I randomly chose to run the Cedarburg Half Marathon just at the end of February. I figured I was running a half in Illinois at the end of April so another one at the end of May wouldn’t be too taxing on the body. I wanted something closer to home where I could sleep in my own bed and get up and go on race morning. This ended up being a diamond found in the rough. I thought everything was well done by the race organizers and they pulled off a great event.
Expo Quality: OK, so I give this a middle of the road score but not because it was a negative. It was just small and really just a packet pickup located outside of the Cedarburg High School. So, nothing special but besides your bib, the bag contained several coupons for local business and I can appreciate that since Cedarburg is a nice community which has some fabulous businesses to visit.
Parking/Access: No problems whatsoever parking (also at the high school where the race started and finished) when I arrived and it was very smooth departing after finishing the race. No issues at all and I personally love that about any race. Less complications for me at the start of a race, the better.
Course Scenery: A really nice mix of neighborhood street running for the first three miles and then almost all of the rest on a bike trail that went out and back for a finish at the high school. The neighborhood was nice and shaded and provided subtle ups and downs (nothing major and this was the only real elevation on the course) and then the trail, of course, offered up some nice nature views. It made for a pleasant run the whole way.
Aid Stations: A couple that you passed twice each way. Fully staffed and did not run out of water. My only complaint was that the cups were filled a little high which caused some spilling on myself.
T-Shirts/Swag: Along with the local business coupons, the event gave out a really nice race shirt; quality material, fun design. And the organizers even gave the option to me at pickup to exchange the size if I needed to. Plus, there was a nice medal at the finish line. The post race party included music from a DJ, plenty of water, bananas, granola bars, and, get ready for this, a pancake bar free for all the runners. How awesome is that?!
Race Management: Great job with a local event! They communicated very well leading up to race day and had the race results ready to go about an hour after the final finisher. And the group they used for the race photos did an excellent job; I loved how crisp and sharp my pics looked; for once, I’m not looking like a gargoyle, haha.
Just a couple of the pics the Big Dipper Media Co. took on the course. There were several others and are some of the sharpest I’ve seen in some time. I’d highly recommend this race if you are in the Wisconsin/Illinois/Iowa area next year.
Happy running! And feel free to comment or ask questions! 😊
I had the opportunity at the end of April to run the half marathon distance at the Christie Clinic Illinois Marathon and it was a fabulous event and race! Everything from the expo and packet pickup through the race itself and ending with the post race party was on point. I ran the marathon distance back in 2018 and nothing has changed in that time when it comes to the seamless running of the race. If there is a race you should run just for the finely run machine that it is, it is the Illinois Marathon. The course is nice and simple, perfect for getting that PR you might be striving for (full disclosure: I did not hit a PR in this race, but it is definitely attainable.) The race management and the volunteer staff are top notch and you receive some nice swag with your registration.
Expo Quality: Really nice spacing of the vendor booths with other races promoting themselves, a CPR area, some racing gear vendors and then the official Illinois Marathon vendor area full of some pretty nice merchandise with the race logo on it. Packet pickup was extremely quick and smooth. I was checked in and had my shirt and bib in minutes. Very efficient.
I also had the great opportunity to meet up with a fellow BibRave Pro, Nicki, just as we were leaving the expo after grabbing our packets and perusing the vendors.
Parking/Access: Easy drive into the parking lot on race morning with no problem getting to the start line (and bathroom) before the race start. And at the end of the race and when I was done with the post race party, easy exit back to my hotel.
Course Scenery: It wasn’t as nice as it was in 2018 but that’s because they had to alter the course due to a lack of volunteers and construction going on around the University of Illinois campus so that effected it a little bit. But, how can you not like a race that has you finishing while you cross the 50-yard line of a major college football stadium. It’s awesome! And when you get that PR, don’t forget to ring the heck out of the PR bell that is provided for all runners.
Elevation Difficulty: Minimal and that’s why it makes for a great course to get your PR. There are some minor hills on some of the course but nothing that will kill your racing mojo. Pretty flat for a huge part of it.
