Latest reviews by Joe G
"Disclaimer: I received free entry to the Allstate Hot Chocolate 15k/5k Philadelphia 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!"
Hope everyone is doing well! I also hope by now, you may have seen my race previews and/or my race schedule. Well, race day has finally come! Had a pretty sweet time at the AllState Hot Chocolate 15k/5k Philadelphia! ;)
I was so excited for this race! I have heard great things about this race series here and across the country!
Expo: held at the Pennsylvania Convention Center. Easy bib pickup! About 20 stations to check in, it's not in alpha or numeric order like most pickups, they just scan your email, print a sticker and apply to a bib! The shirt pullover pickup was in a separate line and went smoothly as well, they just scan your bib to pick up your shirt. They did have a changing area nearby if you wanted to try on/exchange your shirt for another size. After pickup, there were about three rows of vendors to checkout. Some of the vendor stands to check out were running clothing, medal displays, headphones, healthy meals, Nuun hydration, KT Tape, and shoe frosting. Did I mention this is a chocolate themed race? Well, there was a stand in the middle to sample some of the race day treats! Wafer cookie and a marshmallow to dip in chocolate fondue and a shot of hot chocolate!
Training: I've been using a half marathon program that fits my needs for this and other races. But the Allstate Hot Chocolate race has been nice enough to provide one as well. Available on their web site, and also emailed to you weekly! Each Sunday you would receive an email for the upcoming week's training schedule. Very nice!
Weather: going into this week, it looked like weather was going to be a factor! There was a forecast of 1-3 inches of snow, then it changed to 3-6, then wintry mix, then Friday it changed to coating to an inch! Race day, nothing! Maybe flurries, but nope! It was cold pre-post race, but no issues during the race. There was a heating area that had about 8 outdoor propane heaters, definitely made a difference while standing around pre/post race!
Elevation/Scenery: Great news, the course is relatively flat! Some of the Philly races have one big hill in the middle, not this one! The course starts just to the side of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, (not at the end of the parkway like some races). The race is only in the city for about a mile. Down to Logan Square, turn around, back on the parkway (a mile already? am surprised more races don't use the parkway as part of the race, usually just part of the starting area), the rest of the race is along the Schuykill River (I76 side), you have a view of the river, parks, and Boathouse Row, avoid the hills, turnaround, back along the river to the museum, ending by the museum steps (which has a slight incline the last .25!).
My race: Having just done a half marathon 2 weeks ago, was not sure if I'd have anything in the tank for a good race. Been trying to make a point to stretch, hydrate, and somewhat take it easy before race day. I have been stretching more, but still room for improvement. Today, my goal was to pace around 8, fading to about 8:15ish. Well, feeling good, started out ahead of the 8 min pacer, felt good for a while, decided to keep with it. Ended up pacing there the entire way! I admit, the last mile I had doubts and was about to fade, the pacer passed me with about 1/4 to go. He gave me great words of encouragement, but I couldn't hang with him. My finishing time was a 7:59 pace! Results were available right away!
Post race pics: Had to get some photo ops with the marshmallow man and hot chocoloate!
The Chocolate! Sorry, didn't get a close up of the chocolate. Included was dark chocolate fondue with treats to dip! Marshmallow, rice krispie treat, biscoff cookies, and pretzels. As well as hot chocolate!
Medal: pretty sweet medal! Chocolate bar! and a key chain of the Liberty Bell! (each Hot Chocolate 15k race has a city specific landmark key chain)
Pullover! Most races have a short or long sleeve shirt, this race has a tech pullover! It is so comfy! and provides plenty of warmth! Already gave it a trial run, was very nice!
Free photo's! On race day?! When checking my result's yesterday, the photo's were already available! I received an additional email this morning that they tagged me in a few more! And I only look like death in a few of them, actually happy with some!
I had a blast doing this race, it was pretty sweet! ;) Will definitely do this race again here in Philly, and hopefully in another city as well someday!
