April 2020 – Allstate Hot Chocolate 5k, Here I Come!

Disclaimer: I received free entry to the Allstate Hot Chocolate 5k 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!

It’s the end of August, and you know what that means?

People are pushing for it to be FALL. I mean, there are a few of us who are holding on to the last weeks of summer (we’ve still got a month to go, folks) but I’ve seen more and more Facebooks posts/memes calling for Halloween and pumpkin spice.

I get it, I really do. The heat/humidity have been beyond brutal and while I do love summer, I can appreciate slightly cooler temps and the love of fall.

And since we’re pushing things right along on the timeline, can we talk about April 2020? I just registered for my fourth Allstate Hot Chocolate race in Philadelphia!

2019 BibRave crew – Ken, Ryan, Joe, and me

I can’t wait to be there again and I know my BibRave buddies Ken, Becky, Ryan, and Dodie are looking forward to it too!

One of the reasons I love the Allstate Hot Chocolate races is because it’s always a good time. There are always a ton of friends there and it’s always a good time. This race always falls on my birthday weekend so I basically think of it as a huge party for ME!

My friend Ana has been my Hot Chocolate partner in crime for the past couple of years (2018 and 2019) and we can’t wait until 2020. So bring it on, fall. Winter, be kind. And spring? I’ll be waiting for YOU.

If you’re planning on registering for the Philly Allstate Hot Chocolate race, be sure to use code BRHCPHILLY19 and get your free Hot Chocolate running hat with registration. Remember prices go up as time goes along so save yourself moolah if you’re definitely going to be there!

Ain’t No Cure for the Summertime Blues

I have mixed feelings regarding summer. On one hand, I love the ease of it, not HAVING to be anywhere at any particular time.

Summer me: summer hair, no makeup, tank top because it’s hot outside.

Except wait, no. That’s not true at all. My kids weeks are scheduled to the brim. In fact, I think I might actually be more busy carting them from place to place in the summer than I am during the school year.

As a person who thrives on routine, this proves summer time living… not easy. I enjoy the routine of the school year. During these pesky summer months, things fall by the wayside.

Case in point, I’m just now writing this blog post at 10:30pm on Sunday night. For reference, I usually schedule my Monday blogs for early hours on the blog. (And honestly, I’m considering just putting the computer away and finishing it when I wake up.)

This is so not me.

I’m trying so, so hard to get myself into a summer routine and to find myself a way to make these next 8+ weeks productive, not-too-stressful, and hopefully (mostly) fun.

Ashley mentioned in her blog post last week that she spends most of her summer days alone. On the flip side over here, it’s hard for me to be alone in my house in the summer. My kids are here, my parents are here, and lately my husband’s travel schedule for work has been a little last minute.

Yet, I’m feeling surprisingly good for being a week into July. I’ve gotten a lot accomplished these past 7 days in my home life and volunteer life. While I have been going to the gym, I’m lacking balance in my running life (practically nonexistent the last 2 weeks; I’ve also been dealing with a reoccurring injury).

I’m attempting to train my brain to focus on what I’ve been able to accomplish rather than what I’m skimping on. Jenn shared her love of the Clever Fox planner and I got one too. It’s purple, of course. Colored pens, bullet lists, and introspection are my friends.

A few things I’ve been successful at lately:

  • Home ownership
  • Podcasting
  • My kids being more self-sufficient

Home ownership

Ah, the never-ending fun of home ownership. We moved into our current home 3 years ago and it will never be done. It’s a continual work in progress, filled with bathroom renovations, updating light fixtures, lawn care, pool maintenance, and more. There is never NOT a project. Some are bigger than others.

This week’s huge project? Replace the largest window in the house.

Before and After

New light fixture and window.

New light fixture and window.

To be clear, it wasn’t anything physical for me in terms of the replacement, but it was not a cheap venture. It’s crazy that replacing a window can be so exhilarating but here we are. We’ve been marveling at the window for the past week. Adulting.

On a smaller scale, we also finally found a ladder shelf for our bathroom at Home Goods!

