Sunday, October 31, 2010

SC Post-Race Thoughts and (More Importantly)... Boston Watch 2K11!

Ok, I really can't wait til the end for ...

Boston Watch 2K11!
Around 3:30 pm today, I was awoken from a little hangover nap to the sounds of my email notification on my phone. Andddd this is what I found...

"Dear Stephanie N. Arango,
This is to notify you that your entry into the 115th Boston Marathon on Monday, April 18, 2011 has been accepted"

I went to the entrants list to confirm and there I was !!! I would have preferred if they didn't site my upcoming birthday age as I'm planning on celebrating the 1st anniversary of my 25th birthday instead. We'll let it go since I finally got my confirmation!
I'm so excited at this great news and I can officially say I'm registered for my 50th State Marathon... BOSTON 2011!!! 

Spinx Run Fest ~ Post-Race Thoughts!
Yesterday was the Spinx Run Fest Marathon in Greenville, SC. I got to meet a bunch of new maniacs/50-staters since I was staying with one (Nancy) and we met up with a bunch at the start-- including Gary and Morgan who were completing their 50-state quests at this race!
Maniacs at Spinx Run Fest
I asked Brent if he wouldn't mind if I ran with him. He laughed and said that I always say that then take off... but I stuck to my guns this time and ran with Brent the whole way! Brent is with me on this crazy marathon o' marathons... he's on week 5 of consecutive races and I'm on week 4. So he knows my pain. 

The course was very pretty swinging us through all these parks, down cute little streets, and winding into a baseball stadium where we finished running the whole perimeter of the field with the spectators up in the stands and a big jumbo-tron on the finish line! It was a tough race with lots of small-ish but steep hills through a good majority of the course. I'm sure the legs were feeling the combined impact of last weeks trail race and this race and were not too happy about it. 

I was very surprised at the number of spectators all over the city streets of the course. They were VERY excitable. The aid stations were a little far and few between-- especially as it started to heat up into the 60's and low 70's. They were pretty well supported though and some even had gels... including *ick* Accel Gel that tastes like battery fluid! 

Brent and I got to the finish around 3:52 *Sub 4:00 woohoo* and I even managed to do a cartwheel across the finish line!!!

Happy Halloween!
I DID run the race in costume... as a US Marine! Specifically, I was being my friend Kyle. One of my goals was to keep all of my costume accessories through the whole race. FAIL! In the first mile I started losing chunks of the ammo belt because they all interlocked and didn't like being jarred around. Eventually I lost the whole thing! I also lost some of the USMC letters. Wooops. I DID get a couple of "hoo rahs" from some studly marines running the race. I thought about slowing down to let them catch up, but I remembered the task at hand... all marathon in under 4:00!

Good race all around with good MM buddies. Can't wait for the next one. Oh right... that's this weekend. Up next...
WV- Marshall University Marathon!

Happy Running,
"Run to Win" -Meb

Friday, October 29, 2010

Spinx Run Fest ~ the REDEMPTION Marathon!

Inspiration Points...
Marathon #47, State #44!
1. Redemption is Mine!!! This is my 2nd attempt at a SC marathon, because the Myrtle Beach Marathon was cancelled at 11pm the night prior for a few flurries of snow that turned out to be a beautiful day! This is the ONLY race I've signed up for that I was unable to complete (albeit I wasn't allowed to start either).
2. Last New State! As you know I have number of races lined up, but a lot of them are "repeat" states. This is the last NEW state I have until December. Just gotta get it finished!
3. Race 4 of 5 in a Row!... Ouch... especially following a trail 50K last weekend! 
4. Gary and Morgan hit 50!!!! I have spoken about them before, but my fav marathon couple (Maniacs and 50 staters) will be finishing their 50th state together. All together now *AWWWWW*
5. Running in Costume! Since this is Halloween weekend AND the Marine Corp Marathon weekend, I'll be running this race dressed as a Marine! (Pics to come)

SC Race RUNdown...
Spinx Run Fest Marathon ~ Saturday October 30, 2010. (#43) 8:00am Marathon Start
Greenville, SC ~ Greenville Drive Stadium
Registration Fees: $65-$85 Early ($95 late) Availability: All Races. Register here.
Year Running: 6th
Races Available: Full, Half and 5K
2010 Expected Field: 1,500 cap! 717 total currently signed up, 268 Female
20098 Field:  234 (there are no 2009 results.... cancelled?
... Females: 78  ... Age Group: NA
2009 Avg. Finish Time: 4:21:18
Certified Course/BQ Certified?: Yes/Yes
Cutoff Time and Early Start Option: 6-Hr Cut-off time. No indication of an early start?
Weather Update: It has been looking cold, but they just posted the forecast as a little warmer. Low of 48 and a high of 69 and sunny. That should be pretty perfect!

