Exclusive Aftershokz Deal!

Disclaimer: I received a pair of Aftershokz Aeropex 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!

If you’ve been following me on social media you know I’m a huge fan of Aftershokz Headphones! These are the only brand I trust for all my outdoor activities. I could rave on and on about them, but that’s for another time.

The Real Reason You’re Here

Deals. Aftershokz makes amazing products and when they have a deal to share, you don’t want to miss out! That’s why I’m stoked to share this new “Buy one, Give one” exclusive Black Friday deal.

Sign-up Link

Make sure you visit givegoodvibez.aftershokz.com to sign up to be on the exclusive list! You’ll get a special link emailed to you on Black Friday for this BOGO event, while supplies last.

Don’t delay! Make sure you get signed up! Once you own a pair of Aftershokz you’ll understand how awesome they are and you’ll see what the fuss is all about!

Race Recap: Mushroom Cap Half Marathon

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

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

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

7:00 AM, One Hour Before Race time

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

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

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

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

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

7:58 AM, Minutes Before Start

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

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

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

8:00 AM, Start Time

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

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

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

Miles 1-3

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

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

Miles 4-6

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

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

Mile 7-9

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

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

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

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

The Finish and After Party

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

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

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

Overall Impression

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

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

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

5_star_rating

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

 

Mushroom Cap Half-Marathon: Pre-Race Checklist

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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Pre-Race Checklist

Disclaimer: I received free entry to the Freedoms 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!

With race-day begin tomorrow, I thought I’d share my pre-race checklist for my typical half marathon race! This isn’t an all inclusive list, but it chock full of my “go-to” race essentials that help me power through race-day.

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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!