fitness

REVIEW: Indy Mini Marathon

Disclaimer: I received an entry into the OneAmerica 500 Festival Mini-Marathon (and Delta Dental 500 Festival 5k) 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!


Rather than bury the lead, here it is:

GO RUN THE INDY MINI.

This entire experience was absolutely phenomenal. From the registration process all the way to the post-race party, the people involved with organizing the OneAmerica 500 Festival Mini-Marathon (aka the Indy Mini) know what they heck they’re doing. This shouldn’t come as a surprise though. In 2018,  the Indy Mini was voted #1 half marathon in The BibRave 100!

BibRave Pro meet-up the night before the race!

I decided to step it up for this particular race and participated in the Mega Mini Challenge – running the Delta Dental 5k and then running the OneAmerica Mini Marathon (half). My PLAN was to somewhat sandbag the 5k and go for a really amazing time in the half. That plan went out the window quite quickly as I decided “why not?!” and pushed fairly hard in the 5k. Finished in the top 50, roughly a minute and a half slower than my current 5k PR.

Start line prior to the 5k

After crossing the finish, challenge participants were to stay to the left and follow signage to return to the start area. It seemed as if the volunteers knew this, but there was a little confusion in the finish area. To stay on point, I turned my music back up, put my head down, and do what the race instructions told me. I got back to the start line pretty quick, found Bill – a fellow BibRave Pro! – and we lined up for our second race of the day

Me and Bill (& 6500 new friends) in Wave 2 before the half

I knew before I crossed the start line for the half that it was not going to be a PR. Not after the performance I just threw down in the 5k! I was fine with that. If I could come within 10-15 minutes, I’d still be happy. Honestly though, I wasn’t really focused on that. I was focused on what everyone else was focused on – getting out to the speedway and taking a lap on that iconic track! Although I was posting a pretty good pace through the first half, I slowed up once I got to turn 4 at the track and turned into a tourist for a little bit.

The second half of my half marathon was definitely slower and I could tell that the 5k was catching up to me. My legs weren’t having this run as much any longer. There was definitely some run/walk happening in those last 4-5 miles, but thankfully more running than walking!

Ultimately, I came in around 1:49 for the half marathon – only 8 minutes off of my personal record. Not too shabby at all. Rolled into the post-race party, met up with Bill again as we collected our medals for the 5k as well as for the Mega Mini Challenge.

***

All and all, this race is well worth the trip and definitely lives up to the hype that surrounds it. The history, the tradition, and a very unique 2.5 mile section. Beyond that, this event is incredibly well organized, there is pretty decent crowd support, and it is very evident that the City of Indianapolis (and even the State of Indiana) truly get behind this race.

In conclusion, you should absolutely consider running the Indy Mini in 2020. Registration is open NOW. Seriously. Go to Indianapolis next year and find out for yourself – as I did – why this race is one of the top half marathons in the country!

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(I’ll Be) Back Home Again In Indiana: Indy Mini Preview – Part 2

Disclaimer: I received an entry into the OneAmerica 500 Festival Mini-Marathon (and Delta Dental 500 Festival 5k) 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!

Make sure to download the Indy Mini app (iOSAndroid) to track me and my fellow BibRave Pros on race day (May 4)!


Growing up, kids and their parents share a lot of special bonds. For some, it’s special bond made from the shared love of travel. This is true of me and my mother. Our travels, and the subsequent stories, are world famous. The special location trips (like Niagara Falls, San Francisco, Mexico) and road trips across the country. Or that time we went to Europe for a few weeks – her first trip to Europe and I got to be the guide. Yeah, those were some damn good times.

For many though, it’s the special bond that is built with one (or both) parents by going to a major event – like a concert or a sporting event. As someone who grew up in southwestern Ohio, my dad and I built one such bond of our shared love of watching the Reds in Cincinnati. In 1994, our focus changed – at least in the month of May – from baseball – as dad was able to obtain tickets to the Indianapolis 500 and we found something else which became not just a shared love for US, but for anyone we had the opportunity to share it with.

