Latest reviews by Riley Fickett

(2021)
"Race Review: Run Run Santa 1-Miler ๐ŸŽ…๐Ÿป"
Overall
T-Shirts/SWAG
Aid Stations
Course Scenery
Expo Quality
Elevation Difficulty
Parking/Access
Race Management

On Christmas Eve my parents and I participated in the Run Run Santa 1-Miler in Viera, Florida! This is the second time we've done this race, the first time being back in 2018. It's a really cute festive race (and we all know that I love a festive race) and it's the perfect way to spend the morning of Christmas Eve!

With your registration you get a Santa suit and the intention is that you'll wear it during the 1-mile run. This creates a great big crowd of running Santas and it's honestly such a blast. Folks will also dress up as other Christmas favorites like the Grinch. It's such a fun time because everyone is in great spirits and so excited that it's finally Christmas Eve!

Because I performed so well during the Rock n' Roll Savannah 1-Miler in November, I was considering also trying to push myself and see how fast I could run the mile, while rocking a Santa suit ๐Ÿ˜‚ However, race day was the first day that we were in Florida after a two day road trip to my parent's house and my energy levels were just not there, so I decided to just take it easy and enjoy the run!

The Santa suit isn't the most comfortable running getup in the world, and the shorts kept constantly falling down and ripping ๐Ÿ˜‚ While it's fun that you're given a Santa suit with your registration, they aren't the most high quality running garments in the world so I highly recommend ensuring that you're wearing comfortable running gear underneath! Use the Santa suit as more of a decorative top layer on race morning!

The race itself is a quick loop of the immediate area, making a bit of a horseshoe shape. There's not much to say about the course of a 1-Miler, but there was some crowd cheering on the runners on the course, and even a little "snow" machine going which was so much fun to see in Florida!

I think the big draw for this race would have to be the after party. There was such great atmosphere - a DJ & dancing, plenty of breakfast treats, photo opportunities, and there were so many prizes for the folks who ran the fastest! I think having such a short distance race during such a festive time of year really made the post-race party so much fun.

On top of all of that, you do receive a medal for completing the run! The medals are usually such great quality as well, and that's above and beyond anything I would expect for a 1-Mile race! This year's medal featured two candy canes with the logo in the center, and the ribbon was green with white stars and snowflakes!

Ultimately, I have a blast every single time we do this race. It's something active to kick off the Christmas holiday, and ultimately a great activity that the entire family can participate in. If you're in the area of Viera on Christmas Eve, definitely give it a go! ๐ŸŽ…๐Ÿป

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(2021)
"Race Review: Friendsgiving Virtual Run"
Overall
Race Management
SWAG
Virtual Support

Disclaimer: I received an entry to the Friendsgiving 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!

One of my absolute favorite traditions each year is running a Thanksgiving morning Turkey Trot. It's a great way to start a busy day of cooking and visiting family and friends with something small for myself, and a reminder of how thankful I am to be able to run! This year I was presented with the opportunity to run a super fun virtual run for my annual Turkey Trot - the Friendsgiving Virtual Run, themed after one of my favorite comfort shows, Friends!

We all know that the Friends Thanksgiving episodes are second to none, so when the option to run this race presented itself I had to jump on it! The Virtual Run gave you the option to run a 10K, 5K, or 1-Mile distance for your race. I opted to go for a 5K, which felt like the perfect distance to run on Thanksgiving morning. I love when there's multiple distance options for virtual runs, so you can make it work for whichever training program you might be working through!

I was pleasantly surprised at how stinkin' adorable all of the race swag was, and the positive is that every distance got the same swag! For registering, you received an adorable crew neck sweatshirts (I LOVE a crew neck!), a bib, and a finisher's medal with the iconic turkey with sunglasses! Unfortunately, due to supply chain issues, we haven't yet received the finisher's medal. However, the organizers of the virtual run were super apologetic and up front about the situation which I appreciated so much, and we'll get our medals eventually which is fine by me!

