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Oct 30, 2012

JackRabbit "Detroit Runner" Cap Winner!!!!


3 miles on the schedule today.  Because of the weather, I decided to run yesterday after work --- it was a good decision!

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Chosen by Random(dot)org, The winner of the JackRabbit "Detroit Runner" Cap is.......

Gabrielle(mareaviva)!!!!  Congratulations.

Please e-mail me your contact information so I can get the hat mailed out to you.  You will have until Saturday, November 3rd to contact me or I will choose another name.

Have a great day and....Keep Running!!!!

Oct 29, 2012

Wicked Halloween Run Race Review


Short Version:

Finished in 49:53(Official Chip time)
Overall place:  213/1458
AG(M40-44) 27/87


Had a great time at another great race put on by Kona Running Company.  Their the gold standard that all race companies/directors should put themselves against when planning a local race.
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Registration/Packet Pickup
The race had two times to pick up your packet.  You could go the day before the race located at the start of the race in downtown Plymouth.  Because of the amount of runners, it was nice that they had packet pick up the day before to help reduce the issues with lines the day of the race.  It would have been chaos had they not had two options.  Because my drive to Plymouth takes about an hour, I opted to pick up my packet the day of the race.

I got there about 6:45am.  I was able to park right next to the finish line which is what I did last year.  
Finish line area
I parked right behind where the farmers market is and it also makes for an easy exit because it does not conflict with the race course.  As soon as I got there, the first person I saw was Ken from Eastside Stony Creek TNT Coach.  His duties include the start line set up.  Did I mention that he just had knee surgery this week?  And no crutches!  Holy cow, this guy is dedicated to the running community.  Although, I'd have to see the Kona Running staff/volunteers are also very dedicated.
Ken and his 6 billionth time volunteering!  On a recovery knee!  Awesome job!
Before the race started, there was also a costume contest that you could win prizes for as well; however,  I didn't stick near that area to see them doing the contest.  It was also the place you could pick up your age group awards as well.
Costume contest and AG award area
The race had a huge tent set up for runners to go into in order to get your race bib number so you could get your packet.  This was also where early packet pickup was the day before.
Warm tent in Kellogg Park - yeah!
When I got there, there was already people waiting in line to get their packet.  It was a little congested but things continued to moving quickly.  Good thing too because it was freezing out!

The line for the packet pickup was outside the tent as there really was not enough room for everyone to be inside it.  You could stand in there to keep warm before the race if you wanted to though.
Bib number board for runners
Packet pick up line
The volunteers were getting ready for the race and were getting the finish line food ready for us runners.
Volunteer check in area
Overall, while it was very crowded, the race organizers had things under control and all went well getting my packet.

Start Area
The start area was well located right in downtown Plymouth.  It was in a well placed spot that allowed for runners to line up on the road to get ready for the race.  In addition, the organizers had a stage so that the National Anthem could be performed(by the race director's Daughter - great job by the way) and allowed for the local dance company to perform a couple Halloween songs.
The fearless leader, and race director, Alan Whitehead, with his daughter
Dance company performing Michael Jackson's "Thriller"
The start was also right next to where the finish was and next to the packet pickup.  Plymouth's downtown area makes it an ideal spot to hold a race as everything is very convenient.  I will say that the race was running about five minutes late and did not get started until 8:05am - my biggest pet peeve in a race(and the only time since running Kona's races that they didn't start on time) - but it was delayed so the dance company could finish their performance.  With the performance finished, we were ready to run!  First up was the 10k race.

Subsequent to my race review, on 10/29, I received an e-mail from Alan Whitehead, the race director, in regards to the race starting a little late.  He said the reason for the delay was because of the long lines at packet pick up that morning and they did not want the runners in line to be late for the start of the 10k.  They also shorted the time between the first and second wave start for both the 10k & 5k because of the frigid temperatures.   I think this shows three things.  First, that the race company cares enough to wait for some runners who needed their packet so everyone could enjoy the race.  Second, that they really care about the runners given the cold.  Finally, that the race director cared enough about everyone to let me know what had happened as many runners may have wondered(as I did) what the delay was about.

