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Setting Big Goals in 2020 with the Madison Marathon!!!!

Disclaimer: I received a free entry to the Madison Marathon 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!

Fall running is my favorite time to run! The temps are cooler and the the changing leaves offer beautiful views on most courses! This fall I will be taking my big goals to Wisconsin for the Madison Marathon on November 8th. As I sit here currently, I have never been to Wisconsin but this race will actually be my second in Madison as I will be running a half marathon there in August!

What makes this adventure even crazier is that I will be running a marathon in Indianapolis on 11/7/20. Yes, that is correct! I have committed to run 2 full marathons in one weekend! This is my biggest running weekend yet and I am scared and excited all at once!

I couldn’t take this on without the support of some pretty special people. Of course my biggest running supporter, my husband, is helping me work out all the logistics and I have no doubt he will make sure I am in the right places at the right time. I also have a best running friend that is from Wisconsin and she has also promised to make the trip to Wisconsin as well (to run of course!) I can’t wait to hear all about her hometown and get the inside scoop on the best places to eat after the race!

My biggest race cheerleaders and BRF from WI!

But even if I didn’t have a best running friend from Wisconsin, the Madison Marathon would still be high on my list of races that I would love to run and here’s why:

  • FREE RACE PHOTOS compliments of Madison Marathon presented by SSM Health
  • FREE runner tracking via the Madison Marathon App
  • 1 complimentary Michelob Ultra beer (for those 21+) and a Wisconsin Tailgate (mac ‘n cheese, chili or brat) at the Post-Race Party 
  • Premium soft-feel, long-sleeved technical shirt (gender-specific)
  • Awesome finisher medal
  • Pace groups for all speeds
  • Professionally timed and managed
  • Start & Finish on beautiful Capitol Square
  • Boston Qualifier

Now let’s be honest – I’m not a contender to qualify for Boston (even running a marathon on fresh legs that didn’t run a marathon the day before!) but there is something about being on a course with fellow runners that are chasing that BQ! One of my favorite things to do is to follow a races hashtag on Twitter or Instagram and cheer on others accomplishments after a big race!! You can follow the Madison Marathon and watch as other runners like myself train and prepare for the race in November!
Madison Marathon Facebook
Madison Marathon Twitter
Madison Marathon Instagram

Come join me in Madison on 11/8/2020 for the Madison Marathon!! You can save 10% on registration by using code BIBRAVE2020 !!!!! I would love to have a running buddy to explore 26.2 miles of Madison with me on foot!! Whose in?

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Spotlight on the Madison Mini Marathon and 5K

Disclaimer: I received free entry to the Madison Mini Marathon 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!”

Excited is a understatement to describe how I’m feeling about the Madison Mini Marathon on August 22, 2020!!!! It’s always fun to experience new races but it is even more exciting when these races take you to places you have never been before! I have never been to the great state of Wisconsin my fastest best running friend is from there so of course this race had to be on my running bucket list!!!

This race offers all of the top notch amenities:  
– a scenic course featuring some of Madison’s most iconic landmarks
– access to Best 14th Mile Post-Race Party on Memorial Union Terrace Overlooking the Lake
– complimentary Post-Race Beer (21+)
– Real-Time Athlete Tracking App
– collectible bottle opener-finisher medal (half marathon finishers)
– awesome blingtastic medal (5K finishers)
– commemorative super soft tri-blend race shirt
– motivation from energetic Cheer Challenge stations along the half marathon course

The 12th Annual Madison Mini Half Marathon, 5K and Kids’ Run benefits Girls on the Run of South Central Wisconsin. Girls on the Run is a positive youth development program that is activity based. It is designed to enhance girls’ social, psychological and physical skills and behaviors to successfully navigate life experiences. Their mission is to inspire girls to be joyful, healthy and confident using a fun, experience-based curriculum which creatively integrates running. 

In South Central Wisconsin Girls on the Run has served over 14,000 girls since their inaugural team of 13 girls in 2005. In 2019, 1,800 girls were served and awarded over $49,000 in scholarship funds to 400 families with financial need. No girl was turned away for an inability to pay.

 You can learn more about this partnership between the Madison Mini Marathon and Girls on the Run of South Central Wisconsin and how you can help by donating or fundraising by following visiting theirs website.

I am also excited that I will be earning the Illini-Badger Challenge Medal by running the Illinois half marathon in April and the Madison Mini Marathon in August. Ya’ll know how much I love a challenge and more specifically a challenge medal!!!

Join me at the Madison Mini Marathon!!! Running is always so better with a running buddy! Use Code Bibrave10 for 10% off the cost of registration!!

