MISSION COMPLETED!!! Run To Escape: Mt Olympus

Disclaimer: I received an entry into RUN TO ESCAPE: MISSION MT OLYMPUS 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 finally completed the last race in the Run To Escape: Mt Olympus challenge. It was nice to be able to spread out all the (six) races and puzzles to fit my schedule, as work has been very busy lately.

This was a running experience like no other.

I ran…

I listened…

I puzzled…

While this is a virtual experience, I was never alone. There is an online community where I could engage with (real) people at each stage of the challenge. There is also a multi-level hint system that I could use if I got stuck.

I thought the theme and the puzzles were very clever, and were challenging enough to keep me engaged and looking forward to the next one.

The longest run distance is 6 miles. If this distance is too daunting, there is nothing wrong with walking some of it. The other runs in the challenge range from 3-5 miles.

The audio clues play during the runs using the ASICS Runkeeper App (available for free for both Android and Apple Phones). I had not used Runkeeper before, but it worked great and Run To Escape provided all the instructions needed to get set-up.

I liked some of the other features of Runkeeper that I saw, that are intended to keep you motivated (if you continue to use it after the challenge is over).

When I completed the whole challenge, I unlocked the after party, with lots of great discount coupons from the series sponsors — like AfterShokz and Knockaround.

There are also links to great food and drink recipes and even music playlists recommended by the Greek gods themselves.

Sign up now at runtoescapeseries.com and you’re guaranteed a good time, or your money back. Where else do you get an experience that includes 6 virtual races, great stories and puzzles, all for the price of one virtual race?

Use code BIBRAVE10 for 10% registration.

Run To Escape: Mission Mt. Olympus

Disclaimer: I received an entry into RUN TO ESCAPE: MISSION MT OLYMPUS 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!

Do you like a good challenge? Both physical and mental? Then this brand new running experience, RUN TO ESCAPE: MISSION MT OLYMPUS, is exactly what you’re looking for! Compete in the challenge by running races, and progressing forward only after solving the puzzles and unlocking access codes! There are six races in all.

To take part, all you need to do is sign-up at runtoescapeseries.com (use code BIBRAVE10 for 10% off). You will also need to download the ASICS Runkeeper app to track your progress and listen to the audio clues during your activity.

I recommend AfterShokz headphones for safe listening on the run, and some snazzy Knockaround sunglasses, because you’ll want to look cool out there.

Atalanta, the Goddess of Running, is on a quest to become the 13th major deity of the Greek Pantheon. There are six gods standing in her way, and each has created a challenge to test Atalanta’s worth. She needs you, a mortal, to help her solve those six challenges and prove she deserves a spot on Mt. Olympus.

So yeah, there’s a theme. When they said it was an experience, they meant it. I would say quite a bit of thought has gone in to putting this together and crafting the puzzles.

I’m currently in the middle of the challenge myself, and these puzzles take some thinking. Fortunately, you’re never left hanging. If you find yourself stuck (and I may have a couple of times) there is a multi-tier hint system where you can get help if needed.

This experience is totally new, I get that. You’re unlikely to have tried something like this before. Fortunately, there is a money-back guarantee. If after two of the challenges you’re not enjoying the experience, you can get your money back!

I should go now and work on the next puzzle so I can get back out on the road again for a run! Let me know if you join in on the fun and want to discuss some of the puzzles!

I’m back on the Trails!

Spring is such a nice time of the year to be outdoors.

I’ve been trying to get some time on the trails recently as I have an in-person trail race coming up on April 10th — the Mountains-To-Sea Trail 12M Challenge. The race will take place on a 12 mile stretch of the Mountains To Sea (MST) trail in North Carolina.

This week I spent a hour or so down at Eno River state park and ran a short section of MST – not the same section the race will use, but it should be very similar terrain. I enjoyed throwing a little video together as well, to highlight this wonderful trail.

Race Review: Allstate Hot Chocolate 15K Charlotte (Virtual Race)

Disclaimer: I received an entry into the 2021 Allstate Hot Chocolate Charlotte race 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!

