Product Review: MetCon START Pre-Training

Disclaimer: I received MetCon Start 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!

Some Perspective

I feel like I need to “set the stage” if you will to give you a glimpse of my current mindset and also how MetCon START has really helped me re-develop my running routine.

The pandemic has been weird. Like most people, I found myself unemployed and on a forced 50+ day vacation from employment. I’ll admit, while stressful, the time off was actually a bit of a blessing in disguise. I was given an opportunity to “reset” so to speak and get my head right.

Over the break I ran based on how and when I wanted. It was beautiful and intuitive, I ran without much thought or stress and it became a daily habit everyday around 8 or 9AM.

Fast forward to present-day; I’m back to being employed (and feeling so so grateful) and also oddly enough finding myself wondering when I’m going to find time to run.

Which brings me to the point of this review.

MetCon START, to Start the Day!

Now gainfully employed I have three options when it comes to running. One, run in the morning; Two, run at lunch; Three, run in the evening.

The most painful of these (because I enjoy sleep) is getting up early to run. So naturally I’m left to run over my lunch or in the evening.

It’s July and that means Pennsylvania is swelling with heat and humidity. So those lunch runs I love- well, not so much unless I want to shower three times in a single day. So that means evening runs will have to suffice, right? Wrong. The evening is when the day is at its peak heat, so if I thought running over lunch was too hot, I guess running in the evening is off the table too.

Morning runs it is! Insert groans here.

Actually, it’s not that bad and MetCon START has made the process a little more “user friendly”. Just one (1) scoop 15 mins before my run, and I’m good to go!

My Routine…

User preferences will vary, but on days where I run in the mornings I get up, get dressed and immediately consume around 12-16 oz of water mixed with one (1) scoop of MetCon START.

I typically chase START with a bottle of water to just prepare my body with fluids, since I’ll most likely sweat out most of it. And that’s it. Sounds too easy… right?

My Thoughts

I’ve been using MetCon START for two weeks now. One container has approximately 30 servings which means just enough for a month’s supply.

When I started using the pre-training mix I avoided consuming any other caffeinated drinks in the morning. MetCon states that START has the equivalent boost of two (2) servings of your typically coffee beverage. I’m not one to have any sensitivity toward caffeine, but to be safe I would try to limit my intake of any supplemental caffeine in the mornings.

4:30AM wake-up calls for a little boost!

START has a nice subtitle boost of energy that I have found was sufficient to sustain my needs for my morning 3 mile run. Unlike other brands I have tried, START has a gradual release of energy, versus an all-at-once hit. I prefer the gradual release and absorption, again it’s not a huge pump like other brands.

The taste is fairly mild, and has a citrus finish. It’s not harsh on the tongue or back of the throat, START mixes easily and goes down without fuss. I have hastily consumed START on occasion (waking up late but still wanting to get in the miles) and can happily report no stomach issues or cramps.

Overall Opinion

At $49.99 and roughly 30 servings, I feel the price isn’t horrible. Along those lines, I feel like when it comes to energy mixes, you get what you pay for, and MetCon is at the higher end of quality and performance.

** Speaking of price, you can Save 20% off your purchase by using discount code BIBRAVE at checkout! **

The mixture blends well and goes down easily, no clumps or gross flavor profiles. I’ve consumed this on the go with no GI issues and enjoy the gradual release of energy.

I have found on longer runs (in the heat and humidity of Pennsylvania) around 5 miles I start to see my energy fade and need an additional boost.

On the weekends, I’m typically up a little later in the day (around 7:30AM) and consume additional caffeine (coffee) in the mornings before mixes up START and heading out. I have found consuming coffee in addition to START has not had any negative affects, but it’s not something I would do daily.

For what it’s worth, I’ve used and enjoyed START and will continue to kick off my days with a little scoop to help give me that “boost” I need!

Product Review: Road iD Wrist ID

Disclaimer: I received a RoadiD Wrist ID 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!

Never Run Alone!

