TAR HEEL TOUGH-Tar Heel 10 miler race recap

Disclaimer: I received free entry to Tar Heel 10 Miler 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!”

As a graduate of UNC-CH, this race will always hold a special place. I’ve run it every year for the past 5 years, so I jumped at the chance to run this race while representing Bibrave.

As in the last couple years, I choose to partake in the Double Down Challenge. The challenge involves running the 4 miler and finishing it before the start line of the 10 miler closes, then running that as well. The 4 miler started at 7:15, and the starting line for the 10 miler closes at 8:00.

The race management was exceptional when it comes to the double down challenge, the had a dedicated lane for the participants as they finished the 4 miles, so they weren’t held up getting to the 10 mile start.

This year’s race was a little different, as I was crazy enough to register for a half marathon the day after this race so I had to control my effort. Weather was not kind as it rained all morning and half way through the 4 miler. We all know what happens after the rain, that’s right, humidity skyrockets and it did just that.

4 Miler

My plan going in was to semi-race the 4 miles and then take it easy on the 10 miles. If you take out the humidity and hills, the 4 miler pretty much went as planned. I finished in 32 minutes, which have me more than enough time to walk back to the 10 mile start.

10 Miler

The 10 miler was rough. The humidity wasn’t letting up and there were 3 times as many hills, including the dreaded Laurel Hill. Yes the hill that is so bad that they time you to see how long it takes you to reach the top. I didn’t even bother trying to run up it, I like many, choose to just walk up. I actually walked up the majority of the hills just so I could save my legs for the following day. I finished around 1:30, with a total Double Down time of 2:03.

Medals

For completing the challenge, you receive medals for the 4 mile and 10 mile, along with a double down Medal.

Recommendation

Despite the hills, I still 100% recommend this race. It is well managed, beautiful course through campus, great shirts and amazing medals. Put this one on your calendar for 2020.

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Join Me in the Fast Lane-Knockaround Fast Lanes Product Review

“Disclaimer: I received a pair of Knockaround Fast Lanes sunglasses 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!”

SUNNY DAYS
It’s spring time, so you can never have enough sunnies to protect your peepers. When the opportunity to test sunglass brand Knockaround’s newest product, Fast Lanes, I jumped at the chance. I have tested the Knockaround brand previously, and came away impressed. I was anxious to see if Knockaround could catch “sun in a bottle” twice.

ENTER THE FAST LANES
How are fast lanes different from the other Knockaround sunglasses?
-clean-cut, rectangular lenses
-available in wide range of classis and vibrant colors
-designed to look great on medium and larger face shapes
-FDA-approved; impact-resistant lenses with full UV400 protection
-embedded “K” logos on the arms 

STYLE 
The color I received was the Grey Monochrome w/ Smoke lenses. To be honest, I was not sure these sunglasses would work out for me. If you look in my description above, you see mention that Fast Lanes were designed to look great on medium and larger face shapes. I personally think my face is on the smaller size, so not sure how they would look on me. Turns out I was worrying for nothing because the Fast Lanes look pretty snazzy on me. I think the slightly larger lenses, are more stylish for casual wear. My Knockarounds are now my goto shades when I am driving.

DURABILITY
Fast Lanes are being marketed as “durable and strong enough to stand up to your fast-paced lifestyle”, so you know I had to test that out. I let my little one hold on to them for about an hour. They were dropped, thrown, grabbed, etc but they held up. I will agree, they are durable. 

PRICE
The Knockaround Fast Lanes sale for $20, that it! You can grab you a couple of pair for that price. If you choose the polarized lenses, they are only $5 bucks more at $25.00. A great price for a quality product. You can even save an extra 20% using my code BIBRAVEKNOCKS1

RECOMMENDATION
If you want some good quality sunglasses that won’t break your pockets, these Knockaround Fast Lanes are a no-brainer. Ample color options, durable and most of all, stylish. Use my code and grab yourself a pair OR two.

Tar Heel 10 miler (Double Down challenge) Prep

Looking ahead to Tar Heel 10 miler, the countdown is on. I’ve run this race the past 4-5 years and always enjoy it. Training thus far has been going pretty good for most part. I’ll mentoring a group of runners in the PR Squad, so I’m training along side of them. PR Squad is a subpart of the larger Fleet Feet half/full marathon training program. We have done a lot of hills and Interval work during the session. The hill work so definitely help when it comes to tackling the monster known as Laurel Hill at the Tar Heel 10. Just think of a mile long 45 degree angle hill.

