Latest reviews by Paula

(2017)
"Running Through The Wineries"
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I was extremely nervous about this race for some reason. Maybe because it was an “open course” (meaning running in the midst of traffic), maybe it was because there were less than 200 people signed up. Because of the nerves, I was unable to eat anything before the race. I couldn’t even force down a couple of Belvita biscuits which is my normal pre-race breakfast. Bad, huge, terrible mistake.

The horn blew and we were off, starting with a nice uphill climb. No worries. I got this. What goes up, must come down. I was still going along nicely amongst the farm land when we hit the first aid station at about 2.5 or 3 miles. I took a shot of Gatorade as I hadn’t eaten anything and thought it would help me. Mistake #2. I’ve discovered I can’t eat or drink anything with sugar in it while I’m running unless it’s a quick-dissolve glucose tablet, which I actually had with me. I did eventually end up with a tummyache.

Still going along nicely until about mile 7. Miles 5 to 7 were all uphill, and by the time I reached the top of the hill, I was out of gas. Normal story for me… no hill training which, on top of no fuel, equals the biggest breakdown I’ve ever had with tears and a near full-blown asthma attack. I recovered my breath after about a mile. Thankfully a fellow Half Fanatic was behind me who eventually caught up to me at mile 11 and she pulled me across the finish line.

The breakdown:

PACKET PICKUP: Short and sweet and organized. It took all of 5 minutes. The expo was at the race start line.

PARKING AND TRANSPORTATION: We parked at a school and shuttle buses took us to the race start line which was at a winery. There was no parking at the winery, but the buses were on point.

THE COURSE: It was open and you ran facing traffic on busy rural roads. This was the one downfall with the race. Drivers could care less about your safety as they showed time and time again. Cones had been knocked down that were marking the course, and there were zero policemen around to keep things in line. Extremely unnerving.

PEOPLE: Super friendly and helpful. Everyone was extremely nice at this race, great aura.

AID STATIONS: There were 3, two of which were running through different wineries where they offered water, Gatorade, and shots of wine for those who wished to partake. Probably could have used more aid stations, but I was prepared and wore my hydration vest.

POST-RACE PARTY: Great pasta and bread to be coupled with some wine tasting. When I was through with the race, I was so sick and nauseous I couldn’t even think about eating. After about 30 minutes, I forced myself to have about 5 bites of the pasta, the first food I’d had all day.

I can't blame the race for my downfalls, and if you're looking for a challenge, this race is for you! Be sure to run those hills in training, though!

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(2017)
"Ocean View with a Run"
Overall
T-Shirts/SWAG
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This is one of the most gorgeous courses I have run, but also one of the hardest for me.

The expo was pretty decent. I felt it was well organized, and there were quite a few fun booths/tables to check out. It was a small(ish) race, so there were no lines to get your bib or shirt. The shirt in and of itself was fabulous... a long sleeve made of quality material. They also offered free KT taping at the expo.

At the start line of the race there was limited parking, so the shuttle bus was recommended. Also, it was a point-to-point race, so the shuttle buses were the best option. I appreciated how they did their bag drop/check... you had the option of leaving the bag on the bus and it would get transported to the finish line, but there were also people there to collect the bags, without any hassle to the runner, right before the race started.

Portaloos were limited. However, they had sections roped off, so you knew which potties were yours to watch for depending on the queue. Kudos on their organization; I was extremely impressed.

The course itself was well marked. There were volunteers everywhere helping to guide runners in the right direction. It was well supported with an aid station every 1.5 to 2.5 miles, not to mention lots of people to cheer you on and encourage you through the tough bits.

Buyer beware though... this was a tough (paved) trail course. I felt the elevation profile on the website was just a touch misleading on the severity of the hills. Some of the hills knocked me for six and left me quite breathless, so be sure to do lots of hill training when preparing for this race... I didn't and I suffered because of it. My bad.

The post-race festivities were fabulous. There was beer, and live music, and food (although I don't know what as I couldn't even think about eating), and lovely volunteers handing out medals at the finish line and making sure you weren't in need of the emergency room.