Course
Here's a picture of the start of the race.  We were all ready to run since it was quite cold out.  I was up fairly close but kept back behind the 52 minute pacers.  The pacers were new this year and I think it was a nice touch for those wanting to beat a certain time in the race.   It's the first time I've ever run a 10k race that had pacers. My goal was no goal.  I was just out there to have fun and enjoy the course.  I love running through the neighborhoods of Plymouth.  However, if you were looking for a 10k PR, this is a great race to try for that.  There were two waves for the race to help keep down the congestion and I was in the first wave.
Just before we started running - downtown Plymouth.
The first couple miles I took it easy.  I had forgot my water bottle that I normally run with but it was only a 10k so not a big deal.  The course is flat overall as you can see here in this elevation chart except a slight incline the first mile which you don't notice.  Also, note that this course is the same as the Sham Rock n Roll course which takes place in March by Kona Running Company.
Course elevation per Garmin
Course map per Garmin
There are residents that come out and cheer for you but crowd support is minimal except at the finish line which is typically crowded as it was this year as well.  Just after the first aid station, I saw Megan from Watch MeGo Run and said a quick hello until I got back to my pace.  She was dressed as a bee and there were many other runners dressed up as well.

After two miles I decided I'd pick up the pace and see how I felt.  I felt surprisingly good considering I'd just ran a marathon the week before.  Here's my splits.
Splits and Distance; Course is USATF certified to be at least 6.2 miles
Same course as last year's inaugural race and a well planned course.  Many of you might not like all the turns in the course but I actual prefer it.  I love not being able to see a far distance ahead as it keeps me motivated to run faster(probably even faster than I should have run this race.)

Aid Stations
I rarely use the aid stations at any race except for the marathon since I usually carry my water bottle.  As I said, I forgot to bring it so I got to try each aid station.  The volunteers did a great job cheering on runners.  They also yelled out water or gatorade for what they were holding and I was happy to see the three stops the race had.  I stopped at each one of them.  In addition, the race had a place on the course when you were coming around a corner and saw zombies sitting there.  As you passed them, they made noises and movement like they were going to get you.  Haha!  That was great!  A huge thank you to all the race volunteers because it was quite cold and windy outside so I'm sure it made it more difficult to want to be out there helping.

Finish Area
In the final 1/4 mile of the race, you turn the corner and see and hear the crowd cheering on runners.  This is a great area to finish and the set up makes for a great place for any family members wanting to take pictures of their runners as they come around the corner.  As you run to the finish, the race announcer calls your name just before you finish - a really nice touch to the finish.

As you finished, volunteers were there to give you your race medal and congratulate you.  You then made your way in line to the food area which was located inside the tent.  This was different than last year as last year it was under the covered porch where the farmer's market is located.  From a logistics standpoint, I felt the tent worked much better.  There was much more room to wait in line since the tent was in the middle of the park area and it didn't back up the finish line.
Finish line food
As you came out of the tent, there was water in Kona's signature swimming pools ready for the taking.  It made it much easier as it would not get too crowded in the tent.
Water at finish
Here's what happens to runners who didn't meet their goal.
They also had pumpkin decorating for the kids as well as a kids race(1 mile).  One of the nice things about Kona's races is they think about the entire family and really make a fun experience for all.
Pumpkin painting for the kids!
Lots of families at this family oriented race
Because I finished the race quick enough, I was able to get a couple pictures at the start of the 5k race.  Based on the timing of the two races, in theory, you could run both the 10k and the 5k if you are quick enough and perhaps might even be something the race might want to consider offering for future years(by extending the time between races a little more to allow that opportunity)
The FAST runners at the start!
The 5k race also had two waves in it and you can see Ken doing his start line duties by roping off the second wave.
Ken stopping people for the second wave of the 5k - He's a mean one, huh?
Amenities
The amenities were great!  With your registration, you got police support on the course, a timed, USATF certified course, great aid stations, a finisher's medal(10k only), a long sleeve tech race shirt, a Kona Running Company sticker, a Kona Running Company hat, and finish line food/drinks(Bagels from Panera, Bananas, Powerade, granola bars, water).  Kona is the only race I know that has their bagels packaged separately which is awesome!  

