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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!

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 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!

The Race That Wasn’t.

Disclaimer: I received an entry into the St. Elizabeth Healthcare Honor Run Half 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!

Earlier this year, I had signed up to run the St. Elizabeth Healthcare Honor Run Half Marathon (Honor Run from here on out) through my ambassadorship with BibRave. The event takes place just a few hours away from me in Florence, KY and I have actually heard quite a bit about this event – mostly from fellow BibRave Pro Corey. Since the opportunity to participate had come around again through BibRave, it seemed like a good idea to opt-in!

But first…

And before I dive much deeper, it’s important to share that this was the first event I had signed up for since the pandemic really took off in March. I signed up in May and, at that time, the event organizers were still planning to hold the event in person. Many questions were floating around about this event – and pretty much every in-person gathering. As I’m sure you’ve probably already figured out – the Honor Run was cancelled. Rather than dwell though, I’d like to focus on some of the positives and what I’m looking forward to about

Positive #1 – Great Cause

On May 29, I had received my notification that I was selected to participate as a part of Team BibRave. I was pretty excited about this because I have never run a race in Kentucky AND I’d get to see what the hype is about surrounding this particular event. Another driving force that nudged me to opt in for the Honor Run is because of the cause this race supports. All proceeds from the races that make up the St. Elizabeth Healthcare Honor Run (Half Marathon, 10K Run/Walk, and 5K Run/Walk) are donated to Honor Flight Tri State to help send local Veterans to Washington DC for the day to see the memorials that they have earned. 

Positive #2 – Great Communication

From the moment I found out that i would be participating, the communication from the event organizers has been consistent, honest, and just great. Not even a month after I registered, organizers send out a participant survey gauging interest in the event – keeping in mind it was still planned to go forward. The survey made it clear to me that the organizers had thoughts but valued the opinions of participants enough to genuinely engage them. They didn’t have to do this, but it was pretty cool that they did. I actually ended up borrowing the idea in the planning, and eventual cancellation, of the annual alumni band reunion I held coordinate which actually helped us quite a bit! No more than a month after that survey, organizers let all participants know that the all in-person events would be cancelled and no virtual event would be held. All of this communication within a two month time span. I can’t wait to see what they do when a pandemic isn’t happening (spoiler?).

Positive #3 – Running ISN’T Cancelled

Yes, you read that correctly. Despite the event being cancelled completely for 2020, I still plan on running a half marathon on November 8. There’s no swag involved and no race day stuff, but I was going to be running the distance that day anyhow, so why not just do it here closer to home? No long lines at the porta-pot and the aid stations can have whatever I want? Like one of my co-workers says, “I’ll take that as a big ol’ W!”.

Positive #4 – Already Planning for 2021

You read that correctly as well. I don’t enjoy missing an event. EVER. Given all the good things I’ve heard about this event (online, personally, etc), the way the race organizers manage things, and the support this event gives to those who have already given so much, it’s a no-brainer. I’ll absolutely be in Florence, KY next November when the Honor Run returns.

This post was different…

…and that’s okay. A lot of things are different right now. Events are cancelled left and right and things in general are a little, um, not great. Despite all that, the Honor Run has me hooked on an event I’ve never participated in and I can’t wait to get to Florence in 2021 for the real thing!

RECAP: 2020 Air Force Marathon – Virtual

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!


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 with family, holiday parades with my high school marching band, and grade school trips to the National Museum of the United States Air Forcewhich 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 2010 (wow!) with my then-girlfriend (now, wife) Tammi. I’ve always loved aircraft and the Air Force Museum will always be a fun place to go for me and my family.

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 was given the opportunity to participate this year – even if it was doing so in a virtual way – so I couldn’t pass it up!

But…I didn’t sign up for ONE distance. I signed up for THREE as part of the #FlyFightWin Challenge Series!

How did it work?

With the various restrictions and protocol in place as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the organizers of the Air Force Marathon still moved forward with the event – but did so virtually. This means that participants still get all of the experience of participating in the event, but they run the distance(s) wherever and whenever they choose.

