Latest reviews by Amanda Lee

(2018)
"Fun race to run with friends!"
Overall
T-Shirts/SWAG
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Course Scenery
Expo Quality
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Disclaimer: I received a free entry to North Olympic Discovery Relay 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.

I got to return to the North Olympic Discovery Marathon this year and instead of the half I ran with my boyfriend as a two-person relay team!

The North Olympic Discovery Marathon Relay consists of five legs split up into varying distances between 4.2 and 6.7 miles. The marathon starts at 7 Cedars Casino and ends in downtown Port Angeles.

Expo
The expo is held at the Red Lion Hotel right by the finish line for the race. It’s small but very well organized. The downstairs ballroom is packet pickup and the upstairs has the vendors. Relay packet pickup took a bit but we were able to get all of our questions answered. In our race packet was a reusable shopping bag, our keepsake bibs, our actual time-chipped race bib attached to a race belt, the reusable gear check bags, and our long sleeve tech shirts. The tech shirt has “Marathon Relay” on it which is awesome and a sweet zip pocket!

After getting our packet we headed upstairs and look around the expo. There were some cool races in Bellingham that I am considering running in the future. We then headed to Hurricane Ridge for some sightseeing and hiking. If you have never been I highly recommend a visit. The view of the Olympics is gorgeous and it’s well worth the drive. We headed back into town and found some pasta for dinner and then headed to bed.

Race Day
We headed to the start around 6am and got the start line with plenty of time to use the bathroom and warm up. The weather at the beginning was near perfect. About 50 degrees and a bit overcast. Dan ran the first leg and he started with the marathoners. The started and I quickly hopped back into my car and headed to the first exchange.

The exchange directions were great. We had no issues navigating to each exchange. Since it was two of us we had to cool down and then drive to the next exchange by ourselves. Dan is a much faster runner than me so it was a bit easier to judge when he would be arriving at the exchanges.

The first 3 legs went quite well, I ran pretty slow since getting sick I was not in shape to run 9-10 minute miles. Around halfway through the third leg Dan wasn’t feeling great and the weather was starting to get wet and cold. After starting the hillier fourth leg I started to not feel good either.

As I finished leg 4 the rain really started to come down and I was happy I was done running. Dan wasn’t so lucky and had to finish the race is the pouring rain. I hopped in the car, changed into dry clothes and drove to the finish line. I found Dan on the trail on the last quarter of a mile and we ran together to the finish line. Even though we were some of the last people to finish the volunteers and food were still there!

Overall, I was so happy we ran the marathon relay. In the future, I would run it with 3 or more people so that waiting at the exchanges wasn’t so lonely. I would gladly go back and run the NODM Half Marathon because the course support.

Race overview:
Dan – Legs: 1, 3 & 5 –17.1 miles
Favorite leg: 1, 5 if it wasn’t raining
Favorite part of the experience: Volunteers

Amanda – Legs: 2 & 4 – 9.1 miles
Favorite leg: 4
Favorite part of the experience: Race swag and volunteers

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(2018)
"New course is ok, miss the old one!"
Overall
T-Shirts/SWAG
Aid Stations
Course Scenery
Expo Quality
Elevation Difficulty
Parking/Access
Race Management

Disclaimer: I received a free entry to Rock N Roll Seattle 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!

This was not my best race. After getting sick, finishing a new job and then starting a new one, training was not a top priority for me. Instead of running the full, I had to run the half because I was not feeling well going into race day.
Expo:
I left work a bit early and arrived at the expo around 5:30pm. When I got to CenturyLink Event Center there was no one there. I am not joking, there was no one at bib check in or waiting in line. I got my bib in five minutes and then headed over to the Brooks merchandise. Most of it was the same as San Francisco so I headed into the Expo. Said hi to my local Fleet Feet who were manning the On Running and Trigger Point Performance booths, then searched for more free swag. I got a sweet Toyota waterproof bag, some sunglasses from Visit Seattle and free hummus. I spent a little less than an hour at the expo.
Race Day
The race course was different from previous years which meant a very early wake up call for me. My boyfriend drove me to the start line but we had many issues. First, Rock N Roll did not give clear road closure times, so driving from Ballard and taking a left toward Seattle Center was impossible. We were told multiple times we couldn’t drive over Queen Anne because of closures even though they were posted as 6am or the map was not updated. So, after finally making it to the Uptown neighborhood and finding a free spot (score!) we made it to the start line.