I've heard some complaints about the cost of Kona's races but you should keep in mind that the cost is very reasonable considering what you get.  The best value is to sign up at the start of registration to allow for the lowest cost available.

Kona Running sticker
Long sleeve tech race shirt/medal
Kona Running hat/medal
Wicked Halloween Run race medal
One of the best designs of all(28) the medals I have
Organization
I've always praised Kona Running Company for it's organization.  It's very clear these races are a passion of everyone involved.  From the packet pickup, to the course, to the medal and shirts and the family activities, the company and volunteers do an outstanding job putting on a fantastic race.  I can only hope in future years, they will add to their races.  I'd love to see them be involved in something out in the east side in Macomb County somewhere.  The organization of this race was superior and I expect nothing less from Kona Running Company.

Overall
So the big question?  Would I do this race again?  That's a huge Yes!  This was the second year I've run it(and the second year in existence).  The organizers have done a great job on it and it continues to expand each year.
Me and my bling!
Check out this awesome YouTube Slideshow of the race as well posted by Amy Cutting - click HERE to view.

If you missed this years race, no worries!  You can read my ShamRock N Roll race review HERE and my Solstice(now Kona) Run review HERE.  In addition, Kona Running Company will be offering all three races next year(ShamRock N Roll on March 17, Kona Run on June 8, and Wicked Halloween on October 27) and if you run them all, you will get an extra medal called the Triple Crown!(*certain restrictions apply - see their website for details HERE)
Source:  Kona Running Company
Have a great day and....Keep Running!!!!

Oct 28, 2012

Oct 27, 2012

2013 decisions

Rest day on the schedule today....

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Have you started your 2013 race schedule yet?  For me I tend to do it after my fall marathon.  This year I started even earlier.  As I've said in the past, it often means signing up for a race months in advance and not even knowing if you'll be in shape to run it by then.  You just have to take a chance and hope for the best.  If I'm paying, I'm always an early registration - why pay more for something you're going to do?

I tend to run quite few races.  In 2012, I'll have run 14 races.  It seems like a lot given I usually race about 9 months of the year.  What's your comfortable amount of races?  Some of the races I won in contests so I might not have even run them.  Some I do for race reviews which adds to the numbers.

I've also done two marathons the last two years and have decided I don't want to train for a spring marathon in 2013.  Given what I did last week at the marathon(3:38:30), I'm sure I'll be trying to break 3:30 and in doing that I would need to push myself hard again.  I think I need the rest so I'm going to remove that spring marathon from the schedule in 2013.

It does not mean I won't be racing lots.  I'm already eyeing a few races that I've wanted to do over the past few years.  I really love the half distance.  I did seven half marathons this year.  I do have to admit they fit in well with marathon training so it will be interesting to see how my spring half marathons go when I'm not training for a marathon.  I also want to get in at least one trail half marathon this year as well.

Actually, the last two years I've never specifically trained for the half distance but I've got a lofty goal for it for next season.  I want to break 1:36 hopefully in the spring.  Why?  It would get me into Corral B in the Chicago marathon and help leap me in front of another 3,000 people in the race.  It would be huge to be in Corral B because I'd only be behind the Elites and Corral A(1500 max people) plus my group of 3,000 people in Corral B.  I think I've got a 1:35:59 in me since I ran the Brooksie Way at 1:39 on tired legs and its a hilly half marathon.  Plus if you look at the qualifying times on the marathon side, you'll see I was only a couple minutes short of qualifying in Corral B at Grand Rapids.  Of course, this all assumes the standards don't change for 2013.  Regardless, I'm in for Corral C based on my Grand Rapids marathon time.
Source:  Chicago Marathon Website
This leads me to my next decision - I've decided for sure I want to run Chicago next year.  Anyone run it before?  How did you get your hotel set up?  Anyone want to put me up(kidding)?  I went to check the hotel websites and many of them near the start line already show no dates unavailable - huh?  Do I have to buy it through the race?  It will also probably lead to a little less racing next year since I'll need to save funds for this race.  Damn majors are expensive!

