It is officially race week. Friday, February 19th I will be toeing the line for my first in person race in a year. I was lucky enough to race the Joe Relaxo 24hr Challenge last year before all the shut down and before anyone heard of Covid-19. I wrote a recap from that 2020 race in a recent blog post. You should give it a read because this year will be different. The format is the same. One (1) mile, every thirty (30) minutes for twenty-four (24) hours. The rules are simple: no banking miles and each mile has to be ran in that 30 minute time period. The difference this year is location. Last year the race was hosted at the Maritime Park located on Escambia Bay. The was a great venue with a wide walking path and a nice breeze from the bay and Gulf of Mexico. Additionally the sunset and sunrise was spectacular. (See below).
Unfortunately the venue was damaged during hurricane season. Therefore the race has been relocated to Bayview Park. The park is located in an area known as North Hill and adjacent to a lake. The running path is a small black top path circumventing the park. This will lead to some congestion for the racers. The first half of each mile loop is uphill leading into a roller coaster type of multiple steep ups and downs. The second half of the path levels out and leads into a downhill to the finish line. Unlike last year I will have some race support. My girlfriend is in town this year and I have several local running friends participating. Last year it felt like I was on a island alone which compounded the mental part of staying in the race.
I cannot say that I am as prepared for the race as I would like. Of course, I consider this race more mental than physical. The doldrums can be tough while waiting for the next mile to begin. Additionally the stop and go nature of the race lends to tightening muscles. My goal is to stay loose this week with easy runs, eat really clean and reach max hydration. I am currently making my list and mentally preparing which is a big part of my process. I haven’t decided on my race day nutrition but it will probably be black bean on GF wraps and some Beech-Nut vegan pouches. This will be a fun new twist to a familiar race. I am looking forward to getting the 2021 banner added to my medal. Cheers to race week…easily the best week!
Disclaimer: I received an entry to the EnMarket Savannah Bridge Run 15K 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!
This is my sixth virtual race since the start of the covid-19 shut downs. Each one has been an important stepping stone to ensure my training stayed on track. That didn’t always happen, but the idea of completing a virtual race to full potential always brought me back to center. This race was no different. I completed this race on December 5, 2020. It was a good opportunity to finish the year on a positive note and take me into the holidays following a plan.
As with all of my virtual races, I like to keep to race day tradition to ensure authenticity. This starts with a flay lay the night before. I wore my BibRaave shirt and Buff USA performance hat. For the Double Pump 15K I decided to wear a little more cushion due to some knee pain. Therefore, I went with my Altra Running Duos. I rounded out my gear with my favorite Orange Mud handheld, Coros Global Apex watch, Injinji socks, RoadiD band for safety and my Knockaround Fastlane glasses. Finally, virtual race day weather could not have been more perfect. Santa was added for a little holiday cheer!!
Pre-race photo and ready to get started. During my training period I started scouted possible routes. It is always important to me to find a route as similar as possible to the actual race route. Again this ensures authenticity and buy in to the racing mindset for me. That presented some challenges as the longest bridge with decent elevation in my area, known locally as the Three Mile Bridge which spans Escambia Bay, was damaged by loose barges during a recent hurricane. Therefore, the pedestrian path was closed at the time of this virtual race. I had to think outside of the box. I finally settled on the Bayou Chico Bridge. This bridge is shorter in span distance, but it has a decent incline grade. It also has a nice protected pedestrian path on both sides of the bridge. This bridge is a few miles from my condo, so I plotted a course that took me through the North Hill neighborhood as a warm up, and it included some small inclines to engage the climbing muscles. Luckily I convinced a friend to run the first four miles with me to start the race.
I will make one note, I would like to receive more information on the original course where it has provided a virtual race option. The race directors should really provide a detailed layout of the course with total elevation gain and terrain details. This would help participants, like me, map out a similar course for the virtual race. As it stands, I generally have to engage in a deep dive search online to piece the information together and it is not always easy to find. After my warm up miles, I finally made it to the bridge. As previously noted, my bridge is shorter than the Savannah River Bridge. So my strategy was to run repeats on the bridge until I reached the 15K mark. In total I ran six over and backs on the bridge. This resulted in approximately 500 ft of total elevation gain.
I felt good for the Double Pump 15k virtual race. I maintained an 8.41/mi average pace. This includes multiple busy road crossing (I do not stop my watch for these interruptions). This was a challenging virtual race with a tough local course. I am torn over which I dislike running more the long, steady inclines or the shorter, steeper inclines. It feels good to continue supporting race directors during this period of time. I believe racers tend to get caught up in their goals and times and forget how much work goes into hosting a race. They sometimes forget that the race directors, volunteers and small businesses are equally invested in the in-person race. This is why have have no hesitation in participating in virtual races. I also think race directors will get better at the virtual race option.
Let me just brag on one thing though. The EnMarket Savannah Bridge Run race swag was top quality. The shirt is good looking and great quality. I will enjoy wearing it. The medal is one of the nicest ones I have earned. I am impressed with all of it. I cannot wait to complete this race in-person…hopefully in 2021!! This one should be on every runners’ list.
Finish Time (Moving Time): 1:27:17. Distance: 9.36Mi. Average Pace: 8:41/mi. Elevation Gain: 499ft. Strava Achievements: 6 earned. Cheers!
Disclaimer: I received the SiS REGO Rapid Recovery Supplement 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!