MarathonGuide Rating: 
They describe the course as a winding loop on city roads and paved trails, followed by 6-miles on the "swamp rabbit trail"-- I have NO idea what that means! The first 13 is flat with a few short steep hills, and the last 13 is relatively flat. The last mile is a pretty good uphill shot, judging by the elevation chart. 

Race 411:
~ GUN TIME WTF??? Apparently they base all age group award on GUN time... who does that?
~ 8 Aids! There will be 8 aid stations along the course (that s/b plenty) with 2 that have gels available (they haven't specified what KIND of gel...)
~ Uh-oh Potties! Potties are available at every other rest stop. If every rest stop is 26.2/8 = 3.3 X 2 = 6.6... Every 6.6 miles? Yikes! No Bueno!
~Skipped a Year! I don't know WHAT happened... but it seems like this race skipped the full marathon alltogether in 2009. I'm trying to get the scoop on what happened. 

Race Plan:
This is my last new state and my 4th in a series of 5, following an ultra trail race. I'm definitely a little tight, but (as always) I hope to go under 4:00! If I feel good... I'll go harder!
1) Get a "jumping jack picture" like Dave Mari always does! 
(Pic Right... Mari doing what Mari does)
2) Finish with all the costume accessories I started with

Throw Back! Bring it back now ya'll...
Reverse the Countdown!
This is my 44th marathon-state, meaning I have 7 to go including this race. What was going on around state #7!?!? I was running the Vermont City Marathon! And how did that go?... oh it just broke my heart was all! No seriously-13 SECONDS over BQ Time left me inconsolable. Luckily... since then I've qualified like 5 times?... SMASHING my VT time! Woohoo. 

This time in 2009...
Last year I was taking a week off after my first triple marathon month. I had finished Louisville the week before and I was gearing up for the OBX Marathon which I absolutely loved! It was pirate themed and a lot of fun running with CB! Ok, ok, she may have pulled an ab muscle and I was a mean tyrant, making her finish, but it was still fun spending time with her! 

Meet up Info: 
Brent- Meet ya at the airport
Nancy- Meet ya at the hotel
Morgan/Gary/MM's- Meet ya at the Start!
... If you're not on here and you're going to be at Spinx let me know!!!!

Happy Racing!
"Run to Win"-Meb

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Detroit Marathon ~ Race Ratings (#42)

Tag line: "Where Do I Carry My Passport??"

Detroit Marathon ~ October 17, 2010
Detroit, MI ~ Downtown Detroit and Windsor, Ontario (Canada)
Type: 100% Pavement
Year Running: 33rd!
Registration Fee: $75-$90 Early ($105-$125 late)
Charity Race? Yes... List of supported charities can be found here.
Runners:  3,227... 1,163 Females
Available Races: Marathon, Half Marathon, 5K
Average Finish Time: 4:20:58
BQ %: 13.5

Overall Race Ratings: 4.4/5.0

Average Calculated Rating: 4.3/5.0
~ I love a race that focuses on the FULL marathoners-- giving them just a little better treatment with medals, massage lines, etc. The course was a lot of fun (especially running into Canada) and the runners were a blast. They have great swag at this race and the expo is pretty great too. They could use a little help with food and support on the course, but other than that it was a great race! I would definitely recommend it!

Race Director: Let's play race director...
~ The race can use a little help with organization-- 1 GU stop isn't even worth it. Make at least 2-3 stops with GU available. Gatorade is the sponsor--instead of giving out thousands of free gatorades, give us their new gel. Also, post-race food is SO important. We need to up the types of food and not give us a feedbag, which we'll dump 50% of it. Smoshed banana and string cheese?... really? Also, I know there isn't a whole lot going on in Detroit, but there HAS to be more than the Casinos-- let us know about it!