Aid Stations: Well stocked and well serviced by volunteers. Plenty of water to grab and on several of the tables, Nuun hydration to replenish the body as you chugged along the course. My only complaint was that the volunteers were doing too good of a job by filling the cups a little too high with water. The first two stations had me inhaling water up my nose as I was running and drinking at the same time.
Also, a fun moment during the race when I saw another fellow BibRave Pro, Lina, running ahead of me. I turned on some jets so I could catch up to her and ran a few miles with her; she was wise and steady-armed enough to grab a selfie of the both of us in motion!
Race Management: EXCELLENT! Constant updates from several months out all the way to the morning of race day. And the last few days they were not shy about sending out info in case of bad weather (which was in the forecast) and about where to go if necessary. Also, what other race do you see the race director get involved with runner directional control? Jan Seeley was out directing runners where to go on certain turns. That’s how much she loves this race and being in charge of how well it is run.
T-Shirts/Swag: An awesome soft cotton t-shirt representing this year’s race and 2020, which was when the cancellations began; a pretty sweet finisher’s medal, a nice nylon string bag that was used as your gear check back but will get many more uses down the road.
Bottom line, choose this race as a destination race if you’re looking for a spring race. You won’t be disappointed and I guarantee you’ll have a good time! and don’t forget the post race party! Tons of food options from pizza to chocolate milk to bananas, Kind bars, rolls, the list goes on and on. And then you go outside and get your free beer where you can also purchase food truck food if you like and get a free quick massage if you like.
I’ve been training and preparing mentally to run the half marathon in Champaign, Illinois this coming weekend. We’re just a few hours away from the start time and I am ready to go. I’ve been looking forward to this race for a while now for one particular reason: the chance to PR my half marathon time. I ran the full marathon here back in 2018 and, at the time, PRed my marathon time by over 25 minutes!! Now the question will be can I do it?
I’ve mostly been training in cool to cold weather. The only time it hasn’t been a cold and windy run was a couple of times when the weather was moderate and a bit warmer than 60 degrees and then the few times I ran on the treadmill. There have been some other obstacles during this training period. A small head cold that lingered for way too long, some allergies when that warmer weather hit and some plants started blooming and then a recent pain in my jaw which turned into a root canal. Lucky me, right? But I’ve plowed along the way and got in my runs, even scaling back on weekly mileage while adding some bike riding and swimming to give my body some new experiences while training for a race.
Of course, here we are, just over a day away, and there’s talk of severe weather possibly effecting the start of the race or the entirety of the race itself. Obviously, this does not please me or anyone else for that matter. Very frustrating that Mother Nature may quash everyone’s fun and goals but, of course, that would be out of my control. I will simply look forward to this goal race and hope that it goes off without a hitch.
Happy running! And make sure you go after your goals too!
The 2021 Bank of America Chicago Marathon…where to begin? Of course, it was incredible but I think that would be an expectation. I ran this once before, in 2017, but I was so in awe back then since it was my first ever marathon and I just wanted to finish the race. This time, I was determined to pay attention and enjoy the nuances more all while still running competitively in order to achieve some goals I set for myself.
I arrived into Chicago in the early afternoon on Friday, driving in from Milwaukee, but I didn’t hit the expo that day. I did pay a visit to the Museum of Science and Industry and had the opportunity to enjoy their Marvel Comics special exhibit. That really was a treat and I highly recommend checking that out if you have the chance before the exhibit closes.
