Sunday, July 22, 2018

Run Wild Missoula ~ Missoula Half Marathon

Disclaimer: I received a free entry to the Missoula Half Marathon as part of being a BibRave Pro.
Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador),
and check out to review find and write race reviews!

I’ve been visiting Montana the last 10 years and it really is my favorite place to be. I have passed through Missoula before but never actually stopped to run there, so I felt very thankful for this opportunity.

Overall this was an awesome race experience. It is apparent when you arrive, organizers have the weekend down to a science and everything runs like a well oiled machine. There is also a great app, powered by Mylaps, that offers live tracking, text finish results, the weekend schedule, travel info and a few frames to add to your pictures!

I could not participate in the Beer run Friday night or the 5K Saturday morning, but from all the participant feedback I heard, both events sounded like a great time. Missoula offered a Big 3 challenge for the weekend, but I still have no idea what the surprise gift was! I chatted with runners, who had done the Beer run or the 5K, but not all the events.

If you did the Big 3 please comment below and tell what the special gift was!

I drove from Whitefish, which is north of Missoula, Saturday morning and arrived mid afternoon at the expo which is held in a great outdoor location.

The river path is nearby and it is a great place to shake out your legs and enjoy the views. 

I had a great conversation with a volunteer about her move to Missoula and the local running scene.  She made a very strong positive impression on me and it made me realize how important it is to volunteer and greet out of town and new runners at a local event.

The expo offered a variety of vendors and you were in good shape if you needed running fuel, event commemorative gear, or brightly patterned running skirts, shorts, and shirts. The local running store is just a short walk away from Caras Park Pavilion to add more shopping opportunities. 

After I retrieved my bib, walked the river path, checked into my hotel, and walked the route to the race shuttles to make sure it was a good option for race morning; I went to eat some dinner and get some sleep.

I woke up early!  The last shuttle to the start line leaves at 5:15 a.m. so I was walking by 4:40 a.m. The bus ride to the start reminded me how far 13.1 miles really is. 

I did a half mile warm up run and the typical porta-p-stop (and yes they were plenty), and ate a Panda licorice bar after my shuttle ride.  I only had about 10 minutes to wait till the 6 a.m. start. A beautiful rendition of  the national anthem, followed by a few fireworks and off we went at sun up! The sun is strong as soon as daylight cracks, and I wondered how I would hold up.

On a personal level, it was feeling just a tad too warm for me, it was about 10 degrees warmer than it had been in Whitefish, but hey it is summer, and mid 60's this time of year for a southern gal is way better than anything I have run in since April. I trotted along with high hopes I could have a strong run. As the miles clicked off, I was feeling thankful for the shade on the course. The temperature probably rose by 10 degrees during the first hour and my splits slowed as things warmed up.

10:33, 10:17, 11:04, 11:05, 11:03

11:16, 11:45, 11:16, 11:41, 11:51

I wore my own hydration belt and stopped 3 x’s to refill my bottle with Gatorade. It eats up the clock, but I am past PR days, so I’d much rather run and be comfortable, enjoy the views, and soak up the atmosphere. Every water stop was well stocked and had plenty of Gatorade. Along the course, I passed a fantastic bagpipe player, and a man who sits in his yard in a tuxedo and plays his grand piano for runners.

During the early miles the course carried you along rural roads with wide opens spaces. A large part of the later miles later were through Missoula's neighborhoods. A lot of folks put up sprinklers so you can cool off, which is a very nice touch. There were also a few neighbors who had over 21 hydration stops, but I did not partake. 😏

My runner’s instinct kicked in after mile 10 and I tried to pick up the pace and finish strong. I couldn't pick it up as much as I hoped, but it was a solid effort.

11:26, 11:01, 11:04...last bit 9:15 ish pace across the line 2:26:57
I am very content covering 13 miles at this pace.

The finish line area is on the bridge over the river. The announcer enthusiastically calls out names and where people are from. I heard a lot of out of state runners being called in front of me, but I was coming in simultaneously with a local man on a very strong marathon run, so I did not hear my name called.  The local with a sub 2:30 marathon had the focus and rightly so!
One of the frame options from the app 

I was handed my awesome medal, and proceeded to the food area. I replenished with a banana and some tasty pasta salad. Shuttles seemed to be steadily running, but I opted to walk the mile back to my hotel because I was feeling some stiffness in my legs and I hoped walking would help. The distance has been a challenge for me the past few years no matter what pace I run, hence my decision to not worry about trying to “race” anymore.

There are many options within walking distance for food and drinks if you want to explore downtown.

Oh and haaaaeeeeyyy! Free race photos...mine did not come out all that spectacular but still, you can't beat free. They actually took a finishers photo after the race and printed it out, a really nice touch!


I had hoped to meet Juan, a fellow BibRave Pro at this event, but he was not able to make it to Missoula.
Here is a little bio info from him:
"I live in Cypress, Texas and have been a runner for 18 years now. I am a married father of three boys with a fourth one on the way. I work as a Digital Learning Specialist in Aldine ISD in Houston, and am thoroughly enjoying my first year as a BibRave Pro. You can find me on social media as @3dotjuan and on my blog,"
Juan wrote a nice Q and A blog post you find here. Give him a follow! He is a great inspiration.

Overall, run wild Missoula was a fabulous running experience and it is a great event to add in during the summer months. I would recommend flying into Kalispell (FCA) and enjoying the drive to Missoula. The changing landscape in Flathead Valley will not disappoint and be sure to stay a few days if you can! There are so many great kayaking, rafting, and hiking opportunities near by it would be ashamed not to take advantage of all Montana has to offer.

Thanks for stopping by 💞

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Run & Ride Kings Dominion

This DAY 💗💗😃

The skies opened up with torrential downpours a few times as we went running though Kings  Dominion. We dodged puddles ankle deep, tiptoed over muddy spots, and took in the quiet of the park before it is packed with people. 

Running and smiling...
Okay, maybe we hammed it up for the camera just a bit, but my slowest half marathon is definitely at the top of my favorites list. 

It was so awful out you just had to laugh,
AND laughter is good for the soul, 
AND so is running with friends!
Yep, we were excited to cross the finish line because that meant it was time to go ride some roller coasters, and ride them we did! 
We almost had the park to ourselves because it takes a special kind of 
nutty to hang out and get pelted all day in the rain 😃

Run and Ride is genius, miles and smiles all the way. 

I will miss my run buddies at my next half marathon, but I'll be back with my sweat crew soon. 
We got plans ☝😀💓💦

Take care and run happy!