Latest reviews by Joe G
Race: St Luke's VIA Marathon
Location: Allentown>Bethlehem>Easton, Pa
Race date: September 8th, 2019
Hope you are all doing well!
Here to review the VIA Marathon! :)
Going into 2019, this race was not on my calendar or even on my radar. I was working on a spring marathon (Flying Pig) and already registered for a fall one (Philly). It may have been in April, a college buddy mentioned to me they were thinking about doing this race. It's a flat and fast course,etc. My logic was.. If I didn't have this race, I would probably "just" be doing half training over the summer until it was time to restart the full plan for the fall. Figured training for a full all yr may help get me more in full fitness, someday that wall may be pushed back a bit for me. Someday.
Expo: Saturday, September 7th.
Held at the Steel Stacks in Bethlehem, Pa. Steel Stacks hosts a few other race expo's and races a year. I've been to the Steel Stacks for another race (Runner's World Festival). If you've never been to Steel Stacks, it's pretty cool! The Steel Stacks has auditoriums, expo rooms, banquet halls, and bars. The scenery outside the expo building is a few cool large buildings that remain from Bethlehem Steel factory with a stage for musicians to perform, etc. Factoids: Bethlehem Steel provided some of the steel used for the Golden Gate Bridge and Chrysler Building. Movie fact: some of the Bethlehem Steel buildings are in a fight scene in Transformers 2.
Packet Pickup: bib pickup inside Steel Stacks, shirt pickup outside in the courtyard. Both were a breeze! Less than 5 minutes, tops!
Vendors: small race. Not a ton of vendors. Maybe 15 vendors. Local race stands, running stores with clothes and shoes, etc, Design your own race shirts stand, salsa samples with recipe stand that also had Nature Valley Crunchy PB granola bars and Kind Oats & Honey bars.
Swag bag: Discover Lehigh Valley book, brochures, Vivarin Caffiene Gum, Honey Stinger Organic Waffle, drink koozies, race and running store stickers.
The race is point to point. Option to park at the starting line and get shuttled back after the race, or park at the finish area (Early!) and shuttle to the starting point. I opted to park by the starting area. (had a ride back, didn't require the shuttle after the race). Road closures at 6:40. I was there by 6:20, plenty of parking spots.
Pre race: the portable restrooms are maybe .2 miles (if that) from the starting area. Additional speakers by the rest area would of been nice. Did not hear the Pre Race announcements or National Anthem.
Map/elevation: The elevation attracts many fast runners, as this race is listed as a top qualifier for Boston! The overall elevation is actually a descent! Although I do see a hill and few inclines along the way. (images pulled from viamarathon)
Scenery: Beautiful scenery majority of the race! Race starts out by going around some of the parks around Allentown. A few neighborhood or warehouse district streets, but minimal. After 7 miles, majority of the race is packed gravel trails (few cement or dirt, but mostly gravel) along creeks or rivers. Pass by a few small waterfall cascades, cool bridges, etc.
Crowd Support: this is a smaller race. (from 2018: 750 marathoners, 600 half, 125 5k, and relay's) (couldn't find a good way to count relay, multiple categories) There is some crowd support by the relay exchanges, but overall crowd support is very sparse. Especially once you hit the trails.
Hydration Stations: seems to be more than ample amount of Water/Electrolyte stands along the street portion of the course, seemed to be longer gaps on the trail portion. May consider a hydration vest if I were to do this race again.
Portable restrooms: normal wait time pre-race. Didn't see any early into the race, and noticed someone asking at mile 5. (first one was around 5.5) Seemed to be an adequate amount after that.
Weather: The one factor you can't control.. Humid early. Humidity dropped along the way. Temps rose to real feel of 79 by my end time. Majority of the trail portion is well shaded. Towards the end there are some open areas with sun. Temps were great in the morning, but drenched due to the humidity. Many considered the temp to be pleasant, but I could feel it towards the end.
First half was comfortable. Took in all the beautiful scenery without thinking about pace. Had to force myself to slow down.
16-18 Could start to feel it, but manageable
18-20 Getting a bit rough for me. TMI time: Actually got sick for a minute! May have rushed water down, either the water with air or recent salt tab didn't agree.
20+ was a struggle. Was a long 10k for me. Once I started taking walk breaks out of water stations, started to tighten up. Too many walk breaks after that. Would try walk a minute/ run a mile, but would only go a few minutes. Very little crowd support. There wasn't pace groups per se, but as I fell back from the 4 hr groups it got to be very lonely. Just me and the voice in my head, gut check time to ignore the negative thoughts and not give up.
