Marathon #26

Grandma’s Marathon – 2018 

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

It’s really hard to imagine ever running a marathon, but here I am ready to conquer my 26th. With running I have learned that anything is possible.

If you want a to the point, fact filled review, check out 

In my last blog post I wrote about the William A Irvin 5k, which is part of the Great Grandma’s Challenge. Run the 5k on Friday and the marathon on Saturday, I was participating in this. In that post you can learn more about going to the expo, etc.


With an early 4:36 am wake up call, the first thing I did was check the weather forecast. All week I had been on looking at the forecast, the rain chance hadn’t budged. We all know I will run in the rain – as evidenced in my last two weekends of races but I was done with it!!! SO what was the weather when I woke up… 50 degrees, clouds and NO rain… I couldn’t believe it!! Plus the last 2 years have been soo hot, I really wished I had put in more training effort, the weather was perfect for great racing times.

Josh, Miguel and I went to the hotel lobby for the runners continental breakfast. There was a lot of choices, but I kept it simple with a bagel topped with peanut butter and some fruit. I could tell Miguel was nervous, it was his first marathon.

Back to our room to grab all our things. The hotel has shuttle buses that come right to the front door, we needed to be on one by 6:15 am. This is so much easier than trying to get back to the DECC, fight through the traffic and either get on a bus there or the train. (which we did last year, nice ride – not enough toilets.)

Gear: Sparkle Athletic skirt, Zensah socks, Orange Mud Endurance pack, Zensah bra, Rabbit tank, Addidas short, Coros Pace Watch, Rudy Rydon glasses, Aftershokz Trekz Air, Brooks ghost 10, Hawkeye hat, spi belt

The bus ride was long….. only because we got caught in the traffic and construction area back in Duluth. However, we had plenty of time and made it to the starting area around 7 AM. The race would start at 7:45 AM.

While the start area can be a congested mess, with a little time it’s easy to navigate. The race starts near Two Harbors next to a car dealer lot. There is no good place to be dropped off or to park, just buses. Once off a bus there is the spot to check your bag, and the car dealer lot is full of port-o-potties as far as the eye can see. While there is never enough, just get to the ones furthest away and the lines will move quick!

I had last minute plans to meet with some BibRave Pros in the area at 7:15. I knew the area, and suggested the entrance to the corral system. At 7:10 I meet Jenn, she had traveled from PA for the race. I waited until 7:20 am and missed anyone else. I was kinda bummed, I knew there were 3 others running. However, as I said the area is very congested.

In the meantime I had said goodbye to Josh and Miguel. Josh was off doing his own thing, he had something to prove with this race. The heat from the previous years did not treat him well. Miguel needed to use the bathroom. I wished em good luck… and didn’t see them for hours.

The thing is, when it’s your 26th marathon, you still get nervous, but you are a little more confident in your ability to finish. I used the bathroom and took my time getting situated in the corral. Where I still stood forever until I crossed the starting line.

I mentioned how I wished I had trained better, but the week before the race I also registered for a 56k, so this was a training run too. I really love this course, and all it has to offer. I just wanted to enjoy and get to the finish.

It was a little gray and while you couldn’t see much of the lake, you knew it was there as every once in a while a cool burst of air fell over the course.

I ran on the gravel shoulder in as many spots as possible. The road was closed to traffic the entire course, so if you wanted to run the tangents that was possible.

The course is well supported with official aid stations offering water, Powerade, Ice, sponges, gus and oranges and bananas. Spectators are in all the spots they can get access. In the early miles the course is on old Hwy 61, and at any intersection there are groups with signs, or at camping or lodging areas there are bands or loud music. When you get closer to Duluth the spectators set up many unofficial aid stations with bacon, watermelon, pickles and even ibuprofen.

Then near mile 22 is the infamous Lemon Drop Hill. I think this course is relatively flat, some will tell you different, but that is why this hill is significant as it’s the biggest climb in one area. It’s actually an overpass bridge.

I had to use the bathroom for the second time… ahh, I had hydrated maybe too much? I was loving the new Watermelon Gatorade I had with me, not as sweet as the Powerade, where you feel you need to brush your teeth at the end of the race.

About mile 23 now, I turned my phone off airplane mode and thought I would call Josh. He answered quickly, so I knew he had finished, YAY!! However, he said he was in the medical tent again….um? This time it’s because he was sooo cold and couldn’t warm up. This race…..

The end of the course was re-routed as there was construction in Duluth. I liked the change, however it added what felt like a steep, short downhill. It did eliminate the brick streets which are tough at the end.

I was really close to the finish and I spotted my number 1 fan, Kate cheering people on…so I did what anyone does at the end of a marathon… jumped for photos and stopped to chit chat. I was feeling really good, slow but good!

I left Kate and decided I should get my medal. I saw Josh near the finisher chute, yay he was no longer in the medical tent. I crossed the finish line with another jump. (While there is a Marathonfoto of that, I am not paying for it.)

I am sure I have mentioned this before, but after you get a finisher’s medal and a bottle of water, you get your finisher’s shirt. You not only have to earn a medal, but you earn your shirt. This year it was a darker green, short sleeve, gender specific tech shirt. Very similar to my 5k shirt.

After the shirt pick up, I saw Miguel…or maybe it was before… YAY, Miguel made it to the finish line!!!! Congrats on your first!!! He did look a little rough, but he was up right.

He walked with me through the finisher area, as it was the easiest for us to all reunite. I grabbed some strawberries, there was also orange juice, oranges, and apples. Then I saw the chocolate milk, I needed one of those!! There were chips and bagels with cream cheese too. This was also the area to grab your gear checked bag.

We departed this area and I wanted my beer!!!! The beer area is also the post race party. The race merchandise is set up, coffee, soda and a band is performing. There’s a giant video screen for viewing the finish and a results tent as well.

I turned in my  beer ticket for an O’dell’s IPA. Dear races with crappy beer…. this is how you do it! They had the lighter choices, but then beer that actually tastes good.

