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!

 

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!

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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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!

 

Bibrave Product Review: Eagle Creek Pack it Sport Active Set

Disclaimer: I received an Eagle Creek Pack it Sport Active Set 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!
Another fun month of testing some good work our products!  We had the opportunity to try out the Eagle Creek Pack It Sport Active Set, and I quite frankly was excited to try it. Plenty of times I go from a spin class to the gym or am driving somewhere for a race and want to change out of clothes before driving home if I’m far enough away and things end up stinking up the car or I’m dragging along a huge gym bag full of stuff.
Enter this dual set of Pack It products

You get a Wet Dry Fitness Locker and Shoe Locker that’s incredibly versatile. Though they’re marketed as products to keep your sweaty and clean clothes separate, don’t think they’re limited to just that!

The weeks I’m off from work, I sometimes will go spinning prior to the gym. The shoe locker is great for carrying the extra pair of shoes around and keeping them in the car if I’m not using them. Since it’s just getting nice out, the windows haven’t been open all that much. Needless to say, my car still doesn’t smell like sweaty feet, and this includes leaving post work out shoes in the shoe locker. With my size 7 feet, I can fit at least a pair of spin shoes or running shoes and a pair of flip flops easily in the bag. I even have extra space for a HR monitor/car keys and phone!

The Wet/Dry Fitness locker is the second piece to this set and double sided, which is even better. You can keep clean stuff on one side and sweaty clothes on the zipper side. On a recent trip to spin class, I had my water bottle hanging out in one of the pockets.

 

You can also fit a good amount of clothes in the zipper side. I’ve been able to fit in a full change of clothes and then some into the wet/dry locker pack. If you’re worried about your car smelling, don’t be! I’ve left dirty work out clothes in the car for a few hours and came back to a non sweaty smelling car.

What’s even better is that you can wash these puppies and they tolerate it well. I haven’t had the chance to throw mine in the washer yet, however, just let them air dry out!

I have quite a few races coming up and I can’t wait to take this along with me. They’re definitely travel size and easily packable for races anywhere or if you’re going out of town!

Join us for Bibchat on 4/25/2017 at 9pm EST/6pm PST with Eagle Creek. Convinced enough? Use SPORT15 for 15% off!

 

 

It’s Alamo (13.1) Week!

Disclaimer: I received a free entry into Alamo 13.1 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 officially race week for Alamo 13.1! San Antonio can’t come soon enough (though the PNW is officially not being hit by super snow storms). Here’s all the info you need for this weekend!
The Expo
  • Saturday, March 18 from 10 AM to 4 PM
  • Location: The Granberry Events Center (6390 Granberry, San Antonio, TX
  • Free parking and beer if you’d like!
  • Need someone to pick up for you? Take a look and sign the waiver!
  • Staying at the Menger Hotel? Special Packet Pick up (though no vendors) from 6-7 at the hotel

Race Day

  • Starts at the Alamo!
  • Bag Check opens at 6:15 AM
  • Half Marathon Start time: 7:15 AM
  • Doughnut Dash 10K, Alamo 5K: 7:45 AM
  • Course Limit: 4 Hrs (18 min pace, not to shabby!)

 

 

 

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