Latest reviews by Haley

(2017)
"Monterey Bay HM"
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Thumb screen shot 2017 11 14 at 3.11.11 pm

The Monterey Bay Half Marathon is a beautiful race! How could it not be, you're basically running along the Northern CA coast for the entire race. The race begins along the wharf and while there is a lot of traffic, we easily found a place to park, warm up and get to the start line. The race starts at 6:50am (for the elites) and there are are 14 (I think) corrals that go about every 5 minutes. I was in corral D. It was easy to find where I needed to be, get there and comfortably find a spot to wait for the start. The announcers at the beginning were awesome! They were funny, got the crowd excited to run and did a great job getting everyone through the start.

The beginning of the race starts in Monterey. We ran through some neighborhoods and under a bridge on Lighthouse Ave on our way to Pacific Grove. I REALLY liked running under the bridge because they had colored lights and music and it was a unique experience. After that we head into PG - and I have to say Pacific Grove's residents were much louder and enthusiastic than Monterey's (step it up Monterey, jk). We ran down Cannery Row and past the Aquarium which was super cool. It was very quite, not a lot of people out but there were some Aquarium employees out there dressed like jelly fish and other kinds of fish cheering us on. Loved it! About mile 3.5 you hit the longest hill on the course. Personally, I like hills and that is one of the reasons this race was so fun. This hill was tough though!

Once you go up Fountain Ave you go back down 17th Street and are on Oceanview Blvd from miles 4.5ish to basically the end of the race. The turn around is near Asilomar State Beach, there were a ton of people out there cheering us on. There were headwinds starting about mile 6, so I was super excited to see the turnaround hoping for a tailwind...but no. More head winds. This was basically an out and back course, which I am not usually a fan of but the views were so amazing that I didn't even care. Since it was an out and back we got to see the elites run by - which is always so inspiring to me. It was also a great chance to cheer on the runners that were a little slower, and they cheered right back.

The last 3 miles were on a bike path and it got a little crowded, but I was still able to make my way through as I sped up to the finish. As we crossed the finish we were met by volunteers who handed us our medals. The race medals are actual pieces of art, hand crafted by a local artist. I am not big on medals but this one I really love and I am going to keep. I was disappointed that they make the women take the pink medals and the men got the yellow ones - same with the race shirt. Women got pink (I hate pink) and men got yellow. That was really my only complaint. So, overall an amazing race!

Runners were directed to the food, there was a decent selection, then to the post race area where there was music, more food, beer, and massages. There were sustainability stations, with 1-2 volunteers assigned to each place to make sure everything was where it needs to be. This was another aspect of the race that I loved! Sustainability!! Everything about this race was well organized, and I can't wait to run the Big Sur 12k next year (which is hosted by the same organization). Honestly, I think this is my favorite half marathon that I have ever run and I'll likely be back for next year.

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(2017)
"RNR San Jose "
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This was my first RNR Half Marathon, but knowing the RNR brand I was expecting a good race - they know what they are dong when it comes to race fun & management. I have also never run a race in San Jose before so I was looking forward to the flat course and crowd support.

Starting with the expo, it was smaller than I was expecting, but it still had great vendors and a nice shopping area for the participants. I also worked the expo, so I did notice that the music was way too loud. By the end of the expo I barley had a voice because I had to keep talking over the music. But it was super easy to get my bib & shirt, there was not a long line as there were plenty of volunteers there to help out. The race shirt was a nice tech shirt, gray with blue & yellow and a guitar on it. I didn't care much for the design but so many people put them on as soon as they go them, so it is safe to say I think people liked them.

On race day I walked from my hotel to the start line. There were a ton of runners but everything was all very organized and it was easy to find my corral and get where I needed to be. I easily found my friends that were at the race as well, and we all ran together. The course was pretty flat, there was one "hill" as you went under an over pass - then coming back to the finish you ran that "hill" again. The community was so cool at this race! There were people out there with waters for us, I think I even saw shots at one house...which was a little much for me. Along with the on course entertainment (which was great by the way) there were people out playing in their driveway or from their porch. I thought that was super cool. You can't have bands at every spot in the race, but RNR does a good job with their placement and having the community add to that was really helpful! The aid stations were great, too. They lined both sides of the streets and had water and gatorade at each station - with green cups (gatorade) and white cups (water) it was easy to get what you needed for hydration. My only request would be that they add in a few more stations. They seemed a little sparse.

The scenery is what you would expect running through a city. I personally love running city streets so it was cool to be able to take in the views. San Jose is a beautiful place! We ran through some really nice neighborhoods - not sure of the names, but if you know of the Fab 40s in Sacramento, they were similar to that. Beautiful houses, wide tree lined streets, for sale signs that were as nice as the houses (a friend pointed that out). Much of the course was shady from buildings or trees - I LOVE when cities have lots of trees! Towards the end of the race, as you head into the downtown area you're running right into the sun. That kinda sucked because it was warm on race day. However, at that point there are a ton of spectators out there cheering you on so it was a nice little extra kick to get you across the finish line. Personally, I haven't run a sub 2 hour marathon in over 2 years (I've been injured) so it was nice to be injury free and find a fast and flat course to run, and finally get in that sub 2 hour time!

