Race Registration: Race to Wrigley 5K!

Disclaimer: I received free entry into the Race to Wrigley 5K 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!

Funny story, I’m a huge National Lampoon movie fan, mostly Summer Vacation, European Vacation, as well as the crown jewel Christmas Vacation. I’m such a fan of those movies in general that since I was young I have had an affinity to Chicago sports teams. I should preface this also by saying I’m a horrible sports fan. I couldn’t tell how well (or bad) the teams are doing, I just like them due to their connection to my favorite childhood movies.

Every year for Christmas I don my vintage Chicago Bears hat (to match Chevy Chase’s from Christmas Vacation) along with my custom “Griswold” Blackhawks Jersey. I wear the Clark Griswold uniform with honor.

Clark Griswold (Chevy Chase) wearing Chicago Bears Hat, Image Source: Web

However, I often forget people don’t make the same connection. Over the years when I’m out in public rocking my Chicago Bears hat, I’ll have actual fans of the team give me a thumbs up, or make some comment about the team. To which I nod and agree with what their saying, haven’t having the slightest clue what their talking about.

Clark Griswold (Chevy Chase) wearing Chicago Blackhawks Jersey, Image Source: Web

But. I do love baseball, and every baseball fan knows Wrigley. So how awesome was it for me to find out about the Race to Wrigley 5K? Not only are we talking about the iconic Wrigley Field, but also my connection to my favorite movies based around the misadventures of Clark W. Griswold Jr.!

Sorry to interrupt the story, but did you know that your race registration helps benefit Cubs Charities, which aims to provide health, fitness, and education to those at risk! Make your donations HERE!

What was I saying? Oh yeah! Ever since I was a kid, I couldn’t wait to drive across the country with my parents on a wild adventure to an animal themed theme park. I was especially looking forward to Dad ramping the car off an incomplete exit ramp, crashing our station wagon, and then sharing a beer in my quest to manhood all while wearing a Cubs t-shirt.

I mean c’mon, it’s every boys dream.

Okay, so maybe it’s not the same, and maybe it’s really hard for me to put to words why I like Chicago’s sports teams, but the bottom line is that if you’re a Chicago Sports fan, what’s not to love about the Race to Wrigley?

Sign up: https://www.race-cubs.com/events/register/2020-race-to-wrigley

Check out this year’s awesome swag! Sign up, get your swag and start your next family adventure off!

Race Recap: Virtual Race Run for the Zoo!

Disclaimer: I received free entry to review and race the Run for the Zoo Virutal 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!

Run for the Zoo Virtual Edition!

I think this goes without saying, but like most races in 2020, the “Run for the Zoo” Race has gone virtual. That means being able run when ever my schedule permits, and having the luxury to run on my time makes things a lot easier to plan and execute. Virtual runs also give me an opportunity to get my miles in and get on with the day, without having to travel to and from the race.

Obviously, there are some drawbacks – if you are a people person, running in isolation is no fun, and not having a support team along the way can make things slightly more challenging. However, since we’re all professionals of running over the quarantine, this virtual race was business as usual for me.

Race day highlights!

Since I ran the streets in my backyard, I got to take in the beautiful scenery and wonder of an Amish Countryside- complete with farm animals! The cows were very encouraging… the horse and buggies didn’t want to race though.

I also timed my run to fall in the late afternoon, when the temperatures were most likely to dip- and the forecast was calling for rain, so the motivation to finish with haste was present!

Overall Impression

I’m glad I was able to Run for the Zoo and bring awareness to my social circle about this race. The Lincoln Park Zoo relies on various fundraising events (like this race) to support their operations.

If you’d like to support the Zoo, they have numerous exciting programs (virtual and in-person) shared on their website: HERE

Virtual Race Recap: Cinco de Miler!

Disclaimer: I received entry into the Cinco de Miler Virtual race 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!

Do you have a favorite race that you “have” to run every year? What is it about the race that draws you in year after year? Drop it in the comments below!

Is Virtual the New Normal?

