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!
If there’s one thing you should know about me, I’m a Type A personality. Schedules and unwavering plans are what I thrive on. Actually, in a community of runners, I think you’ll find that to be true about many of us. We HAVE to be that way if we want to train well and excel during a race.
But life throws you for a loop sometimes and that’s exactly what’s happening now with the COVID-19 virus. Before I get too much further into this post, let me state for the record that I absolutely understand the reasoning and logic behind canceling events. I’m always one to err on the side of caution. Making decisions like these are not easy and I feel for the race directors who need to make the call.
I requested cake and wine for dinner and my husband did not disappoint.
Am I bummed? Yeah, I absolutely am.
But I’m also trying really, really hard to look on the bright side of things. I think what I appreciate most about these races is that even though they can’t happen the way that we intended them to, they’re doing their darnest to make things as right as they can for the runners.
The Allstate Hot Chocolate Race Series recently announced a virtual option for their races. With things currently the way they are, they’ve switched the entirety of the Philadelphia race to being virtual.
I love that the Hot Chocolate Race Series will be mailing out all of the goodies to our homes, especially because their swag is always the best. I still plan on getting outside on April 4th and running my 5k. There’s a perfect spot near the river here in New Jersey and as long as it’s safe for me to do so, that’s where I plan to be.
I’ll just have to wait to see these guys next year in Philly!
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?
Disclaimer: I received free entry to the Hot Chocolate Philadelphia 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! As always, all opinions are my own.
What time is it? It’s Hot Chocolate time! Okay, no. It’s not. But it IS time to start planning for 2019 and I’ve got my first race on the calendar for next year. You know I love planning.
So yes, come April 6th 2019 (that feels weird to type, by the way), I’ll be running the Allstate Hot Chocolate 5k again. This year’s race marked Ana’s first ever 5k and I’m 99.9% sure I have her convinced to join me again.
The swag alone is worth it! Check out the jackets for the 2018-2019 series.
And of course, every runner gets these oversized mugs filled to the brim with goodies. YUM!
If you run the 15k, you also get a medal! There’s no medal for the 5k but if you find me, we can run up the steps to the Philly Art Museum together, which is a prize in itself.
Convinced? 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.
Who’s done a Hot Chocolate Run before? I want to hear about it!
Disclaimer: I received a free entry to the Rock ‘n Roll Philadelphia 2017 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! All opinions are my own.
Way back, when I first started running and doing fitness related activities and prior to Scoot a Doot, I had a blog on tumblr. It was there that I blogged about my third half marathon, the Rock ‘n Roll Philly race back in 2012.
2012 RnR Philly
I haven’t been able to work it into my schedule since and to be honest, I had a tough race so I think I was a bit gun-shy. However, the stars aligned and I was excited to return this year, especially as it was my first race representing BibRave!
Rock ‘n Roll weekends always start with the expo experience, followed by the race. The Philly Rock ‘n Roll Health and Fitness Expo was held at the PA Convention Center in Center City on both Friday and Saturday. Runners are able to pick up their bibs, t-shirts, and other assorted race goodies. If you want to read more about the expo, swing by my last post.
This is the 40th year that this race has been run, having been known prior as the Philadelphia Distance Run.
Saturday morning were the 5k and 10k races. The 10k distance was newly introduced this year; I had friends who ran and had a positive experience.
Sunday morning it was half marathon time. Philadelphia is about a half hour drive from my house/nearby train ride. I chose to take the train and walk a mile to the start line, which is my standard mode of transportation for Philly races.
I always aim to get into the city about an hour before the start of the race and this one started at 7:30, so I made sure to get the train that arrived at 6:30. I knew I would have plenty of time, given that I was in corral 21 (I think there were 24 total).
Once I arrived I tracked down where I needed to go to get my race shirt after the snafu on Friday. Since I had a hydration pack, I decided to stuff it in there, rather than check a bag.
Rock ‘n Roll’s race village is huge and there’s plenty of things to do and see both pre and post race.
I wandered around a bit, chatting with plenty of random people aka new friends and seeing fellow BibRave Pros. Philadelphia’s Rocky Steps, aka the Art Museum, is always the backdrop of big races in Philly and this was no exception.
