Latest reviews by Shannon Chenoweth

(2017)
"An Annual Winter Park Tradition"
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This year's WPRR was the 40th anniversary of the race, and the 6th time that I have run the event. It's a race that I always recommend to fellow runners, and I think it's the best 10k around the area. They also offer a 2 mile option, or you can go all in and do the Distance Dare, which is both the 10k and 2-miler.

I carpooled to the race with my weekday running buddy, Annikki since I'm not living close to Winter Park right now. We found street parking pretty easily, and were close to Park Avenue, where the race starts and finishes. Walking into the race area, I quickly spotted a number of my Orlando Galloway friends.

Once we all made the obligatory port-o-let stop, we chatted for a bit before heading over to the starting area. It's not a corral set-up per say, you just line up according to your pace. We placed ourselves before the walkers and after the 12MM sign.

Before we knew it, the gun went off and the race had begun. I opted to stick with a 30:30 interval (run to walk), as it's become my favorite. A few of my Galloway friends were with me, and we only spaced out from one another after the first half of a mile or mile.

I was keeping a nice pace, and I wondered if I could keep it up. Ended up that I went out a bit too fast, a mistake that tends to happen even still to me. LOL! But, I still felt okay, I knew I was pushing myself, but I wasn't feeling bad.

The last half though of the race got to me. Took all I had to keep pushing and it became a mental game of telling myself that it was just a 5k (the things we tell ourselves)...the bricks on the course are rough in some areas, so that doesn't help matters either. We may run on these streets every weekend, but that doesn't make them easier!

Ended up finishing with a nice time, one I'm proud of, but wasn't a 10k PR for me. This is a race that I have a complicated relationship with because of those brick roads! I love it enough though that that challenge makes me come back just about every year.

After the race, Annikki and I signed up to take advantage of the VIP access. The food in the VIP section was awesome! They had some great vegan options which I loved a lot. There really was something for everyone which doesn't tend to happen at races for post-race food, VIP or not. So, I'd recommend the VIP experience as well.

The Winter Park Road Race always has a great medal, so if it's bling you seek, you don't want to miss it! And, they tend to give out pint glasses the last couple of years as well to finishers.

My full blog review:
http://girlsgotsole.com/blog/race-recap-2017-winter-park-road-race/

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(2017)
"Disney Fun the Pacer Way"
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I ran the 2017 Princess Half Marathon as a Galloway Pacer. I was pacing the 3:15 finish time and had a great, fun race experience.

We had great weather for the race and Disney is always fun to run through. I had been wanting to do the Princess Half and was looking forward to it. With over 18,000 runners this year, the only downside is the amount of folks on the course. Just causes some bottleneck spots, but otherwise, it was great.

My favorite part of running a runDisney race is running down Main Street USA in Magic Kingdom, and then of course through the park and through Cinderella's Castle. I recall this portion being my favorite when I ran the WDW Half Marathon back in 2013.

There is a lot of fun entertainment along the course route. I enjoyed the music a lot and the green Army guy yelling at all of the runners. Definitely makes you smile!

Since I was running the race as a Pacer, I was helping other runners in my corral finish in a certain time period. Myself and my co-pacer did a 15:30 interval (run/walk/run) and kept about a 14:53 pace per mile. This felt very comfortable for me since I'm typically a 3-hour or just under that runner.

If you are a big Disney Princess fan, this a race you should run if you can. Don't run it for any sort of time, just get out there and enjoy the experience. A lot of runners dress up with tutus and that's a fun thing to see on the course. It's cool seeing all of the creativity folks have when making a race costume.

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(2016)
"A Truly Hot Race"
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This was my first Hot Chocolate race, and after hearing about this fun series, I was excited to see it come to Florida. It was the first time RAM Race, the folks that put on the Hot Chocolate races ventured all the way down south.

The expo was okay. I didn't expect much, since I just wanted to snag my packet and swag. There were a few vendors in attendance, I'd say about maybe half a dozen. The good thing about those vendors was that they all had Chocolate themed stuff, so if chocolate is your thing, you could definitely score some great stuff.
I easily picked up my bib after showing my driver's license, then headed over to get my hoodie. They had a "try-on" station if you wanted to ensure the hoodie size you asked for was a good fit, so that was nice. There was also an area to get a couple of chocolate goodies the day before the race if you were so inclined.

