I ACCEPTED THE GOGGINS 4X4X48 CHALLENGE

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.

Starting the Goggins 4x4x48 Challenge

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.

My stats for the Goggins 4x4x48 Challenge. I logged miles, pace, and time for each of the twelve runs.
Complete running stats for the Goggins 4x4x48 Challenge.

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.

Finished the Goggins 4x4x48 Challenge

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!

Post challenge rewards are important.

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.

CHEERS!

Be sure to subscribe to my page and follow me on social media. Keep pushing your limits!

An Ode To Trail Junkies

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.

Trail Running, jumping hills & drinking beer!

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?

Attacking the hill.

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.

An Ode to Trail Junkies.

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.

FAILING IS JUST ANOTHER ‘f’ WORD: A primer for celebrating the journey.

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.

The journey to success or failing usually looks the same.

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, I’m Jeremy.

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.

I believe in you. I believe in me.

Failing is just another ‘f’ word!

HOSPITAL HILL RUN: A HALF MARATHON VIRTUAL RACE REVIEW

Disclaimer: I received entry to the Hospital Hill Half Marathon 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 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.

Hospital Hill Half Marathon Gear Flat Lay

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.

Post -race photo.

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.

Winding down with a post-race beer.

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.

Making the brewery rounds with my race swag.

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.

Cheers!  

MY WHY: Being a BibRave Pro.

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.

Post Virtual Hospital Hill Half Marathon Picture

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.

Road iD: A review of wearable safety for any adventure.

Disclaimer: I received a Road iD Stretch 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!

Planning is essential to any adventure.

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.  

Additional bands for more customization.

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 really appreciated the fun packaging!

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). 

My Road iD Stretch is comfortable and stylish!

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.

10.    ROAD iD can save your Life. Period.

(Source: https://www.roadid.com/pages/top-10-reasons-you-should-wear-id).

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.     

Screen capture of Road iD app test.

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.

EMBRACE THE VIRTUAL RACE: A case in support of virtual racing.

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!

KNOCKAROUND: The day in the life of a KnockFan.

Disclaimer: I received the Knockaround Neon Summers (Fast Lanes) 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 live in Florida, so I spend a considerable amount of time in the sun. As a runner, I tend to favor the morning or lunch runs. This means a minimum of an hour, sometimes more, exposed in the elements. Upon relocating to Florida I learned quickly there are two necessities: first, a good lotion with SPF, and second, sunglasses. I , like many people, have a drawer full of sunglasses. Some expensive, some cheap and some free promotional items from a local business.

The Knockaround Neon Summers were received for purposes to review as part of being a BibRave Pro.
KNOCKAROUND NEON SUMMERS (FAST LANES STYLE)

I would never call myself a “sunglasses” guy. In other words, I really didn’t wear them all the time although I had them with me all the time. I am in my early-40s and I NEVER wore sunglasses running or training. Why you ask? Because sunglasses have always bothered me. They slip continuously when the sweat starts flowing. They gave me a weird twinge on my nose and ears during training or they fit too tight and bother the side of my head above the ears. Sweat and salt water would tarnish the lenses. These constant annoyances distracted me during training. This all changed when I received my KNOCKAROUND NEON SUMMERS!

As a BibRave Pro I had the opportunity to try out the Knockaround sunglasses. Knockaround has multiple styles of sunglasses, special releases and collaborative releases throughout the year. Knockaround has pre-designed sunglasses under each style. BUT it also has a function to allow the consumer to build their own sunglasses. The consumer chooses the style and then proceeds to design their sunglasses. You can mix and match colors and patterns for each arm and the fronts as well as choosing the type of lenses. This function is a lot of fun to play with when trying to find your style. I encourage you to visit their website and play with the design function.

I received the Neon Summers (Fast Lanes Style) which is a pre-designed pair. Think early Miami Vice, and I liked that a lot!! I received them on April 1st and immediately put them to use so I could provide a honest review. The first thing I notices was these sunglasses are light. Run after run and use after use I did not get the twinge or fatigue I got from other sunglasses. The second thing I noticed was they fit comfortably snug. There has been zero slipping due to sweat or bouncing. Further I had no noticeable pressure from the arms. I was able to focus on my training and not continually messing with my sunglasses. Since receiving them I have worn them for every daytime run because I want too. Finally it has withstood sweat, rain and water without damaging the lenses.

Beers, sunset and sunglasses.

My Knockaround Neon Summers (Fast Lanes Style) are functional and stylish everyday glasses. It is also the perfect running/training sunglasses for me. I honestly forget I am wearing them sometimes. Finally, Knockaround has the best styles to choose from and are highly customizable to the individual consumer. If you are in the market for an awesome pair of sunglasses that you will never want to take off, the Knockaround sunglasses are for you.

