Latest reviews by Brenda Morris

(2018)
"Rock and Roll DC Marathon "
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I had so much fun last year, I returned hoping for just warmer temps. Score! It was a bit warmer, as I wasn't frozen at the start. The 7am start was cold, but once we got moving it was nice. I kept my jacket on until mile 20.

My family and I arrived at the expo on Thursday at noontime when it opened, which is a nice time to go if you are available. The expo sold everything you could need, I didn't purchase anything as I over packed as it was, so it wouldn't give me an excuse to purchase. We had our lunch there (for free), as they were giving away Greek yogurt and Sabra hummus was there with the hummus/pretzel packs. At this time, no lines for bibs, shirts, and vendors.

Saturday morning my Dad dropped me off at the Start, since it was too early for Metro and cold. It worked out perfect, as again no lines for bad drop off, porta john, and easy access to the start.

Beautiful flat course, with a few inclines, as I live in a hilly area, it seemed flat to me. Lots of great bands, support, and views along the course.

Finish line: Pizza, popcorn, chips, choc. milk, water, gatorade, and more hummus/pretzels. More vendors, live band, beer tent and more. I actually stayed this year, as the weather was better and was able to meet up with Vanessa from Bibrave.

I highly recommend this fun and beautiful course! I'm sure it will become an annual event now, as I love the location ( with so much to do) and great winter training run.

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(2017)
"Jingle All The Way 15k "
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The Jingle All The Way is a flat and fast course, but I was chatting and not really racing today, as its also very festive. There's 2 distances to choose from, 5k and 15k. I participated in the 15k race which started at 8:30am, the 5k started at 8:00am. Both races started and finished at the Washington Monument.

I've run several races with the Pacers Running Club, and always enjoy the course and great organization. My family and I went to Pacers Running Store in Alexandria, Va on Friday and picked up my bib and awesome Boco Gear winter pom pom hat. No Shirt this year, but I loved how they gave you 3 options this year, winter hat, donate $10 to charity or $10 pacers bucks to spend in the store.

Race Day: I arrived an hour before the race, and had no problem finding a metered parking spot. I paid for the full 3 hour limit ( $6.45) At the start there was plenty of Port o johns, I had a no wait line. The announcer was high energy and playing upbeat music. It was fun to see so many costumes and festive hats/sweaters.

The course was very pretty with the snow on the ground. The aid stations had water and gatorade. As you crossed the finish line they had granola bars, water, bananas, donuts, hot coffee. Your bib has a coupon for a free burger from Shake Shack to use for up to a week.

Race Management is very good with social media and emails keeping you updated on all needed information.
I think this will be an annual event now! I recommend this holiday run.

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(2017)
"Monterey Bay Half Marathon & OceanView Challenge ( 5k Sat. & 1/2 Marathon Sun. ) "
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I was really excited to return to beautiful Monterey, Ca again. I visited in 2014 when I ran Boston 2 Big Sur. Packet Pickup and Expo was at the same location, in Old Downtown Monterey. I arrived Wed. evening, so I could play in the area, since there's so much to see and do. Thursday I walked about 15 miles, I visited the Monarch Butterfly Sanctuary, which was hard to get good pictures on my iPhone, but the clusters of Monarchs were amazing. I met up with a friend and had some wonderful Mexican food for lunch, the food is all so fresh and yummy in Ca. I then went off in the other direction to walk along the Fishermans Pier, and in the evening went to a talk with Peace Corps Members.
Friday morning I went for a nice easy jog and walk before heading to the Expo at 11:30 where I volunteered for a few hours. I picked up my packet and shirts for the OceanView Challenge, a new challenge where you run the 5k Saturday and Half Marathon Sunday. There was plenty of helpful volunteers, poster size maps, race program, and information table for all your questions.
New this year the race added, Friday night Happy Hour 4-5:30pm It was a very nice program with wine tastings, and 5 tables to visit with new running technology and apps to try and talk to the reps.
Sat. Pacific Lighthouse 5k started at Lovers Point 8:00am, a beautiful coastal route, out and back. Post run there was plenty of supporters, volunteers, music, porto johns, and goodies... Dole fruit cups and Pineapple juice, which was a treat. Also, bottle water, energy bars, and fruit. They also had a local organization preparing a 5.00 Pancake breakfast. It looked good, but after running I usually wait to eat until after my shower. We walked about 1.5 miles back to the hotel to shower and get more sightseeing in.
We went on the 17 mile scenic ride, visited Clint Eastwoods Ranch, walked around Big Sur and took photos at the Bixby Bridge :)
Sunday's Half Marathon started at 6:50 am for Elites, then every 5 minutes a corral would start. There was plenty of porto johns and space, so even with 7,000 runners you didn't feel confined or crowded in. The announcers were so enthusiastic and motivating, the female announcer was around during the expo and Sat. race, really got you pumped up and excited.

