I Keep Coming Back for the Chocolate -Allstate Hot Chocolate 15K Charlotte

“Disclaimer: I received an entry to Allstate Hot Chocolate 15K Charlotte 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!”

Year Number 5 complete. I was super excited to get back to IRL racing and taking on the Allstate Hot Chocolate 15K in Charlotte. I admit I was a little worried I might have trouble running this year due to an address mix-up. I registered for the race back in September & paid extra for my packet to be mailed, and we ended up moving in December. I had my mail forwarded, but I didn’t even think twice about this race packet…..until I received an email saying it was shipped. You guessed it, my first response was “oh *$%#”. I emailed the coordinator and tried to contact postal service to see if I could do anything. I thought maybe the postal service would re-route, but they couldn’t. The packet was due to arrive on 2/8, with the race being on the 19th. Postal Service coudln’t do anything, so I was forced to watch the tracking each day as the packet got closer and closer to my old address. On the 8th, the status said delivered but then switched to forwarded. I thought “great, they will send to my new address” Today is the 26th and the status still says “forwarded”. I still traveled to the race and went to the customer service booth at the expo. I explained what happened and they printed my a new bib on the spot, great that was the most important thing. As far as the swag, they didn’t have anything extra of my size but they gave me a code to order it, and it would take 4-6 weeks.

As for the race itself, you could feel the excitement in the air by all the runners. Everyone was excited to be running in person after having to do it virtually last year. The DJ was playing catchy tunes, as well as providing some pre-race entertainment. 

The starting corrals were packed full and before you know it, we were off. We were off right into a uphill incline. This race has so many hills, yet I keep torturing myself because I have to maintain my legacy status. I have run the race every year it has been around, so that’s 5 years. 5 year legacy also came with a nice legacy gift, an insulated mug. Back to the race, because I had run in many years in a row, I knew what to expect and monitored my pace accordingly. I watched all the ambitious runners handing out too fast, and thought in my mind..”ill be seeing you again soon”. One thing that I did notice was that the pacers were going much faster than the pace they were suppose to maintain. For instance, the 8:00 pacer was well out in front of me and I was running sub 8 miles. Between miles 6 & 7 is a hill that I named “The humbler” because it does just that…humbles a runner. I was greeted with water and medal upon crossing the finish line. Once you make your way to the finisher’s village, you are greeted with more music and the answer to your chocolate dreams; hot chocolate and melted chocolate, along wtih all the fun things to dip: banana, rice krispy treat, cookies, graham crackers and marshmallows.

Safe to say, I will be doing this race again next..torture hills and all. I highly recommend checking out Charlotte or any Hot Chocolate races in the future.

Race Week-Allstate Hot Chocolate 15k Charlotte

It’s race week for the Allstate Hot Chocolate 15K Charlotte. Looking forward to getting back out there and doing my first solo IRL race of the 2022 season(i did a marathon relay last weekend). I am already a Legacy for this race, I have run it every year since it began there and I think this will be year 5. I am already thinking about all the chocolate goodies that will be waiting for us at the finish line on Saturday.

This will also mark the first race my family will actually travel with me to attend since Rona showed its ugly face over a year ago. They are excited to get to get out the house and travel, even if it is only a 2 hour ride.

My packet was mailed but still has not arrived, so I am sweating about that. The good ol us postal service is seeing delays everywhere. 

Have you ever run an Allstate Hot Chocolate race? If so, which city was your favorite? Let me know in the comments.

Welcome Back IRL racing- Philadelphia Marathon recap

After almost 2 years, I finally happy to toe the line at my first marathon since the pandemic wrecked havoc on the world and running community. The race…Philadelphia Marathon. I was scheduled to run this race last year and deferred to this year, rather than getting a refund. I admit I was still a little nervous knowing I would be in the presence of thousands of other runners, not knowing if they were has vigilant as I was in trying to stay safe during the pandemic. My worry eased a bit, when we received an email from the Philadelphia Marathon about 6 weeks prior to the race that they were requiring all runners to have proof of vaccination to participate. For those that didn’t want to do that, the option was provided to go virtual or defer to 2022.

