Latest reviews by Meridith Daniel

(2016)
"Course Changes = lots of hills!"
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This is the 3rd time I've participated in the Philadelphia 1/2 Marathon and after experiencing the new course, it might not be a standard go-to race for me anymore.

I attended the expo on Friday at noon, when the doors opened. The expo is held at the Philadelphia Convention Center and the place was teeming with folks there for another event. Add the swarms of runners that were there for the Health and Fitness expo and it was particularly challenging to get in and out of the area quickly.

The shirts are small. Very small. And ill-fitted. Knowing this from the previous year, I got an XL. It fits but honestly, it's not something that I plan to wear. The bottom is baseball shirt cut and overall it's short and I don't have a long torso. I'm guessing those who do would have issues.

There were many changes made to the Philly Marathon weekend. The first change that was made was that the half and full marathons, which were usually both held at the same day and time were split. Which makes sense from a business standpoint. They added the Rocky Challenge, which is for those people who wanted to run both the half and the full races. Good on you, running all the miles folks!

The race weekend, once run by the City of Philadelphia, has been taken on by Philadelphia Parks and Rec (they manage the Broad Street Run as well). Communication prior to the race was a bit on the light side. People asked questions via email and Facebook, many went unanswered. I know there is a learning curve that comes along with these things but I was surprised that there wasn’t better communication, as this isn’t their first race rodeo.

The change that impacted me the most though was… they changed the half marathon course. I take issue with this because I know the old course and I really loved the old course. The new course was less through the city and more through Fairmount Park. Which, while beautiful, is very hilly.

As I am a slower runner, I lined up with the last corral. The first runners began at 7:30. My race started at 8:03. The first mile was very congested but I was feeling great and happy to be running! I noticed there was a lot of construction within this mile, which didn’t help with the squeezed feeling.

I bobbed and weaved in the first two miles but after that I found a good spot and we all spread out. I loved miles 1-5 because they were through the city and there was lots of great crowd support, which isn't necessary but something I can certainly appreciate.

Miles 6 and 7 were along across the river from Boathouse Row. Running along the river was gorgeous. I continued with my 2:1 intervals and was exactly where I wanted to be pace-wise. There was one hill there but again, I expected it because we'd run that part of the course in previous years.

From mile 7 on, it was uncharted territory for me. There was a nice stretch of road and we all continued happily along our way.

Around mile 8 we turned to go up a hill and then it felt like we never stopped going uphill. It was hill.

After hill.

After hill.

Yikes.

Eventually the hills stopped but I was so off my planned pace that I knew my goal of a huge PR was over. I decided to just try to enjoy the rest of the race and go for a smaller PR (which I accomplished!).

Finish line is always fun, especially with the announcers calling out names and welcoming the runners back home. Right after we crossed that line it was kinda of chaotic. It seemed like there were people walking around in the chute everywhere (not just runners).

I found the volunteers giving out medals, which are GORGEOUS! After that I was able to tracked down the food tent by asking other runners. In the past it there were tables in the finish chute so again, it was different than expected. I wish they had bags for us to put items in as they have in past years. It always helps a lot instead of trying to juggle and I hope they decide to add that element back.

Overall, being a repeat runner of this race, I was disappointed. I might need to take a year off from the half to reassess my feelings.

For more pictures and opinions: http://www.scootadoot.org/2016/11/21/philadelphia-half-marathon-2016-recap/

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(2016)
"Tough but fun!"
Overall
T-Shirts/SWAG
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The Cooper Norcross Run the Bridge 10k is a local race (for me) and I was looking forward to returning, as I'd run the bridge in 2012.

Packet pickup was quick and easy - I live right near the South Jersey Running Company in Mullica Hill. When you register you are able to choose your packet pickup location of choice. I was in and out of the store in less than 3 minutes, although they did offer bridge runners 20% off (I refrained but it was a challenge!).

The shirt is a long sleeved cotton t-shirt. You also receive a finisher's medal at the end of the race.