The Hot Chocolate 15K Charlotte virtual race was the best run of my life. #hc15k #hccharbr #hcvirtualbr #bibchat @hotchocolate15k @bibrave

The story begins around twelve weeks ago, when I embarked on a new training plan in preparation for some spring races. I started following a sixteen week plan half marathon plan, known as the “Run Less Run Faster” program.

It just so happened that in week twelve of the plan, the same weekend as the Hot Chocolate 15K Charlotte race, the scheduled long run was 10 miles! This race was the perfect fit for my training schedule!

TRAINING: wearing Hot Chocolate race swag from a previous year!

The training plan has been going really well. I’ve been seeing lots of personal improvement and numerous PRs, so I knew I would at least beat my previous Hot Chocolate 15K race times.

2018 Hot Chocolate 15K Charlotte — 1:18 — 8:23/mi
2019 Hot Chocolate 15K Charlotte — 1:21 — 8:45/mi

When I signed up for the 2021 race, it was planned to be held in Charlotte. However, it is no surprise that the race decided to move to a virtual event, due to our lingering pandemic.

TRAINING: BibRave Pro Nilesh and I at the “track”.

Most people find themselves running alone for virtual events, but I have been fortunate. I trained with fellow BibRave Pro, Nilesh, and a few of our friends signed up to run the race with us. It was like a mini race day event here in Morrisville, NC!

We planned to start the race at 7:30am on the Saturday. However, there was really cold weather predicted and we feared the greenway and bridges would be too icy to run safely. In the end, the start time was moved to 11:30am, which turned out to be a great decision.

PRE-RACE: Ready to Rock the Orange!

While still a little chilly, the conditions were excellent for a race. The sky was blue, and the sun was out. I even managed to scald my bald head when I removed my hat for a section of the route.

The route we picked was fairly flat, and wound through trees and alongside lake Crabtree. There was a little headwind at times, but nothing to complain about.

I think, due to the tree cover, the GPS signal on my Garmin was sporadic, so at times it reported I was running much slower than I needed to be! This made me work that little bit harder, and all I could think was, “how do I maintain this pace for the next x miles?!”

TRAINING: through ALL the weather — wearing 2021 Hot Chocolate Race Jacket.

To my surprise, I ended up running at an average pace of 8:00/mi, giving me a new 15K PR of 1:14:34. Also wrapped in that is a new 10K PR of 49:22!

There was definitely an extra boost provided from just running with other people — so a big thank you to Nilesh, Steve, Thelma and Purvi for that!

I’m also thankful we all still have virtual races to participate in, motivating me to keep running and training, while we wait for things to re-open in the future.

You can sign up for any of the future Hot Chocolate races and run virtually with some friends or solo. They will mail you possibly the best swag of any race. You’ll get a really, warm race jacket, a great medal and lots of hot chocolate.

If you use code BRHC20 when registering you’ll receive a free Hot Chocolate branded hat!

POST-RACE: One happy fella.

Virtual Hot Chocolate 15k (Charlotte) – 20 Feb 2021

Disclaimer: I received an entry into Allstate Hot Chocolate 15K (Charlotte) 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!

Well… Saturday is the big day! It’ll be my first race of 2021. The weather has not great this week — rain, freezing rain, followed by more rain. I ran tonight for the last time before race day. It was an easy paced 6 miles, in the rain.

I was wearing my new Hot Chocolate Jacket, so the cold was not an issue. My shoes got wet through to my socks, but I won’t be wearing those shoes on Saturday, thank goodness!

The purpose of this post was to share the course details.

Nilesh (fellow BibRave Pro) and I have been training together consistently since November, and we’ve managed to get a few of our friends to sign up as well.

We will be using a section of local greenway to cover the 15K (9.3 miles). We’ll run out and back, and finish where we started. There will be a single road crossing (each way) unfortunately, that could slow us down a little, especially now that we changed the time to 11:30am.

Isn’t that the beauty of virtual races? We can start when we want, where we want. The original plan was to start at 7:30am, but we would likely face temperatures of less than 24F and lots of ice on the wooden bridges.

My daughter, Katie, will be out on her bike to grab some photos and videos of us all. It should be a good day. Training has been very successful this season. I’ve seen vast improvements and I’m running faster now than I ever have.

