That’s a Wrap

Recap 2017 Miles in November

I really don’t know where to start… No one knows this, but I was hesitant to put this on again, mostly because I wasn’t sure if I would have the time to give it the proper attention. I also like to secure prizes or rewards for you all, and that takes some work on my part too.


Pic cred: Sheryl

I then remembered why I do this, why it was started. It really isn’t about the prizes, but instead, getting your butt out the door and logging extra miles during a busy holiday season. I used this challenge to get moving, it was my lowest mileage month in a long time, but thanks to this group, I got out there and ran 100 miles!

First – I can’t say it enough, thank you! Running can be hard to describe to people who do not partake, however, tell them you found something that motivates and inspires, and suddenly we have people stepping out the door just to walk to the end of the street, get out of bed, and personally push me to host this. Also a HUGE thank you to the sponsors and companies that work with me on this. If you see one of the, let em know you are appreciative too.

Second – Friendship! I was introduced to a new to me local running group. I was also introduced to many new faces. I have a lot of people that “live in my phone,” and while we may never meet in person. It’s great to know I have expanded my friends.


photo courtesy of Ara 

Third – Prizes, I will be in contact about getting these to you.

  • run CRANDIC entry – Monty B (column AO)
  • Aftershokz Trez Titanium headphones – Nicole Vanderlinden (column U)
  • Dunkin Donuts $100 Gift Card – Roy G (column BX)
  • Run/Medal sign – Cindy McCarthy (column CV)

Fourth – Congrats! I know there were struggles along the way, health issues, and just plain life that might have got in the way. However, you pushed yourself to work on a goal. You also might have learned a very important lesson (many runners suck at) listen to your body, no injury is worth it, and live to run another day.

If you have any questions about sponsors, prizes, or this group, please ask me. If you have any complaints, that department opens tomorrow… I kid…but feel free to reach out to me.

What is next? While I can not maintain the group beyond one month, or keep up with another spreadsheet. I encourage you all to post your monthly mileage, a selfie, or motivation in the FB group; this group is open all year round.

Housekeeping – I have contacted those who have asked for a head band or key chain, however there were a few that I have no contact information for. If you are reading this and would still like one, please let me know. 



Happy Anniversary

Running – the best way to celebrate 11 years of marriage.

Another Saturday morning 4 am wake up call, but when you run, this is nothing new…However, this particular Saturday, June 24th, was our 11th wedding anniversary.

Sure, we both had run Grandma’s marathon the week before, but it’s hard to miss the Run 4 Troops Marathon. In fact last year I ran both marathons.

This year, we would be running the marathon relay. We were lucky to get in on this event. More people choose to do this as a relay, so they cap the participants, mainly because the route gets so congested. I sent an email to be put on the wait list, and I was contacted quickly to say we got in!


Gear: Sparkle Athletic skirt, 2xu tank, Zensah hat, Zensah socks, Brooks Ghost, Garmin Fenix 3, xx2i USA sunglasses, Road Runner sports shorts, aftershokz headphones.

We would start in Dyersville, IA and run the Heritage Trail to Dubuque. Josh was going to take the first 3 legs and I would finish with the last 3. Since this is point to point, the person not running would move the car along the route.

We rolled into Dyersville around 6:30 am, we needed to grab our stuff. This was in a reusable Hy-Vee bag. There was the bib, which was attached to a really nice bib belt we would get to keep. Our short sleeve, gender specific, tech shirts were in the bag too. The Heritage trail requires a user fee, this is included in our race registration, but we are also given silicon bracelets to wear to indicate we have paid the fee.

Then it was time for the “meeting” or rather some announcements. We learned about the transitions and what to expect on the course, and then a former member of the military gave a talk, then the National Anthem was sung…then we waited around for the solo marathon to start at 7 am. We had time to use the port-o-potties.

At 7 am the marathon was off with a bang – literally! An old cannon was fired and the runners took off. A drone buzzed ahead taking photos. Then finally at 7:30 it was time for the relay runners to start. The cannon had an issue and fired a few minutes after the runners started.

In the past the marathon and relay started at the same times, but they stretched it out. I really don’t think it helped. As you read on, you will see why… but they need to stagger out the relay times…that is where the most people are that need to use the transitions. 

