Welcome Back IRL racing- Philadelphia Marathon recap

After almost 2 years, I finally happy to toe the line at my first marathon since the pandemic wrecked havoc on the world and running community. The race…Philadelphia Marathon. I was scheduled to run this race last year and deferred to this year, rather than getting a refund. I admit I was still a little nervous knowing I would be in the presence of thousands of other runners, not knowing if they were has vigilant as I was in trying to stay safe during the pandemic. My worry eased a bit, when we received an email from the Philadelphia Marathon about 6 weeks prior to the race that they were requiring all runners to have proof of vaccination to participate. For those that didn’t want to do that, the option was provided to go virtual or defer to 2022.

Now that I decided to run the race in person, the decision loomed on whether my family would make the trip with me. We ultimately decided that they would not because my son is only 4 and we wanted to protect him. Although I really wanted them there, and ultimately I think it played a part in how I ran the race, I think it was the right thing to do.

The marathon was on Sunday, I decided to arrive on Friday evening so that I had a day to just relax and rest my legs heading into race day. The half marathon was ran Saturday, so I was able to walk a block from my hotel and see the runners come through. After cheering on the runners, I took the half mile walk to get to the expo. They seem to have a good system in place for entry, with one line for runners with their vaccination cards and another for the runners who uploaded their cards to Crowdpass ahead of time(i was the latter). I also made the decision to purchase my items online, so all i had to do was pickup them from the store. The expo itself, left much to be desired. It was very small for a race this size but I am sure Covid restrictions paid a part in how many vendors were allowed in the establishment, etc.

Race morning arrived, I woke up about 3:30am to begin preparation. Temps were in the high 30s, so I opted to bring a throw away jacket since my legs rarely get that cold. The race provided shuttle buses from several locations downtown, one being about 50 yards from my hotel. I hopped on the shuttle that left about 5:15am. All runners were required to mask up on the bus. We arrived at the starting line about 10 minutes later and got through security without issue. 

Race began promptly with the elites being sent off a couple minutes after the wheelchair participants. My wave starting around 7:15am. It was good to see so much crowd support out there, it is probably one of the things I missed the most during covid shutdown. One thing I noticed around mile 4 was…there were way more hills than I was expecting. The Philadelphia Marathon promotes itself as “flat and fast”, but it was anything but flat. Luckily, where I live is lots of hills so I was trained for them…I just hoped I didn’t have to run on them in the race. Lol. The hardest point of the race is probably the miles 19 through 21. This is because this part of the race is a run out and turnaround to head back to finish line. So, you are heading towards mile 20 and you see runners coming back on mile 24-25. The last 3 miles were tough as they were mostly uphill, but I endured and finished with my second fastest marathon time of 3:45(I ran a 3:41 2 years prior). I feel subconsciously, I did not push myself the way I would have if my family was there. I don’t think I wanted to risk anything happening and not having any support there with me.

All in all, it was a great race weekend and Philadelphia did a good job in managing it safely. Thank you Philly and welcome back to IRL racing.

Star so Bright, I Gotta Wear Shades-Knockarounds Product Review

Disclaimer: I received a pair of Knockaround shades 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!”

Suns Out, Shades Out! Whenever Summer rolls, your shades becoming an essential component to any outfit, in additional to everyday running accessory. With that in mind, there was no way I would turn down helping Knockaround and their Summer Running Kick-off.

Unboxing

FEATURES

When the package arrived, I had not 1 but 2 pair of Knockaround Torrey Pines Sport shades. Both came equipped with their on soft protective pouch, to help keep those scratches at bay. Some of the key features of these amazing shades are:

  • Polarized lenses
  • Rubber nose pads
  • Metal spring hinges
  • UV400 protection
  • FDA approved, impact resistant lenses

 

The rubber nose pads may not seem like a big deal but they make a big impact. The rubber nose pads ensure that whether you are running a mile or 20 miles, the shades maintain a high level of comfort and stay snug on your face(no bouncing). No need to worry about having that indention on your nose once you take them off, like some other shades. The metal spring hinges give the shades sturdy support and gives you the added comfort that these shades are made durable.

