Latest reviews by Jen Skiba

(2016)
"Will Run for Cape Cod Beer!"
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A local road race that starts and finishes at the Cape Cod Brewery, yes please!

The race started at 4pm allowing for an after party at the brewery with beer, food trucks, free soup and bread from Not Your Average Joes and local band 57 Heavy. In it’s first year the race had 700 runners and featured both a 5k and 10k option. All runners received a free beer ticket, Cape Cod beer pint glass and a long sleeve tech shirt. Age group winners won more free beer—first place men and women received a coupon for a 64 oz. growler!

The course itself was pretty boring. The 10k ran the 5k loop twice. The loop wasn’t quite 3 miles so there were 2 little side roads that we went down and back up. The sharp turnarounds were brutal. I had to swing super wide but I still worried that I would slip. The 5k/10k split was SO CONFUSING! I had no idea where I was going and if I was supposed to be following the 5k runners. There was a mini loop, unmarked, that I am pretty sure some of the 10k runners skipped due to lack of signs and race support.

Even the finish was confusing! The 10k runners didn’t get to go through the finish line banner. We had to make a sharp left right before it and finish near a rope with the finish line mat and a lady with her clipboard.

Overall, boring and confusing course but a great time and fun race with friends!

You can read my Cape Cod Beer Race to the Pint Race Recap on my personal blog Run Jen Run:
http://www.jenrunsfastblog.com/2016/04/race-report-cape-cod-beer-race-to-pint.html

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(2016)
"A big city race with a fast, flat course."
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Houston was amazing! 27,000 total runners—13,500 in each the marathon and half marathon.

Registration: Early registration is in January, only for a few days after the race. Then qualifiers can register in early May with open registration a few weeks later. No lottery, which is nice. The half sold out a lot faster than the full in 2016.

Expo: Pretty decent expo with rows and rows of vendors. Lots of fun photo ops! I loved the marathon magnets that Chevron was giving away and the big 26.2 in the Dick’s Sporting Goods area.

Swag: At the expo runners received a cotton t-shirt. After the race finishers earn a medal, a glass finisher mug, and a tech shirt. I love the mug! And I also love that the women’s finisher’s shirt is a v-neck!

Start Line: The start line was well organized. Runners were assigned to 1 of 4 corrals with pace groups within each corral. I was a little nervous starting with the half marathoners but everyone seemed to line up at the correct pace so there wasn’t much pushing and shoving in the first few miles.

Bathrooms: There were super long lines for the bathrooms inside the GRB. Each pace group in the corrals had a few “Port-o-cans” but not enough. There were SO MANY out on the course—like a dozen at each aid station. I think the start line needed them more!

Course: The course itself wasn’t very memorable. A lot of highways and neighborhoods—but it’s FLAT! That’s important to me when I’m choosing races. Be aware that most of Houston roads are concrete, which is much harder on your legs. Mile markers are at every mile AND every kilometer. Timing mats at every 5k and a Houston Marathon App so people can track your run!

Aid Stations: The first aid station was 1.5 miles into the race and then every 2 miles after with both Gatorade and water. So many tables! The first half of the race there were 2 sections of water after the Gatorade so if you missed the first set of tables (like I did a couple of times), you can still grab water—in fact they were less crowded. After the split with the half marathoners, that second section of water tables disappeared, so don’t wait!

Weather: The average low on race day is 40 degrees, average high is 60. Perfect running weather! Houston can be known for high humidity that time of year but 2016 was a little on the cooler side with a breeze.

Food: I totally skipped right by all the food lines. Unlike most big races where you pass all the food tables as you head out of the finisher area, you have to walk into the convention center and go out of your way for food. I had no interest in walking any extra knowing I had bananas and yogurt back in the hotel room. My dad went through the line and said there was a few different types of granola bars, oreos, ice cream sandwiches (they were gone by the time I finished anyways!), coffee, hot chocolate, eggs, sausage, biscuits and gravy…

Hotel: The Hilton Americas Houston Hotel is SO CONVENIENT. It connects to the GRB, which is the site of the expo and pre/post race festivities. You can see the finish line from the hotel lobby. The start is also right there.

