I Just Had to Stop at Mile 11 and take a photo!

This photo captures a big milestone. One that I once thought was unreachable.

I’ve been running consistently now for a couple of years. When I started out, I used the Nike+ Running (now called NRC) app. If you use the app yourself, you may have noticed it has a number of “Run Levels” that you move through as you accumulate mileage.

The highest run level was “Black”. You had to run 3,106 miles to reach Black level.

Who is crazy enough to run that much I often thought. Never did I ever consider ME reaching that many miles on my feet.

As I started to run more, I purchased a GPS watch and moved on to other apps to track my runs (Garmin Connect), but I hold on to NRC out of nostalgia and for friendly competition on the Leaderboard.

Just the other day, before I set out for my first ever 17 mile run, I noticed something on the NRC app — I was so freaking close to Black level. Whaaaaa!? It sneaked up on me.

Two thoughts circled my head during that run, 1) will I even make it to 17 miles, and 2) at mile 11 I will have reached Black level!

At mile 11 we stopped and took the photo above.

Oh, and NRC has added a new level now. It’s called “Volt” and you need to run 9,320 miles to reach it. *sigh*

2018: Books I’ve Read

At the end of August 2018, I decided to switch off the radio shows and political podcasts and listen to some books during my commute to work.

  • The Shack – William Paul Young
  • Love Wins: A Book About Heaven, Hell, and the Fate of Every Person Who Ever Lived – Rob Bell
  • Born To Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen – Christopher McDougall
  • A Higher Loyalty: Truth, Lies, and Leadership – James Comey
  • Radical: Taking Back Your Faith from the American Dream – David Platt
  • Born A Crime: Stories From a South African Childhood – Trevor Noah
  • Mere Christianity – C.S. Lewis
  • The Great Divorce – C.S. Lewis
  • The Hate U Give – Angie Thomas
  • Artemis – Andy Weir
  • Die Trying – Lee Child
  • Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly – Anthony Bourdain

2018: Favorite Albums

These are some of my favorite albums from 2018 in no particular order.

ArtistAlbum
SYMLIn My Body
Twenty One PilotsTrench
Aisha BadruPendulum
David Guetta7
Imogen HeapHarry Potter and the Cursed Child
Olafur Arnaldsre:member
ChvrchesLove Is Dead
Florence + the MachineHigh As Hope
Jack WhiteBoarding House Reach
A-HaMTV Unplugged – Summer Solstice
Mumford & SonsDelta
Various ArtistsSpider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse (Soundtrack)
Anderson EastEncore

Zwift Run is the greatest thing to happen to Treadmills

Disclaimer: I received a Zwift runpod 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!

Even though I get to travel to London every 2-3 years, I’ve never actually ran in the city itself, around all the great sights. I’ve wanted to, even planned some routes along the Thames, but it has never worked out.

That is, until last week, when I virtually ran there with Zwift!

Zwift started out as a cycling platform, allowing cyclists to meet in virtual environments to train and compete.

This same concept has recently been extended to runners. All you need to get started is a free Zwift account, a treadmill and a compatible foot pod (unless you have a fancy-smancy Bluetooth enabled treadmill).

Get 15% off a Zwift runpod with code BIBCHAT15 (first 1000 orders).

I’m not a treadmill fan at all, and rarely log any miles on one, except for a warm-up mile before working out at the gym. I find treadmill running very mundane, and struggle to run long distances on them.

After trying Zwift, my treadmill warm-up runs increased from one mile, to 3-4 miles. The Zwift environments, even though I’m using it on my small iPhone screen, are quite immersive and take your mind off the treadmill.

Unfortunately I was not able to test using a larger screen (computer or large-screen TV, etc.). If I had a home treadmill I would put together a set-up with a larger screen because I think that would be amazing.

BibRave Virtual Run

It was really fun to meet up with all my BibRave people across the globe and run together in Watopia — a fantasy island created by the people at Zwift. I was able to see everyone who had joined and send messages via a chat screen.

Again, this is where a computer or larger computer would really come into play. You need good eyesight to read the messages on a tiny iPhone screen — especially when running!

We ran 5K together in a number of different pace groups. I signed up for my chosen pace group in advance using the Zwift companion app. When I got to the gym early, I started a normal run, and when it was time it automatically switched me over to the BibRave run.

Running Through London

One of my favorite Zwift runs was when I was able to run around some of the streets in London. While I’m not from London, and didn’t recognize where I was at times, the feel is still very London, with red phone boxes and double-decker buses, etc.

Another thing I noticed on this run is that some routes have options to turn one direction or another, or if you like, turn a complete 180 and run back the way you came.

Syncing With Running Apps

When you’re finished, your run will upload to Zwift by default. You can check your past run history using the Zwift Companion app. It is also possible to upload your run to other running apps like Garmin and Strava.

This is a really great feature as it will send the GPS coordinates and map details to your favorite running app. I chose not to use this as my pace differs quite a lot on a treadmill, and I’m so used to using my watch to track my runs anyway.

Conclusion

Now, every time I visit the gym, I don’t leave the house without my runpod attached to my shoe. If I owned a treadmill at home I would be using Zwift way more frequently, and on a bigger screen.

Zwift also have several training programs built-in to the app as well which guide you through your runs.

The running platform is still relatively new, and I recommend you try it out while it’s free to run (the cycling accounts require a subscription).

