, walked over to registration where I paid $25 for entry without a shirt. Then had way too much time to kill. I walked over to the convenience store to grab a bite to eat and use the bathroom. I then ran a mile and it was finally time to start the race.

In the meantime there was a kids run and the National Anthem was sung.

I lined up, then it was time to go. I followed the pack through the streets of Durant. A friend jokingly asked if Durant had enough roads for us to run 3 miles. In reality, the race was on one side of the highway and the town could probably host a 10k too.

It was nice in that the temperature was cooler than years past. The combination of paved and asphalt roads get warm with an evening start. There was one hill in the race, but nothing steep. This was around the water stop just after the half way point. We ran a loop in a neighborhood that bordered a farm. The course was marked with spray painted arrows in the road as well as volunteers at major turns.

I came into the finish line at stopped my watch, I had 3.1 and 28:38. Another sub 30, 5k in the books. I really tried to push my pace, but it has been a long time since I tried to run faster than normal. I was happy with my mile pace though.

I grabbed a bottle of water and a popsicle. I walked over the to the timer to get a printout of my results…. and 4th in my AG. This is the worst place to finish, I was defeated! I tried soooo hard and yet I was still not good enough. I feel this way as fast paced runners are those who are celebrated. Don’t get me wrong, I did my best and thought I had a good pace, it was just my feeling at the time. (Off on a tangent here…. I do always try to say or post my times and paces, because as a middle of the pack runner, I hope to inspire and encourage everyone that all paces are ok to be proud of!! It’s just rough on race day when you are alone and no one says good job in person at a small town event. OK end of rant)

I did wonder around the small town festivities. There was a slow pitch softball game, rides and live music.

When I returned back to the race area, it was time for the awards, I listened and clapped for everyone. I did happen to look at the times for the 33-40 age group, and I was 2 minutes and 18 seconds or so from 3rd place, which is a big difference. I would say my age is pretty competitive.

IT was getting late and I was ready to go home. I drove home on the side roads and stopped to pick up some Paul Revere’s bread sticks in West Liberty. They are soooo good and we don’t have this pizza place in Iowa City. One (One Christmas Eve on our way back through, we stopped and bought some too… they were open on Christmas Eve!)

Overall, this race isn’t anything to add to a bucket list, but I like to throw it in the mix of events. Also, it’s a race where I don’t see many familiar faces so maybe the different competition is a good thing.

Inaugural Hoover Prairie Run

Hoover Prairie Run 2019 – Race Recap

This race is associated with the annual Hoover’s Hometown Days in West Branch, IA. For many years there was the Presidential Races, then the Fergalicious 5k and then last year there was no event. I was excited when the local Lions Club posted there would be a run for 2019. I had to sign up!

This was not going to be like any other run, it was going to be held in the Hoover Prairie, and it was posted to be a 4.5k. The distance had instant PR written all over it, but running in a prairie is a challenge itself.

If you don’t know, West Branch is the community where I grew up and went to school. It is the birthplace of Herbert Hoover. There is a presidential library and museum along with the birthplace cottage and gravesite. On those grounds there is a restored prairie. It is maintained by the National Park Service, and offers some mowed paths.

I also work in West Branch, so on one of my lunch hour runs – or runch as I like to call it, I decided I would check out the course. This wouldn’t be my first run in the prairie, but my first in a long time. I wanted to make sure there were not many ruts or holes.

I discovered the mowed pathways to be in excellent shape. However, I guess I forgot about all the hills. Nothing like running on grass, up and down a bajillion times.

Saturday, August 3, 2019 – RACE DAY!!

I drove the 15 minutes to West Branch, but the streets were already closed up for the day of festivities. I finally arrived at work to park and walked over to the race starting area to get my bib. The event started and finished at the Hoover Presidential Library. There is parking there, but it’s for the museum. There was a port-o-potty set up too.

It was easy to grab my bib and I received a unisex, gray cotton t-shirt. It had a black logo on it. I took my things and walked back to my work, where I attached my bib to my belt and used the bathroom.

I walked back over to the starting area in time for the pre-race announcements. I was standing near some people I knew and we chatted about the actual route. There was a map and some verbal instructions, but I still wasn’t sure. We were supposed to go this way, then that way and do a loop here and there. There was also a 1.5k walk happening too.

My sister and niece arrived to cheer me on. They didn’t understand the map either, but they also didn’t care.

It was time for the race to start, so I found a place near the back. Then I was off and running. I knew there were 10 year age groups, so I was trying to size up my competition. Is that person in my AG? What about that one? Can I pass them?

We started on the drive near the gravesite, there was a volunteer stationed at the point where we needed to veer off into the prairie, so I followed the group and turned right. It wasn’t soon and we were huffing and puffin up the first hill. There were volunteers all over the prairie directing us where to go, even a water stop that we would pass twice. I was never lost and always knew where to go. There were signs placed where there were some ruts and holes, but they weren’t anything huge. There were no mile markers.

After all the turning and climbing and sizing up my competition, I was rolling into the finish line. I pushed stop on my Garmin and I had a 5k distance and a time of 30:22. Everyone that participated received a ribbon. I discovered it was good enough for 3rd place in my age group, wahoo!! I will be honest though, there were not that many people who ran the race.

There were bananas, granola bars and bottles of water available. The results were tallied and the awards were announced. I recognized the name of the overall female and realized it was someone I ran the Rival Game Relay with, years ago.

My sister, niece and I cheered for all the winners and then decided to stake out a location to watch the parade. Races with small town festivals are the best. We ended up getting a ton of candy pelted in our direction, too much!

The parade was over, so we went and had lunch at the Mexican restaurant, I got to learn all about the day in the life of an 8 year old and enjoy huevos rancheros. Then it was time to say good bye and get on with our days.

I really hope this race continues on. I know how much work it takes and I am glad the Lions took the initiative to bring this back. It was a successful first year event!