Participants could start logging their respective event as early as September 1. For reference, the original date for race weekend was to have been September 18-19, 2020. (Sidenote: September 18 is the birthday of the United States Air Force!)

The race organizers did a great job of communicating leading up to “race month” and keeping participants engaged via their fantastic social media presence. There was a virtual race experience set-up for all participants – complete with a virtual expo, live stream on race day, link to a national anthem performance (because this is a sporting event after all!), and – of course – a page to upload results. Participants could see almost immediately how they stacked up against each other!

Unfortunately, this recap will not include a photo with my medals because we haven’t received them yet. However, we expect the SWAG to be shipped out in early October – so I’ll do a follow-up post upon receipt!

So wait, what did YOU sign up for?

I signed up for the Fly! Fight! Win! Full Marathon Challenge Series of events. This meant I was scheduled to run:

  • 5k (3.1 miles),
  • 10k (6.2 miles), and
  • Full marathon (26.2 miles)

I would run each as a stand alone event and since I wanted to try and keep things as “normal” as I could, I decided to run all three events on the original scheduled weekend.

Here’s my break down of the three events: 

5k – Friday, September 18

After I got the wife and daughter off to school / daycare, I rushed inside and got ready for my morning run before work. Decided in the moment that this would be my first of the three runs. It was a BEAUTIFUL morning for a run around the neighborhood. First mile was a little faster than anticipated, but it felt damn good – so I just kept pushing!

 

10k – Friday, September 18

After a very hectic and somewhat stressful day at work, a good run was definitely the solution! Once again, Mother Nature did not disappoint. I headed out to Scioto Grove Metro Park – our local park – to get my 10k done on the various paths and trails. Most of this particular run was actually on TRAIL (read: dirt and/or grass), so to have a result that was within just a few minutes of my personal record was really impressive!

26.2 – Saturday, September 19

And along came the BIG one – the full 26.2 miler. On the plus side, the weather could not have been any better. Mid-60’s, not a cloud in the sky, and a light breeze. I chose to run my full marathon on the Olentangy Trail, running a 13.1 mile south to north out-and-back course. My course took me past the new Columbus Crew stadium site, Ohio State University, as well as multiple parks and river crossings.

Unfortunately, the beautiful day and course were where the good of this run ended. I felt pretty decent through the first 6 miles, but shortly after I began to feel more fatigued than normal on a longer run like this. Pretty soon after, I found myself walking as my body simply decided that running wasn’t the best option. I tried a little run/jog/walk combo to get me to the halfway point, which wasn’t the most enjoyable. I took a break at the halfway point and grabbed a quick bite to eat – who gets to do THAT during a normal full marathon?! – and then started the long trip back to the car. This was a long trip because I walked nearly every step of that 13.1 mile return trip. Not exactly my ideal marathon experience, but very thankful I listened to my body as it was definitely the RIGHT call. On the plus side, slowing down allowed me to really take in so much along the trail – I even saw 5 deer at various points and one of them was within 6 feet of the trail (and me) at one point!

Final Thoughts

First, why post pictures with the race “bibs”? In lieu of medals, I opted to not run with the bib on and treat them as my reward upon completion. I felt more comfortable showing off the bib once I knew the distances were complete!

Secondly, I had done a virtual run earlier this summer, but this was a whole different beast. My advice – treat a virtual the same as an in-person event in regard to your training. Don’t fall off the training plan or things will definitely go upside-down and you’ll find yourself calling audibles you weren’t planning for.

Finally, this really was a great experience from top to bottom. The race organization was spot on, communication was excellent, and – even though I ran around MY home base – I still felt like I was part of the Air Force Marathon experience as if it were in Dayton.

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!

REVIEW: MetCon START Pre-Training

Disclaimer: I received MetCon Start Pre-Training Supplement to review as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review, find, and write race reviews!


I am not exactly what you would call a morning person. However, I do enjoy running and working out in the morning, just not that whole “waking up and getting out of a cozy bed” routine. Who does?! Once I’m up and starting to get set for what’s ahead – whether that is a workout, a run, or just heading off to work – I’m not quite at 100% go-go-go level yet. Thankfully, there’s something in my pantry that has definitely helped get my days off to a good START – MetCon START!