I hope your 2013 plans are coming together.

Have a great day and....Keep Running!!!!

Oct 26, 2012

3 miles on the schedule today.  Felt pretty good today.  Actually felt like 3 miles instead of like yesterday.  Yesterday, that short 3 miler exhausted me the rest of the day.

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Just a reminder, I'll be running the Wicked Halloween Run 10k on Sunday and would like to see you there.  There's also a 5k and 1 mile option and it's a great event for families.  Click HERE for more information.  On-line registration is closed but you can register at packet pickup tomorrow or the day of the race.

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Also, don't forget I'm giving away a JackRabbit "Detroit Runner" cap.  I've been using this since I've done my review and really like the short bill on it for running in the dark.  Click HERE to sign up.  You've got a great chance to win.  Contest ends Saturday!

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THIS guy just had knee surgery.  If you have a minute, especially you bloggers, please go to his blog and wish him well on a speedy recovery.  We need to get him back out there running!

Have a great day and....Keep Running!!!!

Oct 25, 2012

Things I learned in #4

First day back after the marathon; 3 miles on the schedule today.  Almost all the soreness is gone.  One thing is for sure, your body tells you that you just ran a marathon 4 days ago.

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Some things I've learned from marathon #4:
  1. More miles = more endurance.  I was able to hang on to a faster speed during the marathon and while I still slowed near the end, it was still much faster than I normally run at the end.
  2. Nutrition/hydration matters(actually I already knew this) - I don't think anyone could argue with this.  If you don't get your nutrition down just right, you could crash.  You need food before and throughout the marathon.  The morning of the race, I had a large banana, three granola bars and half a bagel.  During the race, I ate two packages of Shot Bloks and they were gone by mile 18.  I also ate some pretzels the course was giving out, pickle juice and gatorade along with water, of course.
  3. Try something new - Ok, I broke this rule a couple times and got away with it.  I drank the kool-aid pickle juice and never tried it in training.  I also drank Gatorade and never used it in training.  I just got lucky on this.
  4. A positive attitude makes a huge difference - I went into this thinking I could do 3:30.  Even when I couldn't get there, I didn't let it get me down.  It was a big change mentally from my other marathons.
  5. My body needs rest.  I upped the miles for this one but started having hip/foot issues.  I've learned I need to take a break and get back to some cross training.  Not that I won't run but I'm not going to train for a marathon for the spring.  I'll work on speed and see if I can get my half times down.
  6. Up next? Chicago?  I've got time to commit but that's what I'm thinking - A major for #5.

Have a great day and....Keep Running!!!!

Oct 24, 2012

Wordless Wednesday 10/24/12

The shoes that got me my 20 minute PR - Mizuno Waver Riders
Have a great day and....Keep Running!!!!

Oct 23, 2012

Grand Rapids Marathon Race Review


Short Version:

Finished in 3:38:20(chip time)(A new HUGE PR - improvement of 20 minutes and 25 seconds)
Overall place:  341/1585
Men's place:  280/935
AG(M40-44) 52/170
7M split:  55:31
Half split:  1:46:27
20M split:  2:39:56
Pace:  8:20/M

Overall a beautiful course on a local bike path including some City running thrown in.  Absolutely perfect day for running with a start in the low 40's and finish in the low 50's with fog to start then sunny.  I don't think it could have been better running conditions.

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Registration/Packet Pickup
Registration was very simple.  As with all the marathons I've run(this was #4), the race had a website to help you register and give you information.  It also had a Facebook and Twitter page to help keep you updated on the race information.  I signed up through Active back in December(believe it or not).  In fact, my number was a low one - 220.  In addition to Facebook  updates continually, the race director also put out a newsletter with updates throughout the training cycle.  He even sent them daily the week of the marathon.  Great, great information and motivation by the race staff.  It made you wish you lived in Grand Rapids with it's great running support.

