Latest reviews by Stacey F

(2018)
"Has anyone mentioned that it's hilly?"
Overall
T-Shirts/SWAG
Aid Stations
Course Scenery
Expo Quality
Elevation Difficulty
Parking/Access
Race Management

Oh gosh! Where to start! This was my first marathon and my first race in San Francisco, so here goes:

PROS:
- The race start is well organized and didn't feel all that crowded. The lineup didn't take forever and you didn't stand for ever waiting on your wave.
- There was a lot to see and do at the expo but I'm glad I went on Friday - the crowds on Saturday looked crazy!
- The first 10 miles of the course are EXCELLENT. You start at the embarcadero, run along the waterfront (including fisherman's wharf) and past Crissy Field. Views of the bridge start around this time and this is where the hills begin! The run across the bridge was fine (I wasn't sure what to expect with the course change and using the sidewalks but it was totally fine!). Crossing under the bridge on the dirt path was SO PRETTY. Unexpected and really nice!
- The free shirt is nice and I'd actually wear it. The medal is nice too.
- There were a ton of aid stations in the back half of the course, which I really appreciated. Plenty of "unofficial" stations too manned by little kids and other groups. It kept me looking forward to something during the 17-25 mi stretch.
- So far the photos that on course photographers took look good. They had photographers fairly regularly on the entire course.
- Crowd support overall was good - the themed aid stations were fun and the biofreeze stations were definitely the most energized.

CONS:
- I'd never run a race where there are 4 races all happening on the same course at staggered times. For the first 10 miles it was mostly just marathoners so it was nice to just settle in and follow the pack, but by mile 11 or 12 the "first half" runners showed up and started mixing in. It was ok, just a little more crowded and a lot of feeling like you're to go from running with others at a solid pace to having hundreds of fast HM'ers blow past you! Then for the same to happen again once the "second half" started up. As another reviewer mentioned, you're also encountering a lot of walkers who are walking the HM courses and aren't perhaps as courteous to runners through water stops, etc.
- They promoted these electronic message stations at mile 19ish and mile 25ish... but they didn't really work all that well. The mat was supposed to trigger your messages to appear as you approached the message board. However when numerous runners cross the mat one after another it took a minute to pop up all the messages. It seemed really delayed. I only saw one of mine at one message station, and that was when it was about at my shoulder as I was running by. They need either the mat farther away or more screens. Cool idea though!
- GU was only available at 2 stations and then it was only chews and waffles. Getting either of those things open was a pain and there was a TON of dropped items for the next mile on the course. By the 2nd GU station someone had opened up a ton of them and you just reached and grabbed a handful which was genius. High five to that person!
- The last 2-3 miles are kind of the ugliest! haha. The road for most of mile 25 was in terrible condition and there wasn't much support or anything to look at. Wish they'd come up with a new route (keep it flat though!) for the last few miles.
- Communication from the race management was iffy to be honest. Very few emails to registrants. During the week before the race several emails came out, but I guess I was expecting more consistent updates, etc.
- There wasn't much on offer in the finisher's chute. Everyone got a banana, a KIND bar, a room temp bottle of water, and a chocolate milk (and a reusable bag to put it all in). At many of the RNR races they give you so much food you can barely carry it all! For a race this size, I was expecting a few more fresh options, some NUUN or Gatorade (granted, they did have the nuun tabs available in the festival area), and COLD water.
- I mentioned that the photos are nice - and they are - but the finish line pics are terrible. I guess I was wanting one that would be closer up. Instead the camera is very zoomed-out and I'm a very small part of it along with a lot of other runners.(No idea how much I could zoom in if I bought the full resolution pic)
- This was totally expected but finding even a semi-affordable hotel (or AirBNB) anywhere near the expo or the race start was impossible. I wound up spending a fortune and was still a mile away from both of those things. A doable walk for sure but it was straight up from the race finish and it took me a while to make it! That said, it was nice not to worry about getting to/from the race.

