Weekend Running

I’m resting today after a great weekend of running. I ran six road miles on Friday and three trail miles on Saturday. However, the highlight was the ten mile group run on Sunday.

During the winter we normally drop down to a skeleton crew, but this run reminded me of a summer weekend run minus the brunch! I want brunch!

We checked out some new greenway that has opened up recently where we live. Check out the photos.

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Review: Allstate Hot Chocolate 15k Race – Charlotte

Disclaimer: I received free entry to Hot Chocolate 15k 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!

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Race Prep & Signup

In a previous post I’d talked about signing up for the Hot Chocolate 15k in Charlotte, and how I had to upload “proof” of previous race times to get assigned a corral on race day.

I received an email after a couple of weeks to say I had been assigned to corral “D”. I had no idea at the time what that would look like except that they started the corrals off 4 mins apart from each other.

Training for the race consisted of my regular weekday runs with slightly longer runs at the weekend. The two weeks before Christmas that I was out with Vertigo set me back both mentally and physically, and I got a little concerned that my target of a 8.30/mi would be hard to achieve.

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Race Information

The Hot Chocolate website very informative and well laid out. The participant guide had all the information I needed to know — like course details, expo details, race day experience, gear check, after party, etc. I felt well prepared heading into the race weekend.

Swag

The race shirts! Amazing. I had my bib and shirt mailed to me about a week before the race. I wasn’t sure at the time I registered that I would be able to get to the Expo or not, so this was a very convenient option.

The medals look good — good enough to eat. They look like a big bar of chocolate. My kids were very impressed with it. All the Hot Chocolate races use the same medal and attach an additional little emblem to represent the city in which you’re racing.

Hotel & Expo

This was my first time travelling and staying in a hotel to race. The hotel we stayed in was the only hotel recommended by the Hot Chocolate website. They offered a discounted rate for race participants.

It was really convenient staying at the same location as the Expo. I covered more about the hotel in my pre-race update.

I do wish that breakfast was available just a little earlier. They didn’t open until 7am, so I had to skip breakfast since I needed to get to the starting line. I believe it was possible to order breakfast to your room from 6am.

Race Day

I probably got up too early on race day. I hate being late for things. I crept around the family in our hotel room, got ready and went downstairs to check the weather. It was supposed to be raining all morning but thankfully the rain was nothing more than a slight drizzle. Yes!

It was a nice 50°F outside as well. Close to perfect running weather really.

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The start line was about a 15 min walk from the hotel. There was a runners staying at the hotel, but I didn’t really notice too many people walking. Again, probably because I was a little early.

When I got to the start line, there was only a few of the 5K participants hanging around. The 5K race was due to start at 7.45 am. It was at this time I realized how the Corrals were going to work. They were basically just markers along the road that divided it into sections. The 5K had 3 Corrals – A, B and C.

I couldn’t help thinking if they started the 5K just a little earlier they could offer a double challenge like a lot of races are starting to do these days. 🙂

After the 5K race got on their way, it was time for the 15K participants to get into position. To my surprise the A, B, and C Corrals were removed and Corral D was at the very front. I’d never started at the front of a race before. I was pretty pumped about that!

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The countdown started, it was time, 5…4…3…2…1!

Mile-by-Mile Walkthrough

Starting Line: Yeah! I get to start the front! Plenty of room up here! Let’s do this. I’ll just tuck in here behind the 8:30/mi pacer.

Mile 1: Hey, I’ve left the 8.30/mi crowd behind in the dust. Yeah, baby! This half-mile downhill is awesome! Hang on — what goes down…

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Mile 2: Oh oh. Here’s some up hill. This freaking hill is over a mile long. I’m dying. 8 miles to go!

Mile 3:  That was tough. Looks like the course is starting to level out now. Time to eat some Honey Stingers to see if I can get some pep back in my step. I think I need to pee. Dang it.

Mile 4: Well, the 8.30/mi crowd has caught back up with me. I have to stay with these guys now for the duration. Have to…. COME ON!

Mile 5: Should I stop to pee? No. Oh, there’s a guy using a porta-potty on that building site. Maybe I should stop. No, I can’t!

Mile 6: Asking random people if they know of any more hills. I already know the answer to this, but I still gotta ask. I’m running up a hill right now.

Mile 7: Now this is feeling good. Finally, getting in the groove. Let’s do this.

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Mile 8: Oh my legs are soooo heavy. How far is 15k anyway? Is that a little granny racing ahead of me? How does she do that?! I’m taking you down, granny!

Mile 9: The pacer is getting away from me. Wait, he’s running back. Says we’re nearly there! Time to spend all I’ve got!!!

