Latest reviews by Katie St Pierre
Lincoln Park Run for the Zoo
The Lincoln Park Zoo is Chicago’s free zoo and its yearly Run for the Zoo turned into an exciting virtual race for this year! They have some CUTE animals at the zoo, and I wanted to support them. I mean, c'mon....
My Virtual Run for the Zoo
I signed up for the 10k distance and dressed up in my animal skirt and the most ADORABLE race shirt. Look at that ostrich! The shirt is super soft and was true-to-size.
I didn't have anywhere with animals to run, so I headed out to Prince William Forest Park (Virginia) for a trail run. Lots of hills in nature - it was beautiful scenery, albeit a bit muggy.
My friend Toni joined me on the race and she was very jealous of my shirt. She told me that her son lives in Chicago and loves to visit the Lincoln Park Zoo.
There was a little stream that we crossed over via a bridge...
And look! An animal! Not a bear or penguin or any exciting animal that you can see at the Lincoln Park Zoo, but a real live WILD squirrel!!!!
My "official" time for the Run for the Zoo was 1:25:51. Not terribly fast, but this course is a bit hilly!
We also saw this cool bird that posed for me while I took a picture.
And of course, my post-race hydration and refreshment included a Strawberry Acai Refresher from Starbucks.
It' a bummer that this race turned into a virtual, but I'm glad we still got to support the zoo. The "real life" race looks like a lot of fun!
Disclaimer: I received a free entry to the Freedom's Run Marathon 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!
Freedom's Run Marathon
The Freedom's Run Marathon took place on October 5, 2019. This race took place in historic West Virginia, starting in Harpers Ferry and ending in Shepherdstown.
This was my 4th marathon, having previously run the Walt Disney World Marathon in 2014, the Blue Ridge Marathon in 2018, and the Delaware Marathon Running Festival earlier this year (2019).
I decided to make a full weekend race-cation for this marathon. So, after work on Friday, I drove to Shepherdstown to get my bib. Packet pick-up was super simple. We drove to Shepherds University, found street parking (free after 6pm) and went and got my packet! There was no line and no wait. Bib, shirt, done! They did have a few booths with info about the city, and they did have a few supplies for sale (gels, salts, etc) for those who needed it. I was all set, but was appreciative of the items because I have needed them last minute before, and they weren't available for sale!
I stayed at the Clarion Inn, which was the "official race hotel". This was a convenient option because there was a "let's get you to the start line" shuttle bus that left directly from the hotel. I was down in the lobby at 5:45am with the other runners and we boarded the chilly bus for our trip to Harpers Ferry National Park.
We arrived at 6:30am, and it was still dark outside. And a little chilly. (But, honestly, it wasn't too bad that morning - it turned out to be perfect running weather!). There were some inside bathrooms available, which was nice. After an hour, the sun came up, and it was time to start the race!
The entire Freedoms Run marathon course is encased in National Park Land, with some brief detours through the country roads and preserved history towns that connect them. Beginning in Harpers Ferry National Park, we started with 4.5 miles, a few of which were downhill (yes!). Then, we ran through a cute little town, over a river, and onto the C&O Canal. Running next to the river and through the woods with fallen leaves, it was beautiful and flat! Some commented that this part of the race was boring, but I love running through the woods!.
At mile 15, you run UP and down and a country road on your way to Antietam Battlefield. The next 5 miles are hilly, hilly, hilly as you run through Antietam. The last 4.5 miles are more flat, but are run on the side of a large road into Shepherdstown.
Finally, you cross a bridge and you can see the after party! Turn a bit, and you are at the finish line!
There was plenty of on course support at the water/fuel tables. They had water and Gatorade, gels, and even oranges at one point. Because this race is run on National Park Land and through the woods, there aren't a lot of people cheering you. You have to be self motivated to keep yourself running! But it was a great course and worth the solitude at parts!
How did I do?
PR BABY!!!! Woot! I was hoping to beat my time from the Delaware Marathon, and I did! I PR'd by 16:42!!! Hey, and I wasn't last!! There were people behind me, LOL!!
I felt pretty good for most of the race. I started to tighten up at the end and was mad that I forgot my pickle juice back at the hotel. But, this was the first marathon where I could actually still move at the end and for the rest of the day!
The 2019 Delaware Running Festival
The Delaware Marathon Running Festival was held on Sunday, April 28, 2019 in Wilmington, DE. Offering the distances of the marathon, half marathon, 4-person relay, 5k, and kids run, there were options for the entire family!
