Under the Oaks-Oct 10,2015

This was the 6th Annual running of Under the Oaks on Jekyll Island, GA. The race has a 5k, 10k, and half marathon benefiting Saint Simons Christian School. This is a small town race with only about a thousand participants overall.

Jekyll Island is a beautiful island off the coast of Georgia with gorgeous beaches, lots of historic sites/buildings, a water park, a turtle rescue hospital, a handful of hotels (Ritz Carlton being the luxury of the island), and even a campground.

Jekyll Island was an easy hour and half drive for me, so I decided to just drive up race morning.

There is a $6 fee to access the island to support conservation of the island as well as fund projects with the biking/walking paths and picnic areas. I understand this city run fee, but I wish there was more communication of it at or before the time of registration. The only time I remember seeing it was in the final email.

Parking was simple with the Start and Finish at Summerwaves Water Park.

Packet pick up seemed to be flawless, except a grumpy old lady that literally made everyone wait for the exact minute, even though the volunteers and everything was already set up. Our packet was stocked full of coupons such as Mellow Mushroom, Outback, Chikfila, Tortuga Jacks, and a pretzel company. There was an option to pick up your packet the days before as well as a pizza dinner option.

The park was open for us to utilize the real bathrooms which was nice, as well as a couple of porta potties. However, a lot of people did not realize there were restrooms, so long lines were forming for just 2 porta potties. Later I actually learned there was another set of real restrooms further inside the park, but yet again there was no communication of this.

For some reason there were 2 djs at the Start and Finish, which was kind of annoying hearing 2 different types of music. There was also a raffle with a number from your bib that they collected at the Start, but unfortunately again there was no communication, and I did not realize it until they were calling the numbers at the Finish.

The course pretty much circles the island. Obviously by the name, Under the Oaks, it was expected to be running through some great tree beauties. But there was also some awesome scenery of the marsh and ocean (which had a nice stretch of boardwalk). Besides the oake trees, there were a lot of gorgeous banyon trees, and lots and lots of hanging mmoss. The course was mostly on biking/walking paths, varying slightly on different terrain. There were some patches of sand, crushed shell pavement, regular asphalt, and wood bridges. We passed a lot of beautiful historic buildings. But the most impressive was the constant overhang of the trees and moss coverage. It made it absolutely peaceful.

The day was a hot one for a Fall race being in the 70s with 99% humidity. It started sprinkling on the second half, which I actually really appreciated and iwshed it would have rained harder to cool it off more, but the trees also protected us from most of it.

The first and last miles I felt good and ran them nonstop, but from there, I was all over the place. I did 3x30 for 2miles, 3x45 for 2miles, and then quickly downgraded from 2x45 to 1x45. I was completely exhausted from the humidity and completely soaked in sweat by M1.

The hydration stations were property stocked and they served Nuun at every other one. The stations were spread out 1.5-2.5 miles apart. I had to utilize a water fountain at the beach and a lot of people were carrying their own water. I feel they should have put the stations a little closer together, especially for a humid day. Half way, they handed out energy gels.

There were not many spectators with this being a sleepy small island. There were only a few random family members here and there.

There was a photographer on course, who made sure you knew at the Start to SMILE and they would download the pictures for free. He actually had a recording playing a few hundred feet ahead of him so you knew to be prepared to make it your best.

The Finish line was quite expansive for it being such a small race. The food was the furthest away from everything and complete opposite of the parking. Unfortunately, beer was not served, but they did have a pretty impressive spread of food. Olive Garden was there with spaghetti and breadsticks. Outback was there with sweet potatos and their honey wheat rolls. There were bagels, bananas, doughnuts, cake, cookies, soda, and candy.

It was nice to have the real bathrooms at the Finish, as I was completely drenched from the rain. Luckily I brought a towel, as they had hot showers and a changing room, which made for a nice drive home.

The shirt and medal match and they also gave us a buff.

Overall, despite the mis (or non) communication of a few things, I would recommend this race. The course is tranquil and Jekyll Island is a hidden oasis to discover. Plus, they won me over with those Olive Garden breadsticks at the Finish! WHO KNEW?! :) I would plan to spend a few hours the day before, or after the race to explore the area.


 I am currently running a half marathon a month and also running a half marathon in each state all to show support and raise awareness for breast cancer via The Donna. Please consider showing your support by making a donation today! 

Santa Fe Thunder-Sept 20, 2015



After already registering for the Santa Fe Thunder half marathon, my friend approached me with a crazy idea to backpack the Grand Canyon. At first, I said no way, as it was the same exact week of the race. But after short consideration, I realized this was a once in a lifetime experience I could not pass up. You see, my friend already knew someone that had done this several times before that would be escorting us (note*free guide!) and he knew the insides and outs of backpacking (note*free guide!). So I said yes and 6 of us (5 that had never done anything like this before) set out to backpack the Canyon for 4 days.