So, What is it?

MetCon START is a pre-training supplement, designed to give athletes a little extra boost before a workout or just to get the day started. Not only does START replenish essential vitamins and electrolytes, but it also provides a sustained release of energy – perfect for a long run across town or a short trip around the block. MetCon START also isn’t complicated at all. One scoop of the powder (scoop provided in container) into 12oz of water, shake, and GO.

Why I Like It

  • START is banned substance free. With the sport of running coming under fire it seems fairly regularly for doping, it is always good to know that I can trust a product that I am putting into my body.
  • START mixes QUICKLY and easily. I was pleasantly surprised at how well and how fast START dissolved. No awkward powder taste after mixing, which has been a common downside with other similar products I have tried.
  • START doesn’t hit with one big jolt. Again, unlike other similar supplements, START gradually releases that boost of energy rather than dropping a one-and-done hit. There’s the tingle that comes with that energy release that I look forward to every single time I use it!
  • START tastes pretty good, too. This one is at the bottom of my list, not because it’s bad, but because there were so many pro’s ahead of it. To me, it tastes like a mild fruit punch – perhaps a bit on the citric side. No rough after taste either, which is always a plus!
  • Finallythe price point. At $49.99, START is comparable to similar products out there that provide a similar result. HOWEVER, what sets it apart – especially from a particular pre-workout supplement I had been using – is that START can be purchased across multiple platforms.

Final Thoughts

There aren’t too many products that get the crossover treatment for me – for running and for everything else. MetCon START checks the boxes though and gives me a product that I can use before any workout/run, before heading out to chase the lawnmower, or first thing before heading to work.

As with any supplement, your mileage (see what I did there?) will vary, but there’s only one way to figure out if this is something to include in your routine – TRY IT for yourself!


Head over to MetCon now and use the code BIBRAVE for 20% off a one-time purchase or an additional 20% off your first subscription order.

 

RECAP: Global 24 Hour Relay

Disclaimer: I received an entry into the Global 24 Hour Relay 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!


On June 3rd – which happened to be Global Running Day – I participated in a virtual run. My first ever virtual run. My first ever virtual run relay. I participated in the Global 24 Hour Relay – and I liked it.

As I said in a previous post – this year is different!

I joined up with many of my fellow BibRave Pro’s as well as other runners from across the world to relay run for 24 hours.I’m typically more of a solo runner, so the idea of a virtual run relay had me a bit skeptical at first. My trepidation subsided quickly, because it really was as simple as me just going out for another “normal” run – but this time, someone somewhere was waiting for me to finish! The event started at 12midnight with designated runners taking off on a 30 minute run. At the conclusion of the 30 minutes, that runner would “pass the baton” to the next runner via text message and this continued every 30 minutes until 11:59pm later that same night.
To make the event a little more of a “team” feel (remember it was a RELAY after all), the organizers had participants select which of the provided major cities they wanted to represent. Since there were none of the major Ohio cities to choose from, I opted for the next closest and repped Team Detroit. Definitely helped me get more into the mindset of the event knowing I’d have a team to help push and celebrate with – even if we weren’t actually together.
 
On the day of the event, I received my email about who I’d be “passing the baton” to after my segment. I had now I this is where it took a bit of a turn. However, I had no idea who would be passing it to me though – which Ididn’t mind. What was somewhat demoralizing though was that it appeared on the team page that I was the only one on Team Detroit, which came into play when my turn to run came around. 

When it was time for me to head out, I totally expected some form of text – wishing me good luck, or to have fun, or something along those lines. Nothing. In any other year, I might be willing to be more critical of the event or the organizers, but this has been a weird year. There are likely a ton of reasons why I didn’t get my “baton” text. Maybe there wasn’t a runner scheduled before me? Maybe there was and they forgot? Maybe they mistyped my number? Honestly though, it’s okay! I still hit the start button on my watch and headed out, solo – like I usually do, and cranked out another 30 minute run and THAT’S the most important thing. So that’s what I did – I ran around my neighborhood for 30 minutes. When I got home, I shot a text to Bambi (who I don’t know) and let her know that it was time to start her leg of the relay. And that was it – my leg was over, I had passed the “baton”, and it was time to relax!
Towards the end of June, each participant received their swag, which included an event t-shirt and a medal – just like one would receive at an in-person event. The medal definitely grabs your attention with the various colors and awesome design, which makes me immediately think of the state flag of Arizona for some reason.

