Latest reviews by Zenaida Arroyo
I am very happy to have participated in this virtual challenge. With no races to train for, this challenge motivated me to get up and out the door every morning.
The California Coast 500 Virtual Challenge offered three race challenges - to run 100, 250, 400 or 500 virtual miles this summer from LA’s Santa Monica Pier to San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge along California’s idyllic Highway One. The time frame was 3 months (June 8 to September 7) to complete the challenge. I signed up for 250 miles which is about 84 miles each month.
The California Coast 500 Virtual Challenge was a fun and great virtual race. Let me tell you why:
✅ Weekly emails from the race organizers. Each email came with digital badges and mini challenges to win prizes (i.e. log 24 total miles from Monday 6/29 to Sunday 7/5 or log 50 miles during Week 9 of the California Coast 500). I didn’t win but it was still fun to enter to win a prize.
✅ Motivation from my BibRave Pro friends! I am in awe of those that selected to run 500 miles and finished way before I did.
✅ Thanks to the team at PWR Lab, there was an interactive map to keep track of the mileage. It was fun seeing how far along everyone was on the route.
I loved the constant communication from the race organizers. Anything we needed to know about the race was included in the weekly emails.
Thank for the great opportunity because I loved it!
I signed up for this race in January and was looking forward to it all year. t was my 73rd half marathon. It was also state #42 in my goal to run a half marathon in each state.
I left Saturday morning and arrived in Detroit at 1:00. Once there I took an Uber to the hotel to check in and left for the expo. I stayed at the Rivertown Inn and Suites on Jefferson and Rivard. It was an OK place to stay. What I liked about it is that the expo and start line were less than a mile away.
The expo was fun with lots of vendors. I signed up for the International race so I had to show my passport in order to get my bib.
Race morning I woke up tired. My neighbors next door were loud and it took me a while to go to sleep. I got ready and made some UCAN gel for before the race and during the race. Then I went to the lobby because the clerk told me when I checked in on Saturday that there would be breakfast for the runners. I ate a waffle as big as my face with coffee. I walked with another girl to the start line while eating my UCAN. It took us about 15 minutes to get there.
One bathroom break and it was time to run. I was happy and excited. I almost skipped the race because my left foot had been bothering me so much that it hurt to walk. I blamed it on my inserts. I have two different pairs – one in my shoes for running and another in the ones for running. I switched them and hoped that I made the right decision.
The race began at 7am. It was dark. I didn’t worry about it too much and concentrated on my run. I was feeling good. The beginning of the race was in downtown Detroit. I couldn’t really see my watch but knew that I was going faster than I was supposed to. Still I kept running. I was determined to enjoy and finish the race no matter what.
Then came the incline to the Ambassador Bridge. It was long. I was beginning to feel tired. I stopped to take a few pictures because the view was gorgeous.
Running in Canada was so much fun! Lots of spectators cheering for us. I was running in Windsor, Canada while on the left was the Detroit River and left to it was Detroit. How awesome is that?!?!
My foot began to bother me. My longest training run was 6 miles so I was beginning to feel more tired. I didn’t want to remember this race as one in which I was in pain. Instead, I wanted to remember it as the race where I ran in two different countries. I soaked it all in. The weather was perfect and I loved seeing the Canadians cheering for us. So I kept going.
My time in Canada was coming to an end as I entered the Detroit-Windsor Tunnel which is under the Detroit River. Someone warned me that it would be hot in there. It wasn’t too hot but I did warm up a little bit.
I ran and walked the last 4 miles. We were back downtown and I remember thinking that I was going be done soon. I could see more people lined up on the sidewalk. I could hear the announcer and knew I was close to the finish line. I kept running till I finally finished.
I enjoyed this race and would love to do it again. And this time hopefully not be dealing with an injury. It took me a few days to recover from the race but I don’t regret running it. My quads hurt a lot. I felt like I had run a marathon. The weather was perfect, there were a lot of water stations (there were signs letting you know how far the next water station was), and the volunteers were wonderful. Every runner also gets free race photos (low resolution but still free). Oh and the best part was running in CANADA!!!!
