Selecting a race: best and worst race experiences.

First up, workouts from last week’s Brooklyn Half “training:”

brooklyn half training

Selecting a Race

With a good chunk of races occurring in the fall (especially here in the Northeast), it’s about that time of year to pick a goal race if you haven’t already done so (like myself, whoops – I’ll get to it). Even if you’re not looking for a goal race but just a race in general, there are a few things to consider.

For me, the biggest factors affecting my race experience are:

  • Family/friends/spectators along the course
  • Course route
  • Organization (before, during, and after the race)

It’s these 3 main things that have made my past race experiences either positive or negative.

Best Race Experiences

Chicago Marathon

  • So much about this race felt EASY (not including the running, although, I did have a good day and the running felt great too).

chi marathon

  • Getting to the start line was EASY, finding my family along the course was EASY, it was EASY for my family to see me in THREE(!) different spots and barely travel a few blocks, getting my medal/food/foil was EASY, finding my family after the finish line was EASY. Chicago, you are doing it right.

Disney

runDisney

  • It’s no surprise that Disney puts on great races. Everything is so well organized and free race day transportation makes getting to and from the race simple. While the routes do travel on local highways, they also include multiple character stops and the chance to run through Disney parks before they open. Also, it’s very easy to convince people to go to Disney World so you’ll either have a running buddy or a gang of spectators just for you.

NYC Marathon (2010, 2011, 2014)

  • This race is obviously near and dear to my heart but, I promise, this race is incredible no matter where you are from.

  • It’s my local race so whenever I’m running, I have people to look for throughout all 5 boroughs. I’ve learned as a New Yorker and a 4x NYCM veteran that choosing the ferry for race day transportation is the best option if you enjoy sleeping and not being cold on Staten Island all morning. The course offers amazing views of the city and runs through so many different types of neighborhoods and let’s not forget the spectators who are ABSOLUTELY OUT OF THIS WORLD. Seriously, be prepared to get choked up multiple times during these 26.2 miles.

Worst Race Experiences

Las Vegas Half-Marathon

  • I ran this the first year it became a nighttime race and it was a fiasco from start to finish (and beyond). I’ve since heard that Rock ‘n Roll has improved upon the issues from that first year but my experience was enough to make it so I’ve never run another Rock ‘n Roll race.

vegas half

  • The corrals were not managed properly, the course was not well lit in certain areas, there was a WAIT to cross the finish line (yes, you read that correctly), there were no signs in the finish area, I couldn’t find my family or the buses for a significant amount of time post-race, and I later heard that they ran out of water and medals for those finishing later. Eek.

Philadelphia Marathon

  • The only reason I was calm during the security line nightmare at the Philly Marathon was because it wasn’t a goal race and I knew I had Nicole with me for the entire 26.2 no matter when I crossed the start line.

philadelphia marathon finisher

  • Long line story short, the security line for runners barely moved, many runners missed their start time, and when the race started, it seemed security “gave up” and just started eyeballing and patting down runners as they walked ran through to try and get to the start line.

NYC Marathon

  • Are you confused? Wasn’t this on my list of best race experiences? Well, yes… and I want to put it out there that I truly believe that the NYC Marathon is one of the greatest marathon in the world (I’m only slightly biased, right?), but that doesn’t mean there aren’t things that can’t be improved.

4:11:09 (9:35 pace) - 13 minute PR

  • NYRR has done a lot to try and improve the finish line/post-race experience but the truth is, it’s still a bit of a mess. You can help yourself out by electing to not check a bag but even then, it’s one of the worst ways to end such an overwhelmingly incredible marathon. The walk out of the park is extremely long and the ponchos aren’t handed out until the very end. In 2014, I was freezing and on the verge of tears by the time I had my poncho and was able to make my way to my family.

I’m still in the process of finding a goal race for this year (and also mulling the idea of not  having a goal race). At this stage in my running game, I find myself getting pickier when it comes to which events I choose to spend my money (and time) on. I see an intense search in my near future.

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What have been your best/worst race experiences?

Any race suggestions for me?

Visit Eventbrite for local events (remember my race day factor #1!) or to create your own event, visit Eventbrite’s Event Management page.

Happy running 🙂

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Filed under chicago marathon, half-marathon, ing nyc marathon, marathon, new york city, philadelphia marathon, previous posts, running, walt disney world marathon

Update: I’m running the Brooklyn Half (and so is my other half).