COLORS

I don’t even know where to begin when it comes to the color options for Knockarounds, because there are tons. The 2 colors I received were: Victory Lap and Clear Gray/Red Sunset. In addition, you have colors like Black Ocean, Pool Blue/Sunset, Desert and Battleship. There are at least 5 pages of color combinations, and if you still don’t like any of those….you can customize your own pair.

Summer Time

PRICE

Knockarounds are very reasonably priced, with a range of around $20 up to $55(deluxe and special editions). Even with he prices being so reasonable, it is hard to find a time when Knockaround doesn’t have a nice discount code available. Like right now, use code BRKnocks1 to get 20% off your order. (offer expires 6/30)

RECCOMENDATION

It’s a no-brainer, if you need some new shades or even just want some more stylish ones, Knockarounds has got you covered. Don’t just buy 1, they are better in pairs, so buy 2. Remember BRKnocks1 for 20%off your order.

Bittersweet-Virtual Allstate Hot Chocolate 15K Charlotte Review

“Disclaimer: I received a free entry to run the Allstate Hot Chocolate 15K Charlotte 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 most of you know, over the past year, Virtual has become the new now. Virtual meetings through Zoom and Google Meet, virtual races to somewhat fulfill the void left with the lack of IRL races. The AllState Hot Chocolate 5K/15K Charlotte was not any different as most if not all the Hot Chocolate series has decided to go virtual. I have run the Charlotte installment of the series since it’s inception, so although it pains me not to be able to travel to Charlotte to run, I was happy to have the opportunity to knock it out locally and keep my streak going for the 4th year in a row.

SWAG
To start, I am always impressed about how thorough the race organizers are about getting your race packets out to you in a timely fashion. I received an email about 2 weeks before the race, letting me know my packet had been mailed and included tracking information. I received my package about a week before raceday. I personally treated it like a IRL race and refused to open my package until I had earned it. I took the package with me the morning I planned to do the race and tore it open as soon as I was finished.

And can we talk about swag…SWAG. I have lone said that Hot Chocolate is one of the best races as far as swag goes. Let’s take a look at what I found when I popped open my package.

Jacket
Good quality, full zip black jacket. Hot Chocolate emblem on the chest and removable hood.

Medal
Cool medal in the shape of a chocolate bar, that opens up to reveal a little piece of chocolate.

BIB
2 Packs of dark chocolate hot chocolate
2 pieces of chocolate

Honey Stinger

Nuun
A sample of CBD ointment

The Run 

I couldn’t have picked a better day to run this virtual race, although some would say it was too cold. I think the temps were low 30s but felt like 26 with the wind chill. PERFECT! I picked a route that I was familiar with and only had a couple spots that required me to cross over a 2 lane street. I admit, I am totally not big on virtual races because I find it harder to push myself and I always liked to feed off the race spectators. Regardless, I set out and just let my legs do what they wanted. When I finally reached my 9.3 mile mark, I had finished with a 2 minute PR for 15K distance. Couldn’t wait to go to the website and upload my time. So that’s it, another Hot Chocolate in the books and looking forward to racing it IRL in 2022.

Savannah Bridge Run (virtual) Recap

Disclaimer: I received an entry into Savannah Bridge Run(virtual) 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!

With the pandemic wrecking havoc on everyone’s running calendars, I took the time to start looking into some virtual races. My rationale being virtual races will help keep me motivated to crush out the weekend miles through the winter months. I had heard about the Savannah Bridge Run in previous years, so when I was given the opportunity to participate virtually, I jumped on it.

Not only was the Enmarket Savannah Bridge Run ranked in The Bibrave top 20 of races under 10 miles, but runners also refer to it as “The South’s Toughest Bridge Run. Although I certainly missed the opportunity to run of the beautiful bridge in Savannah, I made sure to incorporate some bridges in my virtual run. 

I chose the Double Pump Challenge, which consists of a 5K, followed immediately by a 10K. I took on the strategy of taking the 5K a little faster and coasting through the 10K. I knocked out the 5K in a time of 22:20. I followed that up with a 10K time of 51:50. The weather probably accounted for why I didn’t see very many runners out on the trail.