View of Canada from Detroit
Event Organization: 4.0/5.0 (now broken into 2 parts, see below as well) As far as "event organization" we'll include things like Host hotel, website use, ease of travel to the event and to the actual race, etc.
Distance from Airport to Expo/Race: ~10 min
Rental Car Required: No. There are plenty of hotels near the start as well as "people movers" in the city. (I just think that sounds funny). 
~ The director did a good job of sending out all required information as well as posting updates on facebook so we can see all that was going into the race. To get to Canada we needed to show a passport, and they had it organized so the border control actually came to the expo and cleared us... I think it would have been a little funny if we had to stop and show our passports at the bridge! There wasn't a whole lot to do in Detroit and they sent us a packet of information... but it mostly suggested going to the Casinos. 

Post-Race they really talked up this "conquered" themed party. There was a band that was playing SO loud. There were also 2 stands that sold either mexican or organic food-- none of which you wanted to eat right after a marathon. I DID, however, like that the massage tent was broken up between the 4K marathoners and the 20K half marathoners... we had our own line! There were also 2 massage therapists for every 1 runner... I  now know what it feels like to go through a car wash. 

Race Organization: 3.0/5.0
Hydration Color/Type: Gatorade/Yellow
~ There were aid stations every 2 miles
Gel Type/Flavors/Availability:  GU/Various/1Stop
~Post Race Food: .Post-Race, we were handed a pre-packed bag of food containing a bagel, a smashed banana, some sort of mixed-nut pack and... string cheese???
~ Every mile was marked and done pretty well from what I can tell-- you lose satellite going through the tunnel, so it's hard to get a good read. There were rest stops galore and of course lots of aid stations. There were not, however, many GU stations-- 1!! What am I supposed to do with 1? I'm not a mule! Also (clearly) not a huge fan of the post-race food... at all. 

The staging area was pretty well mapped out-- no long walks to get what you needed. There was a line at first for the bag drop, but they told us all just to drop them in a pile with our numbers attached. I was a little worried, but they did a great job of putting them in order. 

Course: 4.4/5.0

MarathonGuide Rating
Garmin Distance: NA (mileage isn't picked up in the tunnel)
Type: Pavement- City road
~ Elevation Gain/Loss: Minimal
~ Best asset of this course is the "where" portion... you're not only in Detroit, but you also travel north of the border to Windsor, Ontario (CANADA!). Both going over and coming back are fun! You take a giant bridge on the way over, making your way through border control. The way back? You're going under the Detroit-Windsor Tunnel. The Canadian side is very cute with brick-building lined streets, reminding me much of the streets of Boston. The Detroit side... much more urban! Winding you through the various "neighborhoods" of Detroit!
Pic Right: Sunrise on the bridge to Canada!

Spectators: 5.0/5.0
~ This race had a fantastic group of spectators... I especially loved the Canadian side. They were so excitable, welcoming us over! There were groups throughout, never going too long without some sort of fans. Also... the race puts your names on the front of your bib so people could cheer you on personally! Besides the names, the bibs of the first time marathoners were colored and the spectators knew it, cheering them on big time! Also, I chose to wear my "Ohio State" shirt (yes while in Michigan) and of course got the appropriate responses. The michigan fans yelled "go blue" (like they had ANYthing to say) and the Ohio State fans were super excited!

 Pace Group: NA/5.0
~ I know there were lots pace groups available, but I never pretty consistently between 2 groups, so I'm going to give this an NA.

Runner/Corrals: 4.8/5.0
~ First, the corrals were amazing! Chicago could learn a lesson from them! They were broken up in many groups and they put a minute between the end of the last pace group and the beginning of the next. There aren't enough runners (even with the halfies) to make this too long of a process and it worked really well. 
2 Marathon Maniac Families! 
The runners I was around were so nice! There was a brand new 1st time marathoner that fell in step with me and asked me what I was planning on running. Well we got on the topic of my 50-state attempt and when we passed all her family/fans she goes "THIS GIRL HAS RUN 45 MARATHONS!" I was much more excited to see her finish her FIRST... which I was able to do, cheering for her through the finish! I DO know some other runners had different experiences with others on the bridge... the bridge gets narrow and I guess there was some pushing and shoving?? I didn't see any of this, but I was in the upper corrals. 