I was trying to carry all my things, which is always difficult. I wonder if this is how they police people from taking to many post race things? Miguel and I stood even longer while communicating with Kate. She was nearing the area and would be at Little Angie’s Cantina, so Miguel went out to find her.

I drank my beer and met up with Josh. He waited at the finish to watch some people he knew cross the line in their first marathon… and as luck would have it, they gave Josh their beer tickets…. MORE BEER!!

Josh and I went inside the band tent to sit, listen to the music and just enjoy the event. Then we discovered that GRANDMA was singing… yes, there is a lady that dresses in a Grandma’s costume to greet people all weekend, and here she was signing cover songs on the stage. It was the coolest thing!!

We cashed in our second beer tickets, this time I tried an Alaskan brewing white ale. It was good, but not my favorite. We checked out the merchandise tent and then thought we should catch up with Kate and Miguel.

They were seated just outside Little Angie’s. For some reason Josh and I thought we would order some more beer and food. Little Angie’s has been the post race tradition now for 5 years. It’s right at the finish line, plus you can never go wrong with Angie.

We were all tired, so another year passed and I still hadn’t went in the lake post run…I am thinking the lake was almost the same as the air temp.

After some lounging at the hotel, we did do some more discovering of Duluth. We always say we want to spend more time in the area, but then always are too exhausted to explore. This year we went over the lift bridge and drove the island. We discovered Park Point Beach, what a cool spot.

Then some how it was time to eat again. By a suggestion of Josh’s friend we went to Sammy’s pizza. We each ordered an individual pizza… we know how to party!! Then it was time to call it a night.

SUNDAY, June 17

Time to go home, Duluth is quite the drive. I didn’t leave before getting in another mile in my run streak, such a great place to be…plus it was also about 90 degrees at home.

We gathered our things, hit up a popular local coffee spot and made our way to MPLS to drop off Kate and Miguel.

Then had an uneventful trip to Iowa City, complete with a road side attraction photo.

Grandma’s is one of my favorite marathons, ever!! The race organization is top notch, the course is beautiful. I really thought this was the year to finally eat at Grandma’s restaurant and jump in the lake… maybe next year….

If you ran don’t forget to add a review to and claim your results on Athlinks


William A Irvin 5k – 2018 recap

Great Grandma’s Challenge – William A Irvin 5k Recap

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

Ahh, I struggle on how to start each and every blog post… I wish I had some catchy phrase or sentence to grab your attention…. but my mind is sizzling out, so you will just have to deal with my rambling…*snickering*… and as always for a to the point review, check

Thursday, June 14

Josh and I packed up the car, to then unload it all into a rental. Then we were on the road to MPLS. We had made arrangements to stay with our friend Kate, as she would be joining the weekend fun!

We avoided I-35 as Kate told us that construction around the city was a nightmare. This allowed us to stop in Rochester for dinner at Noodles. I could eat pasta or noodles everyday.

Around 10 pm or so, we arrived at Kate’s and got settled in.

Friday, June 15 – RACE DAY

Kate had to work until noon, and then we would continue the trip to Duluth, also picking up Miguel. I just had to get my race stuff for the 5k before 5pm. (packet pickup for Saturday races was open until 11 pm.) With a 2 ish plus hour drive to Duluth, I felt we had plenty of time. However, it seems every year there is more and more road construction, making the drive a little longer.

Josh and I ventured to one of our favorite places to eat, French Meadow and had a leisurely morning as Kate and Miguel worked.

Kate was keeping in touch via text and just after noon time, we were packing up the car with her things, and then on our way to pick up Miguel. It was probably near 1 pm when we left downtown MPLS… *I just need to be there before 5… race doesn’t start until 6, I can get a little anxious.

As we chatted away, and eventually searched the radio for the perfect song, the GPS suggested we take a different route… UGH, construction was backing things up. In addition to the race goers, the city dwellers are headed north to their cabins, lots of traffic on one highway.

After all the crap, we pulled close to Duluth just before 4pm. We had about a mile to go and were stuck in traffic. This always happens. The exit ramp backs up onto the interstate. There’s also an exit you can take before the mess, but as luck had it, downtown Duluth was under construction, so it caused even more backups.

I kept thinking it’s less than a mile, I could just walk and get my bib… I also had an hour… I also knew that we would have to walk after we parked, and the bib pickup is in the back of a very crowded expo hall.

We kept moving, but I kept getting a little more anxious…. oh and I still had to change into my running clothes. When we were close, I hopped out of the car and just went to get my packet. I couldn’t take it… and told em I would meet em inside.

I made it to the expo, and it was CRAZY!! There were people everywhere, all walking in different directions. There are many entrances into the space, but they all start with the big area with the pasta dinner, then leading to the smaller expo and packet pick up.

I of course waited in the wrong line first, so after waiting in the 5k pickup, I went over to the Great Grandma’s Challenge line. Packet pick up was super simple, they just wanted my bib number, no proof of ID. I was given all the things! I also was given my 5k tech shirt, short sleeve gender specific. I received a tote full of goods, and at the time I did not have time to see what was all inside.

I left the pickup area, checking the timing chips to make sure they would register in my name, which they did and kept moving. My next deadline was to get into a starting corral by 5:30pm. I had no time to check out anything in the expo, I like to get free samples and what not, but there was no time.

I did make time to meet fellow BibRave pro Amy at the Bondi Band booth.

Then things got a little crazy, I had to find Josh with the car keys so I could change. After some texting I found them and trekked to the car. I made a quick change in the car (not my first time) and made it back to the DECC. People were still buzzing everywhere, it’s kinda crazy and I would suggest getting there early if you want to check things out and not feel rushed.

Near 5:30 I was ready to get into the corrals, but really I didn’t need too. I wasn’t going to race the 5k the night before a marathon. So instead I checked out the free Clif bar samples and some local beer samples, which were stationed right near the corral and finisher area.