The race began on time and I casually wandered into my corral, knowing that I wouldn’t be starting for awhile. The announcers were enthusiastic (honestly, if I yelled as much as they do, I would have absolutely no voice!) and they were playing great music to get everyone pumped up.
The first 5 miles of the half course have to be my absolute favorite. I love running in Center City and the energy is always terrific.
From about mile 3.5 to 5 is an out and back stretch along Fairmount Avenue, which I love because you can see the other runners and the cheering from people along this stretch is fantastic. Very motivating and so much fun.
The second part of the course leads you along the Schuykill River on Kelly Drive, across Falls Bridge, and back the other side of the river on Martin Luther King Jr. Drive. The miles seem to stretch here and while the scenery is picturesque, this is where I wish they would stack the bands and entertainment.
I appreciate everyone who was out there so much, especially the band who changed the lyrics to The Indigo Girls “Closer to Fine” to “Closer to the Finish Line.”
I knew I wasn’t going to break any personal records during this race so I enjoyed, took my time, and had my phone out nearly the entire time to take pictures and videos along the route.
I made a friend during the last mile that I had been leapfrogging with since mile 10 and we finished the race together, which was really nice!
The medals for this year were money, baby! The half marathon medal was Ben Franklin with a sweatband on his head 13.1 bill. Too funny!
Immediately after the finish line, they were handing out water and a sports drink. Directly after that there was ice cold chocolate milk, which hit the spot! They were also giving out ice cold RnR towels, which was perfect on my neck. There were snacks directly after but unfortunately, juggling everything became a bit of a challenge!
Post-race celebration included the band Big Head Todd and the Monsters (never heard of them before but they were entertaining). There was also a beer garden but I completely forgot about it until I was walking back to the train station. Whomp, whomp.
Monday’s aren’t always my favorite but this Monday? This Monday is always a favorite of mine!
Because it’s Marathon Monday a.k.a. Boston Marathon watching day!
I’ve informed my family that if they need me, this is where they can find me the majority of the day.
I know that I’ll never actually run the Boston Marathon but I love spectating (from my computer) each year. I dream of the day that I can spectate in person. All of the emotions are felt and it motivates me with my own running goals and dreams.
The summer months are usually less densely populated with races and more about training runs. My goal for this summer is to remain consistent with those training runs because I already have a few fall races lined up!
My buddy Rachel first brought Vacation Races Shenandoah half marathon to my attention. She had a free race entry for herself and a friend and she invited me to join her at the inaugural Virginia race.
After a few snafus with registrations we were both able to get set up so we’ll be traveling there the first weekend of September! The course looks INTENSE, with lots of elevation changes but it also looks beautiful. I know we’ll have a good time together.
Just a few weeks later I’m excited to return to a familiar stomping ground: Philadelphia’s Rock ‘n Roll half marathon on September 17th through BibRave! I participated back in 2012 but timing and other commitments have kept me away the last 4 years.
I’m really looking forward to returning to this series. The race weekend includes a 5k and the brand new, just announced, 10k distance!
The 10k is my favorite distance and I know it’s crazy but I’m considering maybe signing up for that as well. I’ll keep you posted if I decide to take the plunge!
If you’re considering signing up for the half, I have a discount code to share! Woohoo! BIBRAVE15 will get you $15 off the half and is valid until 8/27. Is anyone out there running this one (or another Rock ‘n Roll race)? I’m so excited to return!
Okay, the elite women just started the Boston Marathon so I’m jumping back to that window now! If you need me, I’ll just be over here, being inspired!
Disclaimer: I received a free entry to the Philadelphia Rock ‘n Roll 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! All opinions are my own.
Hello from your favorite 40 year old April Fool! I decided to kick off my 40th year at the Hot Chocolate 15k in Philadelphia this year with my beautiful friend, Christina. I’m so glad I did because we had a blast!
Age is just a number!
If you’ve been following Scoot a Doot for awhile, you might remember a few years ago when Brandi ran this race. She recapped what sounded an amazing race experience for us as a guest post. I’ve had my eye on the race since then and timing worked out for the 2017 race.
First things first, the communication from RAM Racing Series’ Hot Chocolate race was above and beyond expectations. They provided a race plan at the beginning of the year with weekly emails updates. They’re quick to respond and engaging on Twitter. Post race they followed up immediately with free pictures (my favorite!) and results. All around great communication!