Expo: 4.7/5.0
~ This is a fun little expo. When you walk in, you actually have to wind through the WHOLE expo to get to the packet pick-up... convenient little trick! First, the marathon gear was great. They had a ton of options and fun stuff to buy... more so than you usually see at these mid-sized races. Next, I stumbled upon my life saver-- a chiropractic group that was doing free massages, and guess what? Nobody else realized it but me... I managed to get 3 massages out of them over the course of the weekend. There was another group doing some sort of alignment to runners. Of course "1 More Mile" was there with their fun stuff... I bought this...

Swag: 4.5/5.0

~T-Shirts: The shirts were super cute. Black, well fitted and XS actually meant XS! It's one of the few that actually fit me. Black and long sleeved with a cool little route symbol on it and it's sweatwick. 4.4

~Medals: The medals this year were really cool. They featured the Detroit skyline, some sort of car in the front (clearly not a big car person), records (to express the blues side of Detroit), and the bridge. They also have the American flag and the Canadian flag on the ribbon. 4.6

~ Goodie Bag: The goodie bags had some gels and nick nacks, but nothing that really stands out too much. 

Results: Stephanie
Chip Time: 3:30:19
Place: Overall- 398/,159, Gender- 1024/16,186, A/G (F25-29)- 305/3731

Boston Watch 2K11
Nothing yet folks... and almost EVERYbody I know has been confirmed now. Whats worse? I put my last name in (not a common one, esp amongst marathons) and something popped up!!!! And it was a 25 year old female!!!... but it wasn't me :( GRRRRRR! I finally emailed Omaha's race director to see what the hold up was.... they were supposed to have sent the BQ results in immediately after the race. 

Happy Racing,
"Run to Win" - Meb

Halloween Marathon Costume? *NEED YOUR INPUT!*

This weekend is the Spinx Run Fest in SC~ State #44! Crazy, right? Well it's also Halloween weekend and of COURSE I need to dress up. This is where I need your help! I need something for the race that can be converted to be runner friendly. Also, it would be neat if I could incorporate something I normally carry as a prop. For example... I carry a water bottle and I could put an Rx sign on it and be a Dr or Nurse. Ok, I'm not so creative- Thus I need your help.

Any good runner-friendly costumes out there??

Last year I ran the Run Like Hell 5K dressed as Hannah Montana and had to rip off my blonde wig halfway through because it was SO hot... and there were bobipins holding it in *ouch.* I have a few things in my costume bag leftover from sorority mixers. You can feel free to incorporate any/all/none of these into your ideas...

1) Stethoscope (for a DR/Nurse party-- I see where your dirty mind is going!)
2) Handcuffs (POLICE Officer party... seriously, dirty birds out there!)
3) Hawaiian Lei
4) Dog Tags (from the Bataan memorial death march)
5) A full gangster outfit with....
6) Pinstripe hat
7) A bunch of mardi gras beads (various colors)
8) Elbow pads
9) Various Jerseys... Payton Manning, Bengals, Ohio State, Reds
10) Moose Hat... as run with in the Alaska Marathon.Pic Right

Mmmmm I think that's about it. Get those thinking caps on and let me know!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

You're Invited to Rock Out in NOLA 2011!!!

Looking for an early 2011 marathon (or half) where you can rock out for 26.2 (or 13.1) miles? Join me for the 2011 RnR Mardi Gras Marathon (or half)! If all goes according to plan (no promises there) the Rock'n'Roll Mardi Gras Marathon will be marathon State #49!!! I just got an email with a $10 discount if you sign up before Halloween... Use code: MGTREAT. 

Race Info...
Name: Rock'n'Roll Mardi Gras Marathon
When: February 13, 2011
Where: New Orleans, LA
Reg Fee: $85 w/ discount above
Why? ... 
1) I'll be there and drinks all around to celebrate 1 MORE STATE til 50!!!
2) RnR Marathons have music throughout and great post-race parties/concerts
3) It's New Orleans!!!!
5) GREAT Medals... and a special bonus one if you do multiple RnR marathons in 2011
6) Flat/Fast Course!
7) I'LL BE THERE!!! ... Let's be serious, did you really need anything else?