If you’re like me you love running morning, noon, and night! Whenever the time is right, and up for adventure, it’s always fun running in new places and new routes and trails. After all the world is meant to be explored, so why not?

But if you’re also like me, you’ve got loved ones that care about your safety on the run. Especially when your travels may take you into an area your family is just as unfamiliar with as you. You might have concerns about the “what if” while you are out and about. So, what’s a runner to do? That’s where RoadiD comes into play!

RoadiD Wrist ID

RoadiD offers flexible options and styles to suit your needs. I chose the Wrist ID to rock on my runs because of the sleek look and customize options for use. In fact, I’ve been wearing my Wrist ID 24/7, the design is light and comfortable that I forget it’s there.

RoadiD offers you and your loved ones some peace of mind, and is so affordable I can’t think of a reason not to wear one!

Side note: the Wrist ID can be easily removed and placed on a new band, giving you a customized style. The ID badge is rugged enough that it won’t fall out and so far has been resilient to daily wear.

Assurance on the Run!

I tried thinking of just how to describe RoadiD, but fellow runner and Insta friend said it best:

Discount Code!

Okay, so I know this a short and sweet post, but if are curious about RoadiD, I would check it out for yourself as I can not recommend them enough!

And, to make the deal sweeter, you can save 25% when you use discount code: SAVE25BRP at checkout!

But don’t take my word for it! Check out fellow BRP’s for their opinions about RoadiD. Don’t forget to check out RoadiD’s website as well HERE

Chris , Steph, Ebony, Cassie, Nicki, Becky, Meredith, Randy, Lisha, Lisa, Mike

Video Collaboration!

It’s been a fun quarantine, and being ordered to stay at home with my besties is even better. This lockdown has brought our family closer and has provided us all an opportunity to “stop and smell the roses” if you will.

In our downtime, me and the lovely Mrs have joined creative forces and have produced this short video. No talking, just sounds of my beautiful wife in our country kitchen making a delicious meal for our family.

 

Philadelphia Hot Chocolate 5k – 15k Cancelled!

Well, this should come as no surprise, in more recent news the COVID-19 virus (known as Coronavirus) has created a stir in the running community as many race organizers announce the cancellation of races throughout the nation.

The Allstate Hot Chocolate series announced yesterday its closure of another HC15K race, this time, Philadelphia was included in the list.

Participants: Please check your emails for important event updates and to find out “what’s next” for the race.

Frustrating?

Frustrating? Yes. Necessary? Absolutely.

As I mentioned previously (Shamrock Marathon Update), this is a first (at least to my limited knowledge) for most race organizers, as pandemics aren’t common place in our nation. As such proper precautions are being taken to help prevent the spread of the virus for the overall well-being of the community at large.

What can we do?

First thing is first, don’t be a jerk. Seriously.

I understand the frustration of losing money on a race registration, and I understand the frustration of having trained for months (if not an entire year) in hopes of crushing a running goal. I, myself, have been looking forward to the upcoming race season with much anticipation, especially since most of these races involve more than just running but offer a real chance to connect with friends (new and old).

As much as I’m disappointed, it’s important to step back and look at the big picture.

What goes into a race?

I think often times people forget that a race is much more than a one day, or weekend event. A race takes planning and a community to support it. In all the photos of the Philadelphia Hot Chocolate race, what you don’t see is the amount of volunteers needed, along with first-responders standing by. As a semi-former first-responder, I can’t tell you how under appreciated our emergency services are.

The Philadelphia Police department, along with Fire and EMS are at every corner, twist, turn, and intersection of the race. These resources provide a crucial role in the security and safety of all participants.

What you don’t see in the photos is the large Sanitation crew on the day of the event. Since the Boston bombing, the city has increased security in the area tenfold. Large Sanitation Trucks (trash trucks) and barriers are placed at critical intersections surrounding the race to prevent anyone from driving into the race festival area or course.