I will be honest, I am not the most consistent when it comes to proper recovery. I believe all amateur athletes struggle with this problem. It usually comes down to an issue of time and money. There is a finite supply of both for the amateur. We have regular jobs, family obligations, household responsibilities, children, and chores like cooking and cleaning. In between all of these external obligations on your time, you still have to find time for self care, self-improvement, exercise, and sleep. How can you fit recovery into that schedule? Further, the recovery modalities available to us are really expensive! I run, so I am going to focus on that sport here but everything I talk about can be applied to cycling, cross fit, power lifting or any sport of choice.
Proper recovery is what separates the professional athletes and amateur athletes. Professional athletes are provided a range of recovery modalities through their sport/job such as state of the art facilities and a full staff of medical professionals. Additionally they have the personal funds to invest in recovery through personal chefs and all of the tools marketed for recovery such as cryotherapy, compression boots, and more. I recently read an article that an NFL QB stated he invested a least $1 million a year in his recovery efforts to extend his playing life. This proves two points: first, recovery is as important as training and second, proper recovery is expensive. Finally, if a professional athlete is injured, they have the ability to properly rest and heal. Amateurs do not have this option. A running injury for me does not mean I get to skip work still or pass on my household obligations. Life goes on for use despite the injury.
There is another issue that I have observed over my years of running, not only in myself, but in other amateurs. We over train. Because our time and funds are finite as it relates to our personal hobby, we tend to spend all of our discretionary funds on tools to use during the sport (i.e. as a runner this would be shoes, hydration packs, races etc.) and we spend all of our discretionary time training or competing. So we over train. We do things like run streaks, we train too fast/hard on a daily basis because the faster times and harder training trend better on social media. We want everyone to know we can PR a distance or hit a fast pace. Because we feel like we have to train hard with the limited time available to us, without proper recovery, we are trading long term viability in our sport for short term gratification of our definition of success or “killing it” moments. As a side note, those of us in relationships or with families also deal with the guilt of spending money on ourselves and taking time away from our families. This is a further limitation on spending time and money on proper recovery.
Lets make something very clear while we are here. Proper recovery is not 10 minutes of yoga three times a week. Proper recovery is not stretching cold muscles for a few minutes when you feel tight. Proper recovery is not foam rolling a few times a month. Proper recovery is not occasionally sitting in a jacuzzi, sauna or taking a cold shower. Proper recovery is also not having your significant other message your back. Proper recovery is also not taking one “rest” day a week. All of these things can be part of a proper recovery plan, but as a stand alone activity it is not real recovery to extend the life of your body to compete.
As I have gotten older and come to love the activity of running and competing, I know that I want to do this for a very long time. I want 30 more years of competing and pushing my personal limits. I want to be that old timer cranking out miles in the neighborhood and the younger runners thinking “what a badass” as we pass each other.
An important part of your recovery plan should be replenishing yourself after a workout. When you train you are depleting all of those things your body stores throughout the day to help fuel your training efforts. This is why I was excited to try the SiS REGO Rapid Recovery supplement. For my review I received a tub of Chocolate and several “on the go” packets of Strawberry flavored powder as well as a shaker bottle. REGO Rapid Recovery is a complete recovery product and designed to be used within thirty minutes after your exercise. It contains 23g of carbs, 20g of protein and electrolytes with vitamins and minerals. The list of vitamins and other natural homeopathic ingredients in this recovery supplement is extensive.
Your body is fueled by carbohydrates, and when you train or compete your body absorbs these carbs. When you “bonk” it means you have usually outstripped your supply of energy. Since the majority of us amateur athletes do not have dietitians and professional chefs on our payroll we need to get help where we can to fuel our bodies. It is important to get the cleanest possible fuel as well. the SiS REGO Rapid Recovery supplement is designed to rapidly replenish your glycogen stores and the protein to help fuel training and prepare you for your next session. REGO contains soy protein, which has a complete amino acid profile with an added 2g of leucine to support muscle protein synthesis to rebuild your muscle tissue. One of the main attributes that I really liked about this product is how clean it is. It is vegetarian friendly, free of gluten, nuts and lactose. This was a very important factor for me when reviewing this product. I am not fan of any product that is overly processed or full of synthetic components. REGO is clean and effective.
I started using this product after every run and after one virtual 15K race so far. I could tell the difference in my recovery. I felt replenished or, in laymen terms, refreshed after my efforts. I put in some pretty tough runs too. A few longer runs with lots of hill work and a few at race pace. Before trying REGO, my body would crave recovery of lost resources that manifested by me eating anything and everything from fruits to peanut butter to chips. This is not a very practical way to recover after training. Once I substituted that with REGO Rapid Recovery I had zero cravings. My body was put into balance. That is exactly the quality I look for in a supplement…clean fuel leading to a balanced body.
Yes the science is there! I mean Science is in the name of the company right! But what is important to us amateur athletes? We are usually concerned with three very important factors: TASTE, TASTE, and CONVENIENCE. How does REGO Rapid Recovery stack up against these concerns you ask? Well let me tell you, SiS knocks it out of the park on all three. First, it is designed to be mixed with water. In fact SiS states on its packaging that mixing with anything else may impact the effectiveness of the product’s delivery in your system. So you start with 500ml of water in their shaker bottle. As a side note, I love the shaker bottle. I’ve used the kinds with the metal ball inside and they work ok. the SiS shaker bottle has a plastic grid that fits in the top of the bottle that really ensures the product is fully blended. Yes I know its weird to get excited about a shaker bottle, but I’ve had one too many clumpy protein shakes! Back on track…after you get your water you add 50g of the recovery supplement. If you have the on the go packets, its one service size, if you have the tub you add a few scoops. Then you shake and consume. That easy. That convenient. No blenders and making sure you have milk or other flavored liquid to help make the supplement drinkable. Which brings me to the last two concerns TASTE and TASTE. We amateurs will compromise on many things, but never taste when it comes to our supplements. It must be gourmet! Well, I am happy to report that both flavors I reviewed, chocolate and strawberry, tasted damn good. It did not have any of the chalky, bitter or gritty taste we have come to expect from powder based supplements. It was not overly sweet either which is a common problem as companies attempt to make their product drinkable. The chocolate and strawberry flavors were tastefully muted and not overbearing.