I said later to Josh, Kate and Miguel and finally went to stand in the corral. There were some announcements. This was the 25th year of the 5k. We had just got into town after a lot of rain and were told the course had some puddles. Then the National Anthem was sung, and corrals were released. They were just set up by pace, nothing official on the bib or proof of time.

Just after 6 pm, I hit play on the Aftershokz, and was on my shakeout run. I saw Josh right away.

Then it was the first puddle…. I have never seen anything like it, the length people went to avoid this puddle, everyone bunched up to one side and slowed down…. I of course, ran on the edge and splashed right through…no one has time for that.

The course was thankfully a lot different from the time I ran this in 2015, while we did go down the road towards the industrial part of town, it was just a small part and we turned back towards Duluth. It was all flat, and we ended up running along the lake front, which was gorgeous.

There was a water stop in this area too, but I didn’t need to stop. There was also another puddle here and a volunteer stood guard with a flag…so we were detoured to the boardwalk along the lake, which was almost harder to navigate as we had to go through some loose rocks. Again, I have never seen so much hate for a puddle.

It was weird to route through the area where the marathon post race food is set up, but that is how we got to the finish near the William A Irvin freighter.

I came across the finish just over 30 minutes, darn, no matter what I have on the docket, I always strive for a sub 30. Oh well, a finish is a finish.

A volunteer handed me a medal – yep there was a 5k finisher medal. I got a bottle of water, chocolate milk, bag of Old Dutch chips and a Clif bar.

I spotted Josh, and he said Kate and Miguel took an Uber back to the hotel. Miguel was running his first marathon, and was getting nervous. Understandable.

We decided this year we would not be eating at the pasta party supplied by the race. The price had increased to $14, and while you get your money’s worth and it’s really easy to eat there. We thought we could get more of what we wanted for that price somewhere else. As luck would have it our hotel was having a runners dinner special.

The hotel is in neighboring Superior, WI. It may not be the fanciest of places but it caters to the runners. In addition to the dinner, there is a breakfast in the morning and a shuttle to the start.

Josh and I decided to leave the crazy DECC area and get to the hotel too. It’s nice to be well rested before a marathon.

We got back to the hotel and went to the restaurant. For $14 there was a pasta buffet with potatoes and breadsticks. I was in carb heaven!!! They also had salad and pasta sauce.

After stuffing our faces, we made it back to the room to lay out all our marathon gear. I also finally had time to check out what I got in my awesome tote. The clear race bag (doubled as a gear check bag) was full of flyers. There was a separate envelope for my 2 bibs, one for each race. There was also an insulated tumbler- which I later found out is also a coozie. Then I receive a pair of fitsoks for the 5k too. So many great surprises for the Great Grandma’s Challenge.

It was then time to call it a night – marathon #26 in the morning!

Overall 5k thoughts: This would be a tough race to run as a stand alone if you didn’t live in the area. I feel the logistics of getting your bib is tougher than most. The price is a little higher too, near $40 but you do get a medal and a great view of the lake.

If you ran the race, make sure to add your review to and claim your results on Athlinks

39 Forever

Dam it’s over! 

On Saturday, June 2, I took part in the 39th and final Dam to Dam race, a 20k from Saylorville Dam to downtown Des Moines.

As always my no nonsense review is at

When registration opened mid March, the price was $39. Josh was in for this too, so he got online and immediately registered both of us. This was a good thing as the first thousands of spots sold out in no time. There were an additional 1000 spots added and all spots were full by around noon the same day.

We were no stranger to the event. In 2013 we ran the last 20k distance. From 2014-2017 they changed the race to a half marathon. For this last edition they changed it back to the 20k distance.

Josh and I skipped out of work early Friday (June 1) afternoon to get to the packet pickup and expo. There was no option to get anything on race day, so you had to make it to the expo by 8pm.

We were at the expo around 3pm. There was free parking in the lot north of the Iowa Events Center. However this was confusing as signs were posted saying that parking was $8. I pulled up the email that said free parking and we mentioned it, and they let us in. There was also metered parking on the street.

If you have never participated in this event, the “expo” is not your traditional race expo with vendors and merchandise for sale. Yes, there was a giveaway, volunteer checkiin, and one fitness store with gear, but it’s more of a pre-race party.

After we found our bib numbers and entered the giveaway, we made it to area to grab our bibs. This was simple, just tell the person your number and they double checked your name. They did not ask for ID, but they did ask what color of socks we wanted, I went with a pink, they were Brooks low cut.

Then we had to make our way to claim our shirt. We had a choice of neon yellow, blue or black. They were a Brooks technical material, gender specific, and short sleeve. I went with the neon yellow. The design was simple, a tiny logo and words “39 forever.” Nothing was pre-stuffed in a bag, but there was a small plastic bag available if you wanted.

The center of the events hall was filled with food. There was a buffet line with chips, snack mix and candy. There were two sandwich options. A table with some cake and mini cupcakes was also present. There were stations for soda and blue Powerade. Water was set up throughout. None of this was an additional cost, keep in mind we registered for $39.

Outside there was a beer tent. They were serving keg Coors Lights and Smirnoff Ice. There was live music, but it was warm and sunny. This too was at no additional cost and you could drink as many pre-race drinks as you wanted.

We found a table and sat down to eat and relax. We also checked the forecast for the race, there was rain predicted all week and it wasn’t budging.

After some chatting with friends and learning we did not win any giveaway, we moved on to go eat more food. We had reservations at Christopher’s, one of Josh’s favorite places to eat in Des Moines.

Once we were done filling ourselves with all the pasta…yes I know it’s only 20k, but we like pasta; we were already thinking about what we would be having for breakfast, lol. We found this fancy new downtown Hy-Vee and grabbed some bagels. Then we checked into our hotel. We got all our gear ready and then we called it an early night as we would have to wake up at 4 AM to catch the shuttle.

