Latest reviews by Meridith Daniel

(2018)
"Fun atmosphere and a medal! It's the Atlantic City 5k!"
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I love the Atlantic City Race Series races. I usually participate in at least one race during their spring and fall series and I enjoyed doing their inaugural Bungalow Beach Run this year too.

I originally registered for the Atlantic City 10k back in 2017, right after registration opened. The 10k distance is one that I love and I got my personal best at this race in 2016 so I was looking forward to returning again. However after my 13 year old son decided that he wanted to run the 5k, I decided to switch distances.

The price for the 5k and 10k is the same so it's really just a matter of which distance you'd rather do. We'd opted for race morning pick up and were quickly able to switch distances and get our shirts, bags, and bibs.

Parking at the casinos in Atlantic City can be pricey, especially on weekends. Thankfully the race includes a parking voucher, making the cost on $5.

Atlantic City races don't have corrals so lining up beforehand is always a crap-shoot. I looked for people who looked like they'd run around the same pace as my son and sent him up ahead. I asked the people I was standing near what pace they expected to keep to find my spot. The 5k and 10k runners start together. After the singing of the National Anthem, we were off.

The out and back was comfortable for me because I've done so many training runs along this boardwalk. My time was a consistent 12 minute mile, not my best or worst.

My son looked strong when I saw him while I was on the out and he was on the back but he said that he got a cramp soon after we saw each other. He still finished strong and sprinted to the finish.

We joined the finisher's party and grabbed the most delicious bagels (holy moly, they were so good!), snacks, goodies from vendors, and a free beer at 10am.

Well, I grabbed beer at 10am. Kiddo got Gatorade. He missed placing in his age group by one spot but I reminded him it's all about who shows up. There's always next time and this is a race we'll be returning to again!

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(2018)
"A Very Bird-in-Hand Half Marathon"
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This race was on my bucket list for awhile after hearing about friends experiences from 2013 onward. A few friends and I decided to make 2018 our year at Bird-in-Hand.

The race is a fundraiser for the community and while the cost is a bit pricey, it includes a lot of bang for your buck. We visited the expo Friday afternoon and the weather was decent. We got our bibs, shirts, and bags with goodies which included whoopie pies, animal crackers, and pretzels. Parking for the expo and race is in a field, so be prepared for that.

The entire weekend is touted as a community event in Bird-in-Hand with a hot air balloon festival, picnic, and the race happening. Friday night there’s a 5k and kids race with the half marathon happening on Saturday morning at 7:30 in the am.

Communication from the race organizers was primarily via witty email. The race does have social media accounts but there’s not much interaction on those.

Perusing the weather app the night before we were pleased to see that it it looked like it was going to be cooler and maybe the tiniest bit misty. Like, barely even noticeable.

Therefore we were somewhat surprised when we opened the door of our hotel room on Saturday morning to find a pretty steady stream of rain come down.

No more hot air balloons for us. Whomp whomp.

My friend had a meniscus tear earlier this summer so we knew going into this race that we were going to just have as much fun as possible. Pictures, selfies, mullet crew style - party in the back! With a 4 hour course limit, we knew that we'd be able to finish within the time frame and have fun while doing it so that was our plan from the get-go.

The course was absolutely beautiful. Hilly, as we expected, but gorgeous. The water stops were manned by Amish children and they were plentiful. Originally we were planning on wearing hydration vests but with the cooler temps we decided to forgo them. It worked out really well.

In between miles 9 and 10 we were treated to a scoop of mango Rita's Water Ice, which was incredible, even on a not hot day. Soon after that we turned off the main road for a little off-roading experience.

In the last mile there was an area which was matted down grass and mud. It was really uncomfortable because you couldn't firmly plant your feet. If you did, you might get stuck in the mud; it was better to just tread lightly on the grassy area.

It was flat but to be honest, I would take the paved hills over that area any day.

Sadly, even though we finished within the allotted time, the race photographer was not there to catch our spectacular finish. While I most likely wouldn't have purchased pictures, I still found it to be a bummer.

There was a recovery area and my friend with the hurt knee headed there for a massage while the rest of us went to the tent for the community picnic. The food 100% hit the spot!

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(2018)
"Beautiful Running in Colorado"
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I signed up to do Vacation Races Elk Double, a challenge that consists of a 5k on Friday evening and a half marathon Saturday morning.

As you can imagine, it's a bit difficult to train for a race at 7,500 feet when you live in New Jersey. But knowing that I have a base fitness level from going to the gym and the fact I was running with a friend to have fun, I wasn't too concerned about running quickly for this race.

