Author: Preston Ramsey

Preston Ramsey is an aspiring Higher Education professional. His personal interests include music education, computers, running. He serves as a member of the Board of Directors for the Bowling Green State University Band Alumni Society and is a Life Member of both Kappa Kappa Psi and Tau Beta Sigma. Preston lives in Ohio with his wife, Tammi.

RACE REPORT: Blue Ridge (Double) Marathon

Disclaimer: I received entry into the Foot Levelers Blue Ridge Marathon as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to find and write race reviews!

NOTE: CLICK HERE to check out my review of the Blue Ridge Marathon at BibRave.com!


In 2019, I took on the Blue Ridge Marathon for the very first time. While the race itself was incredibly challenging (and rewarding!) and the community support outstanding, my overall experience wasn’t quite what I hoped for – largely a result of the logistics/travel of my weekend as a whole. Ultimately, when the chance to return to Roanoke came back around this year, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to fully enjoy race weekend!

My return to Roanoke this time around gave me a full race weekend experience…and then some! WHY? Because I was attempting to run the DOUBLE Marathon.

Yes, you read that correctly. I consciously made the decision to attempt two marathons back-to-back on the one of the hardest courses in the country AND doing so after saying THIS three years earlier:

Team BibRave was in full effect in Roanoke and one member of our crew attempted the DOUBLE MARATHON! After running the regular marathon, I think I’m good.

-Me, excerpt from my 2019 Blue Ridge Marathon race recap

This time around, I was that person from Team BibRave.

With that said, let’s start where any good story does – at the beginning!

Friday

After a roughly 6-hour drive, I arrived in Roanoke around 4:30pm and checked into the hotel. The AirBnB I stayed at in 2019 was great, but booking a hotel less than a five minute walk from the start/finish/expo was a no-brainer. Dropped my gear in the room and headed immediately to the race expo – as I was on a bit of a time crunch as the Double Marathon was set to kick off at 1:00AM! The expo was held at nearby Elmwood Park, which was also the main hub for the Down by Downtown music festival taking place at the same time (more on that later).

The expo was pretty low-key for a marathon, which included a handful of vendors and community partners. Not a ton of fanfare really, which was actually nice. Packet pickup was just as low-key – probably in and out in less than 2 minutes. After that, I moved over to the amphitheater to enjoy some of the music festival before grabbing a bit of food.

My hotel (tan building to the left above trees); Blue Ridge Marathon race expo area (blue tent); Down by Downtown music festival

Saturday

Saturday started early – VERY early.

Flat Preston is ready!

After much less sleep than I had planned on getting, I headed down to the start line around 12:40am for the 1:00am start. I arrived to find around 60-70 others who would join me on this grand adventure. After checking in, I met up with a “familiar” face! Nick Nichols from Virginia Beach – owner of Leave Your Mark – life & endurance coaching – and I had connected via Instagram a few weeks earlier. This was not only going to be his first ultra, but also his first marathon. Nothing like choosing “America’s Toughest Road Marathon” for his first (and second) marathon!

Our adventure was slow going to say the least – in large part a result of the numerous uphill sections of the course. Nick and I had plenty of time to share stories, learn about one another, and say plenty of unpleasant things to the mountains of Roanoke. During our adventure, it became increasingly clear to me that I while I was doing well on water (or thought I was), I wasn’t really able to tolerate anything else. This would come back to get me once we arrived at Peakwood (aka the 3rd mountain). Nick and I tackled Peakwood with the same drive that had gotten us up and over the first two peaks. However, once we reached the top of Peakwood, it was evident that I needed to change my strategy and my body was definitely fighting just to keep moving forward. So, at 18.5 miles into the race, Nick and I separated – mainly as I knew I was starting to slow him down. After a brief moment on the side of the course, I felt somewhat better, but still had 8 miles to go…just to finish the FIRST marathon.

Those last 8 miles were a struggle to say the least. I tried to eat what I could, but my body wasn’t liking that idea. I tried using music to push me along, but that just annoyed me more. The runners who started their Double Marathon adventure at 2:30am had mostly caught and passed me by this point. I was definitely hitting a lot of lows, but there was ONE positive that kept me going: I was still moving foward. I didn’t stop although my body would have preferred that I did.

After 6 hours and 21 minutes, I finally arrived at the finish line of “lap 1” of the double marathon. Grabbed a banana and some pretzels, a chocolate milk, and a Coke – all of which stayed down I’m happy to report. However, I had to make a quick u-turn out of the FINISH area to get reset at the START for the beginning of what would “lap 2” for doublers, but what was the normal marathon start for everyone else. Lap 2 began 14 minutes after I returned from Lap 1.

My initial “plan” once I finished was to simply start marathon #2 by crossing the timing mat and then claiming a DNF right away. I was ready to cash out and go to sleep. However, I caught up with Nick again prior to the start. We chatted for a moment and then we were off again before I knew it. Well, HE was off again – jogging even – and I was walking VERY slowly along the side of the course. I made it about a quarter-mile before I had to sit for a moment.

The second wind was coming. I began to feel “strong” again…as best I could at that point. Maybe it was the Coke. Either way, I got back up and started walking again. No running to be had unless it was downhill – and even that was a stretch. I was making friends with the race sweepers because I was literally bringing up the end of the race. Before I knew it, I was making the climb up Roanoke Mountain AGAIN.