The expo and packet pickup took place at the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel in Downtown Wilmington on the Saturday before the race from 10am-5pm. I found some street parking about 2 blocks away and walked to the hotel.
There was a spot for you take a picture before entering the expo. You could also sign up for your free race photos.
Bib and shirt pickup was super easy and it was not crowded at all. There were some race shirts and other clothing items for sale, and I ended up buying 3 shirts (2 short sleeve and 1 long sleeve) and a pint glass for only $10! Score!
However, there were no other products available. I was really hoping to pick up some gels or gummies for the race (as I was not prepared). I had to Google the closest running store and headed to Delaware Running Company about 10 minutes away to get some fuel for the race.
My friend and I stayed at her friend’s house about 20 minutes away so we drove to the race in the morning. We found parking at an apartment building nearby (not sure we were supposed to park there, but…) and walked the two blocks to the start line. We had plenty of time to hit the port-o-potties and then head back to the car because we forgot to put on sunscreen.
The start line was self- seeded and very crowded since it was the half and full starting at the same time. We headed towards the back and got ready to run.
The course takes you through a lot of Wilmington:
the boardwalk area,
the not so good part,
past the zoo,
through a park,
and then through some hilly, but gorgeous neighborhoods.
We then headed back towards the finish line where the half runners finished and we continued on down the boardwalk area again towards the Wildlife Refuge.
Next, it was a straight shot for about 6.5 miles over the marsh, past the mountain of a dump, by some horses, and along a tree-lined path. It did rain for a bit, but it was a nice, pleasant rain. And the trees did help with the sun from being too hot!
We then turned around and ran back!
We finished a little after 2pm. This was well within the time of finishing (it was 7 hours this year). However, most of the park and festivities were packed up. The only food left were some chips and orange slices. There was no more Seasons Pizza, Pretzel Boys Soft Pretzels, Hy-Point Dairy Farms ice cream sandwiches and ice cold chocolate milk and Michelob Ultra beer from NKS Distributors.
There was no music and the gift shop area was being packed up. No one was around. It was like a ghost town. I would have thought that the party would still have been going on. But nothing. It was pretty disappointing to have a big finish with no one there to celebrate with!
At least a photographer was there, so we got our official finish race picture.
To read more about this race and to see my pictures, please visit:
Disclaimer: I received free entry to the Virginia Beach Rock 'n' Roll Half Marathon 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!
Virginia Beach Rock 'n' Roll Half Marathon
I had the chance to run the Virginia Beach Rock 'n' Roll Half Marathon on September 2, 2018. I have previously ran the D.C. Rock 'n' Roll Half in 2014 and 2015 so I was excited to visit a different city and course.
I drove down to Virginia Beach early on Saturday morning. It was Labor Day weekend, so even though I left early, there was still a ton of traffic. What should have been a three hour drive turned in to six hours. Regardless, I arrived with plenty of time to hit the expo.
The expo took place at the Virginia Beach Convention Center. Packet pick up was quick and seamless. I got my bib and shirt and then went to explore the expo. There were about 50 exhibitors, but not much really caught my eye. I bought a pair of socks from the main merchandise area and then went in search of some Huma Gel. No one was selling any, so I settled for some Sports Beans. I was in and out of the expo in about 15 minutes.
Because of my original hotel cancelling my reservation and not letting me know, I was not staying on the boardwalk where the race was to start. The hotel at which I ended up was the Virginia Beach Resort Hotel and Conference Center, about 20 minutes away. Luckily, it was still on a beach, just not the main beach. I left my room about 5:30am and arrived at the parking lot on 19th Street a little before 6am. It was a bit crowded trying to get in the lot as they had to collect $10 from everyone. But, I was able to get a parking spot and use the bathroom before the race.
I even had time to go on the beach and watch the sunrise! Which, is totally magical. I finally walked over to the start line, found my fellow BibRavePro, Vanessa at She Runs by the Seashore, and wait in my corral for the race to start.
The course begins right on the boardwalk, where you run for about two miles. Then, there is a small bridge before entering a more residential area. There was a man with a parrot cheering us on.
This area was nice because the road was tree lined and there was shade. It was a straight shot for three miles before turning a corner and making our way back.
Miles 7-9 were terrible. I did not enjoy running through Camp Pendleton. It was getting really hot, and there was ZERO shade. These were my slowest miles.