I arrived the week before the race which allowed us to get acclimated to the higher elevation. Trust me when I say that this is important! I didn't really have time to adjust when I was there during BolderBoulder a few years back and I didn't want to repeat that yucky feeling.

The 5k was on Friday night and some gnarly looking storm clouds were rolling in as we picked our race gear up at the expo. There was supposed to be s'mores but that got shut down early (or maybe they didn't have them at all?). We did a little shopping and then headed over near the start line which was just a short walk away.

One of the things that I love about Vacation Races is when you do a double, they give you a choice of your additional swag item. I got the t-shirt (which is women's cut and ill-fitting - whomp) and also a Elk Double hat (which I love!). My friend had the option to pick another item since she already had the hat, I love that they have more than one choice.

The 5k had numbered waves to begin but I'm not really sure how they were doled out. We ended up in the 3rd wave and knew that we planned to take things easy, especially given as there was a long hill immediately after crossing the start line.

After that hill, the 5k was mostly flat though so we took advantage of that as much as we could. The weather was feisty; a cold wind was blowing through and because of the mountains surrounding you and being near Lake Estes, the noise from the wind was intense. We did intervals as we made our way along the lakefront.

You could hear the finish line festivities as we circled the lake - so close yet so very far! My friend warned me that it was that way during the half too, which is tough during mile 12 of a race.

With the winds whipping we were getting more worried that we might get caught in driving rains which we were really hoping to avoid. Keeping our heads down we kept trucking along and crossed the finish line before the rain hit.

Hooray!

Got our super awesome medals, race goody boxes, snapped a few pictures, and then we were out of there.

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(2018)
"I Get By With a Little Help From My Friends"
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I've volunteered quite a few times with Good Day for a Run and every time you do, you are awarded a free race entry for your efforts! When a dear friend of mine said she was going to be at this race with the Cancer to 5k program I put a couple of my entries to good use and registered my son and myself for the 5k. There was always a 10k option available.

There is always packet pickup before the races but doing it at the race is just as easy; that's what I opted to do. Race management is always very communicative leading up to the race and this was no exception. There was a snafu with the shirts for this event, 2017 was printed on the shirts instead of 2018. They were upfront about this immediately and handed out the 2017 shirts while promising that we'd be able to get the 2018 shirts once they were in. I just received an email regarding this today and they will have these shirts available at three different Running Co. locations in the South Jersey area for 14 days. I found that to be a great compromise and they definitely made the best of a tough situation!

Additionally, they offer quite a few options with the shirts: men's cut, woman's cut, and woman's tanks.

My son has been training more regularly with running so I knew that he'd probably want to take off nearly immediately. My friend was driving in from PA and she's dealing with a torn meniscus. I got a text from her about 20 minutes before the race saying that she was considering not taking part because she just wasn't feeling it. That's really not her style so I put on some pressure and told her to meet me and I'd stick with her throughout the course (I might have used slightly more colorful language!).

Sending my 13 year old son ahead might have made me uneasy at other races but not with Good Day for a Run. I knew the course would be well marked and there would be volunteers at all the turns. Additionally I had a few friends that were volunteering at the race so I asked that they look out for him and make sure he was doing okay.

This race benefited Ainsley's Angels and a large group of Athlete Riders and Angels took part in this race. They lined up first and off they went. After that group, the 5k racers toed the line, followed by the 10k racers. The first stretch of the race went through grass and vineyards. I was able to see my son ahead as we went through the first mile. My friend and I got a little nervous as we saw the 10k runners coming right up behind us, it was tight quarters for the first quarter mile or so within the vineyard. We hugged the right as much as possible to allow the 10k runners by but it was a little difficult to get everyone to follow suit.

The majority of the course was on the road and once we reached that point, the field spread out and everything was good.

There was a water station set up a little before mile 2 and the volunteers were my friends so I was able to get the update on my son. Soon after I got the text alert that he finished. Even though these races are shorter distances, they have runner tracking which is appreciated, especially in this circumstance!

The last stretch of the race was through the vineyards again. 3.1 therapeutic miles - it was so good to be with my friend and help her through this race. When we crossed the finish line we were awarded with our Run the Vineyards wine glasses, bottle of water, and KIND bars. Each bib has a wine ticket so you're able to enjoy a glass of wine right after the race.