Sweet swag from a sweet race! You kick off the weekend with a zipper hoodie (with thumbholes). Along with my hoodie and bib, I also got a visor for using the BibRave code!
There’s an option to have your race bib and swag mailed to you for a fee ($15) but since my days are fairly flexible, I decided that I would travel into Center City, Philadelphia and visit the expo at the Convention Center. Unfortunately for me, the day I chose to travel, we got 3 inches of rain. Fortunately for me, I have a good pair of rain boots, an umbrella, and a positive attitude!
That said, next time I might just opt for the packet to be mailed. The expo was nothing fancy. I do like that they are very easy-going about changing out the size of the hoodie. RAM Race Series want their runners to be happy and providing options like that proves it!
It was overcast and gray skies for most of the race, lingering from the previous day’s rain. The sun was trying really hard to come through but it was mostly gloomy and on the cold side. I knew once we started moving we’d be comfortable.
The 5k began at 7:15 and the 15k at 8am. Christina had the Cherry Blossom 10 Mile Runscheduled for Sunday so our plan was to take it very easy, have fun, and not worry about time. We relaxed before lining up in the corrals, chatted with some friends along the way, and then went to find the 13 minute mile pacer, Larry, who I know through the Sub 30 Club.
I told everyone who would listen it was my birthday (because that’s what you’re supposed to do on your birthday) and I prepared myself for 9.3 miles of awesomeness.
As usual, the first couple of miles flew by. Races in Philadelphia usually include a small stint through the city and then out along the river and back again.
You could tell that this was a first time race for many of the participants and I think that’s because the lure of chocolate is very strong, as are the distances. There are very few 15k races and it seems like a logical step if you’ve done a couple of 5k/10k distances but don’t want to do a half marathon.
Also unique to the Hot Chocolate race are the fun things you find along side of the water/Nuun… like chocolate and marshmallows!
Strawberry marshmallows caught me off guard!
I found the placement of the water stations a little confusing and not where I would expect them. There was one that was a little past mile 2.5 which is a perfect placement but when coming back the other direction, it was right near the end of the race. Personally, I would have benefited from one more along the course, whether it be at the turn around (so that they didn’t have to double up on both sides) or somewhere more centrally located between 7-9.
We had a nice run/walk going for the first 7 miles. Not really timed, more like, “Should we run? Yeah, okay, let’s run.” Around mile 3 we lost our pacer. Whoopsies! We had a four cone rule where we would run four cones before switching into “walking with purpose” mode. We talked the entire time. We selfied.
It was more training run, less race-run but that was a-okay with us!
See, we have cherry blossoms too!
We both had the want to run more but we had to reign ourselves in because we knew that wouldn’t bode well for Christina’s race (which she PRed, btw!). So we remained consistent and finished with smiles on our faces!
The finish line was actually a little anti-climatic. There were timing mats on the ground and photographers snapping pictures (again, I say YAY for free race pictures). However, there wasn’t a banner or arch that I guess we are both used to at this point. We did get a shout out from the announcer which was a good cue to be our cutest selves.
We took our medal selfie with the Art Museum behind us and then went in search of our chocolate treats!
Cutest medals AND the black disc is a magnet! Fancy!
The rain made all of the grass areas big messes of mud and that’s where the entertainment stage and tents that held our finisher’s mugs were located. We weren’t going to let mud keep us away from our chocolate so we went traipsing through to get our chocolate and treats.
We might have run the entire time with the little Baileys bottle in our fuel belt just for this very moment.
Finding a good spot to sit and enjoy our treats was difficult because the ground was mushy and it was a little difficult to balance everything. Finally we planted ourselves on a patch of pavement and we dug in to our finisher’s mug. The hot chocolate was delicious and perfect on the cooler day. The dipping chocolate was great but we had to eat it quick because it cooled and hardened. The race planned ahead and provided rolls of plastic bags so we were able to bring everything home with us.
I’m not quite sure what I’ll do with the finisher’s mug but from start to finish, the swag for this race was pretty impressive! Hoodie, visor, chocolate on the course, medal, finisher’s mug and treats, and free race photos? Just marry me right now!
Hooray for a fun birthday race! Here’s hoping that I will be celebrating with running for years to come!
Have you ever run for chocolate? Or ice cream? Or wine? (Can you tell what my motivation is?) Next race for me is a 5k at my alma mater and then the AC April Fools Half the following day.
