Latest reviews by Cori

"Beautiful Weekend, Beautiful Scenery!"
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Course Scenery
Expo Quality
Elevation Difficulty
Race Management

The expo: We went on Friday to pick up our things and the packet pickup was a breeze. I loved the Brooks Run Happy Island- there were a lot of fun photo ops and games to play.
Lodging: We stayed in downtown Seattle at Hotel Five and it was a perfect distance from the race events! It is a really modern designed hotel but I would absolutely recommend it for this race weekend.
Eats: We went to Eat HomeGrown, Cuoco for our pasta dinner, Matts On the Market, and Portage Bay Cafe. All were DELICIOUS!
The Race: Weather was in the 50's at the start and 70's by the end. The race was well organized, started on time and didn't feel overly crowded as you were racing. The course is hilly, but you ARE in Seattle. The views of Mt. Rainer and along the water made this race perfect. With that said, there was one thing I hated: The tunnels. There were two tunnels during this course and both of them made me nauseous. They were hot, stuffy air, and you could smell all the runners around you... ;).
After Party: We had VIP access and it was worth it. They had great food, separate bathrooms and we all stopped after to get a massage.
Swag: I struggle with race shirts. I always want a small for the size but the length of race shirts are always so short. We walked the expo and there were a lot of opportunities for free things but we didn't take much. The race bag itself didn't have that many exciting things in it that stood out.
Medal: I like the medal... it's a big coffee cup which makes sense for Seattle but another girl in our group ran this race a few years ago and said that it was similar. I would have liked to see something a little different if that is the case.

Highly recommend this one!

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"All I Wanna Do is Zooma Zoom Zoom Zoom"
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Course Scenery
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*Full Disclosure: I was selected as a race ambassador for Zooma Florida 2014 and was offered a free entry to the race at Amelia Island in exchange for mentioning the race, attending the event, and recapping my experience. All opinions are my own- especially regarding quicksand.

This Summer I was selected to be a race ambassador for Zooma Florida. I remember the entire process clearly- Jesica from rUnladylike and I were sending tweets back and forth with the ZOOMA race account and it quickly led to Jes and I decided we were going to apply to become ambassadors together. This was a great way for us to meet and to escape for a weekend getaway in January. We’re both from the South so it isn’t like we have horrible weather where we are in January but hey, things are always slightly warmer in Florida right?

All the while, I had started my training for my two full marathons [one in October 2013 and one in November 2013] and was well on my way to my twenty mile training runs. However, a few weeks from my October marathon I was told I would have to pull out due to a hamstring issue…. and the week after the race was ran without me I was told the same news for my November race.

To put it bluntly, I was ticked off. I trained HARD and put in a ton of miles to get pulled out of two races that I was excited about. And to be fair, my mind wasn’t on Zooma. At this point my mind was on healing so I could just run again. Not necessarily run a half marathon, just run.

love the runI started slowly back to running in November [time spent cross training, strengthening, and listening to my PT helped my recovery go MUCH quicker than I had originally anticipated] and I picked up my miles. I decided not to follow a training plan for Zooma because my goal was just to complete it. To come back from some time off and to enjoy the race.

As Zooma started to approach and I knew I was hitting enough miles to give it a shot, I started to plan out the logistics. Unfortunately, life and work got in the way and we booked too late to enjoy the race’s host hotel- The Ritz Carlton [though I hear those things are rather fancy ;)]. Then I realized it was on a weekend that started with a day that I had to work and couldn’t take vacation for [we had a professional development meeting[ so we would have to leave Friday after work. The race was Saturday morning.

We decided to drive to keep it simple.... simpler may be the better word for us. Since getting Axl we haven't really had a ton of sleep which meant the 7 hour car ride became very interesting towards the end. We arrived around 11 p.m., in time for me to run into an expo designed just for me- the Ritz Carlton reception desk to get my race packet that Jes picked up for me earlier that evening. I did live through the ZOOMA race expo pictures posted on instagram though and again, you all got HOOKED up by Zooma.

race morning zooma floridaBen and I stayed at the Residence Inn which was conveniently close to the race and we even ran by it around mile 10. [there may have been a moment during the race that I considered making a right to the hotel instead of going straight to the finish line]. On race morning I got up around 5 which is typical for me on most mornings, especially race morning. For some reason I never sleep well the night before a race. We ate breakfast, I drank my coffee to clean the system and we headed out the door around 7:30. Yes, thirty minutes before the race start and it was pure genius.

Ben drove me right up to the start, we parked, and I stayed in the car until 7:52 when I then got out and met up with Jesica, Presley, and Meghan.We got to chat for a little bit as the last few minutes before kickoff ticked away and I have to say, it was so good to meet these three. I’ve had a lot of conversations with Jesica but this was the first real interaction I’ve had with Presley and Meghan- both awesome girls so you should probably stop by them and say hey.

race day temperature. The race started through the Fernandina Beach downtown area- a couple miles in went past a cemetery and over a bridge that allowed you to look out on each side [beautiful by the way] and my favorite part of the entire race started about 3 miles in when we entered the Fort Clinch State Park. Now THAT was when I was really in my element. I love running in nature, on trails and where there are tons and tons of trees [I should really be a trail runner]. I was feeling strong but I was running the race very conservatively. My breath was smooth and steady and didn’t feel like I was straining myself at all… I definitely wasn’t at a race pace for me but I just wanted to take it all in. After all, it had been a while since I had run a race… especially at a distance above a 10k.

