Latest reviews by Chadd

(2015)
"My First Race at Midnight!"
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This is by far the most unique race I have ever run in Philadelphia. I say that because it took place at midnight during the in24 Philly Race Weekend. Before I get into the race itself let me just explain the in24 weekend first. It is a period from 10:00 AM Saturday to 10:00 AM Sunday that consist of 4 different races. The major race of the weekend was a 24 hour ultra marathon. The goal is for each runner to see how many miles you could do in that time, the Male winner ran 133 miles and Female winner ran 118 miles.

What made the other races in that weekend so fun is that they were all taking place at the same location. So by the time I got to the starting line of the Midnight Madness 8 Miler runners had been running the course for 14 hours already! The starting line was set up like a mini camping area. Runners had tents set up with EZ up's and lawn chairs stationed by their tents. And inside the building a room was used for runners to sleep during the 24 hour period. For someone like me who only ever runs 5K's, 10K's, and Half's this was a new experience for sure.

Now on to the race....

As far as pre race activities go I did not participate in the bib pick up before the race. I picked mine up as I got to the starting line. The bib pick up was held at Philadelphia Runner the day before. I have been a part of that process many times before so it was nothing new to me. You go into the Philadelphia Runner store and usually a table is set up in the back to get your bib. Pretty straight forward and easy process. Since I had plans Friday I chose to pick up mine at the race. This was a simple process. I walked up to a desk, signed a waiver and got my bib and shirt.

The 8 Mile course was a lot of fun. It is the same course that every major Philadelphia race runs. Up Kelly Drive, cross over East Falls Bridge, run back down MLK Dr to the finish. This is called the "Philadelphia River Loop" to locals. It is called that because you are running around the Schuylkill River the whole time. So while I have run this route a million times before this time was a lot more fun because it was midnight. A beautiful area of Philadelphia is called Boathouse Row, if you have never heard of it check it out. It is essentially a row of houses where most major universities house their rowing teams and equipment. What makes it so beautiful is at night every house lights up. Google "Boathouse Row at Night" and you will see what I mean. During the final miles of the race you saw Boathouse row all lit up with the city lights behind it. Even as I type the description it brings a tingle to my arms remembering what an amazing site it was. I tried to get a picture of this but unfortunately between being really sweaty and trying to maintain running it did not work out too well. Run this race to experience it yourself.

The race management group also did a great job keeping the course safe. Since it was run at midnight it was very easy to get lost in the dark. They did warn all runners that there was a 1/4 mile area that was unlit, so to be careful, but honestly I didn't experience that much of an unlit path. There were times where it got dark, but not for too long. During stretches of the course that were not lit with street posts they had their own lights on the course. They were also handing out glow sticks and gave away free reflective armbands, so they did their part of keeping everyone safe.

The course was well prepared with water and aid along the way. Since this was the same course as the ultra marathoners they were prepared for more runners than expected. At one point I got a whole water bottle, which is something I have never gotten at an aid station. It was perfect timing because it was around that time that my hydration vest was running low. So I slowed down and poured the bottle of water into my vest and went back on. Even though it was midnight, it was somewhere around 85 degrees and very humid so my water went fast.

Overall this is a great race for those that want to break out of their comfort zone. Too many races in Philadelphia tend to run the same path at the same time of day where it becomes routine. This race was so outside of the norm that I recommend everyone race it at least once. Plus you will never get a view of the city and boathouse row like that anywhere else.

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(2015)
"Hills, Heat and Hell"
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Hills, Heat and Hell: that’s exactly what this half marathon was. It was full of hills, 75 degrees around the 7:30 AM start time and pure hell. However still tons of fun! The race was at Pennypack Park in the Northeast section of Philadelphia. I had never run in this park before so I was interested to see how it went. And foolishly I didn’t read the course description until after I signed up.

From the website regarding the course:
The course utilizes the paved bike path along Pennypack Creek. No traffic at all. You get to run miles and miles within the city limits of Philadelphia without seeing a house or a car at all. The midsection of the course features a bunch of short but steep rolling hills along with a trail section (Mount cuckoo). Some have referred to our course as an Achterbahn (“rollercoaster”). It’s certainly not an easy race, but do-able, a good challenge for the experienced runner.
Is this a Boston Qualifier? Hell no!!!!! !!!This is a summer race, there is a good chance that high temps will make this harder than you anticipate!!! I recommend running the marathon only if you are an experienced runner, who can handle all kinds of adversity. You have been warned :-). No whining on race day.

There is a good chance that high temps will make this harder??? You got that right! But at least I was warned. The path for the run was beautiful though (pics below). It ran along a creek for the majority of the run and from mile 6 to 7 was all throughout a trail. So at least the sights and sounds made you forget you were in hell.