Josh was on his way, I was going to plan to visit him at each transition. However, things were not looking good. The majority of people involved with the event were with the relay, so everyone was headed to the first exchange at the same time, causing a huge traffic backup. I even stopped to use a bathroom at a gas station, and the line was 10 people deep.

By the time I got to the actual transition the traffic was crazy. I ended up parking along the highway, and running down near the trail. I don’t do well with these things, if I know I need to be some where, I want to be prompt. I don’t like feeling rushed or late.

I saw Josh approaching, he was looking good. The sun was shining, but it wasn’t too hot or humid. The first leg went from Dyersville to Farley, and it is the leg with the least shade, it is 6.6 miles long.

I spoke with Josh as he passed, I mentioned I didn’t think I could get in and out of the next exchange due to all the traffic, also he was keeping a great pace. Some of the racers were starting to spread out, but Josh was also catching up to the solo marathoners.

Exchange 2 was at Epworth, it was 4.4 miles long. I did not make it to this exchange. I am sure I could have made it, but I also was going to be running soon too, so I wanted to make sure I had time to get my crap together. I get a little anxious.

I arrived to exchange 3. Josh would have passed through Epworth, and then had to run 3.6 miles to Graf.

I arrived at Graf, the transition was at a park, and parking wasn’t too bad, but you had to cross the course to get a spot. I parked the car and used the port-o-potty. I then trotted back to the car and put on some sunscreen, got my headphones and things, then walked to the exchange zone.

Even though I kept checking my watch, as I was guessing on Josh’s estimated time into the area, I didn’t have to wait long. It seemed like he appeared out of no where.

We made the bib exchange, and walked together on the trail a bit, discussing how busy the transition areas were, and if he thought he would be able to see me along the route. Then I took off for the next stop, 4.5 miles away, at the Budd Rd intersection.

It was a nice section of trail, lots of shade. About 2 miles in, a woman came up on me, and then started to run with me. It was nice, we chatted and ran into the exchange. I saw Josh!  I think it helps that I run slow enough for him to have time to maneuver into the exchange areas. I gave him a high five, shouted my number to the timing person, and grabbed a cup of water and continued on.

At the time I was running, I couldn’t remember how many miles were between the transitions, so I really wasn’t sure when I would see Josh next, but I wasn’t too worried, as I have run the trail before, and if I needed something there was plenty of support out there.

Looking at the map, I had 3.4 miles to go before I got to transition 5 at Durango. This was an uneventful section, I just motored on. I passed some solo marathoners, and some relay members sped passed me.

I trotted into Durango, I saw Josh again,and slapped a high five. Then came into the very crowded exchange. The exchanges and timing are set up so that solo runners pass through on one side, and relay runners on the other. The problem here is that since I was not actually passing the bib, I had to navigate through people that were, and people that were not paying attention to others running through.

After the congestion, it seemed the trail opened up to emptiness. Finally, were people spread out? Anyway, I was enjoying the trail. I had 3.7 miles to get to the finish.

Just about the 24.5 mile mark, I came upon a lady in tears on the side of the trail. I slowed and asked if she was ok, she said no. I was not concerned about time, I stopped. She described her pain, and she was having leg cramps. She was holding a bottle of Gatorade. She was able to talk to me, and she said she had met her husband at every exchange, and had been drinking that Gatorade and more at each stop. She said this was her first marathon. She was in tears, and couldn’t relax enough to just settle down, like she was in a panic.

Another woman passed us, I told her as she ran ahead to send a medic if she saw one. I encouraged the woman with the cramps to breathe. I got her back to a standing position after she drank some more Gatorade and calmed down. We were walking…. then she started to cry again, and she cramped up. She sat back down. In the distance behind us, I could see an ATV.

As the ATV approached, I flagged them down to help. They were medically trained. The first thing they asked was if she was drinking Gatorade… I am not a doctor, but I thought they could get her to finish the race. I left the situation, and told the crying woman to just relax, she had plenty of time to finish, and I would see her at that finish line.

Strangely after this, I developed the strangest pain behind my knee, just under the hamstring, but I kept moving, stopping to rub it out. Then out of no where, the crying lady passed me, but in the passenger seat of the medic’s ATV.