Quick and exhausted selfie during my SECOND trip up Roanoke Mountain

I should mention that I have a new found respect for those who are near the back of the pack or even those who are the last person in a race. I spent my entire 2nd marathon attempt in last place but I wasn’t upset or demoralized by it. In fact, I enjoyed it! I had the opportunity to watch everysinglerunner come past me on their way back DOWN as I was going UP Roanoke Mountain for the 2nd time. Getting to cheer them on and getting cheered on by them definitely helped keep my spirits up as I started to feel the struggle again.

And a struggle it was to finish that 1st climb for the 2nd time. Once I reached the summit of Roanoke Mountain at 2,161 feet and crossed the 7 mile timing mat, the decision had to be made. Do I run/walk my way back down and risk possible injury or worse? Do I call it a day and hitch a ride back down with race officials / EMS? My decision making skills were much stronger than the rest of me at this point and I opted to call it a day, having completed nearly 33.5 miles of my original goal of 52.4. I could feel the initial indicators of dehydration and, after my DNF for similar reasons at a different race in 2017, I realized what was happening and that it was time to wave the white flag.

After hitching a ride back to the finish area with some really great local EMTs, I hung out in the main first aid station for about 30 minutes crushing sports drink after sports drink to rehydrate. I relocated to my hotel with the help of some friends that had come into town for the race / music festival and I proceeded to try to sleep. My body struggled with that as well, but after a few hours of sleep and a few rounds with the massage gun, I met up with those same friends from earlier an amazing “lunch” (at 3:30pm).

After another brief chill-out period back at the hotel, I headed out to the amphitheater nearby to catch The Wallflowers concert – the headlining band of the Down by Downtown music festival. It was a great show, but as expected, I left a little early as I was still pretty beat and again very hungry.

Waiting to hear The Wallflowers on Saturday night of race weekend

BUT HEY – WHAT HAPPENED TO NICK? I’m very happy to report that he ended up completing the entire DOUBLE marathon! He looked incredibly unfazed when we crossed the finish line (check out his Instagram), but you could tell he was BEAT.

Sunday

I woke up on Sunday and didn’t feel like complete garbage! My feet were pretty beat up and walking without some form of shoe was incredibly painful. HOWEVER, I’d been looking forward to this particular Sunday for a while.

The morning after the Blue Ridge Marathon, the organizers put on the SLOW-K – more affectionately referred to as America’s Slowest 5k. I kid you not – they provide registered participants with a coffee mug (rather than a shirt and medal), free coffee (if you’re into that- I’m not); and free donuts. If you want something a little different, you can get your mug filled with a mimosa instead…which was definitely my preferred drink of choice after a crazy weekend.

And then – you walk a 5k. That’s it. Running is NOT encouraged. In fact, the slower you go – the better!

Conclusion

This was my second trip to Roanoke for Blue Ridge Marathon weekend and I have a feeling that it will not be my last. This is definitely the event for those seeking a challenge, absolutely beautiful scenery, fantastic community support, and so much more. This marathon (or double, or 10k, or half) will challenge even the most well trained runner, but will provide countless positive memories. My double marathon adventure didn’t end how I hoped, but I’m still very satisfied with how I did fare!


NOTE: CLICK HERE to check out my review of the Blue Ridge Marathon at BibRave.com!

RECAP: Hot Chocolate 15k/5k – COLUMBUS

Disclaimer: I received an entry into the Hot Chocolate 15k/5k – COLUMBUS as part of being aBibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to find and write race reviews!


FINALLY!

Better late than never and the third time’s the charm – I finally completed the Columbus Hot Chocolate 15k! How did we get here? Well…

Let’s Rewind:

In 2015, I signed up to run the Columbus Hot Chocolate 15k and ended up not being able to do so due to a schedule conflict with work. Earlier this year, I signed up and completed the virtual Detroit Hot Chocolate…which I ran in Columbus. When the chance came around to sign up for the 2021 edition in Columbus, I couldn’t pass it up. To top things off, it was going to be IN PERSON! So the TL;dr version of this entire post boils down to this: I can finally say that I’ve earned my hot chocolate (and swag)!

For those interested in diving deeper, here’s my recap of the 2021 Columbus Hot Chocolate 15k!

Flat Preston – ready to go!

EXPO

The day before the event, my daughter Shalane and I loaded up and made the 15 minute drive to downtown Columbus for the Hot Chocolate 15k expo. The process for picking up my goodies (bib, jacket, etc) was VERY streamlined and impressive. We genuinely could have been in and out in 10 minutes, but as I was rolling with an inquisitive 3 year-old, that was not the case this time! We looked at EVERYTHING – the inflatables, items for sale, etc – and even sampled the free chocolate squares and hot chocolate!

Quite honestly, we spent most of our expo time at the make-your-own-sign table. I had fun, but I assure you that Shalane was loving the idea of playing with markers and having a clean canvas!

Expo selfie with Shalane 🙂
Overview shot @ the expo
Trying to be FAST!!

RACE DAY

RAINY. VERY RAINY.

