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.

Updated Race Discount Codes

April 2021

4/3/2021 – Allstate Hot Chocolate 15K/5K – Philadelphia, PA

Use code “BRHC20” for a free HC running hat

4/3/2021 – Allstate Hot Chocolate 15K/5K – Louisville, KY

Use code “BRHC20” for a free HC running hat

4/10/2021 – Allstate Hot Chocolate 15K/5K – Minneapolis, MN

Use code “BRHC20” for a free HC running hat

4/10/2021 – Milwaukee Marathon – Milwaukee, WI 

Use code “BR10” for 10% off

4/10/2021 – Virtual Women’s Half Marathon – Anywhere, USA

Use code “BibRAVE$5off” for $5 off any distance

4/17/2021 – Allstate Hot Chocolate 15K/5K – Detroit, MI

Use code “BRHC20” for a free HC running hat

4/17/2021 – Blue Ridge Marathon – Roanoke, VA

Use code “BIBRAVE20” for 20% off

4/25/2021 – Delaware Marathon – Wilmington, DE

Use code “DELAWARERAVE21” for 10% off

May 2021 

5/30/2021 – Coeur d’Alene Marathon – Coeur d’Alene, ID

Use code “BIBRAVE15” for 15% off

June 2021

6/12/2021 – The Governor’s Cup – Helena, MT

Use code “GovCupRave21” good for 10% off

6/19/2021 – Grandma’s Marathon – Duluth, MN

Use code “BIBRAVE1021” for 10% off 

6/26/2021 – Missoula Marathon – Missoula, MN

Use code “BR2021” for $5 off

August 2021

8/28/2021 – Santa Rosa Marathon – Santa Rosa, CA

Use code “RUN5” for $5 off registration

September 2021

9/18/2021 – Air Force Marathon – Dayton, OH

Use code “AFMBR21” for 10% off

9/25/2021 – Sanford Fargo Marathon – Fargo, ND

Use code “RUN5” for $5 off registration

October 2021

10/16/2021 – Urban Bourbon Half Marathon – Louisville, KY

Use code “BIBRAVEUBHM2021” good for 10% off

10/17/2021 – IMT Des Moines Marathon – Des Moines, IA

Use code “BIBRAVE21” for $10 off registration

November 2021

11/13/2021 – Hilton Head Marathon – Hilton Head Island, SC

Use code “RUN5” for $5 off registration

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.

Back again…. for the Chocolate

“Disclaimer: I received a race entry to 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!”

For the 4th year in a row, I will be toeing the line in 2021 for the Allstate Hot Chocolate 15k Charlotte. I’ve been privileged enough to run this race every year since it started in Charlotte and became legacy this year. Before the pandemic took over life as we know it, this race was the last in-person race I was able to complete in 2020. All my other races of 2020 were either cancelled or converted to virtual events.

I, like many others, hope we can look forward to live races again in 2021. Consider joining and meeting me in Charlotte 2021!

Chocolate Dreams-Allstate Hot Chocolate Charlotte race recap

I received an entry into the Allstate Hot Chocolate 15K Charlotte as being a Bibrave Pro. Learn more about becoming a bibrave pro (ambassador), as well as, find read and write race reviews on bibrave.com.

For the 3rd year in a row (every year since it’s been in Charlotte) I ran for chocolate. This year was a little different as upon completion, i would be a legacy runner. It was never a sure thing as my son had been sick and i had been fighting something for a few days leading up to the race. I was still coughing but i figured i had enough to at least finish the miles.

