Latest reviews by Alexis Reed

(2016)
"The Bumpy Road to Delicious Wine"
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Overall, I enjoyed the race experience. The race itself kicked my butt, but the post-race festivities definitely made up for my struggle to the finish line!

I attended the expo the evening before the race. It is a very small expo, but they had maps of the course, the pacer reps, and a few shops set up. The expo is not in the same location as the race (Doukenie Winery), but the expo was at the beautiful Landsdowne Resort in a spacious ballroom. At the expo, I picked up my race bib (which was in the shape of a wine barrel), shirt (which I've actually worn since, since it's cute, comfy, and a good material), and a little bag. At the Destination Races table, I was given a sweet Camelbak water bottle with the race logo on the outside. Score!

There were ample aid stations at the race, which I appreciated. It was definitely hot racing weather, and with all of the hills, bugs, and humidity, I took full advantage! I will say, I had never tried the Gu beverage before, and accidentally drank it (I thought I took a water cup, so this is totally user error!), and it was NOT. GOOD. Yuck! But, I didn't have to drink it, so I stuck with water after that.

There were some beautiful farms along the race route. A woman that was running my pace kept stopping to take photos of different farms, especially the horses on the farms. Because it was a smaller race, there wasn't much of a crowd, so in areas without much scenery or people, the race got a bit mundane.

The unpaved portion of the race really crushed me. From around mile 5 until about mile 9, the course was on unpaved, dusty, gravel roads. Needless to say, I was totally unprepared for this much unpaved surface! Definitely make sure you train on this type of surface before the race!

Race management was pretty good! I took away one star because I felt like the finish line could have been organized a little better. It was confusing to figure out where I was supposed to go once I crossed. This was compounded by the fact that I'm a slow runner. We didn't get much love at the finish line!

The wine festival was fun! I wish that this was included for runners, though. Nevertheless, my friends (who didn't run the race) and I got to sip on some sweet Virginia wines, which went well with the warm weather! It was weird to me that some of the wine festival activities were hidden. For example, I got to try out the compression boots, but I didn't see them until the very end. If I hadn't participated in the wine festival, I never would have even seen the massage tables and compression boots!

The bathroom situation for the festival could use some work. There was a really long line in the Doukenie Winery barn, as there were only two bathrooms. I think they could have some more entertainment after the wine festival, also, since it ends so early in the day. On a nice day, I think people would probably like to hang out longer.

Check out my full race recap here: http://www.flecksoflex.com/2016/06/the-hardest-race-ive-ever-run-so-far.html

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(2016)
"A Must-Run Maryland Race"
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What a great race! The spectators were wonderful, the course was beautiful, and the race bling and shirts were awesome!

The course is pretty flat, but the last few miles are hilly and can be a bit brutal.

This course winds through downtown Frederick, and out into suburban Frederick, then back to the Frederick Fairgrounds.

There is ample parking, but make sure you have mapped out where you are going, because it can get a little dicey the closer you get to the start line.

There are a number of partner hotels, so if you live outside of the area (including Southern Montgomery County), I recommend staying there overnight so you don't have to battle traffic on 270 early in the morning.

I highly recommend this race!

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(2016)
"PR Course with Few Hills!"
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I absolutely loved this race! For this race, you run down Rockville Pike, from the Shady Grove Metro to the White Flint Metro. Everyone was super nice at this race, and there were some great spectators along the route. There is no tree coverage during the race, so make sure you wear ample sunblock. I wore a hat and sunglasses just to be on the safe side!

For this race, you'll need to make sure you bring your SmartTrip with you (or put it on the bag check van that will meet you at the finish line), since it's a one-way route. The t-shirt you receive for this race is made of performance material (as opposed to cotton), and instead of receiving a medal, we received a mason jar mug, which was a first for me!

The food and the expo at the finish line were great, though a little crowded obviously. This race is very well run, thanks to the Montgomery County Road Runners. It was a great start to my race calendar!

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(2015)
"Running the Glitteriest, Happiest Race on Earth - The Color Run 5k (Shine Edition)"
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In all honesty, I never thought I would run The Color Run. From the pictures I saw, I thought it looked corny, and like I would be walking the entire time. Deep down inside, however, I knew that I wanted people to throw stuff at me. Is that weird? (Don't answer that.)

By now, you've probably heard of The Color Run, and know the basics. You run a 5k with a group of friends, and people throw colored powder at you. You smile, you get awesome pictures, and you get totally dirty. Okay, so now, let's get to this recap!

Back in February, my family and friends threw me a super sweet surprise 30th birthday party. At the party, we talked about getting a team together to do The Color Run. We picked a date, decided to run the race in Baltimore, and came up with the name Team Half Fast.

I live in the DC Metro Area, and though I live in Maryland, I rarely run races in Baltimore. In fact, the only race I'd ever run in Baltimore prior to The Color Run was The Electric Run last summer, and that was a dreadful experience (not because of the location!). I like that the 5ks in Downtown Baltimore allow you to run around Camden Yards and Ravens Stadium, where the Orioles and Ravens play their home games. It's too bad you can't run inside the stadiums, but running around them is still pretty cool.