STATESMAN CAP 10K: A VIRTUAL RACE

Disclaimer: I received entry to the Statesman Cap 10K 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!

On April 3rd, 2020, I was supposed to fly to Austin, Texas to participate in my first race as a BibRave Pro. Instead the 43rd Statesman Cap 10K was canceled by the City of Austin in response to the current health crisis surrounding Covid-19. The Race Directors gave racers the option of completing the race virtually. There has been a fair amount of communication from the RDs regarding this issue. They even released a new hashtag, #Cap10Kvirutalrace, to use in social media posts. However, as of today there has been no decision on how get the race swag to all the virtual racers. I decided to stick to the original plan and race on Sunday, April 5th, 2020, being the original race day.

The Statesman Cap 10K is not only the largest 10K in Texas but the sixth largest in the nation. At the time of the cancellation there were over twenty thousand registrants. I was really looking forward to spending several days in Austin and racing through downtown. Although I lived in Dallas several years and have traveled to many parts of Texas, I have never been to Austin. So this was a much anticipated destination race and my first race running as a BibRavePro. Additionally, my goal for the race was to PR the distance. But it is important to go with the flow in life.

My Cap 10K Virtual Race Gear

I am sure like a lot of runners I had never participated in an official virtual race. This was my first experience with it and I was determined to make the best of the situation. I am a very ritualistic person when it comes to races. I have a set pre and post race process that I follow religiously. Specifically my pre-race routine allows me to mentally prepare for a race. It is a process I start the week of a race by visualizing myself racing the course and distance, making lists of potential gear, following a particular nutrition plan the nights before and setting out the gear I will use the night before. These processes help me feel prepared going into a race and calm my mind. A virtual race wipes these processes out–Bye Bye structure ha. Additionally I relish the competitive feeling and adrenaline that builds in the corrals before the race. That adrenaline is usually good to shave time off my race. But how do you duplicate that intensity in a virtual race? I am not sure it is 100% possible. This was further complicated by not having a specific virtual race date set by the RDs. So there wasn’t a feeling of competing against other runners the day I ran my virtual race.

The best I could do was follow as much of my pre-race routine as possible to make me feel like I was lining up for an actual race. I decided on a route a few nights before my race, so i was able to engage in my mental exercise partially. I also laid out my race gear the night before (as depicted in the picture above) to make sure I had everything important. Although I listen to podcasts or music on the majority of my training runs, I do not listen to music in races because I try to engage with the other races whether its a short, but meaningful, conversation to get your through a tough point or to just encourage the other racers. The one exception to this rule is when racing ultras, I will usually listen to something during the overnight portions of the race.

My training began before the Covid-19 outbreak shut everything down. The training plan was simple. I was trying to build up speed. So I ran lots of fast 5Ks mixed with longer runs focused on HR control. I participated in multiple run clubs each week and ran in my local ParkRun group every Saturday morning. These simulate race day conditions for me given the competitive factor of other runners doing the same course as you. I also had a few races to use as benchmarks. In February I ran my 3rd Double Bridge Run 15K in Pensacola and finished with a PR on that course. Also in February I ran RunDisney Princess 10K with a time of 52m 1s and a 8:15 /mi pace. I was very happy with this effort and was convinced I would break 50min on the Cap 10K, which was another goal. I also had a marathon and a 24hr race in February, so a race every weekend almost. March stated with a Pensacola favorite McGuire’s St. Patty 5K race, also my 3rd time racing, and I crushed my course record with a 24:42 & 7.52/mi course pr. This was also the first time I broke an 8/mi 5K since 2016 after an injury, a new state and new job pulled me away from serious training again. My training and focus went into the tank late March for a few weeks when the Covid-19 crises started and everyone’s lives were upended. I never recovered that lost fitness before the virtual race. This eroded some confidence and also made me less mentally prepared race morning.

My pre-race photo tradition.