I didn’t even consider trying to PR, instead i settled on a B goal of trying to maintain a sub 8 pace. It is a hilly course but nothing I’m not used to. Mile 6 is the great equalizer and typically separates the runners as it’s a street that is an incline for about ¾ mile. The amount of spectators on the course is low, but I’m hoping they will increase in coming years. As I mentioned, the race had only been around 3 years so still fairly new. I accomplished my B goal and while doing that actually ended up being about 20 seconds from a PR(I was unaware 🤷🏾‍♂️)

What really sets Hot Chocolate races apart are the swag and finish line treats. This year’s swag was a full zip jacket, with ample lining to keep you warm on those cold days. The men’s color was a light blue and ladies was magenta. The finish line treats consist of: hot chocolate, melted chocolate, marshmallow, rice crispy treats, pretzels, banana and honey stinger waffle. This was on top of the finisher’s medal and extra legacy medal.

Hot Chocolate 15k was a success and I got my chocolate fix, as always. Put this one on your race calendar for 2021.

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.

Hot Chocolate Express-Allstate Hot Chocolate Charlotte

Disclaimer: I received an entry to Hot Chocolate Charlotte as being a Bibrave Pro. Learn more about becoming a Bibrave Pro(ambassador), and check out Bibrave.com to review, find, and write rave reviews!”

Super excited to be heading back to Charlotte to run the Allstate Hot Chocolate 15K in 2020. I’ve run this race every year since it began so it will be that much sweeter becoming a legacy runner. You become legacy and get a special medal after you run it 3,5 and 10 years.

It most certainly is not a easy course, matter of fact it is rather hilly but still fun. They changed the course between the 1st and 2nd year to help, so interested to see if there will be another change this year. The weather is also unpredictable. The first year it was kinda warm and rainy, and last year it was down right cold. So much that most runners are huddled around heat towers before the start.

Why should you consider joining me?

Distance: it’s only 5K or 15K, so you won’t be super tired like you would after a half or full marathon. Trust me, the 4 less miles make a difference.

Treats: The post race treats are amazing. All the treats you can think of that are good for dipping in chocolate. Rice krispie treats, Graham crackers, and marshmallows to name a few. Not to mention all the other good food available from sponsors.

Medals: The medals are specifically designed for the city, so always cool to see what they come up with.

Swag: Some of the best swag around, usually some type of half zip pullover or jacket.

If you want to join me, use code BRHCHARLOTTE19 to score a free hat. Hope to see you there

TAR HEEL TOUGH-Tar Heel 10 miler race recap

Disclaimer: I received free entry to Tar Heel 10 Miler 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 a graduate of UNC-CH, this race will always hold a special place. I’ve run it every year for the past 5 years, so I jumped at the chance to run this race while representing Bibrave.

As in the last couple years, I choose to partake in the Double Down Challenge. The challenge involves running the 4 miler and finishing it before the start line of the 10 miler closes, then running that as well. The 4 miler started at 7:15, and the starting line for the 10 miler closes at 8:00.

The race management was exceptional when it comes to the double down challenge, the had a dedicated lane for the participants as they finished the 4 miles, so they weren’t held up getting to the 10 mile start.

This year’s race was a little different, as I was crazy enough to register for a half marathon the day after this race so I had to control my effort. Weather was not kind as it rained all morning and half way through the 4 miler. We all know what happens after the rain, that’s right, humidity skyrockets and it did just that.

4 Miler

My plan going in was to semi-race the 4 miles and then take it easy on the 10 miles. If you take out the humidity and hills, the 4 miler pretty much went as planned. I finished in 32 minutes, which have me more than enough time to walk back to the 10 mile start.

10 Miler

The 10 miler was rough. The humidity wasn’t letting up and there were 3 times as many hills, including the dreaded Laurel Hill. Yes the hill that is so bad that they time you to see how long it takes you to reach the top. I didn’t even bother trying to run up it, I like many, choose to just walk up. I actually walked up the majority of the hills just so I could save my legs for the following day. I finished around 1:30, with a total Double Down time of 2:03.

Medals

For completing the challenge, you receive medals for the 4 mile and 10 mile, along with a double down Medal.

Recommendation

Despite the hills, I still 100% recommend this race. It is well managed, beautiful course through campus, great shirts and amazing medals. Put this one on your calendar for 2020.