Gear: Sparkle Athletic skirt, Coros Pace watch, Brooks running Ghost 10, Rudy Rydon glasses, Aftershokz Trekz Air, SpiBelt, Road runner shorts, Zensah socks & bra


Bagels and coffee, another breakfast of champions!

It was early, but that’s race day. First a check of the weather—-oh crap! The radar did not look good. However, the big blob looked like it would move through and eventually pass on. The temperature looked fine too. The question was, would there be lightning? The race is point to point and starts on top of a dam with no shelter. Would it be cancelled? We kept glued to social media and the radar for any information, all while still preparing to grab a shuttle to the start.

There were 3 locations to catch a shuttle to the start. We would be going to the downtown location. Buses would be from 5 AM to 5:45 AM. We went to the lobby to wait for our Uber, it was about a mile walk to the shuttle pick up and it had started to rain. Meanwhile in the lobby we managed to score a 4 PM checkout time!

The Uber showed up and on the ride the driver was amazed that anyone would run for 2 hours. I kept my mouth shut….. I guess running for 7 hours would be asanine!

We made it to the buses, there seemed like an endless line. Runners were just lining up to board them. I did not see anyone in charge of the process, there were police officers directing the next buses ahead on the road.

Once in the bus, Josh and I didn’t care what happened. We were in a dry spot. If they had to delay or cancel, we were in a relatively safe spot. We spent the time scrolling social media pages for the event. Things were going so great for people who drove into the downtown bus pickup, traffic was reported as backed up. Another location at the mall was reporting there were no buses. It was a fun way to pass the time.

We got close to our drop off point at the Dam, but the line of buses was really long, so it took a while. This was fine as what appeared to be the heaviest part of rain was going through. We were still dry.

The time came and we had to get off the bus. There was a light rain and there were some dedicated volunteers who had been standing outside for a long time directing the drop off.

We made the walk to the starting area. There were a lot of people in ponchos and plastic bags, and people wearing trash bags on their shoes. Insert eye roll… ok maybe this is mean, but it could rain on race day, had these people never ran in the rain? You just get wet, those training runs you can find the sock and shoe that works for no blisters. Also have you ever run in a rain coat/trash bag or poncho? I find the sweating from the inside is worse and you have all this crap stuck to you, you are not dry. Ok, so maybe they were going to ditch the coats after the start… more on that later. Also was no one watching the radar? The rain wasn’t going to last.I guess I am no nonsense, the weather happens….

We bypassed the port-0-potty area, and continued walking to the start as 7 AM was quickly approaching. I stopped near the sign that said 10 min per mile. It was an ambitious pace, but it was a good place to stop. I said good luck to Josh and he forged ahead.

As I stood there and waited to start, I kept my eyes open for someone I might know. As luck would have it, twitter friend Scott was waiting near me too. I made my way over and we chit chatted. I then saw local running friend Tim and gave a wave. The rain continued and we waited more… it was now after 7 AM.

At 7:23 AM an announcement was finally made, the race was going to start at 7:30, there was a half an hour delay…. um thanks for the heads up. I didn’t see any lightning when we were standing there, so I am thinking there was a backup with getting runners to the start on time. Standing in the rain is different than running in the rain… and a little cold, but I still don’t wish I had a poncho.

Finally – it was time to run!! Then out of no where the wind picked up, and was driving rain at us. What an AWESOME way to kickoff the last Dam to Dam. Just as we started, local running friends Horacio, Logan and Jennifer passed me and we all battled the weather through the first mile.

The race as I mentioned is point to point and the idea is you start at the Saylorville Dam and run to the Dam in downtown Des Moines. It’s all on paved roads, first in the countryside and then through parts of Des Moines. The course is overall downhill, with a bigger climb at mile 7.

The rain finally let up after a mile or so and it really wasn’t a bad day, especially since the day before had been so hot. The worse part now was dodging all the plastic – trash bags and ponchos everywhere. Thank you to everyone that took time to clean that up. Also, do they make a compostable poncho? So much waste! The rain also cooled down some of the pavement.

As far as my race, I just wanted to finish and do my best. I tried to run on the gravel should as much as I could. I stopped for water and Powerade when I needed it, although each stop was set up different. I even detoured for a port-o-potty off course. There were always lots of people on course with my pace. This made the part along the river path a little crowded. There were lots of spectators in the areas they could get to, but I would suggest cheering for everyone and not just your friends.

I came to a very busy finish area. The announcer was catching the names as he could. Once across the timing mat, you had to weave through finishers waiting for loved ones to find a medal. *I saw a race official arguing with a participant to leave the area.

I found a medal and then saw Herky… so I was now part of the problem, he did not have a line , so I quickly pulled my phone and snapped a selfie!

I proceeded through the crowded chute and got a cup of water, and picked up a bottle of red Powerade. Then it was time to exit the area. There were people everywhere….. runners and non runners. A volunteer pointed in directions…”food that way, beer back there, photos here” I just wanted room to breathe!

I finally found a way to the food. It was line up along the outside of Cowles Commons. It would have made sense for a line to be formed and people to follow through, but instead people – and I mean runners and non runners – were just walking up and grabbing things.

I started at the far end and followed through, it took a while as people were just walking up. I grabbed a chocolate milk, ice cream, cookie, kettle corn and apple. I felt greedy taking all those things, mostly as I looked silly and couldn’t carry them all. I even skipped the pulled pork sandwich, oranges and bananas.

Near the end of the line I saw someone I thought looked familar, it was BibRave Pro Michael… so I stopped and chatted. He was telling me that his running group had a fun day and would stop and help the water stations give out cups.

I then had to find Josh, he had sent me some texts as to his whereabouts. I did find him, thankfully his IOWA shirt stood out. We sat and enjoyed the people watching.

I decided even though it was Coors, I would get a post race beer, so I headed over to get one. It was crazy! I ended up finding a dumpling instead….. sooo the next time Josh went back over to the beer line with me… we found out a runners bib got you a bib, non runners got a wrist band…to which I am not sure they had to pay for.  We waited in what we thought was a line, only to have 4 people budge in front of us… lots of crap for a crappy beer.

