Bibrave Race Review: Missoula Half Marathon

Disclaimer: I received a free entry to the Missoula Half Marathon 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!

By Sunday, it was run number 3 for me in Montana. I had done the Free Beer Run on Friday night (3 miles), followed by the Missoula 5K Saturday.  Saturday after the Missoula 5K, I picked up my bib and number for the Half Marathon. The way packet pick up worked meant that only 5K bibs/shirts could be picked up on Friday, so I couldn’t pick up both of my race bibs at the same time. I finished the 5K around 830 and walked around the expo a bit, which ran from 8-4 and was pretty packed up until 9/9:30 AM. It was pretty easy to get my bib (bibs were split into half or full and then alphabetically by last name), but I had to wait a few minutes to get my shirt. We also got a string bag with not a whole lot in it, but I was ok with that. It had an area on the front where you wrote your bib number in it if you were checking your bag at the start. They had an area at the expo with plenty of permanent markers to do it there (smart thinking!). The expo was small, had all of your basic stuff (race merchandise, running shops, small local things and Jeff Galloway had a booth as well). I ended up walking around a farmer’s market next door after I had all my stuff and then grabbed some brunch. I chilled out at the hotel for most of the day before going to church and then dinner on Saturday night.

 

Race day was an early morning. I keep saying I need to not do as many early start/point to point races because it’s tiring. I was up by 3:30/4 AM, which felt like 2:30/3 AM to me. I had all of my stuff out the night before and after getting changed and functioning, I was out the door with my protein shake and drove 10 minutes to the Univ. of Montana and the Adams Center. Since it was a 6 AM start, everyone had to be shuttled to either the half or full marathon start. There was plenty of parking and plenty of shuttles at 4:25 when I got there and parked. A little better differentiation between the half line and the full line would have been good, though there were volunteers there directing you. I was texting back and forth with fellow Bibrave Pro Justin, who was also at the race, but doing the full. Shortly after I had left for the start, the lines for the half got pretty long!

At the start, people were stretching or trying to get some shut eye. I got there around 5 AM and had time to have some breakfast, drink some fluids and use the porta potties twice (trust me, there were more than plenty). It was dark for at least the first half an hour before the sun came up. A little bit cool, but that changed too. We also had to deal with fireworks every 15 minutes to help figure out time or something along those lines. I checked my bag close to the start and made my way over to the start line.

Off we went, right at 7 AM and we were off via cannon. That’s enough to wake you up. The first 2.5 miles or so were on a rural road, though there was some down hill to it. After that, we were directed onto the main course, where the full marathon would join in somewhere between 15-16 miles into their race. They started at 6 AM as well, though further up the course. Overall, a fairly flat and scenic course that picked up some residential areas the further along you went. At one point, we passed a guy playing his Baby Grand Piano on his front lawn. I really want to know how he got it out there! I was keeping an OK pace, but hit a wall from miles 8-11. It’s been awhile since I’ve hit the running wall, but my legs weren’t feeling it and the lack of sleep caught up with me some. I was able to pick up the pace the last 2 miles or so and finish in 2:05:14.

Aid Stations: every 2-3 miles the first 7 miles of the race, then every mile the last 10K. Luckily it was cool while I was on course, so it was ok, but it definitely got hot for people who were on course until 12:30.

Post race: met with medals pretty quickly and medical if you needed it. Porta Potties in the shute area if you needed them. You were led around the block to water and family waiting area. Post race party was in Caras Park. The even had free pictures! Not much of line for me, but that picked up pretty quick.

There was also an area for post race food, post race massages and family meeting areas. You could exchange your shirt if you needed a different size (again, why can’t this be done at the expo??). Plenty of food trucks. One thing I wish they had was chocolate milk, I felt like I needed some sooner than waiting to get back to mine at my hotel.

Big 3 Challenge: since I did the Beer Run, the 5K and the Half, I got fun extra swag!

Only downside to this race is I ended up walking about a mile back to my car at Univ. Montana. There may have been shuttles, though I’m not sure. My legs were ok, but if I would have done the full, I would have been hurting a bit more.

