Cheers to 2020!


I have this weird thought that odd years are good and even ones are notoriously bad for me.

Hear me out.

Good things happen in my life in odd years. I could go through a list but I won’t. I started attributing the bad things that were happening in my life to evenness. Which is stupid and totally not a thing until I made it one. It made me loathe even years and let me tell you, a year is a long time to deal with negative thoughts because of a made up problem.

Anyway, I’m done with that.

Because I KNOW that 2020 is going to be amazing.

The momentum that I’ve carried through the last few months of 2019 is going to push me right into 2020, and I am here for it! I feel like I’ve made smart choices in 2019 (including focusing on shorter race distances rather than automatically going for the half marathon) and it’s helped me remain injury free and ready to conquer some new PRs in the new year.

So what races are ahead for the first few months in 2020? Well, pull up a chair and let me tell ya!

january

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’ve spent the month of December streaking, which is something I never, ever thought I’d say again. After streaking through the holidays in 2013 and 2015 I was ready to be done with streaking forever.

But then I started with my 10k steps per day on December 1st and something magical happened… I’ve (mostly) enjoyed it. It’s day 30 and then tomorrow is the last day of this self-imposed challenge.

The reason why this time it’s working so much more is that I’m streaking with steps rather than with running. As an added bonus, I have been running a lot more this month, but I don’t feel like I HAVE to but rather that I GET to.

The 465 Challenge is a virtual event that takes place in January and February. The goal is simple – 53 miles between the two months; walk, run, hike, bike, you name it. Given that I’ve been rocking this December streak, I think that I’m going to carry it into January. Who knows, maybe I’ll even do two loops (53+53= 106 miles).

We don’t have many January races here in New Jersey so this is the perfect way to stay engaged in my training. If you want in, use discount code BIBRAVE to save 10%.

february

This is one of my favorite winter races and I’ll be back again for the February race. It’s a two mile hilly run with great swag and chili and beer and the finish line.

Last year, Rachel and I did this one, I PRed the distance, and then we went on to run 5 miles through the town. I’d like to do that again this year too (the PR and the post-race run).

march

Disclaimer: I received free entry to the Yuengling Shamrock 1/2 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!

Remember earlier when I mentioned my training? This is what it’s all about! It’s time to reach for a new 1/2 Marathon PR and I hear that this is the place to do it! I’ll be road-tripping down to Virginia Beach for the weekend of March 21st-22nd.

I have been doing my research by reading reviews on BibRave and talking to people about this race. Every single person that I’ve spoken to about Shamrock is a big fan. I’ve heard NO negatives. Not one. It’s been on my bucket list for awhile now and I’m so looking forward to experiencing it for myself.

I’ll be traveling down with my road-trip buddy, Rachel, and there’s a BRP Summit happening that weekend so I’m might explode from excitement. Brace yourselves.

april

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!

Moving right along, April is my birth month and brings more fun races!

I’m returning for my 4th year at the Allstate Hot Chocolate 5k in Philly. It’s one of my all time favorite Philly races with terrific swag and fantastic people. I’ll be honest, the course is not my favorite location in the city but since I’ve opted for the 5k distance, I know I’ll be ready to go. This is a race I usually do with Ana and this year she’ll be achieving her legacy status!

Furthermore, they’ve added medals to the 5k distance, which is a fun addition. Everyone in my area is usually at this race, it’s a good “starter” event and for those of us who have been running for awhile, it’s a good time too. I never expect to PR at the Hot Chocolate races in time, but in fun it takes the cake! (Or the chocolate!)

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.

Another tried and true one for me, the Atlantic City Marathon Series puts on fantastic events. I love the ease of these races. It’s a quick hour drive, easy parking, and the run is mainly on the board walk.

I’ll be running the 11k distance on April 25th. When I registered, I signed up for this, the Bungalow Beach 5 mile race in June, and a race during their fall weekend. I’m nothing if not a planner and when I saw the special pricing for the three races, and the extra bling for taking part in each of their race weekends, I was in.

Take my money, Atlantic City!

I’ve got my eye on more races in the second half of 2020 (and a few that I’ve registered for). It’s going to be a great EVEN year and I can’t wait to see what’s ahead.

What’s on your calendar for the first few months of the year? What are you doing to ring in the 2020? I’m planning on hanging out with my family and maybe staying awake until 10pm. 

 

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!

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?

Fall Racing Time!

Okay, okay, I know it’s not technically fall yet. But for goodness sake, can we let people enjoy their fall race planning (and pumpkin spice lattes) in peace? YES, WE CAN!

I’ve got some great races lined up for the fall… and beyond, because HELLO, planner right here! What’s on the agenda? Right this way!

september

The Bird-in-Hand half marathon is this Saturday! I’ll be driving to Lancaster County, PA with Rachel and Katie for this weekend’s race. I expect hills, heat, and beautiful views to make up for the hills and heat. Oh, and check out these medals!

 

Okay, okay, I’m not actually running in any of the Healthy Kids Running Series races but I AM the coordinator for my town’s location! This is my second season as a coordinator and I’m looking forward to encouraging and inspiring children to get outside and find the joy in running.

