Grandma’s 2017

Grandma’s 2017 – RACE RECAP


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

I LOVE GRANDMA’S MARATHON!!! I was so happy when Bibrave partnered with this race, I couldn’t wait to get back to Duluth. In fact, my group of friends already had a hotel reservation. I would be returning for a 4th year at the event…. in fact I think my first Bibrave race was the Garry Bjorklund half marathon in 2014.

Duluth is about 7-8 hours from Iowa City, and as per usual, this is a road trip for me. Josh and I got a head start by staying in Rochester, MN on Thursday evening. We woke early, to pick up Miguel at the French Meadow in MPLS – hello delicious breakfast!

From MPLS we made good time to Duluth. That drive on I-35 can be tough as there always seems to be construction and everyone is leaving the city to get to their lake cottages.

We called ahead to our hotel in Superior, WI (just across the canal) and we were able to check in early. This allowed for some down time, even a nap before we would go to the expo, packet pick up and pasta dinner. The hotel had a welcome bag with Clif Bars and bottled water in our rooms.

At the expo, Kara Goucher would be speaking at 3pm, followed by Dick Beardsley. The 3 of us left our hotel around 2pm so we would be able to hear Kara speak, and meet up with the Bibrave gang that was also running the race.


Once we got near the DECC, where the expo and festivities were being held, traffic was backed up due to parking limitations. There was parking available for $5 near the area, but everyone was arriving at the same time. We should have left earlier or parked across the way and walked over. After some cussing, we talked our way into a bar’s parking area – they begged us to have a beer, but instead we gave them $5 and were given a parking pass.

It was a short walk to the expo building, but we were able to make it before 3pm. We met up with the gang and listened to Kara speak.


It was time to get our packets and then check out the expo. The vendors are set up until about 8pm, while packet pick up stays open late – 11pm. When we were there, around 4 ish, it seemed very busy.


There were the typical vendors, and a few free samples including pork, beer and wine. Grabbing our packets was easy, just needed the bib number, and didn’t have to show an ID, when you left this area they double checked that your timing chip scanned.


It was time to eat! I had won a Grandma’s prize pack on facebook which included 2 shirts, a hat and 2 pasta tickets.


Gina (Bibrave pro) had an extra pasta ticket which she shared with Miguel. You might have heard me boast about this dinner. It’s my fave because I can get a plate of plain noodles… um I might have have 3 plates of noodles…in addition to some bread, wafer cookies and a tiny Ben & Jerry’s ice cream. We took our time here and conversed with Gina’s friends, who happened to be from Iowa.


Before we left to get back to our hotel, we stopped to check out of the finishers of the 5k. (you could run this as part of the Great Grandma’s Challenge, 5k Friday and half or full Saturday) Even saw a joggler amongst the many people.


Back at the hotel, after laying out all the race day essentials, we called it a night at 9pm, it was going to be an early wake up call.

Gear: Bibrave tank, Sparkle Athletic Galaxy skirt, Zensah USA compression socks, adidas boy shorts, moving comfort bra, Hawkeye hat, Orange Mud Endurance Pack, aftershokz Trekz Titanium, Welch’s fruit snacks, Brooks Ghost 9, Garmin Fenix 3, Road ID. *planned on a Half Buff & my XX2i France 2 shades


RACE DAY

4:00 am – Rise and shine!  The half marathon started at 6:15 am and the full marathon started at 7:45. The race starts at Two Harbors and ends in Duluth,  we had to take a shuttle to the start. The hotel offers a bus for the marathon, but there was no option for Miguel (running his first half marathon,) except to catch a shuttle in Duluth.

This hotel caters to the runners and put out a breakfast starting at 4 am. Coffee, toast, bagels, fruit, juice, yogurt; all the simple basic foods that are perfect before a race. I toasted some bread and slathered some peanut butter on it, and grabbed a granola bar for the shuttle to the race.

We all piled into the giant rental truck, and barreled down the highway… ok not really, but we left around 4:30 for the boarding that was happening between 4:45 and 5:15 for the half.