Follow the Madison Mini Marathon’s social media accounts for race updates:
Twitter: @MadisonMini

Follow my social media accounts to keep up on my training and to learn more about my plan for my 2020 race schedule!
Twitter: @lish_loves_life

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Tour de La Porte Race Recap

The Tour de La Porte is a walking, running and biking event that benefits patients with cancer in La Porte, Indiana.  According to the race’s website the event started in 2002 and has raised $709, 348 and has helped 1,095 cancer patients. I had the opportunity to meet the founder of this race, Larry Noel, as I was sitting at a picnic table Friday night recovering from the 5K trail race that I had just run.  He told me about starting the event as a biking event and how it had grown over the years.  He expressed gratitude that we had traveled over 3.5 hours to participate and then gave me 3 rubber Tour de La Porte bracelets to give the kids.

Tour de La Porte

Talking with Mr Noel made me want to do a little more research on this event and how it got started. I read an article that was shared by the event, that gave a little bit of background and then highlighted stories of a few of the participants.  Read this story from La Porte County Life here.  I also found an article from 2012, also from La Porte County Life, that tells more of Mr Noel’s story and why he felt so strongly about helping those with cancer (he had several family members affected) and why he chose a bike riding event (that later added a 5K, 10K and half marathon).  It’s a great article. Check it out here

My conversation with Mr Noel Friday evening is a good illustration of how this event captured first the attention of my best running friend, Mindy, and then my attention when she invited me to run it with her the second time she returned. As I mentioned, La Porte, IN is approx a 3.5 hour drive (longer with kids) and with a 6:30 am CST half marathon start time, staying overnight is a must.  The fact that the event also offers a 5K trail run the night before the half marathon makes driving up there Friday afternoon and staying overnight a fun trip! The kids also love swimming in the indoor pool at the hotel, so it really is like a little mini family vacay!

The 5K trail race on Friday night is not chipped time. It starts in the grass on the side of one of the roads in the park where all the events start and finish, runs across the sand on the beach of the lake, and then heads into the wooded trails.  The event organizers do a good job of marking the trail with colored banners and have spray painted the roots in the path with the same color paint making it easy to follow the course. This was particularly helpful as I ran alone this year and tend to get lost easily. The lead pack of runners took off and I lost them pretty quickly after entering the woods but I was still ahead enough of the runners behind me that I was alone for a good portion of the course.  The trails are beautiful in this part of the state and there are definitely some good hills that left me pretty breathless going up them. There was one water stop on the course and several volunteers at places on the course where someone may make a wrong turn.  The only negative thing is that the course is not truly a 5K (this was the same last year) and my  watch states it was 2.78 miles but being out in a park in the woods it is also possible that my Garmin’s measurement of the distance was not accurate as well.  I only stumbled once on the course and was able to catch myself (all the core work I’m doing!) without falling!  Zero falls on a trail run is a pretty good day for me, but then as I was sitting recovering and chatting with Mr Noel, I heard my name called as the 3rd place finisher in my age group! That was definitely a pleasant surprise!!


Then it was back to the hotel for swimming, dinner and bed as Saturday’s wake up call was going to be early. (Little did we know how early as our son had his watch alarm set for 4:30 am which happened to be 3:30 am in a different time zone, but that’s a story for another time)  The start line of the half marathon is on the street that turns into the park and offers beautiful views of a Pine Lake (and it was gorgeous watching the sun come up!).  The route is marked by signs and coordinating colors by race. It was announced several times that the half marathoners were the ORANGE route but honestly there was adequate signage and so many volunteers that I never needed to rely on the colored markers on the street, although I did see them!

One thing that has stood out to me about this course the last 2 years that I have done this race is the hills.  They aren’t huge mountain hills or anything, I think I would call them more like rolling hills, but they just seem to be on every mile of the course.  I am certain we ran some flat areas but there were so many times when I got to the bottom of one hill just to find that it was time to start climbing the next one.  Again these are not the types of hills you find in some other races that are known for the big hills, these are completely runnable (if that’s a word) but they were definitely noticed!  There were aid stations about every 2 miles just as stated by the guy with the microphone at the start line, and I also carried my hand held water bottle with me.

La porte elevation
Elevation and with pace overlay

The course runs through what I would consider more of a residential area, although not a neighborhood – the roads were more like county roads, no sidewalks, etc but also no farm land to be seen, just beautiful houses with nice big yards in what seemed like it would be a quiet place to live.  Then I would guess somewhere between mile 3 and 4 we made a right turn and headed out further on to county roads where there were some cornfields sprinkled in with the houses.  The course was mainly closed to traffic but the people that lived along the route needed access to and from their homes (I totally get that) and so there were a few instances where you would hear people yelling from behind you to get over because a car was coming. Never did a feel that the drivers of these cars were impatient and I felt like they carefully maneuvered through the runners with safety in mind.