My running buddy and I started our day driving over the day before the race in style in a new Cadillac CTS he borrowed from his employer.  If you're going to go to a marathon, you might as well go in style.

Packet Pickup was easy as well.  It was located inside of the YMCA in downtown Grand Rapids.  You could come to the expo on Saturday, the day before the race or you could even pick up your packet race morning.  I think it's pretty rare to have race day packet pickup these days especially when there is an expo tied to the marathon.  It was nice to know we could have drove in that morning if we wanted.  I've actually skipped running a race I wanted to run because I could not pick up my packet the morning of the race.

Given I'm about 2.5 hours away from Grand Rapids, my running buddy and I drove in the day before to go to the expo.  It was nice to have the option of driving there that day which I could see us doing also but I prefer to get a good night sleep before.
Expo
Expo
Expo
Because this is a small marathon by marathon standards(1585 finishers), the race expo was similar to a half marathon I've done(Brooksie Way).  Nothing huge but it was nice to see some of the vendors.  I love touring the expo for freebies/coupons and looking through marathon merchandise.  I picked up a marathon sweatshirt for only $30.  Not a bad deal in my opinion as it probably would have been $90 at a major marathon.  They also had last years shirts you could buy and they had lots of other shirts to pick from too.
Nice sweatshirt!
This was a new vendor I've never heard of that sells race medal hangers.  They were quite nice.
Medal Display company
Also, New Holland Brewing was one of the sponsors of the race so they were there selling merchandise too.  They also sponsor a weekly beer run as well which is a great idea.  Take a look at this huge beer glass in this running shoe.  Ha!
Sweet!
The marathon was also selling beer glasses as well with their logo on it.  I've got a couple beer mugs from races.  It's a nice reminder of the race but how much running stuff do you really need?  You could go crazy at these things.

After we looked at all the vendors, it was time to get our packet.  The race had a board up so you could see what your number was:
Board with bib numbers
You could then proceed to get your race bib, shirt, socks and packet based on the number you received:
Bib numbers
Packet pick up bag - really nice!
Also in the same area was the pace groups where you could get a race bib with the time you wanted.
Pace Team Sign up
I actually did pick up a race bib for the 3:29 group which was the Baldwin Brothers group.  The race has the only Celebrity marathon pace groups in the country.  You sign up based on some celebrity's marathon time.  Want to run what Oprah ran?  Sign up with the 4:29 group.  Here's the bib I got but I did not end up wearing it.
Celebrity pace group - cool!
After I picked up the pace bib, I got a quick picture with the course map and we were done with the expo.
The course map at the expo
Overall, the expo was planned out well.  As is typical, you needed to go through all the sponsors in order to get to your packet.

Start Area
The next morning we made our way to the race.  We stayed in a hotel about 7 miles away so getting there was a nice short drive.  There were plenty of options for hotels and very reasonably priced.

The start area was right next to the YMCA where packet pick up was.  Because we had been there the previous day, it was very easy in the dark morning to find our way.  Some of the roads were closed but we found parking(free) within couple hundred yards from the start right on the campus of Grand Valley State University which is a really nice downtown campus.
Downtown Grand Rapids YMCA - it was huge!
The YMCA was huge(3 stories) and because of this, many of the runners were waiting around inside the facility. It made it really nice to be able to stay inside from the cold morning while we waited for the race to start.  It was also nice to be able to use a regular bathroom.  We got down there about an hour ahead of the start time, and before waiting, we checked out the starting line.  As you can see, I've got my throw away clothes on to stay warm before.
It's still dark out?
Because we were waiting right next to the start line, about 15 minutes before the race started, we headed out to get in line where they did the national anthem to get things started.  Overall, a well organized start, plenty of bathrooms both inside and outside.

