Spartan Race

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Disney Cruise review: coming soon!

I know it's off topic, but I thought I'd review it anyway!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

The Disney Half

     The Disney Races are favorites of both Mrs. RQ and mine, and we always feel like the holidays aren't actually over until were back from our annual trip to the mouse.  The last two years, we've run the Goofy, and while that was a great experience, we both decided that it took way too much out of us early in the racing season.  I dropped back to just running the half, and Mrs. RQ decided to follow my lead.  Our rationale was basically that it would allow us to run the half, and then not worry about what we had to eat or drink for the rest of the weekend. I have to say it was a great tactic. 
     I have to explain something here. I've run the Goofy the last two years.  I ran the half the year before that.  The full the year before that.  In all that time, the half marathon shirts and full marathon shirts have been white (one year, the full shirt did branch out to grey...).  The goofy shirt was always a cool dark blue.  This year, the one year I don't run the full, they switch to a cool red shirt for the full marathon.  My other six or seven non-Goofy shirts are effectively interchangeable, and the one year they change it, I don't run it.  The irony...  I did console myself with the fact that the half shirt was a good looking royal blue. 
     The race itself, as usual, was great.  Disney does large crowds well, and their races are no exception.  The now-classic course is littered with Disney characters who are only too happy to take their picture with you.  Crowd support is unparalleled.  I realize that this is not one of the "Big 5" Marathons, but it, along with Marine Corps, have to be 6 and 7. 
     As for the tactic of running the half, and then eating and drinking out way through the rest of the trip.  What a great idea.  We were relaxed, ate anything we wanted, and stayed out late for fireworks.  Next year we may go back to the Goofy, but this year, it was the right thing to do.

The fall races...

    Last fall, Mrs. RQ and I hit a number of races - most good.  Some bad. The basic gist of it was a four half marathon blitz in about six weeks running from late September until early November.  We started with the Asheville Citizen Times half marathon, followed up with the Athens, GA half, moved on to the RNR Savannah Half Marathon, and finally our old favorite, the Outerbanks Half. 

    The Asheville Half is rapidly becoming a favorite. It is well run, the course is pretty, the air clean, and the post race beer cold.  It starts downtown, meanders through some neighborhoods full of varied, and, sometimes very interesting, homes, flirts with running by the famous Grove Park Inn, swoops around Beaver Lake, back through the campus of UNC Asheville, and then over a final mountain before venturing back downtown.  Last year it was so foggy, I never saw the lake, though we were only a few dozen feet away from it.  This year, we ran most of the way in rain or at least drizzle, but it was the type that just cools you off a bit.  It added to the race.  I highly recommend this one.

      The Athens Half Marathon was another smaller race that is worth seeking out.  I'm a University of South Carolina fan, but I have to admit, I enjoyed running through the University of Georgia Campus.  The stadium is nice, the fraternity houses and sorority houses impressive, and the rest of the little city of Athens is pretty as well.  Particularly nice was a several mile stretch near the end of the race through some dedicated greenspace that Athens is justifiably proud of showing off. I really liked this race, and would highly recommend it.  By the way, Athens also has a number of very impressive restaurants not to far from the race end, most of whom did not seem to mind catering to smelly runners on a Sunday Morning.

     And then there was the RNR Half in Savannah.  Let me say this first.  The actual run was fine. The Tech Shirts were good.  As usual, the medal was great.  The after party was quite an affair.  In other words, the event itself was really well done.  The logistics getting to and from the race were the absolute worst of any race I have ever encountered.  Ever.  Getting to packet pick up was an ordeal.  It was located in a convention center with a single road in and out.  It took forever sitting in a basically parked traffic to get there.  When you got there, their wasn't enough parking.  The actual expo was a fair clone of the Virginia Beach Half, and pretty impressive.  What was not at all impressive, and the reason why I will never run this race again, was the plan for getting 20,000 runner plus an equal number of race fans into downtown Savannah. 
     I thought this might be an issue when I tried to figure out where to park on the RNR website and was told to visit the City of Savannah's website.  That website touted several thousand downtown Savannah Parking places.  Several thousand. 20,000 runners.  Plus hangers on.  Not a good ratio.  Apparently the RNR folks figured out the same thing a week or so before race day, and came up with the idea of having all the runners not staying downtown park at the Savannah Mall and then transporting them in on buses and trolleys. In fairness, this was probably the only option, but it was awful.  Awful.  Huge lines.  Angry runners.  People missing the start of the race.  Awful.  And then they had to transport all of those people back to the mall after the race.  Lines long enough to be measured in furlongs resulted. Unless they severely limit how many people can run this race, never again.

   The weekend after Savannah, it was very nice to fall back on an old standard, the Outerbanks Half.  A smaller race, but it has great logistics, a scenic course, tremendous community support, and a great after party.  Plus, it's pirate themed, so what else can you ask for in a race?  The race course itself hasn't changed from the last several years, but no one cares, because everyone is so friendly, and it's a great run anyway.  If you haven't done this one, you should.