Latest reviews by Amy

(2016)
"Fun Weekend in Newport News"
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I went to Newport News as a fun girls getaway weekend with Angie and Christine. Newport News is a cute little town with LOTS of friendly people. There's also lots of historical sites nearby so there's plenty to do otherwise you can just relax for your race.

Packet pickup was super easy at the expo which was small but had a lot of running gear to browse. You could even get a massage or your gait analyzed.

Pasta party had delicious food with a nice program that included a few marathon runners. They also gave us a nice look at the programs going on for the community surrounding the races. I really enjoyed hearing and seeing about that.

Race day logistics were easy especially if you stayed at a partner hotel which by the way gave an early runner's breakfast and late checkout. There was a shuttle that picked us up and took us to the start, they were also available to take us back after however we had a friend with a car supporting us.

The course is super flat as advertised. I wasn't trying to race on this particular day but this course would be AWESOME to try for a BQ. It's point to point which I really enjoyed different scenery throughout the race. There were a few sections even on paved trails through parks which I really loved. Other sights included some historical areas, coastal areas and a college campus. The small community really comes out and are very passionate about this event. The spectators made sure they cheered for each runner. Some in the second half even had their own aid for runners which of course I took advantage of (beer, coke, fruit) :-) All the aid stations were WELL STOCKED and also more than WELL STAFFED. All the volunteers had smiles on their faces and many words of encouragement. It was really nice to go through the aid stations.

The finish is through this beautiful arch which is really quite a great way to finish. The medal was big, beautiful and heavy. We were given water and food immediately. There was even a throwaway type finisher's jacket. A cool alternative to the awkward heat sheets.

Right behind the arch is a beautiful park on the water which is where the One City Celebration happens. It was awesome with a huge stage with live music, beer, food, fun stuff for the kids, recovery stuff for runners. I was there for 2 hours waiting for my friends by myself and I had a great time. All runners received 2 tickets for 2 free beers and 1 food truck ticket. Seriously the only negative comment I have is less bud light/michelob ultra, more shock top!! HAHA Honestly, I had a great time the whole weekend, I would go back in a heartbeat.

Check out my blog post here: http://runningmarathonmom.blogspot.com/2016/03/one-city-marathon.html

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(2016)
"Family Fun!"
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Back on My Feet is an AWESOME organization who helps people combat homelessness through running. Even though I do not really have time to be a part of this group, I strongly believe in it's principles and foundation. I try to help out by donating shoes and now by being involved in this race.

Parking that morning was easy as there were probably about 2000 people which is not a ton for a race in the Art Musuem/MLK drive area. It was easy and quick to get my bib and bibs for the kids when we got there. There was an option to either not get a race shirt and pay less money or you could donate your race shirt or of course you could get a race shirt for yourself. I decided to donate mine since I definitely don't need more shirts! We also brought shoes to donate which was easy to accomplish.

There were plenty of potties for the number of people. The kids and I did not wait long. They participated in a kids dash type of race which they both really enjoyed and got cute shirts for it.

My sister Cindy ran the race with me. We both love how the course is a little different than the standard MLK course, it actually makes a turn and does the hills by the Please Touch Musuem which is also mile 10 of the Philly Marathon and Half. There was an aid station which you hit just before the turn and then again after you come back onto the drive. The volunteers were awesome and it was well stocked with fluids.
After the finish there was a tent with water, snacks and kombuca. There were also a couple different food trucks including SOFT PRETZELS!!
One of the Philadelphia Union players were there for the morning. While we were running the kids had a blast playing soccer with him and other kids in the couple of different blow up play areas. There were also a few other tents with games and giveaways.
The whole event was really well organized and we had great, fun family morning. We will definitely do this race over and over. It's for such a good cause and it's a wonderful event!

Check out more of my details and pictures here: http://runningmarathonmom.blogspot.com/2016/03/stroehmann-back-on-my-feet-5-miler.html