UGH! Traffic was backed up onto I-35 from the exit ramp, as they could’t move cars fast enough into the parking lots. We pulled an “audible” and took some other random exit, with some twists and turns, we had cut the line from the interstate, and were close to getting a parking spot. *Ok, so I don’t do well in these situations, in fact I think this is the only thing I worried about on race day. I wanted to make sure we all got to the starting line. This caused major anxiety, as I am spoiled by Hawkeye events with parking passes and traffic control.

Whew! We were able to get close enough to have Miguel get in the line for his shuttle. We had options to get to the start line, and had time to then park the truck. We paid the attendant $5 and went to go find Miguel in line for some final good lucks and a picture.

Josh and I now had time to get to our shuttle… ok so the marathon buses started loading after the half and did so until 6:15am. However, Grandma’s is the only marathon that has a train that will take you to the start. I really wanted to do this, but it was first come first serve to 1000 people. With the timing, it worked out, we made the train!!!


The train goes up the shore, following some of the course. It is also sold as having bathrooms. I did not use a train bathroom, but Josh who had to wait a long time to use one, said they were “well used.” That aside, I really thought the train was a unique way to get to the start. There is also a spectator’s train.


We arrived to the start with plenty of time to check our bags, and wait in the super long port-o-potty lines. There has to be about 200 or so bathrooms, but never seem like enough. It was cloudy and there were some rain sprinkles falling.


We ran into Gina in the bathroom lines… just like last year, lol. I wanted to snap a pre-race pic with her. I took off my hat to put on my BUFF, in this process, my sunglasses which were resting on top of the brim of my hat, snapped in 2. GASP! *update XX2i has a lifetime warranty*


I wear a visor/hat and glasses to run in, as it’s great and easy way to protect me from the elements. So there I was, about to run my 23rd marathon, and I had no sunglasses… however I got my picture with Gina.


Josh and I walked to the starting corrals, we slapped high fives and wished each other luck. He went to the faster area, and I pushed towards the back. There really weren’t corrals, but there were pace signs and pacers to line up with.

The National Anthem was sung live and the race was underway. I knew it would be a few minutes before I would cross the start line, so I finally went to push the buttons on my Garmin to get it ready to use. That is when I discovered it was at 35% charge. UM? I had it plugged in all night…. oh wait, did I? Obviously not. Then I realized my error, I plugged in my headphones, and was like, they don’t take long.. I’ll just unplug after a bit and plug my watch in….that never happened.

Here I was, ready to start another marathon, no sunglasses and a watch with minimal charge… but you know what… I was not worried, not anxious…. nothing – I was ready to tackle the trek to Duluth.

I didn’t have a race goal… I blogged about my training for this race, including the crappy 16 miler that was my one and only long run. I knew I would be able to finish, and I knew I would do my best. It was also my third time at the event.

I don’t have too much to say about the marathon this year that’s any different in years past. The event is very well organized and any ability is welcome, course is open for 7 hours. Great spectators, great volunteers. The sun eventually came out, and it warmed to 77 degrees – according to the marquee when I was near mile 23. This is also when I switched my phone off airplane mode and called Josh just to tell him where I was.. and he was with Miguel and they were tracking me *blushing* This is is when I noticed my watch had officially died – so it lasted 22 miles, and like 4 ish hours? Guess I need to run faster.

I felt great this race, I walked the aid stations, like every 2 miles….and never wanted to walk – until mile 25. I never felt defeated. I did feel hungry at mile 15, and I had been eating my fruit snacks, I took bananas and oranges from the official aid stations. I had also been drinking the blue Powerade on course, but had to stop as it was way too sweet. (I was ready for a toothbrush.) I am thankful to the bacon stop and the people who had strawberries.

When I got to the last .2 miles the sky had clouded up and there was a downpour, the sound system even went out, and my name was not announced when I crossed the finish line at 5:26.  I didn’t have any clue how far I was back from the official time, so when I first saw my finishing time, I was a little disappointed. Oh well, I am slow and most importantly I felt good, not tired or sore.