There has been one hiccup during training, I caught a stomach bug the had been going around. My whole house had it at some point. Not fun and it derailed one of my long runs. I did go back a few days later and try to do the run. I cut it short because although my pace was ok but my heart rate was high, so I knew I was working harder than I needed to. Aka i wasn’t fully recovered. ALWAYS LISTEN TO YOUR BODY AND BE MINDFUL OF YOUR HR. Majority of your training runs should have your HR in Green or orange zone, of you’re in red, slow down/stop.

That’s it for now, stay tuned when I post my post TarHeel 10 miler recap.

Tar Heel 10….Again

Disclaimer: I was given entry into Tar Heel 10 as part of being a Bibrave Pro. Learn more about being a Bibrave Pro (ambassador) visit Bibrave.com.

Excited to be given the opportunity to run the tar heel 10 miler for yet another year. I don’t exactly know how many consecutive years I’ve done this race, but it’s definitely more than 5 years. This year will be my 3rd year doing the double down challenge, which requires you to run the 4 miler and then run the 10 miler right after. It’s challenging and fun at the same time. Stay tuned as I prepare for this race in April.

Super Bites, Super Flavor-Food Groove Super Food Bites Review

Disclaimer: I received Food Groove Mission Super food Bites 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 had never heard of Food Grooves before, but I was more than willing to give their super bites a test. I received a box of 10 Super Bite bags in 3 different flavors. Food Groove Mission was started in Dallas, TX by a husband and wife. Superfoods were already a big part of their lives so they decided to create a superfood snack that everyone can enjoy. He use of bites instead of bars, gives you the flexibility to eat as much or as little as you want and carry them anywhere. He bites are also gluten free and paleo friendly.

FLAVORS
These super bites come in 3 tasty flavors: Mother Earth, Holy Truffle Punch and The Nutty Adventurer. Let’s explore what each contains and I will let you in on which flavor became my favorite.

Mother Earth
This was the inaugural flavor of the super food bites, enfusedwith a wholesome combination of unique berries, seeds and nuts. These bites give off a sweet and tart taste with every bite.As you can see by the ingredients list, all good things go into these bites: Organic Medjool Dates, Organic Pumpkin Seeds, Organic Goji Berries, Organic Cacao Nibs, Organic Golden Berries, Organic Unsweetened Coconut Chips (Organic Coconut), Organic Almonds, Organic Flaxseed Meal (Organic Ground Flaxseeds), Organic Almond Flour (Organic Almonds), Organic Açaí Powder, Protein Blend (Grass-fed Lean Beef Protein Powder, Egg Protein Powder, Vanilla Extract, Monk Fruit Extract, Sunflower Lecithin), Organic Chia Seeds, Organic Rooibos Powder, Raw New Zealand Manuka Honey Umf 16+

The Nutty Adventurer
A burst of peanut butter goodness. I am a big fan of peanut butter so I went into this testing thinking that this flavor would be my favorite, but it was not. These bites were delicious but they were one up’d. Ingredients: Organic Medjool Dates, Organic Pumpkin Seeds, Organic Goji Berries, Organic Cacao Nibs, Organic Golden Berries, Organic Unsweetened Coconut Chips (Organic Coconut), Organic Almonds, Organic Flaxseed Meal (Organic Ground Flaxseeds), Organic Peanut Butter (Organic Peanuts), Organic Almond Flour (Organic Almonds), Organic Açaí Powder, Protein Blend (Grass-fed Lean Beef Protein Powder, Egg Protein Powder, Vanilla Extract, Monk Fruit Extract, Sunflower Lecithin), Organic Chia Seeds, Organic Rooibos Powder, Raw New Zealand Manuka Honey Umf 16+