Other: While Houston is great for running, it’s not great for spectators! My parents and I always compare races to the Chicago Marathon where they were able to navigate the city and take the train to 4 different spots along the course. Houston had a Metro but it was only running in one direction. My mom asked a bunch of volunteers at the expo how to get around and the only advice she got was to pick one spot.

You can read my 2016 Houston Marathon Race Recap on my personal blog Run Jen Run:
http://www.jenrunsfastblog.com/2016/01/race-report-houston-marathon.html

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(2015)
"A must-do, bucket list race!"
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The New Balance Falmouth Road Race is a must-do, bucket list race! I may be a little biased in my review (I worked for the race for 10+ years) but it’s definitely one of the prettiest courses in the country. Honestly, who wouldn’t want to run 7 miles along the beach on Cape Cod in August?!

Registration: If you want to run Falmouth, you must plan ahead. Registration is in early May. Falmouth taxpayers get automatic entries into the race (as long as they follow registration guidelines and submit their entry on time) and there is a lottery for everyone else. They also have a bunch of charity numbers each year if you don’t get in.

Expo: Decent size expo with a variety of vendors. Big New Balance booth with race gear for sale. The race schedules guest speakers autograph signings, and local celebrities handing out bib numbers.

Swag: If you’re looking the free race shirt, you won’t find it here. Instead Falmouth is famous for their mugs, which I LOVE along with a race magazine, race poster and a cute, reusable Falmouth Road Race tote bag.

Parking/Start Line: Parking can be kind of a pain in the butt but if you plan ahead and arrive early, there are plenty of places you can park. There are buses that take you to the start line (it’s a point to point course). The downside: the start is in Woods Hole, a small town with very narrow streets. The buses take you down early so there is a lot of waiting around time. Find a shady spot to sit and bring snacks. In 2014 the corrals changed so runners seed themselves based on predicted pace. I see pluses and negatives to this but apparently it went well because they brought it back in 2015! Also this year it was hard to hear the announcer at the start because of a helicopter hovering over Woods Hole.

Bathrooms: So many porta potties! The closer to the race, the longer the lines. If you’re lucky enough to earn a seeded number, there are a number of bathrooms in your corral with little to no lines.

Elites: There is a total purse of $102,000 so the race attracts many elite athletes. Many big names have run in Falmouth. Elite athletes stay in host family homes which is a fun and exciting opportunity for the community.

Course: I just love this course! The course starts in Woods Hole and takes you along the water to Falmouth Heights. Right after you cross the start line, you go over a bridge, which I am very thankful they covered—it used to be graded with holes so you could see the water beneath. So scary! The first mile brings you to Nobska Lighthouse—it’s beautiful and then through the shady, rolling hills. Mile 3 you are along Surf Drive Beach, my favorite part of the course but also can be tough. It’s flat, totally open, no shade and potentially very windy. You make s turn through some neighborhoods, around the harbor, and pass the Falmouth Yacht Club with a half mile to go. Then the infamous hill! It can be a doozy this late in the race! You go up, plateau for a bit the downhill to the finish where there is a giant American flag flying overhead.

Weather: The race is in August on Cape Cod so you can expect it to be hot and humid. There are numerous water stops along the course and so many spectators with hoses to keep runners cool.

Food: “Will run for hot dogs!” Falmouth is famous for the finish line hot dogs. Not my first craving when I cross the finish line but there are also Yasso frozen yogurt bars (I was bummed the only flavor this year was Mint Chocolate Chip—where’s the fruity flavors?!), bananas, apples, and various other chips/pretzels/snacks.