I am not sure there is anything I dislike about this event, maybe they could add some food choices in the beer/music area AND consider something other than marathonfoto for pictures.

This is a race where you get your shirt at the finish line, so after collecting that, my medal, heat sheet, and bottle of water…the sun was already back out. I met up with Josh and Miguel, then saw Gina in the runners only food area. I made sure to grab some more strawberries.

CONGRATS MIGUEL!! Finished his first half marathon!!!


We then all met up with the Bibrave gang and enjoyed the post race music and beer.


(this area is open forever too, so everyone gets a chance at beer and music.) There were soda choices in addition to Odell brews.


Everyone then departed, and that is when Josh ran into a guy he knew from Iowa, and I saw Darin (hope I spelled that right) I keep running into this guy at races. So we chit chatted some more. If you see me say hi!

Then it was time for the traditional post race Little Angie’s. Tacos for the win! It was tough to eat all my food… I wasn’t super hungry then and I was tired!


Some how it was nearing 4:30… we trucked back to the hotel for a much needed shower and nap. However, I thought if I napped at this hour I wouldn’t get up, or I wouldn’t sleep the night.

Around 7:15 pm, I convinced Josh to drive some where so I could put my legs in Lake Superior. We found a pull out along the course, just north of Duluth. The air temp was in the 50’s and the lake was sooo cold but it felt sooo good! We skipped some rocks too.


Of course I was now hungry, so we drove a little further to a restaurant you pass along the course. We both got the walleye and tried the wild rice – which is a “thing” in the area. After dinner, it was finally time to close the chapter on the day…. I was ready to crash… and I did that.


Sunday

Time for breakfast, and the trek back to the Hawkeye State. We did some googling and thought we would try this cafe that served the famous Betty’s Pies. When we arrived the line was out the door, so we found this other place in downtown Duluth, the Lark. Welp, while the food was tasty, the service was slower than my marathon time.  We were happy to leave and go get some more coffee at the Duluth Coffee Co.


The trip back to MPLS to drop Miguel was uneventful, no traffic back ups. We were back in the cities around noon time, said good bye to Miguel… and crawled back into the truck.


After a traffic back up in southern MN (seriously that area has been under construction for years.) We made it all the way back to the Clear Lake exit before we needed to eat again. Luckily we did not need any gas, all the pumps were full. We discovered that Casey’s would put their chicken strips into a wrap, that was a delicious discovery!

Then really… it was a boring road trip, the radio was boring, the scenery..boring… maybe because we have traveled it a lot. Oh well, we made it home.

As stated at the beginning of this super long post, I love Grandma’s and Duluth, can’t wait to get back… of course we have the hotel reserved already.


You can follow Grandma’s on twitter, Facebook, Instagram or their website to keep up to date with the 2018 event, and you can check out my bare boned review at bibrave.com 

To answer the question, when my watch was recharged, I could see it had worked for 21.2 miles and 4 hours 15 minutes. 

Blue Grass 5k

2017 Blue Grass 5k – Race Review


The 2017 event was held as part of the Blue Grass Days weekend. The 5k and one mile race was on Friday, June 2,. The 1 mile started at 6pm and the 5k at 7pm. It was sunny, hot and around 84 degrees.I have run this race beforeoh I know you are shocked to learn this information! However, I hadn’t run in 3 years, it’s the same weekend as Hospital Hill in Kansas City. With no race on the schedule this year, I was in need of something, and then I remembered this race, plus I could hang with my sister, Amber and niece, Ella.

I was in contact with my sister during the day. I was curious if Ella was going to run the kids race. At the time, I wasn’t sure what distance it was or what time it started. Ha, yeah…. I just knew when I needed to leave to get to the 5k, and still have enough time to register.