Being that these races are on Sunday evenings, I COULD run my own local races on Sunday mornings but after last spring I realized that it was a bit too much to handle for one day. Therefore Sundays from September 16th through October 14th are dedicated to HKRS.

october

Disclaimer: I’m promoting the Reebok Boston 10k for Women as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to find and write race reviews!

That said, if I WERE to run October 8th, I’d really love to run the Reebok Women’s 10k in Boston, MA. Why? Well, because then I’d be able to visit BEC. Also because I love the 10k distance. I haven’t run a women’s race in awhile but I do love the camaraderie and support that happens during these events.

I don’t have Boston Marathon dreams, but this seems like an attainable race! My race bucket list is growing by the day.


Disclaimer: I received free entries to the Scooby Doo Virtual Series 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 might not be able to travel to many races this fall but I’m stoked to participate with my best 4-legged friend, Gemma in the first ever Scooby-Doo Virtual Series! Doo Good is the September race while the Scoobtober 5k/10k takes place during October. A portion of registrations go toward supporting the Best Friends Animal Society.

Want to join in the fun? Use code BIBRAVE and save 10% on registration.

Remember up above when I said how much I love the 10k distance? I’m returning to my favorite 10k on October 20th, the Atlantic City Race Series.

This is one that I usually participate in every fall and while I haven’t done a training run in Atlantic City in awhile, I can’t wait to return for this event!

The day after the AC 10k, I’ll be heading to north Jersey for the American Cancer Society’s Breast Cancer walk. No, this is not a race in the traditional sense but I’ll do what I can to support finding a cure for breast cancer and support a dear college friend!

november

My first road race in 2011 was the Rothman 8k during the Philadelphia Marathon weekend and I’ll be returning once more on Saturday, November 17th. The 4.97 mile course is fun because it’s a different distance than the norm and there will be a lot of familiar faces there! It’s a great way to get some true fall miles in the weekend before Thanksgiving.

looking ahead

My son has already asked if we’ll be returning to The Light Run in DecemberAs soon as the registration for that opens, we’ll be joining in the fun.

And of course, in 2019 I’ve already got the Hot Chocolate Philly 5k on my race docket, thanks to Bib Rave. If you want to join me for that, register here AND if you use the code BRHCPhilly when you register you’ll receive awesome EXTRA swag, the Hot Chocolate Armband for your phone/tunes.

Will I see you at any of these? What race are you looking forward to?

Guest Post: Oops! I Did It Again!

Last time you all heard from me I was complaining about how I hate running. Well, don’t you worry… not much has changed. But let me explain what happened.

So one day, I was minding my business when my buddy, Meri, sent me a text about the Philly Hot Chocolate 15k/5k. Without hesitation I agreed to do the 5k. My excited 6 year old self immediately turned to my husband and said, “I’m doing a Hot Chocolate 5K in Philly with Meridith!” He spontaneously laughed out loud and said, “Why? You hate running.” My response was simple. “They give you chocolate and marshmallows as you’re running,” and I proceeded to walked out of the room like a boss.

For those of you not local, the Philly Hot Chocolate run was in early April and last winter was frigid and forever long. But I wanted chocolate and had to train. Therefore, I ran laps inside my house (which is not big at all). I ran up and down the stairs to better my cardio! I even ran outside when the temperature hit 40! Could I have trained harder? Of course, but that’s all I had because I hate running with my soul.

Now, if you want to hear all the details about how we got there, weather conditions, etc, read Meri’s blog. She’s great at that kind of stuff. I’m going to tell you what I learned.

I run for swag. That’s right, I said it. I’m in it for the swag! I can’t explain how excited I was to receive my first race packet in the mail. I open up the envelope to find a drawstring bag, sturdy enough for multiple uses, stuffed with my goodies. The first goody I pulled out was the super warm purple shirt. Next I pulled out my first bib, which I was ecstatic about. 

And FINALLY, the hat that almost never happened. You see, Meri was kind enough to share a code that would award me a hat. Being who I am, I forgot to enter the code during check out. A few seconds after the infamous Homer Simpson palm to the forehead “D’OH”, I sent an email to the magical beings that host these events. I was thrilled with the quick response and generous accommodation for my error. Great customer support!

I have the best friends in the world and I love running with them. Meri didn’t have to run with me at all and I would still love her, but she did. As we patiently waited for our start, she planned out our run asking what intervals I would like to try first.

We started with 1:1 (one minute run one minute walk) which I quickly grew impatient with. We moved up to 2:1 which worked better for me. I’m not sure if it was the intervals, the chocolate, the great crowd, or Meri’s company but I really had a great time.

The run did not feel like torture and I did not dread the next mile nor the last. I have tried running the same intervals at home and it isn’t the same. I love running with a buddy. Maybe it’s the distraction. Maybe it’s the laughs. Or maybe it’s both. Either way, I had a great time and would have run 4 miles that day….OK let’s not get crazy. Strike that.


