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!

The added benefit of having a Trainer

Make no mistake, you can find just about everything on the internet. So it should come as no surprise that when looking for a run coach, the internet has that too!

But who can you trust? If you search for an online trainer you’re bound to be flooded with results, each and every one claiming a specific speciality or goal pace they can help you achieve. When I first started looking for help, I found countless training plans and all sorts of conflicting advice. The process was overwhelming.

Enter: The Power of Social Media

Just when I had basically given up in finding a trainer, a fellow BibRave Pro Janell reached out to me through Twitter and offered to take me on as a client.

It was during a weekly Bibchat where a lot of the questions were based on goals and how we work on achieving them. I saw a few of Janell’s replies and got the immediate vibe that she knew what she was talking about.

After a quick email exchange we got setup and within a few weeks training began.

Personalized Training Plans

One thing I noticed off the bat was the personalized training plans that actually made running really fun and enjoyable. Gone were the days of me hitting the pavement and just running as hard and as fast as I could. With structured plans I was hitting the road with purpose and a set goal in mind.

For a beginning runner the tactic of just going hard every time will yield results… but also lead to injury and burnout. Speaking from first hand experience, the all-out method I employed before coaching made running more about punishment than accomplishment.

Lesson learned: Get a trainer and get specific plans just for you that make running fun again.

The Importance of Rest Days

Resting wasn’t a concept I was familiar with, even though it’s covered in the numerous running books I’ve poured over during the last 4 years. Rest was a concept that I thought only elite athlete’s required, surely not a novice runner like myself.

When I saw “rest” on my training plan I struggled with not being able to run, but after a few weeks of training, rest days were a reminder that everyone needs a break now and then.

Lesson learned: Everyone needs rest, not just the elite.

Accountability is Paramount

If anything else, having a trainer carries the added level of accountability. There were days when the sun was blazing and the humidity was oppressing and I would look at my training calendar and frown.

It wasn’t that I didn’t want to run, it was just easier to sit on the couch and procrastinate. But when I would wake up before the sun, or decide to run later in the evening I would notice the cooler temps that came with it, and I knew I could tackle my workout. Most importantly, I couldn’t let my trainer or myself down for not getting in that workout.

Throughout the entire process Janell would check in and it was a much needed boost to keep me going!

Lesson learned: find a trainer that’s encouraging and supportive, but knows how to push you to achieve your goals.

So, Now what?!

Anyway, by now you’re probably wondering where to turn, and you’ve probably got a ton of questions. First and foremost, where can you find a trainer?

Well that’s one question I can answer! Janell is a wonderful trainer and she cane get you on the right track! You can find out more by visiting: https://runcanvas.com

Oh, and tell her Ken sent you!

Question: Trainer or No Trainer?

For years I’ve been a “self-made” runner, no official training, just lacing up my shoes and logging miles. My motto from the beginning was “just run” with the mindset that speed, endurance, and everything else would just fall into place.

I’ve seen mild success with some gains over the years, and I’ve slowly chipped away at my race times catching a PR now and again. For the most part I try to just enjoy the run, but lately I’ve noticed my relaxed approach is starting to unravel.

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Race Registration: Freedom’s Run Half Marathon

Disclaimer: I received free entry to the Freedom’s Run 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!”

Well, I’m super excited to announce, that come this October I’ll be running in the Freedom’s Run Half Marathon! 2019 is going to be a great year for running, and my race calendar is slowly filling up.

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The Frozen Snot, Part I

Photo Source: http://frozen-snot.com/photos.html

I just want to start off by saying that I love my family and friends very much.

Have you ever signed up for a race without really, and I mean really, knowing what you are signing up for?! I thought I had my work cut out for me when I signed up for the Hex Hollow Half… enter “The Frozen Snot”.

My friends have a great way of getting me to sign up for races, races that sound like sheer hell. After a 10 mile trail run in absolute crap weather, my friend mentioned this little race called the Frozen Snot and suggested I sign up for it. Because “It’ll be fun” are his exact words, if I recall.

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Trail Running the Conestoga

As the Frozen Snot lingers in the distance, my good friend and I headed out for some much needed training with an 8-mile point-to-point trail run. Our initial plan was to hit up a familiar trail, but decided to work on better elevation challenges with a more difficult trail (as suggested by his wife and fellow runner). We dropped off my friend’s brown truck at the finish and made the drive to the start.

Difficult is a bit of an understatement. The fact that we couldn’t find the trail start should have been a sign of things to come. After driving around for a bit and doubling back a time or two, we located the trail head.