Flat and fast? Noticed a few of the early inclines and declines, but overall didn't feel downhill. Mostly flat. Did notice the few tiny inclines towards the end. lol..
Announcer announced names as they crossed the finish line! Not sure if he got everyone earlier then there were less gaps between runners, but was cool to hear being announced.
Banana, Bagel, Chocolate Chip cookies, Mike and Ike Berry Blast candy, Snyder's Snap Pretzels, Goldenberg's Peanut Chews, True Moo chocolate milk (not pictured), Wegmans Applesauce packet (not pictured), Wegman's Fruit and Nut bar cashew cookie, Wegman's Mountain Trail Mix.
Shirt: cotton blend. Very comfy! I do like repping tech shirts when I'm at my trail to show off to my other trail buddies. But I do like a good cotton tee when I'm out and about as well!
Front of the shirt has the St Luke's and VIA sponsor logo's and Marathon
Back of the shirt:"Go the Distance to Support People of All Abilities". Distances listed.
Medal: Sponsors St Luke's and VIA logo Marathon, year and distance.
Beer: Yuengling Golden Pils. My finish time was just under 4:30. I hung out at the post race for about an hr, passed the beer truck again as we were leaving and they were closed. I feel bad that some runner's won't get their hard earned beer.
Social Media: bumped into at least three followers along the way or after! Very cool being able to support one another during training and to actually meet (albeit brief) in real life!
Tracking: the race does not have an app or provide real time tracking sms alerts to supporters. If you have support at the race, they have not way to estimate when you'll be crossing the next timing mat, be by an area, or finish.
Summary: would I do this race again? Probably. End of summer race, there may be a chance of summer weather, which can be tough. May rethink hydration strategy. Beautiful scenery. Was more trail than I anticipated, but won't complain about that since I do most of my long runs on trails. The one set back is the lack of crowd support and if you fall behind the crowd there are gaps towards the end it can get lonely.
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for more pics, please check my blog review below. ;)
Race Review: How sweet it is! Hot Chocolate 15k/5k Philadelphia!
Disclaimer: I received free entry to Hot Chocolate 15k 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 you are all doing well. I am here to review the Sweetest Race in Philly! The All State Hot Chocolate 15k/5k Philadelphia! (I participated in the 15k)
Expo: bib pickup was a breeze! Expo was held at the the Pennsylvania Convention Center. The convention center is a few blocks long, best to know where your hall is before parking. (walked a couple blocks). Parking was a breeze. (maybe because I parked so far away). Enter the hall building, blow-up chocolate bar in the lobby. Yup, I'm in the right place! As you enter the hall, to the side is a bank of cashier type computers to check in. Minimal line, bib pickup maybe two minutes. Next, over to the jacket pickup line. Again, minimal line, maybe two minutes. To the side of the jacket pickup area, you can try on your jacket just in case you need to exchange. Tried it on, oh so soft and comfy!
Now time to get some chocolate and check out the vendors!
Hot chocolate samples, a cup containing chocolate pirouline rolled wafer and marshmallow with chocolate fondue, and chocolate bar samples!
After snacking, vendor time! (and more snacks!)
Sponsor All State, can take a quick survey to win prizes.
Sports Beans, grabbed 2 samples. Jelly Belly Krispy Kreme, and Quick Performance.
Honey Stinger, tried the organic waffle vanilla flavored.
Power Crunch: grabbed a peanut butter honey snapstick. They had a spin the wheel game. My wife won a chocolate mint protein energy bar, and I won a fanny pack!
Aftershokz! I just stopped by to say hi! They recognized my shirt from right away from all the work BibRave partners with Aftershokz on, told them how much I love my Aftershokz Trekz Air's! #ShokzSquad
Other notable stands:
Make a Wish Foundation
Black Girls Run
A jewelry stand, with race mementos all blinged up!
After checking out the great vendors, stopped for a couple pics by the race mascot, Marshall!
Okay, I may have stopped at the hot chocolate booth for 1 more round of samples before leaving! ;)
Met up with fellow BibRavePro's to get a snap by the Philadelphia Museum of Art
Before the start, there was a "heat zone". A few portable heaters to stay warm beforehand! Sponsored by Allstate, I participated in a quick survey and received a hat for free! There's also a DJ nearby getting the crowd pumped up, the DJ was also doing a little dance party after the race as well.