We flew into Vegas and drove the 3 ½ hours to Jacob Lake Lodge, about 40 miles shy of the North Rim where our adventure would begin.

Jacob Lake Lodge has a hotel, motel, and cabins. I stayed in a cabin which was a great set up; a bedroom on each side of the shared bathroom. It was quite rustic, but we were about to sleep on the ground in the upcoming days, so a bed was a plus at this point! The property had a small necessities shop, a bakery, a bar, and a restaurant (2 separate menus in which I recommend the main restaurant menu unless you want a sandwich).

Grand Canyon Day 1- We started at the Grand Canyon Lodge North Rim in which we had our first breathtaking views of the Canyon. We rubbed the mule statues nose (apparently a good luck tradition), got our parking pass for the week, and started on the 7 mile North Kaibab Trail to Cottonwood Creek campground.

The majority of the trail was straight downhill with sharp switchbacks and was quite muddy with mule droppings (yes, people take mules down and back). You quickly dropped elevation and it was cool to look back up to see how far you just came. It was an interesting day as everyone was getting used to the shock on how heavy our packs actually were (30-50lbs) and learning our footing on the uneven ground. Then thunder was heard in the distance and it started to sprinkle. Luckily, it only lasted long enough to dig out the ponchos. There are 2 bathrooms (basically an upscale porta potty) and water fountain on this trail; the 2nd stop being along a cold stream where you can soak your feet.

Cottonwood campground was nicely spaced out between spots for privacy and there is access to the stream to refresh the sore muscles. There is a bathroom, fresh water as well as a ranger station.

Our early beautiful night (temps were perfect and stars are gorgeous along the dark outline of the cliffs) was interrupted by a series of storms that rolled through. Winds picked up and lightning seemed to be striking relatively close. It was quite an experience being in only a tent in that type of situation.

Grand Canyon Day 2- The next day consisted of another 7mile along the Kaibab Trail to Bright Angel Campground/Phantom Ranch, but also an additional 2 miles to the Ribbon Falls, which is highly recommended. If you commit to doing the falls, make sure you go the complete distance and do not turn around after the first spotting of a waterfall. This is NOT it! There are a couple of bamboo and stream crossings, as well as a boulder to scramble, but once you arrive, you will know it! It was like a hidden oasis of greenery amidst a desert canyon. After that, the hike went quick as the majority of the trail is flat along the river.  
Bright Angel Campground consists of camping right along the Bright Angel Creek which runs into the Colorado River. Camp spots are practically right on top of each other, so don’t expect privacy here. The creek was just inches deep, but still nice enough to freshen up and relax sore muscles. There is also a real bathroom with running water in a sink, water fill station, and ranger station.

There is also Phantom Ranch which has a dormitory as well as cabins. (for those that don’t want to backpack). There is a restaurant/bar combo which you can preorder meals (they shut down from 4-8p for this) or you can just hang out and order drinks. A must is sending a postcard that is carried back up by mule!

There are a few short hikes to do if you need more miles. A couple of us did a 2mile one along the beautiful Colorado River were we got to see the rafters take off. (you can do a multi day/night rafting experience down the river). There was a guest speaker, a traveling artist hiking through the Canyon, painting along the way, as well as ranger talk for entertainment through the evening. This was our latest night of the week, but still asleep by 830p being pitch dark out. The stars were once again mesmerizing.

Grand Canyon Day 3- Our mornings consistently started about 430a to eat breakfast, drink some amazingly good instant coffee, and pack up camp. From Bright Angel Campground was a simple 5miles along Bright Angel Trail to Indian Garden Campground. This was the first of the two days of inclines. It went entirely too quick (or we left entirely too early) and I almost just wanted to keep going. We literally had all day to sit around and relax. I disliked this campground the most. Mainly because there wasn’t a stream to sit in like the others.

Camp spots were spread out better. It seemed this was the smallest campground as well. There was the usual bathroom/porta potty and water refill station as well as ranger station. There was also a box of books and games available, which I did not find until too late, but was a great idea to relax the day away

At sunset we set out for Plateau Point which was a 3mile roundtrip hike to a cliff that looked out across the Canyon, and down at the Colorado River. This was probably the most amazing experience of the entire trip! We sat up there for hours as the sun set, the colors of the Canyon changing colors as the sun set. The traveling artist was there too capturing the moments. It was just absolutely peaceful.
Grand Canyon Day 4-The day we were warned about….the toughest of the inclines….almost 5 miles  on Bright Angel Trail to the top of the South Rim of Grand Canyon. The view remained almost the same entire day’, just from farther and farther away. (it was cool though to see the trail in the distance). There were a ton of switchbacks getting you up the mountain and once you hit a rhythm, it was hard to slow down. Because of this, our group of 6 pretty much split up and met at the top.

