Latest reviews by Shannon Chenoweth

(2016)
"Speedway, Beach and Back..."
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Daytona Beach Half Marathon is a unique race. You get to run on the Daytona Speedway, the home of the famous Daytona 500 race each year. In 2015, the race took a year off due to the Speedway getting renovated, so 2016 was the first year for runners to experience the redone venue.

The morning of the race was a COLD one, not to mention windy. Temps were in the low 40s, with a real-feel of about 35 degrees. As a Florida runner, I'm not a particular fan of cold, windy races so I wasn't looking forward to the weather conditions at all. Thankfully, myself and my two running friends stayed warm in the car until a bit before the race start. Then, we hit the restroom and got to the race start.

The race ended up starting about 10 minutes late, which wasn't horrible, well less for the cold anyway. It gave me time to meet up with some of my running group. We chatted and took a couple of pictures. Before we knew it, the National Anthem was being sung, and then the race had begun.

The race itself starts on the Speedway, and you run around most of the track before you exit onto the main road in Daytona Beach which is International Speedway Blvd. Once we got onto the road, the wind was much more intense. Since I was running with friends, we were having a good time though as we ran. We were joking about stopping mid-race for Starbucks, then the smell of freshly baked Krispy Kreme donuts...yup, you run right by a Krispy Kreme and the smell is impossible to miss. I don't even eat them and started thinking how good a hot, fresh donut would be.

About the half-way point, you get to run over a bridge. The International Speedway Boulevard Bridge crosses over the Atlantic Ocean and it does seem to go on for quite some time. Of course, the windy conditions most likely made things seem more intense. It's a beautiful view from the top, but I have to admit that I didn't check it out as much, at least on the way out.

You turn around after running for approximately a mile and a half, then go back over that bridge. While I had a good pace on the first half of the race, I did slow down around mile 8. The windy cold just got me, as I was dealing with a bit of pressure in my chest and decided it was in my best interest to take it easy. It was just myself and one of my runner friends at that point, but the two of us were more than happy to just take it easy heading back to the Speedway.

Once back over the bridge, you continue down the main Boulevard, then onto a couple of side streets before again getting back onto International Speedway and then eventually back into the Speedway. The race itself finishes on the Speedway which is pretty nice. If I wasn't so cold and having trouble feeling my fingers and toes, I know I would have enjoyed that finish a lot more. :)

Of note is that due to the windy conditions, we didn't get to do the beach portion this year. I had run this race once before in 2014, and there is a brief portion on Daytona Beach before you head back on the bridge. It's definitely the other highlight to this race after running the Speedway.

This is a race that I enjoyed doing despite the cold, crazy windy conditions. It would definitely be a much more enjoyable race if the wind wasn't so intense. I think the race does a nice job with the race and I hope the beach can come back in 2017. This is a race to do though for the Speedway IMO, it's pretty neat being able to run on it and see how steep it truly is.

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(2014)
"Great New Half Marathon!"
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2014 was the inaugural year for the Jeff Galloway 13.1 in Atlanta. Jeff Galloway is widely known throughout the running world and has one of the top marathon training programs out there. Having worked with runDisney for years, Jeff Galloway finally had his own race weekend.

I have been training with the Orlando Galloway program since 2012, so when I heard Jeff had his own race, I was excited to check it out. Atlanta is drivable from Orlando, so some of my fellow training program runner friends and I decided to make a weekend of it.

When we arrived at the expo, I was impressed with how big the space was. There wasn't a huge amount of vendors, but considering it was the inaugural year, it was a good showing. The fact that the event was smaller than a lot of other races, it became easy to navigate the expo floor and chat with all the guests and everyone. Jeff was easily accessible throughout both expo days, as well as were the other running guests (Bart Yasso, Chris Callahan and Bill Rodgers). Packet pickup was quick and smoothly easy. You got your bib number off a board and then told the volunteers who handed you a nice green JG 13.1 bag which had your bib and race shirt inside. The shirt was nice and the bag a nice perk as well. The expo vendors will definitely grow as this race does in the coming years. And, there were some set times that you could hear the guests speak.

The 13.1 race was on Sunday morning. Not being familiar with Atlanta, my friends and I learned that despite driving in for the race, we had to take the MARTA to and from the race start/finish. It's an easy transportation system to use, but does require a bit of planning for at least race morning if you aren't staying at a hotel near the starting area.

It was very cold for this Florida girl that morning, and layers were my best friend as we waited for the race to begin. Temperature was about 32 degrees at the start. If you are used to those sort of temps, it wouldn't bother you if that remains a standard race day weather forecast.

Jeff Galloway himself set off three groups of corrals at the starting line. I was in the second group which began about 2-3 minutes after the first headed out. This helped space people a bit better throughout the course. It was definitely nice to have Jeff send you out for your 13.1 journey!

The course is entertaining and was never boring. It's also pretty darn hilly. It's sort of an up and down sort of experience. Making it a fun time and running with friends really makes it enjoyable. The route Jeff and his team created is probably one of my favorites now (well, less for those hills anyway), and I really did enjoy the scenery and fun things along the way. It was also a perk to have some themed water stops such as the 26.2 with DONNA mile which was dedicated to the race which takes place in February in Jacksonville, FL.