There’s so much else to do including another bathroom renovation, painting, organizing, blah blah blah, until forever. But PROGRESS!

Podcasting

Podcasts are my jam. I love listening to them; it helps mundane chores go quicker and I’m always learning something new.

As the Director of Social Media & Communications for The Bullock Garden Project, Inc. non-profit, I’m always trying to think of good ways to share our story and get our message out to our target audience.

The more I spoke with my friend and CEO of BGP, Inc., Sonya Harris, the more the idea of creating a podcast grew. Sonya is so animated and we are both passionate about educating and bringing gardens to every school, the podcasting forum makes sense.

 

Not only have I been working on that but I also had the pleasure of being invited as a guest to my BibRave bro, Corey’s podcast!

Having the opportunity to chat with him about life and all the good things going on was so much fun. (Plus, we both have kids going into HIGH SCHOOL, which is sort of bananas.)

Click on the picture to listen!

Kids

I didn’t take this pictures of my son in Florida.

Nor did I take this one.

Because I sent my 14 year old alone. On a plane. By himself. (To my parents house.)

I suppose this is partially my success but more so, his. Last week it was Florida. This week he’s off at Boy Scout camp. Maybe one day I’ll see him again.

Part of growing up is becoming more independent and I’m glad that he has the confidence to do so. His younger brother is taking great strides too, not relying on me as much.

I’ve seen a meme floating around on Facebook recently about only having 18 summers with your kids. You guys, that’s not true. It’s not. Because hey, my parents are spending the summer with me and I’m 42 years old. #truthbomb #perspective

You grow, you mature, but unless something goes amiss or you choose to cut ties, you don’t stop having a relationship with your child after they become an adult. You just hope that you’re doing right by them and that they’ll want to spend summers with you forever and ever.

PS – Yep, I totally finished this on Monday morning.

Race Recap: 2019 Atlantic City Bungalow Beach 5 Miler

Boardwalk, sunshine, beach, ocean: it all has the makings of a good time. Atlantic City is my preferred place to run – it’s familiar, it’s flat, and it’s an easy drive to and from my house.

Last year was the inaugural Bungalow Beach 5 Miler and I knew then that even though I’m not summer race runner, I’d be adding this to my repertoire. There aren’t a lot of 5 mile races and I enjoy the distance (and can deal with the heat!).

The folks over at the AC races know what speaks to runners: competitive pricing, extra swag, and bling. I registered for this race last fall and it was under $35 with a coupon code. The experience includes the 5 mile race with multiple water stops, a race shirt (tank for the ladies), medal, beer, and photos. I’d say that’s a great value for the price!

The added incentive for 2019 is the Triple Threat medal. For those who run a race during the April Fools weekend, the Bungalow Beach 5 Miler, and a race during their fall weekend, you earn a triple threat medal. You can always find me at an Atlantic City race, so I’m pretty pumped to get this in October.

Atlantic City Marathon Series Triple Threat Medal

Packet pickup was Friday evening and also the morning of prior to the start. I particularly like this race because it’s a Saturday rather than the standard Sunday so it’s a great way to kick off the weekend.

Chrissy and I had decided that we would be sticking together for the race. We parked about a mile down the boardwalk at Resorts because we have frequent player cards there that entitle us to $5 parking. This is where we usually start our runs during training and figured it would be a nice way to warm up before/cool down after.

We arrived in plenty of time for the morning packet pickup, which was a good thing because the line was a bit on the long side. No biggie though, just gave us time to chatted, eat our gels (Science in Sport Apple – review coming in a few weeks!), and see friends.

When Chrissy asked for a bag (there was a pile on the table) the volunteer was a bit on the rude side and asked if she REALLY needed it because they were “running low”. As we weren’t planning on bringing our swag back to the car and didn’t see a bag check anywhere it was, indeed, something she really needed. Thankfully we both got bags and found our friends near the start area for the obligatory pre-race photo.

Run856 Turtles

Given the swell in popularity of this event after just 2 years (there was a social media post the evening before stating that it was 90% full) the race will probably take that into consideration for packet pickup and have more tables in the future. Thankfully, the race started a few minutes after 8 to accommodate those still in line for their bibs/shirts.