There are two bathroom/water refill stops on this trail. At the top, the South Rim seems much bigger than the North Rim. There is a complete village, different lodging options, as well as restaurants/bars to choose from. We freshened up in the Bright Angel Lodge and had breakfast at the Bright Angel Restaurant (note, they do not serve alcohol. WHAT?!) We could not get enough scrumptious food! As we waited for our shuttle back to the North Rim (a 4hour drive) we had drinks at the El Tovar lounge.

Luckily, the shuttle driver was nice enough to drop the girls of our group off at Jacob Lodge, as they had to pass by there anyways to get to North Rim, as the men continued to pick up the car.

Dinner and another night was had a Jacob Lodge before we headed back over to Las Vegas.
Day 5-Las Vegas-of course we had to celebrate our accomplishment of conquering the Grand Canyon, and spent a late nighter on the Strip. My early flight out to Albuquerque was a tough one!


Santa Fe Thunder hosts a half marathon, 5k and 1mile run hosted by Global Running Culture, a nonprofit organization whose mission is to empower youth through participation in sports.

I chose the race for my New Mexico half marathon, as the ‘downhill course’ was tempting, plus with work, I was able to secure a complimentary weekend at The Inn of the Five Graces. This Inn is probably the coolest hotel I have ever stayed in. The artwork, d├ęcor, and mosaic tiles throughout the adobes are absolutely stunning. You could sit there relaxing for hours just staring at the beauty and see something new every five minutes. (note*the artist hides her name in your room). The property is working on creating a lovely spa and spa pool, but in the meantime, this is not messed as there are several beautiful and welcoming courtyard areas to lounge on swings, chaise lounges, or eve have your complimentary breakfast delivered to the tables set up outside next to the water fountain. It was an absolute perfect getaway for relaxation after the active week I had!

The bragging rights of this half marathon is that the course that is ‘all downhill’. Well, except for the first couple of miles which they did warn would be uphill. Buts only a few hundred feet compared to the 1,000 overall elevation loss.   


Santa Fe Thunder has an active Facebook community and has a well-organized website. Emails were on par and informative.

Packet pick up was at the same place as the Start, which is always good to familiarize yourself. Unfortunately there were no running supplies to purchase (GU, power bars, socks if you forgot them, etc). They did have a couple of local shirts, but not race specific items. And there were a couple of local vendors selling handmade items which was unique to the area. Sports Authority was there giving away items from a spinning board as well as coupons. (unfortunately SA doesn’t exist where I live any longer).

We did get a race specific water bottle in our packet which is always cool and I won a 2nd water bottle form Sports Authority.

Shuttles started at 545a from Buffalo Thunder, where we were to finish, for the 8am start at Marcy Field. Parking at Buffalo Thunder was expansive, so there weren’t any issues there. Getting out of the car and walking over to the shuttle, on the other hand, we were warned there was a bear or mountain lion growling nearby, so to watch out. Say WHAT?! Thankfully it never returned!

As soon as I got on the bus, about 7 of us were talking (or bragging) about how many half marathons and states we have completed. After 5 years of me doing this, it seems it so commonplace for a large majority of runners bucket lists include running the 50 states. I feel like I no longer stand out on my mission. I still tried to spread the word on The Donna, the reason why I do this, as a couple was from Florida and still never heard of it. The lady I sat next to was about to run her first half marathon. Being my normal self, I barely glanced at the course map, but she was explaining we were pretty much driving it to get to start. That is always disheartening. I much rather prefer the course to be a surprise.

There was also mention of a ‘very limited’, ‘not sure if it will be available’ shuttle from the Buffalo Thunder back to Santa Fe after the race. I would have loved more information on this, as this was my destination race so stayed right in the heart of Santa Fe, walking distance from start.

It was a cool morning in the upper 40s as I still had an hour and a half to wait for the sun to rise and for start. Luckily I brought my gloves and layered my clothes as they had a bag check. I found a small hallway into a locked bathroom which over looked the ballfield and hung out to get away from the wind. Lots of people started running or walking the laps to warm up. Once the sun rose, it started to warm up nicely. Temps were to rise to the upper 70s during the race.

Porta potty lines were not as bad as some people complained. It seemed pretty normal to me. I got to go 3 times before start. They handed out bottled water which is always good if you didn’t bring your own.