Dad and me at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway

From our first 500 in 1994 until our last in 2002, the Indy 500 became our annual tradition. I haven’t been back to the track in MAY since 2002. 17 years. So, when the opportunity came to opt-in to run the OneAmerica 500 Festival Indy Mini, there was no way I was going to pass that up. NONE. 

I get to run 2.5 miles of the course actually on the track at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway? 

I get to take in the view of our old seats from the freakin’ track itself? 

I get to cross (and likely, stop, kneel down, and kiss) the fabled “yard of bricks”?

Bonus: I (might) get to snag a moment with Olympic Marathon gold-medalist, Frank Shorter?

YES PLEASE. However…

Beyond all that, this race – and specifically the lap around the track – is more than a novelty to me. It brings back fantastic memories. EARLY morning wake-ups, breakfast via McDonald’s drive-thrus, parking under a PNC Bank drive-up window, and the long walk from 38th & Georgetown down to the Speedway. It reminds me of the people we used to share the seating area with – the same people around us for 8 years. While we didn’t really know each other or even connect outside of the 500, we always felt connected on that one Sunday in May.

The last 500 we attended was in 2002. That was a week before I graduated from high school and I was fortunate to share that last race with both mom and dad. I was able to have the best of both worlds – the love of traveling (definitely got that from mom) and my love of all things racing (thanks for that, dad). As a runner trying to run all of the World Marathon majors, a marathon in all 50 states, and a race in all 88 Ohio counties – I’d say the special bonds I built with my parents have carried over into my love of running for sure.

***

Tomorrow, I’ll run the Delta Dental 500 Festival 5k (7:00am) and then the OneAmerica 500 Festival Mini Marathon (7:40am). Want to track me and my fellow BibRave Pros? Make sure to download the Indy Mini app (iOSAndroid).

Indianapolis was never my “home”, but this weekend it almost feels like a homecoming of sorts. All because of 250 laps, 33 drivers, 8 races, and one amazing race course.

Time to start your engines! See you in Indy!

 

Indy Mini Marathon Preview

Disclaimer: I received an entry into the OneAmerica 500 Festival Mini-Marathon (and Delta Dental 500 Festival 5k) 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!

Make sure to download the Indy Mini app (iOSAndroid) to track me and my fellow BibRave Pros on race day (May 4)!


25 years ago on a beautiful Memorial Day weekend, I wasn’t sleeping in or reading the funny pages on  Sunday morning. Instead, I found myself experiencing one of the greatest thrills of my life – sitting in the stands at the 1994 Indianapolis 500. To my 10-year-old self, the Indy 500 was HUGE. The race course – massive. The drivers – giants of racing. It was phenomenal. From my first 500 in 1994 until the last race I attended in 2002, Indy was my “home” for one awesome day in May. 

The view from one of my first Indy 500’s, as evidenced by the OLD pagoda!

I’ve been back to Indiana and even to Indianapolis in the years since 2002, mostly for conferences, but this trip though will be different. This weekend, I’ll be “back home again in Indiana” to take on the Delta Dental 500 Festival 5k AND the OneAmerica 500 Festival Mini-Marathon. I’ll get to run in a place that means a lot to me – which I’ll dig into later in the week. Like with any race though, there are always things for which I’m excited – and here are just a few!

Running the Double

Those familiar with IndyCar should also be familiar with the term “double duty”. This refers to a driver attempting to complete the Indianapolis 500 and the Coca-Cola 600 – 1100 miles of driving – on the same day. That’s comparable to driving from Boston to St. Louis (approximately 1180 miles) with only a 2.5 hour nap after the first 500 miles. I think I’ll pass…

Apply that idea of pulling “double duty” to running? Runners eat that up. So why not run a 5k (3.1 miles) and then follow that up with a half marathon (13.1 miles) immediately after? Well, that’s what I intend to do on Saturday. I’ll start my race day at 7:00am with the Delta Dental 500 Festival 5k, which I’ll likely approach as a warm-up, and then get right back to the start line for the OneAmerica 500 Festival Mini Marathon.