Allstate Hot Chocolate 15k/5k sites and socials:
If you have any questions or comments, please let me know!
Good luck with your training, keep kicking butt!
For additional pics, check out my blog below!
"Disclaimer: I received free entry to Newport Rhode Races 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!"
This is my review of Newport Rhode Races Half Marathon! (They did have 5k and full marathon options as well!).
The initial lure for me was the beautiful views and ease of travel. (ease in travel, as in 5 hr drive, but majority on turnpike or I95). The views certainly did not disappoint! Wharf town with a beautiful ocean view drive lined with mansions. Old historic mansions, such as the Vanderbilt's The Breakers, and new money such as Jay Leno's house.
Expo: three packet pickup options! Thursday was held at a local running store, Rhode Runner
Friday was held at a Newport Storm Brewing and Distillery! There was also the option to pickup race day. I did see a couple hundred people choose the latter, and at least a few were late due to the long lines and played catch-up after the race started. Friday was my travel day, I chose to pickup at the brewery! I wouldn't normally partake in adult beverages the day before a race, but wasn't going to miss the opportunity to check out the local craft beer scene either. Had their ipa and their smoked porter, both excellent beers. After packet pick, made sure to hydrate plenty!
Athlete tracking: by RaceJoy, excellent way to have your fans that are waiting for you track your progress!
Parking: No onsite parking, but parking was available in a nearby business district with shuttles provided. Long line, but plenty of shuttles, it moved very efficiently!
Once arriving to the starting point, there was secure gear check available by Mobile Locker Co. It was a bit brisk before the race, great to have the option to leave a couple layers behind.
Elevation and Scenery: over 400 ft accent! The blips on the elevation map are deceiving! A few big hills, but almost always a consistent incline. Even once it leveled out, it did not last long! Scenery, was amazing! The start of the race was by Easton Beach. Beautiful! Driving towards the starting point, you see a very steep hill. Hoping that was the ending, and not the beginning. Oh, but it was! Up the hill, a couple miles through a residential neighborhood. The remainder of the race was through the lifestyles of the rich and famous! Beautiful mansions along the coastline! Views of the coast and/or mansions the majority of the race! Did see a couple houses that had horses as well, probably to play some polo! The only noticeable decline was the end of the race. Tried to pick up some speed on the way down, but once it leveled out, still had at least a .25 to go (but seemed even further)!
My race: all of my previous halfs took place around the Philadelphia area, as most recent as of March 25th, (less than 200ft accent). Looking at the elevation map and accent, I was not going to go for a PR. Was looking to enjoy the scenery and challenge, and do my best to pace myself for under a certain time. Before the the race, I got in line a few corrals back, (long restroom lines, and fences by the starting line). Felt good to start, but was in a crowd a few corrals from where I wanted to be. Eventually passed the pacer I wanted to be near, and then passed the pacer that would get me a PR. Hung with that pace majority of the race. My PR pacer passed me with about 2 mi to go. Appreciated the words of encouragement, but it wasn't happening. Missed my PR by 2 min. But beat my goal for the event by 8 min. Definitely satisfied with my results!
Shirt: bright green tech shirt. Front side has a lighthouse, 'Newport Races Half-Marathon'. Back has the race logo and sponsors.
The bling! Race title surrounded by anchors and rope, sailboats below, with month/year, and distance. The race is part of a "Master Series", if you do all five of the series,the medals connect and create a huge medal! I would definitely do the series if it wasn't five hours away!
After receiving the bling, there is an athlete's food tent. Water, bananas, grapes, and PieZoni's pizza! Refreshing, satisfying, and delicious!
Beer garden! Your bib contained a ticket for 1 free post race beer. Sponsored by RI Brewer's Guild. There were four local craft beers to choose from. Beer also available to purchase for a very reasonable price of $5. I went with Trinity Brewhouse's Tommy's Red (Irish red ale)!