Now that I decided to run the race in person, the decision loomed on whether my family would make the trip with me. We ultimately decided that they would not because my son is only 4 and we wanted to protect him. Although I really wanted them there, and ultimately I think it played a part in how I ran the race, I think it was the right thing to do.

The marathon was on Sunday, I decided to arrive on Friday evening so that I had a day to just relax and rest my legs heading into race day. The half marathon was ran Saturday, so I was able to walk a block from my hotel and see the runners come through. After cheering on the runners, I took the half mile walk to get to the expo. They seem to have a good system in place for entry, with one line for runners with their vaccination cards and another for the runners who uploaded their cards to Crowdpass ahead of time(i was the latter). I also made the decision to purchase my items online, so all i had to do was pickup them from the store. The expo itself, left much to be desired. It was very small for a race this size but I am sure Covid restrictions paid a part in how many vendors were allowed in the establishment, etc.

Race morning arrived, I woke up about 3:30am to begin preparation. Temps were in the high 30s, so I opted to bring a throw away jacket since my legs rarely get that cold. The race provided shuttle buses from several locations downtown, one being about 50 yards from my hotel. I hopped on the shuttle that left about 5:15am. All runners were required to mask up on the bus. We arrived at the starting line about 10 minutes later and got through security without issue. 

Race began promptly with the elites being sent off a couple minutes after the wheelchair participants. My wave starting around 7:15am. It was good to see so much crowd support out there, it is probably one of the things I missed the most during covid shutdown. One thing I noticed around mile 4 was…there were way more hills than I was expecting. The Philadelphia Marathon promotes itself as “flat and fast”, but it was anything but flat. Luckily, where I live is lots of hills so I was trained for them…I just hoped I didn’t have to run on them in the race. Lol. The hardest point of the race is probably the miles 19 through 21. This is because this part of the race is a run out and turnaround to head back to finish line. So, you are heading towards mile 20 and you see runners coming back on mile 24-25. The last 3 miles were tough as they were mostly uphill, but I endured and finished with my second fastest marathon time of 3:45(I ran a 3:41 2 years prior). I feel subconsciously, I did not push myself the way I would have if my family was there. I don’t think I wanted to risk anything happening and not having any support there with me.

All in all, it was a great race weekend and Philadelphia did a good job in managing it safely. Thank you Philly and welcome back to IRL racing.

