Latest reviews by Ashley Veale

(2020)
"Beautiful Race!"
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For this race I asked my mom to come with me for some fun mother-daughter time. She grabbed a hotel, I’m sorry motel for us in Marathon, which was still a drive for us on race morning, but worked out just fine.

We headed down early Saturday morning in hopes that we would have some time to explore Key West. It had been a while since either one of us visited! The drive was nice, though Florida traffic is an entity in itself so it obviously took us longer than expected.

Grabbing my bib was easy (besides a mistake on my part) and we were free to walk around and hang out. Luckily we’d been having some excellent “winter” weather and it wasn’t too hot. We had lunch at a little hole in the wall pub close to packet pick-up, drove around a bit, and then headed back to our motel. Again: traffic in Florida.

Back at our room I prepped my outfit, snacks, and myself. I was sorely under-trained for this race and it definitely showed on race day, but I was determined to make the best of it.

Getting ready to start!

A quick BibRave Pro meetup!

We arrived early to the race with plenty of time for coffee and breakfast, plus a couple of trips to the bathroom. The sun was just starting to come up as we began the race so I knew things were going to warm soon. I’d hydrated with Nuun the day before and was feeling pretty up to whatever the humidity might do.

I started off strong enough with some decent intervals. I knew I wasn’t going to push myself and didn’t really set a time goal for the race. I just wanted to not be the last person finished. Seemed like a decent goal right?

The city was beautiful as we ran down the streets and I tried to take in as many sites as possible. The buildings were all so cute and running through the neighborhoods was a great way to see all the chickens hanging out. (I mean it.)

Once we hit the beach the sun was out in full force and I was thankful I’d remembered to put on sunscreen. Water and electrolytes were available at nearly every mile along with Stinger gel for energy. I grabbed a couple, but only ate my Stinger chews while on the run.

This was a super easy and flat course and for that I was thankful. We ran on the road for the most part, but at the turnaround ended up on the sidewalk near the water. Everything seemed super organized and safe. There were a ton of volunteers directing runners and giving out water, too. For the most part I felt okay. I stopped thinking about my pace around mile six and just decided to do what my body could. By mile ten I was walking a lot and definitely struggling to finish.

I saw a friend who’d ran the 5K downtown just as I was coming into mile twelve. She’d messaged me and I managed a wave as I struggled by her. I was texting my running buddy, boyfriend, and mom at this point so I had plenty of encouragement. By that time I just ready to finish, though!

My mom was waiting at the finish line (and took a picture of half of me) coming around the corner. I grabbed my medal, a beer, and took a break before we began our touristy things.

This was a tough race for me. It’s been a long time since I’ve got into a race completely unprepared and I was definitely disappointed with myself.

Despite my own mistakes, this was an amazing race. The course was great, the view was perfect. 10/10 would recommend. Okay, the drive kind of sucks, but the rest was amazing.

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(2019)
"First Watch Sarasota Half Marathon (10K)"
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I convinced my running buddy to sign up with me and, because she's such a good friend, she did. There was, of course, the fact that we got to run over a nice sized bridge. Neither one of us are crazy about bridges. We did try to train for this race, and wanted to work in some bridge work, but our best laid plans never really work out. Life got busy and our longest training run was only a 6-miler. 

Little did we know that it would all work out just fine. 

The night before the race I was prepping to go to bed early. We'd decided to drive up to Sarasota on race morning to save a little cash and not spend too much time away from home. As I was putting the finishes touches on some classwork, Michelle texted me an updated from the race's official Facebook page saying that the half marathon had been...cancelled. 

Well, that put a wrench in our plans! 

Some further updates stated that the half marathon and relay had been cancelled, but runners were still welcome to run the 10K, though it was going to end up being a pretty pricey 10K for some.

We decided to just go with our original plan and do the 10K, so I got up at about 3AM and headed to meet Michelle. The drive is a little over and hour and we got there with plenty of time to get our packets and hang out awhile without feeling rushed. There were still a lot of people there and I was grateful that so many still wanted to run! We didn't get a lot of details about why the half was cancelled, and I know there were people wondering because I was one of them!