La Porte route
Half Marathon course map

This part of the course makes a circle that connects back to the first part of the course around mile 10 and then takes runners back to the park on the other side that gave us the opportunity to run around Stone Lake which was also very beautiful!  This lake has the beach that we ran on during the trail run and also has a playground where I later found out my kids were playing when I came around the lake and could see me running from across the lake.  The finish line is at Cummings Lodge where there was cold water and lots of food waiting! I felt a surge of excitement coming around that lake to the finish and felt like I finished strong.  I found a nice place on the curb to sit after I finished to catch my breath and drink some water and was able to catch the award ceremony for the 5K, 10K and half marathon.  The overall winners took home golden shoe trophies that looked like a legit running shoe that someone had spray painted gold and mounted to a base.  I’m sure my description isn’t great but it was one of the coolest awards I’ve seen. I will share a picture posted by the race photographers, because I’m pretty sure you guys will love them too. I am nowhere near fast enough to earn one of these, but I sure can admire them!

la porte finish 4
Finishing strong!

Finsh line La Porte
Resting after finishing!

Golden shoes
Awards for overall winners! So cool!!!

After the last runners from the half marathon finished, it was time for the mini fun run that was a race for kids ages 4-8 that cost $1 per kid!! First of all, how awesome is that? Most races that offer runs for kids have a cost that is more like $10-$20  per kid and with 3 kids that really adds up.  The kids ran by age group which means Sawyer and Stella ran together and man was I impressed! They were in it to win it, taking 2nd and 3rd place!  Every kid that ran got a cute little medal, beach ball and sand bucket with beach toys.  So cool!  After the fun run we started to head back to the car and we were approached by a La Porte police officer (I recognized this guy because he had been at an intersection on the course and was very interactive with the runners, yelling out encouragement!)  He took the kids to his car where he gave the boys each a football and Stella a teddy bear (which she still sleeps with a week later)! I did not catch this Officer’s name but his kindness will always be remembered.

Can you tell why this is a race that is worth the drive? It has a very small town feel but both years I have felt very supported as a runner! Next year I think it would be fun if we stayed an extra day and Justin did some miles on his bike!  Then we could have the whole Tour de La Porte experience!!!


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Beaver Chase Urban Trail Race

Do it for the post run selfie!!!!

There are 2 things that I think that the readers of this blog should know about me. The first is that I like to challenge myself to do hard things and the second is that I can be talked into just about any race is they are offering the right kind of swag. These two things are what led me to find myself at the start line of Beaver Chase Urban Trail half marathon earlier this month. Racemaker, the company that hosts the race, has hosted several races that I have done in the past and they always do a fantastic job. Once I saw the participant shirts and finisher medal’s, I knew this is a race that I wanted to participate in.

Beaver Chase Urban Trail race participant shirt and medal!!!

The issue with this race is the course. It is on two cross country courses connected by the Urban Wilderness Trail and also has about a 1K section that runs through a wooded path. So the course is all grass, sand, and crushed limestone, with several “obstacles” such as logs, rocks, concrete barrier things and a couple pretty huge hills. There was not one step of this course that was on pavement. I have actually ran on this course before (during last year’s Turkey Trifecta) and knew that it is a tough course to run on. For me personally it seems to be particularly hard on my ankles and knees,

This race consisted of a quarter marathon (6.55 miles) loop that the half marathon runners ran twice and the full marathon runners ran 4 times. My first loop went fairly well. I started by twisting through a cross country course that ran toward the wooded section. Once I ran down the hill into the wooded section I hit a path that was mostly sand. I felt like I was still able to keep up a pretty good pace through this area but did have to slow down a little to climb over a some pretty large logs. Once leaving the wooded area I met the first large hill that I needed to climb. I had to walk up this hill as it was pretty steep. Once at the top of the hill, I found myself back on the course country course and made my way back toward the start line. Once I got almost back to the start area, the course then went back down a hill similar to the size and steepness of the one I had climbed coming out of the wooded area.

This picture was taken by my hubby while I was on the first cross country course. This was the flattest and most even terrain of the course!