I’m following the Run Less Run Faster program by Bill Pierce, Scott Murr, and Ray Moss. Last training season I was running 5-6 days a week. It eventually got too much and put too much strain on my body. This training season I run 3 days a week and I’m seeing better results.

Look out for a recap when the race is done.

Don’t forget you can sign up and run any Hot Chocolate city virtually. If you use code BRHC20 when registering, they will throw in a free Hot Chocolate branded hat.

Wild Mountain Thyme

This one came together better than I expected. It’s a cover of an old Irish (with even older Scottish origins) folk song called “Wild Mountain Thyme”.

My guitar part was already tracked when I thought about trying to add something else. Then I found a D whistle hiding in a drawer. I can’t even remember why I have it, or where it came from, but I’ve held on to it for years. Maybe for this very moment. 😉

One problem though — I’d recorded the guitars in Eb.

Fortunately, D is only a half-step down, so no major impact vocally. I recorded the guitar parts again in D, one with capo and one without.

It took quite a few takes to get the whistle sounding how I liked it, but I love how it turned out, especially when I added a little bit of reverb.

I have a few more Irish songs planned now, and I hope they are all in D.

Stay Hydrated and Energized with NOW® Foods Effer-Hydrate Tablets

Disclaimer: I received NOW® Sports Effer-Hydrate and NOW® Sports Effer-Energy 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!

You only have to do a quick search online on the importance of hydration and results are unanimous — hydration is critical to the optimal functioning of our physical bodies.

As a runner, or athlete, our bodies also need electrolytes to aid in our recovery.

Electrolytes are chemicals that conduct electricity when mixed with water. They regulate nerve and muscle function, hydrate the body, balance blood acidity and pressure, and help rebuild damaged tissue. The muscles and neurons are sometimes referred to as the “electric tissues” of the body.

Everything you need to know about electrolytes – Medical News Today

I am terrible at staying hydrated. I’ve said it many times before. Especially during the winter, I just don’t feel like I need as much water when I’m exercising. I know this is bad and I need to improve. This was one of the reasons I wanted to try out NOW® Sports Effer-Hydrate and NOW® Sports Effer-Energy tablets.

I received my sample pack just before Christmas, which included the flavors, Lemon-Lime, Orange Strawberry, Tropical Punch and Mixed Berry.

The tablets dissolve easily and quickly in water, giving the water a slight carbonation feel and flavor. I have used them on rest days, before runs, during runs, and post runs.

One thing I did notice was, when dissolved in bottles that I ran with, because of the “fizziness” the bottles would leak a little from all the shaking around. This can be alleviated by shaking the bottles well and releasing the pressure before starting to run.

My favorite flavor is, by far, Mixed Berry, while my second go-to is Tropical Punch, as it is designed to provide a little more energy. *

I keep a tube on my desk so that I remember to pop a tablet in my glass of water while I work. Since I have a few tubes I can place them in other places, like the car, where I can just drop in a water bottle to hydrate and replenish on the go.

In previous training cycles, I’ve often made the mistake of over-training, and this ends up derailing all the hard work I’ve put in. So far, my current training cycle is going well. I’m running less miles, running only “quality” runs. This gives my body time to recover between sessions, and the NOW® Sports Effer-Hydrate and NOW® Sports Effer-Energy supplements have been helping with that recovery.

Try them yourself by ordering online! Through March 31, 2021, use code NOWSPORTS20 for 20% off your purchase of NOW® Sports products at nowsportsproducts.com **

* These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent disease.

** Offer valid 1/1/21 through 11:59 PM Central Standard Time 3/21/21. Offer valid only on products found at https://www.nowfoods.com/sports-nutrition/sports-nutrition-all-products. Prices are as shown. Some exclusions may apply. Must use coupon code NOWSPORTS20 in the Promotion Code field at checkout. While supplies last at nowfoods.com. This offer does not apply to applicable taxes or shipping and handling. Offer cannot be used on previous purchases. NOW Health Group, Inc has the right to end any promotion at any time.