As soon as you cross the finish you're greeted by volunteers with medals, water, chocolate milk and food. Again, all of this was very well organized. I hate to say this, but this year's medals were ugly. It is some kind of animal, I think a gorilla, playing the drums. I get the whole Rock N Roll thing, but I think they could have done better. Why a gorilla? Perhaps I'm missing something...do gorillas have something to do with San Jose?? Anyway, the post race area was nice. There was food, drinks, merchandise, lots of areas to sit and relax and of course a stage with a band playing. This year's headliner was Letters To Cleo.

If you're looking for a fun & fast race I would definitely recommend RNR San Jose. I had a great time and look forward to checking out more San Jose races now.

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(2017)
"Quick 5k "
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Imagine my surprise when I realized there is a run in Sacramento that I haven't run?! I am currently training for a 5k at the end of July and this race (on July 1st) was perfect timing for a tune up run. The race was in beautiful William Land Park and is nice and flat. So if you're looking for a race to PR this could be a good one, HOWEVER, they do their timing a little differently. They do "age graded results" which you can read all about on their website.

What I loved about this race: I love the course! William Land Park is super green, full of trees and is a beautiful neighborhood to run in. The aid stations were good; there was only one, which I think was sufficient. The race was smaller this year (perhaps because it was the weekend before July 4th, I believe in the past this race has been in May). If the race was bigger 2 aid stations would probably be best. You got a cotton shirt when you register, if you wanted a tech tee you could upgrade for a small fee. Personally, I like the cotton. I wear them to bed or casually when I don't feel like dressing like a normal person. They had race clocks at each mile, which was great! It helped me pace myself. Finally, race management is great. I believe I have mentioned Capital Road Race Management in previous race reviews, they really are the best. Very organized. Plenty of post race snacks.

What I didn't love about this race: I really don't like that it starts at 8:35am. I am a morning runner, and while 8:35am isn't that big of a deal, it can be in the Summer. Race day was actually pretty nice in the morning but when you're running it gets hot. I think that is the only thing I didn't like!

I didn't mind the date of the race, but I do think a lot of people didn't run this year because of other July 4th plans. There were less then 400 runners. If the race stays in July I do hope it starts at 7:30am, or even 8:00am wold be better. The age graded awards are a lot of fun too, it gives everyone a fair chance at placing in their age group.

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(2017)
"HILLS "
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2017 was my second time running this race and I forgot how much I liked this course. This race is known for it's hilly course, so that didn't come as a surprise to me. It is actually why I signed up for the race. I LOVE running hills!

This year's race was a lot bigger than when I ran it in 2014. Not only was there the Sun Run (aka Chicken Run) but there was also the Fair Oaks Fiesta - so lots of actives and food post run if you wanted to have some fun post race. As I said, this race is known for the hills - they even have names: Grand Daddy, Hernia Hill, The Beast, and the Last Gasp. Don't let the names or thoughts of hills scare you; yes it is challenging but it is also a lot of fun. Fair Oaks is a beautiful community and the race is put on by Capital Road Race Management, who always put on a good race. New this year was medals for all of the finishers - great for all those people that run for the medals!

The middle of the race has a nice little break from the hills, so it is a good chance to catch your breath and check out the views. There was definitely more of the community out this year cheering you on, which always helps. If you want a challenge sign up for this race! It is also a good training run if you're going to be running a longer, hillier course.

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(2016)
"CIM 2016"
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This year was my 5th CIM! Whoohoo!! I'm in the Loyal Runner Club now! But that isn't why I do this race. If you have read my past reviews you will see that this race is well organized, fast, community based and a lot of fun. 2016 was no different.

I worked the expo this year, and walked around a bit after my shift. There are always a lot of vendors and speakers. But I never hang around the expo for too long. However, there are plenty of volunteers to get you your packet & shirt and you can be on your way if that is your thing.

To get to the start I always go to the Convention Center to be picked up by the busses. I would like to say, the Sacramento Running Association (they put on the CIM) emails a survey to you multiple times if you are going to take their busses to the start and where you will be picked up. FILL THOSE OUT! This is for us runners. They want to be sure we get to the start on time, if you don't tell them you are taking a bus how will they know?? Rant over. There were plenty of busses, I think. The convention center seemed to have more people than usual this year, but we made it to the start with plenty of time to warm up.

The race course was as beautiful as ever (except through Carmichael) and there were a ton of spectators out cheering us on. Some of the aid stations were extra awesome this year - I wish I could remember which ones. I know there were kids there cheering and singing and were super engaged and that made it really fun. It seemed like they did a little more through the "middle miles" this year. More bands and blow up things that you run under. That was nice, no one really likes those miles, Carmichael isn't the best place to run through. Once you get past the H street bridge and into East Sac that is when the fun starts! Tons of people cheering and you can begin to countdown the streets until the finish.

I really love how well organized this race is. I had a few friends run it for the first time this year, and social media "friends" ;) run it for the first time and tell me that they love this race and the organization. I don't work for the SRA or CIM but I am an ambassador for them and it makes me proud to hear that! Once again, it was another great race and I'll be back next year!

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