Bibrave Race Review: Napa Valley Half Marathon

Disclaimer: I received free entry to the Napa Valley Half Marathon 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

Race weekend has come and gone and this was probably one of my favorite California races to do! If you’re looking for something with great scenery and downhill, definitely look into the Napa Valley Half Marathon and Marathon. This year was the 41st running of the full marathon, but the debut of the half marathon, which made the trip worth it.

I flew out Thursday afternoon and ended up delayed an hour and change out of Seattle due to maintenance issues. I made it to Sacramento in one piece, picked up my rental care and drove just over an hour to Napa. If you have a choice between SMF and SFO, flow into/out of Sacramento over San Francisco. Less of a head ache, same amount of time to get where you’re going. I got to the hotel somewhere after 9 pm and got checked in before finding some food. After getting some sleep, I spent Friday getting a much needed run outside, as I’ve been cooped up on the treadmill much of February due to snow and ice in Spokane. I’ll take a cloudy, nearly raining run any day! Got to run on the Vine trail, which started just outside of my hotel and have some fun with it.

After getting a shower in and some shopping, I went into downtown Napa for some lunch and spent most of the day hanging before heading down to happy hour at the hotel and then on to dinner.

Saturday morning, the marathon had a shake out run that started at 830 AM. It started with a raffle, in which I won a hat! You could also win wine and KT Tape, which was fun. We had the option of 3-4 miles on the Vine Trail and after finishing up, could head to the expo. I met up with fellow Bibrave Pro Brenda, who flew in from Massachusetts for the full (it’s always fun meeting up with other pros!). I picked up my bib, shirt and bag, walked around the expo a little bit before heading back to the hotel for a shower. I found some lunch and then went off the Hendry Winery for a tour and wine tasting (do it if you can, ended up getting to taste quite a few different wines!). After getting to church, I went to the Pasta dinner where we had some pretty fun speakers. At that point, I called it a night and changed into my sweats at the hotel.

Race morning started early. I was up around 430 to change and make the shuttles to the start. The half started at 7 am and the shuttles left at 5:10/5:15 in the morning. The start was at the Coon Creek Winery and having VIP access was helpful. Had some breakfast to munch on and indoor bathrooms to boot. Weather was overcast, but in the 50s, which I’ll take any day. If you checked bags, there were busses to take them to the finish. We started right at 7 am and were at the half way point of the marathon (they started further up and at 730 AM). The course was pretty much all downhill. One kind of hill close to the start, but really nothing after. Nice change for me after the amount of California races I’ve run with hills all over the place. The first 10 miles or so were on the Silverado trail before we turned off a few times to some other roads and finishing at Vintage HS. One thing that needs looked at is the amount of water stops. I think there were only 15 total between the half and full and the first one on the half didn’t come until 3-4 miles in. They were pretty spread out and I don’t know if it was planned like that or something happened with volunteers. I feel like they could have had some more, especially towards the middle/end.

The race finished at Vintage HS. You were greeted with medals and water, led to some food and then could go find some soup (which was much appreciated!). At the finish, you could search results, listen to some live music and hang out. There were shuttles back to the hotels and another area HS if you parked there or were staying at the Marriott/Hilton/Embassy Suites. The one thing that needs looked at is the post race shuttles. There was at least a 30-40 min span with no hotel shuttle. I ended up getting an Uber back to my hotel because I was getting cold, and it showed up as one of the shuttles was showing up. I think there was a communication issue or something, but people going back to the hotels were getting frustrated for sure.

Overall, a great race. I’m glad there’s now a half marathon option to go with the full. Fun race and definitely a must do. The few things to work on is making the half/full marathon shuttle buses pre race more spaced out to account for anyone who might miss the first string buses. Also, more aid stations and fixing the post race shuttle bus situation back to the hotels. If you’re looking for an excuse to get to Napa, here you go!

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Napa Valley Race Week!