I ran into another BibRave Pro at the start and we took a picture and chatted for a bit before the race started. We'd decided to do intervals because that's what we were comfortable with. It was obviously still dark when we started, but you could definitely tell that the course was going to be a great one. As a native Floridian, I absolutely love the ocean view, even when I'm running a race I can't help but stop and look at it sometimes. 

We started off pretty strong for girls who hadn't run in a few weeks and were feeling good despite the early morning heat. Once we reached the John Ringling Bridge, things...were still okay? We did a bit of walking up the bridge, but coasted down easily (of course). That was the biggest thing we were worried about and it turned out to be pretty fun! Expect on the way back when our legs were feeling a little like jelly. 

As the sun came up, that view started to get to me and I had to stop and snap a few pictures. You can never have too many sunrise-over-the-water pictures, in my opinion. 

The rest of the race went well, and we even made a few friends on the course. We met another Skirt Sports ambassador and laughed with a few runners about how we didn't have to run a half marathon and how everyone who signed up for the half and relay got a FULL REFUND! 

Once we crossed the finish line we stopped for some pictures on the water and then headed to grab some food. Since First Watch sponsored, I knew there would be some goodness waiting for us and they did not disappoint. We met up with the other pros and took a few more pictures before taking a visit to the beer garden because runners drink beer at 9AM, obviously.  

All in all, it was a good race. I know there will still be a lot of speculation about the cancellation, but offering a refund to runners is a big deal. I feel like it was handled very well. I'd love to revisit this race again. 

Maybe next time I'll actually earn that half marathon medal. 

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(2019)
"Beautiful Race!"
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This was my first time running the 305 Half and it was a great experience! I signed up with BibRave as a local runner from the west coast of Florida and talked my friend Mer into running it with me, too!
I had kind of been training for this race, even running a different race at a longer distance in preparation the week before, so I felt pretty good about it.

Mer and I got up Disney race early on Saturday morning to go to packet pickup, which was a no-fuss easy type of experience. Parking, on the other hand, was not. We found a nearby parking garage with a flat of FIFTY DOLLARS, but we were already in. We had plenty of time to take our things back to the car, hit the bathrooms, and try to fuel up before the race.

The race had corrals lined up by time, so we find a nice comfy spot in the back to start in and went from there.

Everything on this race went smoothly and I had no complaints! I think it would have great it more spectators were out on the course, but other than that the scenery was beautiful!

Every aid/water stationed was well equipped and there were bathrooms at each one, which is always a plus for me! The local police department was at every major intersection, blocking traffic for us and it really felt like the whole race was very well organized and put together.

One of the huge things I took away this was that the race director and organizers know how to make runners happy! When we got the email about receiving temporary medals because of a shipping mix up I was skeptical. Though the medals were not race quality, you could definitely tell that they worked hard to make it work for runners. The Starbucks gift card was also a nice touch along with free race photos on Athlinks!

I'd definitely put this race on my list again.

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(2018)
"Beautiful Course"
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The Turtle Trot is one of my favorite races to do because it celebrates the beauty of Florida. I love the trail. It's easy to run and, like I said, it's beautiful. There's no expo or real "swag" with this race since it's put on by a little group called The Friends of Lovers Key. All proceeds go to keep the park intact, so I don't mind that there's no swag. There weren't as many water stations this year, which was a little disheartening. It was pretty hot out, especially for an early May race.

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(2018)
"All About the Fun"
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Disney races are some of my absolute favorite. I love that the Princess Weekend is centered around women and you get to celebrate those strong women for all three races. I only ran the half marathon, but it was a lot of fun. The Expo is always top-notch, though the swag was a little less that it had been in years past.

I love running through the parks and seeing all of the people there. Even if they aren't actually there cheering for you, they are still cheering! Unless they are just park goers who had no idea there was a race. Then they are just looking at you being all sweaty and weird. Running is such a fun sport because there are so many different levels of it, but everyone is still very encouraging. One of my favorite things about Disney races is seeing everyone’s running outfits and just the joy (really) of running through Disney. I will always recommend a Disney race to people just because it’s such a huge event and it’s always a lot of fun.

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