Finally a cold beer in our hand, we went back to listen to the live music and more people watching. The sun was in and out of the clouds, it was a nice day. The crowd started to thin out, so we decided to walk back to the hotel. As luck would have it, the GIANT farmers market was happening, so we got an iced coffee.

We were back to the hotel just before noon. A shower sounded great… nothing more enjoyable than being rain and sweat soaked, but it was time to move on.

Next stop, lunch! – Yes all we do is eat. El Bait Shop was next to the hotel, we just had to go here, there are over 250 beers on tap…WAHOOOOOOOOO!!! Also, Josh wouldn’t shut up about the bacon wrapped tots.

We ordered a flight of beer, each of us picking 2. MMMM sour beers are my jam! The tots were delish! We topped off the trip by splitting a tray of nachos.

As much as we would have liked to stay and explore Des Moines, it was time to get home. However, we only made it as far as Newton before we had to stop at the gas station and take a nap… when did we get so old?

So what’s next for the Dam to Dam? I told you this was the last year…. well it was the last year as the Dam to Dam. The former race organization was all done by a volunteer board, they are done! The race was bought/sold/acquired by a race event management company – Rip Roar Events. I even received and email to sign up for next year – but it will be called DAM to DSM. I am not sure if it will be a half marathon, or the same idea.

I am also not sure if I will be back. I think I had the same feelings when I ran this in 2013, I just wasn’t that “thrilled” for the event. We signed up because it was to be the last and it was only $39. Guess I will just keep my eyes open and see what happens.


Market Stampede

West Branch Bear Stampede 10k

Saturday, May 5th, West Branch, IA. It was sunny and would warm up to around 70 degrees.

The race usually falls on the second weekend of May, but this year it was moved to the first. It just so happens that the little farmers market I am a part of was also the same weekend. The two events joined forces and were at the same time. This meant I would at the least be selling my headbands as part of the market on race day.

I am no stranger to this event, I have run it many times. I have also sold my headbands in the past. However, when I arrived on race day I was still uncertain if I would run the race. I would need someone to watch my stand while I ran, and I was on my own that morning. When I had my stand all set up my fellow market vendors agreed to to keep an eye on things, so I went to sign up.

Small town races are the best, we have a lot of them in Iowa, you could run 2-3 every weekend. One of the best parts is you can register on race day for a reasonable price. The 10k was only $30 on race day. I feel if I asked I could have received a t-shirt too, but that’s the last thing I need. I even got a timing chip for my shoe.

As I stood at my market stand waiting for the race to start, I think there were some announcements, but I was on the other side of the bouncy house, where it was hard to hear. Everyone moved towards the starting line, so I went that way too. It was a mass start with the clock, no starting timing mat. There was no National Anthem.

As I said I have run this race many times. I knew where the course was to go, which also meant I knew the hills and West Branch has hills. Hey, fun fact – Iowa is not flat.

The course starts by going down the main street, there are cops at every intersection and a few people around town stop and take notice. It happened to be the same day as a community cleanup, this meant that just within the first mile there was a situation with some extra traffic hauling their junk to a special trash drop off. I really wasn’t bothered, I just kept on going.

Up the big hill and then through Beranek park to loop back around to head out the Hoover Nature Trail. There is a 5k with this race too, both of them start at the same time. When we get to a certain part on the trail, the 5k turns around and heads back into town. It’s easy to cheer the leaders on as they pass by.

The 10k keeps running further out on the trail. This is the trail I run a lot on at lunch time. It is an old rail bed, so this part is really flat and it’s crushed limestone. On this portion the runners were really thinned out. I did pass another woman, I made a remark at the time that she would probably pass me again because I knew there were 2 hills at the end.

As I was getting closer to the turn around, a man who was on his way back shouted, “first female!” I was shocked, no…not me?!?!  Then the mental game was on.

On the way back on the trail, I knew the woman I passed was close behind me. I kept repeating – this is the flat part, keep pushing, build some time. However the first mile I ran an 8:41 so it was kickin my butt, also I was a little hot, oh and I had just run a marathon 6 days prior. I wasn’t gonna give up.

I made it back to the 5k turnaround water stop, I grabbed a styrofoam cup of water and saw that woman was really close now. AHHHH ok, will I be happy with 2nd female? I went back and forth in my head.

I was off the trail, and at the base of the first big climb, and then it happened, the woman passed me. I looked at my watch, 5.78 miles… I lead for this long, ugh, I didn’t have anymore in me. Then …. the woman started walking… I was still shuffling up the hill… I could do it!

I got to the top and I was again leading, I knew I had a little flat spot before I needed to climb the last hill, I just kept moving forward. I pushed up that last hill – Oh and I saw my friend Carol and her daughter Susan drive by, so that was a nice pep in my step. I knew I was gonna make it!

I got to the top of the hill, only to make sure I could make it back down to the finish line without tripping or doing anything stupid.

I DID IT!! I was the first female in the 10k!!  Ok, ok, ok sooo there were only 12 people who ran the 10k, but I am counting this as a victory, wahoo!!! I had 6 ish miles in 56:55.

I crossed the finish line and found a bottle of water. There were some baked goods and bananas. Since I had baked cookies and Krispie bars for the market, I just went back to my stand.

I wasn’t sure if I was going to get an award, or what was happening. In the meantime there were a couple of kids races and I kept tabs on my market stand. I wished I had picked a spot in the shade.

It was time for the awards, I gathered and listened and learned that part of the announcements I didn’t hear earlier, was that the courses were short due to cutting out a block because of the trash cleanup event. Ahh, that made sense, safety was taken into consideration.

Anyway it came time for the 10k awards, my name was announced and I was gifted 5 – $1 coupons to the farmers market and I had a choice at a plant from the school FFA. What a fun, unique race award. I went with a petunia.