So go ahead, sign up, use the code then come back and let me know you'll be there. Go ahead... I'll wait!


All signed up? Great! Leave me a comment and I'll add you to the "Upcoming Races" list as a runner or spectator!

Boston Watch 2K11...
Nothing yet... grrrrrrrrrrrr

Monday, October 25, 2010

CT Bimblers Bluff 50K ~ Post-Race Thoughts!!!!

This past weekend was the Bimblers Bluff 50K in Guilford, CT.  State #43 for me and marathon #46! This is a small trail ultra that isn't too highly publicized. I found it in attempts to find a marathon that works. Hartford is at a huge marathon time of the year and the mean nip-muck man wouldn't let me in his race b/c I'm not from the area-- I still haven't forgiven Nip-Muck Man! Outside that, there is 1 or 2 others in CT but they didn't work well with the schedule. I'm very happy we picked this one up because it was a great trail course, lots of fun and a great group of runners!

MB ran the race as well and our Pit Crew Chief was even able to come!  We didn't get a picture with him... but I promise, he was there holding the bags and taking the pictures! We found our friend and fellow Marathon Maniac, Brent, before the race and got a "Maniac" picture and then we were off...

The Race...
The race started and about a mile later it stopped! We came to a dead-end... yep a mile in and the first 20 runners were already lost! The first few missed a turn and none of us paid enough attention to realize we were offtrack. So we back tracked (adding on about a mile) and got back on course! 

The race a mostly an open trail (non technical) with a few short sections of single track tech. There were also some areas where we were running on a bed of rocks... and that did not feel too good! The course was full of rolling hills that added a challenge and a few areas of-- well climbing! We hit the "Bluff", which is a straight up climb. 

There were only a few aid stations on this course, but the volunteers (and spectators that made their way out to the trails) were so excited and helpful as we came through. I LOVE eating on trail ultras... unlike normal marathon they always have extra goodies: PB&J squares, candy, chips... they even had grilled cheese sandwiches! Not gonna lie... there is a good chance all the food slowed me down just a bit! Of course they also had mountain dew and coca-cola! 

And the Finish!
I was able to catch a bunch of guys in the last few miles (I couldn't find any women). I always find this to be the case in ultras... I run with guys (going back and forth) the whole race and in the last few miles I always have a kick of energy and they seem to fade out a bit. It's not just me-- I've noticed that this is pretty common for women once you get into the ultras. 

We had a surprise visit at the end of this marathon... CHRISTINE came to watch the end of the race! Christine lives in NJ and had a pretty quick drive up to CT, so she came to watch and hangout with me while we waited for MB to finish. I made her pose with one of the signs they brought down from the course. They had these fun signs at the aid stations and leading up to the Bluff. 

Thanks Christine for coming to cheer me on... You're the best!!!!

Coming Up!
We have a much shorter "recovery" period as this past race was on Sunday and the next one is this upcoming Saturday! This weekend is the Spinx Run Fest in SC. The next weekend is the Marshall University Marathon. 

Boston Watch 2K11
Still awaiting my confirmation from the B.A.A! I've started seeing MORE than a trickle of confirmed runners on the entrants page.. but no Stephanie :( Right now... the BAA and I are so NOT friends! Grrr. Don't worry-- I'll keep you all posted as soon as I hear!

Happy Running,
"Run to Win" -Meb

Thursday, October 21, 2010

BQ Watch Continues and More Marathon O' Marathons!

BQ Watch 2K11!
3 days into the "confirmation" stage of Boston registration and I have still yet to receive word from the B.A.A. The good news?... hardly anybody else has either. If you haven't been following, the Boston Marathon closed out it's registration for 2011 in only 8 hours-- a significant record v. 2 months the prior year. I managed (after 4 attempts) to get my registration to go through and received my confirmation number that my registration has been received. Now we're just waiting for them to put my name up on the "Entrants" page! Why such a big deal?... ooooh only because I've planned the last year and a half of my life (and 40 marathons) around this ONE race! NBD...