Disclaimer: I received free entry to the Napa Valley Half Marathon 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!

I’m heading back to California! Over the winter the past few years, I’ve noticed increased California trips to get out of the winter weather, and the snow that is taking over my yard in Spokane (I’m running out of places to put it! I just finished a 10 day stretch at work and the Napa Valley Half couldn’t come at a better time!

This year, the half marathon is in it’s first year for Napa Valley and I’m so looking forward to it. The course (between the half and the full) has something like 6 wineries on it. Is it wrong to hope they have wine at some of the aid stations?

Big things to look out for this weekend:

1. Follow Napa Marathon on Social Media (Facebook, Twitter and http://www.napavalleymarathon.com) because we’re looking at rain this weekend (seems to be recurring theme for my CA races this year!). Hopefully no course changes though

2. Bib look up: be ready for the expo!

3. Shake out run: good way to get the legs loose: meet up is on Saturday Morning at the Marriott. RSVP here!

4. Don’t forget your bib. Expo happens from 9 am to 8 pm with a whole bunch of fun stuff. Check out what’s happening!

5. Pasta Dinner: get some good carb loading and hear from some awesome runners on Saturday night!

Things to do in Napa:

1. I’m probably spending most of Friday finding some wine in the area, not going to lie

2. Hot air balloon rides

3. Wine train, this sounds kind of fun!

4. For more, head here http://napavalleymarathon.org/race-information/

Hope I catch up with anyone running while there and look for the Bibrave orange!

Race Review Bahamas Half Marathon

I’ve been sitting on this race review for a few weeks thanks to work (the noon to midnight shift really takes a toll on you!), but with the coldness of winter and the Polar Vortex that is the Midwest, I figured it was appropriate to think back on the Bahamas.

I went to Nassau with a friend of mine from residency, because let’s face it, it gets depressing over the winter in the PNW. One can only take the cold so much. I left Spokane on the Wednesday prior to the race. No trip is a trip without flight drama as our flight form SLC to ATL was delayed and we somehow got on a flight from SLC to KC and KC to ATL before making our flight (and grabbing lunch) to Nassau. We spent Thursday and Friday enjoying island life, taking in the rum distillery and the sites of downtown.

On Saturday, after running the Koman 5K, I showered enjoyed some beach time and lunch and then took a cab out to the expo at the Melia Resorts. The big issue I had with the expo was that the only time you could pick up your packet was from 3-7 pm. If you missed it, you were out of luck in a sense. The other issue is that it was at least 3-4 miles from downtown and not close to the start/finish or where anything else was.The expo itself was pretty simple, not a whole lot there. I was in and out in about 5 minutes.

Race day itself started early. At 6 AM sharp. I stayed about a 5 minute walk from Junkanoo Beach, so it was fairly easy to get to. Everyone started together and relay participants were shuttled to their locations if they were points later in the race. Though it started early, it was already warm and humid. You started running towards town the first mile and then went over the bridges to Atlantis before coming right back over the opposite way. We headed towards Montegue Beach before heading back towards town and the start. After 6.5 miles and getting back towards the start, we headed towards the Fish Frye and Melia. You were right on the coast, so you got good ocean views the entire time. About 10 miles, the half marathon did a U turn and headed back towards town. The heat, humidity and early hills took its toll but I finished in 2:20 or so. There was at least water and gatorade every mile or so starting at mile 2, which was so needed. Post race, you got medals, food and water as well as some beach partying. The race itself only had roughly 375 half marathoners, so it’s a good smaller destination race.

Overall, good race, but be ready for some humidity and hills. One thing I’d look at is the expo location as it’s not close to anything. If you’re looking for a good winter get away, take a look at this!