I realize that with a virtual race you can literally run the distance anywhere including a track or the treadmill. However, I tried to find a route that would be similar in terrain and elevation as the offical course. I believe this is an important step to a successful virtual race. Otherwise, in my opinion, the swag is your only interest. The course I chose ended with 270ft of elevation which is more than the official course. Initially my plan was to wake up very early and race. But it was raining for a few hours that morning which delayed my start to 7a.m. Another obstacle to a good race. Since I live in Florida there is a significant difference in running at 5 a.m. and 7 a.m. It was hot and humid now due to the rain. I have been implementing some stress into my training runs by not carrying water (I sweat a lot and drink a lot of water). As a self assisted virtual race I initially planned to bring water, but decided at the last minute I didn’t need it for a 10K. This was a mistake given the extra output for race simulation. I had a great pace at the start and had no problem pushing like it was an actual race. However, I hit a wall at mile 4 and then again at mile 6 due to training lapses and a few good hills back to back. Again the lack of hydration did not help either. My first three miles were 8:05, 7:56 and 8:48. This was not great pace management and you can see the struggle coming. Overall I was able to keep somewhat of a competitive mind set despite a few weak moments where I felt like I was just doing a solo run. In those moments I would remind myself that I was actually racing, to dig deeper, and it worked in mile 5 where ran a 8:43/mi. This is not my last virtual race this season, but it was a good lesson for me. I am confident that I can continue to become for efficient and impose my usual race mind set in the virtual arena.

#Cap10kvirtualrace

Although it was not the time I wanted nor the PR I wanted, it was a fun process to race virtually. I do look forward to my swag and adding my medal to the wall. I recently read a thread on twitter discussing if virtual races were actual races? If you try to replicate the course and run hard like you would in a race, than the answer is a resounding yes. I will be counting all my virtual races as races. I hope you will join me on my next virtual race.

I was bummed to miss out on Austin and running in one of the largest 10ks. I was bummed to miss out on a great expo and the post race party. I was also bummed not to run with new friends and reconnect with some old friends who now live in Austin. But I still ran the 43rd Statesman Cap 10K and I enjoyed the process.

BODY HELIX: A Move Through It Review

Disclaimer: I received a BODY HELIX FULL CALF COMPRESSION SLEEVE 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!

Sleeve and Body Helix Product List.

Body Helix was founded in 2008 by world-ranked senior tennis player Fred Robinson. In search of better compression gear options he developed Body Helix’s Form-Fit Technology. Fred tapped into both medical science and advanced technology and studied the science of movement and injury management to design his product. The effort and attention to detail is evident in this product from the first use. There are a few features that really made the full calf compression sleeve a great addition to my running tool kit. First is it breaths. Most compression gear will cause excessive sweating. The treated area gets overly wet causing discomfort, itching and slipping. I wore the Body Helix calf compression during runs, workouts and rest time around the house. I did not experience any of these issues. In fact other than the tension you almost forget you are wearing compression gear. This leads me to my second liked featured, it didn’t slip during use. There is nothing more annoying than gear that requires constant adjustment. This annoyance can get in your head and tank a race or training run. The Body Helix calf sleeve remained anchored to my calf. This allowed me to focus on the task at hand and not my gear. When ordering the compression sleeve I followed the instructions on Body Helix’s website for fitting and my sleeve fit perfectly. Finally, it provided to proper amount of tension to my calf. Muscle and joint compression are key to help runners move through a minor issue. Whether it was fatigue, soreness or pain, the Body Helix helped me through my workouts. The tension allowed my calf muscle do what it was asked to do during the workout.

Kettlebell is a go-to functional exercise.

As a runner in my 40’s I employ lots of tactics to keep me on the road. What works for me is to focus on core strength, functional, multi-body movement exercises, and plenty of rest. Fancy recovery tools, cryotherapy or red light therapy are not options for me or the majority of armature athletes. Therefore I employ other more available methods of recovery. Rest is number one on that list. I realize it is difficult for a runner/cyclist to sit still when friends and influences inundate you with their miles vie social media or strava. But it is important to not run sometimes. In fact I have always found my best race performances followed days of rest and recovery. I also employ stretching and foam rolling. During my review period I wore my Body Helix full calf compression sleeve during rest periods while I was working around the house. I found the compression sleeve to help after a particularly hard workout. It provided a constant tension to the muscle but could still be comfortably worn for hours. I also found that it reduced my recovery time. This was very beneficial to me personally. As a front foot fall runner my calves get an extra hard workout on every run. After a hard training session my calves always feel tighter than any other muscle. Implementing the Body Helix calf sleeve has reduced tightness during the exercise and helped recover the muscles post exercise.

Compression sleeve use at rest.

Body Helix has a wide range of compression gear. I strongly encourage you to visit their website at http://www.bodyhelix.com to learn more about the technology and benefits behind their compression sleeves. The website has a wealth of information from product reviews to blog articles and videos. The Body Helix compression sleeve has become a main component of my running gear.

Disclaimer: This review is based on my personal experience and the knowledge of my own body. Only you know your limits. Therefore, you should always consult a medical professional before making any decision when dealing with an injury.