This will mark the first time I’ve ever run more than one race distance on the same day since I competed in track in high school. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a bit nervous about it, but I will get it done! Perhaps I’ll even lock down a PR in the half (sub 1:40 would be fantastic)!

Orange is the New Orange

The Indy Mini is one of the most popular races around – heck, it was voted #1 Half Marathon in The BibRave 100! Speaking of BibRave, that’s the reason I’m running this weekend. This will be the 3rd event I’ve run as a BibRave Pro and every time I have had an absolute blast. Aside from the races themselves, the best part of race weekend is getting to link up with my fellow BibRave Pros that are also on site. Whether we are running officially to help drive the orange brand or just happen to be running and wearing BibRave gear, being able to put faces to names in person is awesome. This weekend, I’ll get to run with William, who I met a few weeks back at the Blue Ridge Marathon, as well as a few others who I haven’t met IRL, but we’ve chatted back and forth in our Slack channels. My experience as a BibRave Pro – testing & reviewing gear and running & reviewing races – has been fantastic, but being able to have a core group of people to connect with and share our love of running has made it something I truly enjoy.

2.5 Miles

I’m okay with running on flat courses, hills, trails, tracks, and so on. It should be noted that aound the halfway point of the Indy Mini, the course gets PANCAKE FLAT. Why? I saved this one for last for a reason – we get to run a complete lap around the Indianapolis Motor Speedway! I’m sure you figured this out by now, but I had to put it to text.That 2.5 mile track is one of the greatest sports facilities in the world and I get to run there. Excited is a freakin’ understatement! I am going to attempt to go for a decent time, but I wouldn’t be surprised if I let up just a little to enjoy the view and the experience or running around IMS for a bit. Plus, the MEDAL has some MASSIVE references to the race – can’t wait to earn it and perhaps even the bonus medal for being one of the first 500 across the line!

Back Home Again…

Indiana was my home for a hot minute in the late 1980’s. My family moved to Ft. Wayne, not far from where I was born in western Ohio. I don’t remember much about those years, but what I do remember always made me feel like I was at home. My time in Indiana as a “resident” may have been short lived as a youngster, but I will always feel at home when I hear “Back Home Again in Indiana”. Even though that particular song isn’t necessarily part of Indy Mini weekend, it is the first thing I think of anytime I find myself back in Indianapolis.

Back home again in Indiana
And it seems that I can see
The gleaming candlelight still shining bright
Thro’ the sycamores for me
The new mown hay sends all its fragrance
From fields I used to roam
When I dream
About the moonlight on the Wabash
Then I long for my Indiana home

From the 1994 Indianapolis 500 Pre-Race Ceremonies – my first 500:

 

Will YOU be back home (again) in Indiana this weekend at the Indy Mini? If so, let me know on social and perhaps we’ll be able to link up as well! See you in Indy!


Looking for some other things to get excited about for this weekend’s Indy Mini? Check out this list of 13.1 things to look for during the Indy Mini from 9-time finisher & 3-time ambassador, Chris Day!

RECAP: Blue Ridge Marathon

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


About a week or so before heading to Roanoke for the Blue Ridge Marathon, I published a preview of the things I was excited for and a few things I wasn’t as excited about for this particular race. Figured it would be a good idea to recap my race weekend experience and revisit that list. I will recap my overall travel and lodging experience in a separate post soon, but spoiler alert – my AirBnB host was AWESOME.

RACE RECAP

The only thing I will say in THIS post regarding my travel is that 6 hours in a car followed by not nearly enough sleep isn’t helpful for a successful marathon. Sure, one can finish the event, but maybe not as well as one would like!