This is a product I can drink everyday post workout….AND I PLAN TOO! After the success I have experienced with the REGO Rapid Recovery supplement, I plan to add the entire SiS line of products to my training plan. I encourage you to visit their website (https://www.scienceinsport.com/us/) to view their products. One touch I like is SiS has tabs for different sports. I was able to easily navigate to the “run” section and SiS had all of their products that will meet a runner’s needs in one place. The website is a wealth of information worth your time. Give SiS a try in your training and recovery. Once you do, come back and let me know your thoughts as well. Be sure to follow SiS on social media, and while you are at it follow BibRave and myself of more fun and useful product and race reviews.
Thank you for visiting my blog and reading my thoughts on the SiS REGO Rapid Recovery Supplement. Cheers!
So I did a thing on Friday, October 16th. Some may say it was a crazy thing. Others will say its a normal thing. For me, it was a feeling alive thing. So what did I do? I completed the David Goggins 4x4x48 Challenge.
There is a song I really like called ‘Hurt’ (its a Nine Inch Nails’ song, but I prefer the Johnny Cash cover). The first line, “I hurt myself today / To see if I still feel” resonates very strongly with me and most serious runners I know. Because running is nothing if not self inflicted discomfort with a side of pain.
Life was difficult for me when I was young. The kind of difficulty that leads to a lasting pain. Its the kind of pain you hold on to in your youth. It reminds you that you are alive, but its not a positive reminder. In my youth I held on to that pain to fuel my motivation, my focus, and my creativity. As you get older life becomes more comfortable. The pain dulls. Yes there is stress and pain as an adult, whether its from failed relationships, family drama or professional short falls, but its less acute than the earlier pain. I’m not sure why its different as you get older, I have some theories but that is a discussion for another post.
As it stands, I like reminding myself that I am alive through self imposed discomfort. Decades of convenience has made us soft, weak humans. Anything that is slightly inconvenient is immediately changed. Its too hot -> turn on the a/c. I’m bored -> pull out the phone or tablet. I’m hungry -> order fast food. I’m tired/sore -> hit the snooze button. You get the point. This is why I completed the Goggins Challenge, I was feeling soft and weak.
Fist, who is David Goggins? David Goggins is a retired Navy Seal turned ultramarathon athlete and motivational badass. I first learned of Goggins through the Rich Roll Podcast. Goggins believes in living in the discomfort zone by continually pushing yourself past your limits. Honestly if you do not know who he is look him up. Second, what is the Goggins Challenge? In March of this year, at the start of the covid lock down, he took to social media and challenged his followers to complete the 4x4x48 Challenge. This challenge consists of running 4 miles every 4 hours for 48 hours. The Goggins Challenge was not physically difficult per se. My muscles didn’t get sore from the miles. I maintained a decent per mile average so not overly fatigued either. I would have preferred to complete it on the trails because dirt is more forgiving on the joints than the road. But my body handled the miles part of the challenge easily. I would say it is more of a mental challenge. There are several moments where you ask “Why am I doing this.” You have a strong desire to quit during the overnight sessions. I find the mind works overtime against you when it is a purely voluntary venture. You do not get a medal or a cool shirt at the end. You are only competing against yourself. The personal satisfaction of finishing is your only reward.
I chose to tackle the Goggins Challenge the weekend of October 16th – 18th. My girlfriends was out of town that weekend so I was alone in the apartment. I ran all the miles alone except for the last 4. Completing the challenge was entirely on me. My only competition was my physical and mental toughness. That was how I wanted it. I also took on the challenge because I have been disappointed in my training efforts since March of 2020. There are excuses…covid, hurricanes (I live in Florida), the heat (the Florida thing). But the truth is I was just apathetic. I was being weak. I was choosing excuses and convenience over the work. My hope is that the Goggins Challenge will be the stepping stones for a strong finish to the year.
I kept a journal logging my running stats, from my Coros Apex, my sleep behavior, my nutrition, etc. (I still need to analyze my heart rate and sleep pattern for the 48 hour period, and will update the article when I do.). As you can see from the chart above, I ran 48 miles at a 10 minute average pace for a total running time of 8 hours & 15 minutes. As a caveat, I wanted to share the last 4 miles with my girlfriend, who had returned home by then, so I power hiked it wearing a 40lb weighted vest with her. I started the challenge weighing 208.6 and ended it weighing 199.2.