You can read my 2015 Falmouth Road Race Recap on my personal blog Run Jen Run:
http://www.jenrunsfastblog.com/2015/08/race-report-falmouth-road-race-2015.html

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(2014)
"Boston: Tufts 10k for Women"
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I ran this race back in 2010 and couldn't wait to get back to run it again in 2014. The race is Columbus Day weekend every year--on Monday--so I have to take the day off from work to run. It starts at noon which allowed me to sleep in, miss rush hour traffic into the city, and still get there early to walk around the Commons and check out all the sponsors and vendor booths.

Parking: I parked in the Commons parking garage—very convenient, easy to get in, easy to get out, and you only have to walk up the stairs to be on the Commons right in front of number pickup.

Swag: Love the long sleeve tech shirts they give out although they do run small and the 2014 logo was a little on the boring side compared to previous years. Their slogan on the shirts is "Start Strong, Finish Stronger." The rest of the items in the free City Sports drawsting bag wasn't very memorable.

Bathrooms: There are a TON of porta potties on the Commons. The further away from the start line you walk, the shorter the lines.

Elites: I was actually really surprised at the elites running. Tufts 10k serves as the Women’s 10k Championships on the U.S. circuit but there was little to no PR about the women in this year's race. Lots of great women showed up to race. I find that very motivating.

Course: The course was relatively flat. There are a few bridges that you go over--2014 it was very windy on the bridges! It’s pretty cool because there are some parts where the elites are running on the other side of the road.

Food: After you cross the finish line you are directed to the food tent. Before you enter they give you a big reusable shopping bag to fill. The food tent was about 20 tables long filled with all kinds of great food and drinks. I tried a Vanilla Bean Petite Creme ("Greek yogurt's creamy french cousin") and it was SO GOOD! They are so expensive at the grocery store but I continue to splurge on it now and then.

Other: Tufts 10k had runner tracking/texts alerts. After the race you could scan your bib and get instant results. They also send you an email with splits and results as soon as you cross the finish line. I didn't wait around after the race but I saw a booth where if you used a certain Tufts 10k hashtag on Instagram, you could print out your picture for free. Pretty cool.

You can read my 2014 Tufts 10k for Women Race Recap on my personal blog Run Jen Run:
http://www.jenrunsfastblog.com/2014/10/race-report-tufts-10k-for-women-2014.html

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(2014)
"A Bucket List Race for all Bills Fans"
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I ran the 5k in both 2013 & 2014 and I'm so sad to miss 2015 as they are adding a 10k distance and dropping the half.

If you run and you're a bills fan, you MUST run this race!

Registration: The earlier you register, the cheaper the race is!

Parking: Tons of parking in the stadium lots.

Swag: They give out a red dry fit t-shirt with the logo on the front and all the sponsors listed on the back, an upgrade from the previous year when they were all cotton.

Bathrooms: Before the race you can hangout in the field house and use the bathrooms but once you head out to the start line, porta potties are scarce. After the race you have access to the bathrooms inside the stadium after the race.

Course: The 5k course was one big loop on the roads surrounding the stadium. Pretty boring. Mostly flat with some rolling hills. The last half mile totally made up for the rest of the course as you come around the turn to see the stadium, run through the parking lot, down the tunnel, and onto the field!

Awards: They give out medals to top 3 in every age group. They are nice medals too! Anything for my bills!

Food: All you need to know is Tim Hortons & Bud Light. At 8am we were enjoying a free beer and bagels/donuts from the sponsors. I was so happy when I found out Tim Hortons was a sponsor!

Other: Loved the 7am start time on a HOT & HUMID Buffalo morning in June! In 2014 the scoreboards were down for stadium renovation but I hear they are back. Pretty cool seeing yourself on the jumbotron as you are crossing the finish line! I was a little disappointed there weren't any players there but the race is held on an off weekend between OTAs and training camp. Billy the Buffalo was around after the race for pictures... and I also recommend taking "jump pictures" in the end zone!

You can read my 2014 Fifty Yard Finish Race Recap on my personal blog Run Jen Run:
http://www.jenrunsfastblog.com/2014/06/race-report-50-yard-finish-2014.html

#BillsMafia

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