Since the pandemic all races (in person) have been cancelled, leaving many race organizations scrambling to stay ahead of the game. After all, whether we realize it or not, the race industry is, in fact, a business. So it goes without saying that without customers, race “companies” won’t be able to maintain operations.

Many of the big players in the race industry are taking notes and responding to the pandemic accordingly. One way to stay ahead of the “stay at home orders” is offering a virtual option for participants to still manage to run their favorite race.

Question: does virtual racing appeal to you? would you still run your favorite race even if it moved to a strictly virtual platform?

Enter: Cinco De Miler

RAM Racing has done a great job of shifting nearly all of their signature races to the virtual platform, making it possible for anyone to run a variety of location-specific races anywhere they want!

For me the Cinco De Miler has always been on my list of races to run. Typically held in Illinois, the race moved virtual opening up the chance for me to participate here in Pennsylvania!

While it’s not the same as running in Chicago, I was still able to treat this as a regular race. With a defined date and distance on the calendar, I was running the Cinco de Miler on May 2nd along with all my BibRave Pros (virtually)!

Race day!

The morning of the 2nd I woke up with a little pep in my step, after all, it was race day!

After getting dress I check in on my social media feeds to see when my friends had planned on running the race. I adjusted my schedule so that I could share my results around the same time, making it feel like I ran with friends in real life.

I opted to run the 5 miles near my hometown, passing by a man made waterfall at a local fishing spot. Needless to say, I forgot to pause my Garmin while taking in the scenery and posing for a quick selfies near the falls.

While not the fastest 5 miles on record, it was still nice to get out and enjoy nature and still feel connected to the running community by participating in a virtual race event!

Race Swag!

Of course it wouldn’t be a race without awesome swag! RAM racing put together an awesome virtual swag bag including a signature tech shirt, medal, race bib, and lots of goodies!

P.S. If you ran this race did you try the mango lollipop?!

By the way, my first name is Lawrence- I’ve been meaning to update my RAM racing profile for the past few years. It still makes me chuckle when I see my bib with “Lawrence” on it. Haha.

BibRave Pro Insight: How I Learned to Like Virtual Races – Run Eat Ralph

With all of our favorite races being cancelled, deferred, postponed, and moved around it’s no surprise that we’re going to see a surge of virtual race options.

After the stay at home orders are lifted how soon will you feel comfortable engaging in: A run with a close friend? What about your willingness to participate in group runs with your local running club or group of friends? Finally how about retuning to races after the stay at home orders are lifted, with the large mass of crowds they draw, will you be comfortable?

Virtual race options provide an opportunity for us to run our favorite race in the comfort of our own environment. Most virtual runs are DIY from the day, time, and setting. This DIY approach provides you with the ability to pick what day you want to run, what time suits you best, and where you are going to run that’s more convenient for you.

But don’t just take my word for it.

What are the BibRave Pros saying?

Fellow BibRave Pro, Run Eat Ralph, shares his insight on how he’s grown to like virtual races, read more on his blog for inspiration on how you might enjoy them too!

Virtual options starting popping up and at first I wasn’t all that excited about the thought. Running a run on my regular routes and calling it a race seems funny to me. There are plenty of good reasons though…

How I Learned to Like Virtual Races

Be sure to show Ralph some love! Cheers!

Race Registration: Run for the Zoo – 5K and 10K Virtual Race!

Disclaimer: I received free entry into the Run for the Zoo Virtual Race 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!

Most races have gone virtual this year, in light of the pandemic, which has opened the doors for those of us that live out of the area to participate without the added costs of travel. This virtual race option is also beneficial to races, allowing them to expand their reach in the market.

Take the “Run for the Zoo” in Lincoln Park (Chicago, IL) for example, this race is 11 hours from my home and completely out of my radar. In fact, prior to the race going virtual, I wasn’t even aware of its existence. Now with the registrations going virtual and allowing runs from all over to participate, they’ve increased their races awareness (and ultimately their cause: to help raise money for the animals).