Marathon O' Marathons... Continues!!!
We're in my longest streak of marathon weekends right now! CAN YOU FEEL THE EXCITEMENT? No?... well then come to the races!!! This is what's on the current sched, join me or stop by the finish if you're around...

Omaha Marathon  Completed! PR 3:24:01! 9/26/10
Chicago Marathon Completed! Feeling the heat! 3:43:41 10/10/10
Detroit Marathon Completed! 2nd Best Time! 3:30:19 10/17/10
Bimbler's Bluff 50K (Trail)- (CT) This Weekend!!! 10/24/10
Spinx Run Fest-(SC) 10/30/10
Marshall University Marathon (WV)-Repeat State 11/7/10

How Ya Feelin?... I FEEL GOOD!
Post-Detroit this weekend I managed to sneak in not 1, not 2, but 3 free massages!!!! It made such a world of difference for recovery! Now if only I could hire a personal massage therapist to travel with me-- pshha! Seriously though-- Feeling good! 3 done, 3 to go and this weekend is a trail race, so it'll be much better on the joints, albeit a little tougher on the hamstrings! 

Looking Forward?
As always, I'm looking to hit sub 4:00 marathons for all my states. The Bluff is a 50K and they don't have a recorded 26.2 mile point, so that one we'll have to come back to. I do hope to make Spinx and Marshall sub-4:00 even though they're at the end of the marathon of marathons. My reaching goal? Make at least ONE of them a BQ and TRY for a PR at one-- if I'm feeling goooood! 

I still owe you a Detroit Marathon review as well as a Bimbler's Bluff race RUNdown! *Coming soon*

As always, if you're planning on joining me for one of the upcoming marathons and you're not listed in the "Upcoming Races" tab in the nav bar please shoot me a comment or an email and I'll add you!

Happy Running,
"Run to Win" - Meb

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Chicago Marathon Race Ratings (#41) and Boston Watch 2K11!

Tag line: "Bring your own GU and lots of patience!"

Chicago, IL ~ Grant Park, Chicago
Type: 100% Pavement
Year Running: 33rd!
Registration Fee: $135
Charity Race? Yes... ~1/4 of runners are charity runners
Runners:  36,159... 16,186 Females
Available Races: Marathon Only
Average Finish Time: 4:43:48
BQ %: 8.5

Overall Race Ratings: 3.7/5.0

Average Calculated Rating: 3.7/5.0
~  As one of the marathon majors, we have to expect a huge corral and some challenges in organization. But, as one of the biggest marathons in the US, they should know how to run a corral system a little more efficiently. This can be a very fast course, if you're able to get out very early and if you're big enough to push your way through the pack. If you're looking for just a fun race with a TON of spectators throughout, you'll love it here. 

Race Director: Let's play race director...
~ Keeping in mind the size of the race, there isn't much to do about some of the organization and spacing issues. They could definitely work on the Gels however! Only 1 stop? And lose the battery- tasting Accel gel! Also-- and this is big-- there needs to be more than 3 seeded corrals with more space, and each corral should be sent off with 30 seconds after the one in front of it ends... it's the only way not to feel pinned in the entire race. 
Steph, Hillery, CB & Coach Nathan
Event Organization: 4.0/5.0 (now broken into 2 parts, see below as well) As far as "event organization" we'll include things like Host hotel, website use, ease of travel to the event and to the actual race, etc.
Distance from Airport to Expo/Race: ~ 17 Miles (ORD) 10 Miles (Midway)
Rental Car Required: No
~ This is a very large race that requires the entire city to be coordinated to work correctly. Their informative website and pre-race packets they mailed to use, started on the right foot. They did provide discount hotels as well as shuttles the whole weekend to and from the expo with stops all over downtown. The only issues I had with getting around was getting to the actually corral start of the race-- it was impossible to figure out where you were going. There were volunteers that helped, but the bag drop was extremely far from the corral starts. The same thing could be said for the family meeting area. They called it "mile 27" and they weren't kidding... it really felt like you had to walk a mile from the finish to the meeting area. 