If you're a big fan of Friends like me, this is a fun way to motivate yourself to get outside and run! There are multiple distances to choose from, and you get awesome swag. I had a great time participating in this run, and would definitely recommend you giving this one a try!

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(2021)
"Race Review: Rock n' Roll Savannah Half Marathon 2021"
Overall
T-Shirts/SWAG
Aid Stations
Course Scenery
Expo Quality
Elevation Difficulty
Parking/Access
Race Management

In early November I traveled down to Savannah, Georgia for the Rock n' Roll Savannah Marathon weekend! This was intended to be my 18th marathon in my 18th state, and I even planned on meeting up with my parents and sister to make it a fun lil vacation (they all live fairly close to Savannah!). Little did I know that this weekend was about to be full of surprises!

I arrived in Savannah around 11AM on Friday morning, where I met up with my parents at the airport! They scooped me up and we made arrangements to meet up with my sister in the city. Once the four of us were finally together we headed over to the riverfront where we grabbed a bite to eat and some drinks at The Warehouse. Time to celebrate being together for the first time since Christmas!

After lunch we hopped over to the expo by way of the ferry! It was so cool getting to take the ferry across the river to get over to the expo. We picked up our bibs and race packets (I had to pick up two!), took photos, and had an overall great time checking out all of the vendors and merch!

It was a cold and rainy day, so after the expo we ducked into a coffee shop to warm up a bit and caffeinate after a long day of travel.

And then we were finally able to check into our little Air BnB and relax! I gathered my gear for my flat runner (below) and we ate some dinner - home made meals made by my parents and transported up from their homes in Florida! Nothing better than a homecooked meal the night before a big race, right? We were all pretty wiped so we had a fairly early bed time. I had to mentally prepare myself to run in what was looking to be pretty rough conditions the next morning, so I wanted to get as much rest as possible so I could go into race day with the right mindset!

I woke up before everyone else to start getting myself ready. The winds and rains were BRUTAL outside and to be honest I was not looking forward to getting outside in the rain for 26.2 miles, but I had to remember that through this 50 state journey I was going to have to deal with all sorts of weather! I tried my best to get mentally prepared. And then about an hour and a half before the originally scheduled race time, we received this text message:

TEXT: "Good morning. Due to deteriorating weather conditions we have determined we cannot host the full marathon. We will host the half marathon and relay. All marathon participants have the option to participate in the half marathon.

Savannah is unusually COLD and WET this year. To help prevent hypothermia [low body temperature] you should dress in layers. Your outer garment should be waterproof, and under that wear something warm, like a sweatshirt over T-shirt. IF it dries out and warms up at all, these can be tied around your waist. If you feel you are getting too cold, stop into one of Medical Tents along the course for help."

I was a mixture of disappointed and relieved to receive this news. Disappointed because obviously I wanted to run my 18th marathon in my 18th state surrounded by my family, but relieved because the conditions were AWFUL and while it would be great to check off another state, it would have been a really terrible experience solely based on the weather conditions. I had to reframe my mindset at that point from running a full marathon to running a half instead, and after readjusting I felt a lot of pressure lift off of my shoulders!

I will say that there were SO MANY people who were PISSED by this decision, and they made their opinions heard on social media. While there are occasions where maybe frustrations are justified when events get canceled or changed, I don't think that this was one of those situations. The weather that weekend in Savannah was terrible and definitely not anywhere near acceptable to keep a race course open for 7+ hours where there would be thousands of freezing runners, volunteers, and spectators. It wad pouring rain, 40 degrees, and wind gusts of up to 30+ mph, so I personally canceling the full marathon for health and safety reasons was totally warranted. I wish folks could try to be understanding of everything that gets taken into consideration when making these decisions. I feel like I have a much different perspective on these types of situations because I plan events for a living and that probably makes me a bit more understanding, but you can't control the weather, y'all!

Because it was offered to the marathon runners, I opted to run the half marathon. I had traveled all that way, so I may as well at least run something! So we all headed out into the deluge and down to the start line.