After a later than anticipated start on Saturday and a visit to the Shedd Aquarium, I made my way over the the marathon expo, waited in a forever long line to check vaccination status, and then picked up my bib and shirt, etc. I roamed around the various vendors for a little bit, not too long, grabbed some KT Tape, drank a Goose Island sample, and made my way out to make sure I got to my 5pm dinner reservation on time. After eating a fabulous meal at Volare Ristorante Italiano, it was back to the hotel to lay out flat me and hope to get a good night’s rest. (Full disclosure: I slept horribly, unfortunately)
RACE DAY!! It finally arrived! Felt like forever since I began the training cycle for this moment and yet it was time. After not sleeping well, I made another “error” by setting my alarm too early so I was up at 4:45am. For some reason, I thought it would take me longer to get to the start line since I was staying a little farther away than I did in 2017. So, I got dressed, had my protein shake and overnight oats, drank some water, and headed downstairs to the hotel lobby hoping to either catch an Uber or be able to utilize the hotel ride service, even though I didn’t call in time the day before to schedule myself on it. After half a cup of coffee, I secured a ride down to Grant Park and made my way, very very ahead of schedule, to gear check. Let the day begin with some dark pics and a selfie!
Thankfully, I came across a fellow BibRave runner and we chatted until the start time, getting some water from the Gatorade booth and making a final visit to the Porto’s. We also managed to find another BibRave runner and got to chat it up with her for awhile, which was really nice meeting them in person after so many social media exchanges. Now the time for stretches and breathing exercises before starting the slow, long walk to the starting line!
I’d like to say that this was a race where it all came together for me and the goals I had set were all reached and there were smiles all around…but, are you crazy?! It’s a marathon! Ha ha, and it knows how to humble you and make you respect it like no other race I’ve done. The race started in a yellow alert status meaning less than ideal race conditions but be careful and you’ll be ok. I personally started really well, maybe too well. My body felt good and I had a good pace but I wasn’t pushing it. I could feel it getting warmer and took my first water at the Mile 3 aid station, something I usually don’t do until Mile 6 on long runs. At Mile 5, a hearty shoutout from a fellow BibRaver, who was volunteering, gave me a very early energy boost. I mean, I literally felt the excitement rise up in me. And then there were all the spectators along the route. I feel I should address them all right here because they were amazing! So much support, so many funny and motivation signs, so many cheers and shouts, just an incredible feeling/moment/image for 26.2 miles throughout the city of Chicago. They truly know how to make you feel good even when things may not go right.
Above is a rare photo of me actually smiling while on the course and running. I never do this. One of the things I told myself heading into this race was to make sure I was smiling more and enjoying the experience and giving those on-course photographers smiles and not look-like-I’m-dying faces in their photos.
Now, back to the race. Somewhere in the early teen mile markers, the race went into a red alert status which meant dangerous weather conditions (the humidity had increased) and be extremely wary of dehydration and cramping and your body, in general. But I was still doing OK. I wasn’t feeling the humidity, I felt hydrated enough, and my legs were still holding strong. It wasn’t until Mile 18 where I started to feel soreness in my feet and my left lower back extending into my glute starting to talk to me. I’d say it was here where my race goals began to lean in the direction of harder to reach. But I kept plugging along. There were more stops for water and I began taking in Gatorade. I had had some pickle juice at Mile 8 (a decision I later felt was incorrect timing by me) and my Honey Stinger waffle.
Weird side note here: on long runs, I find that I don’t get hungry or I don’t feel like ingesting food even though every rational thought says I should and would need food.
Back to the race and my pursuit of glory, haha. The struggle started to hit at Mile 21, especially with my left side. And then I had some side cramps, something I never ever get when running, so that was just bizarre. Mile 23 led to some right quad spasms which slowed me some. But I managed another smile at the photo stop!
As I hit Mile 25, there was one more, last second energy boost provide by yet another BibRaver who was volunteering his time! Thank you so much! And then it was the finish! I’m proud to say I crossed the finish line in a time of 4:03:35! I had three goals going into this marathon but only achieved one of them. Goal #1 was to better my 2017 Chicago Marathon time which I did and by a very decent margin. Goal #2 was to get a sub-4 hour time. To be so close and not get it will sting for a while, for sure. A couple less walking water stops and I might have hit that goal. Goal #3 was to set a marathon PR which I knew coming in would be a long shot but sometimes that’s what your goals are supposed to be, otherwise they wouldn’t be special. But, bottom line, I’m a Chicago Marathon finisher for the second time!