Before you go, check out other reviews from fellow BibRave Pros: Izzy, Phil, Cynthia, Angela, Katy, Francisco, & Leslie.

Race Review: 2020 Enmarket Savannah Bridge Run

Disclaimer: I received an entry into the Enmarket Savannah Bridge Run 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 ran my virtual race today, not in Savannah, Georgia, but in Morrisville, North Carolina. Due to COVID-19, the Savannah Bridge Run was converted to a virtual event.

I didn’t have to get up super early and get ready. I didn’t have to drive anywhere and find a parking lot. I didn’t have to line up for the porta-potty three times. I didn’t have to freeze my butt off standing around for an hour waiting for the race to start.

Instead I slept in. Cut my hair. I had breakfast. I practiced some Christmas music. I had some lunch. Then I got ready to go run. I asked my daughter Katie to be my official race photographer – she agreed. I walked out the front door, stood on my driveway and started my watch.

And we were off!

Katie raced ahead on her bicycle and stopped every so often to snap photos. I didn’t have to wait long after to see my race photos. Nor did I have to pay for them. Katie simply air-dropped them to my phone.

The race itself went very well. I picked an out and back course with plenty of bridges – nothing as high or as scenic as the Talmadge Bridge in Savannah.

The weather was perfect – early 50s. I wore my BibRave long sleeve, shorts and my Buff lightweight hat, and HOKA Clifton 6 shoes.

Oh, and I PR’d on this race. That was totally unexpected. It’s funny how the mind works. I know for sure, if I was running a normal 10K I would have unlikely come home with a PR. However, tell your head that it’s a race and the body automatically works harder. Right?!

Whether my science checks out or not, I’m really happy with today’s result. Days like this keep me encouraged and provide the motivation needed to stick to the plan.

I’ve been dealing with a fear of never reaching pre-injury speeds again. This result has helped me realize that that fear is unfounded, and I can be even faster yet.

Just earlier this evening I uploaded the proof to the race website (a screenshot of my activity tracker). My race shirt and medal will be mailed out this week! I’ll post a photo when they come in.

I hope by next December I will be looking at running this race in Savannah, and across the Talmadge bridge. In the meantime, let’s all keep safe!

Race Added: 2020 Race Across Durham 10 Miler (Virtual)

I was pretty bummed as I checked the Race Across Durham website on July 1st. Since the race began a few years ago, I would get up on my birthday (the day registration opens normally) and sign up, as a little present to myself.

This July, registration did not open…

However, I received a little surprise in my inbox just the other week. Race Across Durham is going VIRTUAL! I signed up immediately.

There are three race distances to pick from — 10 miler, Marathon and Ultra. I have signed up for the 10 miler. As in previous races, the race benefits the fantastic Life Skills Foundation in Durham, NC.

The race can be run anytime between Nov 1st and Nov 30th (you can still sign up until Nov 20th). I’ve managed to get a few friends signed up as well, so we’ll plan to run it together — on the actual race course!

So while it’s a virtual, it’s going to be fairly close to the real thing — minus the great snacks and post-party music and food — but I’ll take it.

I’ve already been down to the Eno for a training run on Sunday past, and it was amazing. The weather was beautiful and I felt in great form. Let’s hope we can hit that magic combination on race day.

Race Added: Allstate Hot Chocolate 15K Charlotte, NC

Disclaimer: I received an entry into the Allstate Hot Chocolate 15k Charlotte race 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!

Guess who signed up for more chocolate? This guy 👆

YES, I’m going back to Charlotte, North Carolina to run the Hot Chocolate 15K race on the 20th February 2021.

I’ve ran this race twice now – and had I known how 2020 was going to turn out I wouldn’t have skipped it last January. I was thinking I had enough races in my calendar. Anyway

As usual, I opted to have my race swag mailed to me for an extra fee. This saves me having to stress about getting down to the EXPO on time (since it’s usually on the Friday). I’ll still plan to visit it if I can, but since I’ll have my bib already, it’s not a big deal if I can’t.

I can’t wait to visit Amelies French Bakery again for some lovely pastries and buns.

To sign up, check out the Allstate Hot Chocolate web site.