Lets talk specifics: how I ran the challenge and some tips that would improve on my plan. First, I wanted to run a different route each time. I live downtown and have access to a water front, a downtown and close access to historic neighborhoods. Since I have lived in the same location for the past three years I had a good idea of how to mix up the routes. I ran all the rounds outside except for three. The Sunday 2 a.m. run, Saturday 10 p.m. run and Sunday 2 a.m. run were completed on the treadmill for safety. I decided on a general route in my mind ahead of time, but I did not map them out. The result was finishing the 4 mile run while still being pretty far from my apartment. This left me with a long (as much as a mile) “cool down” walk home. This not only ate into my down time between rounds (approx. 30-40 mins wasted) but it also added more wear on my body beyond the 4 miles ran. Next time I will be more methodical in mapping my routes as to end the run within a two block radius of my home. Second, I pulled out my gear and clothes for the next round ahead of time. This reduces rushing and wasted time thinking about what you need or want to wear. Third, I decided before taking on the challenge that I would remain active throughout the day. This could be walking downtown for coffee, moving around the apartment, finding a place to read or work outside, and stretching/foam rolling. I did not want to jump in bed or lay on the couch after each round. That isn’t real life. Real life doesn’t stop for a 2 hour nap every 4 hours. Sleeping or “vegging” between runs goes against the spirit of the challenge in my opinion. I think this helped prevent soreness but also added to the overall mental fatigue of the challenge. I only slept between the overnight runs. I would not change this approach. Fourth, I approached nutrition on a as needed basis. After the first 12 miles I was feeling depleted and ramped up my calories. My meals consisted of Beachnut Baby Food (hey it’s vegan, real food nutrition, and less sugars than performance gels), Huma Recovery Gels, baked potatoes with steamed veggies, oatmeal, peanut butter, chickpea snacks, black bean wraps, and coffee. The only thing I would change here is taking in more dense calories earlier in the challenge. Fifth, take care of your important body parts. Preventative maintenance is important. I thoroughly cleaned my underarms, my undercarriage and my feet. I also used tea tree oil on any sensitive areas to prevent rashes. Foot care also involved soaking in epsom salt mid way through the challenge. Know your body and take care of it. Finally, reward yourself once you complete the challenge. This gives you something to focus on and fight through the doldrums of the challenge. For me that was a crowler of Dunkelweizen from my favorite local brewery and pizza!
I am writing this article a few weeks removed from the challenge. The question remains, did it have the desired effect on me? I would answer yes! I am more focused on training and nutrition. I have been running more. I’m also engaging in regular strength training as well as stretching. I am signed up for a virtual mile challenge during November with my BibRave online running community and a 15K in December. I also plan to complete another challenge at the end of the year…the 5x4x24 Challenge.
Be sure to subscribe to my page and follow me on social media. Keep pushing your limits!
I believe in energy. I’m not talking about the kind that powers your home and electronics. Nor the kind that you get from eating a healthy diet fueling your body to live an active life. I’m not even talking about the kind that strikes from the sky during storms.
The energy that I am referring to is the kind that you absorb from the earth. This energy is transferred to you when you swim in the ocean, pond or river. It’s from rooting your feet in the sand or dirt. It’s from laying down on a forest’s floor with the decaying vegetation and bugs staring into the tree canopies. Its the wind that envelops you while standing on a mountain. This natural energy will seep into every fiber of your being the more you are connected. This energy comes from a connection to the wild.
Our urban lifestyle has disconnected us from this energy. It has desensitized us to its call. It cannot reach us in our hermetically sealed, sanitized, florescent terrariums. Yes we are evolving as a species in understanding, knowledge and technology. But are we becoming less human for it?
Am I suggesting you have to completely change your way of thinking or opinions about nature? Am I trying to recruit you into the ranks of environmentalism. No I am not! But I can admit that nature changed me. Once you take your first step into the wilderness, it will change you too. You will tap into a primal nature that has long laid dormant in you. Communing with mother nature will change you forever. Becoming a Trail Junkie will change you forever.
I penned the above words after a particularly difficult trail running session on September 12, 2020. That is what I love about trail running. No two experiences are the same. One day the trail may win, the next day you may win. The trail tests your physical and mental limits. It breaks you down, and all that you have left is your breathing and your thoughts. The wild calls you, and you always answer with another trail run. At least I do.
This subject has been on my heart for a while. Originally I wanted to talk about it at the beginning of the year as some New Year’s themed article. But I didn’t. Next I wanted to do it on my birthday this year. But I didn’t again. Thus I failed at exposing myself and my vulnerabilities (In fact I drafted this article several days ago and have been sitting on it.). The reluctance is probably attributive to the fact that admitting shortcomings in yourself publicly is not universally accepted or encouraged. From the time we are able to comprehend concepts we are taught to fear failure. Parents let their children win at everything. Footraces, eating contests, games, sports…children are allowed to win against their parents and are encouraged to celebrate those victories. I have two children, so I can speak from experience.
Real life is full of failures mixed with success. I do not think you can have one without the other. Failing comes in many forms and not just relegated to the notions of professional success or fame. I know many professionally successful individuals that are unhappy and depressed. I was one of these people at one time. From the outside it appeared I was on my way, but internally I was always angry, easily agitated, and over eating and drinking. Everyone feels the pain of failing in some area of their lives.
I recognize that some people have a greater appreciation for the concept of failing due to life experiences. My own journey began in New Jersey with a mother who either didn’t want me or didn’t have the capacity to take care of me and my two siblings and a father who left us at a very young age. My biological mother eventually gave us away. Life marches on, you make the best of it, but the experience leaves a life long impression.
The fear of failure can be debilitating. I struggle with it as an emotion every day. In fact you could say I have “failure fatigue.” At 45 years old I have failed…a lot! In fact to work through this therapeutic process let me list the ways. I have failed as a son. I have failed as a father. I have failed as a partner to my girlfriend. I have failed as a friend. I have failed as a student and as a professional. I have failed to keep my word or live up to promises. I have failed as a vegan. I have failed my physical and mental health. I have failed clients and colleagues. I have failed as a runner. In fact I just recently failed as a runner by bonking on a virtual marathon attempt. I have failed at controlling my emotions by getting angry, envious, jealous and prideful. I have failed my mental health by not meditating or practicing yoga consistently. I have failed financially. I have failed to be a good person. I have failed everyone in my life at one time or another.