Holy Truffle Punch
A pure spark of dark chocolate. Now we come to my favorite flavor, holy truffle punch. The one thing I like more just as much as peanut butter, is chocolate and these bites definitely tickle the taste buds. These are great healthy alternative for after meal snack. Ingredients: Organic Medjool Dates, Organic Dark Chocolate (Organic Cocoa Mass, Organic Coconut Palm Sugar, Organic Cocoa Butter), Organic Pumpkin Seeds, Organic Goji Berries, Organic Cacao Nibs, Organic Golden Berries, Organic Unsweetened Coconut Chips (Organic Coconut), Organic Almonds, Organic Flaxseed Meal (Organic Ground Flaxseeds), Organic Almond Flour (Organic Almonds), Organic AçaiPowder, Protein Blend (Grass-fed Lean Beef Protein Powder, Egg Protein Powder, Vanilla Extract, Monk Fruit Extract, Sunflower Lecithin), Organic Chia Seeds, Organic Rooibos Powder, Raw New Zealand Manuka Honey Umf 16+

PRICE
These tasty treats can be yours for only $3.99 a pouch, or you can get a box(10 pouches) for $39.99. Join the Bite Club and you can customize your 10 pouches any way you wish and even decide when you receive.

RECOMMENDATION
Ever have the urge to snack during the day but you feel guilty because your snacks aren’t healthy? These bites are a no-brainer and healthy alternative to other snacks.

For Chocolate and Hill Lovers-Allstate Hot Chocolate Charlotte 15K/5K Race Review

Disclaimer: I received a free entry to Allstate Hot Chocolate 15K/5K as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com

I was excited to be able to run the Allstate Hot Chocolate 15k/5k for the 2nd year in a row.  I was anxious to see how the race had evolved after it’s inaugural race in 2018. 

EXPO
Sadly, my better half couldn’t get off work early enough for us to make it to Charlotte in time for the expo. I was looking forward to the chocolate samples, but lucky for me, a couple of my Bibrave sisters picked up my packet for me and even dropped it off at my hotel for me. 
SWAG
I can honestly say that Allstate Hot Chocolate races has some of the best swag I have ever received at a race. This year was no different, as the participants received a full-zip winter running jacket with hood. The guys received black and women color was a reddish maroon color. To top it off, the jackets have thumb holes.
RACE DAY
The forecast for race morning had changed a few different times. Up until friday, there was a 60% chance of rain on saturday morning but it changed friday night. The rain was supposed to hold off until around 11am, which would give me more than enough time to finish and get back to my hotel. I stayed at Aloft and the starting line was like a 4-5 block walk, so not bad at all BUT it was low 40s. It was cold but I still opted for shorts and short-sleeve shirt because I knew I would warm up pretty fast once the race started. The starting line area(also the finish line area) had booths already set up for the finishers. Huge shoutout to Allstate for being the only booth that though to bring heater towers. They had 3 and a lot of the runners gathered around them to stay warm before the race start. The 5k began at 7:30, and 15k was scheduled to start 15 minutes later. We started 3 minutes later than scheduled because some of the 5k runners arrived late so we gave them time to get out on the course. The 15k started and within quarter of a mile, we had already hit our first hill. As with the whole route, it was full of uphill and downhills. The crisp temperature helped keep me refreshed throughout the battle with the hills. About halfway through the race, it began to drizzle. Thankfully it wasn’t a downpour, but the drizzle wasn’t bad enough to really cause any issues outside of making it hard to see out of my sunglasses. The volunteers maning the water stops were great and were constantly yelling their support. The police officers controlling traffic were also a huge help. You had to fight through 1 last uphill before crossing the finish line. I finished about a minute and a half slower than 2018, but I was satisfied seeing how the course had more hills than last year.
POST-RACE
Crossing the finish line you are greeted by volunteers handing out medals, before you can pick up a cup of Nuun and bottle water. The post-race festivities were about a 100 yards away from the finish so just a short walk. In the finisher’s area, you could take a picture in from of the Hot chocolate inflatable, but more importantly you can pick up your post-race chocolate mug. The mug contained a section of warm melted chocolate, cup of hot chocolate, rice crispy treat, marshmallow, banana and chocolate sticks. None of that food stood a chance, I finished it all off before starting my walk back to the hotel. There was also a booth that was serving tacos and rice.
Recommendation
No brainer, Allstate Hot Chocolate 15K/5K Charlotte is a must run. Yes, it is challenging but it is still a fun race and very well-managed. Did I fail to mention, FREE RACE PHOTOS. Hopefully I will run it again in 2020 to make it 3 years in a row.