Around mile 7 I knew I was over halfway and still felt strong so I kicked up my pace and headed in to the mid to upper 8s [prior I was holding closer to a 9]. At about mile 8 we exited the park and started on the road. I have to admit, running along the bike path wasn’t my favorite part of the race. Don’t get me wrong, it was still beautiful- you’re looking at a lot of very beautiful beach houses- but the elements changed quite a bit when you began your last five mile stretch. You were now exposed so the sun made you feel warmer, the wind was blowing and hitting you harder, and you could smell the exhaust from the cars driving by [not really anything Zooma could do about that, just to note for future runners]. Since you were running on a bike path and the road was still in use [although there weren't many cars by any means] it was a little more difficult to pass other runners without running outside of the cones since I found a lot of people running in pairs or in small groups.

Around mile 9 it became a huge mental game for me. Like I’ve shared before, I didn’t train like I should have for this race. I did do a few 10 milers right around and on Christmas but after those I didn’t really try to get my miles up above 6-7 until race day. I knew that I would end up with the mental games around this point but I kept talking through my mantras and using some of my race day mind game tactics.

At 12.5 is where the only negative thing I have to say about this race hit- sand. No, not hard, you can run on sand… fluffy soft sand. I swear to you it was half a mile. I felt like I was in quicksand and unable to save myself. There were two girls off to the side taking pictures and I even begged them to help pull me out. It was to be frank, awful. I like to finish strong and I felt like a huge flopping fish as I mustered my way through it. About two tenths of a mile from the finish there was a VERY small boardwalk that appeared so I started to run on that. Thinking- thank GOD they gave me SOMETHING but sand to finish on… but nope. I ran it all the way into spectators- missing the finish line. I had to stop, walk back around the fence and go across the finish. They clocked me at 1:53:43… but if you ask me they should automatically drop that to 1:52:00 for all that sand and spectator visiting I had to go through before I finished.

zooma floridaThe after party was a ton of fun with GREAT hook ups. I walked away with muscle milk, hint, a swig of Honest Tea, and a banana and water from the finish. That is on top of the amazing race bag we got when we arrived to the expo [or in my case the front desk of the Ritz Carlton].zooma.

Overall, I give the race a HUGE thumbs up. I’d drive 7 hours in the middle of the night with minimal sleep, get up 5 hours later to run 13.1 miles all over again just to be apart of this race series.ZOOMA FLORIDA RECAP

Expo- I wish I could have made it, but I heard NOTHING BUT great things.
Swag- I was impressed. I’ve done full marathons with bags that weren’t this good.
Logistics- Extremely well put together. It started on time, the course was beautiful and well organized- I even got to see the girls at one point during the race on a quick out and back turn around, and the after party was well stocked and had great energy.
Course- Beautiful, flat and the State Park was by far the most enjoyable part of the entire experience. It is definitely a PR worthy course…. minus the quicksand at the end.
After Party- Great choice of vendors, music and takeaways. Plus, the view was AMAZING.

My performance: Not a PR for me but as my first race back post injury, not following a plan and being conservative I did accomplish my one goal- have fun.

Thank you ZOOMA for inviting me and allowing me to crash the party. It was the perfect race to start the year off with. I learned a lot and I thoroughly enjoyed the experience.

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"Hands Up In The Air"
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Course Scenery
Expo Quality
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Race Management

Overall Thoughts
GREAT carefree race that is for the EXPERIENCE and fun.
Get a group of girls together and RUN THIS RACE with no expectations,
just a positive attitude.
Plenty of parking, I barely waited long for the bathroom, and Packet Pick Up was smooth.
If you’re going to have chip timing then you should at least start the 5k after the 10k, or vice versa.
IF I was running this competitively I would’ve been really annoyed… especially since we weren’t
that far back from the start and people were walking in front of us from the moment we
crossed the first chip time.
There wasn’t a TON of great stuff but the bag was pretty sweet.
I have yet to pull my shirt out but my friend Jen said it’s HUGE.
They gave two tickets for “bubbly” afterwards to everyone with a bib.
I am not a drinker (I held it for the pictures)
and drinking after running DEFINITELY does not appeal to me but people seemed to love it
which added to the fun.

Things I Would Change:
1. Different time of year OR different time of day.
I didn’t mind that it was on a Thursday but in June in NC, it was too humid.
It would be a better May or September race.
2. Chip timing in my opinion was not needed with the way they set it up.
HOWEVER, if they are going to chip time it start the races separately.
3. They didn’t give you wrist bands for the bubbly until AFTER the race
and the bubbly was right at the finish.
That meant you needed to bring your ID to prove you were 21 at the end of the race.
No one wants to carry that!
Have the ID check and wrist bands put on when you get your packet,
or set up a separate table for it.
And that’s that!