Photo credit: Brigid Gallagher

I’m pretty excited to continue to race this year and building my calendar full of partnered virtual races in conjunction with BibRave. I’m even more excited to run this race June 7, 2020 virtually with the rest of the BibRave Pros! I guess you could say that the silver lining to the pandemic is that local races can expand their awareness and clientele to a broader audience by offering virtual races.

BibRave fans, use discount code BIBRAVE10 to save 10% off your race registration!

My family and I love to travel every summer, and once the pandemic has passed and travel is again promoted, the Lincoln Park Zoo has been added to our families destination vacation spots!

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 Recap: 465 Challenge

Disclaimer: I received free entry to the 465 Challenge 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!

Virtual Challenge

The 465 Challenge is a 53 mile virtual race that runs from January 1 to February 29 (2020). Participants have from the beginning of January to the end of February to complete 53 miles either walking, running, jogging, swimming, or biking. This challenge is a great way to make that New Year resolution stick!

Another bonus is that any participant that completes multiple intervals of 53 miles are considered “loopers” and join the Looper Club. And, if you complete the 53 miles within 24 hours, you join the 24 hr Club!

My Strategy

From the beginning, my goal was to compete at least 3 loops over the course of the challenge, through running only. 156 miles over the course of the challenge seemed pretty obtainable as long as the weather held out.

I’ll admit, Jan – Feb in Pennsylvania can be a bit of a gamble, especially since those are typically my lowest monthly totals when it comes to running. Throw in the added bonus of our local YMCA shutting down, and I knew this was going to be a challenge that was going to force me to get creative if the weather went foul.

And getting creative I did! I was determined to only track running miles only. I incorporated my long runs and even a half marathon into my schedule to make sure I hit my goal! The 465 Challenge was the perfect way to plan out my otherwise boring start to the year.

Mild Winter = Better Mileage

As luck would have it, January through February was actually quiet mild for our region. Instead of snow and ice, the Northeast saw a lot of rain! I felt like the entire last two months have been nothing but a wet soupy mess.

Did I mention it rained a lot this winter?

Despite the rain, I managed to complete my 3 loop goal over the course of the 465 Challenge. It helped that I had a handful of long runs on nice clear Sundays and not to mention the Squirrely Tail Half Marathon to boot.

This challenge couldn’t have gone off any better, and it was so rewarding to be able to maintain my fitness levels over the dark winter months. I’m glad I signed up for the challenge and I’m even happier I met my goal!

Overall Impression

The 465 Challenge was a great way to stay focused on training through the darkest winter months. The online community and encouragement from other participants really helped me stay focused and kept my on-track on days I was lacking motivation. This challenge was a great way to start 2020 and to really hammer out those early New Years resolutions.

The swag was pretty cool as well! Participants received a pretty unique medal, and if you added it to your registration a nice quality shirt!

Did you miss out?! That’s okay, make sure you track down the 465 Challenge and check out all the upcoming races they are offering and be sure to sign up for next year!

Website: https://www.465challenge.com

Facebook: https://m.facebook.com/465challenge/

Race Recap: Squirrely Tail 2020

Let me start off by saying this is hands down one of my favorite local half marathon courses. Major kudos to RD Scott Newcomb and the entire volunteer staff that make this race possible every year.

Trail running attracts a certain crowd, and Squirrely Tail certainly brings them out. What I love about Squirrely Tail is the “no frills” style of the race. But, don’t let that fool you.

This race puts out a great spread and has some of the friendliest volunteers that make race day more of a community event than a flashy swag-fest. Sure, each registrant gets a race tech shirt (as long as they register in time) but really you come to this race for the experience.

The Course

The course has around a total of 745 to 800+ ft gain depending on which direction you run. Last year the race was run counter-clockwise around the lake (745 ft gain), this year the course was run clockwise around the lake (808 ft gain). The terrain is technical, but not very difficult and has a lot of opportunities for easy running.

February in Eastern PA is a bit of a crap shoot. Last year was a cold, muddy, miserable mess. This year the temperature was cold, but the course wasn’t as muddy as the previous year. The only thing about this year that I was focusing hard on was not rolling my ankle, otherwise conditions were near perfect.