Honestly, not one of my better efforts, but I got it done. My training could have absolutely been stronger than it was, but still managed to put down a decent effort for this 15k (9 mile) run. Also, I was pleasantly surprised to find out that THIS race starts at roughly the same spot as another of my favorite races in Columbus! The course in Columbus – this year – was kind of a double lollipop (two out-and-back loops) for the 15k.

I was also very happy to have met up Matthew, a fellow BibRave Pro, both before AND after the race. Gave us an opportunity to catch up, talk about our respective runs, and chat about future efforts. This is the second event I’ve done with Matthew and I’ve enjoyed getting to know him through BibRave as well as through the runs here in Columbus!

Hot Chocolate 15k/5k Start Line
Pre-Race selfie with Matthew, a fellow BibRave Pro!

How SWEET it is!

I am very happy that I was able to FINALLY complete my first IN PERSON Hot Chocolate event. I definitely slogged my way to the finish, but I got it done. Overall, the event itself is one I would absolutely recommend to anyone. The race itself is great, the swag is pretty awesome, and the overall communication from race organizers is top notch.

A lot of running events out there are much more focused on the distance(s) or the social experiences. For me though, this event was really about a very particular piece of swag – the chocolate! This event doesn’t exist without chocolate and the swag bag wouldn’t be complete without it either. I had a great time running around Columbus and had the opportunity to celebrate with some fantastic hot chocolate – it doesn’t get much better than that!

To the victors go the spoils!

RECAP: Sanford Fargo Marathon

Disclaimer: I received an free entry into the Sanford Fargo Marathonas part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to find and write race reviews!


A few weeks back (September 25 to be exact), I had the opportunity to run in the Fargo Marathon. This was my first in-person marathon since October 2009 – and it felt SO GOOD to toe the line with people again. This experience also marked my very first visit to North Dakota! So without further adieu, here’s my recap of my Fargo Marathon adventure.

Friday / Travel, Expo, & Race #1

I flew to Fargo on Friday, September 24 (the day before the race) and had no issues. Security was a breeze, the layovers in Minneapolis were actually very nice, and getting in/out of Fargo’s airport was super easy. Once I was in Fargo, I hopped in the shuttle and took the 5-minute ride over to the hotel.

This was by far the best hotel experience I’ve had on a race weekend. Why? It was LITERALLY next door to the Fargodome – which is where the expo took place AND where all events started and finished. Less than a 5-minute walk door-to-door! After getting settled, I walked over and checked out the expo. It was definitely a much smaller experience than I’ve been used to at other events, but that also made it nice – and significantly less crowded than other expos. Ultimately, this also meant NO massive lines to stand in to pick up race bibs.

Making a “friend” at the Fargodome

Picking up my bib is where I signed up (very last minute, I might add) for the Friday Night 5k. This race, in addition to the full marathon, allowed me to be eligible for the GoFar Challenge. What’s so significant about that? A third medal for running two races!

The Friday Night 5k was a fun event, but it wasn’t without some drawbacks. Specifically, the course was VERY tight and VERY crowded for nearly the first half (1.5 miles) of the course. Part of the issue (in my opinion) was the mindset of “start at the front if you’re fast, go to the back if you’re slower” and many people lined up in a way that didn’t align with this at all. What this resulted in on the course was difficultly moving forward at a desired pace due to crowding. Aside from that criticism, the 5k was a nice event and allowed runners to enjoy a beautiful Fargo sunset before heading back into the Fargodome for the finish. After a quick post-race snack, I headed back to the hotel to clean up and get some sleep.

SATURDAY / Race #2

Flat Preston ready to go

Surprisingly, I actually DID get some decent sleep the night before the race and since my room was so close to the start line, I didn’t even leave to head over until about 15 minutes before the race began! As most races do, Fargo had gear check, but I didn’t take advantage as the only additional item I had was my “throwaway” shirt (the walk to the ‘Dome was a bit chilly). Prior to the start, I was fortunate to meet up with Danielle, another BibRave Pro, who was running the half marathon that morning.

Meeting fellow BibRave Pro, Danielle, before the start on race day!

Corrals (or a wave start) weren’t really a thing at Fargo – which wasn’t necessarily bad, but not necessarily good either. The start was basically “if you’re fast, go to the front – if you’re slower, go to the back.” This worked pretty well (in my experience) for the marathon start on Saturday, but it could have been far worse!

The start was a little crowded, but it the field began to spread out fairly quickly. The course itself is absolutely great – AND FLAT! The only exception to this would be the rolling hills through the few parks the course passes through. Also, this course has you run through both North Dakota and Minnesota – a nice twist if you’re looking to add states to your list! Aside from that, the only real difficult spot on the entire course (for me, at least) was the overall spectator participation. While there was a pretty decent turnout overall, there were definitely large patches of the course where spectators/music/entertainment would have been a big help/motivator to push runners forward.

My only piece of feedback that I suppose could be “negative” in nature would be in regard to the aid stations. I really felt like the aid stations were too spread out across the course and I was really surprised by the overall number of aid stations (read: not as many) in comparison to some other marathons I have run. While the distance between and number of aid stations were surprising, the volunteers working the aid stations were rock stars and made sure runners were taken care of!

Taken just after the halfway point – before I tossed my plans out the window!

