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.

Embrace the Turtle 🐢-Turtle Gloves Review

Disclaimer: I received a pair of Turtle Gloves Midweight Winter soft gloves 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!

FEAR THE TURTLE

As winter approached, one of the many things I started to think about is “winter running”. I mean i run outside all year long so I am always looking for ways to avoid frostbite and keep my digits properly circulated. I had heard of turtle gloves but never owned a pair….and to be totally honest, I never seen myself running with mittens. I have always had some version of 5 finger gloves with the fingertip material so you could still use your touchscreen. The opportunity presented itself and I couldn’t pass it up.

AVAILABLE COLORS

There is no lack of variety when it comes to color choices. There is sure to be one or two colors that tickle your fancy.
*Charcoal w/ Orange Trim

*Charcoal w/ Blue Trim

*Charcoal w/ Kelly Green Trim

*Kelly Green

*Lime Yellow

*Orange

*Pink

*Red Crimson

*Royal

SIZES

FEATURES

*Technical Fabrics

*Wicking & Breathable

*Wind Resistant

*Water Repellent

*Adjustable Venting

PERFORMANCE
I was delighted at how these turtle gloves performed. I am an early morning runner so it wasn’t too hard to find some mornings that were cold enough to put this mittens to work. On each of my runs, i started with them in mitten form and by mile 1, my hands would already be sweating. Each time I would have to convert the mittens to fingers out version to finish the run. Throughout the run, I never had any feeling of cold or freezing from my hands which is a big difference from the normal gloves. Previous gloves I have tried would often require me adding some handwarmers to make sure I didn’t get frostbite.

RECOMMENDATION
Without a doubt, I recommend this turtle gloves to any winter runner or anyone doing anything outside in the cold; going to a parade(those were the days), etc.

Are you ready to order your own? Visit turtlegloves.com and use code TURTLEBIBRAVE for 15%.

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

Redemption Tour Has Begun

“Disclaimer: 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!”

 

Today officially begins what I have coined “The Redemption Tour”. Each training day will be a different tour date, as I work toward getting my redemption at the Richmond Marathon. The training will be tough, but lucky for me, I have teamed up with Gatorade Endurance to help me reach my milestone.

 

WHAT LED TO MY NEED FOR REDEMPTION
My strive for redemption began at the Richmond Marathon 2018. I had trained my butt off all year, in hopes of breaking the 4 hour mark in my 4thfull marathon. My training leading up to the race went well, I mean not every training run was peaches and cream but I felt strong coming into the race. The day before the race, I followed my usual routine. That routine involves some serious carb loading with some Italian pasta. When I travel for a race, I typically try to eat at a local Italian restaurant, instead of the usual chain restaurants. I did my search and found a local spot with very good rating that made their own pasta in-house. We got there about 7pm and ordered our food, I got spaghetti and meatballs. With the exception of needing a little salt, the food was pretty good.

 

Fast forward to the next morning, race day, and things took a turn. I woke up and didn’t feel great, I had GI issues that were off the charts. I couldn’t figure out what was wrong, then I realized….it had to be food poisoning. It was hard for me to stand, and resulted to me laying on the floor or trying to crawl. I started to drink water and Gatorade, in an attempt to stay hydrated. As bad as I felt, I knew I had to attempt to still try and run the marathon. Anyone besides a runner would probably think this is crazy, but I had trained too long not to at least give it a go. I continue to drink Gatorade as I made the 1 mile walk to the starting line. I felt good enough to make the walk but I still felt the GI issues lingering. Nevertheless, the gun went off and I started out. The first mile wasn’t too bad, but by the time I reached mile 8, I could feel out of sync. Over the next few miles I had to walk a little and then run, but my pace was plummeting. By the time I reached mile 14, I had to throw in the white flag and just sat on the curve. Runners would slow down and ask how I was doing, I just told them I couldn’t physically go another step. Some cops walked up to me and told me they would call me an ambulance. Ambulance arrived and I was put on a stretcher for my first,and hopefully, only ride in an ambulance. They said I was dehydrated, which didn’t surprise me. I just couldn’t replenish my body enough to counter the effects the GI issues had done. So there we have it, my first every race DNF.

 

I was pissed for weeks about this race. Although, about 5 weeks later I ran Kiawah Island Marathon and broke the 4 hour mark, I still didn’t like the taste that Richmond had left in my mouth. I vowed to return to Richmond in 2019 and finish what I started.

 

THE REDEMPTION TOUR BEGINS 
When registration opened for Richmond Marathon, I signed up and marked my calendar. The redemption tour has officially begun, so be on the lookout for the tour dates. Hopefully, with the help of Gatorade Endurance I can make this milestone a successful one. 

Tar Heel 10 miler (Double Down challenge) Prep

Looking ahead to Tar Heel 10 miler, the countdown is on. I’ve run this race the past 4-5 years and always enjoy it. Training thus far has been going pretty good for most part. I’ll mentoring a group of runners in the PR Squad, so I’m training along side of them. PR Squad is a subpart of the larger Fleet Feet half/full marathon training program. We have done a lot of hills and Interval work during the session. The hill work so definitely help when it comes to tackling the monster known as Laurel Hill at the Tar Heel 10. Just think of a mile long 45 degree angle hill.

There has been one hiccup during training, I caught a stomach bug the had been going around. My whole house had it at some point. Not fun and it derailed one of my long runs. I did go back a few days later and try to do the run. I cut it short because although my pace was ok but my heart rate was high, so I knew I was working harder than I needed to. Aka i wasn’t fully recovered. ALWAYS LISTEN TO YOUR BODY AND BE MINDFUL OF YOUR HR. Majority of your training runs should have your HR in Green or orange zone, of you’re in red, slow down/stop.

That’s it for now, stay tuned when I post my post TarHeel 10 miler recap.