What you don’t see is the volume of Emergency Medical staff on standby during the event when someone is injured along anywhere in the course. Last year I recall a runner being transported to the hospital after sustaining running related injuries- the Ambulance drove among runners!

Demanding full refunds seems a bit selfish. Most of the participant fees cover not only the swag and general overhead, but there’s a ton of logistics involved and time spent organizing that can’t be refunded. Time is money, and when an event is planned and people invest a lot of time to make it happen, I think it’s only fair we honor those individuals but not requesting a full refund. Also, not to mention the charities involved in conjunction with the race. Demanding a full refund robs those charities of precious dollars.

Point being: take it in stride and accept the outcome.

I know and understand the frustration, after all I’m a participant as well! But I also think we all need to step back and look at the big picture and appreciate how difficult this decision is, and to respect the outcome, after all it’s respect for the community that is most important.

Important Reminders

Another thing to remember, during this pandemic, local community hospitals are going to be inundated with patients. Since this is flu season, anyone that so much as senses a whiff of flu symptoms is most likely going to think “what if” and head to the local hospital or urgent care facility for Coronavirus testing.

Now add the needs of the 1,000’s of people registered and participating in the event all at once… seems like a recipe for disaster. So out of respect for the Philadelphia community, I applaud the event organizers for decided to cancel the event.

Put it this way, had the race not been cancelled, and there was an outbreak of the Coronavirus, what’s the likelihood the city of Philadelphia would be willing to allow future running events? Like I said, don’t be a jerk, let’s preserve our trust and relationship with the communities we run and hope for a better future.

See you next year Philly Hot Chocolate 15k!

Shamrock Marathon Cancelled!

Well, it happened, for the first time in my short history of running an event has been cancelled due to a virus! I’ve had previous events shutdown due to weather related issues, but never the threat on this level.

While I’m completely saddened by this news, I understand and respect the decision of the race directors. It had to have been so hard to cancel this amazing event.

A Race Cancelation Done Right

Major shoutout goes to the Shamrock Team for making things right! After announcing the cancelation of the race, participants were notified that all swag and medals would be shipped (on the house!) to all participants as a virtual race option. Deferments can be made for an additional cost.

Participant Options following the Cancellation

Per the participant email:

1. NO COST | Run Virtually. We will be mailing all 8K, Half Marathon, Marathon, and Leprechaun Dash participants their race packets plus all their finisher items in approximately 4-6 weeks. Final Mile participants will receive a special message from us once we finalize the next steps. NO ACTION REQUIRED.

2. FOR AN ADDITIONAL FEE | Defer your entry to 2021. We will still be mailing your race packet and finisher items, but there is also an option to defer your entry into next year’s race for a fee based on your distance. You have until March 16, 2020 at 11:59PM to do so.

It is a shame, but the decisions are understood. Thank you Shamrock Marathon for honoring participants and hopefully I’ll see you next year!

Race Registration: Freedoms Run Half Marathon!

Disclaimer: I received entry into the Freedoms Run 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!

phonto-1

 

Holy Hannah, it’s that time of the year! My race calendar is starting to fill up and I’m super stoked to announce that I’ll be returning to West Virginia to run the Freedoms Run Half Marathon on October 3rd, 2020!

Just a quick recap of how I discovered the race, and last year’s review:

“If you know me, I’m a history nut, and we discovered the Freedoms Run on accident when we planned a family vacation to Antietam two years ago. During a tour of the battlegrounds, we noticed runners (okay, I noticed runners) trotting down the roads toting a bib which only meant one thing! Later in our hotel room, I googled “races near me” and the Freedoms Run popped up.”

Linky link: https://kenstandsonthings.wordpress.com/2019/10/08/race-recap-freedoms-run-half-marathon/ 

I love Freedoms Run and love the area the race is held, especially since October is the perfect season for beautiful sights along the racecourse. I’m looking forward to soaking it all in again!

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You can sign up too, using code BIBRAVE5 will save you $5 off your race registration! Visit HERE to Register!