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"The Hills Are Alive"
Aid Stations
Course Scenery
Expo Quality
Elevation Difficulty
Race Management

Overall Race Review
1. The Nog Run Club is amazing, first and foremost.
IF you’re local, check them out.
I owe them for the first time I saw Ben run without a shirt on so thank you Nog club.
Rick and Liz are a husband and wife dynamic duo who work all of the Nog events (with other amazing helpers too!) and they are truly amazing people to be connected with.

2. Pro: the course is PERFECT for hill practice.
Con: the course is PERFECT for hill practice.
If you genuinely love hilly races, you’re nuts.
However, like I stated before.. the race is so well run that you have so much fun and almost forget about all the hills between running the race and signing up the following year.

3. It’s a GREAT distance.
8k with hills?
Couldn’t ask for a better Saturday workout.

4. The location.
I love this race because it’s literally in my backyard.
If you don’t live around the area though it’s still nice to come downtown and run in your State’s capital.

5. It’s FUN!
They have food, beer, music, AND KILTS! What more could you ask for?

6. There are PLENTY of bathroom opportunities.
They always line the streets with port-a-nasties and I’ve never seen it get too backed up (pun intended).

7. There’s an after party.
The Nog is a bar.
Come, run, drink, stay until bar close.
At that time they may kick you out but if you’re still there after 12+ hours of drinking you may need to have AA kick you out.

8. There is plenty of water and food!
They had two “drinking stations” along the course if you needed anything.
Afterwards there were bagels, donuts, bananas, water, and gatorade.
Plus the NOG had food to serve as well.

9. I got to run next to Clifford the Big Red Dog for about a mile.
If you’re reading this Clifford, you were pushing it!

10. Everyone is so friendly and happy to be there.
In the three years I’ve been there I’ve NEVER seen anyone upset or cause issues.
Runners can be kind of catty at times and it’s never been an issue at this race (that I’ve been able to see).
Some runners take the race seriously, some drink beer along the way… regardless of your approach it seems that people in kilts are accepting.

So what I’m saying is….

Next year you better have a kilt,
get out there to beat the Guinness Book of World Records with us,
run an 8k in hill country,
and end it with a solid wash down of either beer or donuts…
or beer and donuts.

To see the full race recap go here:

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"Why I'll Run Richmond Again"
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In 2010 I became a marathon runner.

I ran my first full marathon, the Lakefront Marathon in Milwaukee and I did much better than I ever anticipated.
After that I was hooked and I ran the Chicago Marathon in 2011,and Richmond in 2012.
I have averaged one full marathon a year and always in the fall.
This year I’ll be running three.
Pittsburgh in May.
Marine Corps in October.
Richmond again in November.

I never thought I’d run a race more than once,
especially not a marathon but I LOVED Richmond’s race so much I drank the juice and signed up again last week.
I have to be honest, I almost second guessed doing it.
Do you remember the craziness that happened with the NYC marathon last year?
Well, Richmond got a HUGE increase in runners entering the race last minute due to the NYC marathon being cancelled.
It literally felt like this:
incoming marathonsTo my surprise (and happiness however)
Richmond did a PHENOMENAL job taking all of us in and making sure we were all well taken care of.

I wrote a recap on the race the week after I ran it and I stumbled upon it this weekend.
Many of you asked for more information from my past races so here you go,
this is my Richmond Marathon 2012 recap.

“Richmond is by far my favorite of the three marathons I have done thus far. I had a level head, I was calm, and I had an amazing conversation with God prior to hitting the pavement. That may sound crazy to a lot of you but I swear He is what pulled me through the last four miles of the race yesterday morning. I was in good spirits from the moment I crossed the starting line and maintained good spirits along the way. The course was lined beautifully with autumn colored leaves and fans cheering louder than the NFL football cheerleaders. People were holding signs, ringing cow bells, blowing whistles, and many for people they didn’t even know.

“Worst Parade Ever”

“Your feet hurt so badly because you’re kicking so much butt.”

Are some of the traditional signs you see along a marathon course but there were some new and comical ones along this course as well.

“Crapping Your Pants IS An Option”

“Beat Paul Ryan ‘unofficial time 2 hrs 30 something minutes, official time 4 hrs 1 minute’ “

That last one made me smile and laugh out loud a little.

Around mile 5 we ran across a long bridge that overlooked water and the tall trees on both sides of us. I have a sincere appreciation and love for bridges. It may sound a little strange but I find them fascinating and inspiring. Shortly after that, around mile 6 we started running along the James River. Breathtaking is the only way to describe it. The strange part about it though was I couldn’t see anyone else in front of me taking in the 2 mile view of the river and remarkable painting like scenery we had on our left.

The rest of the course was no different, we ran through neighborhoods, cute towns with colorful shops, and back into the city.

I cannot get over the way I felt during that run.

Don’t get me wrong, I had my fair share of aches and pains but when I turned the corner to start my descend into my finish I quietly said to myself repeatedly, like a broken record “The Lord Is My Strength” and I crossed that finish line with nothing left to give.

I left my heart in that race for a mere second before God brought it back to remind me how remarkable our bodies truly are.

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