Now for my race break down:

Bib Pick Up/ Race Swag

The bib pick up for this half was very underwhelming. It was held in the basement of what looked like a German National club. If it was that kind of club that would make sense considering the run was German themed. Regardless bib pick up left a lot to be desired. They had a few tables set up with a couple of kids giving out bibs and swag. Lucky for me the two kids at my section must have been brother and sister and were fighting while I was trying to get my bib. The entire pick up seemed like a family was running it out of their house. They did have a few displays of the awards they would ultimately give out, which were German cuckcoo clocks. But other than that the Bib Pick up was not a highlight. In and out. The shirt and bag were nice. The shirt seemed like it was a tech material. However it was a deep brown with just the logo of the race on the top left of the front of the shirt.

Bib Pick Up/ Swag Grade: C-

Course:

I already gave a description of the course above. And the description on the website held true to form. There were rolling hills for the majority of the race and the heat was out in full force. But the scenery of the course was beautiful. Being in the city limits of Philadelphia it is hard to find 13.1 miles that isn’t packed with cars or pedestrians. So to be able to run in Philadelphia but with that much open land and scenery made for a great time. Hills and heat aside I loved the course. There were times during the run when I would look around and just take in my surroundings and forget about the run itself.

Course Grade: A- (the minus is for the heat and hills).

What made this run so memorable was that Bart Yasso started in the same wave as I did. How cool is it that I got to start a half marathon with the mayor of running?? 2 years ago I would have never fully appreciated that moment so I am very happy I got to experience that. I did fight with myself on whether or not I should pass him in the beginning. (I always start out way too fast). I kept thinking “what gives me the right to pass a running legend? I’ve been running for maybe 2 years”. Regardless I went on by him. But like a true running champion that he is he ended up blowing by me around mile 5 and never looked back. I was grateful to experience that moment.

Overall I enjoyed the race. I’m glad I ran a course that tested me a lot more physically as I continue my training for the Chicago Marathon. My previous race was the Broad Street Run which was 10 miles that was mostly flat and somewhat downhill. So to have a race like this physically test me the way it did was a good reminder of the road I still have ahead of me.

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(2015)
"My First Triathlon!"
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The triathlon was such an amazing time. It was a new experience that really tested my physical limits. Doing all of those different exercises were exhausting. And I was so happy I could run this race on behalf of the Organization For Autism Research.

Not only did I have a great time running for them, I had an equally amazing time raising funds for their cause. If you are going to put yourself through something like this, I think it is worth it to do it for a good cause. So check out their website and look at some of the races you can participate in. It is very rewarding to be a part of their community. And during the day of the triathlon it was really nice to run into a stranger wearing an OAR shirt and talking about why we run for them and how it has been so far.

It all began with the swim portion. When I got out of that water I honestly felt like I couldn’t go any further. Having just swam a 1/2 mile felt like pure death. However with everyone cheering me on I ran as fast as I could to my bike.

When I got to my bike it was so great to see my parents and girlfriend waiting for me and cheering me on. Their faces gave me what I needed to dig up the physical power to grab that bike and go on.

Getting on the bike felt good because of all the training I put in. I will be honest, I did not train as much for the swim as I should have. And it showed. However with the bike I felt right at home. I got on there and the 15.7 miles were done with really no problem what so ever. The course went through a good portion on Fairmount Park in Philadelphia so the scenery helped. And in true Pennsylvania fashion there were plenty of potholes to try and avoid.

Once the 15.7 miles were complete it was on to the run. This part I felt extremely comfortable with. It was not easy, and I pushed myself for sure, but running is becoming second nature to me. I am very proud of myself in this part of the race. I was physically exhausted, and the adrenaline had me doing a full sprint to the starting line of the 5K which I should have probably taken a bit easier.

Regardless I got out on that road and pushed myself. In the first 1/4 mile my legs felt like they were about to give up. I was cramping up in my right calf and left hamstring. I was all but certain running the entire thing was not an option and limping to the finish was. However I kept running.

And in a time of 32 minutes I finished my 5K.

Now mind you I am someone who runs a normal 5K in anywhere from 30-33 minutes. So the fact that I ran one in 32 minutes AFTER having swam 1/2 mile and biking 15.7 miles made me so proud of what I did.

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(2015)
"Broad Street Run #2!"
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The Broad Street Run is hands down the best race Philadelphia has to offer.

I cant emphasize those words enough. The Broad Street Run IS Philadelphia. It is the one run of the year that gets the entire city buzzing. It is named the Broad Street Run because it is a 10 mile course that takes you through the entire city of Philadelphia, right down Broad Street. You start in North Philadelphia, make your way through Center City passed City Hall and finish in South Philly down by the stadiums and all those cheesesteak places you hear about.