As for MY race, things went pretty well for the first half of the run. I decided to adopt the approach of running a 5k followed by a short walk, then repeating this process. This served me well until about mile 13 when my legs were just not having it anymore. My plan was quickly replaced by a more frequent run/walking. Once I got to mile 16, I had made the decision to switch to walking as my legs were no longer cooperating with my overall race plan(s). I did get a little boost of energy though in mile 18 when I was fortunate to run into my friend Michael King and his son Cooper! Michael is the most recent former director of the BGSU Falcon Marching band and his family had just moved to Fargo. They both greeted me wearing BGSU hoodies and Cooper was rocking out on a drum. It was great to see them and it gave me the energy to start jogging again through mile 20.

And then, near the end of mile 20, the walk of pain began.

I had nothing left in the tank. Legs were shot. Mental game, which I had maintained better than I ever had before, was now just a memory and I was done. But I didn’t go all the way to North Dakota to earn a DNF! So, I walked the rest of the way – with very few spots of running – back to the Fargodome for the finish. It hurt – A LOT – but I’m so glad I kept going! Seeing the Fargodome and eventually going back down the ramp and into the building was the highlight of my day. This was definitely not my best effort, but I went out there and finished what I set out to do.

After spending quite a bit of time sitting on the floor of the Fargodome, enjoying my post-race snacks, it was time to make the climb out of the ‘Dome and head back to the hotel. Another great perk of the hotel being so close is I knew exactly how much further I had to go until I could relax in my bed and get a shower. The added post-race bonus was getting to watch the end of the BGSU/Minnesota football game, where the end result was a Falcon victory!

In the background: the Fargodome – where the race started/finished. My hotel building was about 200 ft behind where my camera was sitting for this photo!

Also, major thanks to the Michael & Robyn King (and also kiddos Cooper & Jules!) for an amazing post-race dinner and conversation. It was really great getting to catch up and hear about your new experiences in Fargo!

SUNDAY / Headed Home

Sunday morning brought unexpected additional miles as the hotel shuttle was not available for my super early flight. Rather than snag a taxi/Uber/etc, I opted to walk to the airport (again, only a mile or so). This was actually nice as it 1) helped keep my legs from being super sore the rest of the day and 2) I was treated to a beautiful sunrise.

As my first flight was boarding, I found myself sitting behind Fitz Koehler – the announcer and starter for Fargo Marathon race weekend! We had the chance to chat before takeoff and again during our layover in Minneapolis and I learned about her fitness journey, her adventures in writing and race announcing, and also her battle with breast cancer. It was awesome to get to meet her and I’m really excited to follow her journey going forward!

Chatting with the amazing Fitz Kohler during our respective layovers at MSP!

All and all, Fargo Marathon weekend did NOT disappoint and I would definitely recommend this event to anyone. The community is incredibly friendly and this event provides the feeling of running a much larger race in a much more intimate setting.

Don’t sleep on the Fargo Marathon – check it out for yourself in 2022!

RECAP: 2021 Air Force (Virtual) Marathon

Disclaimer: I received an entry into the Air Force Marathon as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to find and write race reviews!

Disappointed, but not surprised.

That was me – when I found out that the 2021 Air Force Marathon would be going virtual for the 2nd straight year. Not the ideal situation, but I made the best of it!

So what happened?

My original plan was to run the Air Force Marathon on September 18 in-person, followed the next weekend with another marathon. Crazy? Yes. Impossible? No. With the switch to a virtual event, I thought for sure I would still be able to run two separate events. However, another commitment (non-running related) took precedent on what would have been Air Force weekend and shifted those plans. As a result, I decided to “double dip” and count my virtual Air Force Marathon the following weekend (September 25) on a day I was already scheduled to run a marathon at another in-person event in Fargo, ND.

How did it go?

To sum it up in one word – painful. However, the first half of the race was actually fairly decent! The temperature was perfect and the course was very cozy, traveling through mostly residential neighborhoods. I was cruising along at a comfortable 9:30-10min/mile pace through most of the first 13.1. The strategy going into the run was to run a 5k and then walk until the the clock completed 30 minutes. For example, I covered the first 5k in about 28:30 and walked until 30 min, then started running again. To my surprise, this approach was serving me fairly well! However, as I got closer to the halfway point, I could tell that my legs were going to have a rough go the rest of the way.

And I was right.

I got to the 13.1 sign and started walking more than I had previously. Traveling through a few university campuses at the beginning of the 2nd half, I found moments of strength – but ultimately those passed and I was back to walking again. As I made my way back across the river, walking was definitely more comfortable, but still painful. Another moment of hope was just ahead around a few more corners as I was fortunate to see my friend Michael and his son Cooper who had just moved to the area! This much needed support gave me a second second-wind and got me moving (even if at a slow jog) through miles 18-20.

And that, my friends…is where the walking took over – permanently. My legs – done. My energy reserves – gone.

As I began the final 10k, moving at my slowest pace of the day, I began to wonder what I would have been feeling had I actually been able to follow through with my original plan of two back-to-back marathon weekends? Probably even worse that I was in that moment! But I didn’t go all the way to North Dakota to simply not finish – let alone not finish TWO events. So, in the spirit of Dory from Finding Nemo, I just kept walking.