Overall, please go do Missoula. It’s well run and well put together. The people are awesome and are willing to help the race out with whatever’s asked (including running their sprinklers for people to run through when it’s too hot). A must do race for anyone, and I hope I can get back next year!

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Bibrave Race Review: Missoula 5K

Disclaimer: I received a free entry into the Missoula 5K 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

I finally made it out to Missoula for the Missoula Race Weekend! I had signed up for the Missoula Half Marathon last year, however, due to moving disasters, I never made it to race weekend. This year, I went out and did the Big 3 Challenge: the Beer Run (completely free and a 3 mile shake out run on Friday), the 5K on Saturday and either the Half Marathon or Full Marathon on Sunday.

I got into town Friday afternoon and checked into my hotel. I headed over to Caras Park and was able to get my bib and shirt for the 5K on Saturday. They had pick up from 5-7 pm Friday and from 7-730 AM on Sunday. There were limited vendors at packet pick up on Friday night, as the beer run also happened. After running the beer run and looking around, I grabbed some dinner and went to the store to pick up a few things before calling it a night

 

Saturday Morning, I was up around 6 AM and out the door by 7 AM. I had time for a protein shake before hand (the joy of being able to drive 3 hrs to a race and throw whatever I want into my car!). It was easy enough to park downtown and walk to the start. I was able to meet up with fellow Bibrave Pro Justin at the start and we got to chat for a bit before the race started at 8 AM.

 

It was cool out, which was nice, compared to being in the 90s for the beer run. We were off at 8 AM and were sent through downtown Missoula. It was a fairly easy course to follow and took us through some residential areas, as well as some local parks. It was well marked, had some that was paved running routes, some that was road, etc. Missoula roads in general could use a little work! It was overall a fairly quick course that finished in Caras Park. You received your medal and then could explore the expo and relax some. There was water available at the finish, but none on course.

Overall, a good warm up for race day on Sunday. I do wish there was one water stop on course, as there wasn’t one. You could also exchange your shirt, but could only do it on Saturday after the 5K, so it really depended on how badly you wanted to lug the shirt back with you if picked up your stuff on Friday.

After the race, I got some brunch at a little place by the finish and explored the farmer’s market next to the finish. I hung out most of the day in the hotel since it got up into the 90s again. I called it an early night since it would be an early morning on Sunday!

 

Missoula Marathon Race Week

Disclaimer: I received a free entry to the Missoula Half Marathon and 5K race 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!

It’s race week for Missoula!  I missed out on the Missoula Half last year due to the moving debacle and my stuff not getting out here in any timely fashion. Last year, probably would have been cooler than the weather this year. This morning, some race adjustments were sent out for the Marathon and race day on Sunday. Here’s what you need to know, especially for the Marathon:

  • Start time: Still at 6 AM on July 9th (Sunday), so no change there!
  • Course time limit: DECREASED to 6.5 hrs! Normally a 7.5 hr. course, but temps are expected to be in the 90s throughout the day
  • If it’s hitting 87* or hotter by 12:30 PM, race may be called all together

What other adjustments?

  • No charge if you wish to go from the Full to the Half. All you have to do is go to the solutions table on Saturday at the Expo
  • If you’re expecting to finish the marathon between 6:00 hrs and 7:30 hrs, race directors are extending a deferral to the 2018 race and wave the deferral fee

As of now, the 5K on Saturday, the Half on Sunday and the kids events aren’t looking like they’ll be changed or altered, but be on the look out for emails leading up to this weekend~

I’ve been following the Missoula Marathon on Social Media (Facebook, Twitter and Instagram) and they’ve been offering good advice. Me personally, even though I love downhill courses (I PR’ed at Utah Valley last month), but my goal is to pace myself and not necessarily PR. Also, I’m already starting to load up on fluids because I’m guessing I’ll be losing more fluids regardless. Stay cool this weekend and be sure to keep an eye out for any more Missoula Emails and communications

 

 

Race Review: Scioto Bank Vancouver Half Marathon

Just over a week ago, I took a weekend trip to Vancouver for a weekend get away, which of course, involved some running. Or maybe, I just went for the race itself! I ended up covering a shift at work the Thursday before I left, which when you have a flight at dark o’clock, you completely bail on a workout the night before.