Finish Line: Oh man, check out my stride. I’m flying here… straight through the finish line!! I did it!

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Results

I crossed the finish line with 1:18:26 on the clock, 8.25/mi pace. I was really happy with that. I set an aggressive goal and beat it. I immediately began reassessing my goals for future races (particularly the Half Marathon I have in March).

I loved how they called everyone’s name out as they passed the finish line. That was a really nice touch that I’ve not seen done before. As I watched other participants come through you could see the smile it brought to their faces.

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Post-Race Party

I made my way to the post race party area to claim my finishers mug. I’m not a big hot chocolate drink fan, but the actual real melted chocolate that was in the mug was soooooo good. There was also a number of items to dip in the chocolate — banana, pretzel, cookies and more.

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It had been raining all night, so the grass area where the party was held got muddy very quickly. This is where my family met up with me after the race. My daughter was plugging her nose because of the 2000 sweaty individuals that surrounded her. 😉

Another runner was kind enough to offer her a spare finishers mug token that he had, so that cheered her up a bit!

Live Tracking

This was a great service. My wife was able to sign up to this free service prior to the race. During the race it sent her text messages on my progress. Very cool feature. It sent updates on 5K, 10K and finishing paces.

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Race Photos

I noticed quite a few photographers on course and the race photos were completely free. I’d probably never buy a race photo because I look dead in most of them, but I love it when they’re free to download and keep.

As soon as the race had finished, race photos were being updated to the results page. New photos continued to appear on there throughout the day.

BibRave Pros

It was good to meet some of my fellow BibRave pros at the race. I bumped into Teddy before the race started, and then met Lissa afterward. It was not hard to find the bright orange BibRave gear against the grey backdrop.

Hot Chocolate 15k Charlotte Pre-Race Update

Disclaimer: I received free entry to Hot Chocolate 15k 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’ve been both excited and nervous about this race. Excited because I love the atmosphere of race day, and nervous because I’ve set a target that at times I’m not sure I can achieve.

I took the day off work today and drove down to Charlotte early (after a short run of course) so I could visit the Expo and chill out a little before tomorrow.

My wife Liz, daughter Katie, and youngest son Xander came with me to cheer me on and take advantage of a wee weekend break in Charlotte.

We booked the Sheraton, the same hotel as the Expo, which had a special rate for race participants.

The hotel is very nice and convenient to downtown and the race start line of the Hot Chocolate 15k. We arranged a late checkout so we have plenty of time after the race to come back, shower and change.

Before we actually checked in we had a walk around the Expo.

I was really hoping we could buy an additional race shirt (the race shirts are so good), but they weren’t selling them. They did have a swap stand though, if the top you received was not the right size.

Later we wandered into downtown Charlotte for something to eat, then came back and spent some time in the hotel pool. They have a nice gym here too which Liz and Katie plan to use in the morning.

The weather is not looking great for tomorrow. Supposed to be raining all day. I’m really hoping it’s not all that bad. It’s hard believe rain is coming at all after the weather we have today.

Review: Krispy Kreme Challenge 2018

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Those who complete the Krispy Kreme Challenge, have ran 2.5 miles, consumed 12 Krispy Kreme doughnuts and then ran 2.5 miles more, all inside 1 hour! Oh, and on quite possibly the coldest day of the year in Raleigh, North Carolina.

Well, I tried to eat all 12 doughnuts last year and that was not enjoyable at all. This year I had no intentions of completing the challenge, but just to run and enjoy the atmosphere.

The plan was for the whole family to run it this time — only Nathan and I ran it last year. I was going to push our youngest, Xander, in the stroller and then we’d dump all our unfinished doughnuts underneath the stroller to take home.

Unfortunately my wife Liz was unable to run as she has a stress fracture (she is also a runner). So, we pulled in Vinod from our running club and Liz and Xander stayed at home in the warmth.

Did I mention it was cold already? It was 20freaking°F. Yes, that’s my son Noah in a t-shirt. He did want to wear shorts, but decided to wear long pants after some convincing. At times I could tell he wished he’d listened to his daddy and wore a long sleeve top.

The race is organized by students from NC State University and runs through the city of Raleigh for 5 miles, passing Krispy Kreme Doughnuts about half-way. The money raised from the race goes to UNC Children’s Hospital – a very worthy cause.

As well as prizes for top challenger finishers, there are prizes for the best costumes. While I’ve never dressed up in a costume to run, this is definitely one of the elements of this race I like the most. The majority of people are just there to have fun and that’s awesome.

Like last year, the starting line was pretty bunged. It took 3-4 minutes just to get through the starting gate after the race had started. There are pacing groups, but you have to be pretty determined to wade into them. With almost 2000 runners squeezed into a short section of street it would not be an easy task.

