Latest reviews by Jane
Disclaimer: I received a complementary entry to the Runner's World Half-Marathon & Festival to review as a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro ambassador, and check BibRave.com to review, find and write race reviews!
I signed up for this races months ago as I had entry into the "Hat Trick" aka the 5k, 10k and half-marathon. Back in April, I already had hotel and race confirmation for this race. Luckily, I got some friends to sign up too. I have wanted to do this race for years!
Because of all the NYC traffic Friday evening, we didn't get into Bethlehem, PA until 9ish, well after the expo closed. It took almost 5 hours to get to Bethlehem (even though its supposed to be a 2 hour trip!). So I ended up picking up my bib and swag the next morning, right before the 5k.
5k - 8am start
10k - 9:30am start
dog race! - 11:30am start
seminars - 12pm to 5pm
half-marathon eve dinner - 5:45pm or 7:15pm
So the SteelStacks is an amazing venue that is primarily used for concerts and events. It is the perfect place for this type of event.
Our hotel was about 15 minutes from SteelStacks so we got there around 7:20am and had plenty of time to use the bathroom (SO MANY BATHROOMS INDOORS!) and pick up the swag and bibs.
The swag was awesome. The hat, an amazing Headsweats one, was perfect because it was freaking cold. Plus the hat had the pony tail cut in the back. The shirt was a women's cut and matched my very yellow shoes.
At the start, there were paces listed (7mins, 7:30, etc.). I think I got in the 10 minute pace. The 5k started right on time with Deena Kastor high-fiving runners as we ran by. It was really chilly (like 40something degrees). They weren't kidding with this course - it was hilly. Within a mile we were already climbing a bridge then another steep hill afterwards.
After the 5K, I ate a banana, got my medal and went back inside. I actually had time to kill so I sat in the very warm building until 9:25am. The expo was already open so we walked around a bit before going back outside.
The 10K also started right on time on the same start line. The course was similar to the 5k, still hilly but not quite as bad from what I remember. Both the 10k and 5k provided amazing views of the city while running. I mean it is beautiful!
After stretching, eating (bananas, water, bagels, cookies from Subway, etc.), and getting coffee, we went to hangout with the dogs!
The dogs and their humans ran a one mile course which was 2 laps of the same portion of the 5k & 10k finish line.
After watching the dog race, we signed up for the nutrition seminar and we went to the seminar...with beer and popcorn on hand. The beer was not mine but I participated in the popcorn eating. We awkwardly sat up front as the presenter spoke but it was all good.
There were a ton more seminars going on that afternoon including a talk with Deena Kastor, a seminar on women's body through running, injury-free running with a physical therapist, just to name a few.
Because we were all about to fall asleep since we had been up since 7am and running, we went to the expo on the 3rd floor of the building and walked around. I got my foot wrapped at KT Tape for free for both my achilles tendonitis and plantar fasciitis issues (although I did end up buying some KT tape anyways).
Also, the bar was open for beer on the 3rd floor. So I bought my sister beer for buying me a soy latte and we all just walked around trying out different vendors. We also took some pics at the RW photo booth on the second floor.
After a much needed nap and some studying, my sister and I took off for the dinner, which was hosted by the RW editors and included an awesome chat of the founder of the "Sub-30 club" and RW writer, Ted Spiker.
After dinner, we headed back to the hotel for a good night's sleep (just kidding - we watched Bridesmaids and ate chocolate until really late haha).
Sunday - half-marathon start at 8am
We grabbed some snacks and ran out around 7:15am, which was more than enough time for my sister to drop me off and for me to run inside. Although the finish line was in the same place, the start line was much farther out from SteelStacks, not quite a mile but close. It was a little past the casino, which is right next to SteelStacks.
If anything, the race is efficient and it wasn't crowded the way it is before say a NYRR race. We started right at 8am and although there was a bit of crowding in the first mile, it soon disappeared.
The best thing about this race: the weather (a brisk 35 degrees when we started) and the sights. It is beautiful.
The worst thing = the hills. Oh the hills.
There was one hill in the first half of the race that was immediately after another hill. Like you just get up one hill turn a corner then BAM - another freaking hill.