If you are not from Philadelphia and ever want to run in this city, this is the race for you. If you live in Philadelphia and have never run this race, what are you waiting for? Even if you are not a runner you feel the buzz of Broad Street. The reason being is because of how large the run is.

Over 40,000 run this race. You read that correctly, over 40 THOUSAND. That's bigger than the following marathons: Boston, Honolulu, LA, Marine Corps, Disney, Twin Cities, Houston, Ottawa and even Philly's own Marathon. This 10 mile race is just as big as the Chicago Marathon and the only Marathon bigger than this race is New York.

It is safe to say the Broad Street Run is the largest 10 mile race in the country. The city of Philadelphia buzzes the weekend of the Broad Street Run like no other race in Philadelphia.

The 2015 race was no different. The course was amazing as usual. It is just a straight shot down Broad Street until you get to the Navy Yard in South Philadelphia. Along the 10 miles you pass by Temple University, the large skyscrapers that make up center city, the famous Row Homes from the Rocky movies in South Philly and finally the stadiums where the Eagles, Phillies and Flyers play. There is so much to see just on this 10 mile course. With 40,000 people the course does tend to get a bit crowded, especially at the starting line) but within a few miles it clears up.

And Philadelphia comes out for this race. The majority of the course is filled with spectators cheering along side everyone. If there are 40,000 runners on the course, there are probably another 5-10,000 spectators covering the sidewalks and cheering everyone on.

In 2015 the only criticism I had was the finish line and getting your medal. As someone who prides himself on collecting racing medals I always like to make sure I get one. In most large races they have a handful of volunteers handing out medals as soon as you cross the finish line. This year you had to walk a long way and had to find the person giving out the medal. For me I found someone literally unwrapping them from a box and giving them to people who walked up to them. Unfortunately it was only one person so you had to huddle around the person with your hand out and wait a few minutes so he could give them out. I don't know what they were thinking with this, but it made getting a medal way too difficult.

Overall it is an amazing run and THE race you should run if you ever want to run in Philadelphia.

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(2015)
"Hills on Hills on Hills"
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This past Sunday was the Valley Forge Park Revolutionary 5 Mile Run. The run is in benefit of the Valley Forge Park which is a nationally known park for the role it played in George Washington and his Army.

My review of the race:

Pre-Race:

Packet pick up was somewhat easy. They held it at a local business complex that was close to the race. They didn't have the race bag pre-made like most races do. You picked up all of the contents individually and could put them in the bag at the end. My bag was filled with my bib, a shirt and a water bottle. I remember seeing other things like a tote bag and some other items with the race logo on it. It was nice of them to give out more than just your bib and shirt. Can never have too many water bottles!

Probably the best thing the race organizers did as far as race logistics were concerned was the way they handled race day transportation. The race brought in somewhere over 1,000 runners. Which meant parking in the park would be near impossible. So they set up an area in a local business complex where you can park your car and shuttle over to the race. Typically this can be difficult because the race organizers do not have enough shuttles and the runners end up waiting forever for a shuttle. This was not the case. In fact it looked to me like they had too many shuttles. I got in and out of a shuttle too and from the race with barely no waiting time because of the amount of buses they had on site. This may have cost the race organizers a little more money, but this runner thanks you for the efforts you made.

Another part of the pre-race festivities was the mini expo that was happening outside. It was a beautiful day for a run, somewhere around 60 degrees. So they were able to have vendors set up offering merchandise and other things you might be interested in. The only part of this I took advantage of was the post race foods. But they had merchants selling items, companies with giveaways and many other things. So it made for a more festive event than just the race itself.

Now onto the race.....

The Course:

This course is by far the most difficult I have run to date, the amount of hills was too tough to count. Truth be told I signed up for this race very last minute. I am in the middle of half marathon training so I am comfortable with the distance, but I have not been preparing for the hills this course offers. And there were plenty of them.

Outside of the hills this was an amazing course to run. Valley Forge Park is 5 square miles long. As a result there are miles and miles of 360 degree scenery to take in. So when you finally make it to one of these large hills you are looking down at a beautiful sight. Along with this, the park is a historic preservation sight. As such they have re-created cabins that Washington's army would have camped in as well as memorials in remembrance of this. So there are plenty of things to see while running these trails.

On a personal note I was very happy to have run this race only 2 minutes behind my PR for a 5 miler. With as many hills as there were I was certain I would be a bit slower. So I was happy to cross the finish line faster than I expected.

Overall I would highly recommend this race. It was a true physical test for me with all the hills, but more importantly it was extremely scenic and there were times on the course that you forgot you were running a 5 miler because of the views. It is also a great way to take in the history of this park and how important it was to our countries birth.

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