The wave start was really nice and it made it much easier to start than in years past! The new course started at Seattle Center we ran around Queen Anne along Lake Union, into Capitol Hill and on to Mercer to finish back at Seattle Center.

As the miles went on the course got hillier and hillier. Around mile 8 I realized we were in for a lot of hills as we made our way into Capitol Hill. I was in a lot of pain an ended up run/walking the rest of the miles. The super steep “King of the Hill” section was not necessary at all. Not only was it painful but I almost tripped over people who would stop mid hike up it. After that Interlaken felt extremely difficult.

When we turned onto Mercer I was super happy until I was told to run next to an oncoming traffic lane. I was really tired and was concerned that I would clip a car as we veered off onto 6th Avenue. Let’s just say I was very happy to see the finish line!
The finish chute was standard, the medal this year was great! I found my boyfriend quickly and we headed out to get brunch.

My recommendation to Rock N Roll is to use last year’s course or to take out all of the hills. I know Seattle is hilly but it doesn’t need to be hills on hills on hills. I would also love to have more entertainment . There wasn’t a lot out there this year.

If you want to run this race, wait until they release the course. I would not run this course again. But if you live in the Greater Seattle Area, I do recommend running this race since it’s almost always perfect running weather.

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(2018)
"Beautiful and hard race, worth adding to your bucket list!"
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Disclaimer: I received a free entry to 2018 Big Sur 21 Miler as part of being a BibRave Pro.

We flew into San Jose and then drove to Carmel super late on Friday. We managed to wake up early enough to make it to the expo by 9:30am on Saturday. Bib pickup was super quick and even though there was a sign saying no transfer and all distances sold out, my boyfriend was able to register for the 5k! We went back to the expo hall and got our shirts and gear bags. I love the shirt I got, the heather purple is great! The 5k shirt was a super soft cotton, by boyfriend will definitely wear it.

The expo is small but there was plenty to do. Hoka One One had a huge booth and I learned more about shoes and what I should try next. The local lululemon was there screenprinting shirts. I love mine and it was worth the wait! The Big Sur merchandise was awesome. I got a custom BOCO Gear beanie, socks, and an enamel pin. I will say all the volunteers at the expo were stellar. During bib pick up they gave us directions and advice on where to park on race day, which was super helpful.

Race Day
The buses were a bit disorganized, they finally arrived at 4:25am and we took off. My bus along with a few others passed the 21 Miler start line and kept going to Big Sur. This was terrifying since none of us on the bus had cell phone reception and kept telling the driver to turn around and go back. We finally made it to the start around 5:40am. Luckily for me there was no line for the port-a-potties and I grabbed a cup of coffee to stay warm.  Thankfully, we started right at 6:30am and had to walk up a steep hill before we reached the timing mat. The weather was perfect, 55 degrees and overcast. I was still a bit cold but we started running up a hill right from the start so I warmed up pretty quick.

The first five miles were long rolling hills that had amazing views of the coast. I was feeling good and knew that Hurricane Point was coming up and needed to save energy. The view leading up to Hurricane Point was gorgeous! Even though the next 2.5 miles of hill were visible in the distance, the view was well worth it for the run downhill into the valley.