The race emails from the management were informative and they kept good communication lines, which is always appreciated! They suggested getting to the parking lots early and I did just that. Roads apparently started closing around 7am so I arrived at 6:30. Plenty of time to tailgate in my car with water and a banana and play on social media - #runnertailgating.

The race starts on the bridge and ends at Campbell's Field - I'm not sure what they're doing with the stadium now that the Riversharks are no longer playing there but it was well kept and ready to host 4,000 runners and walkers. A plus of being at the stadium was that there are real bathrooms to use prior to the race! Prior to the race they were offering coffee which I saw plenty of people taking advantage of.

The walk from the stadium to the bridge provided a warm up and there were two lines of portapotties along the way.

The race benefits the LARC school, which is a local school that benefits students with disabilities at no cost to the family. It's a great cause and one that I feel really great about supporting while participating in the race.

As the name suggests, there is a bridge involved. The Ben Franklin Bridge, specifically. Once on the bridge, there were no official corrals but they did have pace markers for people to self-seed. I placed myself in between the 11-12 minute mile, which I knew was what I would be doing for this run.

We started exactly at 8:30. I feel like there are two parts of this race. The course begins on the bridge in New Jersey, you run into Philly for the briefest of moments around a loop, and back across the bridge. The second part is through the streets of Camden, along the waterfront, near the Battleship New Jersey, and then back to the stadium. There were 3 water stations and plenty of police and volunteers throughout the route. Not many spectators but the enthusiasm of the volunteers was fantastic!

You finish on the field and immediately after get your medal. I like finishing in the stadium because everything is right there! Plenty of water, chocolate milk, snack bags, bagels, etc. There were lines galore and I wasn't exactly sure what was what so I just found one and stood in it. You can probably imagine my happiness when I found out it was the beer line! SCORE! I think this was the first year that they offered a beer at the end of this race (Yards, for those interested.)

Easy getting to my car and back home before noon! The weather was perfect and it was a great day for a race!

ETA: There were no pictures offered for purchase but the race did post a video of the finish line on their Facebook page.

For more pictures, feel free to swing by my blog post: http://www.scootadoot.org/2016/11/08/2016-cooper-norcross-run-the-bridge-10k/

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(2016)
"Flat, Fast, Fun!"
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The Atlantic City Races are always draw for me! The 10k distance is a favorite distance of mine and I've taken part of this particular race 3 times now. Last weekend was the most recent time and although the weather was dark and stormy, I still loved getting out there and running.

I live close enough that I'm able to drive to the race the same day. In recent years they've added race day packet pick up for $15, which makes sense for me rather than going to the expo the day before and paying the tolls and parking. I've very grateful for that option! Parking is discounted to $5 for race participants, which is otherwise $25 (so make sure to get the coupon at packet pick up).

The 10k race takes place on the boardwalk - running along the casinos, into Ventor City and Margate before turning around at the halfway point and coming back. The start/finish line was near Bally's this year although I've found with past experiences it has floated up or down the boardwalk, depending on which casino/hotel is hosting the event.

Bag check is quick and easy and the race is small enough that there's never much of a wait. Additionally, if it's raining (like it was at my race) you'll find many runners loitering the stairwells and casinos until the last possible minute, waiting for the race to start. It's nice to have that option!

The race started right at 9am, right after the singing of the National Anthem. The 5k had 122 male finishers and 227 female finishers, the 10k had 168 male finishers and 255 female finishers. The races start at the same time with the 5k runners peeling off at their turning point.

There's not much crowd support (especially on a rainy course) but the volunteers at the water stations are absolutely incredible. I've always found running by the ocean to be cathartic. I was nervous the boards might be a little slippery with the rain but I was careful to plant my feet.

I'm a middle to back-of-the-pack run/walker and I'm always appreciative of the enthusiasm and support that I receive along the course and after from the volunteers! This race was especially sweet because I finally broke my old PR time with a finish time of 1:10.