I arrived in Vancouver just before 9 AM and took the transit downtown. I dropped my bags off at the hotel and walked down to the Vancouver Convention Centre to the Expo. The expo was actually pretty small. Easy to walk in, show ID, pick up your stuff and out you go. They had Asics, a running shop and some small tables selling gels. Shirts were on the small size, but they worked. After  I left, I found some lunch and went back to the hotel to change and head out for a run. It turned out, I ran the last part of the course, which was nice. Saturday was spent doing some shopping and hanging out, for the most part.

On Sunday, I was up around 5 AM. I made the mistake of not getting a shuttle ticket from downtown to the start and by the time I realized it, it was sold out. I took the metro a few stops and picked up a bus to UBC, where the start of the race was. The bus was entirely runners and it actually made finding the start fairly easy. There were plenty of porta potties at the start, which is a plus and I was able to get through fairly quickly. We waited around quite a bit before the race started at 730 AM.

The course itself was flat with some downhills. The downhills actually helped me pick up some time to bank for later. the first 1-2 miles wasn’t much in terms of view and doubled back on itself. Afterwards, you got some pretty nice views of Vancouver. There were pacers, but I feel like I couldn’t find them. Some supporters were out there, but you saw most of them the latter half of the course. In general, I loved the course, though some of the roads needed repaved. After we crossed the bridge into downtown Vancouver, minor uphills, but nothing to complain about. I was on pace for sub 2 hrs again, but it got fairly hot pretty quick and I ran out of steam. Part of the issue was that water/gatorade was only offered every 3K (1.8 miles). I feel like some stations were further apart than others, but what can you do. Finish was in Stanley Park. Plenty of food and water, though I wish there was chocolate milk to boot. There was a station to check your time and other areas to get your gear if you checked anything at the start.

Afterwards, I walked backed to the hotel, all nearly 1.5 miles of it because there were no easy buses to take back. At least it was nice out! Overall, a great race with great views and one to do if you’re in the area

Race Review: Utah Valley Half Marathon

It’s been awhile since I’ve done a race that wasn’t for Bibrave. I found the Utah Valley Half while searching the internet and figured since I needed Utah for my quest of 50 states, it was worth the flight to Salt Lake City and the drive to Provo. The fact the course was all downhill didn’t hurt things at all.

After waking up ridiculously early on Friday, I had a direct flight from Spokane to SLC and was in by 9 AM. I picked up my rental car and had a straight shot to Provo. Packet pick up was 10 AM to 9 PM on Friday since the race was on Saturday. I was able to go straight to the Utah Valley Convention Center to the Expo. Packet pick up was pretty easy, though you couldn’t look up your bib numbers before you got there, you had to leaf through books to find them; too bad I didn’t see the bulletin boards with them posted until afterwards. You got a string bag, your bib and a jacket. There were local vendors set up, as well as Brooks and some National Running Store shops. Afterwards, I went and found an early lunch and checked into my hotel. A little cat nap didn’t hurt things either and I followed that up with a 4 mile run in 80* weather. I was able to find dinner and walk around town a little bit, though the town is on the small side. There may or may not have been outlet malls 20 minutes away that I went to for some shopping…

Saturday, I was up bright and early at 315 AM. Since the race was point to point, we had to be shuttled to the start. Luckily, the shuttle pick up was at the Provo Town Center across from my hotel. The last shuttle left at 430 AM, so the goal was to get to the pick up before the last shuttle left. It took 20 minutes and change to get to the half marathon start (which was the half way point for the full) and also happened to be half way up the mountains. My shuttle got there at 430 AM, which meant 90 minutes of waiting. I wish they would have had the half shuttles until 5 AM because we sat around waiting for a long time and it was chilly. I was glad I brought a throw away long sleeved shirt. Luckily, they had fire pits going to keep us warm. Plenty of porta potties, some water and some music were going. They also had a bag drop truck if you were checking a bag.

