Kick off 2020 with the 465 Virtual Challenge!

Disclaimer: I received free entry to the 465 Virtual Challenge race as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review find and write race reviews!

I know how I’m starting off my 2020! The Inaugural 465 Challenge, here I come.

Or wait, it’s a virtual race, so I’ll just stay put. And run/hike/walk.

Virtual races are a great way to stay on the motivation train, especially in the cold winter months. I’m not a huge fan of run streaks but working toward a set goal is an awesome push and a great way to start the new year.

I’m aiming for a half marathon PR in the spring of 2020 and I know by dangling the metaphoric carrot in front of me, it will help me stay on course when it comes to training.

There are two tiers of registration, depending on what swag you may or may not be interested in:

  1. PREMIUM – $39.99
    465 Challenger Super Soft Finisher Shirt
    465 Race Car Slider Finisher Medal (for first 1,000 registrants)
    Super Cool Bumper Sticker
    Training Program
    Motivational Emails
    Virtual Bib
    Certificate of Completion
  2. BASIC – $24.99
    Super Cool Bumper Sticker
    Training Program
    Motivational Emails
    Virtual Bib
    Certificate of Completion

And of course, if you use discount code BIBRAVE, you’ll save 10%!

What’s the significance of 53 miles? That’s the distance of the loop around Indianapolis!

Can’t run but still want to get in on the moving? That’s perfectly all right – this challenge includes swimming, biking, somersaulting, and everything in between.

Who’s with me?!

What’s on Your Wish List?

With the holidays just around the corner, I’m sure everyone is busy prepping and buying gifts for their friends and family. It’s such a great time of year to shower others with gifts and, hey, maybe you’re picking up a little something something for yourself while you’re at it. I know I have been.

So, what’s on your wish list as an active person/athlete/runner? I thought I’d put a few things together that I know I’d like to have!

New Kicks

My current shoes trained and ran a marathon, and still have a lot of love left in them. I’ve also got some great cross-trainers and I’m the proud owner of a brand new pair of trail running shoes (to be used this weekend!), but I know a runner will never say no to new shoes!

How adorable are these Christmas Brooks?

 

Fresh Clothes

As a SkirtSports Ambassador I get a great deal on any Skirt product, but who wouldn’t love to get some awesome gear as a gift! I know I love funny running and workout shirts, and gift cards are always a plus.

Headgear

Since testing AfterShokz with BibRave last year I’ve been IN LOVE with mine. I’m sure there are plenty of other products like them out there, but these are definitely my favorite.

 

Socks

I love the fun socks from Sox Box. They have great compression and funny sayings! You can’t go wrong!

Race Entry Fees

If you really love someone, find out a race they want to run and pay for them! There are a ton of races out there that people are dying to run!

Coffee/Snacks

Getting up for those early runs or staying up late to take care of those workouts can be tiring and also leaves us a little hangry. Feed us and tell us we’re strong.

What’s on your list?

 

Philadelphia Marathon Weekend, Rothman 8k

The Rothman 8k was my first ever road race in 2011.

I blogged about it back then.

Since 2011 I’ve volunteered, I’ve run the half distance for a few years, I returned to the 8k last year and made a last minute decision to run the 8k again this year.

Lucas was coming off the high of running his first 10k, I had a great coupon code, so we registered together at the beginning of this month.

The Rothman 8k has changed a lot since 2011 and so have I.

My thoughts about this race are all over the place; I think a PRO/CON list is the best way to go about it for the purposes of this recap.

PROS

  1. The 8k distance is a great middle ground for someone who isn’t looking to run a half or full marathon but still wants to be involved with race weekend.

    My Turtle Running group are always representing!

  2. The Rothman Orthopedic 8k starts at 10:45am. This is done so that people who are running the half marathon have the opportunity to run in both races (they added the race “challenges” a few years ago). What this meant for us was not having to head out of the house at the crack of dawn!
  3. Over the years, the Philly Marathon has added more bells and whistles to the 8k distance. When I ran in 2011, I got a cotton t-shirt. Now there is a tech t-shirt and a medal at the finish line.