Wow, all the thoughts…all the freakin thoughts. At the time, she had 1.5 miles to go, and 3.5 hours to get there. As I said, I am not a doctor, but I KNEW she could do it, and still as I write this, I KNOW she could have finished. I could see the panic in her as she was afraid of the cramps, and she couldn’t just get out of her head and relax. I am sure the medics didn’t want any liability issues, so they didn’t encourage her to continue. UGH, I would have sat on that trail for an hour for cramps to subside, so close to the finish line…. but we are all built differently, and maybe she actually broke something… but dang, you see all kinds of things out there. I really wish she would have finished.

Ok, ok, back to me and finishing the race. After all the thoughts, I had to run the one and only hill on the course, this is when the pain in my leg was at it’s worst! Going up that hill really put a strain on me, this is when I thought it was hamstring related. There was no pain going down this hill on the other side of the road.

I approached the finish area and saw Josh, we ran in the last hundred feet together, and the announcer shouted our team name as we crossed the finish line. We had done the race in just over 4 hours.

The lady standing at the finish with the medals did not give us one. So apparently, relay teams did not get medals this year? I don’t know, it was way strange. I did this as a relay 2 years ago and the team got a medal. I still can’t find any information on the web either way. It was just strange to come across the finish line to a woman holding a medal, and not get handed one.

I was able to grab a chocolate milk, bottle of water or Powerade at the finish. Then, Josh and I wondered through the crowded area to check out the post race merchandise. There wasn’t anything we couldn’t live without, so we hopped in line for some wood fired pizza.

After waiting for a slice, we grabbed some grapes, orange slices and a cookie. We sat at the provided tables and chairs, under a tent. *Other races should take note of this simple feature, a place to sit! We people watched, and listened to names being announced as people crossed the finish line.

We had to get back home to let the dogs out, so we walked back to our car to make the trek home.

I like this race, and I will do it again. I think the best way to go about this is to run it solo, and have any crew meet you at the non exchange intersections. The trail is all crushed limestone and super flat, except for the one hill. There is also food and drink available at each exchange. You get a great event for your money.

Josh and I both enjoy running, it was nice to do this marathon as a team on our wedding anniversary. We are pretty simple people and don’t need a fancy getaway to celebrate, this was perfect for us.

For more race detail head to my review at




United Relay

“Disclaimer: I received entry into 5 stages of the United Relay – red route, to review as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out to review find and write race reviews!”


The United Relay is a coast to coast relay across the United States, with 3 different routes. Each route consists of participants running or cycling stages, which they pick from the website, and then in turn raise money for a charity (many options to chose from.) Each stage was about 8-12 miles, and in big cities there were group stages ranging from 3-4 miles. Each route starts in a different location on the west coast, but all end in New York City, where there is a concert by Alicia Keys. 2016 is the first year for the event.

*I chose to run on the red route for the Boston Children’s Hospital – here is the link if you want to donate (as long as it’s still open)

Registration: Available through the website. Cost was $50 per stage, or you could join a stage for $25. A cotton shirt was free, with code, but $5 shipping and handling. (I don’t need another shirt, so I did not buy one) Tech shirts available for purchase.

*This being the first year for the event I know they needed participants, so I am not sure if you ran multiple legs if you had to pay multiple times. They also had cyclists fill in last minute, as the relay was first designed to be running only.

Runners got to pick the stages they wanted to run, so the course scenery and elevation was up to each participant. Runners were to maintain an 11 min pace. The idea was to have local runners run a stage near them, so they knew where to go. The race organizers sent emails with GPS coordinates of the starting and finishing points, and the stage leaders would plan the routes. The emails also included phone numbers of the route leaders, and the participants of the surrounding stages.

The website had a variety of information available, and was easy to navigate. There was a page for your fundraising, a live map to show the progress of each route, and a sign up page to know who was running where & what route.

Check out my Bibrave review or add your own

I ran 5 stages of the relay in Illinois. I kept a “diary” of each leg as I went. That will be detailed below.

I was nervous going into this, there were some emails that provided the GPS coordinates of the beginning and ending of each stage, and if you were the first (or only) person running that stage, you made the route. I was not from the area, and luckily was provided a mapmyrun suggestion map. I would use this as a guide, and hope I got to where I needed to go.

In addition to GPS coordinates I was given phone numbers of the team leaders, Ben & Richard, and phone numbers of anyone doing stages before or after mine. I still didn’t feel like I had enough info.