There were no pacers or any official line up. I put myself in the back as I knew I was not a good hill runner, and who knows how I was going to feel after backpacking the Grand Canyon.

The goal here was to just survive as who knew how I was going to feel after hiking 30 miles of the Grand Canyon! However, I felt good, not sore at all, and the course ‘was’ downhill…..so why couldn’t I PR?

As soon as we left the Starting area, we literally were going straight up. It was a doozy of a first mile. The second ‘hill’/mile didn’t seem nearly as bad. Then it was ‘all downhill’ from there. Except…..1,000 feet stretched out for 11 miles really isn’t ‘that’ big of downhill. There were a few spots where I could really pick up speed as it seemed like more of a decline. But then rolling hills would show up. The majority of the course runs alongside the highway on a side road, and actually crosses over a couple of times, so there are inclines with the ramps as well. This was not exactly the decline I was expecting. However, I do have to admit for running at 7,000 feet, my lungs were not overworking as much as I would think, so maybe the decline was working? The scenery was basically the mountains in the far distance and you pass a cool spot called Camel Rock. They did have a few musical talents out at different spots and even some belly dancers came out!  
After the first couple of miles, I knew I had to run hard to make up those extra minutes if I wanted to PR. At first it seemed possible, but as the small hills kept coming, I basically gave up knowing this wasn’t the course I was expecting. I basically just continued on without pressure. I finished in my normal 2:25, which to me is still impressive with about 30miles already on my legs from the same week hiking the Grand Canyon and running at elevation when Im used to sea level. I will take it!

The Finish Line didn’t provide much, but they did have a recovery green juice (not to my liking) and popsicles which are always good after a hot race, but it really wasn’t that hot out. There were a couple other snacks, but the thing that gets me is they were selling real food like hamburgers and beer. Id rather them just add an extra $5 to the registration and provide a meal for the runners, especially since you still had to drive back to town (if you did not stay at Buffalo Thunder).

An awesome plus with this race is the photos are free to download. They seemed to be really good pictures and the photographers were located in 3-4 different spots including the finish. However, it seems there is a huge gap missing at the Finish Line and I do not have a single picture.

I really like how the shirt and medal stick with the same theme. The shirt is gender specific and sizing is right on. The wording on the medal however is almost illegible; the font just needs to be larger.

Overall, I think Santa Fe is a really unique and cultural destination to experience. However, Santa Fe Thunder half marathon does not really incorporate that into their course. To walk around the city and experience the history is amazing. To run the course, you don’t really see this being outside of downtown. With that said, I would still recommend this high elevation, easy downhill race. It supports a great charity for our youth and really is quite organized from beginning to finish. Like any race, there could be small improvements to make this an outstanding race, but nothing to stop me from recommending to make a weekend out of this destination. Stay at Buffalo Thunder for a night maybe for the race, but also stay in the heart of Santa Fe to be truly surrounded by the New Mexican culture.

 13.1 2:25
State #24
Half Marathon #54

 I am currently running a half marathon a month and also running a half marathon in each state all to show support and raise awareness for breast cancer via The Donna. Please consider showing your support by making a donation today!

14th Annual New River Gorge-ous Trail Half Marathon, Minden WV-Aug 22, 2015

This was the 14th Annual New River Gorgeous Trail Half Marathon held by Ace Adventure Resort and Tri State Racers in Minden, WV, just outside of ‘the coolest small town’ of Fayetteville.

Camping and running around a lake, with a race that offered ‘free’ camping for race weekend, all with a  low registration of less than fifty bucks? Who wouldn’t jump on this?

The flight into Charleston, WV is just an easy hour drive away. But apparently the actual arriving/departing flights are always an issue, as both my flights arriving and departing were delayed.

Luckily I arrived just in time (literally only 10 minutes to spare) for my first excursion of The New River Gorge Bridge Walk. Yep you guessed it, I got to walk the steel under the bridge 876 feet up and over the New River! Seemed like a pretty calm thing compared to some of my travel adventures, but I thought it would be a cool introduction to the area as the race is in fact named New River Gorge-ous. (it wasn’t until later I learned the race course goes nowhere near the bridge). Once it was all said and done, I walked away really enjoying the experience and highly recommend checking it out! Not only was the guide and tour informative, but it was a whole other feeling. I mean, the bridge literally shook, and the sound of the traffic was intense. We had a couple opportunities to actually sit down and enjoy the view as well, watching the white water rafters below, which was exciting as I was going to be partaking in that the day after the race.


I finally got to settle into my home away from home at Ace Adventure Resort in the early evening.