If you bump into me — say hello!

Chase Away The Dark with the NEW NATHAN Luna Fire 250 RX!

Disclaimer: I received a NATHAN Luna Fire 250 RX 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 excited for any new products that will help me train safer outdoors. I was happy to try out a new product from NATHAN called the Luna Fire 250 RX. It’s a lightweight LED flashlight designed to be worn on the chest or waist.

It comes with an adjustable strap that the light clips on to. This gives you total freedom — use the strap, or clip the light on to existing belts, or items of clothing. It’s entirely up to you!

I’ve tested the light quite a few times now and it’s so bright. There are different brightness levels, up to 250 lumens, plus a strobe option which I did not use while running.

From the two positions the light is designed for, wearing it at chest level worked best for me. At waist level it bounced around a lot more and a couple of times fell off the strap.

While wearing on the chest still generates a bit of bounce, it is so bright that it doesn’t really matter. The light can be tilted down allowing you to choose how far ahead it shines on your path.

One of the things I love about this product, aside from how bright it is, is that I can recharge it via USB. It takes 3 hours to charge from empty and will last for hours (actual burn time will depend on the mode selected).

I’ll definitely keep on using this light as I train for my first Marathon next year. I’ll be training throughout the winter and this provides so much visibility when running the American Tobacco Trail.

Pros

  • lightweight
  • waterproof
  • rechargeable
  • multi-use

Cons

  • Light can bounce around

Check out nathansports.com to purchase the Luna Fire and other NATHAN products.

No Pin Revolution – A Bibboards Song

Recently we were asked to come up with a 90 second (max) video for a Bibboards campaign that I was involved in for BibRave. As a BibRave Pro, I get to test out various running products and run races in exchange for reviews on my blog and social media channels.

Bibboards are plastic fasteners that secure your race bib to your shirt without damaging the shirt. They are also much less fiddly than safety pins and don’t need a lot of readjusting that come with that.

My favorite feature however, is the fact you can get your own logo or text printed to them using their online designer.

Here’s the song I wrote for the campaign. I got the idea from the actual bibboards packaging, which had the hash-tag #nopinrev printed on it.

The first cut of the song was just over 2 minutes, so I had to remove a verse and some of the outro to make it fit to the required 90 seconds.

It’s been a while since I’ve had my guitar out and actually wrote anything, so this was a fun (but scary) project for me.

Race Recap: Bull City Race Fest, October 21st, 2018

On a cold, crisp October morning, a few friends and I headed into Durham, NC for the Bull City Race Fest Half Marathon.

Me, Arun, Niles, Zach, AJ and Ashita at the start line

It was my fourth half marathon (1-Tobacco Road; 2-Rock ‘n’ Roll Raleigh; 3-Umstead Half) this year and to be honest, I wasn’t feeling in good shape for it — not compared to my fitness levels back in March. Training through the summer in North Carolina was not easy with the constant humidity.

My running buddy, Zach, had ran the course a couple of years back, his first half marathon in fact, and confirmed all the reports I’d been hearing of its hills. I’d only ran the 5 mile course before and was looking forward to the half.

I’ve never really been deterred from entering a race because of hills. I simply adjust my expectations based on it. 

Zach had yet to run a half marathon in under two hours, so my plan was to run a steady pace together and push him to a PR. After our hilly half marathon at Umstead, back in June, I knew this may not be easy (for me!).

Me and Zach ready to go!

The race started according to our plan. For the first mile we hovered in around 9:00/mi. If we kept this up and we’ll rock in just under the goal time.

I checked my watch at Mile 2 — 8:40/mi. We probably need to slow down a little bit, we thought. Nope, miles 3-6 flew by easy at the same pace. Yikes! We were going too fast! We were too concerned about catching up with AJ, who shot off like a rocket at the start.

At mile 6 we eventually caught up with AJ. That’s when the first of the hills started rolling in. Mile 7, while not the toughest hill-wise, was our slowest at 9:04/mi, but all was still good. Runners are always doing the math in their heads. We had time to spare.

My fueling plan was the usual, Gatorade Endurance gel pack every 45 mins, and a drink of water at every other aid station. This didn’t go exactly to plan.

I waited a little too long for the first gel pack which maybe explains mile 7. There were some hills during the last third of the course, so I took another one around mile 9.

Mile 9 is when I usually start to suffer in a half marathon, but this time I didn’t feel that. I felt much stronger than normal. The last third of the course hardly slowed our efforts at all. Maybe all that training in North Carolina’s humidity prepared me for this after all?

Again, doing the math, we rocked into mile 10 with big grins on our faces. We knew we had this race in the bag. It would take a really bad 5K now to miss our goal time.

In a final what the heck moment, I consumed an additional gel at mile 12 for the last stretch!

The course kept throwing hills at us in the last couple of miles, but my last two miles were my fastest on the course. I kept my eyes on the prize — the cold beverages at the end.

A lot of our team walked away with HUGE PRs — #breaking2 baby! 😉 Did Zach and I smash our goal? Of course we did! We came in well under the 2 hour goal. Turned out to be my 2nd fastest half marathon after Tobacco Road.

Me, AJ, Ashita, Niles, Zach, Shravan

I’m so happy about that. It definitely helped me overcome my summer training slump and restored some confidence as I reach for bigger goals next year.

We’ll be back again, Bull City Race Fest.