It was a beautiful day for a race! It was sunny, and not too hot. We were able to snap some bright photos prior to the race so that we could get some good before and after pictures of the group. The people on Team Half Fast were: My mom, my Aunt Lisa, my cousins Abigail and Melana (Lisa's daughters), my friend Judy, my friend Andrea and her son Jace, and me. In our race packets we received official Color Run t-shirts sweat bands, temporary tattoos, and wrist bands.

We thought it would be a good idea to get some bandannas for the team, since we'd seen photos of people wearing them during their races. This turned out to be a great idea! Andrea picked some up after she very kindly went to pick up the race packets for the team the day before. Since some color stations are dustier than others, it is really helpful to be able to cover your nose and mouth and run through the colors. I mean, it's a race after all. You have to be able to breathe! We mostly just kept them around our necks until we approached a color station, then we would just pull them up and run on through!

Okay, so the color stations. How do they work? Basically, you run a short distance, then you get to a station filled with volunteers. The volunteers are all throwing just one color at you at that station. Team Half Fast decided that the yellow station volunteers were the best, since they were extremely enthusiastic kids, and they just covered us in yellow! The orange station was probably the least enthusiastic. It was like they didn't even want to be there. :-/ According to Andrea, it was a good thing that they didn't really throw much orange at us, since orange is supposedly the hardest color to get out, and it turns white clothes brown. Yikes!

The cool thing about this year's race was that it was the "shine" edition of The Color Run. That means that we had a station where we got covered with glitter.

At the end of the race, we each received a medal and a couple of extra color and glitter powder packets. We took some team pictures after we regrouped (we got a little separated), then headed for the post-race party area. The DJ on stage would play a few songs, then tell everyone to get ready to throw their powder. They would do a countdown, and then you would just be covered in all of these different colors that you didn't get during the race. There was a gigantic cloud, and you couldn't see anything, and it just felt awesome!

The race was a blast, and the post-race festivities were fun also. I guess it's not a coincidence that they call it "The Happiest 5k on the Planet!"

There were tons of vendors, and I got a chance to try out all types of cool products. Judy challenged a guy at the T-Mobile booth to a push-up competition, and kicked butt -- purple ears and all!

I highly recommend giving The Color Run a try, if you haven't already. Make sure you run with a group for optimum fun and smiles!

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(2015)
"My First Relay: The 2015 American Odyssey Relay"
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As a member of Team Bloggin' & Joggin', I participated in a 200-mile relay race from Gettysburg, PA to Washington, DC -- my first relay race!

For two days, our 12-blogger team ran through mountains, battlefields, farmland, cities, and parks, day and night, without giving up. I am so proud of my team for this accomplishment!

After agreeing to participate, I read my teammate Cassie's review of last year's race, and thought, jeepers creepers! Am I going to have to run over a Civil War battlefield in the middle of the night?!

After my heart palpitations subsided (jk, they didn't subside until someone else ran that leg of the race!), I started reading up on the race a bit more. I had never done a relay before, so I was pretty unclear on how it worked. Fortunately, we had a fearless leader in Cassie, who explained everything to everyone through about a gazillion and a half facebook posts and messages.

What's really interesting is that I didn't get to meet all of my teammates until I arrived in Gettysburg with some of my vanmates. (Unfortunately, I had to sit through awful traffic on 270N on the way up to Cassie's house after work the evening before the race, so I didn't get to meet everyone in the other van until we arrived in Gettysburg. Make sure you leave before rush hour, since 270N is a monster!)

We got a few hotel rooms for the night before the race, that way Van 1 could be right next to the start line, and Van 2 wouldn't have to worry about getting up to Exchange 6 at exactly the right moment. We also received some gear from SIX:02, so we could sort through all of the gear together to make sure everyone had everything they needed.

Because I was in Van 2, I got to sleep in the morning of the race in a super comfy bed, and take the first hot shower I would get for the next 24 hours.

So, How Does it Work?

Generally, 12 runners comprise a team, unless you are on a 6-person ultra team, or you're that one dude who RAN THE WHOLE DAGGONE THING BY HIMSELF! The runners are split up into two vans. The runners in the first van all complete their race legs, and the second van meets up with them just as their last runner is preparing to finish. Then, the runners in the second van all run their legs in order, and the first van meets up with them as they're about to finish, and so on until everyone in both vans completes all three of their legs.

While each van's runners are running, teams can sort of freestyle how they're going to follow their teammate. For example, sometimes our van would drop the runner off at the start of their leg. That runner would trade off with the one preceding them, and would take off. The runner who just completed their leg would stretch, change, go to the bathroom, grab a snack, etc until they and the group) were ready to head back onto the road. Then, we would catch up with our runner who was maybe about a mile or two up the road. We would cheer them on, and as they pass the van, the van would continue driving past them for about another mile or so. In the relay, we referred to this as leapfrogging.