The end of the race takes you through Piedmont Park right to the finish line. Piedmont Park is quite beautiful, and I liked running through it. Crossing the finish line, your name was called out which is always an awesome thing to hear. I was able to high-five Chris Callahan as I hit that finishing mat. He made me smile along with hearing my name.

Once you were finished, you were given your medal (which is really nice) water, a Mylar blanket, and a snack box similar to ones given out at Disney races. There were also a few options for some freebies from companies and to buy any other snacks/food.

Lastly, something that makes this race the most awesome. Mr. Jeff Galloway took photos with EACH AND EVERY RUNNER who wanted to wait in line. Yes, that means he stood there for hours for every runner who wanted a photo with him after receiving their medal. Talk about a class act! I don't know of any other race director/guest at a race who does that.

I recommend this race to anyone looking for a great race in Atlanta. Definitely run this one if you are a Galloway training program runner, you'll love it.

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(2014)
"A Great Way to Start off Thanksgiving"
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Seniors First Turkey Trot entered it's 25th year running in 2014. Track Shack, the local running store in Orlando puts on this 5k race which benefits the local Seniors First charity which works with the local Meals on Wheels and such to help senior citizens in Central Florida.

I have run the Turkey Trot for the last 3 years and enjoy it each year. It is a great way to start off Thanksgiving. Whether you run or walk, you can get out and cover 3.1 miles and burn off some calories before indulging in all the food festivities!

With over 5,000 people participating in 2014, it is definitely a crowded event. So, do keep that in mind when you come out to run or walk it. I go out to do it as a fun run, usually before I run Space Coast Half Marathon or Marathon after Thanksgiving, so I go into it just for a good time.

Many people dress up as turkeys, pilgrims, Indians, etc for the fun run. Never a dull moment on the course for sure! There is also a pie-eating contest and Gobbling contest you can enter if you love those kinds of challenges.

Check out my blog report on the 2014 race here: http://girlsgotsole.com/blog/race-report-2014-turkey-trot-5k/

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(2014)
"A "Blast" of a Race!"
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This was my 3rd time running Space Coast, my second half marathon at this race. They offer both a full marathon and a half marathon. The half marathon goes south to cover it's 13.1 route, while the full marathon first goes north, then heads over to the south side to also cover the half marathon side of the course.

The race always starts off with a shuttle launch being shown on large screens. While I can always hear the shuttle take-offs, being so far back in the crowd of runners, I can never see anything until I am hitting the starting mat. They do continue to show some space shuttle footage as you are starting the race, so you do get to see something as you are crossing.

The course is through a neighborhood with a beautiful scenic water view on the opposite side. Since the start is at 6am, the sunrise is a definite plus to see! You go out about 7 miles, then head back, as the half marathon route is an out and back.

Along the route, there are themed aid/water stations from various volunteer groups. It's always nice to see how some of them theme their stop. For example, there is a Jimmy Buffet Margaritaville water stop, and usually some Trekkers or Trekkies as well. The excitement of the volunteers is a perk that makes the race experience even more fun. There is even locals who come out with snacks and sometimes drinks (yes, beer) for the runners.

The swag for this race is really awesome. They do a long-sleeved tech shirt each year, and since they are in the midst of the Big Bang Series right now, each one features a particular space shuttle on it. This year was Challenger, next year will be Discovery and so on (last year was the first in the series, being Columbia). You also get a great finisher towel as well as your medal when you finish.

I most definitely recommend this race for anyone who especially loves the space shuttle theme of the event. It's a race I will be running for the next three years at the very least. Sign up early though, as it's sure to sell out quickly with it's growing popularity!

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(2014)
"Beautiful race in the Smoky Mountains"
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Cherokee Harvest Half Marathon was my first race outside of Florida. I was looking forward to running in the mountains, as the Blue Ridge and Smoky Mountains are my favorites. It is a small town race with beautiful scenery throughout most of the route.

Packet pickup is simply at the race site the day before the race or on race morning. Not much going on there besides getting your bib and shirt. But, I didn't go into this one expecting any sort of expo. The shirt was a long sleeve tech pull-over half zip which is great. You also got a beanie and nice drawstring bag. I'd say it's some of the better race swag I've gotten.

Race morning, I got there with enough time to park and do a restroom stop (inside an actual bathroom, not a port-o-let!). I then lined up at the start with everyone else. The group wasn't large at all, this race is definitely the smallest I've done thus far. The race announcers greeted the runners with a prayer, and the National Anthem was sung. With that, the gun went off and the race began.

I was always at the back of the pack of this race. As a slower runner who does the Galloway run/walk/run method, I'm used to being toward the back, but there's also usually people behind me as well. I put on my iPod (which I only use during races I run solo), and did my interval thing. At this point, there were still some runners around me. I was with fellow runners for I'd say more than half the race easily. It wasn't until the last 5k that I found myself toward the very back after taking a fall.

Post-race, they had quite the offerings. As a vegan, I don't tend to get much during post-race festivities, but they had some vegetarian options at Cherokee. I had an amazing brownie, which I thanked the catering crew for. It was delicious!

The medal for this race was also unique, it's made of wood, not metal like most races have. I think that makes it stand out as well, and it is fitting for the location of the race. I would say if you are looking for a smaller race, check this one out! Less for one hill (which is like a half mile long), it's actually pretty flat for North Carolina.

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