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Race Review: Citrus Heritage Run Half Marathon

The first weekend of 2019 (how are we here already?!) has come and gone and this is the earliest I’ve had a half marathon scheduled and completed. Did I nearly forget about it until like 4 days before? Absolutely. I was dealing with getting to the Rose Bowl to watch my Buckeyes play and due to a last minute flight delay causing me to switch airlines, I realized I had signed up for the Citrus Heritage Half Marathon in Cali, and had hotel/air reservations to boot. Whoops.

Needless to say, I did a quick Rose Bowl Trip and then turned around and went back for the race. I flew into Ontario, CA’s airport (so much better than LAX) and was about 20 minutes from the airport. After getting checked into the hotel, I was able to get in a few miles outside, before finishing on the treadmill and heading to dinner in downtown Riverside. I ended up calling it a night and let me tell you, 10 hrs of straight sleep does you good when you’re incredibly sleep deprived.

Friday, I went shopping out an outlet mall I found 30 minutes or so away. Did I need more thermal Nike tops? Absolutely not. Did I get some? Absolutely yes. After dropping my stuff off at the hotel, I headed over to the packet pick up, held at the Arlington Sports Complex. Quick and easy, open from noon to 5 pm the Friday before the race. All you need is your bib number and ID (or ID of friends if you’re picking up their Bib). No vendors, but I’m ok with that. Did a little shake out run while I was there (when you live in a location where it’s 30* and you dress in multiple layers, you take advantage of running in tank tops when you can).

Saturday, I was up bright and early. Bright and early enough to feel like I was working out with my trainer on days where I go into work at 7 AM. The race itself is a half marathon, 10K, 5K and kids fun run with the half marathon starting at 6:30 AM. They do have packet pick up available starting at 6 AM on race day if you couldn’t make it Friday. The race starts/finishes at the Arlington Sports Complex and parking is available there and 2 local schools close by. Weather was 40s/50s, though I didn’t feel like I needed gloves.

We started promptly at 630 AM after the national anthem. I probably headed out too fast, but what can you do. The race heads out on Victoria Ave and through the streets of Riverside before heading into the Citrus Heritage State Park. You get to run through ALLLL the citrus. The downside? About 4 different terrains that were not agreeing with me with all the switches (think roads to dirt sidewalks, to gravel to whatever dirt the oranges, lemons, etc grow in. Then there were hills. All the hills. All within the first half of the race. By the time we hit the last of the hills, my legs were shot and telling me I probably didn’t fuel right for the race. After we got out of the citrus fields and finished the out portion of the course, we headed back through the streets of Riverside and got back on Victoria, that took us to the finish line. I happened to finish as the 5K was starting and we were finishing with some 10K runners that had started around 730 AM.

Water stations on course: they were there, some with Gatorade, others with oranges, though there seemed to be no clear length between them. They were scattered if that makes sense.

Post race, water, fruit and medals were available right at the finish. There was also a post race beer tent (1. Too early at 9 AM and 2. Not a beer fan). No chocolate milk though, which is always sad.

Overall, I feel like it’s a good local race. It got me out of the cold for a few days, though I don’t know if I’d come out for it every year. Good local race to support though!

The New York City Marathon: A Way Too Late Race Review

The New York Marathon. It’s been 5 weeks since marathon #10 and one that I’ve been trying to figure out how to write about for awhile. I even did the Abbott Dash to the Finish 5K the day before as a shake out run.

I ended up leaving for NYC a day earlier than expected. Last minute, someone from work needed a day covered the Tuesday after the race, so she took a shift for me that allowed me to leave on the Thursday prior to race day. I got into NYC a little after 7 pm and took a Lyft from JFK airport to the hotel. After checking in, I found a little Italian Place for dinner close to the hotel. I walked around Times Square some and then called it a night. Friday, I woke up and headed out for a run in Central Park, and everyone was out stretching out their legs. It’s always fun to see the energy to a bigger marathon, especially leading up to it. After a quick shower, I headed over to an ASICS pop up shop off 28th (ish) street and found some pretty good deals. I checked out of hotel #1 (I had to book a one night last minute hotel with the leaving earlier than expected thing) and switched hotels before heading down to Penn Station and finding lunch in the area.