There are medals for the 5k/10k distance and the race village after offered a plethora of snacks (everything from bagels to bananas to clam chowder). Oh, and the best part? A flight of beer with seasonal brews!

The free race photos (also the best part!) arrived a few days later via email, along with a finisher's coupon code for the spring April Fools race.

For more information and pictures, swing by my blog post: http://www.scootadoot.org/2016/10/24/2016-ac-marathon-race-series-10k-recap/

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(2016)
"It’s Raining, It’s Pouring"
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But I wasn’t snoring! I was running 10 miles.

I've done this race a few times in the past years but the 2016 was unlike the others. This time it was all about reminding myself that I have it within me to do difficult things. I suppose we all need that reminder occasionally.

So, here are a couple of facts about my race.

My goal was to hit under 2 hours.

I did not achieve that goal.

Were it a different day, weather wise, I have no doubt that I could and would have. But it wasn’t a different day.

It rained. A LOT.

That was the disappointing part. Whomp whomp, poor me.

However, I DID HIT A PERSONAL BEST!

My best time before this year at Broad Street was back in 2013 and that was in 2:04:48. This year I finished in 2:03:35. Not too shabby!

The race is point to point, starting near Central High School and finishing right inside the Navy Yard. As such, I always park at the nearby stadiums and take the Broad Street line (free on race day with a bib). The train ride was fairly uneventful - crowded with racers headed to the start but uneventful. I can assure you that I was mostly dreading what was to come. No, not the race. But the WAITING.

Waiting for the race to start was pretty miserable. Being in the last corral on a beautiful day isn’t bad. Being in the last corral in the rain is exactly what you’d imagine. Socks and shoes quickly get soaked, you get poked by umbrellas, and you can’t really hear people when you have plastic surrounding your head.

We crossed the start like 57 minutes after the first racers began their journey. The winner finished the race before we begun!

I was blown away by the amount of support that was out there. The people of Philly really do love to love and the amount of people that lined the streets with cowbells, pots and spoons, signs, and even children doling out the high fives was still more than I’ve seen at other races on bright and sunny days. There were bands playing and the amount of people at City Hall was comparable to the other two years I’ve done this race.

Just as impressive were the volunteers who were out there getting it done like it wasn’t even raining. They cheered loudly as we came through. At mile 7ish there was a volunteer chanting “Don’t stop, get it, get it!” over and over and the enthusiasm was contagious.

It. Was. Awesome.

Not everything is going to be easy and this race was a good reminder of that fact. Attitude has much to do with success and while I didn’t hit my exact goal, I’m very proud that I got out there, ran in the rain, and gained a shiny new PR!

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(2016)
"Running and Wine? Say No More!"
Overall
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Wine and running? This seems like a no-brainer to me! Packet pick-up was at my favorite local Running Co., and the race was held practically in my backyard at Heritage Vineyard so when I heard about this unique 5 mile experience, I knew I had to be there.

The course was both road and trail running. With 600 runners at the sold-out event the field felt perfect for the course. We were able to place ourselves in the start corral and thankfully I guessed right because the first mile had little to no wiggle room as we headed around a bit of water and out to the road. As per usual, I always run my first mile straight before falling into run/walk intervals so thankfully I felt good and strong.

The course was challenging as this part of Mullica Hill does have rolling hills but I was able to take advantage of the downhill and tried to power up the inclines as much as possible. Running through the vineyard was a lot of fun too and there was only one hill toward the end of the race that was a bit on the tedious side. But hey, I'm here to tell the tale and if I survived, you can too!

The race offers free photos, which is fantastic. The photographer nabbed some good ones of us heading out and then coming back toward the finish line.

Along with the race tech t-shirt, you also get a wine tumbler at the end of the race and WINE. I went with the Jersey Blue and enjoyed time chatting after the race with friends. Some other racers clearly knew more than I did and brought snacks (we're talking sandwich and pretzel trays) and enjoyed a few hours there! That's my plan for next time!

I've already registered for 2017 and I'm already looking forward to it! Good Day For a Run events are always well organized and fun.

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