Hi, my name is Jeremy and I have failed in life…BUT I am not a failure. Because it is a mindset right? For my purposes here, FAILING is the act of coming up short after putting yourself out there. Whereas FAILURE is a state of mind. So don’t go there. I know it is easier said than done. Writing this is part of my self realization as I currently struggle with the failure mindset in an area of my life at this moment in time. It’s a feeling that starts small but has the capacity to become a tsunami sized tidal wave consuming your mind and heart in a nothingness of depression. This feeling has the power to stop you in your tracks. You begin to justify not trying because it means not realizing failure. What do we do? How do we overcome this feeling and is that possible?
We start by accepting failing as part of the process of life. It will be a constant partner. Do not allow failure to overcome you as a feeling. I’m telling myself this too! “Jeremy failing is part of life.” Embrace it as part of your growth. Know that it means you are living life fully and not some passive observer. Learn from it. Build your success on top of it.
Disclaimer: I received entry to the Hospital Hill Half Marathon to review as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming aBibRave Pro (ambassador), and check outBibRave.com to review, find, and write race reviews!
I had the pleasure of participating in the 2020 Hospital Hill Half Marathon as a BibRave Pro. First some housekeeping. The race calls Kansas City home. The 2020 race is the 47th running of the race and making it Kansas City’s oldest race. Hospital Hill has been named a top 25 road race by Runner’s World Magazine and hosted the USATF National Championship half marathon in 2002. It has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for local charities. Through a partnership program charities can use the race as their own fundraiser. The RDs started the Hospital Hill Run Foundation which has donated more than $130,000.00 to local organizations since 2016. In 2019, Hospital Hill Run gave $25,000.00 each to Kansas City Public Schools Education Foundation and Strive for Life as beneficiaries of the race that year.
Hospital Hill Run is a great example of RDs making the most of the virtual race. It created a special hashtag for the virtual race and encouraged racers to share their photos on social media. It created a special virtual run Facebook Page for racers to connect socially. The RDs also created virtual challenges that allow you to enter to win free running gear by completing challenges and uploading that info to the virtual race Facebook group. This promotes further social engagement and gets the sponsors involved. Once your virtual half marathon is complete you will receive a digital finisher certificate and a swag packet consisting of a shirt and medal (both are excellent quality). Hospital Hill Run has done a great job creating a community around the virtual race. It was still committed to the community and charities through the foundation.
I was thoroughly impressed with the way the RDs managed the virtual race. By far it has been my best virtual race experience to date. The online community was key in fostering an atmosphere of inclusion instead of isolation that one usually feels in solo events. I really enjoyed seeing everyone complete their race and share photos. The Hospital Hill Run has been the only race to mail out the race swag early (instead of waiting for you to submit your time). I love this! Knowing that my race shirt and medal were waiting on me was a big positive during my race. It also made for a more authentic post-race experience. The Hospital Hill Half Marathon is a race I want to run in person. The virtual race experience has convinced me that the in person experience would be amazing. I want to run the streets of Kansas City, I want to experience the expo, I want to enjoy the food and breweries and I want to support this race in the future.
My personal philosophy is to make a virtual race as authentic as possible. Yes, you lose some competitive bump in performance and a supported route allowing you to run with less gear. However, the virtual race does not have to be an inferior experience. First, I conduct a significant amount of research on the route. As an aside I would like to see RDs do a better job of providing statistics on their route on the race website. A google search allowed me to find some past race posts on Strava which gave me the elevation numbers. I then use the route builder in Strava to create my route that reflects the same gain to create an authentic experience. As a resident of the flatter portion of Florida, this presents some difficulties, but I was able to create an excellent route. Second, I follow my normal race routine. This means eating my usual pre-race meal and laying out my gear the night before. It also means continuing a tradition of post-race pics and beers with my girlfriend and racing friends. I enjoyed doing a local brewery tour downtown with my race shirt and medal as I would for an in person race.
I ended up creating a damn hard route for an unsupported race. The route combined with the Florida humidity made this half marathon one of my tougher races. Thankfully I had a local friend register with the BibRave discount code and race with me. We did start the race an hour later than I wanted which made a huge difference in heat, humidity and my performance. (For those with no summer experience in the south one hour can make a huge difference in real and feel like temperature). My Hospital Hill Half Marathon route time was 2:13, which is my highest half run time, with approximately 458 feet of elevation gain. See https://www.strava.com/activities/3572205690.
Overall the Hospital Hill Half Marathon was an amazing virtual race experience. The shirt and medal were both excellent quality. I encourage you to visit their website (http://www.hospitalhillrun.com) to learn more about the race and consider registering for the 2021 race. Further this opportunity would not have been possible without BibRave and the BibRave family of runners. Be sure to visit BibRave.com to read reviews of races, leave a review of your own and follow BibRave on all social media channels. Finally, thank you for visiting my blog. Please sign up to receive notification of future posts and find me on social to follow my runs in the sun here in Florida.
Endurance athletics is mostly a solitary sport and that is both its greatest and worst attribute.