I didn't have to use the porta-potties along the route so I don't know if there wasn't many or what not but there were a good amount of fluid stations and Clif Shot Bloks half-way through.
I can't tell you how happy I was when the race was over. I loved how beautiful the course was but the hills. THE HILLS. I will never get over those hills.
The post-race festival was awesome and included free beer (because there was no drink ticket, you could get seconds so yes I had both the white ale and lager). Post-race food included the same things as the day before: bagels, cookies, bananas, etc.
I don't usually like bands at races but the band that was performing was really good and performed a ton of throwback songs (think songs you would sing at a dive bar at 3am).
A few words come to mind but the best way to sum up this race: a race for runners put on by experienced runners.
From having heat at the beginning of the race (the SteelStacks building with a ton of bathrooms indoors) to the pasta dinner to the race swag, what stood out is that whatever pet peeve I have with other races (porta potties, long lines, crowds, etc.), you didn't find in this race. It was very clear to me by the end of the weekend that Runner's World not only can put out a great magazine but also put on an amazing race weekend.
But not only that it was definitely all runners that weekend. I can rarely turn to the person next to me and just start talking about the next race, next training run, etc. I could do that here. It was great meeting a ton of other runners at the races and at dinner.
So in conclusion - yes, I would absolutely recommend doing this race and staying and doing the whole weekend if you can. There's something for everyone - the newbies, the kids, the trail runners, the dogs, etc.
They also do awesome virtual goodie bags of discounts plus FREE post-race photos.
Immediately after we got off the train from NYC (about a 1hr, 40 minute ride) around 5:30pm on Friday, we headed to the race expo. It was impressive. I didn't have the HIGHEST of expectations just because 1) it's the first time they have put on this race and 2) I already had problems registering for this race months ago (first signs of a hot mess?). They had to call me to get me to pay since not a single computer I used allowed me to register and registration had opened back in December or January.
The race expo was at the Mid-Hudson Civic Center. It wasn't the biggest expo I've been to but it was still solid. Lots of free things - pastries from the Culinary Institute of America, free bags and snacks from other vendors. Bib pick up was relatively smooth and my sister was able to pick up her friend's bib as well.
Organizers said we should be there 90 minutes prior to the start because of traffic. We planned to all leave my house around 6am to be at Marist College at 6:15am. We ended up leaving the house around 6:30am.
Once we got to Marist, my mom dropped us off on the other side of campus since the roads were blocked. There was no traffic and we ended up walking about 15 minutes to the start.
The start was right by the Hudson River by the Marist boathouse. I forget how absolutely gorgeous the Hudson Valley is when it's not 10 degrees outside. They had a ton of tents set up and had a decent amount of port-a-potties near the start.
The race started late and the wheelchair division was supposed to start at 7:15am and all half and marathoners were to start at 7:30am. Instead everything got pushed back 15 minutes. The 5k was to start at 8am but they had a different start line.
Run time! The Race
To summarize this course in a few words: hilly, windy, shaded, beautiful and out-and-back. The race started at the Marist College boathouse and there were immediately 2 very large hills to climb. I was already exhausted after the second hill (because 1) being a woman sometimes sucks 2) I went swimming for an 1.5 hour the day before). The route took you out of campus and through some residential neighborhoods to the Rail Trail. [the walkway over the hudson like the Dutchess Rail Trail itself are both old railroads that were turned into running/biking/walking trails].
By mile 2, we were already on the rail trail. Around mile 4.5 we turned around and started running towards the walkway. Mile 7 through 10 were on the walkway which was not shaded but carried a VERY strong wind which cooled me down. It was also gorgeous. There were water stops every few miles that had not only water but also Nuun which I wasn't expecting (I feel like most races do Gatorade).
Despite the hilly course, stopping a bunch of times for water and to take pics, I actually finished faster than I did at the Brooklyn Half (a month prior and relatively much flatter)
The post-race festival was pretty nice. They had set up a huge tent where you could get more Nuun and snacks like oranges and bananas, bagels with cream cheese or butter, and some delicious salsa and bagel chips. The nice thing is that you could totally go back for seconds. We all hung out on the docks while eating seconds.
