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

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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!

Bibrave Race Review: Destination Races Santa Barbara

Disclaimer: I received a free entry to Destination Races Santa Barbara 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!”

Another weekend off, another weekend traveling! I was able to make it out to Santa Barbara for Destination Race’s Santa Barbara Half Marathon. Saturday races are always tough because of getting there, but it was a good weekend away.

Getting there: From the PNW, I flew threw Seattle and then to LAX. I rented a car and wished I had some anti anxiety meds for the drive up to Santa Barbara, which was about 2 hrs. The other option was to fly into Santa Barbara or take Amtrak up. The race itself started in Santa Ynez and ended in Solvang, so some runners stayed up that way, which was another 40 minutes from Santa Barbara.

Hotels/Lodging: I stayed in Santa Barbara at the Fess (a Double Tree) since it had a shuttle to and from the race. Only downside was it was $30 and wasn’t included in the VIP pass. There were hotels closer to Solvang with shuttles to the start from the finish area

The Expo: there was early packet pick up in Santa Barbara on the Thursday prior to the race with a shake out run afterwards. The main packet pick up was Friday in Solvang at the finish area. It was a small expo, some local races and other vendors. They had Bib Look up and the bib and T shirt pick up were all in one area. When I got my stuff, the volunteer didn’t realize I should have gotten VIP stuff until I said something (even though it said VIP on my bib…). The shirts ran small in my opinion. Afterwards, I walked around Solvang and found some lunch

Race Day: Getting to the race from Santa Barbara, I took a shuttle from the hotel to the start. It took about an hour, where as some of the other pros stayed closer to finish and took the shuttles from the finish in Solvang to Santa Ynez. Once I got there, I found the VIP area and checked my bag. The temp was on the cooler side and I ended up throwing on a long sleeved shirt underneath my Bibrave shirt. I grabbed some food, made some bathroom trips and headed to the start line. I ended up meeting fellow Bibrave Pro Carolyn, who drove from LA for the race.

Shortly after 7 AM, we were off and running. The first half of the race was all up hill. The first 5 miles or so, the hills didn’t seem that bad. They were noticeable, but not terrible. After mile 6, we hit corkscrew hill. You look up and start cursing because you can see people weaving up a hill that was at least half a mile long. I was never so happy to see the top of it (with water no less). The back half of the course was essentially downhill, which was much appreciated. The course itself was very scenic, which was a nice change compared to my knack for city races. I was hitting good times overall, minus getting through corkscrew hill.

The Finish and Post Race: you finish in Solvang, where you picked up bibs, etc during the expo. Post race was met with wine tastings starting at 930. After you got through the finish, you picked up your medal and a bag of food (much appreciated). I headed to the VIP area and had some light breakfast before getting my wine glass. I met up again with Carolyn and we were able to get through to some tastings, but it was so congested it made getting anything fairly difficult. Awards started around 1030 for overall and age group awards.

Shuttles: there were shuttles to and from Santa Barbara Select locations and the Fess. I wish there had been an earlier bus (sometime before 11:15) in addition to a later one. Both the shuttles were for either 1115 or 1145.

Medals: Very functional and could be used to hold your wine glass!

Social Media: Destination Races on twitter was pretty non active. Much more active on Facebook/instagram

Overall: I’d use this race as a Destination Race, just as the name implies. If you’re coming from further away, you definitely need a few days to get into town, get to the expo, deal with racing and getting home. Additionally, I think shirt sizes need to be looked at, as the women’s shirts were running on the small size. Packet pick up was pretty flawless, just need a better way for getting people who registered as VIPs there stuff without us looking for the extras. In terms of shuttles from the hotels, better communication needed to happen, as the evening shift on Friday seemed to have no idea where the buses for the race were picking up.

The race was fun and a definite race to have on your radar if you’re in the area or have the time to go run!

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Destination Races Santa Barbara: Race Week

Disclaimer: I received an entry to the Destination Races Santa Barbara 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!

It’s race week! Who knew after a short work week (only 4 of my scheduled 7 days) that I’d probably need enough wine from the race to make up for it. Here’s some need to know information for Destination Races Santa Barbara

Registration: Register Online Through 5/11/2017 and save $10 with BIBRAVE10. Don’t forget, you gotta be 21 or over on race day to enjoy the wine at the finish!