A lot of good feelings finishing this race and some great photos as well to document it. So happy to have met some of my fellow BibRave members and gotten to talk to them. Happy that I came out of this marathon without any major injuries and my health intact. Just happy in general. And I made sure to celebrate that night after driving home.
Disclaimer: I received an entry into the Air Force 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!
So this year I was supposed to run the half marathon distance of the Air Force Marathon in Dayton, Ohio on the Wright-Patterson base BUT, of course, thanks to the ongoing pandemic issue, the race sadly was moved to a virtual format. I appreciate everything the Air Force Marathon race organizers did and attempted to do to hold the race as scheduled even if in the end it wasn’t to be. They were very communicative throughout the entire process. I never felt like this was a surprise thanks to their constant updates. I hope to have another opportunity to run their race some day since it was looking to be quite the event!
I chose to run my virtual half marathon a week after the actual race would have taken place. It just worked out better for me that way. My run went well and I paced myself relatively well without stressing too much about time. Now, it certainly would have been a different scenario if it was live person race but it wasn’t. The organizers will be sending out race packets next month so I will look forward to my swag including the race medal to arrive then.
I think the socks would have been a hit at the actual race, lol.
Now it’s on to other challenges and other goals to chase. But I will be looking at the Air Force Marathon race in the future again. You can count on it!
This pandemic marches on but so do we all. And that’s why this year’s BibRave Pro Summit was a welcome reprieve from the same old weekend routines. Even if it was done virtually, it was still a blast connecting with the many runners and creative producers of our group as well as the management team. Many of these individuals are people I’ve never met in real life but some of the interactions you have make it seem like you run with them every week. It truly is one of the best reasons to be a BibRave Pro.
The summit took place from March 26-28 with various Zoom events and discussions taking place. I’ve included a screenshot above just to show the wide variety of discussions and “meetings” that took place. And this doesn’t even include the DEI session, which was extremely engaging and informative or the Saturday night trivia game that had everyone on teams and conversing in breakout rooms to come up with answers. There was also a Saturday morning runners scavenger hunt supported with audio clues that guided you on your quest. Simply a fun and interactive weekend.
I would be remiss to not mention the wonderful sponsors of the BibRave Pro Summit including Knockaround Sunglasses and Science in Sports Endurance Sports Nutrition. And I have been happily wearing the specially designed for the summit Blue Light Blockers that Knockaround created for us.
Now, the next time you see me or one of my awesome BRP’s sending out the all call that BibRave is looking for new Pros to represent the brand, fill out an application and see if you make it in. There is just so much fun to be had and with a great group of people. And these are just the virtual gatherings. Wait until things get back to normal and we are together in person again…woo, look out!
Disclaimer: I received an entry into the Elf Virtual Run 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!
SANTA!!!! Ok, I didn’t actually see him on my Elf Virtual Run but the bling I received for running this virtual race was pretty dang sweet! Before getting to that, though, let’s talk about the race itself. It was a 100% virtual race that could be run anytime and anywhere. So all you had to do was register and wait for your running kit to arrive and ready, set, go!
Race Management/Virtual Support: The RAM Racing team was really great with communication pertaining to when they were mailing out bibs and shirts and when to expect them. They were also extremely apologetic when an issue arose with the medals, informing all that they would be coming later than the other items. Consistent email updates and always ready and quick to respond to questions, should you have them. I can’t say how impressed I was and always am for RAM Racing events and their team.
SWAG: One of the best races I’ve run when it comes to the swag! First, you get a themed customized bib! next, you get a sweet forest green winter beanie with the Elf logo on the front. Third, a quite warm red zip-up hooded Elf sweatshirt, logo on the left breast. And last, you get a very sweet snow globe style Elf medal! The day these items arrived, it really was like yelling out, “Santa came!” Easily a virtual race you should consider running next year or sometime in the future because it is worth it.