Although there was free camping for the runners, and you could actually rent tents/sleeping bags, I had decided to upgrade to the ‘tent cabin’ (a YURT of sorts on a wooden platform with a roof and 3 beds) because it was still cheaper than any hotel. If you just can’t handle the camping experience, no worries, there are regular cabins to rent, or you can bring your RV.

The bathhouse in the tenting area was bare minimum and really not a place I could picture myself getting clean. However, there was a huge and ‘new’ bath house in the trip departure area that was much nicer, except the one cold shower.  

Ace Adventure Resort is located on a small lake which is packed full of not only inflatable fun, but also a zip line, a BOB, and a cool slide. You can buy day passes to play all day or part day.

There is a restaurant, bar, and camp store located on site as well. Wifi is available and if you are doing a whitewater rafting trip, the buses leave straight from there as well.

There are a wide range of other activities including but not limited to zip lining (day and night), horseback riding, and rock climbing,

Fayetteville is a short15-20 minute drive to town where there are a few other very good and unique restaurants to try out, such as Pies and Pints and Secret Sandwich Society.

Firewood and supplies are located right at the Ace check in. There really is no need to leave once you are there.


Packet pickup was done the morning of the race at 930a. The race was set to start at 11a, but because it seemed most volunteers did not show, it took them longer to get everyone checked in and registered….yes they even allowed same day registration. We started about 20 minutes late.
We received a shirt in the packet as well as coupons.

There was no opportunity for any fuel/gear/race souvenir purchase.


The race includes a half marathon, 8.5mile, and 5 mile option which runs the trails surrounding Ace Adventure Resort. The 8.5 runs the same exact course as the half until the very end. All three start at the same time, and there is no official line up, which lead to very tight quarters in the first couple of miles. Once we were into the woods (which was very soon and up until the very end) the paths were single file, making it difficult to pass slower runners and also made it hard to see your footing if you ran too close or did try to pass. Because the race reporting was messed up, I do not know the actual number of runners, but I assume it was less than 500.

The elevation difference was about 1700 overall according to my Garmin. The course is a very technical trail with lots of turns, steep hills, cliffs, dirt, tree roots, and big rocks. You constantly have to pay attention to foot placement to avoid falls and twisted ankles.


There was an event page on Facebook and Ace Adventure had a page as well in which they put out limited information the couple of weeks before the race. The actual website is very limited information however, and I never once received an email with any direct race details.


There were 3 water stops for the half marathon. Being a late start and knowing that the temps were going to rise to 80, I made sure I carried a water bottle with me, and I am glad I did. I was able to fill it up at each stop, which consisted of one volunteer manning a cooler and cups of water only. Not once was there Gatorade or fuel of sorts.

Surprisingly, I never over heated or dehydrated, as almost all of the race is in the wood/shade and I never ran out of water. Breakfast was coffee and left over pizza, which probably wasn’t the best of decisions, but I just wasn’t hungry. 11am race time is a very weird time for figuring out eating. I brought with me 2 leftover GU chomps, but unfortunately I did not have enough fuel to keep me going. I absolutely was not prepared to have no Gatorade/fuel provided.

We were also warned at the start that there would be no porta potties on the course, that you would just have to go on trail.... welcome to West Virginia!


Before I go into my results of this race, I’m going to take you back five years to my first year of doing the ‘half marathon a month’ when I travelled to Miami to do my very first and only  ‘trail’ run. I walked away from that race, the only DNF race in my life, and swore I would never do another trail run. It was also in August and I knew absolutely nothing about trail running. Which also meant, I had no idea how much longer it takes to run on trails vs road. I scheduled my flight out that day entirely too close to what I thought I should be finished, and I had to DQ myself. I left that race so embarrassed and defeated. I really had no desire what so ever to do another trail run again.

Well, then came WV New River Gorgeous half. I jumped on it because I thought it sounded fun, inexpensive, and I knew the area had some great whitewater rafting for afterwards! It was quite funny as I opened my running magazine on the airplane and realized it was focused on trail running. I took away tips from experts that actually helped during the race. But little did I know just how much of a technical trail this was going to be. It was very exciting in the first few miles and we even came out to an overlook of the River. At about M6, I was about ‘done’ with hills. It seemed we were constantly going up and never coming down. Every turn, there would be another incline. Before the half way mark, I was definitely down to walking the inclines, then running the straightaways, but also having to walk a lot of the downhills as there were huge rocks to avoid slipping on. I just kept telling myself, I could not get injured as I will be hiking the Grand Canyon in a few weeks! We got really spaced out on the 2nd half of the course, that I literally only saw 1 or 2 people for the rest of the race….and then I saw no one. We came across a small waterfall and creek on the 2nd half and I kept forcing myself to focus on enjoying the scenery (vastly different from Florida beaches) and not focus on the lack of energy. By about M10, even walking the inclines were exhausting. I had to stop and latch onto a tree as my breath had escaped me, I felt faint, and I started to panic because I was all alone. Luckily, I calmed down, continued on, and shortly after, one of the guys in charge came up on a 4wheeler making sure I was okay. I asked if I was last and to much surprise, he said no!