I arrived at my first leg to meet the team leaders. I had made arrangements for them to move my car along the route, as I was alone. The idea behind the relay was someone else (family or friend) would be with you, or you would be running a stage close to your home area, and you would know where you’re going, and the relay team leaders would just be along the route for minor support.


We had time to make introductions, as we waited for the stage before me to run in the baton. I told them about my running background, and we discussed the proposed route.  We made a plan, Richard would drive my car, and Ben would meet up ahead for the next person’s stage. (which would be a cyclist, who would be doing 60 miles overnight)

Stage 285 – Old Rte 66 MCT Quercus Grove Trail to Staunton, 11 miles. 5pm, 79 degrees, sunny

Gear – Orange Mud hydraquiver vest pack 1, Sparkle Athletic red dots skirt,Pro Compression heart socks, Running Warehosue shorts, brooks ghost 8 shoes, BibRave shirt, UV Buff, Louisiana Marathon Headsweats visor, XX2i Hawaii1 glasses, Garmin Fenix 3, Road ID, Champion sports bra


This was actually a paved trail (bike) – flat- through a cornfield. Some trees for shade.

It was warmer than I was used too. I was worried about pace and may have started too fast, However I kept with pace.

I received the baton from Heather and her friends. Richard “crewed” this stage, as he made sure I turned the right direction at every intersection, and navigated the towns I passed through as there was a part in Hamel where there was no trail. He also made sure I was doing ok, by asking for a thumbs up. Even though I was running with my pack, I had more aid in my car, and could stop and grab what I needed. (PS, I never actually ran with the bulky baton)


I handed off to John who would cycle the next 60 miles…

Stage 292 – Interurban Trail to Lincoln Park (Springfield) 7 am 55 degrees sunny – got hot quick…8 miles


Gear – Orange Mud pack, Sparkle Athletic donut skirt, ProCompression pink/stars socks, Adidas shorts, brooks ghost 8, BR shirt, Survivor Buff, xx2i Hawaii1 glasses, Garmin Fenix 3, Road ID, moving comfort bra

Started on 2-3 miles paved trail, rest in city of Springfield, flat…some hilly areas

As I mentioned before there were many cyclists filling in the legs, which changed the pacing, and I was spoiled as most of my legs were sandwiched in these. I was able to start this route early, as John ended at midnight, he cycled the stages between mine…which the crew just took a rest until it was time to go in the morning….hence why I got an early start…. I was still worried about my pace to not hold up the next stages…


This was just like my stage before, Richard drove my car and “crewed” along…he gets all the photo credit… I really didn’t need anything…but when I was running through Springfield, it was nice to know where I should be going. I did put the ending point on google maps, and listened to turn by turn directions on my headphones. However, I pushed forward to a next song and missed a prompt…oops.

I had time between this stage and my next stage to do what I wanted. I strolled around Springfield as they were having an Arts Festival, then I traveled Historic Route 66 to my next stage. In search of a diner with some salty fries and a milkshake.


I have done multiple runs in multiple days, and it’s never the running that is the hard part, it’s the lack of sleep and weird diet. I was also running in warmer temps than I was used to, so I was making sure to take in salt and drink all the water and G2.


Thanks to my Bibrave friends for the snacks!!!

Well I didn’t find much on this section of route 66, lots of abandoned things. I did get to Altanta (the next stage early) where I found the diner I had been looking for.


After a great meal, I drove my next leg, it was along the highway to Funks Grove, which isn’t anything, but a maple “sirup” stand. Then I came back and took a nap in my car under a shade tree.


Stage 298 – Atlanta to Funks Grove – HOT 80 when started, started early. All on historic route 66, saw a guy with a hot dog statue, flat…9.5 miles


Gear – Orange Mud pack, Sparkle Athletic white skirt, ProCompression pink/stars socks, Adidas shorts, brooks ghost 8, purple tank, , BibRave hat, xx2i Hawaii1 glasses, Garmin Fenix 3, Road ID

I got the hand off from Josh, who was doing 20 miles or so before me, but it was hot, and he switched to the bike and cycled into town early. Josh ended up doing multiple stages for the relay, even on other routes.


This was another route where there wasn’t anyone scheduled behind me unless Ben or Richard cycled. So I had the luxury of going whatever pace, and I even started early. I did try to be fair and kept the 11 min pace, even though it slowed as I went.