There were taiko drummers at the base of the climb which was great entertainment and kept me going into the first part of the climb. Another fun feature of was the mile markers. Every mile of Big Sur has a cartoon mile marker and the ones up Hurricane Point here funny. "Hang in there" was the theme of the three and they made me laugh and take my mind off the hill. About a half mile from the top I was passed by a bunch of official marathon vehicles and then the lead pack of marathoners. Major props to them for racing one very hilly course.

Running downhill after the 2.5 miles of Hurricane Point felt amazing and the view of Bixby Bridge was also a welcome sight. The Piano Player right after the bridge is the halfway mark of the full marathon which mean there were 13.1 long miles ahead of me. I took a few photos and kept my run/walk going up and down the 'rolling hills'.

The Carmel Highlands are beautiful! I was not bored at all run/walking the last 4 miles and there were plenty of locals and volunteers cheering too. There was a local group that every year gives out fresh strawberries around mile 24 of the marathon and that was the fuel I needed to finish the race.

The last big hill is at mile 25 and this year Hoka One One had their huge arch up and pump-up music blasting. A few of the Big Sur International Marathon employees were out cheering and saying congrats to all of the runners. Even though Monastery Beach was beautiful - that last hill sucked. I was so happy to see the last downhill and the finish line even though I was barely running at the finish.

Post-Race

The finish chute was very organized, I was not a huge of the Marathonfoto photographers who kept pulling me aside for a photo. If anything it made it harder for me to enjoy all of the amazing volunteers and food at the finish line. The post-race food was perfect- local produce, a cookie (it was AMAZING!), chips, Dole juice, gummy bears and a banana. I was given a heat sheet and finally found my boyfriend and was ready for a shower.

After a shower, we explored Monterrey. Grabbed brunch at Alvarado Street Brewery and walked around cannery row. I was happy I could walk even though my quads and calves were very unhappy. I did survive the car ride back to San Jose and the flight home to Seattle.

I am not going to lie - Big Sur 21 Miler was the hardest race I've ever run. The views and the volunteers made every mile worth it. If you've never run in Northern California and are looking for a bucket list race, Big Sur is well worth it. Both Carmel and Monterrey are beautiful and are worth the visit.

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(2018)
"Fun race for a weekend getaway"
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Expo
There was a small line but once the doors opened it took us less than five minutes to get our bibs. Right after bib and t-shirt pickup there was the official merchandise section.  One of the coolest things Rock 'N' Roll does is put participant names on the shirt. There was a life-size banner where you could find your name which was fun.

The rest of the expo was small but it made it a lot more manageable. Toyota was there and was giving away a portable battery to Toyota owners and you could play games for more prizes. I played against Jeannine in a run in place challenge. There was a how much can you fit into corolla game too. The title sponsor United Airlines was giving away headbands/neck warmers and free Illy espresso. Illy espresso is now served on all United Airlines flights. We stopped by St. Jude, Rock 'N' Roll, a few other booths before we headed out for a full day of sight seeing in San Francisco. 

Race Day
After an early wake up call we got a Lyft to the start line. It was freezing, I should have brought throwaway clothing with me. We found my friend Kristie and then headed into Pier 39 to stay warm and out of the wind. The race however did not start on time. We waited at least 10-15 minutes before we started, they never specified what was the delay.

The race course was an abbreviated out and back starting at Pier 39 and ending at Ghirardelli Square with the turnaround at the end of the Golden Gate Bridge. In total we run about 4 miles on the Golden Gate Bridge, 4 miles on city streets, and the rest on the paved tails of the Presidio.

Once we were off we ran along the water and up a few hills to get to the Presidio. Coming from Seattle the hills were steep but nothing I wasn't used to. The weather was a bit chilly until we hit mile 4. Once we got onto the bridge the weather cleared and it was BEAUTIFUL! Since we weren't running for time we stopped and took photos along the bridge and I am so happy we did. Running the downhill turnaround was fun since it was trail with a huge hill. I ended up hiking it to save my energy for the last few hills we had left. I will say, we did not run on the actual car lanes, we ran on the pedestrian/bike path that was quite narrow. There were a few points where I did run into other runners and it wasn't avoidable. But the views were well worth the narrow course.