Success rises and falls on the efforts and training of a single person…YOU! There is no team effort. There is no having a bad day but still winning. You are either ready to perform or you do not. There is only your face staring back in the mirror of self reflection. This is good and bad. I believe a certain type of person is attracted to this type of sport. I would guess most endurance athletes, both pro and amateur, have loner or reclusive tendencies. I know I do. I love being on the trail or road alone. I love only hearing the sound of my breathing and feeling my heart rate pounding in my ears. This also makes “putting ourselves out there” difficult too. Most of us would likely be very negative about our performances if asked. But that doesn’t make for great content on our social media channels. We engage online reluctantly, but we do it because it provides an easy social outlet.
Don’t get me wrong I am not anti-social. I am in a very healthy relationship with my girlfriend of four (4) years. I have a handful of very close friends which is my core group. I have a wider circle of casual acquaintances which are further subdivided into groups such as run club, parkrun and social organizations like Rotary. But my core group can be counted on one hand. I enjoy the weekly diversions and sense of competition provided by the group runs. I enjoy the occasional training runs with my close friends. I enjoy the creative release and expression social media provides me. But….well you know.
The other problem with endurance athletics is there is no simple training regimen. We all have different bodies, different strides, different foot falls, different digestions issues, etc. We have to worry about our nutrition which is fuel for our runs. We have to mix up our training with short runs, long runs, slow runs, fast runs, and sometimes fast-slow-fast runs. We worry about doing too much of one run and not enough of another. We worry about the proper order of training runs. We worry about target training like elevation, heart rate, cadence, and VO2 Max. We constantly critique our form. Work and rework our nutrition. Don’t forget about strength training. You cannot neglect your trunk strength. Then there is stretching, yoga, foam rolling, compression recovery, active recovery, ice baths…Shit I’m not doing enough to be successful!! Sorry about that where was I, yes we read a lot! We consume information voraciously about other people’s success, training methods, new gear, nutrition, hydration and race strategies. After all of this, we are still never happy with a performance. There is always a reason why we didn’t have a better time or log more miles which requires more of the above.
Cue the BibRave Pro Ambassador Program.
I am officially six (6) months into my first year as a BibRave Pro. This has been the most fun I have had as an endurance athlete. Being a BibRave Pro means learning about new products that help you succeed or help you look good while doing so. It means running new races and interacting with new race directors across the country. It means a community of support from other endurance athletes. It means a community that celebrates your successes and provides support in your failures. This support helps bring us into the online media more comfortably. In six months I have participated in four race campaigns and four product campaigns. It means mentorship in branding and marketing. You learn about effective social media influencing. There is a dedicated support staff that actually cares about you as a Pros. Through their guidance engaging via all social channels becomes fun and creatively fulfilling as you watch your audience grow. Most of all we are all having fun! You want to interact with the community of Pros. Their dedication and drive is infectious. They push you to be better at your craft. The community of Pros provides a safe place to express yourself, to grow and learn.
Although it is virtual, being a BibRave Pro is a real connection to a real community of athletes. My core group has grown as a result. We can all use more of that.
Disclaimer: I received a Road iD Stretch to review as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming aBibRave Pro (ambassador), and check outBibRave.com to review, find, and write race reviews!
My Road iD Stretch has quickly become my favorite every day gear. I always wear it because safety in all physical activities is a daily commitment and plus it’s pretty damn cool. Let me just get this out of the way now, and it will probably be repeated several times, I love my Road iD. It is stylish, comfortable, customizable, and most of all functional. I chose the Stretch because I liked the low profile aspect as I wear it under my watch. Additionally, with the Stretch, I was able to purchase an additional band to use with my faceplate and badges. It is easy to switch out and gives me additional customization of my Road iD. However, there are multiple options to choose from such as premium bands, to faceplates that fit your watch band or on your shoe laces.
I always enjoy learning the back story of a product that I use. Gadgets can become…well too gadgety nowadays. So as a runner you want every piece of gear you carry with you to be necessary, to serve a purpose. There are staples in any gear list, and the Road iD should be included in all of them.
Co-owner Edward Wimmer states on their website that the inspiration for Road ID was born in the fall of 1999. The inspiration for his father, also a co-owner, was his concern for Edward as he trained for his first marathon. For Edward, the inspiration was a black, King Kong size pick-up truck that nearly hit him on a long Saturday run. Their mission statement says it all “our mission is two-fold: One, to educate outdoor enthusiasts about the importance of wearing ID. Two, to provide these athletes with innovative identification products that they will want to include as part of their gear.” (Source: www.https://www.roadid.com/pages/our-story).
I also enjoyed reading the testimonial page on the Road iD website. There is story after story of how the Road iD saved someone’s life after an unexpected accident while training. Let’s face it, most of us train alone. Almost 95% of my running, on both trail and road, is done alone. Although I have never had any major accidents, I have had some close calls with distracted drivers. Before my Road iD I never thought about carrying my identification card or any type of emergency contact list on my training runs. I have always had the “I’m a strong, tough man” or “it won’t happen to me” mindset. But an accident can happen to anyone, and as a lawyer you would think I know this better than most! So I do the smart thing now for my family’s peace of mind and wear my Road iD for every outdoor activity. If you are on the fence about the value of the Road iD I encourage you to take some time to read the testimonials, and put yourself in those situations without a Road iD. (See https://www.roadid.com/blogs/testimonials).
Top 10 Reasons You Should Wear ID
1. If you can’t speak for yourself, ROAD iD will speak for you.
2. ROAD iD enables First Responders to immediately contact family members and friends.
3. ROAD iD enables family members to provide additional details about your health or give consent for potentially life saving procedures.