I crossed the finish line with another runner right behind me, but there was literally no race people at the finish. The Finish Line sign was still up, and the clock was still ticking, but no water, no medal, no direction, no one to make sure I was ok.

A lot of families were enjoying the lake amusements, but I felt they also got an amusement of me staggering in too. It took all the effort I had to make it into the restaurant, where I knew they were going to have a burrito buffet for us and that is where I found all the runners as they were waiting for the last runner to do awards. I immediately cramped up, yet still could not find any Gatorade….well, that was because there was none. Still. You had the option of sodas or water. No orange juice, no chocolate milk, no fruits, no bagels, no chips, no nothing. Beer was $1, which if I had known, I would have ran with money. Thankfully the bartender was nice enough to let me have one as I offered to leave my Garmin behind. Highly disappointed, I grabbed my medal, and forced myself to eat a couple of tacos.

Come to find out, the race did not announce a ‘cut off’ time, yet results are not posted past 3:11



The tech shirt is unisex and matches the medal.


The medal is generic without a mention of date



I had an absolute blast the entire weekend and despite the piss poor results, I thoroughly enjoyed trying something not only new, but out of my comfort level. I highly praise trail runners. It is a whole other level of the word ‘runner’ or ‘athlete’!! Not only running at elevation, but running on uneven terrain steadily for 13.1 miles is exhausting in itself, but add in the mental strength you need to constantly be planning and focusing where your next step will be so you do not get injured. Trail runners are BADASS. Bottom line.


I love the concept and location of this race, but the execution could be much better. First off, better/more communication of race details for out of towners would be nice. A different race start time for each distance would help the crowdedness. An earlier start time would be nice to avoid the heat. Gatorade or a fuel drink on the trail is a must. More volunteers for check in would get us to start on time. The burrito/taco/nacho buffet was awesome, but would be nice to have more after race friendly food/drink. (aka bananas, oranges, recovery drink, beer). Despite all of that, I would recommend the race if you don’t mind all of the above, but you are also looking for a challenging course combined with an activity filled weekend. Once at Ace Adventure Resort, you don’t have to leave the property the entire weekend, you get to embrace with nature during the race, and try some exciting excursions in the area all arranged by the same resort. Overall, since the course itself and the partnership with the resort is the only great thing about this race, I would have to give it a C- in my books.

The next day since my flight wasn’t until late, I did a full whitewater excursion of the Lower New River. I had a fun group of girls on my raft and it was a beautiful and exciting day.

State #23
Half Marathon #53

I am currently running a half marathon a month and also running a half marathon in each state all to show support and raise awareness for breast cancer via The Donna. Please consider showing your support by making a donation today!

Presque Isle Half Marathon, Erie, PA-July 19, 2015

(pictures to be updated, stay tuned)

This year (my 5th year of running a half marathon a month, as well as hitting my 'half way' mark of the 50 states) I have been very lucky on receiving some complimentary stays for race events. So when I came across a comp stay at the Ritz Carlton Cleveland, OH, I snagged it up. No races in PA have really struck an interest the past few years. My trend (being a Florida beach gal) has been trying to stay along coastlines and/or flat races. So when I stumbled upon small town Presque Isle PA half, I knew this would be my PA race. Presque Isle in Erie PA is a State Park that is a peninsula on Lake Erie. I went into this race thinking it was super small (no real race website, no real race Facebook page), however I quickly learned the day before and on race day it was about 2,000 runners!

So why did I stay in Ohio to run a Pennsylvania race?!.....
-flights were the cheaper into Cleveland OH
-my friend that went with me is from Cleveland and we could visit her mom who still lives there
-it was her moms birthday
-I could get a free hotel stay at the Ritz Carlton downtown Cleveland

It really was only a hour and half drive to Presque Isle so all signs were pointing "why not?" However, as the race day approached, I started feeling bad running a PA race, staying in OH, and not really experiencing what PA has to offer.

Race Start time was 645 with same day packet pick up starting at 545. I arrived at 6a and the lots were already filling up. (note for out of towers, park before the entrance to PI park. The walk seemed shorter than going to the lots within the park). I ended up parking about a mile away.