Around 1 or so,I headed over to the expo. I met up with quite a few of my Bibrave Pro friends and we walked around for awhile and I tried to save my bank account as much as possible. Trust me, I really don’t need another Garmin at the moment! I took the rest of Friday to walk around a little bit and just relax.

Saturday, I was up early and over by the UN for the Abbot Dash to the Finish 5K. I’m all about getting in as many races as possible over a weekend, let’s be real. Afterwards, I got a quick shower and before meeting up with the Team Animal League runners at our pre race brunch. Pretty sure we’re the only ones who had puppies at our brunch (for what it’s worth, their names were Salt and Pepper). Post lunch, I took a load off and watched some college football and found a Saturday night church service to go to over in the Broadway district. After finding dinner, I headed back to the hotel and called it a night.

Sunday. I always appreciate when we fall back an hour on a race weekend, because that means I get an additional hour of sleep. I woke up ridiculously early and headed over to the NY Library to pick up the buses to Ft Wadsworth on Staten Island. We got there just before 730 which meant I had about 3 hours of time to kill before I had to care about getting into my corral. I wondered the runner’s area, went to the bathroom about 5 times (oh hydration), found some bagels and therapy dogs and made sure everything was charged. When it finally got time to line up, we made are way into the corrals where there’s no turning back. I ran into my friend Andy (fellow Bibrave Pro) in the corrals and we chatted while waiting to get to the start. I forgot about the hike to the start from where we were at (I got to run on top of the Verizzano Bridge this year, unlike 2011 where I was on the bottom!). Once we were finally off and running, the real work began.

The first 2 miles are on the Bridge and I wish I could have gotten pictures of it, but I also didn’t want to get run over. The first mile was uphill, the second down hill. Once we got off the bridge, we spent a good 10 miles in Brooklyn. The quite quickly turned into the start of a party and everyone was excited. 3 miles in, the corral from under the Verizzano Bridge finally met up with us and some people were confused as to who they were. I enjoyed the flatness, that’s for sure. I lost a little bit of time because of a bathroom break, but whatever works. We made our way into Queens and we weren’t there for long. I was not excited about the Queensboro Bridge though. Mentally up until mile 15 I was doing pretty well, but the Queensboro Bridge into Manhattan took a lot out of my legs and I felt it the last 10 miles. Coming off the bridge and onto First Ave, it was fun to be back around a good fan support. We headed towards the Bronx and joined in on a few street parties to boot. We didn’t spend much time in the Bronx and when we were coming over the last bridge back into Manhattan, the best sign I saw was “last damn bridge” and it was the best sight I’d ever seen. We chugged along into Central Park, and as my mom put it, I was probably really glad to see it. Yup, I really was. You forget how hilly Central Park is until your legs are really tired after 23 miles or so. By that point, you’re just trying to finish. Once you get to 6th Ave, you get diverted out to road for a little bit until you hit Columbus Circle and sent back into Central Park for the last .3-.4 miles.

I ended up finishing 30 seconds (ish) faster than my time in 2011, which I’ll take. It was light out and I was still standing which is all I really wanted. I forgot how long it takes to get out of Central Park post race though. I didn’t check a bag and went with the Pancho option instead, but I felt like we walked a good .5 mile at least just to get out. I appreciated that they just handed you a bag that had food and fluids in it, but the finish is still fairly congested (beware). The finish is at 67th and the first exit for the poncho group was at 77th. After showing them my bib with the P on it and my wrist brand that said give the poncho (that I had to tape on because it was flimsy), I finally started getting somewhat warm (yes the ponchos are fleece lined and really nice). We had to walk another .5 mile just to fully get out of the finish area. I tried to get a pedecab back to the hotel, but they were grossly overpriced so once it was all said and done, I’m pretty sure I walked another 1.5 miles post race. At least it kept my legs loose.