At 4:50 pm, Amber texted and said, Ella was going to run the mile, WAIT, WUT?  Ok….. I was at work…and still needed to wrap things up, and get my running gear on – then drive the 40 minutes to the race.

It was the quick change performance of a lifetime, and I was in Blue Grass in a flash. My biggest issue was parking. It’s a super small town, but at the same time, I didn’t want to take a parking spot for a resident, or be in a towing zone. I finally just parked my car, and hustled to the Community Center.

It was 5:49 pm, plenty of time, and Amber and Ella weren’t even there yet. I was registering for the 5k, a whopping $10 – yes, let’s take a minute here, $10 an hour before race start – with chip timing. I could spend $10 more and get the short sleeve, unisex tech shirt if I wanted too. Amber rolled in and paid $5 for Ella to run the mile. In seconds, she had a bib and a timing chip attached, and was at the starting line.

6:00 pm. Ella had never run this far, EVER. I was going to run it with her, just to make sure nothing weird happened. I am not sure what the deal was, but the one mile race was only kids, all younger than 12? There were also not very many of them. I wondered if anyone could run the mile?

After a short delay and some direction from the RD about which way to go, the race started. Ella shot off, I jumped in beside her, and we were on our way.

The course was an out and back, all on paved surface, but many spots to be aware of, and not trip. The course was closed to traffic.


There was one other girl running, the rest were boys. The other girl had a guardian with her too, otherwise all the kids were out there by themselves. Ok, so there was a water stop…. but it was strange.

Ella and I moved along, it was hot and I was worried she would feel sick or something. However, that was far from the truth. Before the turnaround, she was skipping and even said “This is fun!” We turned around and she saw some of her friends on the course. I encouraged her to thank all the police officers at the intersections. We passed the water stop, which she insisted she did not need, and we kept moving.

It was time to make the sprint to the finish line. I ditched her, I had a timing chip on my shoe that couldn’t cross the finish mat… but mostly so she could finish on her own. She crossed the finish line in 10:38 – DAMN GIRL!! She ran the entire race, I was and still am so proud!!


There was now a lot of time to waste until the 5k. Ella had her post race popsicle and really wanted to go check out the carnival and festivities that were happening in town. We managed to keep her distracted until the start of the 5k, by running into my friend Dan, and his dog Phil. They were going to do the 5k too.

Just before 7pm, the RD made some announcements, making sure to thank everyone, and I mean everyone. Then there was a nice live singing of the National Anthem.

I lined up, and took off… weee – Amber even snapped a picture of me – HEY!


As I said, I have run this before, but I should mention it was a much simpler race. There was no chip timing, you finished and grabbed a popsicle stick to determine your placement. The course, while the same also went the opposite direction the previous time. I overhead someone talking about this, so I inquired why the route was run in the opposite direction. I learned that the runners wanted the hill towards the beginning versus the end of the race.  I rolled my eyes… this course is relatively flat with a small hill… looking at my Garmin / Strava stats… there was a total of 46 feet of climbing – sigh… and that hill was 20 feet…so yeah…people need to stop whining about hills, and just run them.

I was actually gonna try and race this…yes it was hot, yes I haven’t really done any speed work, but what the heck, why not? Just before the first water stop – which was full 16 oz plastic bottles (that I took a sip and handed to Ella) – I saw one of my sister’s friends…it was my goal to beat her. So just after the first mile, it was on!!

img_6549

It was all I could do to catch her… I did pound out an 8:37 first mile though – go me! I caught up with her just before mile 2, which I ran at 8:50 – and for me that’s still speedy – Also it was 84 degrees on pavement or asphalt, – HOT! Soo now what… ugh cotton mouth – I need to stop spitting – I’m gross. The second water stop had plastic cups and a hose spraying water, I tried not to slow down, so the person wouldn’t pass me, but I took a much needed drink.

I think every member of the area fire department or law enforcement was on the course, blocking every intersection. The entire course is closed to traffic, shutting down the easiest way around. I would like to thank all the volunteers who put up with the small minded people who couldn’t wait 5 minutes to cross the road. I saw 2 incidents of pissy people throwing a fit because the road was closed and they couldn’t wait or go around.