The weather was cold with rain in the forecast. At 40°F I decided to wear shorts, along with a tech shirt and light running jacket. The plan was to cover 8-miles of fairly difficult terrain with lots and lots of hills. I decided to tote my Ultimate Direction running vest, with a hydration pack full of Tailwind nutrition.

Since the weather was cold, gloves were a must. However I must say, in the end it didn’t matter, it was cold, it was wet, we finished soaked to the bone and freezing. But, I digress.

Mile 1 was quick and easy, and it was swiftly followed by 2 miles of the complete opposite; slowly climbing and punishing terrain. The climbing must have jostled my hydration pack, because (I don’t know how) the top came loose and I ended up dumping half its contents all down my back. Sweet sweet Tailwind Nutrition, just wasted. I cried. I cried inside. It was painful and bitterly cold.

I nursed what little Tailwind I had for the remainder of the run. Thankfully, I had a Honey Stinger gel in my front vest pocket, which came in clutch later on.

The creek crossings in the beginning felt refreshing and were a welcome treat. Given the weather was a steady light rain, everything was wet and slippery so I felt very much in-tune to what and how I was navigating the trails. By mile 4, I was relishing in the fact that we were half-way done and felt strong.

At some point I remember mile 5 having a decent downhill cruise, which was somewhat pleasant. Pleasant as you can be while watching your footing and avoiding slipping on leaf covered dangers.

At mile 6, we stopped for a quick break. We were soaked to the bone, creek crossings were less enjoyable and I mentioned 2 miles was all I had left in me. Everything was wet, and my phone managed to call home 15 times within 15 minutes. My wife left me a lovely voicemail. We were having fun.

Mile 8 came and went and we realized we were no where close to our finish as the brown truck was no where to be seen. We called and got some much needed guidance on how to get back to the truck, a “short” trip down a lone service road was all we needed. I got to thinking we weren’t too far off, but as we rounded corner after corner, the brown truck was no where in sight. Either we were wrong, or just not listening, but that darn truck wasn’t even close. The truck was another 2 miles from where we were.

Miles 9 and 10 were brutal and angry miles. I don’t remember much, the sight of the brown truck was an instant relief. I never thought I’d be see happy to see that truck in all my life, but there it was just beckoning us with its dry interior.

All-in-all, it was 10 miles of perfect training. The weather was garbage, the terrain was tough and technical, but in the end we made it and learned a little bit more along the way.

September Miles! Triple Digits

Welp, I did it again! I got my monthly goal of 100+ miles in a month… and it feels awesome. It might seem like I’m going backward, but October I’m going to reel things back and reduce my mileage.

And here’s why.

As you can imagine, after increasing my average monthly mileage from 70 to 100 miles, I was bound to find new injuries along the way.  Calm down Uncle Jim, my knees are fine – what I did discover:

I was having issues with tenderness in my plantar fascia.  Plantar fasciitis is a fairly common ailment among runners and easily treatable.  I won’t go into all of the details (Google is your friend), but I found my heels and arches were often sore following a long run. After a quick YouTube search, I was able to pinpoint that the issue is in the calf-muscles and not properly stretching AFTER my runs.

I found that giving myself a somewhat painful and deep tissue massage along my calves and plantar fascia, I was able to reduce and relieve the pain.  Also, foam rolling after runs has helped drastically reduce soreness and tenderness.

Second, I’ve been experiencing some tenderness in my lower left shin, almost like a wicked bruise that won’t go away.  I’m not sure if this is a stress fracture on my lower leg, or if a tendon is just bruised and needs to heal. Either way, I’m taking it easy to hopefully not exacerbate any injuries, I don’t want to take any chances.  Also, I don’t know how to describe exactly what I’m feeling other than the pain is similar to a bruise.  I don’t experience pain when I walk or put weight on my leg, so it doesn’t seem like a fracture is an issue, again just soreness.

The Hershey Half Marathon next weekend, and for the most part, I have only logged 18 miles in the last 11 days.  This upcoming week (before the half marathon) I’m not going to run at all, maybe a slight jog around the neighborhood – like I said, I just want to take it easy.

Race Registration: Hershey Half Marathon

Only 40 days away from one of my favorite races: The Hershey Half Marathon! If you have never run this race, it’s one you should totally consider. It was my submission for The BibRave 100.

The course has rolling hills, and traverses the Hershey area- you’ll take in sites of the theme park (as you run through it) onto the cozy side streets that make up the town, and right through the Milton Hershey School dorms where the students cheer you on with nothing but positive amped up energy.