My parents kept asking how many finishers there were and I had no idea but the Poughkeepsie Journal listed out all finishers the newspaper the next morning. There were 1257 finishers for the half, 283 for the marathon, 483 finishers for the 5k, all of which is a really good turn out for a race like this.
Overall, it was a really good race with amazing views. I would totally do it again and it's a nice little trip from NYC so it's accessible for us city folk.
So I've now ran this race twice - once two years ago (the 5K) and last week the 10K. I love NYC Runs because they always provide an awesome race experience.
Roosevelt Island is a random island that really isn't part of any of the 5 boroughs physically. It's a small island in between Manhattan and Queens and running around it is about 4 miles.
Packet pick up was done at JackRabbit Sports the Friday before the race but I ended up picking up just that morning. Because the 5k started at 9:30am and the 10K at 10am, my sister and I rolled in after 9:30am. We picked up our bibs and race swag (a large mug with a mini logo of the race). The mugs looked like the company screwed up - the logo was really small. Two years ago they had these amazing large green mugs that I still use to this day.
Had I known that they don't start the race until every 5K runner finishes, I would have slept in for another half hour. The 10K didn't start until 10:20am. At that point, I was freezing. It was around 30 degrees when we started. The course consists of two laps the island. The start and finish were right by the tram station and because there was construction of the lower southern half of the island they changed the course just days before the race.
The island isn't much to look at although the mini lighthouse at mile 1-2/4-5 is cute. What is awesome is the views of the Manhattan skyline and the river along all sides of the island. The Queens side of the island is all industrial and not pretty to look at.
I think I counted 2 water stops along the race (or really four because of the 2 loops). My highlight of this race is that one it's cheaper than NYRR races by a lot and the food is better. I paid $30 for the race but I could have paid a lot less if I signed up 2 months ago. The bagel spread is amazing and from Terrace Bagels (real authentic NYC bagels unlike the stuff NYRR gets), lots of fruit to grab like grapes and apples and the hot chocolate was AMAZING. For the bagels, they had the standard cream cheeses and butters.
Overall, it's a holiday favorite with great food. NYC Runs hosts different "hot chocolate runs" in different areas of the city during the winter including Brooklyn and Riverside Park. But because this one is so close to the holidays, it's probably the most festive one (I wore my crazy Christmas compression socks).
I'm torn because this was my first marathon. I'm torn because I've come to Philly so many times for crew/rowing races in high school and college and thought it would be amazing to run next to a place that I have rowed on so many times...
I highly recommend the half marathon. That course is amazing. However, the out and back of the marathon is brutal - epically brutal. Absolutely not a fan of the second half of this race, the crowd support drops down dramatically.
I think any race where there is a half and marathon split will be painful but this was especially so. I really did love the first 13 miles but the second - never again. That being said, the energy was great at the start and the end of the race. The swag (shirt, bag, stickers) was amazing, the post race food was great (soup anyone!?). They had so many choices for post race food.
Sadly not enough bathrooms. My friends and I waited for an HOUR for the port pottys :( Not what you want to be doing when you corral is ready to start.
Definitely a must do bucket race experience for every runner.
I failed at getting in via lottery 2-3 years in a row so I finally did New York Road Runners 9+1 guaranteed entry: I did 9 races + 1 volunteer opportunity.
The expo runs from Thursday through Saturday and every resident NYC runner will say pick it up on Thursday so thats what I did. I picked up my bib in between work and school on Thursday afternoon. It was oddly packed. I never do any expo shopping but I picked up some stuff from SparklySoul and Nuun. It was bigger than last year's expo (which I volunteered at). I picked up my bib and shirt which came in a bag with a few things - most useful is the cell phone container for credit cards and IDs.
The Morning Of
Depending on start time is the time you were scheduled for the ferry from Manhattan. Logistically the start works like this: Wave (1,2,3,4) -> color (orange, blue, green) -> corral (A,B,C,D,E,F). Wave tells you your start time, color tells you where you are on the bridge (top right, top left, bottom) and corral tells you what order in your wave and color.
