Series: Release the Runner!

The teams at Aftershokz and Bibrave have joined forces to announce a new series entitled: “Release the Runner”. During this series runners are asked to share their running story, and help encourage those interested in running to lace up and join the movement! That’s why I’m exciting to get on board and share with you an awesome challenge you can do from home, as well as offer my story and some of my tips and tricks I’ve picked up along the way!

Why I run!

I think I’ve shared this story on most social channels, so I’ll try not to bore you with details. In fact, to save you time, check out my ABOUT page where you can read my story.

Let’s get on with it!

This month comes to us during an unprecedented time in history. Due to the Covid-19 outbreak, the Pennsylvania Governor [Tom Wolf] has advised many of us to stay home to help prevent the spread of this new novel disease. While we aren’t confined to our houses, many of us are unable to return to work. I am one of the lucky individuals who just so happen to make a career change at the start of the pandemic, only to find myself out of work. Since not every profession is deemed “essential”, we’re seeing a lot of individuals from all walks of life finding some extra time on their hands.

What’s one to do with all this new free time?

The running community is always ready with open arms to welcome new runners. Believe it or not, there is no special talent required to start your new running hobby. You just have to be willing to move.

What do I need to start running?

Running is easy, but people tend to make a lot of excuses. One thing to keep in mind is that there really is no standard you have to meet to be considered a runner… other than the obvious “yes” answer to the following question: Do you run?

If you are hesitating to answer it’s important to note that everyone runs their own race, everyone has their own pace, and anyone that considers themself a runner, is a runner. It’s that easy. How you define “run” is entirely up to you. Like I said, there really is no standard that says you have to do X, Y, Z in order to be considered a runner.

What you do need: comfortable shoes (sneakers), and a persistent positive attitude.

I’ve got my shoes, now what?

With your shoes laced up, get outside and get moving! Don’t worry about distance, or pace. Depending on your abilities it’s important to just get moving at a pace you feel most comfortable. Whether that’s walking, jogging, running, or a combination of all three, focus on just being active and logging time on your feet. Start off with a goal to get moving for at least 30 mins.

Remember to take it easy!

Check back in for more updates, tips and tricks on how you can start running!

FitnessBank Spring Step Challenge with Des Linden!

Disclaimer: I received a financial incentive (gift card) to review and promote the FitnessBank Step Challenge with Des Linden as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learning more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review, find, and write race reviews!

Lockdown doesn’t mean sacrificing fitness!

The Covid-19 virus has shutdown a lot of races, and running events, and most platforms are turning to virtual runs for a solution! Just because we’ve been given orders to stay home, doesn’t mean we have to give up on our running fitness.

I’ll admit, when my spring races started cancelling and dropping off one-by-one, I immediately started to lose hope. All of the training, all of the time (and not to mention money) invested was being thrown out the window… or was it?

Most Spring race events are being cancelled, with no virtual run being offered in return, but what if I told you that you could enroll in a virtual challenge in a race for awesome prizes? How about the added bonus of getting to compete to Des Linden?

Enter the FitnessBank Spring Step Challenge!

So, you are probably wondering how you can complete? It’s super easy: Download the App – It’s FREE! – FitnessBank Step Tracker App. Sync the App directly with Garmin and FitBit apps, or to Apple Health and Google Fit connected other activity trackers.

Then get out and MOVE! The best part of this challenge is being able to compete right where you are, and the app is easy to use and you can follow along to see how you are stacking up!

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/

Product Review: Built Bar!

Disclaimer: I received Built Bars 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!

My General Experience with Protein Bars

When it comes to protein bars I’d like to think I’ve had them all, and my general opinion is that they are all horrible. Most of the protein bars on the market have a sharp chemical flavor and often leave a weird waxy film in your mouth. So when BibRave announced they were partnering with the best tasting protein bars on the market, I knew I had to give them a chance.

Catch my unboxing video here!

Built Bar, unlike any other

Built Bars are unlike any protein bar I’ve ever had, and hands down will be by “go-to” from now on. So, why the hype? Let’s break it down into two delicious pieces why Built Bar are my preferred snack.

First. Built Bars come in a variety of flavors, and as we all know, variety is the spice of life! When it comes to flavor pairings, Built Bar has it nailed down. I was floored by the richness of flavor in each bite, and best of all, no harsh chemical taste!

**PRO TIP: Toss a few Built Bars into the fridge, for a perfectly cool treat!**

Second. Built Bars are a convenient way to intake protein after a workout, or the perfect snack to hold you over between meals. I love slipping a protein bar into my lunch for a nice and delicious afternoon snack! Or on evenings when I have to get my son to Scouts, or have an engagement or meeting to attend, you can bet I have a Built Bar stashed in my bag to get me through. Most protein bars leave a funky taste in your mouth, or have some weird waxy finish, not Built Bars! The texture of a Built Bar is similar to a thick marshmallow coated in chocolate… I’m telling you, these are different than any other bar I’ve tasted and super awesome!

BibRave Fans

Okay, you’ve heard me gush, now’s your turn! Want to save 20% off your Built Bar order? Use discount code BUILTNOW to save big!

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!