Hope to see you there, it’s going to be an awesome 2020!

Winter Running: Finding Motivation

Getting up early takes practice and discipline, for me, the biggest struggle always occurs during the time change.

The cold mornings, with lack of sun, as I’m snuggled in my cocoon of blankets imprisons me in bed. There are little to no signs of life, other than a faint rhythm of soft in and out breaths through the tiny window I’ve created in the blanket fortress for my face.

At home, I find it’s extremely easy to give in to the creature comforts of my bedroom and hit the snooze repeatedly until my wife and I sit up in sheer panic – just like Kevin’s parents in Home Alone – as we shout, “WE SLEPT IN!”

But there’s work to do.

I’m awake most of the time when my alarm goes off, in fact, most of the time I’m wide awake. So how do I force myself to get up? One trick that I implore is to think of my day ahead. If you’re like me, then you too are familiar with what I’m referring to: most of our days are planned out in advance with work commitments, school commitments, kids’ activities, etc. I think about the day ahead and whether or not I can afford to sleep in.

One example of the first questions I ask myself: If I don’t run this morning, will I have time to run over lunch?

The answer determines whether or not, I hit snooze and nestle into my wife and overbearingly snuggly pooch, or escape the confines of my blanket cocoon and face the day.

These questions are entirely situational, so yours will vary. Another example when I’m traveling for work, I like to think about the day ahead and when I’ll have an opportunity to run. Typically this time is first thing in the morning, as lunch is usually business-related, and the evenings are occupied by more business-related situations and engagements. I have found getting up and just getting it over has been the best way to answer the snooze button at 5 AM.

Dress Accordingly.

I shared my cold weather running insight previously here and on the Holabird blog, check that out for more details, but essentially I lay out all my running clothes ahead of time. This makes the transition relatively painless and quick, which means I’m out the door with little fuss. Faster to get started means the faster I’ll get done and more time for me to come home and warm up after those winter miles!

Find time.

If you have the luxury of an hour break (or more) at your workplace, then I’d recommend using this time to log miles. You get bonus points for getting to sleep in and still get your miles in! Since I’m big into running in a fasted state, practicing intermittent fasting for 3 months now, it’s always either an early morning run or pre-lunch run. Point being, if you NEED to log miles, find some time in your day that you can carve out room for a few minutes of activity.

Make others aware of your intentions!

Letting your spouse, significant other, friends, running buddies, your neighbor, WHOEVER, of your intentions to get up and run will create a level of accountability. Letting down someone you have a close connection with at least offers a level of motivation to get up and get out the door.

While this isn’t the healthiest, it hasn’t failed me. Just a word of caution, this can/may lead to burnout and negative associations with running, so use this sparingly, maybe for a once-a-week run (meeting up with a running club or friend) or monthly for an event or the like.

If you are prone to anxiety, peer pressure may create more harm than good. I would suggest for anyone with anxiety, to meditate on the subject by stating your intentions to the universe. This will take time and practice, but meditation can be an amazing motivator. Take a moment to state your intentions and reflect on what it is you want to accomplish. When you wake up the next morning, focus on your breath and the presence of being, re-iterate your intentions and focus your desire to get up and run. I have found success in this method, as cooky as it sounds, being presently aware can have a profound effect on your actions!

Now it’s your turn!

How do you find the motivation to get up and get moving this time of the year?

Cold Weather Running with TurtleGloves!

Disclaimer: I received a pair of the new TurtleGloves 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!”

COLD WEATHER RUNNING

It’s that time of the year, when the morning air becomes crisp, when the leaves all fall, and winter is at your front door waiting to present your cheeks with a stinging cold kiss. It’s also the time of year that the mornings are darker, motivation tends to run out, and the thought outdoor running just makes you want to just stay inside.

WHAT’S A RUNNER TO DO?

Love it or hate it, cold-weather running requires a little bit of extra prep-work, both mentally and physically.