Post run was very organized, as the race provided a link for you to upload a screenshot of your completed run and also an opportunity to submit a photo for a contest. All finishers swag will be mailed out after 12/5 and I plan to update this blog with some pics.

Hopefully some normalcy will return soon and maybe i will be able to participate the Bridge Run in person for 2021. Until then find you some fun virtual races and keep running. Running Is Not Cancelled.

Redemption is Sweet-Richmond Marathon Revenge

I received Gatorade Endurance 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.

If you have been following my blog you know that in August, I started what I coined as the “Redemption Tour” with the help of Gatorade Endurance. Quick backstory… In November of 2019 I set out to run the Richmond Marathon. Everything is fine leading up to the day of the race. The day before I usually carb load at a local Italian restaurant and I choose one that had a good rating, Bombalini. I woke up the next day with food poisoning and extreme GI issues. I tried to rehydrate as much as I could but I only made it through 14 miles of the race before taking a nice ride in ambulance for dehydration.

Fast forward to this year, and I was determined to redeem myself. I trained my butt off, which consisted of me getting up at 3 and 4 am to get runs in. I felt ready. To avoid a similar fate from last year, I drove 15 minutes out of the way just to go to an Olive Garden to get my pasta. Woke up race morning with no issues and was ready. My bib simply said “TK’s Back”. It was a chilly 39 degrees but I still chose to go with shorts and short sleeves because I knew I would warm up.

At 7:45am we were off. I didn’t look at my watch, just trusted my body and settled into a comfortable pace. As I was running, the course was coming back to me from the year before. Going over the bridge at mile 8, which is where I had to start walking for the first time in 2019. When I got too mile 14 and recognized the exact spot I had to stop and sit, my stomach tighten up and I just ran harder. I knew that was a mental hurdle I had to get over and I did with no problem. During that mile A spectator read my bib and all i heard was “TK’s Back! Hell yeah he is!” I smiled and thought to myself “damn right” At mile 20, I noticed I was on pace to PR and by a good bit. I was determined to finish strong, I was down to my last Gatorade Endurance (Apple pear) after downing ones at mile 7 and 14. I tore open the last gel at 22, hoping it would get me through the last 4. Richmond Marathon is unique in that the last mile is a steep downhill and I took advantage. Still had fuel in the tank so I went full throttle and crossed the finish line with a time of 3:41:29… that’s a 16 minute PR. I relished ringing the PR bell and smiled knowing redemption was mine! Gatorade Endurance kept me energized and with no signs of cramps. Great product.