My homebase through AirBnB was less than a 10 minute walk to the start/finish line. This made race morning so very easy because I was concerned about crowds at the pre-race bib pick-up. My fears were incredibly unfounded, as I picked up my bib at 5:30am and was the only one there! I had time to walk back to the house, drop off the shirt I received (which I didn’t order – bonus!), re-evaluate what I was going to have with me as far as nutrition, music, etc, and head back to the start to meet up with some of my fellow BibRave Pros.

Even though I was traveling alone, it was awesome to know that I had a group of people that I could instantly bond with upon arrival. And while most of us had never met in person before race weekend, we hit it off as if we’ve known each other for years! Team BibRave was in full effect in Roanoke and one member of our crew attempted the DOUBLE MARATHON! After running the regular marathon, I think I’m good.

Once the race got started, we were CLIMBING (more like walking) no more than a mile into the 26.2 mile journey. Those mountains mean business and they take no prisoners. Woefully under prepared might be an understatement to describe my experience on those mountains, but I managed to get to the top of each one and the reward was well worth the effort.

Entering the Blue Ridge Parkway section of the race

 

Making our way up Roanoke Mountain – the 1st of 3 mountains on the Blue Ridge Marathon course

 

The reward that waited at top of Roanoke Mountain

The thing that got me through the race (aside from having some level of training for the distance) was the camaraderie with other runners. Ran with a handful of runners throughout the event and got the chance to learn where they’re from, why those individuals came to Roanoke, what motivates them to keep putting one foot in front of the other. Chatted with Lauren whose dad is challenging her to earn a BQ so they can run together at Boston in a year or two. I ran with Ron who was a local and was running his FIRST MARATHON EVER (pictured below).

Ron Butler (bib 668) and I as we approached the Mill Mountain Star near the halfway point of the Blue Ridge Marathon – his first marathon EVER!

 

My new best friends – the “moo-mosas” station at the halfway point, just after the Mill Mountain Star.

A few miles after Ron and the moo-mosas – right around mile 16.5…and at the base of what I would consider the most mentally and physically draining sections of the entire race…I linked up with Katja and Marion. We started talking…because it was easier than running at that particular point…and learned that we had a shared experience – living in North Carolina! Okay, I lived in NC for a few years and they live in NC now, but who cares?! That led to the next 5(ish) miles of having some pretty awesome people to share in the pain we were putting ourselves through! Ultimately, I had to drop back and let them push onward, but thanks to their humor and motivation (“let’s run to those three little shrubs!”), they made the hardest section of the course MUCH more bearable!

Tried to take a group photo at what we thought was the top of the Peakwood section. 1) Katja wasn’t quite ready – sorry! 2) It was DEFINITELY not the top.

 

Katja & Marion – darn good people! 

From about mile 20.5 onward, the rest of the race was more of a walk for me. Mentally, I could have kept going and kept running. Physically, my LEGS were having none of that. There were glimmers of energy here and there, but for the most part, my running ended about 10k from the end. In any other race, I probably would have been devastated. At Blue Ridge, I accepted it and knew that I did what I came to do – get from point A to point B and FINISH.

Speaking of the finish, with less than a 1/3 of a mile to go, one of my fellow BibRave Pros, Brenda (2nd from left in the photo below) – who I thought was WAY ahead of me the entire race – snuck up on me, passed me, and egged me to go with her! Caught me completely off guard, but it definitely helped me get across that finish line with a smile.

Some of the BibRave Pros and some other new friends in the post-race VIP area. Thank goodness for free pizza.

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REVISITING MY PRE-RACE PRO/CON LISTS

Not-as-excited #1 – The inevitable BONK.

Truthfully, this could have been worse if this race were a more typical marathon with rolling hills and a more average change in elevation. However, because of all the elevation change and the changes I had to make to my race day strategy, the BONK itself didn’t really rear its ugly head as it has in the past. It was more of a consistent process rather than a sudden smack in the face at mile 18-19. I guess that’s a good thing?

Not-as-excited #2 – Hills…I mean, FREAKING MOUNTAINS

Again, MOUNTAINS. And the excitement of the challenge was definitely GONE about midway up the first mountain incline. Knowing I’d have to do it again TWICE (even though on smaller mountains) was not something I was looking forward to doing.