CONS

  1. When I ran the 2011 race there were just over 2,000 participants. This year there were 5,200 participants. There are no starting corrals, but there should be. To put it bluntly, people don’t know how to self-seed. With the huge influx in participants, it would be helpful for the race directors to provide guidance.
  2. The 8k race feels like it’s the forgotten stepchild of the weekend. There’s a lot of emphasis on the half and full marathons and while the numbers have grown for the 8k there’s not a lot of signage or direction on where to go. The spectator guide handed out at the expo doesn’t even reference the 8k.
  3. The course. Oh dear lord, the course. I truly love Philadelphia but there’s one major issue with runs along the river: Martin Luther King Dr. It’s picturesque, the views of Boat House Row and the Art Museum are iconic. But… it has a horrible slant and the potholes are rough.
  4. There are pictures. They are not free. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I think race pictures should be included in all races. But if they’re not, a digital download for one picture should not cost $29.95. I paid $20 for the race (with a coupon code). I cannot justify spending more than that on a picture of myself. I’ll just look in the mirror!

Or we can selfie!

Unfortunately, the cons outweigh the pros in this case. I think I’ll be taking a break from the Rothman 8k in 2020. Although, I have broken up with the Philly half before here and they’ve made changes so maybe if I put it out into the universe again, things will change. I sure hope so!

The rest 2019 has hikes, fun runs, and training runs on the agenda (not to mention the hustle and bustle of the holidays). All I can say is BRING IT ON!

The One Where I Won My Age Group

Spoiler: I was the only one in my age group.

(Maybe I shouldn’t have lead with that?)

ETA: a friend shared this with me and I had to include it in this post. 😂

This past weekend Lucas and I took part in the 5k portion of the William T. Nace Tin Man 5k/10k. This race is a small, local race and serves as a fundraiser for a student scholarship.

In its 8th year, the race has raised thousands of dollars to further their nonprofit’s mission, established in honor of their family member, William T. Nace.

With Ali Nace Smedley, one of the race directors. Ali’s law practice is a sponsor of the Healthy Kids Running Series – Mullica Hill/Mantua, which I coordinate.

The race takes place at Cooper River Park also known in the running community as the Cooper Loop. It’s actually where I learned about running and where my son did his first running clinic.

The 5k and 10k races were scheduled for 9:30. The fields were small; 12 5k runners and 16 10k runners. It was easy to grab our bibs and cotton t-shirts the morning of the race around 9:10. There was no prior pickup.

After a quick stop in the lovely heated bathrooms (I did NOT what to leave), the 5k runners walked with a representative of the timing company to our start.

The loop is just under 4 miles which meant that the 10k runners would be doubling back at some point – they had a different start and ran in the opposite direction so we passed them on the far side of the course.

My comfortable training pace has been 12:30 minute miles so I knew I’d probably be able to push the pace with this race. However, I also figured that I’d be toward the back of a very fast pack.

A couple of my Turtle running group pals were doing a training run around the loop, independently from the race, so I got to see them a few times. Always awesome to have familiar faces and cheers!

I ran the first mile straight through and when I looked down at my watch, I saw I’d kept a 10:45 pace, which is awesome for me but also freaked me out a bit. After that I jumped into my 1:1 intervals. I could see Lucas ahead in the distance (but not for long).

The route is a loop around a river. Around the halfway point there was a volunteer with water bottles, which I opted to skip.

On the far end of the course there’s a great view of the Philadelphia skyline. The wind also works with you at that point, which is lovely. However, the last mile back, the wind was right in my face, making it cold and difficult.

Lucas did great, finishing in 30:42 – his sub30 goal is going to happen sooner rather than later. I finished in just over 36 minutes, coming in 10th out of 12th for the race.

Great snack spread for all the runners!

After the 5k finishers crossed the line, the results were quickly posted and awards were distributed.

There’s no finishers medals, but because it’s a small race nearly everyone who crossed the line got age group awards. Additionally they have a few raffles for the runners of each event. Lucas and I won a $25 Visa gift card!

When our awards finished, the 10k runners started to cross the line. The overall winner was a friend of Lucas’ from school; it awesome to see an 8th grader rock her first ever 6.2 distance!

There’s something very special about a small race – you can feel the love and importance of the event to their family. That said, I hope that next year it grows in size and even more students are able to benefit from the scholarships.