Ultimately, virtual runs aren’t typically my cup of tea and aren’t something I gravitate toward. This event has opened my mind a little bit more to the idea, though. That’s helpful considering most (if not all) of my races the rest of the year have gone virtual.

I did enjoy the event though and would consider doing something like it again in the future. It definitely helped me feel connected to others, despite not being able to connect in person with others.

Celebrating EARTH DAY…during a pandemic

Disclaimer: I received a pair of sunglasses from Knockaround to promote Earth Day and plogging (picking up trash while jogging) as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review find and write race reviews!


This campaign…did NOT…go as planned. *sigh*

As a BibRave Pro, opportunities come up from time to time to test out and review products in the running space. Other times, we get the chance to run in some really amazing races. However, sometimes the opportunities aren’t so much to highlight a product, but to put the focus on something bigger – like a cause or a celebration.

THIS particular campaign was to be focused on the idea of plogging (picking up trash while jogging/running) and to be a celebration leading up to Earth Day. For me, as I mentioned at the top, it did not quite go as planned.

***

I was really energized for this campaign and the lead up to Earth Day. Why? This campaign was to be different than previous efforts. It wasn’t simply a review and report. It wasn’t a recap. It was a call-to-action that would get me out of my running comfort zone a little bit. So, on April 1, I set out on a run and managed to fill up a plastic grocery bag with garbage found along my route.

I was really proud of this small accomplishment and it made me much more aware and appreciative of what it means to truly take ownership of one’s community. The amount of trash I didn’t pick up was much more than I could handle on this run and the run that followed. I was actually really excited to continue for the next few weeks – perhaps even longer. However, a much larger issue was about to have an even bigger impact on my efforts.

COVID-19. Ugh.

While I was already using gloves on my runs in order to be a little bit safer while plogging, I couldn’t help but allow this larger issue take up space in my mind. The What-If’s started to flow in and I decided that I plogging would have to wait. HOWEVER, this didn’t mean I couldn’t run – much the opposite, in fact!

I still got out there and got my miles. I was more energized to run than I have been in recent weeks, probably because I needed to get out of the house! Solo miles around the neighborhood. Stroller miles with Shalane. Some very fast dog-assisted miles as well. Even kicked off my effort to run every street in my hometown of Grove City.

My plogging plan might have been altered, but I genuinely think the overarching idea still held true – I was able to be outside and take advantage of what Mother Nature had to offer. Cloudy days. Sunny days. Seeing MANY more people out and about than normal. Being able to run with less traffic to fight. Hell, I even hugged a tree – something I didn’t think I’d ever document, but here it is! I was even able to get the Mrs to join in on the fun!

The stay-at-home orders and COVID-19 have definitely changed things in all aspects of life. It’s important though to see the changes – positive changes – that are coming out of all of this, like People being neighborly and helping one another. But it’s the environmental impact that’s even more noticeable – less cars on the road, less smog, fewer people just dropping their trash for someone else to pick up.

Perhaps I’ll be the one to pick up some of that crap as I’m hopeful that I’ll get another shot at plogging in the near future. But for now, I’m happy that I was able to celebrate Earth Day in a kickass pair of sunglasses and enjoy each run.


If you want to snag a pair of Knockaround sunglasses for yourself, use code BibRaveKnocks4 and save 20% on your entire order. 


BONUS CONTENT!

To finish out my Knockaround Earth Day celebration, I decided to join in on a digital high-five on Saturday with my friend and fellow BibRave Pro, Bill Brent. Little did I know, Saturday was Bill’s birthday!! Glad to share this high-five with a great person like Bill – Happy Birthday, bud!