AND LET’S TALK ABOUT PEAKWOOD. This is the last section of the course with a significant uphill (a la mountain) and it GOES ON FOREVER. AND EVER. AND EVER. This is, without a doubt, my least favorite section of the entire course. Thankfully, there is an end to that misery (and champagne!) and then it’s mostly downhill to the finish – but don’t be fooled, there are a FEW remaining hills (HILLS not mountains) before you’re done.

Not-as-excited #3 – The drive.

“This one, I did to myself.” -ME

The drive TO Roanoke wasn’t too bad. Almost exactly 6 hours door-to-door with no issues or delays. The drive BACK home took…well, a little bit longer. That’s not hard to imagine considering I just ran 26.2 miles and covered over 7000′ of elevation change! Pretty sure I stopped every hour or so, just to get out and walk/stretch. Think it took me almost 9 hours to get home!

In both legs of the drive, my GPS was spot on the whole way, listened to more podcast episodes than I ever have in one sitting, and jammed out to some classic 90’s pop – don’t judge. Major props to the BibRave Podcast, Joe Rogan Experience, The Negative Splits Podcast, and The Morning Shakeout Podcast for helping me pass the time

Excited #1 – New State.

This was the easy part  – adding another state to my list of states in which I’ve completed a marathon. On top of that, Virginia certainly did not disappoint with its hospitality, friendliness, and stunning scenery!

Excited #1a – Running on the Blue Ridge Parkway

Wow, amazing, and unique – three words that barely scratch the surface of how awesome this experience was. The photos I took don’t even do the scenery justice. Go and drive part of the Blue Ridge Parkway if you have the opportunity to do so!

Excited #2 – Hills…I mean, MOUNTAINS

“I know – this one seems out of place. Hear me out though. What good is a race if it doesn’t offer a challenge? This course offers some pretty tough hills that will absolutely challenge my climbing ability as well as probably make my quads feel like someone took a meat tenderizer to them when it’s all said done.” -me, about 2 weeks before the race

Yeah…about that. Naive is an understatement when I look back on that quote. Those “hills” were freaking mountains and challenge me they did – like nothing else before them. The reward at the top of every climb was well worth the pain to get there…and trust me, there was pain…but damn it was hard! My legs, specifically my quads, felt as if someone took a baseball bat covered in aforementioned meat tenderizers and beat me up one side and back down the other. BUT IT WAS WORTH IT!

Excited #3 – Bojangles Bo-Berry Biscuits.

I think the photo speaks for itself. 🙂

*** *** ***

Final Thoughts

Simply put, this would normally be a race I would avoid if only because of the massive elevation change. This is slightly reminiscent of why I chose to avoid a particular race in Cincinnati for so long before running it as well! However, I am so very glad I took a step out of my comfort zone – figuratively and literally – because there is just so much GOOD about this event. Don’t mistake the mountains for hills – trust me, they are mountains and they are tough. However, this race – while challenging – is rewarding in ways that are truly hard to put into words. A huge THANK YOU to Team BibRave for affording me the opportunity to run the Blue Ridge Marathon! 


If you’re looking for a race that will challenge you and a race that has big race amenities, but a small race feel – head to Roanoke and run the Blue Ridge Marathon!


In the days following the Blue Ridge Marathon, I was able to head over to Athlinks and claim my race results. Athlinks allows me to keep all my race results in one location, compare my stats across multiple distances, download a digital finisher certificate (shareable on social), and even see how I compare against friends (read: followers) who might have been in the same race with me.

Check out my Athlinks stats and learn more about how I claim past results as well as why I enjoy using Athlinks. It’s incredibly easy to use and it’s a lot of fun to see races you might have forgotten about pop up in your results feed! So while you’re taking a look around over there, set up your own Athlinks account and start claiming your results!