The start was scheduled for 7:30am, but unfortunately there was a massive hold up and we were standing and waiting in our start corals for about 20-25 minutes just getting absolutely soaked. ๐Ÿ˜ญ Apparently there were some issues with the course that they needed to secure before letting the runners go, but again, folks were pissed. We were all standing there freezing to death and just wanted to get the race underway, so it's understandable why folks were frustrated about this! Eventually they finally let us loose on the course and for that I was so thankful. I just wanted to get warm! ๐Ÿ˜‚

Aside from the horrible weather, I actually had a great time on this run! Rock n' Roll does such a fantastic job with on-course entertainment, and even though it was pouring rain, they did not disappoint. Despite the weather, there was a band or DJ playing every mile and a half or so which I really appreciated. I was also so impressed with the energy of the on-course volunteers and the crowds throughout the entire course. I honestly went into the race thinking it was going to be crickets and I wouldn't have blamed anyone if it was because the weather was just that awful, but Savannah came out in droves to cheer on their runners. I had such a great time!

My favorite mile by far was mile 11. This mile was decorated with so many unicorns and rainbows everywhere which was so much fun to run through towards the end of the race. ๐ŸŒˆ๐Ÿฆ„ At this point I was cold and soaked to the bone, so having a bit of cheer at this point in the run was just what we all needed! If this was mile 11 during a torrential downpour, I am so curious what the course would be like during some good weather!

I came across the finish in 2:16:17 which is not too shabby considering how stinkin' cold and soggy I was! ๐Ÿ˜‚ I did receive the medal for the full marathon at the finish line. A lot of folks with marathon bibs were not accepting those medals, which I totally get. I decided to accept the full marathon medal, although it will hang on my half marathon medal rack. I think this medal has a great story behind it, and I will always remember this race weekend whenever I look it!

After the race (and after having the opportunity to shower and warm up!) the family and I went out to grab lunch. While we were out I did receive an email that said all runners who were registered for the full marathon were able to register for a future Rock n' Roll marathon for free, which I really appreciated. I signed up for the 2022 Savannah marathon, with the hope that the third time I have registered for this race will be the charm! ๐Ÿ˜‚ Big thank you to Rock n' Roll for giving this offer to your runners who had worked hard for 26.2 and making the best of a tough situation! Despite what other folks may think, I feel that Rock n' Roll did the best they could with the hand they were dealt.

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(2021)
"Race Review: Death by Hills at the 2021 Kansas City Marathon ๐Ÿ’€ I-35 Challenge Day 1"
Overall
T-Shirts/SWAG
Aid Stations
Course Scenery
Expo Quality
Elevation Difficulty
Parking/Access
Race Management

copied from my blog review, which you can find here: https://fiveleveninety.blogspot.com/2021/10/race-review-death-by-hills-at-2021.html

What a whirlwind of a weekend! I'm currently sitting in the Kansas City Airport about to head home after finishing my FIRST DOUBLE MARATHON WEEKEND. I've been training for the I-35 Challenge since June and this weekend I officially ran and completed both the Kansas City Marathon in Kansas City, Missouri and the Des Moines Marathon in Des Moines, Iowa. Instead of waiting 4 months to post my reviews (lol), I thought I'd get my thoughts down on digital paper before I forget too many details of the experience. I'm going to break up my review of the weekend into two parts, so stay tuned for part 2. For now we'll kick things off with the 2021 Garmin Kansas City Marathon!

TRAVEL & EXPO DAY

I headed out of Boston bright and early on Friday morning to head over to Kansas City. I think at this point in I was having some serious regrets regarding all of my life's decisions that lead me to be on a plane to run two consecutive marathons, but there as no turning back now. ๐Ÿ˜ฌ I landed in KC around 10:30am, met up with Cassie, and we headed straight over to the expo for packet pick up.