As I got within about a half mile of the end, I could see the building where the race would end and got my final surge of energy to “run” it in for the finish. It was incredibly painful, but before I knew it I was rumbling down the ramp and into the arena to the finish! Ultimately, I completed another marathon (technically, two) – but it wasn’t pretty!

Air Force Marathon 2022?

For the second year in a row, I’ve been proud to sign up for the Air Force Marathon – even if it has been a virtual event. The event organizers have once again been fantastic with their communication and building up the event, despite the challenges of going virtual.

I am hopeful that in 2022 the race will be able to return to an in-person event. The build-up for an in-person version of the Air Force Marathon over the last two years is absolutely REAL! Whether it is with BibRave (thank you again for the opportunity!) or on my own, I will absolutely be marking the 3rd weekend in September on my calendar and making the trip to Dayton!

Runner Travel Series: Fargo Marathon (Preview)

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


If you’ve been following me (here, Instagram, Twitter, etc), you probably know that I’m heading to Fargo, North Dakota this weekend for the Sanford Fargo Marathon. I won’t lie – I’m really excited for this one. Yes, obviously I’m excited because it is a new race for me. However, I’m also really excited because I get to visit with very good friends AND visit a new state! So, as I have done in the past with other running related travel, here are some of the tips, tricks, and best practices that I put into action to make my travel experience for the race as smooth as possible.

First, Plan Ahead

With this trip taking me to a new locale, the basics came first – 1) how to get to Fargo, and 2) where to stay. For this particular trip – happening TOMORROW mind you – I sorted out both of these details more than a month or two ago.

First, how to get to Fargo. When writing a similar post a few years back, I opted to drive to the race – which only ended up being a 6ish hour affair. It was the most cost effective way to go. However, this time I opted to fly to North Dakota because making that drive may not seem bad on the way there, but would be absolute torture coming home after running 26.2.

After making that decision, I have to figure out where to stay. This was SIGNIFICANTLY easier than I had anticipated! There are two primary hotels within eyesight of the start/finish area – which I thought would be incredibly overpriced, but I was wrong! Not really much more expensive a hotel stay on any other weekend anywhere else. Plus, it’s “walking” distance from the airport as well – not that I plan to do that, but it’s nice to know that I could! Obviously, everyone’s preferences are going to vary and specific needs will dictate what type of accommodation work the best, so do your homework and find what works for you and your specific situation.

Have a Plan? Good. Be Prepared to Throw It Out Because Things Happen

This piece of advice applies to many aspects of life – not just travel – but it does bear repeating. Whether you are a traveler or a weekend warrior, know your plan, but be ready to ditch it.  Be patient even when your patience is tested to the max. Finally, be flexible. Sometimes the best experiences come when you have to call an audible. Keep these things in mind when traveling, because occasionally, you may find yourself being rewarded for it in the end!

I can’t wait to get to Fargo and experience all it has to offer. So, whether you are running in Fargo this weekend or simply running a little closer to home – here’s wishing you all a fantastic weekend of racing!

PREVIEW: 2021 Air Force Marathon

Disclaimer: I received an entry into the Air Force Marathon as part of being aBibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to find and write race reviews!

Use AFMBR21 to save 20% on your Air Force Marathon event registration


I definitely have September 18, 2021 marked on my calendar and hope to run the Air Force Marathon in-person next year. Hope to see YOU there as well!

Me, after the 2020 Virtual Air Force Marathon weekend – September 27, 2020

Well, here we are – nearly one year later. Take a wild guess what I’m doing next month? If you guessed the Air Force Marathon, you’d be spot on!

Last year, I was fortunate to participate in my first-ever virtual FULL marathon as a result of the Air Force Marathon (as well as others) going virtual due to the COVID-19 pandemic. On a beautiful day in September 2020, I ran the length of the Olentangy Trail in an out-and-back effort to cover the distance. I recapped that experience HERE, but to summarize – it was a fantastic adventure that definitely included some challenges. But now, on to 2021!

2021 – Back To Dayton (I hope!)

With that said, I’ve known about the Air Force Marathon for a while, but have never run in any of the events. It runs around Wright Patterson Air Force Base as well as through the campus of Wright State University – again, two areas you can’t really avoid if you visit that portion of Dayton! As a BibRave Pro, I’ve been afforded the opportunity to participate again this year, so I couldn’t pass it up! Adding to the build up is the fact that this year’s event will be the 25th Anniversary of the race and what a way to return after a year “off”.

Personally, I’ll be approaching the full marathon more like a delayed long run or as a “B” race this time around. I say that for two reasons. First, that mindset will hopefully help me do a little better job of pacing myself a little bit slower and with a better focus on the mental side of things. Secondly, this will be the first of TWO marathons I will run within 7 days of each other! I’ll talk about that other event in another post later this week…so stay tuned!

I’m “from” Dayton

As someone who grew up in the Miami Valley region of Ohio, Dayton was the first real CITY that I experienced. This experience largely consisted of shopping trips, performances with my high school marching band, and grade school trips to the National Museum of the United States Air Force – which I’ll refer to as the Air Force Museum from here on out. After grade school, my most recent trip to the Air Force Museum was in 2010 (wow!) with my then-girlfriend (now, wife) Tammi. Fast forward to 2021, our family – which now includes our daughter Shalane (3) and son Matthew (newborn!) – makes much more regular visits to the Air Force Museum. Tammi and I have always loved aircraft and the history that comes with them and we cannot wait for our children to dig even deeper into that history as well.