**Would I do it again?**
Maybe. Some of it was run on a pretty course but once you got past the bridge it mostly looked like any other city park and city neighborhoods. I think if I was to run another "destination race" I'd look a lot more carefully at the course scenery and also choose a hotel as close to the action as possible. It was an expensive race (and once you tack on the flight, hotel, etc it was VERY expensive). I guess for all that I wanted a knock-your-socks-off course and experience... while this was OK it wasn't amazing, you know?

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(2018)
"Muddy Run!"
Overall
T-Shirts/SWAG
Aid Stations
Course Scenery
Expo Quality
Elevation Difficulty
Parking/Access
Race Management

So this is the second year that I've run this race. It was a different experience this year for a variety of reasons including: (1) it was pouring down rain, (2) I had my dog with me, and (3) I was much more prepared and have done a TON of training this past year.

So my updated pros/cons and general thoughts:

PROs:
- As always, the folks at NRC are kind and super responsive and I enjoy chatting with them before/after the races.
- The shirt design was fun (as always) and the shirts are some of the only race shirts that I ever wear!
- As with last year, Bowie is a place I rarely drive to for a run so it's fun to have an excuse to run the trails there.
- The rain on the morning of the race turned the trails into a muddy, water-sodden mess but to me that's a pro. I love stomping through the mud and the muck! That's part of the fun, right? But it's a con too (see below).
- The trails are well marked and the course is easy to follow. Plenty of flags up and people at the one possibly confusing intersection at mile 5.

CONs:
- This is in no way the fault of the organizers (let me say that first!) but man, the people who tend to run the NRC trail races are sometimes pretty aggressive runners. Maybe all trail runners/racers in TN are, I don't know (I haven't experienced this to be the case in GA!), but the staying right on your heels and then not allowing you to pass definitely gets old. I've experienced that at just about every one of the 6-mile series runs, no matter whether I start in the middle with similarly paced runners or in the back because I have a pet with me.
- Again, no fault of the organizers, but the rain made the trails a mess. Ankle deep water in many spots and deep slippery pudding-like mud in other spots (especially in the fields near the power lines). To me, this is just part of it, but for others it meant tip-toeing back and forth across the trail and trying to walk very carefully to avoid all mud and water... I was like JUST GO! It was frustrating to have long stretches of trail where people were zig-zagging and stopping right in front of you to avoid a puddle.
- There were no race photos this year. :( On a course where it's hard to have spectators (who can be your personal paparazzi, lol) any photos are much appreciated. But none this year.
- There wasn't much (was there any??) food available after the race. For upwards of $30 registration fee a participant I'd have appreciated some bananas at least.

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(2018)
"Faster & Stronger while the Hills are still Hilly and the Sun is still Sunny"
Overall
T-Shirts/SWAG
Aid Stations
Course Scenery
Expo Quality
Elevation Difficulty
Parking/Access
Race Management

So today’s the day: the 10 mile race. I ran this same 10 mile race last June, so in a way it was nice to know what to expect for this race. I knew where the start line was (behind the post office!), I knew roughly where the 2 or 3 killer hills were, I knew roughly when we’d turn off onto a main street which would lead us back to the town and the finish line. So that was good. I also knew that last year I was melting and overheating, so I took a lot of precautions to be sure that I was hydrated (drinking a ton on Friday, sipping gatorade on the way to the race, taking salt tabs throughout the race, etc). I think all of that really helped me to feel pretty good.