Let’s talk about your mental game. Everyone has their own methods to psych themselves out for cold weather running. Whether it’s the reward of a hot drink afterward or some sweet indulgence, or maybe thoughts of a nice hot shower, there is no denying that cold weather running takes effort. Now, I could dive deep into mental preparedness, but for the sake of keeping things relatively short, I’m going to keep it simple.

Let’s just cover the basics, in the first step to making sure you’re mentally prepared, is knowing that it’s not just you who procrastinates. Humans tend to be on the lazier side, it’s just in our genetic makeup. Our “lizard brain” likes to conserve energy and makes hard tasks (like running in the cold) that much harder but creating an internal conflict. The lizard brain will make you question your routine (especially in the mornings): Why expend the energy if it’s not necessary? This warm bed is so safe and inviting, why not just wait until later?

Point being, you need to defeat the lizard! If there is a long-drawn-out process involved in your cold-weather running routine, chances are it’s not going to stick. Do yourself a favor and keep things simple to make getting out the door a little easier.

QUICK MOTIVATIONAL TIP: Morning running tends to take a back seat for me in the winter months, but when I have to hit those miles in the early morning, I have found sleeping in my running clothes the night before put things in motion. If I’m in my running clothes when I wake up, that’s one step closer to hitting the street!

Also, think of other innovative (yet simple) ways to get yourself out of bed. Try setting your alarm clock across the room, so when it goes off you HAVE to get up! Maybe you need extra motivation, try telling your spouse (or significant other) about your plans and ask for their assistance to keep you accountable. If you live alone, get your running friends on board and make plans to meet up. Having someone in your ear first thing in the morning can help you get up and get moving!

Along those same lines, making a commitment to others helps you maintain the course. Being held accountable can be a strong influence when you are more concerned about letting others down than yourself. So, make sure you share your goals and your plans to get out and running in the cold.

Like I mentioned earlier, we could go on and on about the mental games, and maybe that’s a future article, but let’s move on and get to the physical aspect of cold weather running, more specifically: gear.

LET’S GET PHYSICAL

Running in cold weather calls for mental grit to combat the frost, as well as a demand for physical barriers to protect your body from turning into an ice cube. A good rule of thumb that was passed down to me, was to dress comfortably for the outside weather as if it were 20° warmer.

So, on a 50°F weather day, dress as if you were going outside on a 70°F day. For me, this equates to running shorts, a short-sleeve tech shirt with a light windbreaker, or a long-sleeve tech shirt. Your mileage may vary, but any time it dips below 60°F out, I’m wearing gloves.

It’s also helpful to layer up in light layers. Lightweight layers can be easily shed to help cool you down if you run too hot, it’s a great way to manage and regulate your body temperate.

CLOTHING RUNDOWN

This seems a little obvious, but a good pair of wool socks are a good choice when hitting the cold outdoors. If not, most athletic running socks that cover your ankles are a good choice. Some running shoe brands have “GTX” models with added waterproofing and extra insulation to combat the wet and cold, but I have always just worn my trusty go to “normal” running shoes. Double up on the socks if that’s your jam, but I’ve always felt a weird relief getting my feet wet in the snow on those long runs.

QUICK TIP: If there is snow and/or ice on the ground, take some time to invest in some sort of traction device you can easily put on over your shoes. Without naming any brands, I have two different pairs of traction devices; one pair has minimal studs that work great in the ice and light snow, the other pair have pretty aggressive spikes to help in deeper snow and icy conditions.

Base layering, I always start off with running shorts, depending on the temperatures (and wind) I might cover up my legs with running tights, again focused on lightweight materials that I can shed if I get too hot. On wicked cold days, I have run in jogging sweatpants before but found I tend to operate on the hotter side of the spectrum and the sweatpants were a little too warm for me.

Next up, running shirt, I always use either a short-sleeve or long-sleeve a tech shirt as a base layer. It all depends on how cold and windy it is outside. If it’s going to be windy on my run, long sleeves are a must. After the base layer shirt, I add on (cold days where I’m looking for extra warmth) an activewear sweater, or (cold windy days where I need a break from the wind) a light windbreaker or light jacket. Again, if you focus on light layering techniques, you can never really “overdress” for the occasion.