At the bottom of the hill was the Urban Wilderness Trail. This is mainly crushed limestone but did have some challenging areas that included some large rocks and other uneven surfaces. I found myself on this trail for a good little while (don’t ask me the mileage haha) until finally I found myself at the entrance of the second cross country course. This course had ground that was a lot more uneven than the first one and also had a couple hills (although nothing like the first one that I had climbed!) There was a spot on the course where I could see the water station at the entrance/exit to the course and thought I was close to returning to the crushed limestone and start heading back to the start area, only to find that the course made another turn and went out further than I had thought.

I did finally make it out of the second cross country course though and made my return to the start area on the Urban Wilderness Trail. This is the part of the trail that I struggled with most on both of my loops. We ran this same trail on the way out to the course and so I don’t know if running to right side of the way back to let others pass made the return trip back tougher but the ground felt super uneven and I felt my foot landing in holes, etc. When I made it back to where I could hear the finish line and knew I was close, I was met with one more large hill to climb up. I finished my first loop in 1:10:28 and set out on lap number 2.

Sometimes the hill wins!

My second lap was pretty uneventful and I finished it in 1:24:50. In the last two miles I found myself arguing with myself in my head because part of me really wanted to walk but the other part of me just wanted to keep running so I could get to the finish line and eat something. I carried several gels with me and intended to take as I do for most half marathons but I never really felt comfortable enough to take my attention off of my footing because I did not want to fall (and ya’ll that know me know that I am good at falling when I run!) My official finish time was 2:35:19 and I am thrilled with that time especially with the difficulty level of this course!!! I have some fast friends too and my friend Heather placed 1st in our age group! It was great to see so many friendly faces out on the course and that has become one of my favorite parts of being part of the running community locally!

No matter how challenging the race is, you still gotta rock that finish line
Running is always better with friends and photo bombers

So while this course was challenging and one that I was not super looking forward to tackling, I have to say that it wasn’t as bad as I had thought and the race swag and miles earned were well worth it!!!

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Eagle Creek Trail Half Marathon

If you know me, you know that I am not someone that scares easily. Maybe its because I’m a little crazy. Maybe it’s because I don’t learn from my mistakes. Or maybe it is because I just don’t back down from a challenge, I’m not really quite sure to be honest. I started trail running in the worst possible way last year. I ran my first ever trail run at the Summer Night trail half marathon. Yep. You read that correctly. My first ever trail run ever, meaning I had never ever ran on a trail before that half marathon even in training. And it was at night. Well if that wasn’t stupid, I don’t know what was and it was quite the experience. My best running friend ran the first loop with me (see she was smart enough to just sign up for the quarter marathon) which left me running the second loop alone in the dark with just my head lamp. There was quite a bit of falling because you can’t watch your feet for roots and tree branches and in front of you to see where you are going at the same time with just a head lamp in the dark. When I finished (and yes I was super proud of myself for finishing!) I vowed I would never do another trail run again.

Until the following month I found myself running the quarter marathon at the Women’s Trail run which wasn’t as awful when the sun was shining and you could see where you were going and so I then registered for the Eagle Creek Trail Half Marathon. I was pumped to run it! Even better my best running friend, Mindy was tackling the trails with me once again. The terrain was a little tougher and steeper than we had experienced the 2 previous trails runs we had done but things were going overall pretty well until mile 3 and that is when we met up with the GUARDRAIL. There is a part of the course that runs on the road until it turns back onto the trails but you must climb over the guardrail to get to the road. I was ready and went to go over the guardrail with gusto and felt my right leg slip in some mud. This caused my shin to hit the back of the guardrail pretty hard and gave me a pretty nasty wound. Long story short we had to go back a short distance to the ambulance to get bandages for my leg and then we were able to finish the race. I have had many people tell me that they are surprised that I was able to run 10 more miles after this injury. Although this stung, it did not hurt to run. If it had hurt to run, I would have listened to my body and stopped running!!!!!!!!!!!!! WARNING………………….. I will share a picture of my leg after it hit the guardrail but it may be difficult for some to see

Leg versus guardrail

Yesterday I tackled the Eagle Creek trail half marathon once again. I knew I could not let that guardrail get the best of me. I have to say that I was pleasantly surprised to see that there have been some changes made and there is a beautiful new bridge that connects this particular part of the park to the road and climbing the guardrail is no longer a necessity.

New Bridge
Had to take a selfie with my old friend

My goal was to finish in under 3 hours and my official finish time was 2:52:15 which gave me 4th place in my age group. I’m pretty happy with that!!

And check out this beautiful medal!!!

So call me crazy but I would say that not letting the accident with guardrail keep me from getting out there again this year worked out for me and made for a really enjoyable and successful day! Now to decide if I have what it takes to tackle a trail full marathon next year!?!?!?!??