Ready to Fly High?

First and foremost, this year’s Air Force Marathon takes place on Saturday, September 18 – which also happens to be the birthday of the United States Air Force! You’ll want to visit the Air Force Marathon website for all the detailed information. To give you the cliffnotes version though, you can sign up for one of a number of race distances, such as:

  • 5K (3.1 miles)
  • 10K (6.2 miles)
  • Half Marathon
  • Full Marathon
  • Marathon 3-Person Relay
  • Tailwind Trot 1K Kids’ Run

If ONE race isn’t enough for you though, you can also sign up for the #FlyFightWin Challenge Series. I participated in the Virtual #FlyFightWin series last year – completing the 5k, 10k, and Full Marathon spread out over three days rather than the traditional two days. You can read more about that experience HERE.

REMEMBER: You can save a few bucks (10% to be exact) on your Air Force Marathon event registration when you use AFMBR21 when you checkout!

So – will I see you in Dayton this year? If so, shoot me a message on social (@presramsey on FB, Instagram, and Twitter) and let me know what distance you’re planning on running!

REVIEW: Science in Sport Immune Tablets

Disclaimer: I received Science in Sport (SiS) Immune Tablets 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!

Water, as a beverage, is boring.

I cannot bring myself to get excited about drinking water, no matter how much I know that I need to drink more of it. Try as I might to make better efforts, I end up doing okay for a little bit and then back to the things I like – which are not that great for me as far as hydration goes. I have tried a variety of what I will call “water supplements” over the last few years and have found a few that actually excite me to drink more water.

With that said, over the last month, I’ve had the opportunity to test and review Science in Sport Immune Tablets. The concept is simple: drop one of the tablets in 16 oz of water and BOOM – orange flavored water. If you know anything about me, you know that I’m a big fan of pretty much all things orange.

But these tablets are more than just a drop in the bottle. See what I did there? SiS Immune Tablets are designed help support immune function during and after exercise.

Added some SiS Immune to a recent trail adventure!

HOW?

As we exert energy while training and exercising, our immune system is suppressed for potentially up to 72 hours after a workout. This can lead to higher occurrences of a variety of illnesses, such as upper respiratory issues. And if you’re sick, it becomes very difficult to train/workout/etc!

SiS Immune Tablets contain just the right amount of ingredients to support the immune system, but not overload or suppress it further. Key ingredients include Vitamin C (200mg), Iron (2.5mg), and Sodium to promote overall hydration. Another plus – SiS Immune Tabs are Vegan friendly!

BIG DISCLAIMER: This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease 

Another big plus of these SiS Tablets over so many other tablet brands is the contents of the tube. Most other brands have maybe 8-10 tablets per tube. With the SiS Immune Tabs, you get 20 tablets per tube!

WHEN SHOULD YOU USE IT?

ANYTIME – but for optimal results, I would recommend mixing with water and consuming just before, during, or immediately after a workout.

Personally, I like to use mine as mentioned – for a workout – but I also like to use them at work. That way, I can make a better effort of staying hydrated and maybe even drink less cola beverages.

Also, watching the tablet dissolve can be a fun activity with a 2 year old – which you can do anytime!

WOULD I RECOMMEND IT?

YES – most definitely!

WHERE CAN YOU GET SOME?

You can head over to Science in Sport (SiS) and snag some for yourself! You can also check out some of their other great products as well. Make sure you use code “SiS-BibRave-21” for 15% off and this DOES work with all other promotions! 

Just a heads up: the SiS website lists prices in British Pounds by default, but you can change the pricing to US Dollars by clicking the flag icon in the upper right hand corner of the webpage.

RECAP: Detroit (Virtual) Hot Chocolate 15k

Disclaimer: I received an entry into the Allstate Hot Chocolate Virtual 15k/5k – DETROIT as part of being aBibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to find and write race reviews!


I can finally say that I’ve earned my chocolate! Not sure what I’m talking about? The TL;dr (too long; didn’t read) version is I signed up for a local Hot Chocolate 15k in 2015 and didn’t get to actually participate. Check out my Hot Chocolate 15k preview for more on that experience.

For now though, here’s my recap of my 2021 VIRTUAL Hot Chocolate 15k!

Location, Location, Location

First, I am fully aware that this run did not take place in Detroit as originally planned. It’s also not lost on me that this makes TWO Detroit events within the last six months that I’ve signed up that have had to be done virtually. That’s okay though. Like so many of you reading this, I have adjusted to running races/events virtually. With that said, there’s no place like home (or close to it) to knock out a virtual race. Since I am training for a slightly more challenging event in early May that involves trails, my choice of location for THIS virtual run reflects that idea.

Flat Preston is ready to go!

I took to Highbanks Metro Park – part of the Columbus Metro Parks system – for my Hot Chocolate 15k. Not the most challenging place to run, but also not a leisurely stroll in some spots. It is, however, one of my favorite parks to run simply because the trails are very well maintained. Additionally, there is one particular overlook that makes any trip to this park worth it.

The view from the Highbanks Overlook Deck with the Olentangy River below.