How to Travel: #BlueRidge Marathon Edition

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


Let me get something out from the onset. This post was supposed to go live last Thursday night and I thought for sure I had hit publish late Thursday night. I did not. Boo on me. As a result, you’re now in for a treat – my pre-race travel tips…from the future…about the past. Don’t worry, I’m confused as well. Enjoy the post!


If you’ve been following me (here, Instagram, Twitter, etc), you probably know that I’m heading to Roanoke, Virginia this weekend for the Foot Levelers Blue Ridge Marathon. I won’t lie – I’m excited AND slightly terrified for this one, the reasons for which are best summed up in my OTHER preview post. However – and again, no big surprise – it really was only a matter of time before one of these race weekend preview posts inevitably focused on the travel aspects associated with such a trip. So, here are some of the tips, tricks, and best practices that put into action to make my race travel as easy as possible.

Plan Ahead

Once I’ve finally determined what race I’m going to do, I have to figure out two basic things: 1) how to get there, and 2) where to stay. Without these things sorted out in advance, the trip can get more hectic and more costly. For this particular trip – happening TOMORROW mind you – I sorted out both of these details more than a month or two ago.

First, how to get to Roanoke.could have opted to fly, but that would have involved leaving (and paying for) a car at the airport, being at the airport 2+ hours early on BOTH ends of the trip, checking a bag (I usually don’t, but depending on the trip it could happen), renting a car, and navigating from the airport to my accommodations. I’ll pass on all that, thank you very much! I’ve opted instead to drive the 6(ish) hours from my home just outside of Columbus, OH. It will allow me to travel on my terms and take breaks when I like, eat what I need/like, and so on. The obvious downside is being awake and driving for 6 hours, but I’ll take it. All it costs me is gas and a little money for the West Virginia turnpike – thank goodness my car gets pretty decent gas mileage!

So, how’d that whole driving thing go? It wasn’t too bad. The drive down felt like it went fairly quick. Minimal stops, no delays on the roads, decent weather. The trip BACK to Ohio, however, was the driving equivalent to watching a sloth – slow and not very exciting. LOTS of stops to stretch, hydrate, and walk. 

After making that decision, I have to figure out where to stay. The initial and probably more obvious option is a hotel relatively close to the center of the action. While this is great and probably offers more amenities, there’s also very likely a higher price tag that comes with it. For such a short trip and for as little as I’ll actually be in the space, I don’t need all that a hotel offers. For the Blue Ridge Marathon, I secured a really fantastic location via AirBnB. I’ve had really great success in the past – we used the service for our honeymoon in 2014 – so it was definitely worth a look. My rental is less than a mile (a 15 minute walk) from the start/finish line and for less than $90 for one night. This is HUGE for me because proximity to the start/finish, overall cost, and ease of access were paramount. Obviously, everyone’s preferences are going to vary and specific needs will dictate what type of accommodation work the best, so do your homework and find what works for you and your specific situation.

How was your AirBnB? It proved to be a GREAT decision. Perfect location in reference to the start/finish and super simple. There were the essentials and that was it – bathroom, shower, tv, bed. I was only there for a night, so that’s all I needed. Hands down, one of the best AirBnB’s I’ve ever booked.

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

This piece of advice applies to many aspects of life – not just travel – but it does bear repeating. Whether you are a seasoned business traveler or a casual leisure traveler, being unfriendly or just plain rude can come back and bite you. If your flight is delayed or you get stuck in traffic, etc. – trust me, there are other people experiencing the same issue(s). Know your plan, but be ready to ditch it. Thankfully, I didn’t need to do this. I had things laid out in such a way that there were contingencies in place, but didn’t need them at all. The plan actually workout and I had an amazing weekend! Be patient even when your patience is tested to the max. Finally, be flexible. Sometimes the best experiences come when you have to call an audible. Keep these things in mind when traveling, because occasionally, you may find yourself being rewarded for it in the end!

Whether you are running the Blue Ridge Marathon, the Boston Marathon, or anywhere in between – here’s wishing you all a fantastic weekend of racing!