Headgear for me is pretty basic, it’s either a hat or beanie. I usually always wear a technical trucker hat year-round. In the colder months, I’d recommend using a moisture-wicking cover-up such as a neck gator. These are designed to help block the elements from your neck and face and are pretty versatile in the sense that they can be worn around your neck, or as headgear, or as a sweatband. I like to combine the neck gator and technical trucker or beanie on cold days to keep my head warm and relatively sweat-free.

Hand coverage is important to me, as I mentioned earlier, any time the temperature drops below 60°F, gloves are a must.

Speaking of gloves now is the perfect time to throw in a little advertisement for my newest most favoritest gloves in town: Turtle Gloves! These bad boys were made for cold outdoor adventures! Made with Polartec Windbloc technology, these gloves pack a punch! Not only are they windproof, but they are water repellant and lightweight designed to keep your hands warm even when wet!

I personally put them to the test the day they arrived, and I took them out for an hour-long run in the wind, rain, and snow. I was shocked by how warm they were, despite being wet, and how awesome they were at blocking out the wind!

The greatest thing about the Turtles Gloves is the convertible nature of the gloves. Hands too warm? Maybe you need to use your hands to find new music, answer a call, or tie a shoe? Just flip them inside out and these mittens transform into finger-free gloves!

If you’d like to try them on for yourself, use discount code: TURTLEGLOVESBR to save 15% off your order! You can find them at www.turtlegloves.com

HOW DO YOU WEATHER THE COLD?

Those are my tips for cold weather running, simply put, wear lots of light layers to help easily regulate your core body temperature. Also, dress for temperatures around 20° warmer than the actual outside temperature. What’s your cold-weather gear look like? Share in the comments below!

Race Recap: Mushroom Cap Half Marathon

Disclaimer: I received free entry to the Mushroom Cap Half Marathon race as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review find and write race reviews!

Welcome to the “Mushroom Capitol of the World”, Kennett Square (commonly referred to throughout this post as KSQ), Pennsylvania! This is my first year running the Mushroom Cap Half Marathon, so there is a lot riding on first impressions for this event.

One of the first things I do before I approach a “new to me” race is to check out the race reviews on Bibrave.com. After a quick search, I found one review that commented about the hills of KSQ. This piqued my interest since running hills seems to be my MO lately – See my Freedoms Run Half Marathon hill experience. I know of the area (used to work in KSQ, for a little over 5 years, for what seems like many, many, many years ago) so I knew vaguely where the course was and what to prepare for ahead of time (also see my pre-race checklist). With all my gear prepped the night before, I headed to KSQ bright and early the morning of the race.

7:00 AM, One Hour Before Race time

As I pulled up to the Kennett High School I noticed the lot wasn’t very full. Part of my thing before any race is to make sure I show up as soon as I’m able, to take advantage of getting a decent parking spot and giving myself time to use the bathroom… and socialize if I’m meeting friends.

I sat in the car and looked at the outside temperature of 33°F, sent out a tweet about my feelings of the cold weather and slowly sank a little bit deeper into my Subaru’s heated seats.

After a few minutes, I felt the urge to get up and get moving. The parking lot was starting to fill and people were buzzing around, the excitement was in the air, and I was ready.

I made my way to the Starting Line/Registration area and ran into fellow BibRave Pro Meridith! We both commented about the cold and chuckled that runners are crazy people who like to get up early, stand in the cold, run mile after mile, just for a medal, some swag, and a free beer.

Side note: The Creamery in Kennett is an awesome venue! The Mushroom Cap organizers have a good thing going with the Creamery and it made the pre-race huddle enjoyable.

7:58 AM, Minutes Before Start

As we made our way to the starting line the excitement grew, I caught a glimpse of some old co-workers and Instagram followers. I made sure to greet a few of them, after all it’s nice to meet the person behind a username.