Next up… Philadelphia Marathon Weekend, Rothman 8k!

Will Run For Chocolate

Disclaimer: I received free entry to Allstate Hot Chocolate 15k race as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review, find, and write race reviews!

Who’s excited to eat some delicious foods next week? I know I am always up for something tasty and I can’t wait until Thanksgiving. It’s hard to believe that my favorite holiday is just around the corner. It really feels like 2019 is just flying by and, before you know it, we’ll be planning out our races for 2020!

It’s also hard to believe that in less than a month I’ll be running my very first Allstate Hot Chocolate 15K! This race seriously looks so fun and I can’t wait to get into it. Granted, I haven’t been running like I should be (at all) and I know nine and some change miles might be a challenge for me, but I’m really looking forward to meeting up with some BibRave Pros and, obviously, grabbing some tasty snacks at the end of the race.

Look at this haul! I cannot wait to shove my face with all this deliciousness! Obviously I’m going to be really proud of myself for running a 15K with minimal training (I’m going to run tomorrow, I swear), but I also can’t wait for the fun! This year has been all about making running fun again, and I feel like it’s been going well. I’ve done a race every month, although I’ve got three lined up for December, and I’ve had no pressure on me for anything. It’s been great and I’m really looking forward to whatever next year brings.

But first, chocolate.

Use the code BRHCTAMPA19 a free Hot Chocolate running hat

My Kid Rocks

Once upon a time, back in 2013, I wrote this blog post.

The kids are watching… and that’s a good thing.

Let’s all take a moment to marvel at how small my kid was…

And how huge is he now…

Why yes, I AM feeling a little verklempt.

Anyway, nearly a year ago, Lucas told me that he had a dream of running over a bridge. I told him the possibility of that was real; Cooper Norcross Run the Bridge is an event that happens every year here in South Jersey.

The only catch (for him)? It’s a 10k distance. Until that point, the longest he’d raced was a 5k.

Something you should know about my son is when he sets his mind to something, he’s going to do it. Therefore, when he said he was going to run the Ben Franklin Bridge, I knew it was going to happen. We registered him for the race as soon as registration opened in May.

And then? Then we started to prepare. In April we ran the Atlantic City 7k together.

We did shorter distances throughout the summer and focused on strength training.

Once September rolled around we crept our way up in mileage. From 4 to 5 to 6, and then finally during our last training run 6.2.

He has the tendency to go out too fast and then feel crappy the second half of his run. When introducing a longer distance, I encouraged him stick with me the first time so he wouldn’t get down on himself.

Once he was comfortable with the distance, off he went. Leaving me in the dust.

That’s okay though, because he was running this race solo.

Oh yeah, did I forget to mention that earlier? I ran the Mushroom Cap Half Relay on Saturday and I knew my legs were not going to want to run the next day.

And I knew that he’d be ready for it. And he was.

My 14 year old (baby) was going to run the bridge and live his dream!

Mile 3, after he ran across (and back) the Benjamin Franklin Bridge.

The second half of the course is through Camden – sprinting to the finish.

Bridge run and done!

I recently saw this quote on Facebook: “Prepare your kids for the road, not the road for your kids.”

Granted, it might not have been meant to take this literally but there we go.

I’ve been running for nearly 9 years now, most of his life, and it fills my heart with joy that we share this together.

Next up we’re doing the Tin Man 5k this weekend and the Philly Marathon Rothman 8k the following weekend. Who will be see there?

An Attitude of Gratitude

I don’t know about you, but lately things have been kind of stressful. I’ve noticed with a lot of my friends, in real life and social media, that life is just…rough.

I get it. I posted a couple of weeks ago about struggling with some weight gain, not wanting to work out, and so on and so forth…

Although it’s already November, I feel like 2019 has been a million years long!

It’s easy to focus on things like that, though. Being in a rut is something some people never get out of and I know, for me, it takes a lot of willpower to get out of it. I’ve been thinking a little more lately, however, about trying to be thankful instead of…meh.

Life is definitely not easy. We live in a time where all we see and hear is bad news and sometimes that is truly discouraging. There is always suffering, there is always pain…but there’s also always hope.

