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: 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!

 

 

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!

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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!

Runderwear Paris Marathon Giveaway!

Disclaimer: I received a Runderwear Kit 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!

Destination races are a big deal, they involve a lot of time and energy planning and preparing for a getaway of fun. A destination race in another country seems like such a daunting task. But what if you didn’t have to worry about the how and when? What if all you had to worry about was just showing up?

Runderwear to the Rescue

That’s what the awesome people at Runderwear have done- they have thought of everything! Hotel, airfare, you name it, Runderwear has you covered.

And to make the deal even sweeter, they are throwing in a Runderwear Kit, plus a TON of other goodies.

Enter to win: https://www.runderwear.com/pages/enter-bibrave

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

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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!

 

Up Close and Personal with the Aftershokz Xtrainerz

Disclaimer: I received a pair of Aftershokz Xtrainerz 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!

So what’s up with these Aftershokz Xtrainerz (Cross Trainers)? How do you use them and what the heck do these buttons do?!

First and foremost, let’s talk about storage!

The Xtrainerz can store up to 4GB of MP3s, and before you think that’s not enough space… trust me, it’s enough! These aren’t meant to carry your entire library, but 4GB is a ton of space that can be filled to make use of that amazing 8-hour battery life!

I hook my Xtrainerz to my computer via the USB connector and I can create, mix and match up my music to create playlists based on my mood! Another awesome feature is that the headsets are PC and MAC compatible.

Let’s talk about buttons!

Up-close and personal! Let’s take a look at the buttons and their functions! When I first got my Xtrainerz I immediately put them to use and headed out for a run in one of the last rainy end of summer September days. During my run I played around with the buttons and after coming home and checking out the user’s manual here’s what I found:

Button A is the Multifunction Button, one click turns your music on and off, a long hold turns on or off the power!

Button B is the Mode Button, one click changes between normal, repeat, and shuffle modes. A long hold changes between swimming and normal mode!

Buttons C and D are your volume buttons! One-click changes the volume, a long hold on button C advances one song, a long hold on D goes back one song. Battery levels can also be checked by clicking with no music playing

Pressing the mode (Button B) and volume buttons play the current folder, all folders, or next folder!

BibRave Fans, Visit https://bibrave.aftershokz.com/ and use code “BRBUNDLE” for $50 off the Adventure Bundle!

Race Recap: Freedoms Run Half Marathon

“Disclaimer: I received free entry to Fredoms 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!”

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Freedoms Run Half Marathon

The weather was perfectly cool for what has probably been one of my favorite half marathon experiences so far! I have spent the better part of 5 months training to run a Half Marathon under 2 hours, and the outcome was unexpected, but more on that later. Let’s talk shop.

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Product Review: Stunt Puppy Go Dog Glo Harness

Disclaimer: I received the Stunt Puppy Go Dog Glo Harness 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!

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The Great Outdoors

Tillie enjoys the outdoors, rolling around in the grass, chasing rabbits and squirrels… but Tillie doesn’t like collars. Being a Pug, her head and neck have relatively the same widths, so collars don’t work for her full figure frame. What’s a pooch with her physique to do?

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Product Review: Buff Coolnet UV Headband

Disclaimer: I received a BUFF Coolnet UV Headband 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!

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Summertime Running is HERE, and that means hot and humid weather and SWEAT! It’s hard to keep cool, especially when it feels like you’re running through a bathtub, what’s a runner to do?

Enter Buff USA Coolnet UV Headbands

BUFF makes great products, I own two (2) of the large “neck gators” that I use throughout the winter to keep my face and neck guarded against the cold. And I also use those gators in the summer while on my motorcycle to keep bugs from entering my luscious beard. However, these gators are thick and protective against the cold but don’t breathe for summer-use.

The BUFF Coolnet UV Headwrap is the solution! The fabric is lightweight and breathes well in the hot summer heat. The Coolnet UV headwrap, when wet, provides an amazing cooling relief to the skin. I like to wear mine under my hat, and then slide it down onto my neck once I start to feel the heat.

The Coolnet UV headwrap also doubles up and provides protection from the suns harmful rays! So it’s a win-win when it comes to BUFF!

Overall Rating

Overall, I’m standing on a solid 5-star rating. I wish I could find some sort of flaw, but these are hands down a must-have for summer running!

BibRave Fans! Save 15% on your next order when you visit BUFFUSA.com and sign-up for the Newsletter to stay in the loop on all things BUFF!