From there, it was smooth sailing, errrr, running. The course is basically an out and back with a little dip onto the street for a few blocks at mile 2. The boardwalk is open so you have to be aware of people out for a morning stroll and bicyclists.

It’s always great wearing a local running shirt because you hear a lot of “856” (our area code) and get high fives and encouragement from runners around you.

Chrissy and I kept our 1:1 intervals going the entire time and then soon enough, we were turning onto the beach for the last home stretch.

Last year I mentioned that the sand was wavy and it was difficult to run through the finish line. This year they had mats down. So much better!

We got our medals and delicious snacks – they always have a great spread.

Took pictures by the ocean and then handed our beer tickets off to a few Turtle friends. I was more interested in drinking water at 9:30 in the morning than the beer so we decided to take the trek back to the cars and call it a day.

2/3 races in Atlantic City complete for 2019! I’m looking forward to returning for the 10k in October and getting my Triple Threat medal!

Do Good, Feel Good: World Refugee Day 5k

Disclaimer: I’m taking part in the World Refugee Day 5k as part of being a BibRave Pro in conjunction with our good friends at Soul Focus. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review, find, and write race reviews!

June 20th is World Refugee Day and I’m joining with a bunch of pals for the virtual World Refugee Day 5k. The funds raised during this effort will support refugees through the American Refugees Committee.

For those who haven’t taken part in a virtual races before, the way it works is pretty simple.

Virtual Run How-To

ONE – Register! Registration for the World Refugee Day 5k has been open since May 20th and will remain open through this Thursday, June 20th. As a little something extra, code BR5 will get you $5 OFF registration.

TWO – Print out your commerative WRD5K race bib!World Refugee Day 5k race bib

THREE – Get social with it! Run the 5k distance. This can be with a group, solo, with your pup, with your cat, whomever wants to go the distance with you and raise awareness and funds for the World Refugee Day 5k.

After you run, share on your social accounts using the hashtags #WorldRefugeeDay5k #WRD5k and tagging @worldrefugeeday_5k on Instagram. I can tell you from experience that they are very interactive with their runners and love seeing what everyone’s experiences!

FOUR – Wear your swag with PRIDE! After Thursday, June 20th, World Refugee Day 5k BOCO Gears hats will be sent to all participants. BOCO Gear are my #1 hats to run in and I can’t wait to get mine!

BOCO Gear World Refugee Day 5k Hat

It’s an amazing way to take part in a global event and be a part of a movement, from home. While I would LOVE to travel to Uganda to be there in person, that’s just not in the cards for me (this year, at least).

However, I will be there in spirit and I’m very pumped to run virtually along side of everyone!

Want to join in the fun? It’s not too late, this virtual run is open for 4 more days. Hop on over to the registration page and get moving! Lots of the BibRave Pros and I will be out there and running our 5ks on June 20th but you don’t have to wait until Thursday – that’s the beauty of a virtual run!

Who else is running?

Becky
Ken
Brenda
Stephanie
Lissa
Kim
Juan

Safety in Numbers on Global Running Day and Beyond

Disclaimer: I received Sabre products to review 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!

Each year, the first Wednesday in June is Global Running Day. A day to celebrate running and inspire today’s youth to get out and get active. That’s a mission I can get behind, especially as a Healthy Kids Running Series coordinator.

My pup Gemma is my usual running buddy but we’ve been working our way back to running after she recently had CCL surgery. Running is always so much more fun with someone so naturally I reached out to one of my favorite buddies, Ana, and gently and not at all pushy talked her into running with me.

There’s safety in numbers when it comes to running. I never really thought much about carrying pepper gel while running because… well, who’d want to mess with me? However, there’s always the just in case factor. When I heard that BibRave was teaming up with Sabre to bring safety to Global Running Day, the just in case factor jumped to the forefront of my mind.

Sabre not only sent the products above for me but included Pepper Gel and a Personal Alarm with LED Light for a buddy as well. Score for Ana!