Whew, now time to push that last mile… there was one more water stop with paper cups, I stopped. Yep, a 5k with 3 water stops – THANK YOU! I also didn’t take much time here…and I had also gained on my competition, even though I was slowing down…my third mile was 8:56…however still sub 9 – wahoo!

I made that last turn, and saw Amber and Ella cheering me in. I crossed the finish line with a time of 27:3? which was good enough for 4th in my AG…always 4th…I was a convincing 4th place though, it wasn’t close. The 35-39 AG is very competitive – I would have won the 30-34 .


I hung around for a while, chatted with others ate my post race popsicle. Ella finally got to go to the carnival area. We reconvened and waited for the awards ceremony, indulging on our free “beers.” Ella and I got a wooden nickel with our registration to redeem for a free drink. I don’t care for the beer selection they offered so I took a soda, and Amber used Ella’s for a Coors Light.


We cheered as the awards were presented. Ella’s name was announced as the female winner of the mile – WAHOOOOO!!!!! She all the sudden was very shy and grabbed my hand and pulled me along to the stage to collect her trophy. The kid got a trophy! It was pretty cool.


It was getting late, and I had to stop back at work and gather my things, and eventually get home. We ended the evening with a celebratory ice cream from Casey’s.


As far as the race goes, I can not recommend it enough. $10 on race day, with chip timing, free beer, flat course, accurate 3.1 miles…what more could you ask for? Ok, small town Iowa, but I have paid more and gotten less, so do this race!


I also hope Ella will continue to think running is fun. I may have to order us matching unicorn / rainbow running skirts.

 

Run Madtown 10k Review

Run Madtown 10k Review

“Disclaimer: I received entry into the Run Madtown Twilight 10k to review as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review find and write race reviews!”

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

Read about my road trip to get there.

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

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

img_6298

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

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


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


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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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


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


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

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


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


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

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

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

Bear Stampede 10k 2017

2017 Bear Stampede 10k


The 2017 event was on Saturday, May 13, and started at 9 am. The 5k was run at the same time, on the same course, but turned around sooner than the 10k. The sun was shining and it was 70 ish degrees.

I have run this race, both distances, in the past. I have also been a part of this race, in that I have sold my head bands, and given proceeds to the race.

This year was different. The race organization changed hands, and I wasn’t contacted to sell head bands (and I didn’t contact them,) which was fine, because I don’t have time. However, I am happy to make custom orders.

I thought, hey I can get some miles in, it could be a tune up for the Run Madtown 10k, and then I could get to some projects at work. I like to make things with reclaimed wood, or upcycle furniture and the materials are piling up.

I parked my car near the starting line, and went into the school to register for the race. Registration was only $30!!! I didn’t get a shirt, but I don’t need anymore. Seriously, I think I mentioned this in years past, where can you run a 10k with race day registration of $30?!?!?!?  I also got chip timing.

I left with my bib…in an unnecessary plastic bag, that also had a Road ID coupon. I needed to move my car, so I drove to my work, parked my car and made my way back to the race, with a stop at the post office. I am not sure if it was about a half mile.

I arrived back to the starting area and milled around a bit. I was ready to go. I said hi to my friend Monty, he said he enjoyed this race because of the Hoover Nature trail part. This is the trail I run on during lunch time, it’s flat and peaceful.

Announcements were happening, and then it was time for the National Anthem, sung by one of the school kids. 5k and 10k participants were told to line up, there was no corral or pacers, but the race was small enough, and the street wide enough, there were no problems.

The race started at the elementary school, it then took a small loop through the town, followed by an out and back on the trail, then a run up all the hills to the finish back at the school.

I started out feeling good. However, that did not last long. The weather was too hot for me. It’s like the heat came from no where. I am fine running in heat, just when I have had time to acclimate to it. I also made the mistake of wearing a black shirt.