But this time? This time it was all about reminding myself that I have it within me to do difficult things. We all need that reminder occasionally.
So, here are a couple of facts about my race.
My goal was to hit under 2 hours.
I did not achieve that goal.
Were it a different day, weather wise, I have no doubt that I could and would have. But it wasn’t a different day.
It rained. A LOT.
Rain. All the rain.
That was the disappointing part. Whomp whomp, poor me.
However, I DID HIT A PERSONAL BEST!
My best time before this year at Broad Street was back in 2013 and that was in 2:04:48. This year I finished in 2:03:35. Not too shabby!
The race is point to point, starting near Central High School and finishing right inside the Navy Yard. As such, I always park at the nearby stadiums and take the Broad Street line (free on race day with a bib). This year I traveled in solo and planned to run alone, but knew that I would be very lonely leading up to the race.
And that’s where two rays of sunshine came through! I met up with Jenna and Julie, two of my fellow Team runDisney pals. Since all three of us were traveling to the start line solo, we decided it would be great if we could meet up prior and keep one another company.
Jenna, Julie, and myself. Only the finest plastic ponchos will do for Broad Street.
Arriving at the parking lot at 6:30, I soon found Julie (and her parents) and from there we met Jenna. The trains were one right after the other so we were able to jump right on and head to our corral.
The rain only seemed to worsen as we traveled underground and when we emerged from the stairwell, we quickly realized that there was no way to easily move around the sea of ponchos and umbrellas. Our plan was to meet up with other friends for a group picture but it was a no way, no how situation.
Waiting for the race to start was pretty miserable. Being in the last corral on a beautiful day isn’t bad. Being in the last corral in the rain is exactly what you’d imagine. Socks and shoes quickly get soaked, you get poked by umbrellas, and you can’t really hear people when you have plastic surrounding your head.
But it is a heck of a lot better with friends. You can laugh at yourself, question your sanity, and realize that you’re surrounded by other people who are literally just as crazy as you are. Plus, I kept reminding myself how the kids handled the rainduring the Color-A-Thon.
Eventually we started inching our way up to the start. I ate my first Gu as we shuffled forward. I had my phone in a plastic baggie, in my Spibelt, under layers of clothes so I knew I wouldn’t be taking pictures on the course. It was survival mode, and by that I meant both myself and my phone.
From the get-go I knew that I would run the first mile straight and then fall into my 1:1 intervals. As such, I said goodbye to Jenna and Julie and set out to get it accomplished. We crossed the start line 57 minutes after the race started.
Fun fact, the winner this year finished in 48 minutes. We were still at the start line when he crossed the finish. Crazy!
The first mile was not as fast as it could have been. I usually bank my time to give myself a cushion for later on. However, my muscles were cold and stiff from standing in the rain for over an hour.
My pace was consistent throughout the race. In fact, I hit the 5 mile mark at 1:01:30. My 5 mile race a week before was 1:01:48.I tried desperately to pick up the pace the second half the race to keep the under 2 hour dream alive. I was running faster but walking slower during my walking intervals.
Oh, and I was sporting my poncho the entire race. At some point it spun around so that my hood was in the front and I couldn’t figure out how to turn it around. My mind apparently just stopped working and I really couldn’t figure it out so I left it.
Blame it on the rain that was fallin’, fallin’.
I have no pictures at the finish line so you’ll just have to trust me when I say, I was very happy it was over.
And happier still after I changed out of my wet clothes and got a beer in my hand!
Let’s talk some other good stuff… I was blown away by the amount of support that was out there. The people of Philly really do love to love and the amount of people that lined the streets with cowbells, pots and spoons, signs, and even children doling out the high fives was still more than I’ve seen at other races on bright and sunny days. There were bands playing and the amount of people at City Hall was comparable to the other two years I’ve done this race.
Just as impressive were the volunteers who were out there getting it done like it wasn’t even raining. They cheered loudly as we came through. At mile 7ish there was a volunteer chanting “Don’t stop, get it, get it!” over and over and the enthusiasm was contagious.
It. Was. Awesome.
Not everything is going to be easy and this race was a good reminder of that fact. Attitude has much to do with success and while I didn’t hit my exact goal, I’m very proud that I got out there, ran in the rain, and gained a shiny new PR!