The atmosphere after the races is always party-like. There was a food truck and we had chairs and picnics set up. When they began to announce the age group awards I was only half listening because, well, let's be honest - I never win any awards. That's why we nearly missed when my son's name was called for placing third in the M 14 and under age group! What an awesome surprise!

We got our photograph link emailed to us later on that day and this picture captures our experience to a T. Smiling, waving, and moving!

See more pictures here: http://www.scootadoot.org/2018/06/13/race-recap-run-the-vineyards-old-country-5k/

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(2018)
"Inaugural Race"
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The Atlantic City Marathon Series hosts spring and fall events and I love participating in them. From my very second half marathon, the Inaugural April Fools Half in 2012 to their fall 10k I've done my fair share of Atlantic City races.

The Inaugural Bungalow Beach 5 Miler was the first summer event hosted by the race series and as soon as I heard about it, I knew that I'd be signing up. After all, the first 100 to sign up got this beach towel along with their early registration of $35 and you know I can't pass up a deal like that!

Along with the beach towel, other race swag included:

- Custom Finisher Medals
- Gender Specific Custom Tank for Female Participants and Custom T-Shirt for Male Participants
- One FREE Beer at Bungalow Beach's Post Race Party
- Course Entertainment

There was a packet pickup the day before but also the morning of the race. I opted to do packet pickup race morning, saving myself toll and parking money. I parked in the Tropicana garage (cost $10).

I'm not sure if the tank option was listed when I registered because I ended up with a medium, which is what I usually get for the Atlantic City races but not if it's a women's cut. The tank is adorable, however it's entirely see through and too small which is disappointing. I lost the race shirt lottery this go around.

However, they had shirts and towels for sale after the race. My friend purchased a men's shirt and since they were priced at one for $15 or two for $20, she got one for me too.

The 5 mile open course (meaning that there were people walking and riding bikes along the route) was open for 2 hours, making it walker friendly as long as you are able to keep a 24 minute mile pace.

Despite the recent sunny weather, the forecast for that morning was looking a bit on the dreary side with the potential for thunderstorms. I don't mind running in the rain, but I didn't know what they'd do if there was lightning. Thankfully Mother Nature was on our side this time and while it was overcast, that also meant that it wasn't oppressively hot.

The course was what I've deemed: April Fools Half, lite. It's actually very similar to what my friend and I do when we are running our training runs there, which made it comfortable for us.

I really loved the fundraising mission of this race:

"In partnership with FACES 4 Autism, the Milton & Betty Katz JCC in Margate, NJ now offers Adaptive Swim Lessons, a specialized swim program designed to enhance the lives of children on the autism spectrum and to teach children with autism how to survive in the water.

The Adaptive Swim Lesson program includes individualized lessons based on each child’s level of ability with specially trained swim instructors. Additional pool support staff are often needed to help facilitate the lesson. 

Your support of the Bungalow Beach Run 5 will help provide funding for the additional resources needed to enable children on the autism spectrum participation in life - saving swim lessons."

How awesome is that? My son has high functioning autism so it really hit home for me.

After the singing of the National Anthem, we were off for our 5 mile jaunt. We fell into our 1:1 intervals and took it easy as we headed along the boardwalk. After the hotels and casinos it becomes more residential, with homes on one side and the beach/ocean on the other.

There was one portion of the race that kicked over onto the street (rather than staying on the boardwalk). I'm assuming this was for variety, it happens during the half course too. Thankfully we weren't on the street too long because I'd rather run on the boards!

There was a radio station at the turns off and on the boardwalk but otherwise it was pretty quiet. The volunteers at each water station were very enthusiastic, as always, and since it's an out and back they are plentiful.

The finish line was on the beach, making it a true BEACH RUN. That portion was not easy. Beach running near the water with packed down sand is not easy. Beach running on wavy sand? Brutal!

After we crossed the finish and got our medals there were tables set up with water, Gatorade, bananas, water ice, and other goodies. We grabbed a few and headed down near the water to take a few pictures and celebrate our 5 miles.

To wrap the race up right, there was a party at Bungalow Beach AC, which is where runners could get their free beer. This area was really cute and we got to cheer for all of race winners as they were announced.

All told, it was a great morning. Registering early helped keep the price low. I've used my new towel multiple times in the past week by my pool and I love all the perks that come along with running in Atlantic City. It's always a race series that does it up right!

For more pictures, please swing by my blog post: http://www.scootadoot.org/2018/07/02/race-recap-atlantic-city-bungalow-beach-5-miler/

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