I did fine on the paved portion through town, but then came the trail section. As I said, I run this trail weekly, I thought I would be able to pick things up here. This was not the case. It started near the 5k turnaround. First runners were coming back towards me, crowding the trail. Second, the trail was not closed to others, there was some nature walk happening, crowding the trail – those people would not move! Third, it was hot!

I grabbed some water, which was ice cold at the 5k turn around – styrafoam cups though…blah. Then I crossed the highway and the participants thinned out. I think maybe 30 people ran the 10k. However, the nature walk people were out on this part too.

I made it to the 10k turn around, and grabbed some more water. On this part, I could count what place I was in. Before the turn around I was the 4th overall female. However, once I turned around, I saw the next 2 ladies closing in on me.

I was on the struggle bus the entire way back, I tired to push my pace, but it wasn’t happening. I was just too hot. Then one by one, the ladies passed me. We got back to the paved part and had to run up the hills. Whew – they are steep! I kept moving though.

Finally the short downhill to the finish line. Also talk about a super quiet finish line, where did everyone go? I crossed and someone cut my timing chip from my shoe. I needed some water.

I went to the post race treats area, and I was happy to find some chocolate milk. I grabbed that first, and then ended up chatting with someone for a while. I then thought I needed some water, only to find it was all gone! UGH those 5k runners! Thankfully, more bottles of water appeared. I grabbed one and a chocolate chip cookie.


As I cheered on the finishers, I waited for the results to be printed. They were posted, and I found out I placed 4th in my age group. Which is usually great, but the age group was split all funky: 0-19, 20-40, and 41-99…. um what? This is a school race, and even the 5k was split the same… you think for school kids it would be broken down…and 20-40 is the most competitive group….oh well. I left, no prizes, no medals for me…. lol. Guess I need to get faster and not wear black on a hot day. My finishing time was still near an hour.


Oh this race….will I run it again? Sure, being able to register on race day and the price itself is worth it, plus the money goes to the school. However, I felt the organization change… just seemed to lack in motivation or drive to have a great race…instead they just went through the motions of what was done in the past. Don’t get me wrong, there weren’t any bad things that happened, still had kids races too, and a bouncy house….but there was just something missing.

Red Shoe 2017

Red Shoe Half Marathon – Race Recap 2017

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

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

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

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


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


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

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

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

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


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

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


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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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


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

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

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

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


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

 

 

 

 

Ganzo’s 2017

Ganzo’s Cinco De Mayo 5k – Race Recap

img_5575

The 2017 5k was on Saturday, May 6th – GASP! Right, it wasn’t on the 5th of May… but some how we all managed… The race started at 9 am after the kids race at 8:30. It was a nice sunny day, around 50-60 degrees, oh and it was in Davenport, IA.


For a no frills review – bibrave.com

I was no stranger to this event, in fact when I ran the race in 2014, I was an award winner in the costume contest. Since then the race leadership was taken over by the guy who puts on the Quad Cities Marathon. The race still benefits the Autism Society of the Quad Cities.

I made it to Davenport just before 8 am. I still had to get my packet, and that closed at 8:30. Parking was a little different this time around, but available across the highway at the high school for free.

Packet pick up was quick and easy. I told the volunteers my bib number, from an email I received the week before. There were computers set up to register too, I think the race topped out over $40, but you get a medal, and a post race PAR-TAY!

I took my plastic bag full of too many race flyers… seriously there are too many things I don’t need. Anyway, I took my things, which also included a soft – short sleeve- unisex tee, a koozie, a pen and my bib with timing strip; back to my car. Then it was back across the highway again, to wait for the race to start.

While I waited, I met up with my sister and niece. Of course, my niece didn’t want to run the kids run, until they showed up to the race…. too late. We did cheer the kids on. Then we ran into Kevin, and chatted until we had to get into the corrals.