Course
The race sounded a horn and we were off.  I didn't bring a camera but if you click HERE, you can see some amazing pictures of the course by Rudy Malmquist on Flickr.  Since I was with the 3:29 pace group, I was fairly close to the start line.  There were probably 20+ people running with this group so it was nice to run with so many people.  It also helped me keep pace, a pace I probably had no business running with but I was determined to do my best.
Source:  Grand Rapids Marathon website
Map per Garmin
The course starts out in downtown Grand Rapids and heads into an industrial area.  Not too scenic to start the race but not much you could do.  The prize in the course was when we got out of the city and then started on the many paths we ran.  Much of the course was on a bike path and along the river so there was no worries in regards to traffic.  The areas downtown were well guarded with helpful police to keep us safe.  I really enjoyed the course as it wound through the park areas near and in Grand Rapids and along the river.  There is a slight slant to the bike path that may have bugged some people but I didn't think it was too bad overall.  A very scenic area, we had fog in the beginning of the race which was really beautiful.  Millennium Park is much like Stony Creek that I train at so it really felt like home.  If I lived in Grand Rapids, I'd want to be close to this park since it's such a great area to run and you feel far away from the city even though parts of it are near the freeway.  While crowd support was not huge, I was not expecting hardly anything.  There were, however, pockets of people throughout the course near the turns to cheer people on.

The elevation of the course was overall flat except for a few rolling hills.  A great course to try and BQ or obtain a PR(which I happen to do).

Elevation
As we continued to go through the course, about mile 8 is where the split from the half and the full pulled off.  I knew I was doing the full but mentally it's hard to see people turning off knowing they only had a few more miles to run.  Ha!

About mile 17, I took out the headphones.  I really needed some motivation.  My original plan was to take them out at mile 20 but I just couldn't wait.  I think this really helped me and I used the headphones to zone out up to about 25.5 miles until I saw the crowd at the finish line. 

About mile 18, the course had pickle juice.  It's supposed to be a good source of salt and other nutrients to help you replenish your fluids.  Believe it or not, I figured what the heck, and drank it.  I was starting to have a cramp in my leg and forgot to bring salt tablets(which I did train with) so I just went for it.  I figured I was in unchartered territory with my pace so why not throw in something new too, huh?  Crazy, I know.

I was able to maintain the pace with the pace group through about mile 19 when I started to lose the group and slow slightly.  After I hit mile 20, I couldn't see them anymore and knew that my goal of 3:30 was not going to be.  The biggest difference in this marathon though was I was not going to accept failure - meaning I would not accept less than at least 3:45 which was my mandatory goal.  As I got to mile 22(for me, it's my achilles heal), I saw my first 9+ minute mile.  I was devastated!  All this training and I still slowed!

As I was pacing through the next four miles, I did what I'm sure many runners do and started to calculate what I need to get to X time.  I was figuring I needed to be around a 9 minute pace to be in the 3:3x time but I didn't have the power to think clearly.  The only thing that was clear is that my mind was not going to win this time and I would continue to push my body more than I ever have.  Sure, I wanted to walk, and I saw several runners at the end walking but I would not let myself walk or even slow down as much as I have in the past.  I fought it out with my slowest mile being 9:35 pace.  Every mile at least under a 9 pace with only 5 miles over 9 pace.  Overall I was very happy with my results.  I gutted it out to try and get to 3:30 but didn't let it bother me that I could not get there.