While there weren't too many vendors at the expo (at least not as many as I'd see in pre-COVID times), the venue was great (located at Union Station - a GORGEOUS building!) and packet pick up was quick and easy. Cassie actually registered on-site for the 10K without any issue, and I was also able to pick up our friend Jocelyn's packet as well (she was doing both full marathons with me!) since she was not getting into KC until much later. There was a little bit of confusion with mine and Jocelyn's bibs - we were supposed to get a special designation for the I-35 Challenge on our bibs and an extra shirt and we were originally only given marathon bibs and shirts. It wasn't until I saw the table of I-35 shirts when I realized that maybe we didn't get everything we needed so I asked the volunteers. They were super great about rectifying the mistake, got us the right bibs and shirts, and were so friendly and helpful through the whole process! Race volunteers are honestly the best people you can find. ๐Ÿ’™

KC MARATHON PACKET INCLUDED:

-Kansas City Marathon cotton t-shirt (hooray for no tech shirt!)
-I-35 Challenge finisher long sleeve shirt
-Bib & safety pins

Honestly, I prefer race packets to be no-nonsense like this one. I don't love getting coupons to local businesses unless it's something I can use during race weekend (I really don't need a coupon for a water filtration system lmao) and usually the samples that get included go unused. My preference is just give me some nice swag that I will actually use OR just give me my bib.

After some quick pics with our bibs we were both famished and wanted to grab some BBQ as Kansas City's BBQ is some of the best out there! We asked a few folks what they'd recommend for BBQ and Jack's Stack was hands down the favorite so that's where we headed. We both ordered burnt ends that were honestly SO DELICIOUS and really hit the spot after a long morning of traveling.

Eventually we made our way to our Air BnB and shortly after checking in I hit the road for a shakeout run. I knew I wasn't going to get it done if I started to relax, so I got on the road for a 2 mile run which gave me a taste of the INSANE hills in KC. Mentally it was so great to get a feel for the terrain the day before, even if it was only a taste, but BOY is Kansas City not messing around with its hills. ๐Ÿ’€

Unfortunately in the evening I started to feel so sick to my stomach. I think it was a combination of nerves for the races, traveling, being dehydrated, and honestly the BBQ I had for lunch. The food itself was INCREDIBLE and so well made, I'm just not a huge red meat eater and of course I had beef burnt ends. Probably not the smartest move the night before a race. I was super nervous about feeling sick for obvious reasons, but most of all because I could NOT bring myself to eat anything for dinner. Going into a marathon on an empty stomach was a pretty scary prospect, but I opted to drink water, get sleep, and keep my fingers crossed that I'd feel better in the morning.

RACE DAY

Luckily I woke up feeling somewhat better, and was even able to stomach a bowl of oatmeal before we headed out! We went to pick up Jocelyn at her hotel and made our way over to the start line. One tip right off the bat - if you're driving, get to the Kansas City Marathon EARLY. We got to the starting line area about 30 before the 7AM start and drove around for a decent amount of time before finding parking. Essentially, everyone is trying to park in ONE designated parking garage which cause a line of cars all over the place. We eventually found an empty parking lot to park in and made our way over to the start. We got to the starting line RIGHT at 7AM, which is a little too close for comfort for me, but at least we made it!

The 10K didn't start until 30 minutes after the marathon, so Jocelyn and I said goodbye to Cassie and made our way to the starting line. Before we knew it we were off and running!

This will be a theme throughout this review - the Kansas City Marathon is SO. FREAKING. HILLY. This is more than just rolling hills. We're talking about VERY extended uphill stretches with very little reprieve until the back half of the course. So, in true KC Marathon fashion, the first mile took us uphill. Jocelyn and I stuck together for the most part through the first two miles. Because we started on an uphill climb and we were feeling fresh, we actually ended up going out waaaaaay too quickly. At some point after mile 1 I turned to her and said "heyโ€ฆ we have a whole other marathon tomorrowโ€ฆ. maybe we should slow down" ๐Ÿ˜‚ We came up on our first water stop around 2 miles and this is where we parted ways for the first time. I stopped for a restroom break at this point (no time for the bathroom before we started!) and she continued on.

I will say that even though the course was super hilly, it provided some incredible views of Kansas City! As the sun was rising it hit the buildings on the KC skyline and really made the city glow. It's always so incredible to see the sunrise on a city you're visiting for the first time!