Blue Ridge Marathon Preview

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

Want to take on the challenge of “America’s Toughest Road Marathon” yourself? Click HERE to register and use the code BLUERIDGEBIBRAVE save 20% on registration.


In less than 2 weeks, I’m going to make the trip south/southeast to Roanoke, VA for the Foot Levelers Blue Ridge Marathon. It’ll be my first big road race of 2019 and, as a preview, I thought I’d briefly jump in and talk about the things I’m excited about for race weekend…and maybe a few things I’m less than thrilled about…so let’s go! Just a heads up: you can continue to follow my journey to Roanoke and how race weekend goes over on Instagram and/or Twitter.

Excited #1 – New State.

About a year or so ago, I laid out a goal to run a marathon in each of the 50 states. To date, there truly has not been much traction to get this goal knocked out. However, I did get state number 2 – New York – in 2017, which will make Virginia state number 3. It should be noted that I have been to Virginia before, just haven’t run a race there of any kind. Definitely still have a long way to go on this one, but the fact that I’m no longer at one anymore is definitely a plus.

Excited #1a – Running on the Blue Ridge Parkway

Did I mention we get to run on the Blue Ridge Parkway? I’ve never even DRIVEN on that stretch of road. I’m always up for visiting another iconic American motorway – even if I’m not necessarily going to drive it!

Excited #2 – HILLS.

I know – this one seems out of place. Hear me out though. What good is a race if it doesn’t offer a challenge? This course offers some pretty tough hills that will absolutely challenge my climbing ability as well as probably make my quads feel like someone took a meat tenderizer to them when it’s all said done. It should be noted though that my current marathon PR was on one of the hilliest marathon courses in Ohio…so, here’s hoping that hill magic carries over to Blue Ridge!

Excited #3 – Bo-Berry Biscuits.

Let’s be honest, this has NOTHING to do with the race itself. Having lived in the south (North Carolina) for a few years, I fell in love with FOOD. One particular treat my wife and I thoroughly enjoy is the Bo-Berry Biscuit from Bojangles. We love them so much that we picked up 3-4 cases of them on the way back from vacation on the NC coast a few years back. So, my apologies to the Foot Levelers Blue Ridge Marathon for this last one not really anything to do with the race, but we don’t have the privilege of Bojangles locations in Ohio AND you have to know I’m going to want to eat everything I can find after the race!

Not-as-excited #1 – The inevitable BONK.

Throughout January and February, my training was pretty on point. I was diligent as far as ensuring that I got a workout in and, for the most part, stayed on schedule with the training plan. Then March arrived and the wheels came off and the plan got pushed aside. No definitive root cause here, just a lack of discipline this time around. With that in mind, I know that at some point on this course I am bound to experience a pretty gnarly BONK which does not excite me. However, I’ve run enough races at this distance to know how my body reacts and how to overcome. It’s not so much that I’m anxious about the BONK (trust me, I am) – it’s being anxious over how I’ll tackle it.

Not-as-excited #2 – HILLS.

Speaking of things to tackle at this race…HILLS. Let’s be honest here, they aren’t hills so much as they are MOUNTAINS. Look at a map of Roanoke – they’re called MOUNTAINS and there are THREE of them on this course. This race has the most elevation change of any road race in the US – 7,400 feet! I thought a certain marathon in Cincinnati was a good primer, but everyone I talk to says that’s not quite a valid comparison. If my training had gone a little more according to plan, I may not be as concerned, but it hasn’t. Now I just have to wait and let the race play out.

Not-as-excited #3 – The drive.

This one, I did to myself. I opted to drive to Roanoke, which I’ll do the day before the race after a full 8-hour shift at work. However, it didn’t make sense to fly and all the hullaballoo that goes with it would just add to my stress level. Driving, though, allows me to make my own course corrections en route if needed and allows me to travel at my own speed – not dependent on an airline schedule/delays. It’s not exactly a short drive, but far from the longest amount of time I’ve spent in a car at one time. On the brightside, it does allow me to stop and snag up some biscuits…

***

So, there you have it – my brief mid-afternoon preview of my trip to Roanoke next week. I’m looking forward to keeping you updated on prep leading up to the trip next week as well as all the happenings of said trip.