Race Organization: 3.0/5.0
Hydration Color/Type: Gatorade/Yellow
~ There were aid stations at LEAST every 2 miles
Gel Type/Flavors/Availability:  Accel Gel/Vanilla and Chocolate/1 station!
~Post Race Food: .There is a large table lined with beer... but besides that there wasn't much going on with food. They had some small hard begals and some bananas. Gatorade was a big sponsor and they gave us one of their new post-race formula drinks. I loved that! 
Doing the "low" warning system
~ There were clocks every mile, 5K and 13.1. There were also a lot of rest stops available and aid stations. I loved the ice sponges provided at the end of the course as well. Considering, the number of heat-related issues Chicago has seen in the past, it was great that the had a color-coded warning system that they put in place starting even a few days before the race, On the downside? The "Accel Gel" tasted like a battery and was only available at 1 station! They definitely could have provided more food, considering we had a very long walk from the finish out of the shoot.

My biggest concern was the assigned corral sizes and starts! I was in the FRONT of corral B and I felt closed in from beginning until the end. They did not give 30 seconds to a minutes between corrals like larges races sometimes do, which led to large traffic jams from beginning to end. And for the little people running..... this made for a very intimidating scene! 

Course: 4.1/5.0
MarathonGuide Rating
Garmin Distance: NA (others had b/t 26.5 and 27)
Type: Pavement- City road
~ Elevation Gain/Loss: Minimal!
~ The extremely flat, looped course brings you throughout downtown Chicago, to the various neighborhoods and gives you a nice little guided tour of the city. This could be nice, but to be honest, I felt like all we saw were large buildings from beginning to end-- nothing special there. I DID love that you are turning every quarter mile or less-- no long drawn-out straightaways that you can see (and dread) for miles. 

Spectators: 5.0/5.0
They did have fantastic entertainment throughout the course-- gay cheerleaders? LOVED them! Some great bands, and very exceited spectators with awesome signs!!! There may not be a whole lot to see on the course... but the amount of spectators certainly makes up for that! You are surrounded from beginning to end. There is nothing like the spectators in any of the Marathon Majors! 

 Pace Group: 2.5/5.0
They did have a pace group for just about every 5 minutes, which is a big plus! I started with the 3:20 pace group and I can't say I loved it. The 4 of them bobbed and weaved for at least the first 10 miles before I gave up. It was like they were racing each other rather than working together. (SORRY TP!) a 3:20 is a 7:38 pace and for most of the time I was with them they were WELL under 7:30! I saw a couple other pacers WAY off pace (some having dropped off from their groups). 

Runner/Corrals: 2.0/5.0
~ Corrals were a messy situation. I was in the seeded corrals and I still had a VERY difficult time 1) Finding and getting to our start) and feeling very jammed in from beginning to end. I wish they had put some time between the start of at least the seeded corrals. 

Runners... I saw some not so nice runners around. People were pushing and shoving, cutting each other off. It was not fun. There wasn't that comradery I've come to expect at endurance events. 

Expo: 5.0/5.0
~ I think we had the most fun at the expo! The vendors were very pleasant to be around and some brought some fun stuff! The VW group had a place to take a 6 sec video (dressed up in funny stuff) that they turned into a flip book for you. The LuluLemon group brought a photobooth to take 4 pictures. They also had companies giving out samples of heating and icing pads that we loved! You can get anything you needed and they had some great Chicago marathon gear available, including my new (love) Chicago Marathon arm warmers! 

Swag: 4.0/5.0
~T-Shirts: The T-shirts have a great fit on a bright red, short sleeve tech T. They have a very basic design with the marathon name and date that really pops. I liked the shirts... and apparently so did a lot of other people, as they sported them around all weekend! 4.4

~Medals: The medals were a good size with a nice clean cut design, but sort of blasé considering the size of the event. 3.7

~ Goodie Bag: The bag had a few extras thrown in, but nothing too crazy or special. 

Results: Stephanie
Chip Time: 3:43:41
Place: Overall- 4941/36,159, Gender- 1024/16,186, A/G (F25-29)- 305/3731
Kim (another MM Diva) and I post-race!

Boston Watch 2K11
The latest update on Boston? I've gotten my registration number from the race, but we've had no official confirmation from the B.A.A. yet! 

Happy Racing,
"Run to Win" - Meb