So I started near the Nature Center, which is where I start most of my runs at Highbanks. The main differences with this run compared to previous efforts was that I wanted to minimize repeating sections AND I didn’t want to loop back to the car before I was done. As a result, I did carry water with me in a hydration vest. This proved to be a very good call!

Two miles into the 15k – feeling good!

Two miles in and after a short break at the overlook deck, I headed back towards the interior of the park to complete the Overlook Trail portion of the run. Once back on the main loop trail of the park (Dripping Rock) I was able to get the remaining 7 miles by running essentially the perimeter of the park. This also allowed me to see areas of the park I haven’t visited in years as well as a few areas I have never visited at all!

Wetlands Viewing Deck at Highbanks Metro Park
Some of my friends would see this a merely a suggestion!
Adena burial mound at Highbanks Metro Park

Ultimately, I was able to get back around the park to my “finish line” in a respectable 1 hour, 41 minutes. I was genuinely more excited to be done and able to say I earned my chocolate than I was in running the actual event!

The finished product! 15k at Highbanks

How SWEET it is!

By now, I’m hopeful that you’ve figured out how excited I was/am to be able to FINALLY complete my first-ever Hot Chocolate event. Even though this version was virtual, I still had a lot of fun with it. A huge part of that was the medal that participants earn for completing their event. When I received the swag bag earlier in the week, I did not realize coming into this that the medal opens and there is a piece of chocolate inside! That was a very welcome surprise and one that made finishing the distance that much sweeter. See what I did there?

As I mentioned in my event preview, major props to the event organizers for NOT including a date on any of the swag – medal included!

SWEETEST medal I’ve ever earned!
Holy hidden chocolate, Batman!

And yes, you better believe I destoyed that piece of chocolate immediately after finishing my run!

Fast forward to the present and I’m excited to get my chance to participate in a Hot Chocolate event – even if it’s virtual. Earlier this week, I received my goodie bag for THIS year’s event and the race organizers really knocked it out of the park! I completely forgot about the Knockaround shades being a part of the Goodie Bag this year, which made for a fantastic surprise. And speaking of the jacket – while I do enjoy my 2015 version, this year’s edition is a definite upgrade!

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The Goodie Bag – complete with chocolate!

Participants could upload their time to the results page AND download a completion certificate

All and all, I really enjoyed my experience participating in my first official Hot Chocolate event. A lot of running events out there are much more focused on the distance(s) or the social experiences. For me though, this event was really about a very particular piece of swag – the chocolate! This event doesn’t exist without chocolate and the swag bag wouldn’t be complete without it either. From the chocolate in the medal to the packs of hot chocolate mix, those are the little touches that took this virtual event to the next level for me – even if I would have received the same items at an in-person event. Regardless, I had a great time running around one of my favorite local spots and had the opportunity to celebrate with some chocolate – doesn’t get much better than that!


The Detroit Hot Chocolate 15k/5k may be over, but you can still participate! Use code BRHC20 when you register for YOUR Hot Chocolate virtual event and snag a free Hot Chocolate branded hat

FINALLY Getting Hot Chocolate

Disclaimer: I received an entry into the Allstate Hot Chocolate Virtual 15k/5k – DETROIT as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to find and write race reviews!


As I’m sure you’ve figured out by the disclaimer above, I’m going to be participating in the virtual Detroit Hot Chocolate 15k. This will be my 2nd experience with a Hot Chocolate race, but it is my 1st time actually getting to participate. Confused? Allow me to share with you the journey between my “first” Hot Chocolate in 2015 and the event coming up in April….

***

Not quite a year after my wife Tammi and I moved to Columbus, Ohio in 2015, I had signed up to run my first marathon in 11 years. It was a slower experience than my first, but still incredibly rewarding and leaving me with the desire to continue running MUCH more frequently than I had been. With that in mind, I sought out another race that I thought would be a lot of fun. That race? The Hot Chocolate Columbus 15k. 

At that point in history, I had just been recently promoted to full-time with my employer. Regardless of that promotion, and as any good employee should do – I had put in my request for a day off on the date of the Hot Chocolate event weeks in advance. This request was approved and I thought no more of it (the request) and got myself pumped to run my first 15k. 

Well, friends…even the best laid plans go sideways sometimes. THIS was one of those times. 

Word came down from our district manager that there would be an all-hands meeting at each of our stores. The day of that meeting just happened to fall on the very same day as my approved day off – the day of the Hot Chocolate 15k. Humph. For those of you keeping track, no – I wasn’t able to get out of the meeting and inevitably had to forego running the race altogether. 

On the plus side, I was still able to snag my goodie bag. To this day, the jacket from the 2015 Hot Chocolate 15k remains my only piece of race swag that I have from an event I never ran! 

 

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My 2015 Hot Chocolate jacket…from the race I never got to run!

***

Fast forward to the present and I’m excited to get my chance to participate in a Hot Chocolate event – even if it’s virtual. Earlier this week, I received my goodie bag for THIS year’s event and the race organizers really knocked it out of the park! I completely forgot about the Knockaround shades being a part of the Goodie Bag this year, which made for a fantastic surprise. And speaking of the jacket – while I do enjoy my 2015 version, this year’s edition is a definite upgrade!

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The 2020 Hot Chocolate goodie bag swag. Saving the medal for the post-race report!