2018 Race Year in Review; Preparation for Hot Chocolate

Looking back at my 2018 race year, it definitely had it’s ups and downs. As I am ramping up my training for my first race of 2019, Hot Chocolate 15k Charlotte, I can’t help but reflect back on 2018. The first half of the year started well enough, I ran my first ever Hot Chocolate race(Charlotte) as well as knocked out a few half marathons. I was within seconds of running a new half marathon PR at Tobacco Road Half Marathon, and I ran Oak Island half marathon for the first time. The first half of the year was also bittersweet, because I ran Rock and Roll Raleigh for the last time. This was my home city’s Rock and Roll and I had run it every year since it began 5 years ago. All the complaints from downtown churches, finally took it’s toll because the Rock and Roll series decided it would not be coming back to Raleigh.
In June I traveled to kansas city to run the Hospital Hill Half Marathon. This was my 2nd year running it as a part of the Bibrave family. By far the hillest race, with its constant up and down. Unfortunately, I also think this race is where I injured myself. I was due to began my marathon training in July and my lower legs were just constantly giving me trouble after Hospital Hill. I admit I began to worry heading into the start of training. I had a goal to accomplish in my marathon…I wanted a sub 4. Since I only run 1 marathon a year, I had been waiting a year to try to redeem myself from 2017. In 2017 I ran the Chicago Marathon and was on pace to break sub 4 easily until mile 23. At 23 I caught cramps in both calves, I hobbled to the finish with a time of 4:01. I was mad and upset, and it bothered me like nothing else.
Training started and I decided to go with a new training program, I was going to do the 3 x 2 training.(run 3 days, bike 2 days) Needless to say, training did not start well, I couldn’t hit my pace marks and my legs were not getting any better. Regardless of the pace, I was still doing the set miles needed and hoping that would pay off when it counted. I finally gave in and seeked help from a physical therapist. Kari at Run Raleigh was amazing, and after 4-5 sessions I began to feel like I was turning a corner with my injury. My pace began to drop back down to normal range and the pain was not as severe. Richmond Marathon was in sight and I felt like I was ready, although I didn’t know if I had done enough in training to get that sub 4. Race weekend comes around and I do all my normal routines, which include carb loading at local italian restaurant. I won’t mention the restaurant we chose by name, but they had 5 stars and made their own pasta in-house. Everything was good the night before the race but when I woke up on race morning…..trouble was waiting. Serious GI issues, and I suspected that I could have food poisoning. I couldn’t stay out of the bathroom, but I knew I wouldn’t forgive myself if I didn’t at least still try.(crazy I know) I was drinking gatorade and ginger ale hoping to rehydrate. I made it to the start line and felt like I was going to go for it. I started out, and things were not too bad and I was running around 9 min pace. At mile 8 I began to feel some uneasiness in my stomach but tried to keep going. I made it all the way to mile 14 before, my body said no more. I was dehydrated and could barely walk. I sat down on the curb, securing my first DNF ever. My runners stopped and asked if I needed anything and someone since the cops back to check on me. Ended up having to be picked up by the ambulance and taken to the emergency room to get pumped up with fluids. I was still determined to run a marathon and luckily I found Kiawah Island marathon that was taking place 3 weeks after Richmond. I signed up.
In between richmond and Kiawah Island, I attended The Running Event in Austin Texas. If you don’t know about TRE, you should go back and read my previous blog posts about The Running Event. I returned home, ready to give the marathon one my try. My last chance before the end of 2018.
Kiawah Island is in South Carolina, which was about a 4 hour drive. Race day it was in the low 40s, almost perfect running weather. I started the race strong and was feeling good. I tried to keep my mind on the mile I was in, but I admit my mind would drift off at moments and I would think about Chicago Marathon. I couldn’t have a repeat performance. Other times I would get excited and think I am going to do it, before I again had to bring myself back to the mile I was in. Once I hit mile 23, there was no cramping but things got tough. My legs began to hurt but I didn’t want to stop, I could taste my goal. I crossed the finish line with a time of 3:57, a new marathon PR and MY SUB 4 Marathon. I was super excited but didn’t really show it as I limped around the post race festivities.
And that’s it, that is how my 2018 race year ended. It ended on the highest of notes and I couldn’t be happier. Now, what awaits me in 2019, I don’t know. I know it will start with Hot Chocolate 15k Charlotte. I will be running Cherry Blossom 10 miler in April and I still hope to run New York City Marathon, after being denied the past 3 years. If I can’t get into NYC, I will either to Marin Corps Marathon or try to redeem myself in Richmond. It will be my 5th marathon so I feel like it should either by NYC or back where it all began with Marine Corps(my first marathon). I don’t know but stay tuned for race year 2019, I think it will be an exciting one.

