Latest reviews by Megan Johnston

(2015)
"Rock 'n Roll San Diego"
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This was my first year running Rock 'n Roll San Diego. I was looking forward to running through some of the classic parts of Balboa Park, which apparently is part of the old course, which bummed me out.

That aside, this race has incredible course support throughout (minus mile 11-12ish) and is truly a community affair. Neighborhood councils, cheer squads, Lips, and a countless variety of other groups rally to form cheer tunnels or aid stations and welcome you to their neck of the woods.

Course profile can be considered difficult if you're normally on entirely flat roads. Moderate hills but enough downhill to make up for the fact. A great downhill finish doesn't hurt either!

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(2015)
"OC Half Marathon 2015"
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I ran the OC Half Marathon for the first time to complete my Beach Cities Challenge quest. I also served as a pacer for the half (2:40).

I think it's first to note that this course is definitely a PR-able course - net elevation loss and a gradual downhill the entire course, save for two good inclines (miles 6 and 11). Beautiful runs through Corona del Mar, Newport, with lots of ocean and harbor views. Course support is phenomenal through neighborhoods, and wide roadways where local groups, high schools, community organizations set up and camp and cheer you on.

Parking is available at either the race start (Fashion Square Mall) or finish (OC Fairgrounds). If you park at the finish, you can catch a shuttle to the start line. If you park at the start, you need to find your own way back there after the race is over. I was lucky and had someone running the 5K (which starts/ends at the OC Fairgounds), so was dropped off at the start and had a car at the finish line.

Expo was a little smaller than I had imagined, but had all the usual Southern California stores and brands represented, so I wasn't disappointed in the quantity or quality in hindsight.

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(2015)
"Citrus Heritage Half 2015"
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I ran this race in its inaugural year in 2014 (half was new, previously only a 5/10K). I love this race for a few reasons: local, supports local running groups and students, but awesome tech tees (long sleeve!), beautiful medals and a course you can't find many other places - where else do you get to run through orange, lemon, and grapefruit groves?

I also love that you can do race morning packet pick up. They had run out of my shirt size by the time I got there, but to my suprise, they offered to take my information and MAIL ME the correct size in a few weeks once they re-ordered more. I have never, EVER had a race offer such an option, so I was truly floored.

Note that the race is partially roads, but through orange groves is trail/broken up asphalt. The first half of the 13.1 is a slow uphill, but so gradual you don't really notice until you see the elevation chart off your Garmin! The real, long hill is up to the Citrus Heritage State Park - it's not a super steep hill, but a long, long, long grade up to the top. The 5K turns around at the top of the hill too, so it's kind of a beast. The perk, though, is that once you're at the top, it's an easy coast back down, through the groves and to the straight stretches to the start.

Somewhere around Mile 8, I learned that my watch was not only caught up to the .8 I was short, but we were almost .3 miles ahead now! Um, what? After the race, Sandy found this:

This year, they also had a beer garden sponsored by local Hangar 24 and Sierra Nevada. While I pretty much don't drink beer harldy ever, and never after a race (chocolate milk, please), Hangar's Orange Wheat was de.lish.ous. Beer has never tasted so good after a half. Additionally, local Boy Scouts had a chili booth, where you could grab a bowl of hot chili, complete with all the toppings you wanted. Unique for after a race!

Overall, I was really impressed with this year's race. They definitely took it up a notch and it showed.

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(2014)
"Lexus Lace Up Riverside 5K 2014"
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A massive rainstorm the day and night before the race washed out part of the mapped course routes, which was a bummer. The new 5K course, however, was just as a nice and even more challenging, which made for a fun challenge!

All courses start in Fairmount Park and then vary in the direction they turn through Riverside. Gorgeous neighborhood, trees, and community nearby.

I ran this with my dad, so did not stay around much longer for food trucks or the beer garden, but am looking forward to tackling this race again in the near future! Medals were great, as were the photo opportunities on the podiums and play areas! It doesn't hurt I took first in my age group either. :)

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(2014)
"Inaugural Citrus Heritage Half Marathon"
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An inaugural half marathon is always an experience - sometimes bad, sometimes good. Overall, I'm pretty impressed with how this race was conducted! The 5K has been going on for years and the half used to be a 10K, but this year the Riverside Road Runners took it up to a half marathon. There's also a kids race option.

The course starts off near the Arlington Sports Park and wraps around the neighborhood. All these homes are ranch-like properties, ranch-style homes wrapped in orange groves. It smelled amazing, was so beautiful. The course alternated between roads and paved segments of the service dirt roads up and down the groves. It was kind of awesome. After the neighborhood we headed into the California Citrus State Historic Park that talks about the history of the area, how it came to be and the guy that preserved all the land (nearly 100,000 acres of orange groves!). It was neat running through the park (despite having to run straight up hill into mile 5) and seeing all the history signs. I'm going to have to come back to the park and check it out.

After the uphill into mile 5, we literally ran down this crazy super steep hill, through the groves, and back on to the road for some more winding through homes and groves. One of the prettiest courses I've seen, hands down.

All in all, for an inaugural race, this was an amazing experience. The course was gorgeous, though tough. The long sleeve tech shirts for half runners is probably one of my best-fitting tech shirts and pretty nice. Great volunteers and a wonderful race. I'd highly recommend this to anyone in the Southern California area!

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