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My two oldest kids, Nathan and Noah shot off on their own. They have easily covered distances of 5-6 miles in the past. Last year Nathan even managed to eat all 12 doughnuts and complete the challenge.

I ran with my daughter Katie, and Vinod, our running club buddy. I don’t think Katie had ever ran longer than 3 miles before, so this was a big achievement for her. The fact there was doughnuts involved really helped to motivate her. 😉

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At the half way point we collected our doughnuts and stopped for a couple of minutes to eat. I only ate 3, and Katie ate 4. There were loads of people around trying to cram all their doughnuts down their throats. It was great to see some spectators with signs like, “donut give up”, or “donut stop believing”.

I do wish there were some porta potties around, as I kind of needed to go. I’m pretty sure I remember some last year.

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It was time to run to the finish now — carrying the doughnut boxes in our arms. Some people had thought ahead and brought a bag to carry them. Doh! Should have thought of that.

We made to the finish, just around the 1 hour mark. I’m so proud of Katie for finishing and doing so well. There were a few puddles of puke to avoid on the way back. Thankfully we all managed to keep the contents of our stomachs intact.

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The kids do not “love” running yet, but I’m hoping one day they do. I hope they find that out sooner than I did — at 40 years old. I’m so glad they agreed to run this year with me. Maybe next year we’ll attempt (again) to have everyone in the family run it.

 

AfterShokz Trekz Air — Shockingly Good Earphones for Running!

Disclaimer: I received a pair of AfterShokz Trekz Airs 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!

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I’d consider myself a music guy, a musician even — I listen to a lot of music. But look back over the last couple of years of my run selfies on Instagram and you’ll not find many with me wearing earphones.

I think I have funny shaped ear holes or something. I’ve always struggled with finding comfortable earbuds that will a) sit in my ear canals comfortably for an extended period, and b) not fall out or need readjusting during exercise.

For this reason I mostly go without. It just hasn’t been worth the hassle…

Recently I have had the opportunity to try a pair of AfterShokz Trekz Airs — earphones that don’t even go in your ears. That is because they use bone conduction technology!

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Technology

Sounds futuristic doesn’t it, but the idea has been around a while. A man called Hugo Gernsback applied for a patent in 1923 (granted in 1924) for a bone conduction device which you held in your teeth. It is also said that the great composer, Ludwig Van Beethoven used bone conduction while playing the piano. He would attach a rod to his piano and grip the other end in his teeth. Amazing!

How does bone conduction work? Basically, the bone conduction device (in this case, AfterShokz Trekz Air earphones), perform the job of the eardrum. They convert the sound to vibrations and transmit through your jaw bone to your Cochlea, bypassing the eardrum altogether.

Comfort & Safety

This leaves your ears completely open to hear your surroundings. This is great for runners or those exercising outdoors. It’s so good to be able to listen to music while also hearing a car approaching!

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Because of how you wear these earphones, it means no more wires (if you haven’t tried BlueTooth earphones before), uncomfortable earbuds that keep falling out, or heavy headphones that act like air brakes. For me, this is exactly what I needed.

The Trekz Air are super light to wear and really comfortable. They are not bulky and can easily be worn under a head band or hat. I’ve been on several runs now with them and they do not move around or need readjustment. In fact, you could easily forget they are there.

It’s not uncommon for races to ban earphone use for safety reasons. Perhaps earphones like AfterShokz Trekz Airs need to be excluded from that?

Sound Quality & Battery Life

I’ve used bluetooth earphones before while running and found that they would seem to drop the connection or glitch every so often. Not a lot, but enough to be annoying. I did not experience this at all with Trekz Air. Not once.

The sound quality is solid. I do like my earphones to be a little bass heavy and I found the Trekz Air to not meet my expectations in that area. But considering all the other advantages, I can totally live with that.

The battery life is amazing. The specs say six hours, but I know people that have got closer to eight hours out of them. They come with a usb cable for charging, which is simply plugged into your computer, or a usb wall adapter.

Durability

The earphones are really well made and I have definitely put it to the test as far as sweating goes. I also took them out for a run in the rain. Absolutely no problems whatsoever.

Noise Cancellation?

Ok, how can these be noise cancellation earphones if your ears are wide open?! Well, within the packaging for the Trekz Air is a set of earplugs. AfterShokz package these to prove bone conduction is a real thing.

They encourage users to put in the earplugs and see that the sound actually does come through your jaw bone and is not simply leaking from a speaker in the earphones!