My Race Experience: I hate to admit it but I copped out with this run and ran it on a track where I could better keep track and calculate my distance without going over or miscalculating out somewhere random. So, it wasn’t the most interesting with views aside from the train that came by near the end of my race. That was about the only interesting thing, visually. But I did enjoy running a race on a softer surface than the roads I normally run on when I’ve done previous virtual races. So I’ll chalk up my run as fun in the sense that I had control and I came close to setting a 10K PR for myself.
So that’s my Elf Virtual Run wrapped up in a nutshell! Oh, and yes, I did watch the movie later that night after the run! Definitely consider it for next year!
Disclaimer: I received an BUFF DryFlx+ Hat and Neckwarmer 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!
What can I say? I love love love BUFF products and am a believer in how effective they are for all my outdoor activities. The new DryFlx+ collection is no different. Its tech specifications are really impressive for wearable technology and the colors mesh really well.
So let’s begin with the great technology the hat contains. It’s extremely light, just over an ounce in weight, so it doesn’t feel heavy on your head during a run. Also, it uses 4-way ULTRA STRETCH material which adds to the comfort; it never feels tight or constrictive. There is a seamless woven design so nothing is scratching at your scalp when in movement. The hat has thermal insulation to keep your head warm but also moisture management so you’re not sweating buckets down your face. (I’ll get more into that down in the review) And one of the most important features is it contains reflective elements so if you’re running at dusk or dawn, you be sure you’ll be spotted by any motorists or bicyclists.
Now let’s talk neckwarmer features! As you can see in the previous two photos, it can be worn up to cover the nose or just below it and it doesn’t wiggle or shake down your face; it stays pretty snug. Similar to the hat, this also has the 4-way ULTRA STRETCH and seamless woven design for comfort and flexibility so constrictions are not a problem. It only weight two ounces so, once again, it isn’t weighing down on your body. Along with the reflective elements, the BUFF DryFlx+ neckwarmer provides thermal insulation and moisture management. Now to explain how both items manage to perform this great feature.
The above photos show exactly how they provide breathability. The hat and neckwarmer both have engineered holes, marked on my gear with the lime green lines, to allow air to flow through and out, allowing you to not sweat but still keep warm for the hat and allowing you to breathe through your mouth and nose with the neckwarmer all the way up on your face. It really is the best feature of this product! It just makes wearing them outside in nasty cold temperatures a whole lot better. I’ve already worn them in 25 degree weather with a wind chill factor that brought it down to 16 degrees. And, since I live in Wisconsin, you can bet that I will be wearing this when I head out in those below 10 degree days!
Another good reason to love this product, and BUFF in general, is that as an engaged partner of UNICEF, the company has committed to donating 2% of their global yearly profits to projects helping combat COVID-19.
I invite you to take a look at some other reviews from my BibRavePro companions to see what they thought of the BUFF DryFlx+ collection! As always, any comments or questions can be left below if you like and Happy Running!
Disclaimer: I received a free entry to the Kansas City 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!
What to do when the race you train for and prepare to travel to simply gets canceled and all of it’s out of your control? Well, 2020 made that a reality for just about all races across the country. Many returned entry fees or deferred entries to their 2021 race but the Kansas City Marathon chose to do something different, something special and that stuck to their goal and mission of why they put on the race in the first place. They gave options. You could defer your entry to next year’s race. You could outright donate your fee to the Kansas City Sports Commission and Foundation, a non-profit group that not only organizes the Kansas City Marathon but also takes the lead in maintaining and selectively acquiring a diversity of amateur and professional sporting events for the city. Or you could transfer your registration over to their One Million Mile Challenge, a contest for all runners to participate in and collectively run one million miles all while reaching benchmark distances where the group would hand out prizes to random participants.