The first mile of the race is congested (always). There were about 700 runners and another 300 or so running the 5K route which was the same for the first mile. That’s a lot of people to fit on small town roads! But we made it and I was happy with my first mile pace (9:30) and felt like I could hang on to that. I mean, that’s essentially my tempo pace. I can do that for 10 miles! Done it many times! Around 3 miles I stopped briefly to walk up a steep hill and to also eat a GU (with aminos!). I had a speedy mile four and in the midst of mile 5 we approached the Hill of Death. I knew it was coming and had already planned to walk it. I did (along with 99% of all of the runners I was around) and took the time to sip my water and catch my breath. Thankfully the hill was in the shade so it was a nice walk. When I got to the top I kicked back into gear and knocked out the next 2 miles. I slowed briefly in mile 7 to dig out my salt tabs and when I saw the aid station and the Mile 8 sign I knew I had some energy left in me to GO. So I did and I started my “pick off and pass” game for the next 2 miles. I was going faster than I thought I was. 8:49? 8:30? 6:49 coming into the shute?! YEP!

I wound up shaving TEN FULL MINUTES off my time from last year – which blows my mind. My garmin said I was capable of it, but I wasn’t sure. Afterwards, thinking about it, I really do feel like I owe a lot of it to the consistency of running this year AND to the hard workouts that I’ve been doing for the past 15 weeks. I guess when you run a hard 8-10 mile run twice a week most weeks it makes a race of the same distance feel like a normal training run. Who knew?! LOL.

After the race they have plenty of free food (which is nice!) but it’s a teeny tiny shame that other than 1/2 a banana and a baggie of grapes I couldn’t eat any of it. I did pile up a plate for B though – nice payment for him coming along and waiting around in the sun while I ran.

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(2018)
"Love this race!"
Overall
T-Shirts/SWAG
Aid Stations
Course Scenery
Expo Quality
Elevation Difficulty
Parking/Access
Race Management

Pros: this race is one of my favorite to run. It is a small race, generally less than 200 people, and it's held at one of my favorite state parks in Tennessee: Fall Creek Falls. The scenery is beautiful this time of year, and we have really lucked out with the weather the past couple of years as well. The race course follows the park roads for the first 8 miles and generally makes a loop around the state park. There is one out and back section across the dam and then you continue on a bicycle path back to the Inn. Through the years that the race organizers have improved the quality of the t-shirts, which are now technical long sleeve tees, and are optional. You cannot beat the price of this race - $10 without a t-shirt. The organisers always have a great selection of snacks at the aid stations as well as at the end of the race. They also have great medals for the top three finishers in each age group. I turned one for the first time this year!

Cons: there really isn't very much communication from the organisers about the race. In fact I didn't get anything at all confirming my registration or a reminder that the race was coming up. You can of course go on to the registration website and confirm your entry, which I did just to be sure! Another possible con is that this is the last year that the race will be ran on its current course. The announcers shared that the course has been recertified and now begins at a slightly different location. Still within the park though!

Verdict? I will most definitely be back in 2019 to run this race and to check out the new route. Highly recommended!

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(2018)
"Great State Park Race! "
Overall
T-Shirts/SWAG
Aid Stations
Course Scenery
Expo Quality
Elevation Difficulty
Parking/Access
Race Management

Pros:
- this race is part of the Tennessee State Parks running tour and is organized by that group.
- this year's frostbite race had only about half as many participants as they've had in previous years. I know that they recertify the course this year so I'm not sure if the turnout was lowered due to that? Regardless a smaller crowd is a pro to me!
- the course goes through Cedars of Lebanon State Park on an out-and-back stretch before leaving the park and entering into neighboring farm and residential areas. While the roads were not close to street traffic, there is so little traffic on these roads that it was not an issue at all. They also had numerous people at every intersection to ensure that there were no issues.
- the t-shirts for this race are optional but we're very cute this year. They were long sleeve technical t-shirts.
- I appreciate that the cost of this race, like all of the other running series races, is very low.
- I really love races where you can run on the entire road and really spread yourselves out. The scenery is pretty nice too. I run on these streets in this area quite a lot for my training runs and tend to enjoy seeing the trees and the open space.

Cons:
- none! Of course I wish that the weather had been warmer but that is no fault at all of the organizers.

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