Check All the Boxes-Brooks Ghost 11 & Canopy Jacket Product Review

I received Brooks products(Brooks Ghost 11 and Brooks Canopy jacket) 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 Brooks brand is well-known throughout the running community, whether you have used them or not, is a personal preference. I personally have loved Brooks since I stumbled upon them when I first started running. When I began running, I was clueless to the idea of running shoes. I was running in some Nike Shox and was having severe shin splits. I started doing my research and had a gait analysis done at a running expo for which Brooks was sponsor. After that day, I bought my first pair of Brooks and haven’t looked back since. Needless to say, I was all smiles when I saw Brooks gear in our swag bag from The Running Event. I was given a pair of Brooks Ghost 11 and a Brooks Canopy running jacket.

BROOKS CANOPY JACKET(Nightlife)

·         Wind and Water Protection(breathable wind and water-resistant fabric keeps you dry)

·         Storable Hood

·         DriLayer Seal Fabric(lets air in, keeps rain out)

·         Packs into its left-hand pocket

I love this jacket! Not only does it keep you warm on those crisp mornings/evenings, it is water-resistant. The water-resistant aspect is what I have been lacking with other jackets I have tried. Others brands I have tried have either been too light, thus not keeping you warm, or not breathable, thus you are sweating heavily because no air can get in. This Canopy jacket merges both worlds together perfectly. Extra benefit with the Nighlife color I received, is it has the neon yellow accents as well as built in reflective areas so you can easily be seen at night and pre-dawn. I took this jacket out for several runs and loved that it wasn’t too heavy, as well as, the option to use the hood or snap it back. The last and probably one of my favorite features is it is packable. That’s right, the whole jacket can pack right inside the left hand pocket, zip up, and has a nice band you can use to attach to your arm. I was able to put this to the test during one of my recent long runs. The temps were in the high 30s when I started out but pushed its way into the mid 40s halfway through my run. I was able to take off the jacket, pack it into the pocket and continue my run without having to worry about the hassle of securing the jacket around my waist. 

BROOKS GHOST 11     

I mentioned earlier that Brooks was one of my favorite brands, well their Brooks Ghost are one of my favorite shoes. In all I think I have had at least 3 or 4 pairs of Ghost, dating back to the Ghost 8.  

·         Balanced, Soft Cushioning

·         Segmented Crash Pad, so no matter how your foot lands, you get a smooth ride

·         Soft, Secure Fit

I always have high expectations whenever the new Ghosts drop, and these didn’t disappoint. I had been waiting to buy a pair, but thanks to the generosity of Brooks, I didn’t have too with their inclusion in our swag bag. The Ghost are considered a Neutral running shoe, and that is what seems to work best for me. I felt the same cushioned ride during my runs as I got in the previous versions of Brooks Ghost, with the added feature of DNA Loft softness and BioMoGo DNA responsiveness. These 2 technologies work together to provide a just-right softness underfoot without losing responsiveness and durability. The shoes are not too hard or soft, they fit somewhere in between and when you are running they feel a bit lighter. I could definitely feel the difference in the responsiveness in the shoe on the foot strike, it almost felt like it was bouncing back. This benefit is especially valuable as the miles start adding up during a run. The stretch fabric used to construct these beauties is breathable, so you don’t have to worry about your feet sweating as much.

RECCOMENDATON
Yes and Yes, to both products. I feel like the canopy jacket is a no-brainer, good jackets are hard to find and this once checks all the boxes for me. I also really love the Brooks Ghost 11, but if you require a shoe with more “support” this may not work for you. I know Brooks also makes a support shoe that will check the boxes for you, like the Ravenna or Adrenaline.