REVIEW: Built Bar

Disclaimer: I received three boxes of Built Bars to review as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review, find and write race reviews!


I’m always looking for new ways to take in food on the run as well as before & after. I’ve tried gels, assorted bars, and so on. Some have worked. Some haven’t. The key point always remains though – still on the lookout for the things I’ll like and go back to down the road. Keeping with that search, I can say honestly that I’ve never tried Built Bar before, so when BibRave put out a call to test and review – I didn’t think twice.

LET’S TALK BUILT BAR

So, what makes Built Bar different from all the other protein bars out there? A significant amount of the protein bars on the market are dense, gritty, and difficult to chew. Built Bar does not fit that model. What you get is a protein bar that is roughly the size of a regular size candy bar. In fact, some who have reviewed Built Bar have even said that certain flavors taste similar to popular candy bars!

I received 3 boxes of Built Bars to try out of various flavors. One box contained Coconut Almond bars, one box had Peanut Butter bars, and the third was a mixed box of flavors – very much a grab-bag of bars! In the mixed box, I found the following bar flavors: 
  • Banana Chocolate Creme
  • Black Cherry Chocolate Creme
  • Double Chocolate Mousse
  • Orange Chocolate Creme – one of my favorites!
  • Mint Brownie Delite
  • Raspberry Chocolate Creme
  • Salted Caramel Chocolate
  • Vanilla Chocolate Creme

Of all the flavors I was able to try, I’d say the Orange Chocolate Creme and the Salted Caramel Chocolate were at the top of my list as favorites. Unfortunately, there has to be someone at the other end of the spectrum as well. If I’m being honest, the Coconut Almond was my least favorite of the flavors, but even with that said – I still actually enjoyed it. I can’t really explain it other than I’m not really a fan of coconut, but somehow the combination with almond actually helped!

TEXTURE

Like I mentioned earlier, Built Bar is NOT your run-of-the-mill protein bar. It looks like a candy bar and it feels like one too, but perhaps a bit more tough. I can’t lie – they aren’t the easiest to chew at times, but the flavors more than make up for that. Pro tip: pop your Built Bars in the fridge for a few hours for a different experience. Some of my fellow BibRave Pros have reported that this helps with the chewiness…others disagree. Personally, I’m still undecided. Regardless, they taste great and make for a good pre/post workout snack or something to get you through that mid-afternoon snack craving in the office.

FINAL THOUGHTS

Going into this, I wasn’t sure if I was going to come out on this side as a fan of Built Bar simply because I’ve tried so many different protein bars in the past. However, I can say that I am pleasantly surprised with how much I like them. Hell, even my mother-in-law has tried a few during a recent visit and continues to let me know how much SHE liked them, too!

Ready to give Built Bars a try? Visit builtbar.com and order yours. Remember to use code BUILTNOW for 20% off your order!

REVIEW: Aftershokz Aeropex / Wine and Dine Sweepstakes

Disclaimer: I received Aftershokz Aeropex headphones to review as part of being a BibRave Pro and in return for promoting the Aftershokz Wine & Dine Sweepstakes (sweepstakes has ended). Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review, find, and write race reviews!


Can we talk about podcasts for a moment? I used to despise them. My wife has listened to them for years and it would cause me to leave whatever room she was in so that I wouldn’t have to hear them. I thought they were boring and couldn’t understand why someone would listen to someone drone on…and on…for 30-45-60-90 minutes at a time.

BUT, in mid-2017, I had a change of heart. I became aware of a podcast that coincided with a weekly online discussion I had been participating in at the suggestion of a friend called #bibchat. I decided to give podcasts a chance and began listening to a little podcast called “The BibRave Podcast(…with your hosts, Julia and Tim). Pretty sure the first ever episode I listened to from start to finish was Episode 38: Power from Balancebut I digress.

Fast forward almost 3 years and you’ll find that podcasts are now my go-to listening when I head out on my runs. While it’s enjoyable to sometimes focus on something besides the action of running, it is also very important to be aware of the world around you. Enter Aftershokz Aeropex headphones.

What are Aftershokz?