The event planner part of me also give major props to the person who made the GOOD CALL to not put dates on any of the swag. Seems like common sense, especially given the state of the world at the moment, but it opens up more uses for leftover items. The sustainability of the swag is real!

So, even though this event will be another virtual one and it’ll be another run in or around my neighborhood, I’m very happy to say it will be my FIRST Hot Chocolate event – and that is excitement enough for me!


The Detroit Hot Chocolate 15k/5k is THIS weekend, but there is still time to get in on it!

Use code BRHC20 when you register and you’ll snag a free Hot Chocolate branded hat!

RECAP: Detroit Free Press/TCF Bank (Virtual) Marathon

Disclaimer: I received an entry into the Detroit Free Press/TCF Bank Marathon as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to find and write race reviews!

Running a marathon in October for me normally means strolling through the streets of Columbus on the third Sunday of the month. Unfortunately, this also means there are a TON of other races elsewhere that I don’t get to run because they are generally on the same day. The Detroit Free Press / TCF Bank Marathon is one such race – almost always happening the exact same day as my “home” race in Columbus.

This year, as I’m sure you already know, has been different. My home race in Columbus was outright cancelled with no virtual option. This opened the door for me to finally get to run a different marathon in October…even if it meant doing so virtually.

I’ve always wanted to run the Free Press Marathon. The idea of running across an international border TWICE has always been intriguing. Detroit was a fixture of my childhood as well – attending the Detroit Auto Show and cheering for a hockey team that was once my favorite, but has since been replaced. So this year, I finally got my chance to “run Detroit” and signed up for “The Supreme” challenge series – which was composed of a 1-mile run, a 5k (3.1 miles), and a full marathon.

How did it work?

Similar to my experience with a marathon series I ran in September, I was able to still get all of the experience of participating in the actual event, but was able to run the distance(s) wherever and whenever I wanted.

Race weekend was slated for October 16-18, 2020. Participants could run their respective distance(s) and post their results online any time during race weekend.

Here’s my break down of the three events: 

1 Mile – Friday, October 16

On Friday night, I went out after work to put down my 1-mile run – just a point-to-point run in my neighborhood. This was the “easy” run, but definitely the hardest effort as I was very much going for a fast time. The air was a bit brisk and I wasn’t quite ready for that, but I was still able to knock down a 6:40 mile. Not nearly my fastest, but it tells me 1) I can still get after it and 2) there’s still room to get even faster!

5k (3.1 miles) – Saturday, October 17

On Saturday, I had to work most of the day – because I work in HR and jobs don’t hire themselves. When I got home, it was time to get those miles again – this time it was knocking out my 5k. This one wasn’t so much about speed. I simply wanted to enjoy another tour around the neighborhood at a comfortable pace. This route took me through a new development and around a brand new roundabout (which I love). 3 miles under 30 minutes is always a good thing in my book.

It was also on Saturday when I received my “packet of goodies” for the Detroit Free Press/TCF Bank Marathon. Received my shirts, a common race bib that all participants received (see the Flat Preston pic below) and the medals I would earn over the course of the weekend. I was really impressed with the shirts and the medals, even though the 1-mile and the 5k medals were effectively the same medal.

Detroit Free Press/TCF Bank Marathon SWAG!

Marathon (26.2 miles) – Sunday, October 18

On Sunday, I set out fairly early to complete my 26.2 miles. Decided to run my Detroit marathon utilizing a hybrid version of the Columbus marathon course – running portions from 2004 (my first ever marathon), 2015 (my 2nd marathon ever), and 2018 (the last marathon I ran in Columbus). I’m not posting a photo of my finish time because 1) I didn’t take one, 2) my Garmin died near mile 8, and 3) honestly, the finish time wasn’t the focus of my trip. Full disclosure because I know someone will ask – my finish was in the neighborhood of 5hrs 30 min, which actually made for a really great trip around Detroit…I mean, Columbus…I mean, Detroit. Had to break my run into TWO segments…because my watch died…links are below.

First Segment – the first 8 miles (before my Garmin died)

Second Segment – the last 18 miles

Flat Preston ready to go!
My start and end point – the Ohio Statehouse
The first 8 miles…until my Garmin died! My headphones also went kaput at this point, so I had no tunes or podcasts the rest of the way.
Went over a bridge – only slightly smaller than the one in Detroit!
Also went UNDER a bridge – the closest I would get to a “tunnel” on this Detroit Marathon!
Oh hey, Governor DeWine!
Specifically took this picture for my daughter, Shalane – she loves pumpkins!
Thankfully, I felt pretty close to THIS throughout the entire run!
The remaining 18 miles of my Free Press Marathon journey
A familiar sight along my Detroit virtual marathon in Columbus – North Bank Park, where the current version of the Columbus Marathon starts and finishes!

Final Thoughts

I really enjoyed my Detroit Free Press / TCF Bank Marathon experience – even if it was a virtual one. I’d much rather have run this one in person, but getting to run at all is still a win. The organizers did a fantastic job of communicating with participants and building excitement for race weekend. They were very clear about when SWAG items would arrive and they showed up at the perfect moment during my race weekend experience.

This race, much like my last one, is definitely on my radar for 2021 – if it happens in person – and hopefully you’ll consider running it too!