By the time I parked, there was about 15 minutes til start, so I started running. The Packet Pick up line was a good size, but not nearly as ridiculous as the porta potty line. Later I learned they were expecting the bath houses to be open, but they were not, which made the lines ridiculous. After getting my packet, I realized there was no gear check. So they were expecting us to go back to the car and back to start all in time? Wasn't going to happen, so I stuck it behind a tree and hoped it would still be there after the race. (it was)

It was going to be a warm and sunny day with temps reaching the 80s, but luckily most the course was in the shade. We ran the peninsula and on the return it seemed to be windier which helped keep it cool(er). All the water stations were properly stocked and they even handed out wet towels on the second half. I did see one person being taken away by ambulance for heat related issues. The flat course stays on paved road and paved bike path. With the water views and abundance of trees it is a pretty course. There were plenty of bathhouses as well as a few porta potties set out. This flat course was highly enjoyable, but time of year is hot.

The night before I had little sleep and for some reason had some allergic reaction and first my right eye swelled and by morning both eyes were overly puffy. Luckily it calmed down by race start time. I got little sleep as the walls at the Ritz were fairly thin and with a casino next door, winners were coming back at all hours excited they won!

I went into the race exhausted just wanting to survive and that is basically what I did. I used my pace alert and had it set to a 3x1 (run 3min, walk 1 min) for the first half and basically 1x1 on the return. I did not see anyone else with a pace alert and was questioned about it after I passed a couple people towards the end. Its fun to not only talk about the Galloway, but to show that it actually does keep you strong to the finish and have a good recovery time as well!

The after party had really good (real) food.... boxed lunches with a choice of wrap. I was disappointed in the drink selection (all sodas and no beer or recovery drinks). I grabbed my food and headed over the lake (right across the street) where everyone seemed to have the same idea of jumping in the cold water to ease the muscles.

It was a mile walk back, but was cool because I got to cheer on the last runners. One group of women were dressed as different super heroes.

I am disappointed with both the shirt and medal which are generic in style...no race name, no date.

I really loved the location, the course, and food afterwards. There were campgrounds at the entrance, so I definitely would have done that if I didn't stay in Cleveland. There were lots of recreation activities to make a weekend out of it.

Overall I would recommend this race and give it an A-

State #22
Half Marathon #52

I am currently running a half marathon a month and also running a half marathon in each state all to show support and raise awareness for breast cancer via The Donna. Please consider showing your support by making a donation today!

4th Annual Thelma and Louise Half Marathon-June 6, 2015

MOAB, UT...... who would guess that this would end up being one of this travel agents favorite places to visit in the world!

It all started when I stumbled upon Thelma and Louise half marathon. Being a favorite movie of mine, how could this race not be perfect? Well, I convinced my running buddy to join me not only for the half marathon, but to take on the adventures of what Moab has to offer as well!

We flew in to Denver from Florida and decided to rent a convertible for one of the most scenic drives in the West! It was a planned 5 1/2 hour drive, however with a stop for lunch at Colorado Bistro (a hidden gem off I70) and a stop at Walmart to pick up supplies, our total drive time ended up being closer to 8 1/2. It was still worth every minute! (if you take the drive, make sure to get off 170 and take UT128 along the Colorado River for the most jaw dropping welcome in the Moab area!)

The Goldbar Campground hosts the Thelma and Louise Half, however, we decided to step it up a notch and go 'glamping' at Moab Under Canvas (highly recommended!) I couldn't imagine spending my time in Moab any other way! I only wish the pictures of the stars and Milky Way would come out, as it is an awesome experience!

We arrived on a Wednesday, with the race being Saturday, which I think was well planned for these sea level girls to get acclimated to the elevation (Moab is located at 3800ft).

Our first day we went out hard and did our first outdoor rock climbing experience ever at Looking Glass Rock with Cliffs and Canyons adventure guide Chris. Lets just say, with rattlesnake warnings, 40mph winds, and shaking nerves, we still survived our 300ft multi pitch climb and a 135ft rappel in a natural amphitheater and arch!
After our exhilarating morning of climbing, we took the convertible for a drive through Arches National Park. You can literally see most of the park without leaving the car! (it was close to 95 degrees that day) Being in the convertible we felt immersed in the natural beauty 17 miles point to point and back! We did do one short hike to Landscape Arch which was cool to see as it is the biggest.

Our 2nd day in town (day before the race) we took it easy and drove the convertible around to check the other surrounding parks. 
Dead Horse State Park (where Thelma and Louise drove off the cliff in the moie)

Canyonlands National Park

Tushers Tunnel

This was the 4th annual Thelma and Louise half marathon with about 630 runners, 430 of them being half marathoners, the others doing the 2person Relay. The Expo was held at the Moab Rec Center with an optional pasta dinner right after. There were lots of cool official race items for sale, but unfortunately I did not see any fuel type items or actual running supplies.