The scenery was the best, as was the support, organization, and just about everything to do with this race. Do give it a shot if you're ever in the area... just make sure you've nailed your hill training!

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(2016)
"A Milestone Race"
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This was my seventh 13.1 overall and the final race that qualified me for Half Fanatics.

The expo was quite small, but they were well organized with handing out the bibs and shirts. Hubby (who ran the full) and I stayed at the host hotel and Jeff Galloway just so happened to be speaking that afternoon. We were so lucky to have made it in time to catch part of it. An amazing man to say the least, and we felt fortunate to be able to run a few drills under his direction.

Race day, we woke up at 3:30 for a 6 a.m. start time… we had to navigate shuttle buses after all as the race was a point-to-point. Logistics were easy… we walked across the bridge right behind the hotel and there were the shuttle buses hauling people to the start line.

Once at the start line, it was portaloo heaven! Potties were everywhere. No one had to suffer or stress. Kudos to the race director! As well, they had fireworks going off about every 6 to 7 minutes. Honestly, that was a little unnerving and unnecessary, but it was definitely entertaining.

The course was gorgeous. Farms, trees, rivers, historic neighborhoods, and basically flat. Loved every minute of it. I ran out of air at about mile 9 or 10, but that’s what happens when you train at sea level and travel to a place that has any kind of elevation.

The people and volunteers were so very nice, so friendly, so helpful. I didn’t run into one single person who wasn’t encouraging and uplifting throughout the race. I wasn’t too impressed at mile 11 when people were saying, “you’re almost there” (because I wasn’t anywhere near the finish line), but that was my emotional breakdown, not theirs, so I really appreciated their support regardless of my state of mind.

The finish line also was fabulous. For recovery food, they had a lovely quinoa salad, bananas, oranges, watermelon, frozen fruit bars, nuts, bagels, fig newtons… a great spread! At the family meetup area, all racers got a free beer and a free finisher picture, and they were selling fry bread and other things, just in case the food at the finish line didn’t quite get it done for you.

This was a fabulous race and a fabulous time, and I felt it was very well organized. Thankfully we didn’t run into even one snafu, and that’s always bonus. This race is at the very top of my favorite's list, so I highly recommend it if you’re looking to run in Montana!!

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(2015)
"Run The Heart of Boise"
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I loved this race. I would run it every year if I could.

This is a big race, consisting of a 5K, 10K, and a half, and the expo is huge. My 11-year-old son was with me, and even he found things that entertained him. There were games, giveaways, food, drink, massages... everything anyone could ask for in an expo. Lots of booths, lots of people, lots of activity. No problems with packet pickup, very well organized. I even learned how to make a most awesome slow-cooker meat.

Race start was right in front of the capitol building. I was running this with 3 other family members, so it was a celebration right from the beginning. We all ran at different paces, but that's not the point... we were still doing it together.

The scenery was gorgeous. We started off in downtown Boise, ran through a few beautiful neighborhoods of big historic houses, through the Old Idaho Penitentiary Site, across the Boise River down to the Greenbelt (which I had run previously in a training run), up through downtown Boise a different way near the capitol building, up a mother of a hill, and down on into Ann Morrison Park to finish it off. If you ever want to see the heart of a city, run a race to get a close look at the beauty. This one was fantastic.

Aid stations and support were amazing. People came out from everywhere to cheer on the runners, and the people at the aid stations were so friendly. I carry a hand-held and everyone was ready to fill up my bottle if I needed it. There is a nasty hill at mile 11 or so, and I had an entire cheerleading squad from a local high school escort and cheer me up that hill.

Post race, they had lovely little "brown bags" put together with all kinds of goodies, most importantly a bagel... but unfortunately they didn't have enough chocolate milk to hand out. Not a deal breaker, though. I can get that somewhere else, no worries, especially as I didn't hang around for long after crossing the finish line.

As I said, this was a great race. I loved the scenery, the people, and the overall atmosphere. I highly recommend it, especially if you're interested in seeing the heart of a city.

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