Relatively flat! From the Philadelphia Museum of Art, a mile down the Benjamin Franklin Parkway and back to the museum, then down along the Schuylkill River (opposite side of Boathouse Row, crew teams were out for practice!) and back, slight incline just before the finish line at the museum.
Training: I am currently on a marathon training plan, but custom training plans are available. With weekly email reminders of the upcoming week's schedule!
Weather: the one variable you can't control. Prepare for the worst, hope for the best. Rain all day the day before the race. Clearing up this morning. A light drizzle on the car ride into town, but cleared up. 45 this morning, going up to the 60's later. 50 is the line I am confident a short sleeve is ok for me. I warm up quickly, planned on going with short sleeves. Packed a long sleeve to discard, a space blanket, gloves, and checked a bag for later. Pre-race, used the space blanket and gloves for a bit. Didn't bother with the long sleeve, donated. Comfortable throughout the race.Was a bit chilly after the race, glad I checked a bag, but warmed up in the sun.
Previous PR, 1:14:something/7:59 pace. Goal 1:13:something. Plan... To hang between pacers, and pace at my gps pace of 7:45-7:50, just in case my gps is off by .10. Found the 7:30 and 8:00 pacers. Got next to the 7:30 pacer immediately at the jump, was comfortable and even thought about jumping ahead. That would of been foolish. Hanging by the 7:30 pacer. At the 1 mile mark they introduced themselves to the group and what to expect. Felt good, but knew that wouldn't be reasonable to sustain for the race. 5k mark, still with them, probably should of backed off by now, but still hanging. Knew by the 5 mi mark I should start being more realistic. Faded a few seconds. Trying not to look back yet. Course turn around near 5.75 mi, maintaining. Eventually see the pacer behind from the opposing traffic. Can tell I have a decent gap if I were to fade a bit more. For the race, I had a 1:14 countdown going, started doing the math with a couple miles to go, could tell if I were to maintain I would be ok, but had to maintain somewhat. Felt some fading, but maintaining cadences and hanging in there. It wasn't pretty at the end, but PR ahead of plan! 1:11:21/7:40 pace.
Shirt: Full zip up hoodie! Men's comes in black, ladies comes in merlot. It is so soft and comfy!
Medal: Chocolate bar with city specific design. For Philadelphia, the Constitution Center and the Betsy Ross American Flag!
Chocolate: chocolate fondue and sides for dipping, all nut free. Sides include: marshmallow, Rice Krispie Treat, Snyder's mini pretzels, Stinger organic waffle vanilla flavored, and a banana!
Photo's: Free photo's! Don't you hate all those emails from other races to buy pictures, additional emails letting you know they are about to expire, but continue to get emails anyway.. Well, free photo's from Hot Chocolate 15k/5k! I was tagged in 20+ photo's. Of course I am only presentable in a handful. lol..
Looking alright in the beginning, not so much towards the end, but able to regroup somewhat to power through!
Post Race: (after all the chocolate celebrations) met up with a few members of FB group #RWRunStreak at City Tap House.
Overall: This is a great spring race to train for through winter. The course is relatively flat. There's awesome swag, and of course... chocolate! This is a pretty sweet race! Would definitely recommend!
Question: Have you ever participated in the Hot Chocolate series? What is your favorite treat?
Socials and Site below!
For more pics, be sure to check out my blog below!
Hope you are doing well!
Here to review the Love Run Philadelphia half marathon. This is my third time running it!
I may be a bit biased towards Philly, but there's just something about the skyline and Museum. Getting to the race early has it's perks. Beautiful sunrise.
Training: I'm currently in marathon training mode, but I use half and full training programs from Coach Jenny Hadfield. Free programs for all distances and skill levels.
The race starts in front of the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Just over three city miles and back to the museum. To the left side of the museum down the Schuylkill River, 76 side side (opposite Boathouse Row). Saw a bunch of the crew teams out for practice! Along the river. Relativity flat, until... Strawberry Bridge. Steep ramp up to the bridge (in mile 7-8), across the bridge, up around the mansion and back. Once you are back from the mansion, you have to keep going to the right, after the hills, it seems like forever until that turnaround! lol... And then back to the museum. And of course, right at the museum there is a slight incline.