I walked back to the market and picked a home made raspberry jam and a bag of snack mix. Other award winners were given market bucks too. When the event was over, if you wanted the race would exchange cash for any market bucks the vendor received.

Then, just like that the event was over. I packed up all my things, and headed home to mow the lawn and plant my petunia.

As I have said, I have run this many times. This year felt a little different, only because there weren’t as many participants. I know how hard it is to get people to volunteer their time to make these races possible. I hope this event continues, it’s always great to run on the trail and in turn support the school. It was also fun to have the market at the event, maybe a little more cross promotion (or promotion in general) and next year will be even better!

If you ran the race, don’t forget to add your thoughts to a Bibrave review.

Chocoholic Frolic – Race Recap

Recap of the Chocoholic Frolic 5k & 10k – 2018

Saturday, March 31, 9 AM at Big Grove Brewery in Iowa City. The temps were near 40 with wind that would pick up and change direction.

Before I get into run details…how bout some background… As always I will have a review at

This event is new to Iowa City. With some research it appears that a race management company is responsible for 5 of these chocolate themed runs around the USA. It’s my opinion that due to the popular Hot Chocolate races, this series exists. In my area we do not have a lot of race management companies come from outside, most races are organized locally.

I first started to see advertisements for this event on Facebook. Something would appear in my news feed daily. Then, that same ad had a discount code to save $15. The registration period for that code expired, and a new one was advertised. I did try to contact the event via FB messenger on Feb 14th.

Ok, I couldn’t resist a 10k for $30, so I eventually registered. I was very hesitant. There was very little information on the website. However, because the run was soooo close to my house, I wanted them to prove me wrong.

There was no published course information, all the website said was the run was at Big Grove Brewery. As someone who knows that area well, I know it’s under construction, I was curious where we would be running. I also know running one direction out and back is roughly 5.5 miles.

There was also no information about the expo, as it said there would be one. To this day it still says TBD. It did say you could register on race day, so that usually means you can get your stuff on race day. However, with lack of information…who actually knew?

Next, proceeds from the event were going to a charity. The only way to learn about this was through the registration process. All it had was an option to donate more to “local charity.” What is this local charity? I still don’t know.

What did I know? I would be running a 10k that started at 9:45 am. I would receive a chocolate bar medal, a chocolate bar, and get a 1/4 zip pullover. I also read there would be a chocolate beer made special for the event. Apparently this was enough for me to justify spending the money (or to do some market research?) Is this enough for the everyday runner?

The week of the run/race, I finally got an email. Up until this I wasn’t sure if I paid $30 for a chocolate bar, as I still hadn’t received answer to a my FB message or one through the “contact us” form I submitted.

The email had the important information the website was lacking. First, it did call the event the Chocoholic Frolic Run – but went on to state “race” details. No where did I see “fun run” and I do think there is a difference between race and run and what to expect. It had both course routes and information about times to pick up your bib. This email also said the 10k would start at 10 AM. There was also another discount code to share with friends. Did anyone ever pay full price? This information needs to be on the website, it’s very helpful in deciding on registration.

Whew… you still with me?

So on the Wednesday before the event, I attended my running club’s shop local event. Prizes were race/run entries… and as the cookie crumbled, there were leftover entries to this and I was gifted one and gave my husband an entry. This was on the heels of a discount going out to the running club. Lots of codes and complimentary entries.

I talked to my friend who I convinced to register as she LOVES chocolate, and she still claims she never saw this event advertised anywhere. She does not have Facebook, where I saw an ad daily. So, maybe the reason for all the codes?

After all this and the codes, I found myself registered for the 5k as well as the 10k. I’ll keep things upfront and honest, I used one of the complimentary entries. There is no expectation I do anything in return. I always write a recap… so here I am.

There was a packet pick up the night before at the brewery. Josh and I decided to go and get our things. The brewery was packed, but there were signs leading us to the packet pickup area. We just had to tell them our names and they grabbed us a bib and assigned our information. Since I had registered for both races they asked if I wanted 2 pullovers, or a different size. While I thought about it, the lady asked me if I wanted some of the merchandise on the table. This was all really nice and totally not necessary. I did decide on another pullover color, but discovered it was too big when I got home, so Josh has another pullover. They thanked us many times for registering for the race.

I had organized all the things I was going to wear for the run. The weather is crazy here, it’s never going to be spring, so it did take some time to decide what to wear.

Gear: Sparkle Athletic ice cream skirt, Flipbelt crops, Zensah socks, Brooks Ghost 9, Moving Comfort bra, Mission t-shirt, Chicago Marathon hat, Aftershokz Trekz Air, XX2i France 2 sunglasses, Nathan race belt, Garmin Forerunner 935.

In true race day fashion, I was anxious about getting there in time. Why? I don’t know, I am used to traveling far and being unfamiliar with things… I really could have rolled up minutes before the start.

The brewery opens for regular business at 11 AM, but they had the doors open for people to stay warm or use the indoor bathrooms. The patio fireplaces were on. There is lots of parking, including at the neighboring business.

Inside, on the top of the bar were the plates of goodies finishers received. In the back game room computers were set up for race day registration. A selfie station tent was set up on the patio. 90s hip hop music played on the speakers. An announcement came over the system and the kids race was to begin, followed by the 5k.

Another strange thing is the 5k is before the 10k. With time and whatnot, you think they could run them simultaneously or start the 10k first.

As I mentioned before, I am familiar with this area. The City of Iowa City has been re-working an old waste water plant to make the area to the west of the brewery a small park with paths that connect to a trail system. This project is close to complete, but the connection to the brewery is not finished, so a wood chip trail was added to get to the starting line. It wasn’t difficult, it just wasn’t ideal.

At about 9 AM, runners were gathered at the start. There was a teardrop flag blowing in the wind and a rubber timing mat across the sidewalk. There was a bike out front to show the way.  After some announcements, the race was on.