2018 Race Year in Review; Preparation for Hot Chocolate

Looking back at my 2018 race year, it definitely had it’s ups and downs. As I am ramping up my training for my first race of 2019, Hot Chocolate 15k Charlotte, I can’t help but reflect back on 2018. The first half of the year started well enough, I ran my first ever Hot Chocolate race(Charlotte) as well as knocked out a few half marathons. I was within seconds of running a new half marathon PR at Tobacco Road Half Marathon, and I ran Oak Island half marathon for the first time. The first half of the year was also bittersweet, because I ran Rock and Roll Raleigh for the last time. This was my home city’s Rock and Roll and I had run it every year since it began 5 years ago. All the complaints from downtown churches, finally took it’s toll because the Rock and Roll series decided it would not be coming back to Raleigh.
In June I traveled to kansas city to run the Hospital Hill Half Marathon. This was my 2nd year running it as a part of the Bibrave family. By far the hillest race, with its constant up and down. Unfortunately, I also think this race is where I injured myself. I was due to began my marathon training in July and my lower legs were just constantly giving me trouble after Hospital Hill. I admit I began to worry heading into the start of training. I had a goal to accomplish in my marathon…I wanted a sub 4. Since I only run 1 marathon a year, I had been waiting a year to try to redeem myself from 2017. In 2017 I ran the Chicago Marathon and was on pace to break sub 4 easily until mile 23. At 23 I caught cramps in both calves, I hobbled to the finish with a time of 4:01. I was mad and upset, and it bothered me like nothing else.
Training started and I decided to go with a new training program, I was going to do the 3 x 2 training.(run 3 days, bike 2 days) Needless to say, training did not start well, I couldn’t hit my pace marks and my legs were not getting any better. Regardless of the pace, I was still doing the set miles needed and hoping that would pay off when it counted. I finally gave in and seeked help from a physical therapist. Kari at Run Raleigh was amazing, and after 4-5 sessions I began to feel like I was turning a corner with my injury. My pace began to drop back down to normal range and the pain was not as severe. Richmond Marathon was in sight and I felt like I was ready, although I didn’t know if I had done enough in training to get that sub 4. Race weekend comes around and I do all my normal routines, which include carb loading at local italian restaurant. I won’t mention the restaurant we chose by name, but they had 5 stars and made their own pasta in-house. Everything was good the night before the race but when I woke up on race morning…..trouble was waiting. Serious GI issues, and I suspected that I could have food poisoning. I couldn’t stay out of the bathroom, but I knew I wouldn’t forgive myself if I didn’t at least still try.(crazy I know) I was drinking gatorade and ginger ale hoping to rehydrate. I made it to the start line and felt like I was going to go for it. I started out, and things were not too bad and I was running around 9 min pace. At mile 8 I began to feel some uneasiness in my stomach but tried to keep going. I made it all the way to mile 14 before, my body said no more. I was dehydrated and could barely walk. I sat down on the curb, securing my first DNF ever. My runners stopped and asked if I needed anything and someone since the cops back to check on me. Ended up having to be picked up by the ambulance and taken to the emergency room to get pumped up with fluids. I was still determined to run a marathon and luckily I found Kiawah Island marathon that was taking place 3 weeks after Richmond. I signed up.
In between richmond and Kiawah Island, I attended The Running Event in Austin Texas. If you don’t know about TRE, you should go back and read my previous blog posts about The Running Event. I returned home, ready to give the marathon one my try. My last chance before the end of 2018.
Kiawah Island is in South Carolina, which was about a 4 hour drive. Race day it was in the low 40s, almost perfect running weather. I started the race strong and was feeling good. I tried to keep my mind on the mile I was in, but I admit my mind would drift off at moments and I would think about Chicago Marathon. I couldn’t have a repeat performance. Other times I would get excited and think I am going to do it, before I again had to bring myself back to the mile I was in. Once I hit mile 23, there was no cramping but things got tough. My legs began to hurt but I didn’t want to stop, I could taste my goal. I crossed the finish line with a time of 3:57, a new marathon PR and MY SUB 4 Marathon. I was super excited but didn’t really show it as I limped around the post race festivities.
And that’s it, that is how my 2018 race year ended. It ended on the highest of notes and I couldn’t be happier. Now, what awaits me in 2019, I don’t know. I know it will start with Hot Chocolate 15k Charlotte. I will be running Cherry Blossom 10 miler in April and I still hope to run New York City Marathon, after being denied the past 3 years. If I can’t get into NYC, I will either to Marin Corps Marathon or try to redeem myself in Richmond. It will be my 5th marathon so I feel like it should either by NYC or back where it all began with Marine Corps(my first marathon). I don’t know but stay tuned for race year 2019, I think it will be an exciting one.

Check All the Boxes-Brooks Ghost 11 & Canopy Jacket Product Review

I received Brooks products(Brooks Ghost 11 and Brooks Canopy jacket) 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 Brooks brand is well-known throughout the running community, whether you have used them or not, is a personal preference. I personally have loved Brooks since I stumbled upon them when I first started running. When I began running, I was clueless to the idea of running shoes. I was running in some Nike Shox and was having severe shin splits. I started doing my research and had a gait analysis done at a running expo for which Brooks was sponsor. After that day, I bought my first pair of Brooks and haven’t looked back since. Needless to say, I was all smiles when I saw Brooks gear in our swag bag from The Running Event. I was given a pair of Brooks Ghost 11 and a Brooks Canopy running jacket.