Phew, I needed that little blogging break. After Princess Weekend and moving and working and all other life mayhem, my mind just couldn’t produce anything worthwhile and I’m not a fan of posting word vomit. You’re welcome. Or not, if you like word vomit. I’m much more word vomity on Twitter if that’s your thing.

Anywho, lack of posts does not mean lack of running/workouts becauuuuuuse I’m running one of my favorite races next month, the Brooklyn Half! As usual with the BK Half, I’m not running for time and I just want to enjoy the course and my finish line beer.

newsies_brooklyn is here

And this year, I get to enjoy my finish line beer with a first time half-marathoner!

On Brooklyn Half registration day, I set my alarm so I could get in ASAP as it’s a race that typically sells out quickly (I think this year it was about 2 hours). I promptly let Justin know that I was successful and he congratulated me… and that’s it. Nothing else.

MANY DAYS LATER (or was it weeks? I don’t even know) he calmly lets me know that oh yea, he also registered to run the Brooklyn Half. WHAT?!?! WHY WAS I NOT INFORMED OF THIS IMMEDIATELY?!?!

Newsies_grounds

Needless to say, I forgave him for keeping this secret to himself because someone registering for a race is kind of like Christmas morning to me. I quickly jotted down a sketch of a 12 week training plan.

As someone who has never run more than a 5k (he ran with us in Disney!) and is prone to shin splints and ankle issues (he’s been doing ankle strengthening exercises I used back when I had PTT), I wanted to create a conservative training schedule that wouldn’t feel overwhelming and would get him to the finish line healthy.

Each week consists of the following:

  • Two shorter weekday runs
  • One weekend long run (slow increases, two cutback weeks, and a peak of 10 miles)
  • One cross-training day
  • One strength day
  • One stretching day
  • One full rest day

We each do our own thing during the week in terms of training but we’ve been running the Saturday longer runs together. I’ll be sure to post his full training schedule at the end of the cycle.

newsies_spot conlon

With just 6 weeks left until race day and the THOUGHT of spring weather (where are you, spring? come out and play, will ya?), I’m rather excited.

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Is anyone running Brooklyn for the first time?

What are some ridiculous topics I can use to torture entertain Justin during our next long run?

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Filed under half-marathon, new york city, running, schedule

Glass Slipper Challenge: Princess Half-Marathon

Alright I am FINALLY finishing up my Princess Half-Marathon weekend posts! If you’re interested: here are the 5k and 10k recaps from that weekend.

Princess Half-Marathon

My alarm went off, again, at punch-yourself-in-the-face o’clock and it was a strugglefest. With the approximate 3-4 hours of sleep I got after staying (voluntarily) at Magic Kingdom until after close, it’s no surprise that I was in a huge daze as I got ready to tackle the last 13.1 miles of the challenge. I was in such a daze that I actually left my hotel room without my bib number (whoops) and had to knock to get Justin to let me back in.

After that little mishap, I walked down to meet my cousin Mike in the lobby. Once at the start village, we relaxed a bit, stopped in the port-a-potties, and met up with Jess to walk up to the corrals. We were all placed in corral C so we were all able to start together even though Mike was running for time and Jess and I were looking to PR in ridiculousness.

Princess half 1

Again, we kept the pace extremely comfortable and stopped for photos with characters when we wanted.

Running through Main Street was magical, as always, although I did miss the Christmas lights on the castle, which give this part of the course an extra magical touch during WDW Marathon weekend. My family was in Magic Kingdom so I was able to see them as opposed to sending them shaky videos and photos like I did during January’s half and full marathons.

Princess half 2

I kept the family updated with where I was throughout the race so they’d know when to expect me coming down towards the finish line. With another 13.1 more magical miles in the book, my 3rd Disney challenge/5th Disney half/13th Disney race was complete 🙂

princess half finish

With all the magical business of the morning, we decided to make it a later day at the park and not leave for Epcot until noon. We did some hot tubbing (some people napped, I didn’t because apparently I don’t sleep in Disney) before heading out for another day in the happiest place on earth.

Epcot

Epcot is pretty much the best park for adults and there was a huge reason we chose Epcot for after all the races: booze.

epcot group

Before making our way to the World Showcase, we enjoyed the following rides/attractions:

  • Disney and Pixar Short Film Festival (So good! I could have watched a dozen more.)
  • Living with the Land
  • Spaceship Earth
  • Test Track (The. Best.)