Once back on the main road, my pace slightly improved. There was more shade, and some neighborhoods were passing out popsicles. There were also some sporadically placed sprinklers that helped cool you down.
Running over the bridge once again, you turn and head toward the beach area. The finish is along the beach, where there were a bunch of people cheering.
On Course Entertainment
There were 13 stages set up along the course. There was a variety of music from alternative, classic and punk rock to blues, jazz and soul. Even with all the music, I thought the "rock" was lacking. I was really hoping for more dancing music, but there were really only two or three bands that got me energized. I also think the volume could have been cranked up a bit more.
There were a lot of spirit teams cheering us on, and I appreciated that. The dancers and cheerleaders were motivating and fun to watch as we ran by.
Finishing the course, you run through the shoot and then get your medal. Keep walking and water and food was available. Options included Gatorade, chips, chocolate milk, hummus and pretzels, and bananas (which were way too warm and mushy). There was a merchandise area, a beer garden, and some musical acts.
To see pictures and to see how I did, please visit www.adventuresbykatie.com/rnrvirginiabeach2018
The Old Dominion RacingArcticHalf took place on February 24, 2018 in Sterling, VA.
The ArcticHalf took place at Algonkian Regional Park. There was plenty of parking and the start packet pick-up and start line took place under a covered pavilion. This was great because it was raining before the race began, and I was hoping to minimize my getting wet prior to the race. The line to pick up my bib and shirt was quick, and I was grateful that the race shirt was a long-sleeve tech shirt. I definitely did not bring enough warm clothes to the start. There were a few port-o-potties at the start, as well.
Prior to the start of the race there was a quick warm-up from Orange Theory, with some fun dance moves and stretches. Then, it was time to begin.
Multiple Race Distances
There were multiple-race distances for this race. The Half Marathon began at 12pm, which was a nice time because I didn't have to wake up super early. The 10k started just before 1pm, with the 5k following that.
The day called for rain. Which is fine, whatever. It rained while driving to the race, and up to the start. It was chilly, so I was glad for the long sleeved tech race shirt. The rain conveniently stopped right as the Half Marathon was starting, which was perfect. I ended up taking off my long sleeved shirt during the half mile because it was starting to warm up.
The course was mainly dirt trails, with a few stretches of pavement and gravel. Unfortunately, because of the rain, the dirt trails were mostly mud trails. Again, whatever. I was being very cautious, though, because I have been known to trip and fall on dry trails. This mud trail was nothing like I have ever experienced before. I have ran in the rain. I have ran in the ice. Mud is a while different animal. No only is it hard to run because you don't want to slip, there is the extra added resistance of sticking to the ground.
Seriously, there were parts of the trail where I had to hold onto trees or walk slowly with my arms straight out to help balance.
Regardless, this was a great course. You start off with one lap of two different trails, before heading past the golf course to a gravel trail. After a bit on this trail, you turn around and do a second lap before ending. Most of the course was in the trees, with some views of the water. It was very pretty!
Parts of the course were flooded, so we had to wade, step on rocks, or jump to cross!
The long sleeved tech race shirt was great and definitely helped to keep me warm pre-race. The water stops were stocked very well with water, Gatorade, Sports Beans, Gu chews, and hand warmers.
The medal was nice and heavy and a good quality. The finish line had fruit, pastries, coffee, hot chocolate, and root beer (which is what I chose, along with some fruit). Never has a root beer taste so good. I know understand why a lot of races end with beer!
There was a raffle for a TV, Garmin, and other running gear. You were to earn tickets based on which race you completed, as well as if you helped to raise any money. Unfortunately, they started the raffle when I was at mile 10 and was over by the time I finished the race. I wish there was a way to have had my raffle tickets in the pot so I could have been considered to win.
How Did I Do?
I hadn't run a half marathon since October, and I wasn't quite yet trained for 13 miles. However, I have been doing some training runs and races in preparation for the Blue Ridge Marathon in April, so at least I had been doing some running. My intervals were run 1, walk 1, which I tried to follow when I could actually run. However, the amount of slick mud made it hard for me to run consistently on a lot of the trail, so I was a bit slower than I wanted.
But, I felt great! Except for a blister forming on each pinky toe (due to wet feet), I felt like I could have kept running, which is a positive because I have some longer runs coming up!
My finish time was 3:16:37.