Overall, I love the NYC Marathon, but I’d be ok if this was it. It’s a fun race, but it’s also pretty crowded in terms of the sheer amount of people running it (52,700 or so this year alone). There were also times where the crowd (I loved them) was getting so close to us on the course it made it difficult to get through. It’s a fun and exciting race, just be ready for a little bit of a long day!

Portland Shamrock Run: Running to Find Leprechauns

Disclaimer: I received free entry to XYZ 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!

Fall racing season is essentially over (let’s face it, Spokane got snow last Friday if that says anything) and the NYC Marathon is in the books (I’ll get to a race review, promise!). I’m jumping on races for the start of 2019 that don’t involve snow and am excited to do a Irish themed race this year in Portland! March 15-17, 2019 will bring the Portland Shamrock run and the way race times are set up, I’m set to run the 5K and Half Marathon.

St. Patrick’s Day this year falls on a Sunday (excited for a holiday on a weekend!) and there are so many race options. On Sunday, the races start at 8 AM with a 5K and over the course of a morning, there’s also a 15K, Half Marathon 8K, Kid’s race and 4 Mile walk. Race for everyone right?

All races start in front of Water Front Park in Portland (OR), runners 21 and older get beer from the beer garden and the 15K and Half Marathon finishers get medals. Feeling extra speedy? Winners of all distances (5K, 8K, 15K and Half Marathon) get their weight in beer (men’s and women’s divisions). There’s also a 2 day Fitness Fair at the Convention Center open to the public and runners!

Come join the fun in the PDX and enjoy St. Patrick’s Day with a Shamrock themed run. Save 10% with¬†SHAMROCKBR10¬†off any distance and look for the Bibrave Orange!

NYRR Abbott Dash to the Finish 5K

The NYC Marathon, a marathon that has a week of funness leading up to it, plus a marathon Monday for post race celebrations. Part of the race week festivities involves the Abbott Dash to the Finish 5K the Saturday prior to Marathon Sunday. Since I was flying cross country, I wanted a shake out run to warm up and, let’s face it, the more races the better.

I got into NYC on Thursday night and made it to the hotel by 9 pm. One of things I hate about flying east is I lose an entire day. On Friday, I headed to the Expo to get my marathon and 5K (on top of meeting up some friends of mine from Bibrave). The 5K pick up was done throughout the week, Monday-Wednesday at the NYRR Store of 57th and then at the Expo Thursday and Friday. Anyone could pick up your 5K bib for you. At bib pick up, they assigned you a bib number when you checked in. You also got a Beanie over a shirt, which I was all for. I have way to many shirts than I know what to do with.

This year, the dash to the finish was the USATF 5K Championships, so the women and men started before the general race field. The race started at the United Nations, which is easily accessible by watching or the MTA. I found the F corral and got situated. The corrals were staggered in terms of starts (there was somewhere between 10,000-11,000 runners), which helped thin things out some. Once you started, you turned onto 42nd street and took it straight to 6th Ave. you enjoyed 6th AVe before heading into Central Park, where you have some hills, but that’s to be expected. The only portion that mirrored the finish of the Marathon was inside Central Park, so if you were using the race as a way to prep for the Marathon, keep that in mind. One water stop around mile 2.

Post race, they had bags of food and water that were handed out to runners, made life a little easier. You exited a short time later (and earlier than you do for the marathon). Keep in mind, no bag check at the start of the race or race day pick up for bibs!

Overall, had a good time at the race. I get it’s more of a fun type of race that’s timed, but too many people were stopping in the middle of the road for pictures or to walk instead of gettin over to the side. It was also a bit frustrating to have runners with guides going 5 people across and not keeping the pace. The amount of trying not to run into anyone got a little irritating. Overall though, a good race for anyone who’s in town. Register early though, as it sells out!

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