BROOKS CANOPY JACKET(Nightlife)

·         Wind and Water Protection(breathable wind and water-resistant fabric keeps you dry)

·         Storable Hood

·         DriLayer Seal Fabric(lets air in, keeps rain out)

·         Packs into its left-hand pocket

I love this jacket! Not only does it keep you warm on those crisp mornings/evenings, it is water-resistant. The water-resistant aspect is what I have been lacking with other jackets I have tried. Others brands I have tried have either been too light, thus not keeping you warm, or not breathable, thus you are sweating heavily because no air can get in. This Canopy jacket merges both worlds together perfectly. Extra benefit with the Nighlife color I received, is it has the neon yellow accents as well as built in reflective areas so you can easily be seen at night and pre-dawn. I took this jacket out for several runs and loved that it wasn’t too heavy, as well as, the option to use the hood or snap it back. The last and probably one of my favorite features is it is packable. That’s right, the whole jacket can pack right inside the left hand pocket, zip up, and has a nice band you can use to attach to your arm. I was able to put this to the test during one of my recent long runs. The temps were in the high 30s when I started out but pushed its way into the mid 40s halfway through my run. I was able to take off the jacket, pack it into the pocket and continue my run without having to worry about the hassle of securing the jacket around my waist. 

BROOKS GHOST 11     

I mentioned earlier that Brooks was one of my favorite brands, well their Brooks Ghost are one of my favorite shoes. In all I think I have had at least 3 or 4 pairs of Ghost, dating back to the Ghost 8.  

·         Balanced, Soft Cushioning

·         Segmented Crash Pad, so no matter how your foot lands, you get a smooth ride

·         Soft, Secure Fit

I always have high expectations whenever the new Ghosts drop, and these didn’t disappoint. I had been waiting to buy a pair, but thanks to the generosity of Brooks, I didn’t have too with their inclusion in our swag bag. The Ghost are considered a Neutral running shoe, and that is what seems to work best for me. I felt the same cushioned ride during my runs as I got in the previous versions of Brooks Ghost, with the added feature of DNA Loft softness and BioMoGo DNA responsiveness. These 2 technologies work together to provide a just-right softness underfoot without losing responsiveness and durability. The shoes are not too hard or soft, they fit somewhere in between and when you are running they feel a bit lighter. I could definitely feel the difference in the responsiveness in the shoe on the foot strike, it almost felt like it was bouncing back. This benefit is especially valuable as the miles start adding up during a run. The stretch fabric used to construct these beauties is breathable, so you don’t have to worry about your feet sweating as much.

RECCOMENDATON
Yes and Yes, to both products. I feel like the canopy jacket is a no-brainer, good jackets are hard to find and this once checks all the boxes for me. I also really love the Brooks Ghost 11, but if you require a shoe with more “support” this may not work for you. I know Brooks also makes a support shoe that will check the boxes for you, like the Ravenna or Adrenaline.

Zwifty-Zwift Run Product Review

I received a Zwift footpod 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!

 

What is a Zwift, you might say? Well up into recently, you would have never heard of Zwift unless you were in the cycling world. Zwift was a program/app that allowed you to train indoors and connect with cyclists around the world in a virtual world. If you read any of my posts you know I am a runner, not a cyclist, so why did I get a Zwift pod? Because now Zwift has stepped into the running world. We received footpods in our Running Event swag bag, so let’s see how it turned out.

SETUP
In my previous posts about TRE, I told you about a few pros doing a Zwift run on the first day we were in Austin. The rest of us got to watch and cheer them on. On December 18th, the Pros that didn’t get to run during TRE weekend finally got there chance to test out the Zwift Run. Before I tell you about the run, let me tell you what items you will need to get started.

·         Zwift Footpod or connected shoe

·         Download the Zwift app

·         Device to run Zwift (phone, laptop, ipad, etc)

·         Create a Zwift Account

·         Treadmill

The last item listed was a big deal for me, because I simply do not like running on “dreadmills”. Even if it raining or 20 degrees outside, I will go outside before I ever seek out a dreadmill. So, my first order of business was trying to find one. I don’t go to gyms and couldn’t find a friend that owned one, so it took some finessing. I found out Planet Fitness offered Day Passes to nonmembers, so I applied online and was given one.