The Vans
Now, I said van, but really, we had THE SWEETEST rides at the race. GMC donated two Yukon XL Denalis for our team, and they were the. best. They had WiFi, heated and cooled seats, (heated seats in both the front and the back), flat screens, automatic everything, and excellent mileage. Seriously! When we ended the race, we still had a quarter tank left on that big boy! Make sure you get a ride with good mileage, because the last thing you want to do is have to find a gas station that is open in the middle of nowhere!

We decorated our "vans" in the Marriott parking lot to build up some team spirit. And try to get the best van award. Unfortunately, we were newbies, and didn't realize that other teams would be taking this SUPER seriously!

You will probably not get to spend much time with the runners in the other van, so don't even count on seeing them. Get to know the runners in your van, because you are going to get very close!

If you don't know, there is the notorious Leg 6, which has a 4-mile incline up the side of a mountain. I probably couldn't even WALK that leg! If you sign up to be runner 6, bless you!

I was runner 11, so let me share my experience with each leg:

Leg 1

I was not prepared for this leg at all. I thought it would be pretty flat. Sure, it would be my longest leg at 7.4 miles, but I thought it would be no biggie. WRONG! It was SO HILLY! Not only was it hilly, but it was HOT and sunny. Some might describe it as torture. I would not disagree. It was so challenging! I essentially ran alongside farms and a mountain for the entire leg. It was GORGEOUS, and if I wasn't a disgusting, sweaty, cursing pig, I probably would have enjoyed it much more. I'll admit it: I cursed through a large percentage of this leg. I dropped a pretty significant f-bomb once I reached the bottom of my bazillionth hill, only to look up at an even steeper hill. Can you blame me, though?

Leg 2
This leg was at 2:30/3:00 a.m. It was super scary. I mean, it was pitch black, and I was already worried about Civil War ghosts. I kept thinking I was seeing stuff, but then it would just be a tree stump or a pole. Why were there so many stumps and poles?! (I got lucky, though. One of our runners in Van 1 had to deal with mice and bats during her night leg!) I'm not sure if it made things better or worse that we couldn't use headphones during the night run. Is it better to hear the creepy crawlies, or be oblivious and have them running right alongside you?

I also ended up running through Shepherdstown, WV, and thought I was going to get assaulted by this duo of drunk dudes. I was just running along, trying not to pee my pants from fear. I was all alone for almost the entirety of this leg. Fortunately, the leg was just about 3 miles, so I knew it was going to be over shortly. It was very quiet once I reached the town, likely because it was so late. All of a sudden, this guy comes from out of nowhere.

"Are you a runner?" he asks.

"Yes..." I hesitantly responded. I started looking around and doing an internal test to see if I thought I had enough energy to sprint the .75 miles if need be.

"I got somethin' for you," he said, as he drunkenly started barreling towards me.

This is it, I thought. Why did I have to leave the pepper spray in the van this time? Why?

"No, no, I'm okay," I said.

"I got some water for you. You sure you're good?"

"Yeah... I'm good. Thanks, though!"

"We got beer, too," his buddy who was sitting on the porch declared.

"No...thanks..." I said, picking up the pace. After that, they cheered me on and left me alone. I was, in a word, terrified. Fortunately I was done shortly after this run in, and could get back inside of the Denali where I felt a million times safer.

After I finished my leg, I traded off with the next runner, who had the last leg for our van. Once she was done, we drove to our captain's house to shower and sleep for about 4 hours in actual beds. It was wonderful! Surprisingly, I had no nightmares about Civil War ghosts enslaving me, as I had prior to the race. I told you guys... I was really scared!

Leg 3
This leg was gorgeous, and it was the only trail run I had the entire race. During this leg, I ran along the C&O Canal, a local treasure. I really enjoyed the views along the canal, and am looking forward to running along the canal more this spring and summer. It was beautiful outside, there weren't many people on the trail, and it was perfectly flat.

A lot of people complained that it was really boring, but I really enjoyed it. I love trail running, and this was such a great setting for it. I was actually relieved that I wasn't going to be running on hard pavement. My hamstrings and knees were taking a beating, especially after Leg 1, and I wasn't sure how I was going to feel on that last leg. It was longer than Leg 2, but still shorter than Leg 1, clocking in around 4.5 miles. I maintained a decent pace, and unlike my previous legs, I was able to run the entire time. Yay, flat trail!

Once I was done with my leg, it meant that our entire team only had one more leg to go. We got stuck in a bit of traffic, but it actually worked out, because we could spot our final runner and cheer for her! For the final legs, we only got to cheer on Runners 7 and 12 (partly), since the others were solely along the trail, and you couldn't really see the trail from the road.

Once we finally arrived at the finish line, we started cleaning out the trucks, and were able to catch up with our Van 1 teammates. Finally, we all lined up near the finish line to cheer on our final runner until she reached us, and we all crossed the finish line together. It felt great!

I was so proud of our entire team for finishing the race. It was an amazing challenge, and I'm so happy that we all took on such a difficult task. I highly recommend getting a group of your craziest friends together to do a relay race. It is a wonderful experience!

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