Latest reviews by Logan Heinsch

(2019)
"Unforgettable First Marathon Experience"
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T-Shirts/SWAG
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Expo Quality
Elevation Difficulty
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Race management for the Chevron Houston Marathon knocked it out of the park. Pre-race communication was excellent and timely. The website include all of the information a first-time and veteran racer would need for race weekend and didn't make this information hard to find.

I traveled from Dallas and stayed two nights so parking was a bit more expensive for me but I saw that day of parking was adequate and priced anywhere from $10-20, which is on par with other races I have attended.

The expo was packed with races on Friday and all of the vendors I spoke with were very friendly. The Fleet Feet booth at the center had a wide variety of gear and brands represented and if I had brought more money with me I'd have gone broke! Packet pick-up was super easy. All I needed was my ID and the QR code sent to me the week before and I was done with that process in less than 5 minutes.

The race itself was awesome! The volunteers were abundant and very communicative before the race about where each corral was and when they closed. It was pretty chilly, low 30's, at the start of the race but a base layer under my shirt and tights under my shorts was sufficient. It was the perfect running weather. The amount of volunteers and spectators on the course blew me away. Even with a windchill in the 20's early on the crowds were nuts. Lots of great signs and plenty of high fives were to be had along the way.

The aid stations were adequately spaced throughout the course and the same can be said of medical stations and staff. The aid stations were loaded up with water, Gatorade and fuel. When I say loaded up I mean loaded up!

I came into the race having taken about 3 weeks off from running due to an Achilles injury so while I wasn't feeling great physically during the run I was never once worried that if I couldn't continue I would be in a bad place. The medical staff along the course were very attentive to the racers who appeared to need help.

On top of the race shirt I was given at check-in, I also received a finishers shirt and a very nice glass mug, which I picked up once I had my medal. I didn't expect all of that SWAG so I was very pleasantly surprised.

After the race I had a little bit of trouble warming up and was having a hard time standing. A friend, who I saw after the race flagged down a medical staff volunteer and got me back to the first aid tent. There was a perch set up inside the convention center that was looking for anyone that might need help so it was easy for them to spot my friend flagging them down. I spent quite a bit of time in the tent and I was well taken care of. They got me warm water to drink and a banana for my blood sugar. This was on top of the ones I snagged right after I finished the race. Since I was cramping up and a little shaky they had some sports massage therapists to keep my leg muscles warm and got me under a heat sheet ASAP. I can't speak highly enough of the medical staff at this race. They and the volunteers were OUTSTANDING.

The post meal hot breakfast sandwich was exactly what I needed after a long run in the cold.

The course, the weather and the people make this a great race for potential PR's and for great spectating. Highly recommend this race.

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(2018)
"A Cold and Blustery Half in April"
Overall
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The Texas Big Star Half may have taken place in Spring but it was quite the winter atmosphere.

Starting race temperature was in the low 30's and it definitely affected the turnout. I had heard from previous year's racers that this was a really fun race with a good turnout. They weren't wrong. The turnout considering the freezing temperatures was actually really good and race management did their very best to keep people smiling. Smile we did.

Lets back it up to the packet pick-up. There was no expo for this race, which I didn't necessarily mind because the race was taking place nearly 40 miles from my home and driving all the way there and spending any amount of time at an expo would've made for a really long night on race week. They did actually offer several different packet pick-up locations during the week leading up to the week, which I think was a really good way to try and cater to the racers. The race shirt is high quality and I still use it very frequently. The swag bag had some recovery tools and a very nice multi function headwear that has come in handy since the race.

Now we go back to race day. The race took place at Collin College’s Preston Ridge Campus in Frisco, TX and the parking was in lots adjacent to the start line. It was seemingly plentiful and getting in and out after the race was actually quite easy.

Pre-race stretching was lively and definitely kept people distracted from the cold and there were plentiful bathrooms near the start line. I point that out because we all know how important that is.

The course itself was not too challenging. There were a few very flat stretches and some long rolling hills as well. Once the sun came up it was actually a gorgeous day for a race. Bathrooms and aid stations were well positioned and the volunteers were working hard. Considering how difficult it was at some points to park and watch along the course there were actually ample spectators and they did a very good job making us all feel the love.

This ended up being a 13.1 race PR for me and the finisher's medal made it seem even that much sweeter.

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(2018)
"First 15K Couldn't Have Been Better"
Overall
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The Hot Chocolate Series has got it figured out.

They really do. The swag this year was a super-comfortable tech 1/4 zip-up that I have used for the majority of my cold-day runs since this race. The pure organization for packet pick-up was astounding considering the size of the races themselves. I was really impressed with the friendliness of the volunteers and the quickness with which they worked. The whole time I hung out at the expo after packet pick-up I am not sure I saw the line get longer than a couple of minutes at a time. The lines were constant but the check-in team was on top of it.