4. ROAD iD enables hospital staff to locate vital medical records.
5. ROAD iD can communicate medical conditions or allergy information to medical staff.
6. ROAD iD can prevent serious delays in treatment by saving crucial time during the “golden hour” of medical treatment.
7. It’s far better to have Road ID and not need it than to need ROAD iD and not have it. It’s not just a piece of gear, it’s peace of mind.
8. Accidents happen far more than you think they do. Each year approximately 450,000 of us are taken to hospitals unconscious and without identification.
9. ROAD iD looks good on and makes a statement about your athletic lifestyle – not to mention that studies would probably prove that people that wear Road ID are considerably smarter than those that don’t.
Road iD’s functionality goes beyond just being awesome arm candy. Road iD developed an app compatible with both android and ios. I have used the app on several long solo trail runs. The app allows you to notify a loved one about your run. The app works as a gps and stays on during your run. Once you open the app it will ask you to identify which contacts receive the notifications, it allows you to customize a message, and you can choose to allow a notice if you stop for more than five (5) minutes. The recipient receives a notification that you started a run with a link that allows them to see where you are, it sends periodic eCrumb updates during the activity, and a final notification when you end the activity. The app provides you with a final gps summary of your run which can be linked to Facebook and Twitter if you choose. My girlfriend loves that I use this app for my long runs now just so she knows I’m still moving and safe. I plan to use the app to also help my girlfriend crew for me during two solo virtual marathons I have scheduled this month. Road iD also has an add on emergency information function. For a nominal monthly fee you can load all your medical information into their database. That database is then linked to your Road iD via a unique serial number and PIN. The first responders and medical providers can enter that information into the Road iD database via the web portal or by calling Road iD to retrieve important medical information that could be vital to saving your life if you are unconscious such as allergies and pre-existing medical problems.
Your safety cannot be entrusted to other people sharing the road or trails with you. Drivers are more distracted than ever. There are hazards everywhere in an urban setting. You have to take every precaution available while engaging in physical activity. Part of this is through proper planning. The other part is ensuring you have the necessary gear to keep you moving. Just like hydration in the summer here is Florida is necessary for every run, the Road iD is now a necessary part of all my activities from hiking, biking, trail running, urban running and paddleboarding.
DISCLAIMER: I received entry to the Hospital Hill Half Marathon, Carmel Marathon, and Grandma’s Marathon to promote and 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!
Before the world shut down I was fortunate enough to participate in a few “real” races.
At the beginning of the year I joined a local ParkRun club for a 5K trail run every Saturday morning. Although technically not a race, it had the feel of one given that ParkRun offers free timing, breakdown of results against other ParkRun runners, the competition with other runners in the club and I pushed race pace each time. My races included the following: the Joe Relaxo 24hr Challenge which consisted of a one mile loop every thirty minutes for a total of 48 miles; the 2020 Double Bridge 15k, a local favorite race in Pensacola and I earned a course PR; the Rock’n’Roll Marathon in New Orleans which was my first road marathon; the RunDisney Princess 10K which was my fourth RunDisney event and always a lot of fun; and finally the McGuire’s St. Paddy 5K, another local favorite and another course PR for me. I was fortunate to have front loaded the year with some fun races.
It is impossible to replace the race event. The feeling of accomplishment as you meet your training goals. The growing excitement the week leading up to the race. The expo and events prior to race day. The build up of adrenaline that keeps you up the night before a race. The race day competition that drives that extra speed boost. Experiencing a new course or city. The spectators and entertainment. Crossing the finish line. And, last but not least, the after party!! These are feelings that cannot be fully replicated outside of the race setting. However, that doesn’t mean you should dismiss the virtual race option. There is great value in a virtual race to the the running community, race directors, volunteers, sponsors, the beneficiaries, and your fitness.
The first race to cancel for me was the Statesman Cap 10K in Austin, Texas. This is the largest 10K race in Texas and top five nationally. I was looking forward to running Austin. Races are one of my favorite ways to experience a city. The original race date was April 5th. The race directors officially cancelled the race a week prior to the race date due to the city’s response to covid-19. The race was eventually transitioned to a virtual option as well as offering registration to the 2021 race. I decided to run the race as planned on April 5th virtually.
Did I get the experience I was promised with registration? No. Did I get a 10K PR as I planned for this race? No, but that one is on me and my derailed training. Did I get to experience a new city, new breweries, and new restaurants? No. Did I have spectators or bands playing on my route? No. Did I meet new runners and get an adrenaline boost from the competition? No. Did I get a medal when I crossed the 10K finish line? No. Was I upset that the race directors (RDs) didn’t offer full refunds for registration? No! Why? The mass race cancellations were due to an unforeseen global event. Additionally there is a lot that goes into hosting a race of any size. RDs have already expended funds on shirts, medals, permits, signs, support services and much much more. Established races and RDs usually have a group of dedicated volunteers that have already spent many hours making their race and your day a success. Further every race that I have participated in supports a charity[ies]. Let us not forget that RDs and their volunteers WANT the race to proceed as planned because they have invested significant amount of their life in making their race fun and rewarding for the runners.