Race morning was pretty smooth once I parked. I was able to see a few runner friends as I did the usual port-o-let stop and then headed over to the starting corrals. I was also able to find pre-race water which is something I tend to try to snag before a race.

The race itself was HOT! The 15k started at 8:20am, which was honestly too late for Florida. By the time I crossed the starting mat, it was 8:29am according to my watch. I was in good spirits as the announcer encouraged us all and got each corral going in a fun way.

The route itself was pretty good. I did enjoy it, less for the weather conditions. I admit, I had a hard time enjoying it all because I just felt overheated. There were great water/aid stations with not only water, but Nuun and some chocolate/marshmallow goodies. I didn't partake of anything but the Nuun and water, but those two options were great, especially the Nuun.

I can definitely see this race being so much more fun and enjoyable when the weather conditions are cooler. Florida is just so weird, you never know what you're going to get! If the race director starts the race earlier in 2017, and adds more water stations, this race will really rock here in the Sunshine State!

The finishing party was great! I really did enjoy the Finisher Mug with all of the goodies inside. I loved dunking pretzels, marshmallows and the banana in the chocolate. Everything just seems better covered in chocolate! RAM Racing sure as heck has that down for sure.

Bottom line, Hot Chocolate is a chocolate runner's fun run for sure. If you love running and chocolate, you must run this race. Not to mention how awesome the swag is, a hoodie is one of the best race swag items I've ever gotten! Now, if they have frozen iced chocolate next year, well let's just say that would be amazing! I mean, you never know!

Check out my full blog review:
http://girlsgotsole.com/blog/race-recap-2016-hot-chocolate-15k/

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(2016)
"Good race with Ponce Inlet Lighthouse "
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This was the second time I've run this race, as I ran the inaugural in 2012. It's very scenic in Volusia County and the best part is the Ponce Inlet Lighthouse.

The race itself is managed pretty well. Final Mile Management runs a lot of races in the area and I've found them to be very good. Only had one issue with an aid station running out of water. Thankfully, there was water less than two miles later. (Learned later that they had water for friends behind me)

For me, this was a rough race, as I struggled in the latter miles due to the heat. The thing about Florida is, even in October, you just never know what kind of weather you're going to get. We train in some crazy humid, hot conditions, but running in them with the sun up can be pretty rough.

Like I said, I enjoy the Ponce Inlet Lighthouse portion a lot. It's the highlight of the race for me. I also like the area around that neighborhood. It's always neat seeing the different styles of homes in the area. Volusia County is pretty diverse in that area which is cool.

If you are into lighthouses, this is a race you should add to your bucket list.

Check out my full detailed race recap on my blog: http://girlsgotsole.com/blog/race-recap-2016-lighthouse-loop-half-marathon/

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(2016)
"Small hometown race"
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This race is in the small "cow-town" about 30 minutes from Orlando, known as Kissimmee. I grew up from the age of about 10 in the town, and my parents still live there, so I decided to check it out. Overall, it's extremely small. There were only about 300 participants and it's pretty loosely organized.

The race takes you around downtown Kissimmee, which is considered the historic part of town. You run down Main Street which has evolved a bit from my childhood days. It is probably the better part of the city to run in, as you get to see Lake Toho which for me was the most scenic part of the route.

The downside for me was the lack of mile markers on the course. Not one existed. Also, the restrooms were few and far between. No port-o-lets, just a small brick building with a couple of stalls in it for the ladies (not sure about the men, but I overheard guys saying it was about the same availability). Would have been nice to have had at least a few port-o-lets available as well. On the plus side, the water support on the course was very good.

If you are looking for a small town race, you will like this 5k. Especially if you are a fast runner, as it seemed easy to place in your age group when among a smaller group of runners.

You can check out my more detailed race review here: http://girlsgotsole.com/blog/race-report-kissimmee-5k/

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