Reinventingrob (also known as Rob) was in line wearing a t-shirt and shorts! Much too cold for me, I commended him for his attire, but I know he’s a fast guy and most likely wouldn’t be affected by the cold much longer.

As the race was about to begin, I readied my Garmin and queued up my playlist of episodes of the BibRave Podcast. I like to purposely let my library build up with a backlog of unlistened episodes, this way I have good content to keep my company for the next 2 hours (or however long my long run goes).

8:00 AM, Start Time

I’m not sure if there was a gun or announcement, but the crowd of runners surged and we took off. I clicked START on my Garmin as I crossed over the starting line, and hit play on my phone. As I heard the familiar tune of The BibRave Podcast intro, I slipped into a steady rhythm of step-step-breathe-step-step-breathe. The cold air filled my lungs as we made our way down the street and the energy of all the runners around me immediately made me forget how cold it was outside.

Side note: I love listening to podcasts on my runs, as well as audiobooks… and what better way to listen to them than on a pair of Aftershokz headphones! I love the open design that allows me to hear my surroundings, yet still enjoy a good book or podcast, or music while on the move!

The course takes you around the town of Kennett, and onto some back roads that pass by small neighborhoods, horse and mushroom farms. The views were extremely pleasant for a person like me that loves autumn weather- the fall leaves delicately decorated the ground with a splash of color and the air was crisp and cool on my skin.

Miles 1-3

Typically the first few miles either fly past or they drag on, which ends up being an indication of how my race will be run. The Mushroom Cap was slightly hilly, but no more than I’m used to, I just remember seeing that the hardest hill was going to be at mile 8-9 of the course and kept telling myself, “this isn’t that bad“.

Just as we rounded a wooded section of a small neighborhood, some white-tailed deer bounded across the road. It was at this moment I realized how quiet it was, and all you could hear was the sound of feet hitting the ground. It was therapeutic in a sense.

Miles 4-6

In this stretch of miles, I felt pretty good except I knew I had to use the bathroom. I fell into a nice groove with a small pack of runners and didn’t want to spoil the party. The party was all in my head, or at least that’s how it felt. Typically during a race, I have found, that I tend to pair up with runners of the same ability or at least runners who are keeping the same pace as me. I like to stick with a group whether we talk or not, again I find having bodies running near you can help encourage you to keep on pace and can boost your performance when you really need to push hard and dig deep.

The course flip-flopped between asphalt and gravel. The gravel sections felt like service roads that connected farms to the main streets, the rocks were packed tightly, yet a few large more course rocks riddled the top. I noticed in one section my gait had changed and I was heel striking more than I would have liked, this was the only moment in the race where I felt uncomfortable.

Mile 7-9

At this point, I had to use the bathroom, so I broke off from my group and made a pitstop. The organizers have port-o-johns in areas away from water stands – which is actually a huge blessing. I have found that the combined bathroom and water stations can jam up a race, so having them separated allowed for a quick in-and-out stop.

I quickly regained the group I had left, I was feeling great so when the big hill arrived at around the 8.8-mile mark, I decided to power through and make the climb. At this point, I separated myself from the pack in a good way, it was time to tap into the fitness that I’ve been building over the last 5-6 months.

Side note: I’ve decided that going forward for all half marathons my approach is to run the first half relaxed, to enjoy the day and to find a pack of runners to stick with. I wait until mile-8 of a half marathon to push myself and the pace. It’s around this point when others start to tap out that I have noticed where my training pays off. I’m able to tap into energy reserves I forgot I have and finish the race feeling strong.

Although I didn’t make any huge gains in my pace, I stayed relatively steady despite the climb. I felt really awesome nearing the last stretch of miles that made up the course.

The Finish and After Party

As I re-entered the town, I felt the buzz of energy inside me surge. I feel like I finished strong, I managed to pass the 2:15:00 pacers, and although I didn’t finish under 2 hours, I was still feeling good about my overall finish. The course is challenging and yet wonderful at the same time.