Want to be a VIP: Upgrade and get:

  • Personalized Race Bibs
  • Express Packet Pick-Up at Expo with a VIP Gift
  • Exclusive Warm-up, Stretching Zone, Private Restrooms, and Breakfast at Start line
  • Transportation to Race Start from Select Pick-Up Locations
  • Private Gear Check
  • VIP Finish Line Tent, Recovery Brunch
  • Charity Donation

Packet Pick Up

  • May 11, 2017: 3-7 PM at Santa Barbara Running Company
  • May 12, 2017: 12-6 PM at Solvang Visitor Center (1639 Copenhagen Dr, Solvang, CA 93463)

Welcome Reception: May 12, 2017 from 630-830 PM at the Kalyra Winery. Tickets are still available!

Runner Tracking: Get all Set up here!

Race Day: May 13, 2017

  • 7 AM start time in Santa Ynez
  • Post race Party (with wine!): 930-12 in Solvang Park

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bibrave Race Review: Capital City Half Marathon

Disclaimer: I received an entry to the Capital City Half 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!

After taking a few days to swallow this past weekend, I’m finally up for reviewing Cap City. I grew up outside of Columbus and actually ran Cap City back in 2012. I was excited when Bibrave partnered with them because it gave me an excuse to get back home for a few days. I flew in Thursday (since going from West to Midwest takes all day) and got in around 330. My mom picked me up from the airport and off to the hotel and for a late lunch we went before heading to the expo.

The Expo: held at the Vue in the Brewery District, which was a first. In the past, it had been held at the convention center and had more vendors, races, etc. The Vue was a smaller site and really only had Fleet Feet, Front Runner and Second Sole. I wouldn’t be a fan of going back to the site, just because parking wasn’t the easiest and it wasn’t close to anything or necessarily easy to get to if you were coming out of town. I forgot about being upped to VIP, so when the regular bib pick up didn’t have my bib, I had a mild panic attack until I went to VIP pick up. There was also a shirt exchange for getting different sized shirts, which I volunteered at on Friday (and had people assume that the small shirt sizes were the volunteers fault. Really?).

Swag: T Shirt (cotton) from Second Sole and a sturdy string bag. I loved the design of the shirt, but they definitely ran small. I was seeing women up a small to a large at the expo because they were running so small.

 

 

Race Time: 8 AM, which was nice for getting a decent night’s sleep the night before, but with weather coming through, hindsight 20/20, I wish it would have been a 7 AM start.

The Race Itself: Starts in downtown Columbus at Columbus Commons. It took you through the Arena District, OSU, the Short North, Downtown, German Village and a few other areas of Columbus. The course is fairly flat which is nice, though a hill towards the end.  The start was divided into corrals with the elites heading off at 7:55 and corrals A-I being started every few minutes after, so I didn’t start until about 8:12.It was cloudy at the start, but not raining. I was making good time, but we got our first round of rain trying to figure out what to do with itself around mile 2-3. It did let up and onward I went. I was pulling probably my best time in a few years until thunder and lightning hit right before mile 9. I was at the split for the 5K/quarter marathon going to the finish and the half marathon going towards the last 4 miles of the course and ended up getting diverted to the finish, as the race was black flagged. Some friends of mine were a mile ahead of me and were out in the open and had to figure out how to get back to the start. I was pretty bummed out after because of how well things were going. I’m not sure how much of the 8 AM start time was due to the US Half Marathon championships, but a 7 AM start time would have probably avoided post race issues and let more people finish the half (really only 1200 people were able to finish the half). I ended up doing another 4 miles at the hotel to get the full 13.1 miles in.

Post race: most of the activities were cancelled because of the storms that came through. I was able to see the VIP tent for a brief period of time and got some food from Cameron Mitchell Restaurants that was really good, but the line was long for drinks, so I missed out on that with the chaos of trying to get to safety.

Things to work on

  • So for future races, I think there needs to be better planning for weather in terms of if the race needs to be altered or cancelled. There was no real direction on where to go, etc. At one point, a bunch of us were in an alley between 2 buildings. There were also people stranded on an open course and were essentially on their own with trying to figure out what to do.
  • The shirts: I get wanting to go for a local company, and in fairness, there was  a sizing chart prior to registration, but they run really small. I was seeing women switch smalls for larges because the shirts weren’t fitting chests well at all. I would go with a different company
  • The expo: I wasn’t a fan of the location. It wasn’t easy to get to and there wasn’t a lot that endorsed the local running community that I know. There was nothing set up in terms of other local races, running groups, etc which was kind of sad. I know there was construction going on at the Convention Center, which is where it’s been held in the past, but I feel like there could have been a better place to have this.

Overall, weather wasn’t on my side this year, but I’d still go back for redemption of Cap City. It’s been a fun race to do in the past and at some point, I’ll get back to running it again!

 

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