We had an hour and a half at dusk to map out our route through a park and nearby town before we needed to return to get our children from band practice.

Global Running Day - Ana and Mer with Sabre Safety products

We went through the empty wooded trail at the local park before hitting the town’s hills. It was mostly quiet, save for our constant talking, because that’s what we do when we’re together.

No need to employ any of the Sabre safety gear but before we hit the road, we checked out the good, noting how easy it was to unlock the Pepper Gel with a flick of the thumb.

While making our way through town, naturally we wondered… just HOW loud is the Personal Alarm? We didn’t want to push the button while on our journey and cause anyone unncessary panic/concern.

Instead we waited until the end of our run and found a spot at the end of a parking lot. Naturally I made a video on Instagram stories, which goes away after 24 hours but YouTube is forever.

Hopefully these are products that I’ll never, ever have to use. But… just in case, they’re good to have. If you’d like to get safety products for yourself or a running loved one, discount code SABRERUN saves 20% at Sabre’s website. 

BOCO Grab Bag of Awesome Giveaway

We’re sharing the love from our BOCO Gear Grab Bags of Awesome with TWO BOCO Gear awesome giveaways! We love this company so much and can’t wait to share the love with two lucky winners who will score two hats each.

Check out the Vlogs and leave a comment here on this post to enter by Friday, May 24, 2019. We’ll notify winners over the weekend so be sure your comment is linked to your email! US residents only.

Giveaway One from Mer’s Grab Bag of Awesome

Giveaway two from Jenn’s GBOA

 

Road Tested: Stunt Puppy Nano Bowl™

Disclaimer: I received the Stunt Puppy Nano Bowl™ to review 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!

Anyone who knows me, knows that I’m obsessed with my dog, Gemma. She is my ride or die; we spend most of our days together.

In mid-March she had a surgery on her back right leg for a complete ligament tear, similar to a human’s ACL. Since then we’ve been in recovery mode; much to her dismay.

It’s hard to get her to sit down and rest because we’re always on the go together. If anything it’s taught us (okay, me) to relax and take time to enjoy the spring sunshine.

We got the “all clear” about a month ago that we are allowed to add time to our walks in 5 minute increments. We go back to the vet in a few weeks for X-rays and want to ensure everything is a-okay.

While my personal stunt puppy isn’t allowed to do any high flying adventures at the moment we are big fans of the Stunt Puppy brand.

Stunt Puppy makes quality gear for pups and through quite a few BibRave opt ins, I’ve had the opportunity to try the Go Dog Glo Collar and the Stunt Runner Leash. It stands to reason that we needed to give the Nano Bowl™ a try too!

The Nano Bowl™ is a small, lightweight (1 oz.) bowl that folds down to the size of a handkerchief. It’s easy to carry during walks, runs, and hikes. When unfolded it opens to sit unassisted, 5″ wide, 5″ deep, and holds 3.5 cups of water.

Gone are the days of dripping water out of my bottle for Gemma. When she’s panting and looking for water she gets her own bowl for hydration.

I love how small this packs up, it’s easy to throw into my fuel belt or even loop it through the leash. It’s also very easy to clean, it’s machine washable but I usually hand wash it and leave it out to air dry near the sink.

Additionally, it’s good to use for food. We haven’t taken Gemma camping yet but this could work well if we do.

Interested in learning more about Stunt Puppy and connecting with other runners? Join us for the Stunt Puppy Twitter #bibchat on Tuesday, May 7th at 9pm est. It’s always a good time.

Plus, I have a strong feeling we’ll be seeing lots of dog pictures (my favorite!).

Check out more reviews from my fellow BRPs (and their pups):

CoreyKenVirjinia Deanne AmyMattJessicaConnie

Race Recap: The Novo Nordisk New Jersey Marathon 5k

Disclaimer: I received free entry to The Novo Nordisk New Jersey Marathon 5k 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!

The Novo Nordisk New Jersey Marathon weekend has been on my list of ones to do for awhile. I’m a Jersey girl, born and raised, and I’ve heard great buzz about this race.