I got to the race a little behind schedule, so this year was a no-fuss-collect-your-bib-and-go approach. In my haste, I forgot that I had to pee, and took off with the group only realizing my mistake after running past the port-a-johns.

Call me crazy, but you’d think a race in the woods would have provided me plenty of opportunities to stop and relieve myself… but it didn’t. Every twist and every turn I could see other runners, and being one to keep pushing on, I told myself I’d go to the bathroom once I was done.

The first 4-5 miles went off without a hitch, I was enjoying my easy going pace and naturally fell into a groove trailing behind a couple that was making it a point of staying together. I was enjoying our pace, so I didn’t push. After crossing a small bridge they met up with a friend who was walking the course in the opposite direction and stopped to chat.

[Side note: during the race the trails are open to the public so you can expect to encounter plenty of hikers, especially when the weather is favorable].

Deciding to not break my stride, I broke away from the couple and continued onward, slowly trotting behind two more runners. The three of us kept a good pace, exchanging small talk about the awesome weather, the course, Watch out for that root!, and so on.

By mile 9 I really had to pee, but didn’t know where to stop, so I kept telling myself, “you’re almost done, just keep going.” This worked surprisingly well, and by mile 12 I forgot about it. Around this time another runner [Grayce] caught up to me, she had run Frozen Snot the day before and was killing it. Kudos to all of the runners who ran Snot the day before and were running Squirrely Tail the day after. I’m telling you this race is awesome at attracting the nuts! Anyway, I kept with her until the end, focused on the port-a-john as I crossed the line.

After I finished, an Instagram follower [Ryan] approached me to say hi! We chatted about the race, the conditions, how awesome it was, and parted ways after shaking hands and finally getting to meet each other in person. I made my way to my car to swap clothing out. I needed fresh warm socks and a new sweater. After getting dressed I looked over to base camp where I saw Dave was cooking hot dogs.

Naturally, I partook in a hot dog, loaded with ketchup, mustard, and relish – helped myself to some chicken corn soup, a shot of peanut M&M’s, and a hot coffee.

Once satisfying my palette, I was getting ready to head back to my car to leave, and… oh yeah, I have that whole I need to pee thing! After 13 miles of awesome trail running, sipping on Tailwind Nutrition now and again, partaking in hot coffee afterward and downing a Gatorade, it was the perfect ending to my morning adventure. Whatever, it was so satisfying, don’t judge me.

Overall Impression

Hands down, this race kicks ass and you’ve got to be a little Squirrely to want to run it year after year. I enjoy the course’s challenges and I enjoy the people even more. I’ve met some really awesome people out on the trail and back at the base camp after crossing the finish.

Do yourself a favor and sign-up for this race next year, it won’t disappoint, and when you are done have a hot dog with Dave! Tell ’em Ken sent ya!

Race Registration: Yuengling Shamrock Half Marathon

Disclaimer: I received free entry to the Yuengling Shamrock 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!

 

Where to begin? This March is the upcoming BibRave Summit, which so happens to coincide with the Yuengling Shamrock Marathon weekend of events! I’m super excited to be participating in the Dolphin Challenge (completing the 8K on Saturday and the Half Marathon on Sunday)!

In preparation for the event, nothing new or crazy is taking place training-wise, just the same old trying to get 20+ miles in each week before race day.

One thing that is semi-new is that I’ve been practicing Intermittent Fasting (for about 6 months) and I’ve notice when I run in a fasted state I feel like I have more control over my energy. Crazy I know, but I can run fasted up to around 5 miles without feeling the need to take in fluids (mind you I’m keeping hydrated while fasting).

After 5 miles I notice a dip in my energy and can quickly boost my levels with a gel, or taking in fluids with electrolytes and such (Tailwind is my go-to choice).

Anyway, we’ll see how things play out for the Dolphin Challenge! Im excited for the BibRave Summit, I’m excited for the race weekend, and I can’t wait to catch up with all my fellow BibRave Pros!