I can and I will.
What’s really exciting for me is when I returned home from my race, my 11 year old told me he wanted to start running with me again. That is a really big deal! It’s been nearly a year since we’ve run together and while I do this for myself, I also do it to be a good example for my children. Needless to say, I can’t wait for tomorrow.
The Philly Marathon holds a special place in my heart. This race is THE ONE. The one that inspired me to run.
In 2010, I cheered Victoria during her first full marathon and that was where I was officially bit by the running bug.
In 2011, I ran my first road race, the Rothman 8k, which is part of the weekend’s events with Brooke (and cheered Victoria the next day during the half).
2012 was a year of volunteering – I gave out heat wraps and medals – giving back to the running community that has provided me with so much.
2013 was a year of cheering Kyle at HER first marathon. Are you sensing a theme here?
And finally, in 2014, I ran the half, while Victoria ran the full.
This year I once again registered nice and early for the half. As the date drew closer I asked my dear friend, Chrissy, if she had any interest in joining me. Chrissy is newer to the running game and we had a lot of fun at the Broad Street 10 Miler in May. She and I have been friends since 3 grade and I always have a blast with her. After talking her into it (not difficult, for the record) we were ready to embrace the race!
The most important thing, besides the running, was what we were going to wear. Since we are from the Northeast and since we love coffee, hot chocolate, donuts, bagels, and everything else Dunkin’ Donuts has to offer… we settled on this!
Flat us, practicing holding hands.
We woke up bright and early on race day and made our way to… Dunkin’ Donuts. Because, you know, priorities.
Got the train to Philly and walked the mile or so to the start area. The goal was to meet up with Bonnie pre-race to give high fives, hugs, and pep talks.
But that’s not exactly how it played out.
There were security lines that seemed to go on for blocks, serpentine-ing around streets and buildings.
Since the Boston Marathon tragedy occurred, they’ve added security check points at the Philly Marathon. I sincerely appreciate and completely understand the efforts.
However, this was like nothing I’d seen before. I know recent events had an effect on this but there was a lack of communication, volunteers, and general knowledge for the runners waiting in line. Additionally a lot of people who were cheering were in this line and I think that made the quantity of people more than the checkers could handle swiftly.
We waited on the line for an hour, without seeing much movement. Once the clock struck 7am (the time the race was supposed to start), all of a sudden we moved at a fast pace, streaming through the gates. The first racers were off at 7:13.
That said, that was the only snafu that we encountered that day. Everything can’t be perfect, right? We still made it into the blue corral with plenty of time to spare. Sometimes being in the last corral has its benefits!
We danced our way up to the start line, jamming to songs like the Percolator and Murder She Wrote over the sound system. Kicking it old school!
Soon we crossed the start line and took off to the sounds of the Rocky theme. Obviously! We heard that often throughout the 13.1 miles and I pumped my arms over my head each time.
I think one of the (many) reasons I adore running in Philly because I know where we are at all times. It’s my own personal tour of Philly, via foot! We passed the church my friends recently got married in and then a bit later on, the Moshulu, where their reception was held. In October, Jay and I drove from point A to point B. Not so much on Sunday!
Chrissy and I were doing 1:1 intervals and keeping our eyes peeled for fun things. Like all the Dunkin’ Donuts along the course. I’m pretty sure we saw at least 6!
Instagram friend and fellow blue buddy Rachel found usand we got to see her several times throughout the race, which was awesome.
Running a course you know is also sort of a mixed blessing because you know what to expect… and where the huge hill is. We hit several smaller hills and Chrissy would ask me each time, “Is THIS it?” And my answer every time was, “No. But you’ll know when it is.”
And she did. Because it felt like it was never ever going to end. Once we finally got passed it, we resumed our 1:1 intervals throughout Fairmount Park.
I listened to an awesome pep talk that someone else was getting from their personal cheer squad. I decided that I too, needed a pep talk, which I voiced. An awesome man on the course did just that. You can always rely on fellow runners to pick you up!
After the rough uphill a bit early, there was a glorious, glorious downhill. Hurrah! At the bottom of the downhill was a cheer group that I was very much looking forward to.
Turn up your speakers and get ready to boogie!
Are they not freaking awesome?