Yeah, it isn’t the same as running the streets of Kansas City, especially if you were planning a trip to the area for this monumental race. But, it’s a great way to keep your running base engaged and interested as well as planning to come back the next year for the race. This challenge allowed you to “race against” fellow runners to see who can get the most mileage, depending on the distance you selected. I say “get” because the challenge is still going on and you can still register for it if you want and gain a chance to win one of remaining benchmark prizes by being randomly selected. The extension for the One Million Mile Challenge runs through December 15 and costs $40 to register. There’s a mile tracker and you receive a race-branded t-shirt, a finisher’s medal, race bib, a digital finisher’s certificate, a Challenge finisher item and more!
I know I was disappointed by the Kansas City Marathon being canceled this year. I had very much looked forward to this destination race and exploring the city and surrounding areas for a few days. I hope the opportunity presents itself for 2021, because I almost certainly will be there. Until then though, this was a nice option put on by the race organizers who have been in constant communication through all of this and continue to do so while the Challenge has been going on.
I hope to see you as well on this course next year for an amazing experience in an amazing city with some very deep culture. Happy running!!
What do you do when you’re training for a race that in all likelihood will not take place on the date you are preparing for? This is the question I am asking myself (and attempting to prepare for) in regards to the Kansas City Marathon. It has yet to be canceled for this year and is scheduled to take place on October 17. Of course, I am still pessimistically hopeful that the race will be run and have been staying active throughout the spring and summer. And what do I mean by staying active? Maybe you think I just mean running and building up my base miles. Well, yes, I have been doing that although I have remained at a plateau for a few weeks now and hope to break that soon.
But I’ve decided to change the norm for myself with my training and preparation. I wanted to give my body and overall fitness and athletic overall, if you will. So, in May, I bought myself a bicycle and started riding for the first time in 30+ years. It’s one of the main reasons my weekly running totals have plateaued; I’ve substituted runs for rides and I’m having a blast doing it! It’s a totally different way for me to get in some cardio AND is letting me give my legs and feet a subtle break from the concrete pounding they take on the roads. There have been a couple of weeks where I have matched running miles with biking miles and have added a brick workout per week to my training schedule.
But that isn’t all that I added to my list of different ways to get my heart pumping and other muscles engaging. At my gym, I’ve used the rowing machine a few times and, when camping, I took my kayak out for a few lengthy paddles. Let me tell you something, you have no idea how exhausting paddling a kayak can be until you’ve done eight miles on a windy day out on Green Bay, lol. But, damn, is it ever a great way to build more cardio endurance.
And speaking of the gym, I still go there frequently, now that quarantine is over and places have reopened. But I’ve been having a dilemma about my workouts lately. How much is too much? Or, to be more specific, should I be using less weight and more reps to tone my body rather than higher weight with normal rep amounts which may cause unnecessary bulk up? I have been adjusting my lifting sessions to reflect these thoughts and have dropped weight down. I mean, too much muscle isn’t the best when attempting long and grueling runs. So, with my training for this marathon, I have been altering a lot at the gym, also employing my resistance bands more often as well.
But where does all this leave me? I’m still wanting and hoping to run the Garmin Kansas City Marathon in October so I keep plugging along with runs. And now bike rides. And weight training. And the occasional paddle. Will it all help out for a better end result? Who knows. I just hope I have the chance to see, as far-fetched as that may be right now. Such uncertainty really messes with one’s mind and the ability to focus on the prize. But what a lovely prize it will be if I have the chance to perform.
Would you like to join me in the waiting game? It isn’t too late. Register for any distance at the Garmin Kansas City Marathon and use code BIBRAVE2020KCM and earn 15% off. And here’s a safety clause for you: should the race be canceled, you will have three options. One, you can defer your entry to 2021. Two, you can participate and run it virtually. Or, three, you can have your entry fee convert your registration fee to a donation to the Greater Kansas City Sports Commission & Foundation and receive a charitable contribution receipt as well as 25% savings towards registration for the 2021 Garmin Kansas City Marathon. Not bad, eh? Maybe we can run this race together this year or next year. I’d love to see you there!
Please feel free to comment or ask questions below. I’d love to know how any of you out there train for the unexpected or if you have made alterations to your lifestyle during these crazy times.