Packet pick up included a reusable bag and race shirt. I also purchased a cool trucker hat.

The night before the race was definitely a night to remember. We were warned earlier in the day that a big downpour storm was on its way. It seemed to stay away all day, but it found us in the middle of the night. We woke in the middle of the night to 40+ mph winds shaking the tent, torrential downpour, and lightning that seemed to be striking right next door! Ive been camping in storms before, but not quite like this, and definitely not the night before a race! Thankfully we were at Moab Under Canvas and their tents were Amazing! No leaks at all, surprisingly! (we did have a wet front door rug in the morning, but realized it had come in thru the fireplace hole. After they removed the rug, it was fine).

The course starts and finishes at the Gold bar Campground. The campground is basically just an open area next to the river, but also next to the main road. (seems all the campgrounds in Moab are like this) The course is pretty flat, but for those like us 'sea level Florida girls' there is a slight incline. (although me and my friend argued the entire race on if it was actually inclining or declining!... must have been the lack of oxygen! lol)

It is basically an out and back course along the river. I knew it was going to be pretty, but I really didn't realize how pretty it was going to be. It is very peaceful. There was also an arch right off the road and a waterfall (or mudfall from the storm the night before) Adding to the 'scenery', they had Cute Cowboys manning the first (and last) water stop! There were also drummers at one of the stations that brought unique entertainment.

The race started at 630a. We had a 20 minute drive, so we were up at 430a. We arrived with plenty of time to spare. There was coffee served and plenty of portal potties. (there are 2 real bathrooms too that barely anyone recognized to use). It was an honestly system line up and a real shotgun that started the race!

The aid stations were all set up properly. There was enough water and Gatorade to go around as well as 2 options for a GU of sorts. Because of the location you do not have spectators lining up cheering you on. There were some family members at the end and at the turn around point, but that was about it

Thankfully because of the storm, the temps stayed lower than I believe is normal (under80) and it stayed overcast til the very end. Having such an awesome PR last month in Ocean City MD, I decided I was going to go out for a repeat and tried to stay with the 2:10 pacer. My running buddy quickly was struggling with her breathing because of the elevation (she is usually a much stronger and faster runner than I am). We split up, but within 3 miles I knew I would not be able to keep the pace, so I stopped and waited for her to catch up. It was, after all, the Thelma and Louise half marathon.... seems like one you run 'with' a friend. The majority of the race we 'leap frogged'  with a girl from Napa, CA who was also complaining about the 'slight incline'. After the turn around point, my friend had gotten her breathing under control but I ended up losing my strength and was slowing down considerably. It was funny how complete opposite runners we are. I told her to kick it into high gear the last mile and beat our 'competition', the Napa girl. We all finished within a minute or two apart.

The after party was right on the water. The cold water was awesome on the feet. I would have liked to have gotten my legs in, but the current was fast. Two (big) local beers were given and there was a slew of snacks to munch on. Awards were given and then they had a Trivia game related to the movie with some awesome prizes! (bib numbers were drawn). It was quite entertaining!

The shirt is awesome and sans sponsor logos splattered all over the back! The fit was perfect.

The ribbon for the medal is cool, however I am very disappointed in the lack of color on the actual medal itself. I do give them props for being creative in making the medal an actual belt buckle, however you would have to cut the ribbon off if you did use it that way.

Kudos all around! I love the theme and that the race director actually tried to incorporate the theme in all areas of the race! The scenery and surrounding area is spot on! This is definitely one to grab a girl friend or two and plan a week getaway! There is so much to do in this active hotspot!

The next day we woke early for another adventure with Cliffs and Canyons Guide, this time with guide Riley who escorted us through Fiery Furnace of Arches National Park (this is by permit/guide only. And you must make reservations at least ahead of time). We were one of the first to arrive in the area (highly suggest) and we got up close and personal with the amazing structure of the land. It was completely silent so early, you were completely immersed in the quiet beauty). The walking, scrambling, and slight climbing definitely stretched out the tired legs!

That afternoon we had to squeeze in one last adventure with Red River Adventures and did 2 rappel and a hike over near Slick Rock and Negro Bill Canyon (Ephedras Grotto and Morning Glory)

Morning Glory (yes, I'm rappelling!)

Monday was our adventure drive back to Denver for a flight home. (and yes, the drive was just as beautiful and worth it the 2nd time too). We were very sad to leave Moab and looking forward to another adventure trip there as there is more to explore! .....Moab ROCKS!!

State #21, HM#51

I am currently running a half marathon a month and also running a half marathon in each state all to show support and raise awareness for breast cancer via The Donna. Please consider showing your support by making a donation today!