As I collected my medal I ran into an Instagram follower and we both congratulated one another on a job well done. Beer Runner (also known as Alexis) mentioned this was the second-fastest half-marathon she’s run, so major kudos to her!

I re-joined my BibRave Pro buddy Meridith in the Creamery for a celebratory brew and met the race’s Social Media director! We shared some conversation and the entire event felt like it had come full circle for me. Being a BibRave Pro and running this race was an amazing opportunity and one that I’m glad I got to experience.

Overall Impression

The Race Organizers did a wonderful job of putting this event together. From the cooperation of the town, assistance from the local PD, and volunteers at every stop and aide station, it was a really awesome event. The course has hills, but nothing I would say is terribly difficult, and the alternating terrain is a refreshing change from your standard road race. The Creamery of Kennett is an excellent place for a post-race party, along with the free drinks the venue had Herr’s Chips (a local Philly favorite snack brand) readily available, as well as a live band!

The atmosphere was buzzing with post-race excitement and the live music and crowd really added to the experience in the best possible way. It was a great day for the running community, and a great day to celebrate 13.1 miles through KSQ!

So where do I stand with the Mushroom Cap Half? I give this race 5-stars. Everything about the race was on-point; from parking, pre-during-post race experience, post-race party, you name it! See my complete rating on BibRave.com

5_star_rating

All-in-all the Mushroom Cap Half is a great event, one that I’d highly recommend adding to your bucket list of awesome Pennsylvania Races! I’m looking forward to returning in 2020 as a BibRave Pro again, and hopefully, make some new memories along the way!

 

Mushroom Cap Half-Marathon: Pre-Race Checklist

Disclaimer: I received free entry to the Mushroom Cap Half Marathon 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!

Here we are the night before the race, and here I am frantically putting together tomorrow’s kit.

1. Let’s talk tech: My Aftershokz Trekz Air headphones are a MUST! I’m not sure if this is a sign that I’m getting older, but I love listening to podcasts or audiobooks on long runs. I find that conversations help the miles pass and sometimes a good story carries me through the tough parts of a run. Tomorrow I’ve got the BibRave podcast lined up to keep me company (I’m behind purposely by 4-5 episodes). Throw in my trusty Garmin watch and I’m all set!

2. My Ultimate Direction vest to tote my stuff is also at the top of my list. I have been able to reduce my nutrition for a half marathon to a single Hydrapak(R) water bottle filled with Tailwind Nutrition and one or two Stinger Gels. I have found that most race courses provide enough hydration and gels for those who don’t carry their own supplies, but I like to be self-sufficient.

3. It’s going to be COLD tomorrow so as far as clothing: gloves, my orange lightweight windbreaker, shorts and leggings are a must-have. Throw in my trusty BocoGear BibRave hat, BibRave Buff, and of course my BibRave shirt. GO TEAM ORANGE!

4. I’m going to coat myself in BodyGlide, no joke. Actually I’m going to hit a few target areas: collarbone, shoulders, neck, inner thighs, hips, nips, pretty much all areas where friction can and will ruin a day.

5. Not shown are my Feetures Socks and Brooks Ghost Running shoes.

Tomorrow’s race has other things to look forward to as well, like the post-race after party at the Creamery and of course spending some time with my BibRave buddies!

The course sounds like it’s going to be a challenging but good time! The few people I’ve talked to over social media mentioned the hills…. repeatedly, so I guess I’ll know what to expect.

Lately I’ve been leaning into my training and knowing that I can run comfortably at a 10 min/mile pace without feeling uncomfortable or like I’m going to bonk. And I suppose that’s what it’s all about, running a race comfortably and enjoying the course and scenery without focusing on time and “beating” those imaginary demons in my head.

I’m going into tomorrow’s race with an open mind and sticking to my plan of just enjoying the course… and of course having a good time.