The swag bag had a long sleeve shirt, a pair of gloves, and a race wrap.
I am pleased with how I did. I enjoyed the race and finished it. That is all I wanted. Oh, and I got mostly positive splits. Isn’t that the way to do it? 🙂 And yes I did run with my passport and no a border patrol agent didn’t stop me to check it.
If you are planning to do this race, I hope I convinced you to do it. Save the date as next year it will be on October 18. There is also a marathon if you want to run more than 13.1 miles.
I had heard so many great things about the Missoula Marathon that when the opportunity came up to run on behalf of BibRave, I immediately signed up. Also, by completing this race I would cross off another state off my list.
The Missoula Airport is small and flights are expensive. I paid about $600 for mine from Chicago.
Unfortunately, it was a quick trip from Saturday-Sunday. I stayed at the Hilton Garden Inn Missoula and they had a complimentary airport shuttle so as soon as I got my luggage, I called the hotel and there was a van waiting for me in about 10 minutes.
My flight arrived early and luckily a room was available for me. I went to the expo at Caras Park to get my bib. There were a few vendors but I did not buy anything. Well I did buy a small bag of donuts.
Then I tracked down a friend of mine and met up with him and a few others at Big Sky Brewing Co (they were one of the race sponsors). I had a flight (they were all delicious) and then went to dinner at Kobe Seafood and Steak. Then we parted ways since we had to wake up early the next day.
Sunday morning I got up at 4am. A friend of mine, Rebecca, was also running and she said her boyfriend could pick me up at 4:40am and take us both to the shuttle bus. There is no drop off at the half marathon start so you have to take the shuttle bus. We didn’t wait long for a bus and soon we were on our way. It was about a 15 minute bus ride to the start line. It was chilly but not cold. I knew it would warm up later. There were plenty of port-a-potties and I must have used them about 4 times before the race.
There were no corrals but I lined up close to the start line. I don’t remember hearing the National Anthem but soon it was time to start running. Sure enough by then it had warmed up a little bit. It was definitely perfect running weather.
The course is gorgeous! You run through the country side and along the river. I saw cows and horses. The course is flat with some downhills. The views were spectacular. About a mile into the race I saw the 2:20 group and ran with them for about 2 miles. I was feeling good but then took a break and then couldn’t catch up to them.
I kept running but eventually I was tired. My left leg began hurting. I also felt some discomfort in the bottom of my left foot. I was frustrated because I had trained for this race (and did really good). For about 2 months on Saturday mornings I ran the hills at The Arboretum to get ready for this race. I knew it wasn’t a hilly course but figured training on hills still wouldn’t hurt. I couldn’t understand why I was struggling. I decided then to just keep running and enjoy the race. There were water stations about every 2 miles. The volunteers were wonderful in motivating us.
By mile 9 I was done with the race. I was tired and sore. By this time I was focusing on each mile and each one was slower than the previous one. I saw the 2:30 group but had no desire to run with them. It was sunny but I never felt very hot. I did sweat a lot though.
I saw a group of spectators with a table outside their house full of various adult drinks. Mimosa? Sure, why not? At about mile 10.5 is when the first marathon runner passed me. He was flying!!
With less than a mile to go I asked someone how much longer I had and he told me less than 1/2 mile. At that moment even 1/2 mile seemed like a long time. I told myself that it really wasn’t and tried to focus on my morning runs and exactly where 1/2 mile was from my house. It helped a bit. I remember then turning left and then right and then a bridge (downhill) to the finish line. I ran as fast as I could and was finally done. I think about 5 or 6 marathons runners passed me up by the time I was done. I did not stay long because I wanted to get back to the hotel to shower, get something to eat, and head to the airport. My flight was at 12:30 and I wanted to be there by 11:30. I know I had plenty of time but I hate rushing when going to the airport.