Lesson Number Three was not realized until Sunday night and affirmed last month when summer arrived. I don’t mind running in cool weather. Actually, I prefer it. Over the years, I have avoided outdoor activities once it get below 55 degrees because I am ALWAYS cold! Don’t get me wrong, I was layered up for the Philly Hot Chocolate 5K, but it was tolerable. Actually it was enjoyable. Now that  I have experienced cold weather running, I no longer fear it.

Lesson Number Four,  I WILL BE RUNNING THIS RACE EVERY YEAR! Where else can you go that they hand you chocolate and marshmallows as you run? Not the cheap Halloween candy kind either! And after you run? You get hot chocolate, fudge, a banana, pretzels, and a Rice Crispy Treat in a nifty little bowl! Jackpot! If you haven’t experienced this race, you should!

Someone once told me that “Everyday you learn something new”. Well, this race taught me five lessons. What’s the fifth lesson you ask? Getting to that.

That I’m a glutton for punishment and signed up for the Run the Vineyards – Good Day for a Run 15K/5K in September. Don’t worry… I signed up my sister too! Maybe both of us will start to like running one day? In the meantime, I have to figure out how to tolerate running in this humidity. YUCK!

Want to join Meri and Ana at the Philadelphia Hot Chocolate Race on April 6th? You should register NOW because the code FALL2018 saves you $5 through tonight, 8/10 at 11:59pm CST. AND, don’t forget to use the code BRHCPhilly to get a free phone armband!

Ana Soley is an entrepreneur who opened her own business with her husband, Fast Response Plumbing, LLC She’s having a great time raising 2 kids and 2 stepkids while trying to keep her humble abode from imploding. Loves the outdoors, kayaking, archery, walking the dogs, and hiking. She’s a big fan of a good sweat but hates running, as can be determined by this blog post as well as her previous one!

Race Recap: 2018 Philadelphia Allstate Hot Chocolate 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!

In 2017 I ran the Philadelphia Hot Chocolate 15k on my 40th birthday. This year I had the opportunity to run the Philadelphia Hot Chocolate 5k representing BibRave and I jumped at the opportunity. The swag is incredible and HELLO, there is chocolate. What more could a girl want?

Well, how about a super cool friend to run with? That’s always a bonus and one of the reasons I love running so much – being with friends. Last year I ran the 15k with my dear friend Christina as a celebration for both of us turning 40. This year, novice runner Ana joined me for the 5k run around Philadelphia.

Originally when I signed up for this race, I had visions of 5k PRs danced in my head. However after a rough winter and a broken arm, my training was less than stellar. I settled into the “get it done” mentality and that worked out well because I was able to run with Ana at her first ever road race.

I chose to have my packet sent to me rather than going to the expo for an additional fee. My purple pullover and bib arrived a week and a half prior to the race. It was worth the additional cost for me to save time traveling into the city prior to race day. There was no race day pickup.

The weather this year as brisk but not uncomfortable. As I headed out the door I made a last minute decision to ditch my gloves. I later came to regret that decision but otherwise I was comfortable.

Ana and I took the train into the city from S. Jersey, which is usually my standard when it comes to Philly races. It’s easy, it’s quick, and I don’t have to worry about parking. It was packed with other Hot Chocolate runners. I don’t know the amount of people who run both races but in the 5k there were 3,406 runners. I think that the 15k is the bigger of the two races. Both races get the same pullover and finisher’s mug at the end of the race, but the 15k also gets a finishers medal, which I think is a big draw for many people.

Our quick walk from the train station to the start line served as a warm up and we made it to the Art Museum right around 7am for the 7:15am start. It was perfect timing and we even got to see a few friends before the race!

Representing BibRave with Joe!

We placed ourselves in the G corral = mullet crew, party in the back. Looking to have a good time with this, we set our timer to 1:1 intervals.

The course is similar to others in Philadelphia. Starts at the Art Museum and then winds down along the river and back again. Boathouse Row is always fun to look at, the traffic on the other side: not as much.

We spent the first mile or so bobbing and weaving, as is usually the case with races this size, but we were having fun and enjoying the race and also the people around us.

On the course they handed out chocolate and marshmallows, along with water and Nuun.

This race went by fast! Soon enough we were turning around and headed back to the Art Museum.

Free race photos? YES PLEASE!

There is a small hill right near the finish line that is always there and yet, it always catches me off guard for some reason. We decided to walk up the hill (honestly, it’s not bad at all – just me whining) and then hit the gas for the end. So much fun!

Sure running is fun but let’s talk about chocolate-y goodness, shall we? There are huge tents where you can get your mug filled with all sorts of goodies: hot chocolate, chocolate dipping sauce, pretzels, cookies, banana, and Rice Krispy treat. Last year the ground around that area was muddy and gross due to recent rain. This year there was hay on the ground, which significantly improved that situation and was much appreciated.

The line to get our treats moved quickly and soon enough we were sitting in front of the Art Museum and enjoyed our treats.

And, of course, we ran up the Art Museum steps! How could we not?

Ana is already talking about signing up again next year so I think the running bug has bitten her. (Mwahaha, excellent, everything is going according to plan.)