Weather: the one factor you can't control. Prepare for the worst, hope for the best. A bit chilly earlier in the week. Warming up this weekend. Forecast 50-70 degrees with a chance of rain. Over prepared just in case. Was near 60 before I hit the road. Had a long sleeve set aside for the race. When I saw it was already 50, too warm for that! A long sleeve to wear for a few min and discard at the start. Too warm for that. Even had a space blanket just in case since I didn't bother with long sleeves, didn't use that either. Checked a bag with long sleeve, waterproof pullover just in case I'm freezing during the cool down at the post race beer tent. Before the race, an occasional breeze, but ok with short sleeves. Warmed up quickly during the race. Rained for a couple minutes a few times, was refreshing! About 30 min after I completed, down pour! Glad I had my pullover for afterwards, but didn't bother with it since we were under a tent.
Start of the race, the corrals are packed. There seems to be enough time between each corral start. Crowds were tight. They could of spaced out the waves a bit more. It took over 2-3 miles for it to open up. This may be a godsend. I am guilty of taking off at the start, there was no room for that today. After a few miles, I settled in my desired pace. Plan was to maintain a certain pace (gps pace 7:50, knowing gps may be off by .10) relatively flat until Strawberry Bridge, knowing I would lose .05-10 there. Lost about 6 seconds. Now to maintain for 4 miles. I lost about a second a mile towards the end. The last 20 minutes doing math. Trying not to overthink it, but PR on the mind.. Faded a bit, but definitely felt better than last yr (last yr finish was rough!), able to do a few extra pushes the last few minutes. Previous PR 1:48:49, new PR 1:47:11! Endurance still fading after 10 mi, but definitely feeling/getting better!
Water/snacks: water and nuun hydration stands along the course. There may have been free gels as well, but had my own, didn't catch what they were handing out. Post race: plenty of water, a nuun tablet, snack bag (which I love that it's in a bag, so many races you are drained of energy and are expected to carry an armful of various items without clumsily dropping them!) soft pretzel (this is Philly, right?!), Sun Chips, Peterson Farms treats apple slices, Rockin' Ola Chocoberry (chocolate granola clusters with strawberries) , Coke/Diet Coke, Zevia organic zero sugar tea.
Mug: Love my Love Run Philly Mugs! I am very protective of them! I almost left without it! I had my race bib/shirt mailed to me, still had to pick up my mug post race, very close to driving away without it! The mug has the race logo over the city skyline!
Shirt: Not a tech shirt. Feels like a heather cotton, so soft! Will definitely work this into my casual wear! It has the race logo on the front. City Skyline on the back with the logo below it.
Medal: this is a heavy metal medal with the race logo above the city skyline.
Beer! One free beer post race! Coney Island Brewing's Mermaid Pilsner. It's more of a hoppy amber, hit the spot post race!
Overall: I love the love run. The past three years, it has been my first half of the season, and PR'd each time! It is the perfect race/motivation to train for through winter. Extreme discount the next few days, will be sure to sign up for next year!
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Race: Fireside Frostbite 5 Miler
Location: Ambler, Pa
Date: February 23, 2019
Local community race, just over a thousand runners. This year was it's 20th anniversary!
This race wasn't originally on my calendar. A few co-workers were talking it up, haven't met up with this group from work yet. Checked my training schedule. Had to do some adjusting, but feasible. Alright, I'm in!
Packet Pickup: smooth process. Option to pick up the night before at the Ambler Theater or on race day at the school. I work 20 min away, dealt with a few extra minutes of rush hour traffic, but got it done Friday night to get it out of the way. Once in town, easy walk in and pick up.
Parking: a decent amount of parking at the school, but warnings that it would fill up quickly, may have to walk a few blocks. I got there a half hour before race time, parking lot was a few minutes from filling up.
Pre-race: could stay warm in the high school. Sponsors set up in the gymnasium to check out, packet pickup looked to still be smooth. Could also use the school facilities if needed.
Race: starts and ends in front of Wissahickon High School. National Anthem at 8:55. Race started promptly at 9 am.
Elevation: high 320 ft/low 210 ft. Ascent, according to my phone 307 ft.