Start line; Old Town Monterey, right there by the Pier and beach. Such a gorgeous location! We started out on some local neighborhoods and there was a few people playing the keyboard and other musical instruments. We ran towards Pacific Grove and ran under the bridge on Lighthouse Ave, it was so cool because it was dark with multiple colored strobe lights and loud music playing, near the end was a T-Rex dancing, so I stepped up on the side walk and danced a little with him, I mean how often do you get to start the race running with a shark, and dancing with T- Rex a mile or so later :) Running along Cannery Row and the Aquarium was fun, also music playing and people out in costumes.
I love living in a hilly area, as I didn't see any hills, but some people talked about the bumps in the road. I took lots of photos, danced, videos, singing and still managed to get one of my best half marathon paces of the year, due to such a flat fast course. Running on Oceanside Blvd and Asilomar State Beach was so beautiful and serene. So many neighbors and spectators out with lots of enthusiasm. I'm usually not a fan of out and backs, or repeat courses, but I could run back and forth on this one all day long, so beautiful to see sailboats, surfers, scuba divers, walkers, and ocean views. I also really loved seeing the Elite runners on their way back to the finish, it always gives me the goosebumps, and gives me inspiration. I did slow down to video them passing me. I just felt like I was in heaven!

The last 3 miles or so was on the bike path, it was awesome to see people just out on their routine walk/jog cheer you on the end. I always get pumped up the last few miles, this was a beautiful easy finish. The finish line announcers again very motivating and enthusiastic, the volunteers gave us our medals! MY FAVORITE MEDAL now, pink sea otter :) The medals are actually made by a local artist, and so darn cute. The Males received Yellow tech shirts and yellow medals, Females pink shirt and pink medals, which I love. The Shirt is a beautiful Asics long sleeve tech pink shirt with a nice Monterey Bay HM logo on the front and back. Monterey Bay Half Marathon changed their logo and name to separate from Big Sur, since they are a non-profit race and give back to the Monterey Bay Community.

Post Celebration: Once you received your medal, there was heat sheets and water bottles. Then your post photo ops with the signs, off to the food tent where you picked up a box with more yummy Dole fruit cups, Pineapple juice, Choc. milk, Chips, banana and bar.
They had hot soup which was a tomato spinach blend, I had 2 cups :)
Live music which was upbeat ( more dancing)
Treadmill Running store had a tent with free massaged, rollers and Normatec Boots..
Yes, I waited in line for the compression boots, since I tried previously after a long run and loved it. They also had a beer tent, with free beer, but I opted to wait until lunch/dinner to have alcohol.

MY NEW FAVORITE HALF MARATHON :)

Everything about the race organization and the course before, during and after was amazing!

Everyone needs to put this beautiful race on the list! Also, so much to do there.
I didn't have time to fit it all in. I met a few new friends and was invited to scuba dive, kayak, and go on a boat ride... I'll be back for sure, and will fit in those activities I missed.
Oh, the Aquarium is top notch, but I already visited on my first trip in 2014.

I could just go on and on with all the wonderful things Monterey has to offer :)

Follow them on Social Media and make a plan to bring the family or go with friends.

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(2017)
"Bike The Coast Oceanside CA "
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I was really excited to travel to Ca from Massachusetts to visit and ride in San Diego! I have never been to the area before, but have friends who moved there and talk about how bike friendly the area is.
I arrived Friday at SD airport and picked up my rental car, rental bike from Nytro Multisport in Encinitas. I then made my way to Oceanside Pier for the packet pickup and expo. Oh!I was so excited with the ocean views, breeze, temps and just in awe :)
We received a nice goodie bag with some coupons, and a pint glass :) I picked up my cycling jersey, which is sweet.
There was no stress since its not a race, its a ride.
Saturday morning 6:50am start was just beautiful, course was well marked, aid stations stocked with everything you need, and enthusiastic volunteers.
Finish line had medals, bike valet, food trucks, beer tent, live music and more.
I have a full review with more photos on my blog.
I highly recommend this beautiful coastal course, as it offers 25, 50 and 100 mile options, at a very no stress level. Follow their Facebook and Instagram sites to stay updated, and they have contests on entries, shirts, gift certificates and more.
Put this destination ride on your list. There's nothing like riding the coast of Ca!
#bikethecoast

http://brendaruns.tumblr.com

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(2017)
"Ocean State Marathon"
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2015 was the inaugural year for the Ocean State Rhode Race, so its still new. My friends who live in Rhode Island didn't even know about it until I mentioned it to them.I was excited to get the chance to run this race, as I wanted my Rhode Master Runners hat for running 3 out of 5 races this year :) The race weekend featured the marathon, half marathon and 5k distance. The Marathon course is USATF Certified and is a Boston Marathon Qualifier, which is great for locals, since its such easy access and small.
Coming from Massachusetts, I decided to go to packet pick up race morning. Sunday morning was a nice easy 1 hour 15 minute ride, enjoying my coffee and no traffic. I have several friends who live in the area, I stayed with them for the 2 other races, but they were out of town this weekend. This is a small race so no expo, which is fine with me. I try not to buy anymore, after running so many years, I have what I need already.
I arrived at Narragansett Town Beach 1 hour before race, and parked right in front, very easy access. My friends and others were also surprised how easy and fast parking, bib pickup and lines to port o johns were! Love small races for this. You received a bag with some samples, maple water, bars, tech shirt and my runners hat.

Start Line: Plenty of NO LINE, Port-o-Potties. Marathon started at 7:30am, Half at 8:00am.
It was a nice fast start with no chaos, and on time.

Course: Beautiful, and well marked with enthusiastic volunteers and plenty of aid. Water, Gu drink, Gu, Gu blocks, fruit and more every mile or 2.

Post Race: PIZZA , with about 5 options of toppings, They even had broccoli pizza! There was bars, fruit, water, and Maple water.

Since it was raining and windy, and I had plans in NH for dinner, I decided not to go to Whalers Pub for my free flight ( which was a very generous offer).

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