The weather was on the chillier side (40s-50s) for the majority of the race, and stayed nice and cool in the shadow of the buildings during the first half of the course. It wasn't until mile 7 or 8 where the sun really started to warm things up finally. Coincidentally, this is where I finally caught up with Jocelyn for a few miles! Running with a pal always makes these distances so much easier. We stuck together and chatted until about mile 10 or so.

The half marathoners split from the full marathon right around mile 12.5. As you might know, my least favorite course design is when the half marathon splits from the full RIGHT before they finish - it's such a tease to the full marathoners! I guess I could let this one slide because we technically couldn't see the finish, but we could still hear it haha. As you were approaching this point in the race you could compete in the Garmin "Segment Challenge" which is about a 400m stretch where they'll time how fast you can run through that segment. The fastest runners would win a new Garmin Forerunner! I did not even attempt this challenge (lol) but it's a really cool idea and a great way for the title sponsor of the race to be well connected to the event.

As I came up on the half way point, I saw the lead runner turning the corner toward their mile 26! It is so wild when you realize that these athletes are TWICE AS FAST as you. ๐Ÿ˜ณ I guess the tracking app was messing up because at this point my dad texted me and said it looked like I was already at 17.4 miles ๐Ÿ˜‚ I told him "I wish"! With a quick restart of the app he was able to see the accurate information, though, and it was nice to hear from him at that point in the race for a second wind! I also saw Cassie cheering me on as I came up on mile 14 for an additional boost of encouragement!

I was still feeling pretty nauseous from the night before so this second half of the race was pretty tough. Luckily the hills flattened out slightly as we entered an out-and-back section of the course around mile 16. I really love out-and-backs because I love seeing and cheering on the other runners on the course, so this was great to distract me from how my stomach was feeling. There was also surprisingly a lot more crowd support on this section of the course than there was in the city. Quite a few neighbors were out cheering on the runners and the volunteers at the water stations had such great energy! I also put on my music at this point which of course made everything so much easier. Really between miles 17-21 I was having a grand old time. Probably the best I've ever felt during the third quarter of a marathon, even with the nausea! I also saw Jocelyn as she was approaching mile 19 and I had just hit 20. It was great to see a familiar face during the toughest section of the course!

Around 23 I saw a Ted Lasso "Believe" sign and it just lifted my spirits up so much! This was also a downhill section for the most part so I was flying (or at least I felt like I wasโ€ฆ I'm sure my splits say otherwise lol). Right after 24 I saw Cassie again for one more boost of encouragement before getting to the end. 25-26 was another great flat and downhill section and thenโ€ฆ.

26.

An UPHILL FINISH.

Yes, after miles upon miles of nothing but hills, just to demoralize you a tiny bit further, the course gives you one last uphill at mile 26 to take you to the finish line. The runner I was closest to shared a look with me like "โ€ฆ.really?"

Because REALLY?!

I was pretty bummed about this because at this point my legs were so shot from the rest of the course that I had no other choice but to walk up the hill at the end of the race, and so many other runners around me were doing the same. I wasn't a fan of that choice for course design. I'm pretty sure the wind was taken out of everyone's sails as they turned the corner, which is a huge bummer.

Either way, I got myself up that hill and into the finisher's shoot where Cassie was waiting to be paparazzi. After a day full of ups and downs (literally), I had finished state and marathon #16! We even got to see Jocelyn come across the finish line for her 96th (!!!!) marathon not long after I finished!

RACE STATS

Due to the hilliness of the course, my upset stomach, and this being the first of two days of marathons for me, I knew going into this race that I would not be breaking any speed records or shooting for anything like a sub-5 time. The name of the game over the weekend was getting across two finish lines regardless of how long it took! The elevation stats on this race are NUTS though ๐Ÿ‘€

THE MEDAL

I'm still on the fence about how I feel about the medal for this race. Someone pointed out that it is the same medal they were offering last year for the virtual race which is an interesting observation. There isn't anything on the medal suggesting that it was specifically designed for the 2021 running of the Kansas City Marathon, which makes me a little bummed out. However, I do enjoy the light blue theming, the image of the blue fountain in KC, and I really love the medal ribbon. (My fave part is the "KC" inside the heart!)