While I would have rather run the half marathon, the scheduling worked out better for the 5k so that’s the race I opted for.

Registration through Athlinks was super simple.

The 5k and kids races were on Saturday; the half and full marathon on Sunday. Because I was doing the 5k, I was able to do day-of bib and shirt pickup. Therefore I didn’t see the expo but it helped save travel time all around which was a plus.

My childhood friend, Chrissy, also signed up for the 5k, so we traveled to the race site together and ran the race together as well!

The race management suggested getting there early for parking purposes and we arrived a couple of hours before the 9am start time. We were actually the first ones in the parking lot. It gave us plenty of time to relax, eat our breakfast, and then pick up the bibs and Diadora shirts.

The shirt is cute in the front but has a mesh back that threw me off a bit. I don’t know if I’ll wear it anywhere but at home.

You can see the mesh on the sleeve.

Like I mentioned, we had plenty of time prior to the start of the race so we wandered back to our car (about a half mile away) to put our shirts away and stay shielded from the wind. It was a beautiful, sunny day but the wind was intense which was a bummer because we knew that running was going to be a challenge. This seems to be the case for a lot of races that Chrissy and I run together. We battled the wind a few years back in Atlantic City too.

As the start time drew closer, the parking lot filled and we walked back to the start.

After a young lady sang the Star Spangled Banner, we were off on our 3.1 mile journey. The course was flat and wound along the ocean boardwalk, onto the streets, near a park, through a neighborhood, and back to the boardwalk once again.

There were two water stops along the way. Police presence and volunteers were throughout the course.

Our goal for this race was to get under 40 minutes. We did 1:1 intervals the entire race.

The wind was pretty brutal and by the third mile, we were fighting against it. Thankfully, the finish line was in sight; we finished strong at 39:53. Mission accomplished!

The medals are BEAUTIFUL – record shaped and they even spin, which is so much fun!

I didn’t see photographers along the course and didn’t notice any at the finish line for the 5k. Not sure we’ll get pictures but we took a good amount of our own (yay for blogging!).

In the finish line chute there were water bottles and snacks, which were great. There was also a small race village set up with a few vendors. We spent a few minutes visit booths and then watched the kids run their mile and a half race before heading back to the car.

Great race, maybe next time I’ll do the half!

Next race for me isn’t until late June but who knows… maybe something will come along in May. Anyone have any suggestions in the NJ area?

Race Recap: Atlantic City April Fools 7k

First things first, if you’ve read our blog for any amount of time, you already know that I love the Atlantic City races. (Swing by our Race Recaps, and you’ll find a whole slew of reports about AC.)

I usually opt for the half marathon at the April Fools race but this year I’ve been embracing shorter distances and Saturday races during Healthy Kids Running Series season.

Additionally, my 14 year old son requested to join me this year so I figured the 7k distance would be the best bet. There’s also a 11k option on Saturday. The half marathon runs on Sunday.

Chrissy and me

For an additional $10 per packet, there was race morning packet pickup. To save myself time and travel expenses (it basically evens out), we did morning packet pickup.

Parking was only $5 with a Resorts Casino card, I picked one up a few weeks back when I spent the day in AC. Lucas and I met up with Chrissy and were quickly able to get our bibs and race shirts. Ladies got pink, men got blue.

A huge draw for the Atlantic City races is that without fail, I always see a ton of friends there. It’s a quick hour drive on the expressway from my house, which means that I can spend the night at home and just wake a bit early and hop in the car.

Run856 Turtles – I love this group of local runners!

The weather was rainy but not too cold, so it was actually comfortable to run in. This was the longest distance for my son so we chose to do 1:1 intervals to keep a consistent pace. After the Star Spangled Banner and a countdown, the race started at 9am.

The entire 7k course is on the boardwalk, which is somewhere I always enjoy running. There was a water station on the way out and back around the 2 mile mark (and the same on the return, not exactly sure of the distance). It’s always a really nice run – despite the weather.