I have read several reports of people using earplugs in combination with the Trekz Air to block out their surroundings when that is desired — on an airplane for example.

Where To Get Them

The AfterShokz Trekz Airs cost $179 and if you use the coupon code TRUCKER at checkout they will throw in a BibRave trucker hat with your order.

Don’t Just Take My Word For It

A few of my BibRave friends are also reviewing these earphones, so don’t just take my word for it. Go check out their reviews as well.

 

Back On The Trails

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It was felt so good to get back out on the trails at the weekend. It was my first time trail running since RAD in early December. It is also the first time I have ran the trails (bar the fire roads) over at Umstead State Park.

Saturday was such a beautiful day. The sun was shining, not a cloud in the sky. The temperature was right around 60°F. Perfect running weather.

Only I didn’t run on Saturday, oh no! I ran on Sunday morning in the rain instead! At least it was still 50°F.

Normally I’d be at church on Sunday morning with my family, but Fleet Feet in Morrisville were hosting a trail run, and I couldn’t resist.

At 8am, I met up with Niles and Shravan from our Morrisville Run Club and a few other runners we hadn’t met before to briefly discuss the route.

It had rained all night and did not stop at all on Sunday, and while the ground was saturated it failed to dampen the experience!

There was something soothing about running through the trees, hearing the patter of rain on the leaves above. As I ran, I couldn’t help compare the terrain with Eno State Park with which I’m more familiar.

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We ran the Loblolly trail for six miles, out and back. Compared to the Eno there was way less trip hazards. But the hills! They surprised me a bit.

It’s always fun to have a creek crossing or two, and Umstead did not disappoint.

We convinced Niles the creek was 3ft deep and we’d have to wade across when in reality there was stepping stones. 🙂

On the way back however, the rain had pushed the level of water up over some of the stepping stones and I managed to get a good soaking!

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My Hoka One One Challengers performed well on the slippy, muddy trail. There were a few wet rocks where I lost a bit of traction, but for the most part they were excellent.

We will definitely be back to Umstead.

Be Brilliant, Be Seen!

Disclaimer: I received reflective strips from Brilliant Reflective 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!

Most of my weekday runs happen before the sun comes up, so that means a lot of road running in the dark. It wasn’t long ago I read a post on our community Facebook page complaining about runners seen early in the morning wearing dark clothing. Yep, that was referring to our running club for sure, and a warning that we were not doing enough to be visible.

If any of this sounds familiar to you, then you need to hear about Brilliant Reflective strips. They are highly reflective strips that you can apply to your clothes (or other items) and come in both stick-on and iron-on packs.

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This is exactly why I’m loving being a BibRave Pro. I get to review running products that I actually can use, and will continue to use long after my review is posted.

To test out these strips, I applied some of the blue (yes, they come in different colors) stick-on strips to the front and back of one of my running shirts. The actual guidance for these strips is — anything that you would wash, use the iron-on pack, and for anything that isn’t washed, use the stick-on pack.

Yes, I do wash my running shirt, but I wanted to see just how durable the stick-on strips were. 🙂

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The packaging is really easy to open and inside contains lots of information regarding best application. I applied two to the back, and two to the front. It’s similar to applying a band-aid. There is a break in the backing which you peel off, and then simply stick the strip on your garment and press down.

If you make a mistake, you can remove the strip and re-position within the first 10 or so seconds. After that the adhesive takes a stronger hold. You also don’t need to go overboard as these reflect very brightly as you’ll see in the photo below.

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My running group was very impressed by them and helped me to take some photos!

So, what happens when you put them through the washing machine? Well, so far (after one wash) they remain securely fastened to my shirt. I did not tumble dry.

Here’s a picture of the shirt just out of the washing machine. You can see it hasn’t lifted at all from the material. I let the shirt hang to dry before wearing again.

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Each pack (at time of posting) costs $14.95 from the Brilliant Reflective website. I could easily treat 2-3 items per pack, so that’s great value in my opinion. A small price to pay to increase your visibility and overall safety.

Aside from using on every other piece of outdoor running gear that I have, I couldn’t help thinking of all the other (non-running) uses for these.

My kids walk to the bus stop in the dark every morning. These strips will be going on their school bags and instrument cases so people driving in their cars have a better chance of seeing them crossing the road.

I should put a couple on my mail box to (hopefully) prevent people from reversing into it (has happened twice already).

If you park your car on the road, put one or two on your car bumpers/fenders so that other drivers won’t clip it on the way past. Same goes for trash cans if they sit at the side of the road to be emptied.

Can you think of any more?

Would you like to try them out? The code ” BRP25″ saves 25% off of all Multi/Assortment Packs over at the Brilliant Reflective website.