Until next time – keep striving!


Want to take on the challenge of “America’s Toughest Road Marathon” yourself? Click HERE to register and use the code BLUERIDGEBIBRAVE save 20% on registration.

REVIEW: Stunt Runner Leash from Stunt Puppy

“Disclaimer: I received a Stunt Puppy Stunt Runner Leash 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!”


Team America: World Police (Paramount Pictures, 2004)

As a runner, I’m kind of a loner. While that isn’t necessarily a bad thing, it’s not always fun.

I’ll join in on the occassional group run with my hometown running club, but due to work & parenting, my ability to do so is limited. Even when I do, I am often either going further (which means starting/ending by myself) OR going at a harder/faster pace. Running alone has its benefits though – allowing me to just focus in on my running, let the stressors of the day, the week, or the month (or even your year…I’ll be there for you…) just fade away for an hour.

Back at home though, I have a very energetic 6 year old dachshund/beagle mix who LOVES to run. Our backyard is her playground, but I know she wants to get out and explore. When she’s on a traditional leash, she tends to pull a little bit more than I’d like. This is problematic when trying to maintain somewhat decent form, even on an easy run. Ultimately, that also makes running with her not enjoyable and not something we share very often (read: ever). As you may have guessed by this point, that has definitely changed!

Enter the Stunt Runner from Stunt Puppy.

What is it?

The Stunt Runner is designed, as you would imagine, for those who want the freedom to run with their dog(s) without the constant struggle of a wrist-based leash.

Built for any runner – road or track (consult your local track rules first), trail or sidewalk – and their four-legged companion, the Stunt Runner is incredibly lightweight and relatively unnoticeable. It’s adjustable for any situation, providing plenty of space while on the trails or keeping you and your pup a little closer while on city sidewalks. The bungee section absorbs the action and variances in stride, speed, and direction between you and your doggo.

What I Like

What isn’t to like about the Stunt Runner leash?! I get to run…with my dog…without fear of arms/wrists getting pulled the wrong direction. It’s a win-win for everyone. On top of that…

  • Comfortable. When I put the Stunt Runner on, I don’t really notice it – aside from the fact I have a belt strapped around my waist which happens to be attached to a dog. Also, it doesn’t rub or irritate which was definitely a concern going in!
  • Flexible. I can let Ruby run well out in front and still keep up with her if we’re out at the local park. I can tighten things up and keep her closer if we’re venturing into our downtown area. Either way, she’s close and I’ve still got a sense of control on her.
  • Shalane approved. Two birds, one stone. Not only can I walk Ruby, but I can do it safely while pushing Shalane around the block. Also, she loves getting to see Ruby in a setting that isn’t our living room. Double bonus!

What I Don’t

Honestly, I’ve got nothin’! The Stunt Runner leash genuinely provides a solution to a problem I’ve been trying to figure out for a while and it hits the nail right on the head. Having the opportunity to test this out has been nothing but good!

Final Take

The anxiety I felt leading into this review was real in a lot of ways, mainly because I genuinely wasn’t sure Ruby would be open to this. I wasn’t sure that I would be open to this. I am SO GLAD I gave it a shot.

This is a no-brainer, friends. If you already run with your dog, but use a traditional leash – you need the Stunt Runner. If you don’t run with your dog, but want to (like I did) – you also need the Stunt Runner. The Stunt Runner is comfortable and flexible, meaning less pain on your arms or wrists from pulling, and it provides a hands-free (and much less stressful) solution to dog walking/running.

This has been one of my favorite products to review as a BibRave Pro and I truly cannot recommend it highly enough. I’ve always wanted to run with Ruby, but never found the right solution to make it happen – until now.

Loner, no more!


Check out what other BibRave Pros are saying about the Stunt Runner from Stunt Puppy

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