From there, we knew we only had a few miles left. Our goal was to finish under 3 hours and we knew if we stay consistent with our intervals, we would achieve it!
I focused on my breathing and listening for the beep of Chrissy’s watch. We didn’t talk much the last couple of miles, we just wanted to get to this point.
Jokers to the left, clowns to the right?
Once we got passed that sign and saw the front of the Art Museum, it was go time. We started to pick up speed and crossed the finish line, hand in hand!
And then we got medaled. Which was when all the emotions hit.
And there might have been a few happy tears shed between the two of us.
We did it! Furthermore, we did it together and felt really accomplished about the entire experience.
Chrissy has told me a few times that I’m one of the reasons that she started running and I can’t even begin to tell you how special that makes me feel. I know what running does for me and to have her be able to experience that and feel so positive, it’s truly a blessing to be part of her journey.
This medal is the BEST. It rings!
We found Rachel again while waiting for the finish line snacks and goodies and it was great to be able to catch up with her and learn of her 32 minute PR. Freaking awesome! As was the warm chicken broth and rice that they give at the end of the line of goodies. I told the volunteers how excited I was for it and they seemed surprised. No way, man! The salt and the warmth is perfection.
It’s no secret that I’ve been sort of meh when it comes to my workouts lately. Dealing with an injury has kept me from running and while I have been going to the gym twice a week, I’ve been in a rut. But the goodness that was Saturday’s Fit Retreat really shook the cobwebs from my workout soul.
Before we go any further, I learned a word this weekend and that word is JAWN. Apparently it’s has been around awhile – at least in Philly. So please, just smile and nod. I don’t get out much. If you are like me and don’t venture out often, jawn is an all encompassing word that can be used for anything. If you take anything away from this blog post, let it be that.
(But I hope you take away more!)
Now that that’s out of the way, let me tell you why this Fit Retreat PHL jawn was the best ever.
First and foremost: THE PEOPLE.
From the co-creators of City Fit Girls (Kiera Smalls and Takia McClendon), to the top-notch instructors (Diva Richards, Mark Donohue, Rachel Rubin, Veronica Dilzer, and Brittany and Gillian from Grace and Glory Yoga), to the 150 attendees… this was a quality group. I felt comfortable, welcomed, and appreciated from start to finish.
These are my people: Sue, Maureen, and Jen. It’s always nice attending an event with friends. By the end of the first session, I felt like I was surrounded by new friends!
We were greeted as soon as we arrived and because of the small amount of attendees, we were always able to find a familiar face.
During the introductory speech we were encouraged to test our limits and also cheer for each other. And I promise you, it was not just lip service. The good vibes were flowing through the Philly Impact Hub; the space was fantastic and, even more importantly, the people were fantastic. The cap of 150 people was perfect for the space and for each session (two-three were going on at any given time).
While chatting with Kiera toward the end of the day she said that City Fit Girls are excited to work with a variety of brands to introduce the women in our network to new and exciting products.
Therefore, they don’t just stick with one way of doing things; they’re presenting new and different workouts constantly. I appreciated the concept and from chatting with other people there, it gave them warm fuzzies too. No ruts to be had! Plus New Balance sponsored this year’s FitRetreat and that, in itself, was pretty amazing.
Awesome is the watchword. (You know, besides jawn.)
The VIP ticket for the event was less than $40! The way I figure it, that is about 10 cents a minute of AWESOMENESS. Worth each and every cent and then some.
After posting about it on my Facebook page and recruiting a couple of awesome friends, Jen and Sue, we were quickly planning our trip to and from the city’s Impact Hub-a really awesome co-working space in Fishtown. Thanks to City Fit Girl’s agreement with Lyft, we were able to get in and out of the city for mere peanuts and not have to worry about parking (and honestly, I do worry about parking – cost of parking, parallel parking, not hitting other cars while parallel parking – I could go on).
The cost included an awesome shirt.
It also included an awesome lunch from Sweetgreen. (And awesome MIMOSAS – YES, PLEASE.)
And an awesome massage (which I skipped but Jen didn’t, so I know it was awesome – she said that it actually released her emotions!).
Did I mention the very awesome workout sessions? I was able to participate in three workouts and a few informational sessions including healthy eating tips with Whole Foods and skin and facial care.
Dear Whole Foods, we love you. Please come to south Jersey!