After the bridge we turned onto the Presidio paths and got up close and personal with the waves which was fun. It was a bit boring running along the path since the Golden Gate Bridge was behind us so there wasn't much view.  I started to not feel so great around mile 11 even though I ate almost all of my fuel. With Kristie's help I was able to persevere and getup the hill near Fort Mason at mile 12.5 and then down a hill to the finish.

Post-Race
The finishers chute was short and highly organized. I was able to get my medal, water, electrolytes and Ghirardelli chocolate quickly. Where the finish line was located made it easy for us call and Lyft.

Overall, this was a great race weekend. If you haven't been to San Francisco or it's been a while since your last visit, it is well worth a trip. Rock 'N' Roll puts on a great race that's well worth it!

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(2017)
"Small fast course for fast runners"
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This past weekend I ran the Seattle Craft Classic Half Marathon. Overall, I had an enjoyable time and the race day weather held up.

Expo
I got my bib on Friday at Road Runner Sports Seattle in the Green Lake Neighborhood. There was no real expo just a few tables set up for packet pickup and an Adidas sales rep who was showing off the new Boost shoes. Road Runner Sports did give out a 25% off coupon for VIPs to use right there in the store. I didn’t end up buying anything but it was a nice they gave those out. The swag was great- there were mens and womens specific shirts, and a Red Hook pint glass. The bib was pretty cool minus for the large typo on the date, but I do like how the bib was customized for Woodinville.

Race Day

Getting to the race was pretty was easy. My boyfriend drove me to Redmond. There was a lot of free parking and once we found the start line there plenty of port-a-potties. I ended up getting a coffee at a café across the street in an attempt to stay warm. The weather was a bit chilly before the start. I walked over 15 minutes before and was surprised by how few people were racing. There was also a 5k that started and ended at the old Red Hook Brewery.

I found the 2:15 pacers before the start and figured I would ty to stay with them and make this race my long run. We started right on time and headed out onto the Sammamish River Trail. As we started running I realized the pacer was running fast for the first couple miles of the race. At mile 3 I looked at my watch and realized I needed to tone it back to stay with in a 2:15 to 2:20 half marathon pace.

The weather did not get too hot as the miles went on which was great! I love running in early fall in Washington. You can still wear shorts and a tank and not overheat. At mile 8 I started to feel a little off and I think it was from starting off fast the first few miles. The volunteers at the water stops were FABULOUS! They made sure everyone in the race got water and cheered as we passed. At mile 10 I was not happy and was ready for the race to be over, I was very happy to see the last water stop which mean there was less than a half mile to the finish.

The course is an open public running and cycling path. It is a super highway on Sunday mornings. I was anticipating some traffic but at times I did feel very uncomfortable, having a few close calls with cyclists. I feel like there should have been signs up warning the public that the event was happening so that everyone was aware of what was going on. The race did do a good job of putting out signs for the participants warning them to stay right before narrow parts of the course. The last 100 yards or so of course were shared with runners and spectators headed back to their cars. It was narrow and honestly frustrating for me because I was ready for my race to be done and did not want to doge people on the path.

I will say the free beer and socks at the end did help me feel a bit better after not having the best run ever.

Race Communication

There were many small oversights when it came to this race but I am happy Craft Classic and Orca Running emailed participants when it major events occurred. The first was the bib typo- they did email late Friday afternoon to apologize for the typo which was very gracious of them. The second was the finisher medal. There were no finisher medals given out at the end of the races. They received the wrong shipment of medals the Friday before the race. They said at the race and in an email that all finishers would receive a medal within 10 business days. When I get my medal, I will update this post!

Seattle Craft Classic Half Marathon was pretty good. If you want to run a fast and flat half marathon and don’t mind a shared course I would run this race for your next PR attempt.

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