• I should have done a better job of researching hotels because I regret selecting that hotel. It was a nice hotel but not close to Caras Park where the expo was held nor close to the Adams Event Center where the shuttle busses were to take us to the start line (it is a point-to-point course).
• Uber/Lyft is expensive. Once I figured out how much it was going to cost me to go to the expo and and come back and also to and from the Adams Event Center (this was before Rebecca asked me if I wanted a ride), I realized I should have rented a car. I checked online and of course no cars were available at the airport. I booked the first hotel I saw on the race website but I should have looked for one closer to the start line. Oh and to top it off, the hotel was $300. My friend told me that her hotel provided transportation to the Adams Event Center and mine didn't. In fact when I asked about it at the front desk, the clerk had no idea what I was talking about.
• Missoula is expensive. My flight was almost $600. I did book it at the end of May so maybe it would have been cheaper if I had booked it earlier? A few people did tell me that it is expensive to fly into and out of Missoula.
• It is a well organized race. I liked that there were plenty of water stations and volunteers. There weren’t too many spectators but the ones that were there did a wonderful job of cheering for us.
• Gear bag drop off and pick up is a breeze. There was a bit of a line at the start line, but it still moved fast. When I was done with the race I went to get my bag and one of the volunteers saw me walking towards the truck and quickly retrieved my bag.
I flew into Philadelphia and then took a shuttle to Wilmington. It was a quick drive about 20 minutes. My hotel was ready when I arrived. I stayed at the DoubleTree Hilton which is about 15 minutes from the start line. I would suggest you stay there if you run this race. The expo is also at the hotel. It was very small (I didn't buy anything) but definitely convenient to have it at the same hotel one is staying.
The race started and ended at the Tubman-Garrett Riverfront Park. The race began at 7am. There are no corrals but there are signs with different paces for you to line up prior to the start of the race.
This race is not flat. Well, for about 4 miles it was flat. Then it was all downhill and uphill. We ran in Brandywine Park and that was simply gorgeous. Lots of trees – very peaceful and relaxing.
A little after mile 6 it was up, up, and up. Beginning at mile 7.5 was the Munchkins Mile. Lots and lots of munchkins. It was here that we ran through a nice neighborhood. The houses were beautiful and I remember what seemed to be like a small park/lots of trees in the middle of the two streets.
I remember that after mile 9 someone told me that I had already run the most difficult part of the race. Then it was back to Brandywine Park (more downhill).
I almost cried when I saw the mile marker for mile 12. I was very sore and tired. The last mile was uphill for 1/2 mile and the rest downhill to mile 13.
Overall, I thought it was a great race. The weather was perfect. It was well organized. There were plenty of water stations and the volunteers were wonderful. There wasn’t a lot of crowd support, but the views made up for it. Again, Brandywine Park is gorgeous. What I did not like were the hills which left me very sore. Someone asked me if I would do it again. The answer is “yes”, but I would train on hills. 🙂
This is one of my favorite races!
I went to the expo Saturday morning. Due to another event taking place at McCormick Place, I was told to take public transportation. I just went early and luckily found parking.
I didn't stay too long as it was a very small expo. There were a few vendors and I bought a few things from Sparkly Soul and Nuun.
Race morning I drove to the train station and took the train to the race. I got there in plenty of time to use the restroom, check in my gear, and meet up with my fellow BibRave Pro friends. Then it was time to run.
The weather was great. It was supposed to rain by luckily it didn't. I wore shorts, compression socks, a long sleeve top, and my BibRave shirt. Yes, I did get hot. I also did get cold a few times probably from the sweat.
I took my time because my goal was to have fun and to finish under an hour. That is exactly what I did!
The course is mainly through downtown and I love it there. I soaked it all in because I don't get a chance to go downtown and it was nice to be able to run there.
The crowd support isn't the same as the Chicago but it was enough to motivate me. I was happy!
Overall, it is an AWESOME race and I would encourage everyone to run this race. I love the distance and the location.