OVERALL THOUGHTS

The Kansas City Marathon is definitely one of the most challenging marathons I've run to date. The elevation and terrain is unforgiving and it will definitely 100% trash your legs if you aren't prepared for it. While the organizers can't really help the terrain of the city, I think they could rework the route to make it somewhat more of enjoyable experience for runners, or have at least figured something out about that uphill finish.

There were a few course issues we observed as well. The way it was marked was a little confusing when it came to where you were supposed to turn, which side you were supposed to run on, etc. Jocelyn also observed that while there were flags for "First Aid" on the course, there were zero folks staffed (so essentially no med stations anywhere which isโ€ฆ. a choice for an athletic event.

However, the race organizers were great, all of the volunteers were well informed and helpful, there are beautiful views of the city throughout the course, and if you're a spectator, there are LOTS of places for you to see your runner. I feel like I saw a lot of groups of spectators multiple times!

While I'm glad I finished the Kansas City Marathon on Saturday, I don't think I would necessarily run this race again. I think it has a lot of potential to grow into something fantastic with some tweaking of a few points, but for now I'd only really recommend this to runners who really love hills. I'm sure they're out there somewhere, lol!

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(2021)
"Race Review: 22 Miles of PAIN at the 2021 Des Moines Marathon ๐Ÿฉน I-35 Challenge Day 2"
Overall
T-Shirts/SWAG
Aid Stations
Course Scenery
Expo Quality
Elevation Difficulty
Parking/Access
Race Management

copied from my blog review, which you can find here: https://fiveleveninety.blogspot.com/2021/10/race-review-22-miles-of-pain-at-2021.html

If you haven't read my Kansas City Marathon race review yet, do that first! This review will cover Day 2 of the I-35 Challenge at the 2021 IMT Des Moines Marathon!

TRAVEL & EXPO DAY

Almost immediately after finishing the Kansas City Marathon, Jocelyn, Cassie, and I all hopped into our rental car and headed north on I-35 to get to our next stop - Des Moines, Iowa! I never thought I'd be traveling to Des Moines in my free time, but when BibRave offered this opportunity to the Pros, I thought it would be a great chance for me to tick Iowa off of my 50 marathons in 50 states list! The drive from KC to Des Moines is about a three hour ride and just a straight shot through miles and miles of corn fields. (The Iowa State sign had a slogan on it that read Fields of Opportunity which is a very appropriate slogan lol.)

We got to the expo in Des Moines around 4:45pm or so. The expo closed at 6pm on Saturday which was a tight squeeze for the I-35 Challenge, but we got there in plenty of time which was great. We pick up our packets which had significantly more stuff in it than KC:

DES MOINES MARATHON PACKET INCLUDED

-Quarter zip (again, yay no tech shirts! Even though it's kind of tech-y material, it's still so nice!)
-Bib & safety pins -Event program and catalogue of things to do in Des Moines
-LOTS of product samplesโ€ฆ. Probably too many product samples haha
-A rain poncho which is a nice touch, even though it was beautiful for the race!

This expo felt a little bit more full and more like a typical race expo than KC, which was nice. It was located in an event hall of a convention center, most if not all the vendors were running and fitness related (no one was trying to sell me windows and doors to the house I don't own lol), and there were lots of fun photo opportunities which we took complete advantage of!

We also met up with some of the BibRave crew, including Jenn, Bill, and his wife Jennifer! It was great to meet these folks in person after talking exclusively online for nearly two years! ๐Ÿงก

We were all famished at this point so we popped over to the Iowa Taproom for dinner (which if I lived in Des Moines, I'd probably hang out here all the time). My stomach had finally settled a bit and I was feeling QUITE hungry so I was very excited for food! I also wanted to give myself a little bit of a celebration for finishing marathon and state #16 that day without totally trashing myself for the next morning's race, so I had a baby 6 oz. beer with dinner ๐Ÿ˜‚

We were all pretty beat and we had races to get ready for in the morning (Cassie with the Des Moines Half Marathon and Jocelyn and I will the full), so we wrapped up dinner fairly quickly and headed to our AirBnB to crash. (Not before getting our flat runners in, though!)