Updated Race Discount Codes

April 2021

4/3/2021 – Allstate Hot Chocolate 15K/5K – Philadelphia, PA

Use code “BRHC20” for a free HC running hat

4/3/2021 – Allstate Hot Chocolate 15K/5K – Louisville, KY

Use code “BRHC20” for a free HC running hat

4/10/2021 – Allstate Hot Chocolate 15K/5K – Minneapolis, MN

Use code “BRHC20” for a free HC running hat

4/10/2021 – Milwaukee Marathon – Milwaukee, WI 

Use code “BR10” for 10% off

4/10/2021 – Virtual Women’s Half Marathon – Anywhere, USA

Use code “BibRAVE$5off” for $5 off any distance

4/17/2021 – Allstate Hot Chocolate 15K/5K – Detroit, MI

Use code “BRHC20” for a free HC running hat

4/17/2021 – Blue Ridge Marathon – Roanoke, VA

Use code “BIBRAVE20” for 20% off

4/25/2021 – Delaware Marathon – Wilmington, DE

Use code “DELAWARERAVE21” for 10% off

May 2021 

5/30/2021 – Coeur d’Alene Marathon – Coeur d’Alene, ID

Use code “BIBRAVE15” for 15% off

June 2021

6/12/2021 – The Governor’s Cup – Helena, MT

Use code “GovCupRave21” good for 10% off

6/19/2021 – Grandma’s Marathon – Duluth, MN

Use code “BIBRAVE1021” for 10% off 

6/26/2021 – Missoula Marathon – Missoula, MN

Use code “BR2021” for $5 off

August 2021

8/28/2021 – Santa Rosa Marathon – Santa Rosa, CA

Use code “RUN5” for $5 off registration

September 2021

9/18/2021 – Air Force Marathon – Dayton, OH

Use code “AFMBR21” for 10% off

9/25/2021 – Sanford Fargo Marathon – Fargo, ND

Use code “RUN5” for $5 off registration

October 2021

10/16/2021 – Urban Bourbon Half Marathon – Louisville, KY

Use code “BIBRAVEUBHM2021” good for 10% off

10/17/2021 – IMT Des Moines Marathon – Des Moines, IA

Use code “BIBRAVE21” for $10 off registration

November 2021

11/13/2021 – Hilton Head Marathon – Hilton Head Island, SC

Use code “RUN5” for $5 off registration

Bittersweet-Virtual Allstate Hot Chocolate 15K Charlotte Review

“Disclaimer: I received a free entry to run the Allstate Hot Chocolate 15K Charlotte 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 most of you know, over the past year, Virtual has become the new now. Virtual meetings through Zoom and Google Meet, virtual races to somewhat fulfill the void left with the lack of IRL races. The AllState Hot Chocolate 5K/15K Charlotte was not any different as most if not all the Hot Chocolate series has decided to go virtual. I have run the Charlotte installment of the series since it’s inception, so although it pains me not to be able to travel to Charlotte to run, I was happy to have the opportunity to knock it out locally and keep my streak going for the 4th year in a row.

SWAG
To start, I am always impressed about how thorough the race organizers are about getting your race packets out to you in a timely fashion. I received an email about 2 weeks before the race, letting me know my packet had been mailed and included tracking information. I received my package about a week before raceday. I personally treated it like a IRL race and refused to open my package until I had earned it. I took the package with me the morning I planned to do the race and tore it open as soon as I was finished.

And can we talk about swag…SWAG. I have lone said that Hot Chocolate is one of the best races as far as swag goes. Let’s take a look at what I found when I popped open my package.

Jacket
Good quality, full zip black jacket. Hot Chocolate emblem on the chest and removable hood.

Medal
Cool medal in the shape of a chocolate bar, that opens up to reveal a little piece of chocolate.

BIB
2 Packs of dark chocolate hot chocolate
2 pieces of chocolate

Honey Stinger

Nuun
A sample of CBD ointment

The Run 

I couldn’t have picked a better day to run this virtual race, although some would say it was too cold. I think the temps were low 30s but felt like 26 with the wind chill. PERFECT! I picked a route that I was familiar with and only had a couple spots that required me to cross over a 2 lane street. I admit, I am totally not big on virtual races because I find it harder to push myself and I always liked to feed off the race spectators. Regardless, I set out and just let my legs do what they wanted. When I finally reached my 9.3 mile mark, I had finished with a 2 minute PR for 15K distance. Couldn’t wait to go to the website and upload my time. So that’s it, another Hot Chocolate in the books and looking forward to racing it IRL in 2022.

Savannah Bridge Run (virtual) Recap

Disclaimer: I received an entry into Savannah Bridge Run(virtual) 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!

With the pandemic wrecking havoc on everyone’s running calendars, I took the time to start looking into some virtual races. My rationale being virtual races will help keep me motivated to crush out the weekend miles through the winter months. I had heard about the Savannah Bridge Run in previous years, so when I was given the opportunity to participate virtually, I jumped on it.

Not only was the Enmarket Savannah Bridge Run ranked in The Bibrave top 20 of races under 10 miles, but runners also refer to it as “The South’s Toughest Bridge Run. Although I certainly missed the opportunity to run of the beautiful bridge in Savannah, I made sure to incorporate some bridges in my virtual run. 

I chose the Double Pump Challenge, which consists of a 5K, followed immediately by a 10K. I took on the strategy of taking the 5K a little faster and coasting through the 10K. I knocked out the 5K in a time of 22:20. I followed that up with a 10K time of 51:50. The weather probably accounted for why I didn’t see very many runners out on the trail.

Post run was very organized, as the race provided a link for you to upload a screenshot of your completed run and also an opportunity to submit a photo for a contest. All finishers swag will be mailed out after 12/5 and I plan to update this blog with some pics.

Hopefully some normalcy will return soon and maybe i will be able to participate the Bridge Run in person for 2021. Until then find you some fun virtual races and keep running. Running Is Not Cancelled.

Back again…. for the Chocolate

“Disclaimer: I received a race entry to Allstate Hot Chocolate 15K Charlotte 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!”