My new Aeropex headphones (on box), flanked by the Trekz Titanium (grey) and the Trekz Air (blue)

Simply put, Aftershokz are outside-the-ear headphones that transmit sound via bone conduction. This allows the user to consume their favorite podcasts (see what I did there?) but still maintain situational awareness and hear the world around them. Feel free to check out my reviews of two previous versions of Aftershokz headphones – the Trekz Titanium and the Trekz Air – from previous posts. I think the most common questions I’ve gotten when anyone sees me wearing them are:

  • “Aren’t those supposed to go IN your ears?” Nope.
  • “Does it feel weird having them sit over your ears?” Nope.
    • *at this point, I’ll take them off have that person try them on*
  • “Do they still sound like normal headphones?”YEP. *as they try them on, I’ll usually play something fun…like The Humpty Dance.*

Tell me about the Aeropex

The Aeropex is the newest addition to the AfterShokz family. I really enjoyed my last set of Aftershokz (and still do!), but the Aeropex wins even more in so many ways, but I’ll break it down like I did for the Trekz Air – Fit, Sound Quality, Battery Life, & Looks

Overall Fit: The Aeropex fit even more perfect than their predecessor (Trekz Air) and are INCREDIBLY lightweight. I truly don’t even know they are there when sound is paused or they are off! The piece that wraps around the back of the head is just right. It is winter in Ohio and I often am wearing a sockhat, which does affect the fit minimally, but not so much as to be an annoyance.

Aeropex under my beanie (in the circle) during a cold night run in December 2019.

Sound Quality: Overall, I am really pleased with the sound quality. I am a fan of deep bass tones, so to get those without a lot of issue is really awesome. The Aeropex headphones utilize PremiumPitch 2.0+ technology, which enables a dynamic bass and high volume. This means an amazing audio experience with minimal vibration. I’m also a fan of how well classical pieces and podcasts come through. Those tend to be much quieter overall, but I’ve had no problems thus far. In fact, I have YET to even turn my Aeropex all the way up – even when running next to a busy city street. I have run into a few minor connectivity issues with the Bluetooth between the Aeropex and my phone, as well as with my computers. Those issues happened pretty quickly after unboxing and seemed to resolve pretty quickly.

Battery Life: The Aeropex have a run-time of approximately 8 hours – two hours more than the Trekz Air. Honestly, in the time I’ve had mine – just over a month – I’ve had to charge them MAYBE 3 times(?). I’ve been really pleased with how long they hold their charge. Battery life is definitely something I’m keen on lately, especially with my growing interest in longer distance runs, such as ultra distance events.

BONUS: Remember, the Aeropex are waterproof, which means a cord can’t be inserted for charging. The included magnetic charging cord makes the process super easy. No more getting frustrated about not knowing which way the cord has to go!

Rockin’ my Aeropex during a recent FKT attempt

Looks: Of all the Aftershokz models I’ve owned, the Aeropex wins the design award by far. The previous versions have more of a boxy look to them, while these seem more streamlined and modern by comparison.

Final Thoughts

For me, I’m a podcast guy for my long(er) runs, but still enjoy some good 90’s hip-hop/rap on the shorter distance outings. I’m glad to have found a brand that allows me to enjoy that content AND still be able to be aware of the world around me when I run. I wholeheartedly encourage anyone who runs (or rides a bike, etc) to invest in pair of AfterShokz – especially the Aeropex!


Hey – before I go – what’s this sweepstakes you mentioned at the top?

The Aftershokz Wine & Dine Sweepstakes (now closed) gave entrants the opportunity to be the one lucky runner (and friend) to have the opportunity to experience the 2020 runDisney Wine & Dine Half-Marathon, 10K, or 5K! This meant that the winner’s flights & hotel accommodations for 2 = covered. Race entry for the winner and a friend = covered. Incredible swag packs = included. On top of all that, the winner and friend will also receive 2 one-day hopper passes so they can check out the parks.

Bummed that I can’t enter now…so what can I do?

Maybe snag a pair of Aftershokz? I mean, this is my third set…what are you waiting for?