Jocelyn and I also ordered second dinner (lmao marathoner life) at about 9pm which was incredible. I almost didn't get more food until Jocelyn said she was getting pho and I knew as soon as I smelled her food I would very much so regret joining her on the order ๐Ÿ˜‚ So we got pho and I added some crab rangoons to the order because YOU HAVE TO.

RACE DAY

The race didn't start until 8am the next morning and we were staying literally a block away from the start/finish area (honestly the closest I've ever been to a race start!) so we were able to sleep in a bit which felt SO GOOD. We headed out the door around 7:40ish and I have to say I LOVED the energy of the starting line! It was in front of the Polk County Courthouse and surrounded by tall buildings, so the noise was just echoing around and making everything feel so much more exciting! We even got a great photo with all the BibRave Pros in our orange gear which was so great! It felt so good to be able to see my BRP teammates in person and give them cheers and well wishes before and during the race!

The half marathon and full marathon started together so Cassie and I spent the first quarter of a mile or so together before her first walk interval which was nice! We ran all weekend long and this was the only time I actually got to run together haha. I continued on solo through the majority of the race, but luckily I was able to see so many friendly faces as I ran! I did get to see Angie around mile 2 cheering and she snapped a photo of me running.

And I also saw Jenn around the same time as she was doing her thing managing the Instagram story for the Des Moines Marathon like a boss! The half marathon ran with the full marathon for about 2.5 miles before the split, and this is absolutely what I prefer when it comes to course design. I know that half marathoners will all be done running LOOOOONG before I will be, so while it's nice to run with the big pack, if they could go ahead and split off early so they can finish while I can't see them that would be great ๐Ÿ˜‚

Miles 3-8 were INTENSE hills (as if we hadn't gotten enough of those in KC), and while this section of the course was super challenging and I was SO OVER hills at this point, I think if I hadn't run the KC Marathon the day before I think I would have actually enjoyed that section quite a bit. It was in a little bit of a wooded residential area, and the elevation of the terrain gave it some uniqueness for sure.

Unfortunately for me, I must have taken a weird step going downhill at mile 4 and totally tweaked my ankle. I was hoping the pain would be short-lived but with every step over the next mile or so I knew that I had done something a little bit larger than just an ankle twist and I would just need to figure out how to manage the pain over the next 22 miles. Nahhhhht a great way to kick off day 2.

I saw Jenn again at mile 7 which was so great! She gave me some words of encouragement before heading out in front of me, and I found the 5:05 pace group which I ran with for a little bit to take my mind off of the pain. Around mile 8 we entered into probably my favorite section of the course - the neighborhoods of Des Moines! The Des Moines community LOVES its runners on marathon day! There were so many houses that were having front lawn parties and just cheering everyone on and totally keeping my spirits high through the pain. I felt so supported by everyone who came out and cheered and volunteered!

This was also an out-and-back section of the course which I LOVE because you get to see so many of the runners! I got to see Jocelyn when she was around mile 8 and I was around mile 9. We didn't get to start the race together so it was great to see her running and share a high five and some cheers together. I am so glad I had someone who was going through the same races as me for my first double! I guess Bill also saw me when I was around mile 10 and he was around mile 14. I did hear a man yell "Riley!!!" at this point but it didn't compute in my brain why a man's voice would be yelling my name in Des Moines, Iowa and assumed it was for someone else ๐Ÿ˜‚ It took me about 2 minutes to realize that it was probably Bill and we confirmed it later Sunday night at dinner ๐Ÿ˜‚ SORRY BILL!

Mile 12 brings you into the Drake University stadium and you got to do a lap of the track which was so cool! I didn't know this, but apparently a lot of legendary runners like Jesse Owens have competed in the Drake University stadium before which is so cool. I appreciate the announcer sharing facts like that over the loud speaker as we ran through the stadium because I honestly would have no idea. They also announced every runner as you're running through including your name and your hometown so you get a little bit of a special moment. I know that's something I'll definitely remember about this race for years to come!