Lucas and I rocked our AfterShokz headphones so we were able to jam out to our music and still chat with each other. He’s been running track at school, where the longest distance is a mile, but we also ran a 4 mile training run recently. The 1:1 intervals helped him feel good and confident the entire time and he stuck with me at my pace for 3.35 miles – the last mile I told him to GO and away he went.

Lucas’ main goal was to finish under an hour, which I assured him wouldn’t be an issue. He finished in 51 minutes while I rolled in at the 53 minute mark.

The finish line has lots of snacks and goodies, which Lucas loved every moment of. He went to get snacks and I stayed at the finish to cheer in friends.

What I love about this particular race, more than anything else, is that I got to run with Lucas. I was having a bit of calf pain in the days leading up to the race and there was a brief moment when I thought I might have to sit it out. Thankfully, he took it easy with me and as much as I was asking him how he was feeling and doing, he was doing the same for me.

Yeah, my kid is pretty great.

And so is this race. I’ll be back to Atlantic City in June for the 2nd Bungalow Beach 5 Miler. Will I see any of you there?

Race Recap: 2019 Allstate Hot Chocolate Philadelphia 5k

Disclaimer: I received free entry to the Philadelphia Allstate Hot Chocolate 5k 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!

Ken, Ryan, Joe, me

2019 marks the third consecutive year that I’ve run one of the races at the Philadelphia Allstate Hot Chocolate series. I kicked off my 40th year in 2017 with Christina, 2018 was my friend Ana’s first 5k ever, and this year I ran solo. But I was never alone, I had friends all along the way.

Ana, Dora, Rocky, me

What I think is so cool about this race is the appeal for not only local runners but newer runners, at that. Friends that don’t usually run sign up for this because it’s laid-back and has fantastic swag/treats. Not only did I see adult friends, I also saw a few of my kid runners from Healthy Kids Running Series (or they saw me – I have a few come up to me at our next race to tell me how they did).

While I love visiting Philly, I opted to have my race packet mailed to me because I had a lot going on the week before the race. Along with the super soft jacket, there was also my bib, and a card saying that as a 3 year legacy runner, I was going to get even MORE swag! What? It’s true – I just had to bring the card along with me and I was able to pick up a 3 year legacy medal, pin, and hat.

The course itself is standard Philly running. We chose to take the train in from New Jersey rather than deal with parking and walking from 15th/16th and Locust to Eakins Oval which is where the race began (for those not from around here, right in front of the “Rocky steps” aka Philadelphia Museum of Art).

We got there just before 7am and had time to get a picture with fellow BibRave Pros. It’s always great to see my orange clad team. I’d met Joe and Ryan before but this was my first time meeting Ken!

I was placed in D but started in E because I saw some friends from my turtle running group. Love these ladies – always so supportive!

They request that you don’t move up in corrals, only back, which is standard for races. I know at other races there are people there monitoring corrals but I didn’t see that here. The 5k race began at 7:15; I crossed the start exactly 10 minutes later at 7:25.

Running along the Schuylkill river is nice, you get a great view of Boathouse Row and the Art Museum. The other side of the road is 1-76 which is decidedly less pretty.

I don’t love how the road there banks to the sides, it’s not very visible but you feel it in your hips after awhile. This is where I ran my first road race ever so it always takes me back to my roots.

There was water and Nuun on the course, along with one chocolate station. I chose to skip the chocolate and indulge at the finish line.

After I crossed the finish I circled back and cheered for my friends finishing the 5k. We grabbed our chocolate and treats and then cheered for the 15k finishers.

One thing that was disappointing was the photographers. Hot Chocolate always has free pictures for runners (yay!) but this year I didn’t get that many and the ones that I’m in, I’m behind people. There are a few of me running but they’re blurry. This was standard:

I’d say this one is probably the best of me crossing the finish line. Hey, I’ll take it!

The morning was perfect for running and as always, the race was a lot of fun! Communication leading up to the race is always on point and they had some nice little perks so that people encourage their friends to join them in running this sweet experience.

Have you ever run a Allstate Hot Chocolate race before? What treat gets you motivated to run?