Towards the end, I got spooked by a coyote. I often wonder what to do out running in the middle of nowhere and an animal comes out of the ditch.


The crew stayed near Dwight for the evening, and since I was once again the first runner of the day… I was able to start early


Stage 305 – Odell to Dwight – supposed to start at 8:20, but started early, as I had my eyes on the weather, sunny, getting HOT!!! started at like high 60’s-70. 10 mile route on historic route 66, FLAT

Gear – Bibrave tank, Hawkeye dri-fit hat, Bibrave Buff, xx2i Hawaii sunglasses, Aftershockz Trek Titanium headphones, Brooks Ghost 8, ProCompression USA socks, Sparkle Athletic gunmetal skirt, Garmin Fenix 3, Road ID


Was able to run on/off the old hwy bed, which was good as the traffic was fast on the road, and the shoulder was narrow. One point a semi never got over, buzzed so close my hat flew off…I even got as far off the road as I could even stopped running as I saw this semi wasn’t getting over.


Talked to my dad on my the headphones, and got tired…took a break at mile 7, I was hungry – ate gummi bears – really starting to slow the pace. Chatted with Richard, who crewed my entire stage…then passed this small park with 2 packs of geese and their young….luckily Richard came back to give me a 100 ft detour around them. Geese are mean!


It was getting hot, but finished a little early and saw the next guy, who would be doing 3 stages, in the heat…John…who cycled 60 miles a day before. Ok so he was running almost 30 miles…This relay was bringing out some major badasses!!


I had until 3:50 when I was to start my last stage. I hung out with the team leaders for a little while. They had more crew join them, Mandy & Laura, who were running the Chicago area stages, but were there to help before they got there.

I stopped at a Casey’s for some lunch, but it was getting hot and even though I needed to eat, I wasn’t hungry. I slowly made my way along route 66, to my next stop, but I caught up with the team, and we all traveled together for a while.


The team met up with John, who switched to bike some miles, it was hot, and there was no shade, and he only had a hand held with him. I waited at the trail head.

My left foot had some pain on the forefoot and my right calf was sore.


While waiting, John switched to running again, as he hit the gravel trail. It was a nice area.

John came in earlier than expected, which meant I could get out earlier too, this leg I would have to get to the next one on time as Chris would be waiting for the baton. It would only be 8 miles, but I was tired and it was hot.

Stage 309 – Symerton to Manhattan – Wauponsee Glacial Trail – gravel trail, no shade first 5 miles, about 80-85. Flat! 8 miles


Gear – Orange Mud pack, Bibrave tank, Hawkeye dri-fit hat, Bibrave Buff, xx2i Hawaii sunglasses, Brooks Ghost 8, ProCompression jail break socks, Sparkle Athletic red skirt, Garmin Fenix 3, Road ID, moving comfort bra, 2Toms

Richard ran with me, we ran the first 3 miles, then it was struggle city. The no shade and heat had done me in…but we kept moving, and it was great to have the company.


Mandy and Laura were moving the cars along, and even popped out of nowhere along the trail for a picture. We made sure to run as they snapped the pic.


Once we were close to Manhattan, the trail had shade, and I took advantage and did a lot of walking, I think the overall pace was 13 min miles. I was appreciative of the time buffer I had. Happy to have had Richard on that last leg… otherwise I might still be walking out there right now ….


I was sooo happy to be done, I was sooo tired….It was also nice to see the support team there.


I was dreaming about watermelon, so we all hopped into the car, as we were early, and went to the grocery store, and I got a slice of watermelon! That last stage was brutal.


When we got back to the park, Chris was there. It was nice to see the excitement from someone running their first stage…while I was exhausted.


I really enjoyed this relay. I was soo nervous going into this, but the laid back road trip was awesome!! Just needed to get the baton to the next point, really nothing more simpler than that. Made a lot of new friends, and enjoyed checking out more parts of the USA. It’s why I love running the most, the community and chance to experience new things.

I wish I would have known about it for a longer period of time, before I signed up, to get more people to run this. I also wish it came through Iowa, maybe next year….I’ll see you then…we can all run in skirts…


Fellow Bibrave Pros also tackled stages of the relay: Erica  – Jessica – Cassie – Samantha