Josh gave me a high five and I followed the pack. The course is on the Iowa River Corridor Trail. It heads south along the Iowa River, to the ball fields, and eventually around the Trueblood Rec Area. It’s relatively flat, a small little hill here or there, and it’s all paved.

I passed the first mile marker and my watch agreed with the distance. After this, I took a turn as suggested by signs, to run through the ball fields and make a loop. I passed the water stop and did not take anything as it was cool. I am not sure if there was anything but water. The email stated “water and chocolate will be located along the route and at the finish line.”

I was on my way back, and keeping note of the mileage on my Garmin, for a basic out an back, things were not adding up, but what could I do but keep moving.

Also a side note, as a Bibrave Pro I was trying out my FlipBelt cropped leggings for the first time, and I had the phone in the back zippered pocket and I had to keep pulling my pants up. This kept me occupied as I ran back.

When I got close to the starting line, which was also the finish line, I looked at my watch and it was around 2.6? I knew the 2 guys (Dan & Horacio) handing out finisher medals, so I motioned to my watch, and raised my arms. They motioned me to the finish line, so I crossed the timing mat and they handed me my luggage tag medal. My Garmin read 2.75 miles. I was not happy. Someone with the race management company caught wind and told me they didn’t want to deal with the construction, so it was short. Ok, then don’t have the race/run or advertise it as a 5k. I am sorry to my friends Dan & Horacio who got to hear and see all my displeasure with the situation. Horacio wanted me to make sure I told everyone the guys handing out medals were the best!

I met up with Josh who had my 10k bib, as I needed to switch because the timing strips were registered for each race. I went inside to get my 5k? finisher plate and found the place very busy with participants. The finisher plate was PACKED with treats, like an insane amount of things for a 5k?. It was more than just the chocolate bar.

I had to get ready to go back out and run, so I put my plate in the car. I met a few of my running friends and we all discussed the short course and someone said the 10k course was spot on. Ha… the email might have said that too, but it also said the 5k was 3.4 miles.

I walked back over to the start area, while Josh did some warm up strides. There were not as many participants in the 10k. There were some more announcements, and the bike lead was back. This course started with a loop around the park path (um this could have been added to the 5k) and then we took the same Iowa River Corridor Trail south along the River, but this time a cut by the water stop table to the sidewalk along S. Gilbert St. There were signs in the ground with arrows pointing the way. There were no human volunteers on the course, except 2 at the water table.

I continued on, and had to cross a road. While it had a 4 way stop, there were no cones, no traffic control, nothing here. I took the loop around Trueblood, and then BAM….the wind was at my face or had switched direction or something, it was like running through mud. Anymore I can’t win with the weather, so you just wear all the things and expect the worst.

After my loop around the lake, there was a fork in the road….I was behind some women who were just as confused as I was at this fork. Those ahead of my just cut across the 2 cones and sign flopping in the wind. I had glanced at the course and felt like I needed to take a left and follow the Iowa River Trail. I went that way and I knew I was going the correct direction as there was a sign with an arrow on this route. The ladies in front of me basically cut the course, but really are they at fault if the intersection, with no human, was not clearly marked?

I was mad. I was really thinking if they were in my age group and they placed as the winner that would not be fair, then I was thinking this would be a great story for marathon investigation, lol.

After thinking I was on the correct path back to the finish, I passed one of the women who cut the course, but she was running the wrong way. She mentioned something like, the course is short. I was like, you cut the course, but neither of us stopped. I was no longer mad.

Are you still reading? Thanks!

It seemed as the wind was getting worse, so I was battling that the entire way back. I even dodged a falling limb. I also moved my phone to the front pocket of my FlipBelt Crops, and had no issues.

I got closer to to the finish and had to do another loop around the park area, before I crossed the timing mat. I was sad that Dan & Horacio were no longer handing out medals. I hit stop on my Garmin and it said 5.87. Wow! I met Josh and all I could think was get me some beer!

Inside the brewery, I grabbed another finisher plate and made my way to the beer. I said I wanted one of each brew, and showed them both of my bibs. I even got Josh’s beer as he didn’t care for it. There were not many participants hanging out at this time.

We joined our friends who ran the 5k? and discussed the event. I ate the items on my plate that were not individually wrapped, there was soo much! We chatted about getting what we paid for and discussed if this was a race or a run. When we solved all the problems we parted ways, and called it a day.

My overall thoughts….ha, you had to read a ton to get to this point. I feel I got $30 worth of stuff – the pullover, all the chocolate, the medal and the special beer. I do not feel I got any of that in the actual running part of the race.

Would I run it again? Hmmm maybe still on the fence… I am not sure I would pay to do it, knowing what I know. a lot of things have to improve.

This also has me wondering, what do people want in a race? Do they want the swag and material things? Or do they want a well supported course, an accurate course, volunteers, posted information? Am I looking to much into this, is this just a race for fun? Is this one of those events to get the non runner out and moving?

I am also a member of my local running community, and a member of our local running club. As a volunteer club that hosts 7 races we strive to do our best for the running community, and we hope to set a standard of what people should expect when registering for an event.

Thanks for reading.

Corridor Running Shamrock Shuffle 2018

Race Recap – Corridor Running Shamrock Shuffle 2018

Saturday, March 10, Iowa City, IA. Sunny and a cool 30 ish degrees.

This is the only race Corridor Running hosts in Iowa City, so if I am around I always try to participate, whether it’s running or volunteering.

I arrived at College Green park just after 6:30 AM as I signed up to help with race day set up. Brrr, it was cold, but not as cold as last year. I checked in an asked where I was needed to help.

I am not sure I ever had an official job, but I set up tables, answered some questions, directed people where to go, and I took photos and updated the club’s social media accounts. (which you should follow: Instagram / twitter) A box of donuts magically appeared and I might have ate one.

In addition to the normal bib pick up, there were tables set up to buy club gear and a table for a new running store in the area, Heartland Soles.

Around 8:30 I ditched my coat and made it to the starting line. It was weird, I ran in my volunteer shirt and no sparkle skirt. Maybe it’s because I was out of practice… I hadn’t ran a race in over a month!