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(2016)
"Ice, Mud & LOTS of water!!!"
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Febapple Frozen 50 is definitely a low-key trail race. I love the logistics as it's a 10 mile loop that's actually a figure 8 so you have access to your stuff twice every 10 mile loop. This worked out perfectly for me who had no crew for the 50 miler.
It was easy to grab our runner tracking device (no bibs) and swag (lightweight jacket) upon arrival. There were staggered start times for the 50 miles, 50K, 20 miles and 10 miles distances which really helped with the bathrooms and getting our stuff.
Markings were white flour arrows which were good for most of the day however my last loop, some had started to fade due to runner traffic, tons of water on the course and also it had gottten dark. But it was my 5th loop so I pretty much knew where I was going.
There was the main aid station at the start/finish area which we hit at miles 4 & 10 of each loop and a smaller aid station at mile 7 of each loop. The both had the basics but nothing extraordinary. The first couple loops they did have soda and some PB&J sandwiches however quickly ran out of this stuff. One loop the main station was out of water. I ran my 50 miles mainly on GUs, chomps, a couple bars from the aid station and some fruit from the aid station. It was sufficient but I'm used to having some additional options at an ultra longer than 50K.
I'm a huge fan of looped courses so of course I'm biased saying that I loved this course. I thought it was very pretty (even a few waterfalls) and had lots of varying terrains and challenges along the way. There were plenty of ups/downs. I think I ended up with 7000 feet of climbing in 50 miles. There were some very rocky, rooty sections which were made even more difficult by the ice (it was February!). I did wipe out on the ice! There however were some nice non-technical parts that were very runnable which was nice to be able to make up some time as I am not so fast on technical and there is a 12 hour time limit. As the day progressed, the ice was melting and the course became super sloppy. LOTS of deep, thick mud and TONS of water EVERYWHERE! It seems like there are lots of little streams running through these trails so there definitely would have been a number of stream crossings in dry conditions however given the melting going on, there were even more. There were also a few just sections of water just running down the trail. Given this race is in February, I'm pretty sure no matter what the trail is going to be either snowy or super sloppy which is what makes this race pretty challenging.
OVerall, I had a lot of fun and I would do the race again. I know now what to expect and would pack more food in my drop bags. I also was the ONLY female finisher so I won entry into any other NJ trail series race I want, pretty sweet! :-)

Read more about my day here: http://runningmarathonmom.blogspot.com/2016/02/febapple-frozen-50.html

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(2015)
"Phun in Philly!"
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Obviously since this was my 4th Philly Marathon, it's a race I love. This year my son was old enough to participate in the kids races that take place after the Rothman 8k on Saturday. We had an absolute blast! He got a big bag full of swag, some really nice stuff and he received a real medal when he finished. There was also a photographer on course that captured some great pics of the kids. It was very well organized, with lots of thought put into it. It also coordinated perfectly with the expo as they had shuttles from the convention center to/from the kids races. So we did the kids race then hit up the expo. Philly has a nice expo with stuff for the kids to enjoy as well as lots of goodies for runners. But if you are in a hurry, you can easily be in and out of there in 5 minutes with your race stuff.

The only difference I noticed this year on race day as opposed to the last few years was increased security to get in to the race area. The Paris attacks had just occurred the weekend prior which is what I think prompted this. While it wasn't really fun to have to stand in line to get in, I understood why they were doing it and I appreciated that they were trying to keep us safe. Since this was the first time ever that there were lines to get in and lots of people that run every year are used to being able to arrive 15 minutes before the start, the race started about 10-15 minutes late, which to me was a nice thing to allow people time to get to their corrals. Unlike last year, I was able to use a potty very quickly, maybe because so many people were waiting in security lines.

Everything else about the race was great as usual. There were big crowds out cheering at all the usual spots. The aid stations were well stocked with very enthusiastic volunteers. I enjoyed a couple of beers as I ran through Manyunk. Even though I bonked after halfway and was not able to get a good time, I had a blast the second half just enjoying the scenery and the crowds, I also saw a bunch of runner friends who were also running. So as annoying as the out and back nature of the second half may be to some, it does have it's positives in the fact that you can see a lot of the other runners in the race. When I first set out on the second half, the elites were on their way back on the last few miles so it's fun to see them and cheer as they go by. Then when I started on my way back after Manyunk, I saw lots of friends that were going into Manyunk.

I am always happy with how quickly you get water and food after finishing. THE SOFT PRETZELS are AMAZING!!!!!!!!!! who doesn't love a philly soft pretzel after running a marathon?!?! Every year I always think the medals are very nice and this year they took it a step further. It was an actual bell modeled after the liberty bell that actual rings. It was very cool!!

I always enjoy my experiences at the Philly Marathon and compared to most other big city races, it's very inexpensive. I imagine it's something I will continue to do year after year.

For more on my personal story at the Philly Marathon, check out my blog:
http://runningmarathonmom.blogspot.com/2015/12/running-marathon-is-never-easy-philly.html

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(2015)
"Tough Course"
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TARC did not go the way I would have liked, as I ended up with my first DNF. The race is well organized, very friendly/helpful volunteers, well stocked aid stations and a beautiful course. It's a 25 mile loop. There is parking and camping right by the start/finish area and plenty of room to set up your gear to hit up every time you come in from a loop. My biggest problem was time. I thought the course was going to be more rolling ups/downs and some technical terrain. However in reality, it was over 3000 feet of climbing per loop and a solid 6-7 miles of very rocky, technical terrain that was a huge time waster. The cutoffs begin at 24 hours, mile 75. Overall you have 32 hours to finish 100 miles. That's 8 hours per loop which after you do one loop, it's not really enough time. My husband and I did the first loop in 6.5 hours but the second took 8 so obviously the 3rd longer and we ran out of time. It's a very tough race to finish in the allotted time, which is evidenced by the 25% finish rate.

My blog post: http://runningmarathonmom.blogspot.com/2015/11/tarc100.html

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