Pictures: Free race pictures by GameFace! Haven't been tagged in any yet, will let you know if there were any worth sharing. Always a good thing when they are free, usually look like death!
I would definitely recommend this race. It's beautiful, a great challenge, awesome perks and swag!
Once the results are available to Athlinks, I will be sure to claim them! Great way to store all of your race results in one central place!
Rhode Race's sites and social:
For more pics, check out my bog below!
Hope everyone is doing well!
A short background on this run.. My first half was in late summer of '16, the Rock N Roll Philly. Hooked right away, but needed to improve techniques, Rocky Run 13.1 challenge that fall (my unofficial 13.1 PR)! And after that, needed something to train for through winter, the Love Run (my official half PR)! Thoroughly enjoyed the Love Run in '17, and signed up immediately after for 2018. Seems like forever since my last race in Nov, but also can't believe spring race season is here!
Training: I use the intermediate half marathon training program from Coach Jenny Hadfield. (free from her site)
Back to the Love Run
Expo: Sorry, I skipped the expo. But I hear there were plenty of great vendors and race stands. And Bart Yasso was at the Philly Marathon stand taking plenty of photo-ops!
Parking: public transportation is encouraged. Private message me if you want to know a good lot near the museum.
Course and Elevation: the race starts in front of the museum, down the parkway, around city hall, and through the city for a bit. Flat to this point. Back to the museum. Down to the left, 76 side of the Schuykill River. Flat. Until Strawberry bridge! (175 ft accent around mi 8) Up the bridge, across, up and around the mansion, and back down. To the left side of the river for a bit, before heading back to the museum. Of course the last .25 has an incline!
Don't do anything new on race day. Well, first thing, I never sleep well before race day. Set my alarm to get up early for my morning routine, but I'm always up way before that! During the race, I was also thinking about tangents for a bit, trying to reduce the extra mileage that I tend to do. Next.. I knew I wanted to hang between pacers. Ahead of mine, and just behind the next one. Race time.. was hanging with that pace for a bit, but of course I get impatient with the wall of people surrounding that. Feeling trapped, I go ahead a bit. Hung with the group ahead for a while..until Strawberry Mansion. That's where I started to feel it. Pacer behind me passed, thought I may catch up after the down slope from the mansion. Nope! Hanging.. Still ahead of my goal pace. But looking back often for the next pacer. The last mile I knew I still had a chance to PR. Pushed through. Maybe a bit too hard. Past the finish line and... A few min to the side to collect myself, but was ok. PR!
Swag: nice ceramic coffee mug with the Love Run logo
Medal: heavy duty medal, city skyline, Love Run Logo, the medal also doubles as a bottle opener!
Shirt: Red tech long sleeve shirt with the logo on the front, and all of the sections of Philly that we ran through listed on the back, with silhouettes of the more iconic locations.
The Love Run is a great winter goal to train for. Definitely recommend!
Their info below:
For more pics, check out my blog!
This is not an official half. A 5k and then a 10 mi.(my second half, unofficially)
Rocky themed fans everywhere! Eye of the tiger!
5k: about a mi through the city, 1 down and back by the river. Smooth 5k, a slight incline on the way back to the museum.
10 miler: about 30 min between races, the announcer warned about a hill... smooth few miles. Guess what, a hill, and another, and another. About 1.5 mi hills. Down and smooth, then back up by the museum.
Aid: plenty of water
Parking: pay lots nearby
Swag: tech t, three awesome medals! One for each race, and one for doing both! These medals are unique, the large coin and necklace look like championship belts!
Philadelphia Marathon, November 19th, 2017.
If you haven't heard, I completed my first full marathon! Still don't know what i was thinking when I signed up, I had plenty of self-doubt leading up to it!
Here is a link to my marathon training if you'd like to check it out, my race day review and day leading up to it is below!