Why is it so easy to forget that? It’s so easy to forget to be hopeful? To be grateful? 

I mean, we moan and complain about things that disappoint us on a daily basis, right? Why don’t we do that for things that make us happy! I don’t even mean talking to people about it, or tweeting, Facebook-ing, or Instagramming it. Just us, alone. Talking to our closest friends maybe. Why is it so easy to focus on what pisses us off rather than what makes our hearts happy?

That is something I really want to focus on for the rest of 2019 and into 2020. Life is good, y’all. Any day I get to wake up under the roof I’m able to pay for, go to the job I love, and be with the ones who care about me, I should be grateful…and so should you be. I started a gratitude journal a while back, but never got passed a day. I’m going to make a conscientious effort to do it every day. Or every other day. Once a week? I’m a work in progress, guys.

So, today, Veterans Day, let’s be grateful.

XOXO

 

 

 

Race Recap: Mushroom Cap Half Marathon Relay

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

NAME: Mushroom Cap 1/2 Marathon, Relay and Charity 1 Miler
LOCATION: Kennett Square, PA
YEARS IN EXISTENCE: 4
NUMBER OF RUNNERS IN 2019: 469 individual runners and 107 relay teams

The Mushroom Cap 1/2 Marathon Relay is a race I’m not soon to forget! I love when BibRave partners with local races and being from New Jersey, when I saw the opportunity to run in Kennett Square, PA I was excited to jump on board.

There was no expo for this race but there were two packet pickups earlier in the week. The Sunday before the race was at a running store and the night before the race at the start location.

I think this race and its runners would benefit by offering a morning of the race packet pickup. I know it was a little difficult for some to coordinate with the times. Thankfully I was able to grab a friend’s bib who wasn’t able to make it to either of the times offered by showing a copy of her identification.

The swag was a long-sleeved quarter zip shirt (that has thumb holes and a small key pocket). We had the option of a dark blue or this powder blue above. It’s very comfortable and I like it much more than the standard race shirt.

It was a chilly 31 degrees on race day. I woke up before my 5am alarm, anxious to hop in my car and drive about an hour to Kennett Square.

Arriving with plenty of time to spare (as is my way), I sat in my warm and toasty car as long as possible. On the ride there, I drove part of the course. Hello hills!

I was nervous about the course, but overall I knew that I could trust in my distance training.

Mullet Crew – Party in the Back! Katie, Rachel, and me

Before the race I was able to meet up with friends and there’s always comfort in being with people you know and love. Rachel, Katie, and I questioned our sanity multiple times as we stood together, shivering.

Fellow BibRave Pro, Ken (of KenStandsonThings) joined us as in the race village; the was area set up with tents, tables, and portapotties. We timed it so we wouldn’t have to wait too long in the cold and made sure that Rachel had time to get on the relay shuttle bus and head to the exchange area.

The start and end point of the race was The Creamery. It was previously the Eastern Condensed Milk Company. In 2016 the current owners opened it after revitalization as a pop-up beer garden and community space. Really awesome spot!

Katie and I placed ourselves near the 3:00 pacer. During my training runs I’ve been keeping anywhere from a 11:30-13:30 pace using 1:1 intervals. Most of my training runs are flat though so I wasn’t sure how this I’d fare. I figured as long as I kept the 3:00 pacer in sight, I was doing okay. I wasn’t aiming to be a hero, I just wanted to get to the relay exchange in a decent time.

A few minutes after 8am, we started to run. Immediately Rachel texted and said she wasn’t getting the messages from the tracking app, RaceJoy. Rather than continually have it open on my phone Rachel, Katie (who was running the entire 1/2, bless her legs) and I decided that we’d occasionally text to check in.

Looking back at our text messages is amusing! There was a lot of cursing going on!

Katie and I stuck together for the first two miles. There was a killer hill in mile one and that set the tone for the rest of the race. Rather than getting too much in my head I decided that I’d take it easy on the uphills and cruise the downhills. Thankfully the roads were closed for the entire event and the runners were able to spread out.

Katie peeled off to use a portapotty as we turned into a neighborhood section of the race and instructed that I go on (up a large hill, I’m sure you’re shocked to hear). This portion was an out and back area, full of ups and down.