For the 4th year in a row, I will be toeing the line in 2021 for the Allstate Hot Chocolate 15k Charlotte. I’ve been privileged enough to run this race every year since it started in Charlotte and became legacy this year. Before the pandemic took over life as we know it, this race was the last in-person race I was able to complete in 2020. All my other races of 2020 were either cancelled or converted to virtual events.

I, like many others, hope we can look forward to live races again in 2021. Consider joining and meeting me in Charlotte 2021!

Chocolate Dreams-Allstate Hot Chocolate Charlotte race recap

I received an entry into the Allstate Hot Chocolate 15K Charlotte as being a Bibrave Pro. Learn more about becoming a bibrave pro (ambassador), as well as, find read and write race reviews on bibrave.com.

For the 3rd year in a row (every year since it’s been in Charlotte) I ran for chocolate. This year was a little different as upon completion, i would be a legacy runner. It was never a sure thing as my son had been sick and i had been fighting something for a few days leading up to the race. I was still coughing but i figured i had enough to at least finish the miles.

I didn’t even consider trying to PR, instead i settled on a B goal of trying to maintain a sub 8 pace. It is a hilly course but nothing I’m not used to. Mile 6 is the great equalizer and typically separates the runners as it’s a street that is an incline for about ¾ mile. The amount of spectators on the course is low, but I’m hoping they will increase in coming years. As I mentioned, the race had only been around 3 years so still fairly new. I accomplished my B goal and while doing that actually ended up being about 20 seconds from a PR(I was unaware 🤷🏾‍♂️)

What really sets Hot Chocolate races apart are the swag and finish line treats. This year’s swag was a full zip jacket, with ample lining to keep you warm on those cold days. The men’s color was a light blue and ladies was magenta. The finish line treats consist of: hot chocolate, melted chocolate, marshmallow, rice crispy treats, pretzels, banana and honey stinger waffle. This was on top of the finisher’s medal and extra legacy medal.

Hot Chocolate 15k was a success and I got my chocolate fix, as always. Put this one on your race calendar for 2021.

Redemption is Sweet-Richmond Marathon Revenge

I received Gatorade Endurance products 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.

If you have been following my blog you know that in August, I started what I coined as the “Redemption Tour” with the help of Gatorade Endurance. Quick backstory… In November of 2019 I set out to run the Richmond Marathon. Everything is fine leading up to the day of the race. The day before I usually carb load at a local Italian restaurant and I choose one that had a good rating, Bombalini. I woke up the next day with food poisoning and extreme GI issues. I tried to rehydrate as much as I could but I only made it through 14 miles of the race before taking a nice ride in ambulance for dehydration.

Fast forward to this year, and I was determined to redeem myself. I trained my butt off, which consisted of me getting up at 3 and 4 am to get runs in. I felt ready. To avoid a similar fate from last year, I drove 15 minutes out of the way just to go to an Olive Garden to get my pasta. Woke up race morning with no issues and was ready. My bib simply said “TK’s Back”. It was a chilly 39 degrees but I still chose to go with shorts and short sleeves because I knew I would warm up.

At 7:45am we were off. I didn’t look at my watch, just trusted my body and settled into a comfortable pace. As I was running, the course was coming back to me from the year before. Going over the bridge at mile 8, which is where I had to start walking for the first time in 2019. When I got too mile 14 and recognized the exact spot I had to stop and sit, my stomach tighten up and I just ran harder. I knew that was a mental hurdle I had to get over and I did with no problem. During that mile A spectator read my bib and all i heard was “TK’s Back! Hell yeah he is!” I smiled and thought to myself “damn right” At mile 20, I noticed I was on pace to PR and by a good bit. I was determined to finish strong, I was down to my last Gatorade Endurance (Apple pear) after downing ones at mile 7 and 14. I tore open the last gel at 22, hoping it would get me through the last 4. Richmond Marathon is unique in that the last mile is a steep downhill and I took advantage. Still had fuel in the tank so I went full throttle and crossed the finish line with a time of 3:41:29… that’s a 16 minute PR. I relished ringing the PR bell and smiled knowing redemption was mine! Gatorade Endurance kept me energized and with no signs of cramps. Great product.