Race Recap: A Christmas Story 10k Virtual Race

Disclaimer: I received entry into A Christmas Story 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!”

A COVID Christmas!

Ah, Christmas. The one day of the year where the kids wake us up before the sun rises. We stumble down the steps, sleep still in our eyes. We open gifts and play “A Christmas Story” in the background. Then, when the living room is covered in discarded wrapping paper and empty boxes we feast on an amazing breakfast. After filling up on Christmas pancakes, we pack up the AWD sleigh and drive 2 hours East to be with family.

It was right in the middle of opening presents when reality slapped us in the face. “Mom has a fever” Dad’s text read. It was like the Bumpus hounds came crashing into our living room destroying our dreams of having a huge family Christmas gathering.

For the second time in 37 years, I wasn’t going “home” for Christmas. We all were a little bummed, but then again the pandemic has pretty much turned the entire landscape on its head, so we weren’t surprised that this year would be any different.

Surprisingly, it was refreshing having no where to go. And even more refreshing going for a 10k run to celebrate the “A Christmas Story Virtual Race”!

I decided to take advantage of being home and took off to catch some sights and enjoy some time with my thoughts. I reflected on Christmas’ of the past and how much I value my family. It then dawned on me that we’ve been watching “A Christmas Story” since as long as I can remember! Such memorable moments from the movie, and my favorite part still being Flick putting his tongue on the flagpole!

Anyway, no records were broken, just me out on Christmas Day enjoying time alone and thinking about my family and friends.

The Swag!

Just prior to Christmas Day I received my race swag, and I was pretty impressed with the overall haul.

The jacket is lightweight and breathable (it’ll make a perfect jacket for running in the fall and beginning part of winter when the temperatures are still fairly mild). I typically opt for a size larger since it’s hard to tell how well (or not) these things fit.

I typically wear a size L, so the XL jacket fits a little on the loose side, but it pretty comfortable and I’ll enjoy it running or lounging!

The knit hat is thick and plush, make no mistake it’s definitely made for winter use and keeping those ears warm!

The medal is heavy! I was shocked at the heft of the medal since it’s not that big. My only suggestion would be having the medal reflect more of something from the “A Christmas Story” movie… I mean, a leg lamp would have been hilarious, it’s a major award afterall!

See my BibRave Review HERE

Overall Experience

Since we planned on NOT being home for Christmas, we had no food set aside for a Christmas dinner. So in “A Christmas Story” fashion we had our own Parker style Christmas dinner (Indian food was the closest we could get).

Despite not seeing family, it was fun to get out and run a 10k and having our own mini-celebration of Indian food afterward.

How’d you celebrate Christmas?

Top Nine! A Year in Review.

Celebrating my Top Nine photos from 2020! It looks like I need to wear more variety in my running shirts… and ironically, most of these photos are from the same timeframe. Guess I had an amazing August-September!

I was catching up on the BibRave podcast over the past couple of days and wanted to share my rose, bud, and thorn as well. For those unfamiliar with this concept: the Rose is something from the past year you are proud of (some event or thing that really bloomed for you). The Bud is something that you are cultivating that is growing and you’re excited about. The thorn is something that did not bring you joy, or something that genuinely disagreed with you.

Rose: this might be an unpopular opinion, but the pandemic was my rose this year. It taught me how to cut out toxic relationships and provided me with a true understanding of what it means to take care of oneself and family. Our calendar was wiped clean, I found myself unemployed, yet I wouldn’t have traded that situation for the world. My family and I feel so much closer ever since.

Bud: this year I’ve had the pleasure to work with some amazing brands, and it looks like it’s only going to get better in 2021! I’m so excited for the future and looking forward to cultivating new friendships and experiences along the way. A large part of my 2021 mantra is to “run happy” through life. I’m so pumped to kick things off I’ve already started putting my mantra into practice!

Thorn: here’s a heavy dose of irony. Social media (since I shared this on Social Media). I kinda agree with Tim Murphy (BibRave) and have to say I’m not sure I like where some of these platforms are headed. I try to keep a positive mental attitude and follow accounts of likeminded people- and most recently I’ve been keeping an eye on how much time I spend in various platforms, making sure I disconnect and let my brain reset.

That was my year in review, how about you?

Race Registration: A Christmas Story Virtual Run

Disclaimer: I received entry in the Christmas Story Virtual 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!

It’s that time of the year again! Last year I missed out on the opportunity to participate in the Christmas Story Run in real life, so when I saw the event went virtual I jumped on the chance!

This Christmas classic is a MUST in our house, and there isn’t a year that goes by where we don’t watch it at least 5 or 6 times!

Join me and the BibRave team as we tackle the optional 5K or 10K distance (you’re preference at checkout)!

Check out the registration details here: https://www.achristmasstoryvirtualrun.com/ as well as the awesome swag!

I’m excited to get running, join me and let’s #runwithralphie

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!

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

AFTERSHOKZ GIVES BACK: The Making Stridez Grant

Global Running Day is a worldwide celebration that encourages everyone to get moving and celebrate the sport of running. One of our core values is giving back, so this year we want to celebrate the running community by highlighting coaches and programs that are making an impact on the lives of youth runners.

Many of these programs are underfunded, and the right amount of support and gear can help student-athletes fund uniforms, travel to competitions, and more.

The AfterShokz Making Stridez Grant is accepting nominations for inspirational high school and AAU (Amateur Athletic Union) coaches/programs in the running space. From May 1st through June 22nd, anyone can nominate a coach/program making a difference in their community using the form below. In doing so, they will be nominated for a chance to receive a $3,000 grant from AfterShokz, Goodr Sunglasses for the team, and a Team Prize Pack.

Prizes to be Awarded

ONE WINNER WILL RECEIVE:

• A $3,000 Grant

Goodr Sunglasses for the entire team

• Team Prize Pack (includes AfterShokz headphones for the team, and $250 shared gift cards from Science In Sport, Nathan Sports, NUUN, Orange Mud and Zealios)

THE TOP 2 FINALISTS WILL RECEIVE:

• A Team Prize Pack (includes AfterShokz headphones for the team

• $250 shared gift cards from Science In Sport, Nathan Sports, NUUN, Orange Mud and Zealios)

How to Nominate:

Make your nominations by June 22nd here: https://bit.ly/2xQR7nt

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!

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/