Trust me, it’s an amazing experience- plus the medals and swag each year are pretty awesome.

Training has already begun- ish. Basically, the plan of attack is this:

1. Increase monthly mileage throughout August and September (which I’m on track as far as that goes). The goal is to just get in more running time on my feet and follow this up with…

2. Incorporate one 13+ mile long per week by mid-September into October.

I’m trying to condition my body to run 4 miles every day and then sneak in a Half Marathon once a week to prepare for the distance. Every year I end up sabotaging myself by not getting in those long runs and conditioning myself for the 2 hours I’ll be on my feet.

I’ll do this up to the week before the race, rest for a day or two, maybe run some low mileage runs but give myself a little break before the race.

The goal this year is to finish right at 2 hours, or less. As long as I beat my previous years, I’ll be happy with that.

It’s a GIVEAWAY! (kinda)

Honey Stinger Fans rejoice, I have coupon codes worth 37% off your total order when you buy all your favorites from http://www.HoneyStinger.com!  This is a one-time coupon, to be used at checkout, for 37% off your entire order so STOCK UP!

I’ve given away one coupon code to one of my amazing Instagram followers, and he’s also a pretty cool dude to boot, for correctly guessing the make of my car (Subaru). That leaves me with two remaining coupon codes left to share with the masses!  So if you aren’t following me on the Instagrams, I suggest you do, have a look at my latest post and keep those guessing rolling in!

Official rules:
1. Enter code at checkout to receive 37% off
2. Codes good for orders on honeystinger.com only
3. Codes valid for non-Hive athletes only
4. Codes must be used before April 1st, 2018

Hershey Half Marathon, a Wrapup

Well another year has come and gone and another chance to hit a PR was on the line. The Hershey Half Marathon is one of my favorite races of all time and continues to serve as a benchmark for the race season ahead. So how’d it go? Here’s the nitty gritty.

Did I PR? Why Yes, Yes I did!
I managed to snag a course PR… by 9 seconds. I guess I shouldn’t complain because a PR is a PR is a PR. My finish time was 2:13:51 and I’ll take it.  My goal was to hit 2 hours even, by the start of the race I was held up by some slight congestion with the mass of runners and the first two miles were averaging around a 9:30 pace.

I knew from the start that if I wanted a 2 hour finish I needed to dig deep and push hard.  Unfortunately my body had other plans, and rather than injure myself I decided to run at the race my body was telling me.  The first 5 miles I was running a comfortable 9:30 average pace and if I held that pace I knew I would hit a 2:04ish finish time.

Learning from Last Year:
Last year I had to stop twice to pee – which cost me precious time.  So taking a note from last years race, I made, what ended up being a crucial mistake, by deciding to not drink a lot of fluids the night before and the morning of the race.  I figured I’d carry my own water (infused with Nuun) and would make due on the course.

Mile 6-7 proved my no fluids tactic was dumb and my left leg revolted in the worst cramps I have ever experienced! I ran into some friends that could see the struggle in my face, however their encouragement pushed me to press onward and run through the pain.

I could feel the tension in my left calf muscle, but as long as I put most of my weight on my right leg it wasn’t horribly bad. And the fact that I had some friends nearby I felt the need to keep up. I held an average 10:30 min/mile for as long as I could. By mile 10-11, I knew the race was almost done, but my calf was just not in the mood. I slowed down, got to the side of the course and stopped- a cardinal sin in my book of running. I stopped and evaluated my situation, I ran both hands down my legs to make sure they felt the same. My thigh muscles and calf muscles were identical so I knew I hadn’t done serious damage. My left calf muscle just felt tense- so I took the opportunity and massaged it firmly while stretching it out a little. The brief stop was relief enough for me to bounce back slightly and maintain a 10+ min/mile pace.

As I rounded out the course there were kids from the Children’s Hospital there cheering us on and the emotional experience took my mind off the pain and I pressed on.

I finished the race, grabbed my medal, my snack bag and headed right for the infield of the stadium. I collapsed and immediately began stretching and massaging my left calf in an effort to rid the pain. After about 10 mins I got up and at that point noticed walking was out of the question- the stiffness was too great. Walking was out of the question, but as long as I kept my heel up, jogging back to my car was still in the cards.

As I jogged back to my car I overheard some people saying “that guy is still running- guess he thought this was a Marathon…” I laughed in my head as I returned to my car. I guess from someone else’s prospective it would appear that way- which made me stop and think for a brief second: Should I run a full marathon next?

Crazy right?