As I neared the finish, the crowd was much larger than I thought it would be and it helped carry me towards the finish line.  As promised, Don Kern, the race director was there to shake my hand at the finish as well as shake the hand of EVERY marathoner that day.  Incredible.
Race Director shaking hands
So here's the dirty details on the splits.  Note that my Garmin time is slow by about 30 seconds.  That's because around mile 24, I had to stop and loosen my shoe because the top of my foot was hurting so it took a little time to get it loose and tied again.  My Garmin was set to auto pause so it stopped when I did, but of course, the timing chip didn't stop.
Splits
Aid Stations
As most of you know, I don't use the aid stations too much but tend to use them more in a marathon.  I stopped a couple times to fill up my water bottle that I carry.  In addition, I got some pretzels at one station, pickle juice and also a couple stops for gatorade.  I've never had pickle juice so it was a unique experience to try it.  I took a big gulp and the taste was really strong.  Not that I liked it, but I forced the other two gulps down because I knew I needed it.  Fortunately, it worked for me.  I also don't drink gatorade much but it's never made me sick so I wasn't worried about drinking it at the end of the race and it helped push off any cramps in my legs.  The race also had GU at several stations if you chose to use them(which I didn't)

All the aid stations were well stocked and the volunteers were incredible.  They shouted and cheered for the runners and really helped.  Some great aid stations indeed.

Finish area
The finish area was located in the same spot as the start area right at the YMCA.

Because it's a smaller race, the race allowed runners to run with their families if they wanted near the finish line.  I think it's great for moral and really gave a sense of the family values that the West side of the State has in it's heritage.  A really nice touch.

I also got a chance to say hello to Steph from In Steph's Shoes who ran with her Dad and a couple of his friends, one of which BQ'd his race which was the main reason they were running to help him out.  Awesome!  Steph also BQ'd as well for 2014 - of course!!

Again, the finish was well laid out and once you crossed the finish line and shook the race directors hand, volunteers were there to hand you your medal and your space blanket to keep you warm.  It actually was really nice(warm) at the finish line and you really did not need the blanket.  From there, you went through the food line which had all kinds of food including - Muscle milk, water, oranges, apples, bananas, bagels, yogurt, chips, cheese sticks, and ice cream from Culver's!  Wow - it was one of the most stocked race food selections that I've ever seen at all the races I have done.

To top it all off, once you made your way through the finish line, you could also get chili from Wendy's and beer from New Holland Brewing Company(great beer by the way).  My running buddy and I had pretty much everything there was to offer.  In addition, the Salvation Army was there offering free(donation) food to the runners including Hot Dogs, chips, cookies, and popcorn.  Plus, the local running store was offering free coffee too!  We left the race with plenty of junk food in our stomachs.
Huge crowd near the finish
More crowd and sponsors at the finish
We were able to pick up our gear at gear check and I was able to change into something a little more comfortable.

We then headed back to the beer area!  Check out all the people in the beer area:
Lots of people drinking beer!
You can see I'm guarding the beer truck in the back
Great beer!
Amenities
I have to say that this was not an inexpensive marathon.  $90 was the lowest price you could get it for but I would say that you got so much in return, it was well worth the price of admission.  You received full course support, a race expo, a great packet pickup bag(show above in yellow) a race medal, a race tech shirt, marathon socks, a 26.2 sticker(pictured at the top of this review), a race poster, Xact race timing so you could get results e-mailed/Facebook/Twitter to your account(a great feature by the way that all races should have), an awesome finish food line with an incredible selection including beer and a well laid out course.
Race medal
Race medal
Race socks!
Race Shirt
Race poster
Organization
The race had good organization as the expo was well planned, the location was perfect, the start/finish line areas were laid out very well and organized good.  The registration was easy, the packet pickup had options, the course was well supported with volunteers and police, the race started ON TIME(a big pet peeve for me when it doesn't).  It's very clear that the race is run by runners and they know what runners want.  The only issue we had in regards to organization was parking.  Not that it was the races fault since they had parking all spelled out on their website and newsletter but the race morning we went to park but ended up in a Burger King lot and had to leave.  Fortunately, a volunteer directed us exactly where we needed to go and it worked out great.

Overall
So would I run this race again?  Yes!  I really enjoyed the race overall.  If you don't like small races or you want huge crowd support, this is not the race for you.  If you like a hometown feeling, this is the race to run.  As I said, it's also a perfect BQ course since it's not crowded.  I'm sure I'll be back to run this sometime in the future.
Marathon #4 completed with my running buddy!
Have a great day and....Keep Running!!!!

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