The aid stations of this race are phenomenal. Hosted by local groups and businesses, they were well stocked. I didn’t take advantage of them because I just wanted to keep moving and get to Rachel.

Around the 4 mile mark I passed the 3:00 hour pacer and according to the app, I was on pace to get to Rachel in 1:26 for 6.6 miles.

This hill had a hill on top of it. Yay.

This hill greeted me in mile 5. Once I hit the gravel, I knew I wasn’t far from the exchange. I was more than ready to be done and when I saw the signs telling the relay runners to stay to the right, I happy obliged.

Rachel was waiting for me in the exchange area and helped me take the timing chip off my ankle and transferred it to hers. Before she left on the second half of her journey I thought I should impart some words of wisdom. But apparently, it came out like this.

Mer grabbed my arm and with terror in her eyes, said something like “The hills. It’s so hard. The hills…..Don’t even try to run them. Just walk the hills and run down…” then she hugged me and yelled “good luck” as I ran away.

Whoops?

I was so busy giving Rachel this amazing pep talk I forgot two very important things:

  1. to shut off my watch
  2. to look at the medal

It wasn’t until I was comfortably seated on the bus that I realized/did both! I chatted with the folks I was seated near and we all lamented the hills.

Once we arrived back at The Creamery I stood near the finish line and cheered for a bit. I was able to meet back up with Ken and see lots of people from my local running group. I even got to meet Instagram friend, Alexis (beer_runner85)!

All the while, I was in contact with Rachel and Katie via text. They informed me that they were the last ones on the course and had a line of police cars following them. Once I knew where they were on the course, Ken and I headed into The Creamery to warm up and grab our complimentary beer. We had the choice of an Ale or IPA and there was a great band entertaining the masses!

We also had the chance to meet the Mushroom Cap Half’s social media director – it’s always fun to meet the face behind the Instagram account!

I heard from Rachel that they were nearing the finish line so I headed back to claim my spot just past the timing mats. Sure enough, I could see them about a quarter mile away, with their police escorts behind them!

I was hooting and hollering and telling everyone at the finish their names so they could cheer as well. I’m pretty sure everyone thought I was crazy and they’d be right. I was so happy to see my Mullet Crew!

Party in the back!

Please note that while the course limit was 3:30, they were the last ones to cross at 3:11. We were so PROUD. There’s two ways you can look at being DFL and I think we were all very happy that things shook out the way that they did.

Because we were very last relay team to cross the line, we got a PRIZE. We were awarded mushrooms and a $50 gift card to Sovana Bistro! That was a really nice surprise.

All in all, the race was incredible. Great communication, awesome aid stations, loved being a part of a relay team, and the afterparty was amazing!

The only complaint I have? THOSE HILLS. Again, not in any way, shape, or form a shock. Just very, very difficult!

Thanks to BibRave and Mushroom Cap for the great opportunity to check this one out! If you’re looking for a challenge, be sure to put this on your bucket list.

Next up for me is a local 5k (William T. Nace Tin Man) and the Rothman 8k during Philadelphia Marathon Weekend. What’s on your race agenda?

Fun in the Sun – Key West Half Marathon

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

Did someone say destination race?

I’ve heard nothing but good things about the Key West Half Marathon & 5K and I was totally stoked when it was offered through BibRave! Like I said in my write up of the Sarasota Half Marathon, I’m always looking for destination races that are close to my destination!

Florida may be hot and muggy right now, but I can’t wait for January to run this course! I haven’t been to Key West in ages but a race seems like the perfect reason to go!

This race comes with a ton of perks that you can check out over at the website. Some of the amazing things waiting for you at this race is an awesome finisher medal, live music, a super cool shirt, and unlimited free beer.

Yeah, you read that right. Not only do you get to visit and run Key West, but you get free beer (and drink specials during race weekend).

 

The course looks like an easy there-and-back with some great views and sights to see. I guarantee you’ll love watching the sunrise at mile 2 because that’s my favorite part of race morning! Trust me, this does not look like a race you want to miss!

Check out this swag you can grab!

If you’re interested, register soon! Prices increase on the first of each month leading up to race day. You can save 20% on the have with the code BIBRAVE20!