Race day ended up being quite chilly and a bit windy, which made for a bit more challenge than I was ready for but that is the danger of running a race in February. The course itself had a good mix of challenging sections and flats. I was not necessarily ready for the amount of hills on course but they were not overwhelming and wouldn't dissuade me from running this race on this course again. A good challenge is necessary sometimes!

The amount of aid stations was appropriate for this course and having Nuun be a partner was a smart choice. Nuun provides great hydration before, during and after the race. The complimentary tab given after the race was a very nice treat as I definitely needed an extra one.

The post-race treats were a favorite for myself and my kids and the volunteers handing them out, not surprisingly, we very enthusiastic and friendly. It is a nice touch to have a unique way of treating racers after they are done. Kudos to Hot Chocolate for that!

I have already thrown my name in the hat to run again next year and look forward to tackling the 15K again!

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(2017)
"Pre-Race Chaos, Post Race Bliss"
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This event was truly an adventure from beginning to end.

This was the first year that the Dallas Marathon incorporated a 5K and a 10K into their weekend and based on the race day experience I wouldn't have been able to guess that. Everything was so well run. The packet pickup for the weekend took place at the Kay Bailey Hutchinson Convention Center in Downtown Dallas not too far from the race start and finish line. I expected it to be busy as I knew this was a big race weekend. What I encountered when I arrived as truly shocking.

Imagine my surprise when I walk up the the convention center from the adjacent parking lot and find hundreds of people standing outside up and down the street outside the entrances to the convention center and a lot of emergency vehicles outside with lights flashing. Turns out there was a suspicious bag found inside one of the other halls and it forced an evacuation. After waiting outside for more than an hour the race organizers sent out messages via social media that the convention center was closed for the evening and that packet pickup would take place starting at 6am the next day. Race day.

This made me a little anxious because I was already concerned about arriving early enough to find parking close by but not so early that I'd have to stand around in the cold or sit in my car for too long. Turns out that packet pickup was very well-organized and it took no more than a couple of minutes to get all of my things.

I was left with plenty of time to store my gear and warm up before heading to my corral. The pre-race speech wasn't overly long and we were even treated to a small cameo by Shalane Flanagan, who ended up running with all of us!

It ended up being a little cold, 31 at race time, but it was a sunny day and overall it was a gorgeous morning. There were several aid and music stations along the way and aside from one decent size hill around mile 4 the course wasn't very difficult. The one issue I had was that just after this hill the 5K and 10K course intersected so things got really tight, really quickly. I had to expend a lot of energy and added a bit of distance to my race by having to weave back and forth across the street to get by all of the 5K racers. Once it thinned out again things became a lot easier to navigate and there was a decent straightaway that lead to the finish line. The volunteers did a great job with medal distribution and the snack box handed out was pretty decent. The race t-shirt that wasn't available the day before because of the convention center closure was easy to obtain at the expo and is a very nice shirt.

I ended up with a PR on this course and will want to do this again next year. The only question is whether I will want to do the 10K again or the Half.

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(2017)
"Impromptu 5K "
Overall
T-Shirts/SWAG
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Having been about 5 months into my reintroduction to running last year (apologies for selecting the incorrect race date in the race information section) I decided that I should test myself with a 5k. I didn't actually put much thought into this and registered for this race quite late. The organizers were very accommodating and despite the late entry they had everything waiting for me that date.

This race stuck out to me because it is a 5-7 minute drive from my house and the park, Katherine Rose, is a frequent weekend date for me and my family. I had run the sidewalk trails before and wanted to really test myself. When looking for a race to run I am also always on the search for the ones who support a cause. These races will catch my attention before almost all others.

I remember the registration cost being very reasonable, though it has been long enough that I can't recall the exact cost. The t-shirts provided were fairly standard but a good quality cotton. Race packet pickup was offsite but was an easy process. Racers were encouraged to dress up in things like tutus, tiaras, special t-shirts or anything w'ed be comfortable in. Adding this layer of fun in is always refreshing because it makes events more inclusive.

Katherine Rose is a very well maintained park on the edge of a wooded area and the walkway itself is also in good condition. The course is fairly flat and isn't challenging at all. It is a good course for beginner 5k racers to cut their teeth on because it doesn't stress the body out with a lot of turns/curves or elevation changes.

Awards were given for top performers in the male and female categories as well as within the age groups. These awards weren't extravagant but an iPad was offered for the winner of the Sugar ShakeOff, which was part of the post race activities that I wasn't able to stay for. This race did result in a PR for me, which was an added bonus, even though I didn't win any awards.

If you are in the DFW this is a fun, intimate event that will work well for you if you want to race but not have to worry about a huge crowd.

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