You know how you sometimes you don’t realize what’s missing in your life until you experience it? That was the case with ALL the sessions at the Fit Retreat. How often can you say that?
Work it out!
The main reason for the day (at least for me) was to hit up some amazing workouts and try things outside of my comfort zone bubble. It’s been awhile since I’ve been to a group fitness class like the ones that were being offered at the Fit Retreat.
Diva Richards at the start of her session.
Unfortunately a time turner hasn’t made its way to Philly yet so I had to choose a few sessions that really spoke to me. I went with Killer Kardio with Diva Richards, Mid-Morn Workout Jawn (there’s that word!) with Mark Donohue, and Vinyasa Yoga with Brittany and Gillian.
Jen during the Kettlebell Kundalini session – this was limited to 50 participants because kettlebells were provided and Jen got the last spot! Score!
The sessions were no joke. I thought that they might get progressively easier through the day but nope. They did not. The intensity was strong from start to finish but the words were encouraging and we were reminded to do our best and to think of where we are in our own journey.
There was everything from kickboxing moves to burpees to oh, approximately one billion squats. Mark Donohue played Flowerand with every “down” we had to do a squat and hold it until the word “up” was said. I might have been cursing.
We did planks, planks, and more planks, and in between the planks, since we were down there, we did pushups.
The biggest surprise for me was how difficult the yoga session was for me. Because, hello, YOGA. I can handle yoga, right? But my foot was already tired from the rest of the sessions and didn’t want to ground itself.
It made for a wobbly experience and there were a few times I had to chill in Child’s Pose rather than take part in all the poses. It made me angry. Yoga isn’t supposed to make you angry, I know. But it did. I think it’s mainly that I’m so used to reminding myself “I can and I will” and I couldn’t, right then and there.
However, thanks to the gentle reminders from Gillian and Brittany, I was able to focus on what I was able to do within those moments and let the rest go.
I’m sure I’m forgetting something or many things. Oh, like the vegan Watermelon What What drink from Gangster Vegan Organicsthat was pretty gosh darn awesome.
The entire day was so good for me and my soul. Every event should flowed as well as this one did. The sessions reminded me of my strengths and also gently nudged me to forgive my weaknesses. And it was good. So very good.
Kudos to the City Fit Girls and all the sponsors of the Fit Retreat Philadelphia! You hold another event and I’ll be there, no doubt about it.
A little history: the Blue Cross Broad Street Run has been in existence for 36 years. It boasts that it’s the largest 10 mile race in the USA and I sure can believe it! The results page shows that 41,511 runners participated and the numbers on the bibs went into the 43,000s. That’s a lot of people. And it’s a lot of Philly love through and through.
We were in the pink corral, which is the very last corral, for those expecting to finish in 1:45 or longer. Which is exactly what category we fell into (the “or longer” category). During training runs we kept Jay’s pace, which put us at an exact 13 minute mile pace. Joining us for this run were two friends who I’ve known since flowered baby doll dresses were in fashion and running was uncool: Keri and Chrissy!
Chrissy, me, Keri – never ever forgetting to be awesome!
This sums Chrissy up quite nicely. “Want to talk on a banana phone with me?” “Hell yeah!”
Since Broad Street is a point to point race, we parked near the finish line at the stadiums and took the Broad Street rail line, which is free for runners on race day, to the start staging area.
We got there in plenty of time and were able to use the porta-potties and take the above pictures without feeling rushed. When you’re in the Pink corral, it’s a lot of “hurry up and wait”.
Ahhh, the Pink corral. Let me set the stage. You’re so far back from the start that you can’t actually hear the start of the race. No Star Spangled Banner for us and no clue of what’s actually going on up at the start of the race. So yes, a whole lot of cluelessness. We stood (im)patiently, waving to the helicopters circling overhead and entertaining ourselves.
In 2013 I started in the Pink corral and we got to the start at 49 minutes after the start. This year we started at 59 minutes after. More runners? More people in Pink? Not sure. But after one last stop at the porta-potties, we were off to the sounds of Weezer (anyone who knows me knows just how much this thrilled me).
I’d never been so excited to see a START line in my entire life and that’s a fact.
Jay’s plan, so subsequently OUR plan, was to run the first mile and then switch to 2:1 intervals. And run he did. That dude clocked a 10:30 the first mile. I asked him about twenty times if he knew how fast we were going (because it was definitely faster than his normal mile pace) and he either wasn’t able to hear me over his music or he was ignoring me.