Day before the race: plan was to take it as easy as possible. Which is mentally tough for me to do on a Saturday, I'm usually running and doing several chores before having any fun. I did end up taking it easy; a couple of light chores, played some PS4, watched a couple of shows and had my go-to pasta dinner for carbo loading.
Went to bed early but found myself doubting everything..."what if I did something totally wrong during my training", etc. so it took a bit to fall asleep and I woke up several times throughout the night. Set my alarm for 3:30, but was up before that. Had my coffee and a light breakfast, which is typically PB and Nutella or Fluff. Had a crazy idea, both of them on the same sandwich, great combination!
Chafing: during training I experienced chafing in a couple places. Lessons learned, prepared properly. No chafing! May do a review on the one preventative measure, probably won't on the other. lol
Parking: Public transportation is highly encouraged but I chose to drive. The Philadelphia Marathon's web site lists all of the road closures but it is still possible to locate parking. The exit I usually take to park was closed so I had to take the next exit up and head back. Left my house a few minutes after 5, parked by 6 am. If you need a good place to park within walking distance to the Philadelphia Museum of Art, please send me a direct message. I would post it, but don't want it to go viral and lose my favorite Public Parking lot to overcrowding.
It rained overnight and was still raining when I got there, although my app said it was supposed to stop by 6. The one thing I don't have on my checklist, a poncho. Adding poncho to my race day check list going forward. Got to the security checkpoint, maybe 30 people ahead, moved very efficiently.
The rain cleared up around 6:30, some cool skies pre-race.
The race scheduled start time was 7 am. The MC/DJ didn't start up till around 6:30 am. I thought that was odd, but maybe due to the early start time they aren't able to due to noise ordinances? The race started on time. Corrals were lined up on both sides of the Benjamin Franklin Parkway, and were managed very efficiently. I started by 7:24 am.
The first few miles leads you towards Penn's Landing. As you pass Chinatown's Friendship Gate, there was a Chinese festival dragon! After that you pass Ben Franklin's grave. Head down to Penn's Landing along the Delaware river and back by Independence Mall. Since I stopped studying the map, I didn't realize we'd be on South Street for a bit! Very different to be on South Street with no cars on it! After that we go by University City. Everything was going fine for me thus far. A bit faster than I planned, but wasn't slowing down yet. On my mind was the upcoming elevation.
Elevation: I tried not to study the map too much, the first time I checked it out I started freaking out! Thought it would be best not to over analyze, but glad I saw the elevation profile. Ran the first few miles faster than expected, but was still pacing myself for worst of the hills. Knew the course would be taking us by the Philadelphia Zoo (which I know has hills), and another hill or two after that before heading back to the museum (mile 14). The hill by the zoo (mile 8) wasn't that bad. Ironically, just before passing the zoo, I passed two runners in costumes! A zebra and a butterfly! Was there to witness the zoo's cheering section's reactions to the costumes, some good laughs! The next set of hills, Fairmount Park and the Please Touch Museum (the curve around Please Touch is pretty wide, you see Please Touch from three different angles. The inclines are noticeable, but not bad. You pass Strawberry Mansion, but don't have to go up that nasty hill that some half's take you up.
Usually for a half, I use up my speed/energy way too early and the last couple miles to the museum are rough. But, I was feeling fine as I passed the museum at mile 14! Miles 15-19 do have some crowds in clusters, but the stretch past Boathouse Row to Manyunk is not that exciting. Once in Manyunk, it's a freakin party! Huge crowd's and parties cheering us on. There was even a beer station for runners! Not sure if that was managed by a fraternity or what?! Saw some runners partaking, but I declined. That would definitely be something new on race day. Once out of Manyunk, we hit that stretch back to Boathouse Row again. Few clusters of fans. Probably because it would be hard for them to park anywhere along that stretch. I could feel myself slowing down after mile 20, but was still running. 23-25 a much slower pace. As we get closer we start to see the city! Still off to the distance, but there's hope! It took plenty of will power for me to not turn my slow run to a walk, managed to cross the line before that happened!