The corrals were jammed with people, including people with strollers and walkers just lined up where they wanted. Everyone was ready to go at 9 am, but then there were announcements – first from the race director, then it was the charity spokesman, then the mayor, I think the restaurant owner said a few words, then it was time for a live singing for the National Anthem, then the mayor told us how he was going to start the race…. I know right, just start already….


The race was finally on!!! I started out slow and steady…no goal, but the usual sub-30. I gave my sister and niece a high five on the way by. I then stuck with Kevin and we ended up running the race together.  As we ran, we saw Joel whiz by real quickly…. and then he disappeared.

The race started with a small up hill, and snaked through a residential neighborhood. There were some more rolling hills, and busy streets. There were 2, yes 2 water stops for a 5k, which is awesome!! We chatted and ran, thanked all the volunteers, and before we knew it were running the last stretch of the race.

We passed by my sister and niece again for another high five, and then crossed the timing mat, and we were done!!! The volunteer gave us our medals. There was no water or food in this area. If you wanted to continue walking the finishing chute, there were results to get printed out. My time was just over 29 minutes, yay another sub-30!

Joel appeared from no where, he just smoked the 5k!! All three of us went to watch finishers come in. We cheered on a lady running in a taco costume!! Then we saw Kelly zoom by.


It was time to go check out the post race events, and I wanted some water. The post race party was under a giant tent in the parking lot. An ID was required to gain admission, I am not sure if kids were allowed with a guardian. Funny story… I had once again misplaced my ID, and didn’t have it with me… and because I am me, I have a picture of my ID on my phone, they accepted that, and I had a wrist band to enter…. OK, so I don’t look 16 either.

The first thing to grab was a cold beer, Bud Light and a shot of tequila… well I grabbed those things too, cuz you know, fiesta! I didn’t have enough hands to grab anything else, so I took half the shot of tequila and washed it down with the Bud Light… cuz that’s what you do… I then decided I was done with that… so done… so I finally found that bottle of water I really should have been drinking. There were bananas and chips and salsa too. There was a taco truck set up for purchase of food.


Also under the tent was a stage with entertainment, live music!!  They also used this area to announce the awards. The party was happening!!


However, my sister was leaving, so I left the party to say “see ya later to them.” However, I hung around longer to chit chat with Joel, Kelly and Kevin. One of my favorite things about races is meeting my friends and hanging out!!


Sadly, that had to come to an end too, so we said our goodbyes… well mostly… I gave Kevin a ride home, via a stop at Dunkin Donuts. Had to get some coffee and munchkins.


This next part I am only documenting for personal purposes, and hope it never happens again. On the way home I had a slight headache develop. I had thoughts of – maybe I shouldn’t have taken half that shot, but it was only half a shot… or did I drink enough water? Did I lose too much salt? Not enough sleep? (I stayed up the night before to watch Breaking 2) Why do I have a headache? 

I usually get a bad headache or migraine due to hormones or dehydration / lack of salt. However, I just don’t think this was the underlying cause, as it got worse. I even took a nap, which usually helps, but this time I woke up and it was worse. Then since I just woke up, I wasn’t tired… so it was hard to rest… but I was in a lot of pain. I tried to drink some Gatorade and eat a granola bar, but felt so nauseous.

I was also worried if I would be able to run my half marathon the next day. I did some more lounging, and took more Advil. I really hate taking too much of that crap. I think I nodded off again. I finally felt like eating and ate an entire tub of mashed potatoes – you know half marathon the next day.

I finally went to sleep…. and I guess you will have to keep reading to find out if I made it to my half marathon….

Back to the subject of this post. Overall, Ganzo’s is a great spring race, Don’t let the higher cost deter you. It’s a race for all abilities, fun and organized well. Only suggested change would be an upgrade from Bud Light.

Drake Half

Drake Road Races –  Half Marathon


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

Looking for a “to the point review” go here

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


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

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


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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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


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

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

mmmm cookies!

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


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

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

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


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

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

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


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


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

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

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

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

July: B1G 10 10k

August: Madison Mini

October: Detroit Marathon

November: Madison Marathon

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