The race started promptly at 6 AM (as did the full from 13.1 miles up the mountain). By then, the sun was out and it was starting to warm up some. I had to make a bathroom pit stop half way through the first mile, but it covered me for the rest of the race. It also meant I had time to make up. The course itself was very scenic. Our side of the road was shut off for the entire time we were on the highway. Mile markers were every mile and there were water stops the every 2 miles for the first 10 miles and then every mile for the last 3 miles.  After a 10:50 min first mile, I was pulling sub 9 minute miles the rest of the race. Around mile 8, the 10K runners joined in with us. They had started on an off shoot of the course for the first mile and the last 5 and change were on the main course for them. The downside is that by the time they joined us, the 1:55-2:00 half marathoners were hitting the back of the packers of the 10K, which got really frustrating when I knew I was getting close to running sub 2 hours. After some weaving in and out, I was able to get out of the walkers for the most part. I don’t even think I stopped for water at last water stop or 2 in order to be sure I got under 2 hrs. Officially came in at 1:55:42 and got to ring the PR bell as I came through the finisher chute.

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Plenty of food, chocolate milk and things to do. There was a station to print off your preliminary results as well as some vendors. If you checked your bag, the bag check was off to the side. It was pick up based off the honor system in a sense, as you had to find your own bag. I took the shuttle back to the drop off point and walked back to the hotel. After I showered, I found lunch, did some driving around and relaxed the rest of the afternoon.

Overall a great race, definitely one to go and run. I have the full on my bucket list to do, especially knowing how the last half of the course is. Please go out and run this race!

 

Bibrave Race Review: Rock n Roll Liverpool Half Marathon

Disclaimer: I received a free entry to Rock n Roll Liverpool race 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!

After a hectic week of battling jet lag, I’ve lived to tell about RnR Liverpool! I can’t remember the last time I did a Rock n Roll event (it’s been at least 4-5 years), partially due to them being a bit on the pricey side. I used RnR Liverpool as a destination race and an excuse to go overseas.

I flew into Manchester and got in the Wednesday before the race. It also happened to be 36 years hrs after the attacks on Manchester Arena, so things were still blocked off around the arena, including some of the businesses and attractions close by. There was a police presence with machine guns to boot. Thursday, the UK had a moment of silence at 11 AM, and I hung out for it at St. Anne’s Square in Manchester. I spent about a day and a half in Manchester, had a chance to run while I was there, including getting lost trying to find my hotel after my first run, seeing some of the sites and just getting adjusted.

Friday, I headed off to Liverpool by the National Rail, as it was only 4 stops and 12 British Pounds. I got off at the Lime Street Station and took a cab to my hotel, though if I knew where it was, I would have walked. I was close to the start of the race, as well as the Expo. I walked over to the Convention Center, where there was a line out the door (in all fairness, it was right at the start of the expo too). The police presence in general for Liverpool was more than Manchester, but I’m guessing it was because Liverpool is a port city. In any case, bags got searched. I ran the 5K and Half Marathon (more on the 5K in a different post), so I had 2 bibs and 2 shirts to get, in addition to a wrist band to get extra bling for doing 2 races afterwards. It was fairly easy to get shirts and bibs. They did offer a shirt exchange, which I took advantage of. I also took advantage of moving up 2 corrals for the half because training was going well. The expo itself was fairly small for RnR. I’m used to larger expos for them, but there were some local stores and business and not much else (or so that’s what it seemed like).

Race Day was Sunday and the race was a late start for a race. The Half Marathon started at 9 AM and the Full Marathon started at 10 AM, which made no sense to me. I would have started things the other way around since the full takes longer, or even started at 8 and 9 AM. At any rate, I grabbed breakfast at the hotel and walked over to the race start, not even half a mile from my hotel. By chance, I ran into Laura T., a fellow Bibrave Pro who lives in Dublin. We chatted and got caught up while going to the start and then went to our corrals. It was a bit windy and chilly out, so I slipped my long sleeved shirt under my Bibrave Shirt.