I’m going to go with the first thought.
We hit the mile mark quickly and then switched into the 2 minutes running, 1 minute walking.
The first five miles were flawless. We kept a solid averaged 12:20 pace after that first speedy mile and everything was going swimmingly. Runningly? That. We were cruising and everyone seemed as happy as running people could be.
There were bands. There were cheer squads. There were children outside of the children’s hospital again, waving and smiling and cheering from their wheelchairs. City Hall was becoming a more real sight and less a speck in the distance and it’s incredible.
Walking with purpose. Look at the swish of my Sparkle! 😉
The Broad Street Run can be separated into two parts. Running toward City Hall (which is AWESOME) and then the after City Hall part. Which, I think, is still awesome. But that’s when you really start feeling the race. Mile 6 our pace slowed up a bit and our aches started to make themselves known.
Personally I’m dealing with another bout of plantar fasciitis, which in no uncertain terms, BLOWS. It flared up during my last training run and here I am, dealing with it again. I was feeling it. Jay hips weren’t lying when they said they were feeling awful. Chrissy’s knee was acting up. And Keri’s shins were making a bit of noise.
Thankfully the crowd support was just as awesome the second half as in the first half and we relied on that to help get us through those tougher miles.
To really see all the signs, click on the pic. They were the best!
The water stations increased in the second half, which was good because it was pretty toasty out there. We haven’t had many hot days to train in so this was a little different than the weather we’ve been used to but the additional water and the occasional fire hydrant open helped cool us off. The cups on the street were a little slick, which comes along with a race as large as this one and not being able to clear them all.
The entire race Chrissy, Keri, and myself spent surrounding Jay – his own personal sparkling cheerleaders. Since Jay was plugged in to his music, we chatted along the way, pointing out cool sights and fun stuff. I hadn’t seen Chrissy in years before this weekend so it was really great to catch up! Yet another bonus of running 10 miles together.
You’ll notice that there are less pictures of Jay here. That’s because he was not thrilled with life. I took a selfie with him at one point. I’m not going to post it though because he just looks miserable. In fact maybe I’ll delete it from my phone and he’ll forget all about that feeling. Maybe?
The first part of the race has City Hall to focus on, while the second part has a slightly less visible sight, until you’re right there. The Navy Yard sign.
Hello, you beautiful vision!
It signifies that there’s only about a quarter mile left so we were pretty jazzed to see it! Or I was pretty jazzed. I think Jay was saving his excitement for the finish line.
What’s a Navy Yard without a ship?
As we drew closer and closer to the finish, I kept looking to Jay to see if he was ready for the sprint to the finish line. Once we were close enough, he took off like a shot and I knew that he was looking forward to wrapping up!
His goal was to finish under 2:15. His reach goal was 2:00. Had we kept the same pace we did the first half, we would have hit 2:00. We finished in 2:11 which is exactly 13 minute miles – training run pace held true. We high fived each other at the end and cheered our accomplishment. Some louder than others, natch.
We walked down the chute wondering exactly where we were headed. There wasn’t much guidance at that point. We continued to walk, in search of water, food, medals, something. Finally there were tables with water bottles. Then tents with bags of food and pretzels.
The volunteers were handing out the bags of food and the medals were nearly an afterthought. It was a bit odd. I understand not wanting to crowd the finishing chute with medals but I was surprised that they didn’t have more of a comprehensive flow in that regard. Eventually we got everything sorted out!
On the long walk back to the car I made a teeny tiny comment about signing up again next year and sheesh, you would have thought I told Jay we were running another ten miles the next day with how quickly he said NO. So I guess he doesn’t want to do it again. (I think he forgot that we already registered for Beat the Blerch 10k in September.) (I’m not reminding him just yet.)
Our car held a glorious cooler filled with delightful beverages so once we finally got there we planted ourselves in the parking lot and relaxed, waiting for the crowds to disperse.
He longs to be close to me. That’s why that finger is reaching out there.
So, it’s over. But if I get in via the lottery, I’ll be back, Broad Street! You can count on it.
Have you ever done the Broad Street Run? Or a ten mile race? How about coerced your significant other into doing something they wouldn’t normally do?
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