THE VIRTUAL WORLD
I must admit the setup was pretty cool. Bibrave already had an event sent up for the date and time, so we just had to log into it. Once you log in, your virtual character appears at the starting line. The starting line header shows how much time you have left before the run begins. As more people sign in, their characters appear at the starting line with you with their name. There is even a message bar that you can communicate with everyone. Once the countdown reached zero, we were off. Based on what pace you entered when signing up for the event, the zwift app tells you what to set your treadmill at. We did a tempo run, so the pace changed several times during the run. Each time, the app would tell you what to set the treadmill(for instance, “increase treadmill to 6.2”) As you are running through the virtual world, you see all our friends running along with you. We even had a santa clause sighting in the middle of our run. Your friends can give you “thumbs up”, and after you finish the workout, you get a workout summary. There is even a saved screen shot of your character in the middle of the run. In addition to group runs, Zwift also has training plans you can use.

RECCOMENDATION
I am still not going to be a treadmill guy, BUT if I have to run on a treadmill at any time, I definitely will be using Zwift. Zwift managed to make something I think is so boring, more fun. There is nothing like running along with virtual friends and exploring a virtual world, whole lot better than running a staring at a tv monitor for miles on end. Don’t hit the treadmill without powering up Zwfit, and make some friends join you…the more the merrier.

Plop Plop, Fizz Fizz-Nuun Product Review

I received Nuun product tablets and water bottle 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!

Nuun Nuun Nuun, who doesn’t love Nuun? I have been a fan for a number of years, ever since I stumbled upon them at a race expo. Needless to say I was excited when we got a nice Nuun package as part of our swag bag from The Running Event(TRE). Here is what my package consisted of:

Nuun Electroyltes- helps replenish you when you sweat
Nuun Immunity- 
gives your immune system a boost of support
Nuun Vitamins- 
a anytime drink for your daily health
Nuun Performance
– perfect for longer, intense workouts

** Fun Fact: The Nuun products with the colored tops have added caffeine. I learned that bit of information from the Nuun rep at TRE.

FAVORITE PRODUCT
So, what was my favorite product out of the 4, I have to go with Nuun Performance. Seeing how the majority of the time I use Nuun is when I am out of a run, I was immediately drawn to Energy Nuun Electroyltes with its added caffeine to help you get through the dreaded long runs. The Energy Nuun comes in 4 different flavors, but my favorites are Wild Berry and Cherry Limeade.(other flavors are mango orange and fresh lime) I can immediately feel a burst of energy, especially on those hot summer runs, when I take a swig of Energy Nuun. Not to mention the flavors are more intense. More importantly, I have never had any GI issues when using Nuun so you don’t have to worry about any unscheduled potty breaks in the midst of your run.

FAVORITE FLAVOR
Up until recently my favorite flavor has always been Wild Berry Energy Nuun, well that has changed. In the midst of my many Nuun conversations I have had with other runners, a new concept was discovered….HOT Nuun. I first heard it in October of this year when my friend, Chris mentioned it while we were working a booth at the Army 10 miler expo. The following month I was discussing it and several people said that their favorite flavor was Ginger Lemonade….HOT. There was that Hot concept again, not to mention I had never seen the ginger lemonade flavor. Since I had a Ginger Lemonade in my swag bag from TRE, I decided to take it with me to work one morning. My job had given all the employees mugs at some point during the year, and since I don’t drink coffee, what better way to try it out with some hot Nuun. I went to break room and filled up my mug with some hot water, returned to my desk and dropped 1 Nuun Ginger Lemonade tablet into it. It almost look like a volcano erupting as the Nuun tablet was attacked by the hot water. After the fizz subsided, I took a sip and MIND BLOWING. It was without a doubt DELICIOUS. I don’t drink coffee but, like most people, some mornings I need a little pick me up. I can totally see Ginger Lemonade “hot” Nuun as my go to. It has now become my favorite flavor of all Nuun. *I was also told Orange Citrus Nuun Immunity hot is also good, but I haven’t tried that one yet.

TRY IT FOR YOURSELF
Nuun, as a brand, speaks for itself but if I can help persuade anyone to try it for the first time…I WILL. Nuun is great and does not contain many calories. Give it a try. Do me a favor and try ginger lemonade in hot water, and let me know what you think. I look forward to reading the comments after you do.