I can’t wait for Soarin’ to reopen. When Justin and I go back (yep, my next trip is planned – gotta make use of that annual pass!), it’ll be up and ready for us to enjoy 🙂

Once at the World Showcase, I demanded pizza and sangria in Italy for lunch. No one put up much of a fight.

The pizza at Via Napoli is incredible. The “kids” table ordered 3 of the largest pies and we all laughed at ourselves because of how ridiculous we were to think we would finish this much pizza. Seven minutes later (yes, seven, Nicki has it timestamped on Snapchat), there were about 2 little pieces left. The “kids” table also ordered bottomless sangria. #noregrets

epcot drinking around the world

The rest of the day was spent being entertained by the outdoor country attractions (I love Sergio in Italy and the chair guy in France) and enjoying a few more adult beverages (cantaloupe juice and vodka from Japan, limoncello in Italy, four different kinds of champagne in France, and my favorite grapefruit beer in Germany).

epcot evening

We had dinner in Germany before watching the Illuminations fireworks at the end of the night. I was happy that we had one more half-day to spend relaxing by the pool but bummed that another Disney vacation was coming to an end.

The next day was beautiful and we spent the morning and early afternoon lounging by the pool, sipping pina coladas, and getting a nice tan to bring back to cold NYC.

Until next time, Orlando.

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Filed under disney, half-marathon, running, vacation

Glass Slipper Challenge: Enchanted 10k

With 3.1 miles and a day at Hollywood Studios under my belt, it was time for the official start of the Glass Slipper Challenge with the Enchanted 10k!

Enchanted 10k

My cousin Liz was also running the 10k so we met up in the lobby at holy-hell-it’s-early o’clock to get on the bus to the start village. Once at the start village, we had lots of time to sit down, make a stop in the port-a-potties, and meet up with my friend Jess before getting into the corrals.

As much as I typically hate 10ks, I absolutely adore the Disney 10Ks. It helps that I basically trot the entire time and aren’t pushing myself to a 10k pace, but it’s also because I truly adore Disney’s 10k course. I remember thinking during my first Dopey that I had never enjoyed this distance more.

In theory, the 10k sounds great. It’s a solid mid-distance run and you’re finished in less than an hour. Sounds wonderful, right? Wrong. In reality, racing a 10k is horrific for me. But running the 10k in Disney? Purely magical.

enchanted 10k

We kept a light and conversational pace, enjoying the scenery and character stops in Epcot, on the Boardwalk (where I saw the wonderful Alec!), and through Yacht and Beach Club.

enchanted 10k finish

9.3 weekend miles were down!

Magic Kingdom

With the early start time and a “short” race, we were up and at it pretty quickly, getting to Magic Kingdom before 10 am. Is there anything more magical than turning onto Main Street and seeing the castle up ahead? You can say yes, but you’d be wrong.

magic kingdom

I was pumped for a long and busy day in one of my favorite places on the planet.

magic kingdom 2

We enjoyed the following rides/attractions during our 12+ hours in the park:

  • It’s a Small World
  • Peter Pan’s Flight
  • Seven Dwarfs Mine Train (One of my favorites)
  • Under the Sea – Journey of the Little Mermaid
  • Big Thunder Mountain Railroad (So much yes)
  • Frontierland Shootin’ Arcade
  • Splash Mountain (John’s face. #icanteven)
  • Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin
  • Carousel of Progress
  • Monsters, Inc. Laugh Floor (This will never get old. Also, now I want to have a Monsters movie marathon.)
  • Haunted Mansion (Classic and THE BEST. End of conversation.)
  • Jungle Cruise
  • Pirates of the Caribbean
  • Festival of Fantasy Parade
  • Main Street Electrical Parade (The older I get, the more I love these parades.)
  • Celebrate the Magic (WHAAAAT?! Disney, THIS WAS AMAZINGLY MAGICAL. If you can watch this, do it. Do it now.)
  • Wishes Nighttime Spectacular

Don’t worry, we also stopped for Dole Whip… twice 🙂

magic kingdom 3

With the half-marathon the next day, my cousin Mikey left a little after 8 pm to get a solid night’s sleep. Me? Well I’m not as smart and I opted to stay until after the park closed. So yea, I got a little more than 3 hours of sleep and then ran a half-marathon. And then took no nap and went straight to Epcot to drink in the sunshine. #wasnteventired #disneymagic

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Next up: the Princess Half Marathon!

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