Miles 13-17 were probably the most challenging miles of the race for me. My ankle was really hurting and sending pains up my calf and through my heel as well, I figured out that my salt tablets got dropped somewhere along the way while I was running and I really felt like I needed some electrolytes, and the prospect of running 13 more miles was just a lot for me to handle. I FaceTimed Brett to let out some tears and he gave me the encouragement I needed to keep pushing forward. My Dad also texted me around this time to check in and having both of them checking in with me at the same time just helped me keep pushing through. I swear, marathons are NEVER a one-person effort. It takes a community to get you across the finish line, and I have the absolute best community.

Miles 16-24 take you through this really beautiful park that is flat flat flat! I'm surprised I remembered how to run on flat ground with all of the hills we tackled in the I-35 challenge up until that point XD The water stop at mile 18.5 was a PARTY and I kinda just wanted to stop running the race and hang out with them. They were giving out full cans of beer with their water and having the biggest dance party! Shout out to whoever made up the mile 18.5 volunteer team because y'all totally lifted my spirits at that point in the race!

I saw Jocelyn when I had just passed mile 20 and she was around 18.25! It was great to be able to see her again and share another high five and some encouragement. I know we were both hurting so much at that point but being able to see each other put a smile on both of our faces which was great. :)

Miles 22-24 were also pretty tough because my ankle was just so angry with me at that point and I still felt so far from the finish line. Again, my community continued to pull through for me. My friends Erin and Cullen were texting me our group chat, and Brett continued to check in with me via text (and Drangon Ball Z/WWE GIFS lol). Like I said, I would not be able to get through this weekend without my people!

The last 2.2 miles took place on a long stretch of road which was pretty challenging mentally. I knew that the finish was SO CLOSE but I had to keep running straight down the road for what seemed like forever. I just wanted to get to the finish and get some ice for my dang ankle!

Eventually I took a left, and another left, and a straight shot into the finisher's chute where I spotted Jenn and Cassie cheering for me, the announcers said "FRANKLIN, MA IN THE HOUSE!!!" andโ€ฆ

I FINISHED STATE & MARATHON #17 AND THE I-35 CHALLENGE!!!

Jocelyn was not far behind me for her 97th marathon finish as well!!! We all gave each other big hugs when she crossed the finish. We had all accomplished some amazing things together this weekend!!!

RACE STATS

Despite my ankle nagging me for 22 miles, I actually performed fairly well through this race! I was only 11 minutes slower at Des Moines than I was in Kansas City which is so wild to me. I really wonder how I could have performed if I didn't have that injury so early on, but I'm happy with my performance regardless. Like I said in my KC post - the name of the game was to finish each race and I did exactly that!

THE MEDAL(S)

I was given not one but TWO medals at the finish line! My IMT Des Moines Marathon finisher's medal was given to me by fellow BibRave Pro Angie which was SO special! And I also received an additional medal for completing the I-35 Challenge and it's so great to have something to represent all of my hard work put into these two races. While I might not particularly love the two medals I received, it's really the experience of this race that I will always remember when looking at each of them. I proudly wore both medals along with my KC Marathon around Des Moines on Sunday night!

OVERALL THOUGHTS

I was so pleasantly surprised by how much I truly this race. The community of Des Moines really made this race so much fun for all of the runners. There was SO MUCH course support from volunteers and event organizers and everyone was so positive! The course design had a great variety of hilly sections and flat sections, residential areas, green spaces, and city views so you were always looking at and experiencing something new with each mile. The organization of this event was incredible from the moment I signed up (weekly newsletters, frequent live streams, and SO MUCH INFO at your disposal!) to the moment I crossed the finish line. I never thought I would be recommending folks to journey to the middle of the country to run a race in Des Moines, Iowa, but YOU DEFINITELY SHOULD RUN THIS RACE! I had such a fantastic time and I definitely would love to return in the future.

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