Fans: there was plenty of fan support throughout the city! Tons of fans cheering us on. Great signs, costumes, plenty of good laughs! Once outside the city, there are some spots where there is some less crowd support, but understandable. That goes same for crowd DJ music/bands.
Weather: the rain cleared up before the race. Sure the rain stopped and Sun was out, but yeah, I stomped in some puddles. So much for dry feet! I like my current compression socks, but now have blisters, not sure if it's due to the puddles or sweat. The day's forecast called for temp of 48, wind chill of 40, with wind of 20-30 mph! Started the race with my hat and gloves. Ditched the gloves early. Wore the hat most of the way. Could feel the sun a bit more towards the second half, did eventually remove the hat. The wind was a factor at points. There were some hills where the wind added additional strain. Would definitely say there were very few points where the wind actually helped with a push from behind. lol
Pace: My half pace is just under two hours, I didn't want to be too aggressive with training for this. Trained for 4.5-5 hrs. I started the race right by the 5:00 pacer. Felt good through most of the race, passed the 4:45 and 4:30 pacer. Feeling better than expected through 20, but expected to slow down. And I did. The 4:30 pacer passed me, I tried a few times to catch up, but just wasn't happening. I am very pleased with my 4:32:56 time. But also have a bar to beat next yr! :)
Aid stations: plenty of water and Gatorade stations. Don't think I've realized this before, but Gatorade may be sticky?! At one point my shoes were sticky, was wondering what I could of stepped in. But after several stations, I figured it out! lol. Guess that much Gatorade being spilled adds up! There were also a few Gatorade gel stations. I declined. I packed ample fuel, and wasn't going to try something new on race day. At the finishers area, there was water, juice, pretzels, soft pretzels, bananas, mixed fruit, and chicken broth.
Fuel: took my GU gel's every 50 minutes as scheduled. (I am not an ambassador for GU, but they have served me well thus far) Taking the first one is usually the hardest to remember on my normal runs. Usually don' think about them until it's too late. Made a point to set a timer for every 50 minutes and followed it. Well, except the last one, don't think I needed it for 1 mile to go. Maybe I should have? Hydration: I skipped the first few water stations, but after that, I made a point to hydrate at every station.
Portable toilets: at the starter/finisher area, there is ample amount of portable toilets. Got in line with about 10 min till start time, maybe 20 ppl in each line. Was a little slow moving, saw some impatient people go behind tents, hope they weren't food tents. Race started, but was back in line before my corral started. During the race, there were portable toilets every few miles, each had a line of 5-10 people or so. Saw a few impatient people run off behind bridges, etc. Post race, most portable toilets were out of paper. Pack accordingly.
T-Shirts/Swag: Just wore the shirt recently, (day after the race), it's very comfortable. It is slightly loose for it's size, but comfortable.
The bling: the liberty bell! It's not a flat medal. It's an actual bell that you can shake!
Overall: had a blast! I enjoyed the training. Each new longest run was a challenge, after each one, would look back at the previous and say this is doable. Sure there were times I thought this was all crazy. Of course I had anxieties, but to be honest, I have anxieties over just about everything. I am one of those people that lose sleep over scenario's that are very unlikely to occur. So many people I have spoken to along my journey have all said the same thing. Trust your training. I am now a firm believer! I definitely intend on doing at least 1-2 more full marathons and going from there.
It also helps to have a good support system in place. Training for a half or a full takes up plenty of time, especially on weekend's. I feel very blessed to have such a great support system in place. Friends, family, followers, online communities, and of course, my wife.
Post race: made a point to eat a couple things from the finishers area. Hydrated plenty until I reached my hydration point. Once I reached my hydration point, definitely had a celebratory meal and drink or few!
If I've left anything out, or if there's any questions, please let me know!
For more pics, check out my blog!
Good luck to everyone with your training!