We started about 15 late, but I was able to move up another corral. I crossed the start about 930 and was off. There were some pacers, but I didn’t see any of them until late in the race (and I didn’t feel like they were that frequent). The first 3 miles or so were fairly flat. The only real hill came around mile 4. The first few miles took us through downtown, Liverpool ONE, the Liverpool Cathedral, the major Beatles Highlights and more. We took turns through Sefton Park, before heading on a little trip down Penny Lane and past Liverpool Collage. We headed back towards town and spent the last few miles running along the waterfront. I spent the first 10 miles underestimating how fast I was really going, and I didn’t realize that I was right around a PR. After I realized I was going to be just over or just under a PR, I somehow picked up the pace enough to run a 2:01:52, which was under my previous PR (at RnR NOLA in 2012) of 2:03:01.

Waterstops seemed like they were every 2-2.5 miles apart, which seemed on the further end of things. Something that was different was they had 8 ounce water bottles at the water stops. Though it made it easier to drink out of, since they were sport water bottles, I also nearly stepped on a few, which would have been more on the dangerous side. This is also probably the first half I’ve done with no electrolytes, because there was some sport drink that I’d never heard of (which after I caught up with Laura after the race, found out it was really sweet).

Post race: bling and food were right at the finish. We were directed into the Echo Arena for more food. Bag check was there as well. You went out through the escalators and back to the front of the arena. There was music, merchandise and an area to pick up extra medals (rock star or remix medals). I hung out a little bit, but with a tight hotel check out and being a bit skittish with the events from Manchester, I didn’t hang out all that long.

After the race and showering, fellow Bibrave Pro Laura and I went and got some lunch. It was fun to get to know each other and to see how some of the international races are done (since she lives in the Dublin, Ireland area). Afterwards, I took the train back to Manchester and stayed close to the airport for a ridiculously early flight to the US on Monday.

Overall, It was a good destination race for someone going overseas. I’d take a look at the water situation though. I feel like they needed to be closer together and I’d rather have cups over water bottles ( I saw 2 people trip on them). Do yourself a favor and look into this race!

Rock N Roll Liverpool: The Need to Know

Disclaimer: I received a free entry to Rock n Roll Liverpool race 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!

It’s race week for Rock n Roll Liverpool! I arrived Wednesday morning in Manchester, England. To say I was a bit nervous is fair given the events of Monday night in Manchester. I’m here through Friday before I take the train an hour and change to Liverpool for race weekend. I’ve done my fair share of homework of the whats, whens and wheres, just because of this being the furthest I’ve traveled for a race (read, 4,000 miles!). RnR Liverpool is smart enough to have a race app and race center weekend website for essential information, but here’s some good to know information, especially if you’re coming from further away

Events: 5K on May 27 (9:30 am and 10 am start times depending on bib color); on May 28th, Half Marathon (9 AM start time), Marathon (10 AM start time), Fun Mile (1 pm start time). limited full marathon registration will be at the expo as all other events are sold out

Time Limits: 6 Hours for the Full, 3.5 hrs for the Half Marathon [from GUN TIME!]

Confirmation Sheets: Follow this link to look them up. MUST be printed and brought to the expo (not pulled up on your phone!)

Expo: May 26 from 1-7 pm; May 27 from 8-10 AM for the 5K and 10 AM to 5 PM for all other distances at the ACC Convention Center, King’s Doc. NO RACE DAY PICK UP for the Half, Full or Mile races.

Race Security: Full details here and on RnR Liverpool’s Facebook site. In short, bag check only available between 730 AM and 430 PM, bag sizes no larger than 50 cm x 30 cm by 20 cm and expect heightened security given the events in Manchester

Runner Tracking: Download the SportHive App!

Travel/Parking information: Take a look at the recommendations and come early!

Hopefully this helps put everything in a quick, easy to find spot. Stay safe, have fun and enjoy Liverpool!

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