There are many positives to embracing the virtual race option in our current social climate due to covid-19. First, it gives you a target to keep you motivated in your training. Second, it allows you to support a race that you would otherwise not be able to support due to family, work, or expense. Third, you still earn a great race t-shirt and medal (and honestly we runners love the swag). Fourth, you are contributing to the overall growth and advancement of the running community as good ambassadors to the sport. Fifth, many RDs have alreadynembraced the virtual aspect of the race by providing an online space for racers to connect virtually such as special Facebook groups or post race virtual meet-ups. For instance the Hot Chocolate 15K race recently hosted a virtual dance party on IG live with sponsor Knockaround Sunglasses for all virtual runners. Social engagement opportunities like this should only increase and become more sophisticated as RDs have more time to develop their virtual races and learn from others. Finally the charity[ies] continue to receive much needed donations from the event which directly benefits the community. The Statesman Cap 10K supports Health Alliance for Austin Musicians (HAAM) and despite the 2020 cancellation the RDs still donated $40,000.00 to HAAM. This is a significant sum and I am sure HAAM relies on this annual donation.
Therefore, I was happy to complete the Statesman Cap 10K virtually, I look forward to receiving my medal and shirt, and I will display them proudly with my other race swag from the beginning of the year. In fact I am currently registered for three more virtual races.
I. Hospital Hill Half Marathon
Hospital Hill Run is located in Kansas City, Missouri. The 2020 race is the 47th running of the race and making it Kansas City’s oldest race. Hospital Hill has been named a top 25 road race by Runner’s World Magazine and hosted the USATF National Championship half marathon in 2002. It has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for local charities. Through a partnership program charities can use the race as their own fundraiser. The RDs started the Hospital Hill Run Foundation which has donated more than $130,000.00 to local organizations since 2016. In 2019, Hospital Hill Run gave $25,000.00 each to Kansas City Public Schools Education Foundation and Strive for Live as beneficiaries of the race that year. Hospital Hill Run is a great example of RDs making the most of the virtual race. It created a special hashtag for the virtual race and encourages racers to share their photos on social media. It created a special virtual run Facebook Page for racers to connect socially. The RDs have also created virtual challenges that allow you to enter to win free running gear by completing challenges and uploading that info to the virtual race Facebook group. This promotes further social engagement and gets the sponsors involved. Once your virtual half marathon is complete you will receive a digital finisher certificate and a swag packet consisting of a shirt and medal (both are excellent quality). Hospital Hill Run has done a great job creating a community around the virtual race. It is still committed to the community and charities through the foundation. I will be racing the Hospital Hill virtual half on June 6th with other BibRave Pros. I encourage you to join us by visiting http://www.hospitalhillrun.com to register for the virtual half marathon using the discount code above.
II. Carmel Marathon
2020 is the 10th running of the Carmel Marathon in Carmel , Indiana. The Carmel Marathon has transitioned to a virtual race option only due to covid-19. Carmel Marathon relies on over 500 volunteers to make the weekend a success for all its runners. The offical charities for the race are: Indiana Center for Prevention of Youth Abuse & Suicide, St. Jude Children’s Hospital, Back On My Feet, Run2gether, Hamilton County Emergency Management, and Mercy Home for Boys & Girls. The RDs are using their Facebook page to celebrate runners completing the virtual race and creating a community around the virtual race. Each finisher receives a swag bag consisting of a medal, shirt, bib, and participant bag. There is still time to register for the Carmel Marathon virtual race by visiting http://www.carmelmarathon.com/virtual-run and using the discount code above. I will be racing the Carmel Marathon on June 14th with other BibRave Pros. I encourage you to support this event by joining me in racing the Carmel Marathon virtually.
III. Grandma’s Marathon
Grandma’s Marathon weekend has transitioned to a virtual race only option. The Grandma’s Marathon in Duluth, Minnesota traces its start to 1977. This year would mark the 44th running of Grandma’s Marathon. Interestingly the name is derived from a group of famous local restaurants that were the original sponsors of the race. Race weekend draws more than 18,000 participants to Duluth. The Grandma’s Marathon weekend relies on more than 6,000 volunteers. The RDs are further committed to promoting a green event by implementing a number of sustainable initiatives during the race weekend. This is a very important issue for me. Grandma’s Marathon’s Young Athletes Foundation promotes the growth of young athletes and has contributed over $1 million to area nonprofit youth athletic organizations. The level of commitment to the local and international community by the RDs is very inspirational. I encourage you to take time to explore its website fully once you register for the race. The RDs have a number of charity partners that use the race as fundraisers. These charity partners have a set number of guaranteed spots that racers can earn by raising money for the charity. As for the virtual race, the RDs offer some unique features to enhance the runners experience. There is a virtual event bag with offers from both local and national retailers. The RDs have partnered with RunBetter App to allow you to run the full course on your treadmill. The app will prompt you when to incline/decline as you proceed through the course. The RDs have further created virtual race specific hashtags to promote social sharing of training and virtual race photos. You will have an opportunity to download a race bib, which I really like as it gives more authenticity to your race day at home. Those who complete their race will also receive a finisher certificate, event shirt and medal. I will be racing the Grandma’s Marathon virtual race on June 20th with other BibRave Pros. I encourage you to join us by visiting http://www.grandmasmarathon.com/participate/virtual to register for the full marathon using the discount code above.
In conclusion I anticipate the virtual race option is here to stay. RDs are seeing a great interest in participation and an ability to connect with new runners around the world. I believe the shut down has further exposed the illusion that running is a solitary endeavor. Runners thrive on social interaction and community as much as any other athlete who is part of a group or team, whether we like to admit it or not. Further runners are seeing the potential to add more races to their calendar without the significant travel cost associated with destination races. In short it is time for the runners to give back and support their favorite RDs who have given so much of themselves to make our race weekends a success in years past.
So, I will see you at the next race…virtually of course. Cheers!