008 Covered Bridges Half Marathon

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cbhalfmarathon.blogspot.com

Driving from Ottawa to the New England area is always enjoyable.  This time I was off to Woodstock, VT for the Covered Bridge Half Marathon.  I can’t stress how beautiful the area is around Woodstock as well as the town itself.  The only complaint that I have was cellular service sucked.  But it was understandable why with all the mountains and valleys.  I even went as far as to talk to the locals and ask what service providers they used.  Their reply?  They all suck around here.
Was able to take some time and see some local sites like Harpoon Brewery and Rock of Ages to name a few.  Spent some time walking around Woodstock as well with their main street shops and small town feel.
Race was a point to point run from Suicide Six Ski Hill to Quechee Gorge Village area. It’s limited to 2500 runners so it is important to be on their registration page the day it opens or you won’t get a bib.
The course overall has a very gentle downgrade with only one small hill to climb.  In total you get to run through two covered bridges and pass by another.  There are some twists and turn but nothing that will feel like you are doubling back on yourself.  It was VERY cold in the shade at the starting line so staying in the sun important.  I kept walking around for the most part to try and keep myself warm.  I can’t stress how beautiful the run was.  The town of Woodstock matched that beauty as well.
Check out this article by Greatist.com where they name the Greatest 50 races in America by state.  Covered Bridges holds the honor to be the best race for Vermont.
This one is definitely worth the drive!!

007 Martian Half Marathon

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http://martianraces.com/

My first race of 2015 was in Dearborn, MI just outside Detroit.  This was a long, long drive from Ottawa and peronally the furthest south I have gone in Ontario.

Expo for this race was on the small side with very few vendors.  This isn’t a big deal for me but I know some people look on it as an important feature of a race weekend.

Found a decent hotel to stay in somewhat near the race.  Odd note about the hotel: even though I had a ground floor room facing the back parking lot the curtains didn’t close…at all.  Thought that was a little wierd as there was a small wooded area behind4 the hotel as well.  A practical smorgasbord for peeping toms.

For a smaller race I quite enjoyed the course as it took you though some different areas.  At the start you were in a parking lot just off the main drag.  From there you looped around through some residential areas and continues down a parkway that ran parellel to he Rouge River.  You then doubled back and ran around and though the University of Michigan – Dearborn Campus. After that you came out on the main drag of Michigan Ave ending up at the other end of the parking lot you started at.  I found it really cool for some reason.  Felt like I was running though a tourist brouchure for the area.  Overall the course is quite flat with a few gentle grades.  The one big hill is right at the start which was significate as there wasn’t any warm up at all before the approach.

Lots of good eats post race with sandwiches and fruit.

On the beer side there was a ton of new beers to try, enjoy and bring home for local beweries.  There was a huge liquor store between my hotel and the race that had more selection than I could (safely) bring home called Merchant’s Fine Wine.  Many special editions and local favourites as well.

 

With that Michigan has been checked off the list and race 7 is in the bag.

 

Outlook For 2015

Two races booked and 3+ more to find.

006 Space Coast Race

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This was my second race in Cocoa Beach but the bigger deal was that this was my first Marathon … and it hurt.

The half marathon is the second half of the full marathon so I knew what to expect for that but the first half was an unknown.

I really enjoy the start of this race with the Space Shuttle launch count down as it really makes you feel like you are a part of something.  The crowd really pumps you up at the start and along the major part of course.

I found the first half which consists of an out and back layout to be much more difficult with a few minor hill that drained me more than I thought it would.  When I got back to the starting area and headed out for the second half I wondered what the fuck I was doing.

The second half is an out and back as well and though I was running low energy wise mentally I was somewhat stable.  That changed on the return trip back to the finish.  In retrospect I was trying to distract myself by listing to an audiobook and music but I ended mentally torturing  myself.  In my mind I was fighting the pain and self doubt by forcing to listen and that didn’t work for me.  I ended up calling my wife back in Canada to get some final mile inspiration.  With that little boost made it to the finish in just under 7 hrs.

It might to

005 Ocean City Half Marathon

Big bridge.

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This was the first Boardwalk I have been to. In my mind it is such an Americana thing and Ocean City’s was a great representation. I can’t imagine how busy this place would be in the heat of the summer.

Race was an out and back over a HUGE overpass then out and back down the surface streets of the community. Besides the bridge it is almost perfectly flat. The first half with the bridge is challenging as you go over the bridge then (more or less) turn around and run back over it. Keep in mind this is not a highway overpass this is a waterway overpass.

The second half I found harder than the bridge as it zig-zaged through the streets so you didn’t have a sense as to how far you had left. Plus the last bit was a loop of a city block but people got confused as to which was to go around. It’s had to describe but following the pattern of the zig-zagging you would thing you went straight but in fact you had to turn right. Needless to say my confidence took a beating on that part.

Post race snacks consisted of donuts, pop and other sugary items.  Thought that was weird for a race but when in Rome!

My exploration of different regional beers took a hit as well as this was a dry county. Not sure if there is a way to find this out ahead of time but it wasn’t a show stopper.

Overall an interesting destination.  Drive down and back was rough as I did  it in one shot and driving through Philadelphia during rush hour on the way down wasn’t the best plan.  Funny enough on a re-route suggestion from Google Maps I was taken by the Rocky statue completely accidentally.

004 Old Port Half Marathon

Beautiful place that I would like to come back and visit. Well put together race.

I loved everything about this race with the flat stretches, steep climbs / descent and picturesque views.  Not to much of any one thing and lots of variety for everyone.  The race starts on one of the piers at the waterfront and works it way through the town and ending in the park beside the pier that you started at.

The event was well organized and communication pre race was exceptional.

If you have some extra time before race day there are many local sites to see such as Portland Head Lighthouse, local shopping, small eateries and many, MANY local beers to try.

003 Ottawa Race Weekend

RaceWeekend.jpgBigger than I imagined and I live here!! Living here for the last 16 years and I knew about the Ottawa Race Weekend I never really understood until I had to go and pick up my package. The amount of people was amazing!!! Packet pickup was a obstacle race in itself as you had to traverse the 3 floors of the Shaw Centre to get your bib number and pickup you packet.

Running through neighbourhoods that you barely see driving around town was great and the support from the residence was uplifting.  People were out cheering you on almost all the way around the course.

 

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