The sis and I were scheduled for the 8:30am ferry from Staten Island with a 10:55am start. I set my alarm for 7:10am and ended up waking up an hour earlier. I laid in bed until I had to get up then got up. We ended up leaving my apartment at 7:30 and getting to the ferry at 8am so we had time to use real bathrooms and get some heat.
We got on the 8:30am ferry and docked around 9am and hungout in the warm terminal until 9:30, got on a bus which felt like it took forever and got to the start village around 10:10am. Security was tight - it was just like airport security. The sister and I didn't do baggage so we just hungout but time went by fast. The start village was so large, it basically felt like we immediately got off the bus and got into corrals. We did get to see wave 3 start which was cool. There was free water, coffee, gatorade, bananas and bagels somewhere and we found them but there was just gatorade left.
I already planned not to take pics because nothing would capture the awesomeness of this marathon. The sister and I started together - both in the orange corral (top of the bridge). The bridge, like much of this race, was insanely windy. We lost each other after the Verrazano but we took some good pics together.
After the bridge, it seemed less crazy. The crowds of Bay Ridge were out cheering but because there are 4 waves of 3 colors - blue and orange (on the top of the bridge) with green (bottom of the bridge), the three colors had separate courses after the bridge and met up around the 5k (3.1 mile) mark, which then seemed to get crazy loud.
At this point I felt good, took it nice and slow but kept feeling this weird pulsing from my left shin and left foot. It's hard to explain but it never felt painful.
I think this was my favorite part of the course - because I live here! Between mile 7 and 8, my boyfriend caught up to me - he ran right up next to me in his jeans. Apparently I didn't hear him calling my name.
Because the roads get smaller in the Clinton Hill part (miles 8-10), the crowds seem to close in so it just seems really surreal to have all these people cheering for you.
I started to get tired around mile 10. At this point I stopped to stretch every mile since my tight calves were acting up.
I hit mile 13 and was like wow, now I can't go back....I've got to finish. My fear of not making it kinda went to the side at this point. Mile 13 and 13.1 were on the Pulaski bridge which is a "mini-bridge" but more elevation nonetheless.
OH HEY ANOTHER BRIDGE. This part from the Pulaski Bridge through Queens and up the Queensboro Bridge was painful. The wind came out of nowhere in Queens. The Queensboro's elevation didn't seem to stop and it was just long yet since we were on the bottom half of the bridge, it shielded the wind a bit. The views from both bridges were great though - Pulaski had a great view of the Manhattan skyline and so did Queensboro.
It seems that everyone loves this part of the course and it was cool but I kept thinking about the impending doom that was the Bronx (the part of the course where the crowds thin out and it gets quiet like Queensboro but there isn't great scenery). So I tried to enjoy this part but the WIND. At one point I just stopped and somehow got moved a foot over. It was just insane at this part.
Mile 19 -22
ALL THE BRIDGES! Small but they were still bridges in my book. Slowest miles ever. Plus I was counting wrong - thinking oh it's just 4 more miles when it was really 5 more.
I clearly didn't study the end of the course map correctly. I kept thinking we'd enter the park at the top of the park around 110th Street, instead we entered around 86th street. I thought the rest of the course was IN the park but didn't realize the last mile takes you out of the park again to Columbus Circle then back into the park for the finish.
I was looking at my clock and I took my sweet sweet time, so much so that the sun was starting to set. This was a weird experience for me. I've never finished a race right before sunset.
When I finished there was still light out by the time I got my awesome cape, it was dark out. I got my medal after a short walk, then got a heating blanket then got some food (which was a bit of a downgrade considering past runners said you got an awesome keepsake bag with a ton of food - there was water, gatorade, an apple, pretzels, a protein bar and some protein shake in a plastic bag which you wouldn't use again, maybe I misunderstood). The walk to the cape took forever. I couldn't believe how long it was.
NYRR puts together a logistically crazy race together so well. I mean you literally shut down NYC for this - 50,000 runners is a lot and the amount of security and cops and volunteers is enormous. It's such an amazing race. I cannot wait to do the race again next year. My quads may say otherwise especially with those hills!