After some brief announcements the race started. There were 2 distances to run – a 3.17 km and a 6.34 km (which was an additional loop.) I was in for the double loop. The course is a tour of the north side neighborhood, complete with old brick streets. There is one major hill near the end of the loop… this of course is where the official race photographer was stationed. The last stretch of this course is also on a busy street.


I had a good first loop, and then the wheels came off and I slowed down for my second loop. So.. I got my phone out and started doing some IG stories and taking pictures. I got called out talking to my phone by some guy on his cool down lap, HA!

Before I knew it, I was at the finish line and a volunteer was removing the timing chip from my shoe. I had a Garmin time of  38:10. There were bananas and water set up near the finish line, but the post race party was at a bar a short walk away.

I stuck around the finish and race area for a while as I also volunteered to help tear down the event. Hey, a race doesn’t happen without the volunteers, so I am happy to give back! It really isn’t difficult either, just do the task your are assigned.

The clean up duties were simple and easy as most of them were already done by the time I got back to race headquarters. I did move some tables and put some boxes in my car.

I got the ok to head to the bar. The awards had already been given out and people had started to leave – it wasn’t as crowded as years past. I had pre-paid for the brunch and ordered a beer and sat down at the bar.

Fellow club member, Warren joined me as I ate my corned beef and egg stew and we solved all the world’s problems.

I will continue to support my club with this event. I also like that the race distance is something different. I have struggled in the past to fit in at the post race party, but I enjoyed having a moment to sit down and reflect – I need to be ok with that too.

If you ran don’t forget to add your review to and claim your results on Athlinks.

Run for the Thuringer!

Amana Freezer 5k – 2018 recap

The meat bag swag keeps me coming back!

Saturday, January 27, 2018 – 10 am.

Unless you are new to the blog, you know this is one of my favorite Iowa winter races. I have run it a hand full of times, the swag is one of the reasons I return. Instead of another shirt, participants can choose a meat bag from the Amana stores, or you can opt for no swag.

I made sure to register online before the price increase and to get a guaranteed meat bag. I believe the cost was around $25. I am probably going to say meat bag as many times as necessary in this post, so let your inner 12 year old keep chuckling.

Josh was also able to make the race this year, and he was able to register on the day of the event, and still choose a shirt or meat bag.

There are no changes from last year for this event. The race day packet pick up happens in an old appliance factory building. There is a bathroom in this location, and they had port-o-potties outside the door. Again this year the visitor center restrooms were locked. There is plenty of free parking around town.

We grabbed our bib and meat bag, then chit chatted with everyone – Oh yeah, another reason this is a great event, all the area runners come out of hibernation. 

WHAT’S IN THE BAG? The 2018 edition included thuringer – which is like summer sausage, a package of swiss cheese and a package that contained 2 smoked pork chops. My bag also had a ticket for a post run Millstream beer. Josh’s bag did not have one.

We finalized the gear we would be running in and did a warm up run to Casey’s and used their restroom, then ran back in time for the 10 am race start.

There was no National Anthem, in fact people were just kind of standing around and then people were moving. It’s small town Iowa racing at it’s finest…. just go!

A photographer snapped shots as we all ran over the start mat. The course was the same out and back, on paved surfaces. Well that is what I thought until we did the turnaround loop in Middle Amana. It’s a tiny little place and they must have went to a chip and seal, creating a loose gravel running surface. There is also a short hill here.


Can you see me?

Ok, I am getting ahead of myself. I haven’t raced a 5k in what felt like years… so I didn’t know what to expect, but one thing seems always certain, I start way too fast. I just went, and then I saw my friend Mark ahead and I thought I could catch him. Well, the watched beeped at the first mile and said 8:30… NOPE! I wasn’t going to maintain that, and let Mark go and backed it down…but reflecting on it… dang, an 8:30 mile, pretty good for me!

I made it to that loop in Middle Amana and the front runners were on there way back. I cheered on my friends, and kept moving forward.

It seemed like forever to run that final stretch back into Amana, but I made it back to the timing mat, crossed the finish line, ripped the chip off my own shoe and found Josh. I did check my watch real quick and I had run another sub 30, with 28:11.

The timing company had race printouts if you wanted to get one, but we decided to walk back the race course a little bit and cheer on those still running. It was a nice winter day, the sun was out and it wasn’t too frigid.

When it was time we made it back to the building where you picked up your packet, for the post race treats and awards.

There was all kinds of baked goods, bagels, bananas, clementines, hot chocolate and bottled water. There was also plenty for everyone!

The post race awards always crack me up. For whatever reason, no one is listening and everyone is talking so you can not hear anything. The lady brings a bull horn and everything.

There were a lot of speedy people this year. I did not place – hey my AG of 30-39 is very competitive. I always joke I should have ran in college, I would have won many small town 5ks in my AG. I did cheer for all the winners, they received medals.

Then it was time for the random raffle prizes. I had my fingers crossed, but I did not win anything. Well, or did I? The prizes concluded and my friends were all standing around discussing the fact there was no bag of bird see raffled off. Funny… the lady got back on the bull horn and said “We have bird seed to giveaway!” I crossed my fingers, but I didn’t win….oh wait, it’s get’s better… the person I was talking to about this – won. Congrats Michael on your bird seed win!

It was time to move on, Josh had to get to some sporting event. I wasn’t leaving without cashing in my beer ticket. We walked over to the Millstream Brewery where I got a barrel aged brew, whoa! It was a strong one!

When at the brewery we chatted with some more friends. As I said, this race is great people come out from hibernation and you get to catch up, find out where you will see them next, what they are training for.

I could have stayed all day, but we had to get back to the big city.

I think I write the same thing every year, but I will always run this race if it fits in my schedule. A $25 price tag for a meat bag and some camaraderie, what more could you ask for in the middle of winter in Iowa.

As always add your review to and claim your results on