My race: leading up to the race, did some extra miles earlier in the week for my training plan before doing a small taper. My right calve/shin had been feeling the extra miles. KT Tape, CEP compression socks, and a bit of stretching for a couple days. Still slightly feeling it the night before, but barely thought about it on race morning. Between the hills and this week, was hoping to maintain between 7:50-8. I didn't locate/review the elevation map, but saw warnings there were some hills. I know my pace for my hills, I may be a bit aggressive with my goal. Start of the race, first few minute alerts pace started with a 6. I told myself a few times to slow down, took a couple minutes to listen. Mile 1 is down hill. First hill shows up. Someone that know's the course was very encouraging. They almost made it sound like that was the only hill. (lol...) A decent incline, decline after that. Gradual inclines remainder of the way! Pacing: I settled in the 7:30's. The last mile averaging 7:40 and trying hard through those inclines to maintain at 7:40. Never thought about my calve/shin, thought more about cadences and my legs getting heavy towards the end. Results 7:44 vs my watch/ph 5.05 mi @ 7:40. Darn those tangents!
Scenery: course described as "rolling hills". Scenery includes the high school, through some of the local Ambler neighborhoods, then along a wooded area behind the school fields/parks as you approach back towards the school. Several houses and intersections had fans cheering us on along the way, crowd cheering as we approach the finish line!
Pre/post race: met up with one of my co-workers, an #igrunner IRL!, and a trail buddy that I trained with for my fall races. First time catching up with them in a bit! Was great to see everyone, although missed seeing a couple other co-workers that ended up not committing. Their loss, had a good time!
Shirt: Light fluorescent green long sleeve tech, is a bit thin, but very comfy! Penguins, title sponsor, race name on the front. Sponsors and beneficiaries listed on the back.
Medal: optional, survey said 25% of the participants would like one. Had to indicate interest or grab one of the extra's. I chose not to since my medal display is full and this wasn't a goal race, but they do have penguins, I love penguins (unless they are from Pittsburgh).
In lieu of medals, you could choose a race towel, a Dietz and Watson Hat, or a previous year's shirt. I would have chosen a hat, but they were gone. No worries. Towel below:
Food: Post race, it is tempting to hang out at the finisher's area for a while. After you've met up with your group, I recommend heading back to the school. Food is setup in the lobby by the gymnasium, single file line can get pretty long depending when you get there. Food includes: Chili, two types of tomato pie provided by Sponsor Fireside Bar & & Grille, Additional food provided: banana, apple, soft pretzel, chips. popcorn, Dietz and Watson sausage snack, coffee, and plenty of water.
Photo's: Free race photo's by Jack McCoy Photography! A pre race photo (I didn't see the photographer, missed out on that), a starting line photo (I was on the opposite side, could only see my hat), and a finish line approach photo. Below!
Chip timing: provided by Run The Day
Results readily available online! Later on, as I was checking my email, noticed results were also sent via email by 10:30!
Overall: A great community race, a slight hill challenge (hills are good for you!) , swag, and food. Would definitely recommend!
for more pics, check out my blog:
A festival of running?! Sounds good to me!
Here to review the Runner's World Half Marathon Festival. The five and dime! (5k + 10k)
Runner's World Magazine is based out of Emmaus, Pa. Their annual running festival is hosted in nearby Bethlehem, Pa.
The festival offer's a bit for everyone. Multiple distances and events to choose from (3.8 Altra, 5k, 10k, and/or half marathon), seminars, and family events such as a kids run and even a dog run.
The start and end of the race is held at the Bethlehem Steel Stacks. Very cool architecture/scenery from the orig Bethlehem Steel Works. Looks like it could be scenery for a movie. oh wait, it has been. Michael Bay used the scenery for one of Transformers 2's battle scenes!
Parking: a couple huge lots by the race. But you are forewarned that you cannot leave until the last runner from the 10k has passed by. There is also a shuttle service to other large lots if you don't plan on staying until the end.
Before the race, if its' cold out, you can stay warm indoors for a few min over at the ArtsQuest Center. There may be a line, but there are indoor facilities if needed.
As it gets closer to race time, as you approach the starting line, there is a DJ/MC getting everyone amped up. Already feels like a party.
The 10k. It has a few hills. :) Basically every other street has an incline of some sort. Pace yourself! A few points of interest: The race start's and ends at the Steel Stacks. The Lehigh River, you'll pass by the river twice, beautiful view of the river from the bridge. You'll pass through business districts, neighborhoods, people cheering you on throughout. The end of W Broad Street, which has quaint shops and the historic Bethlehem Hotel. You'll also pass by churches, cemeteries, and a park before heading back.
At the finish line there's a party to celebrate. Huge crowd cheering you on through the finish. post race there is water, bananas, protein bars, and pretzels.
My race: I may have pushed it slightly harder than planned for the 5k, but did not regret it for the 10k. Between races, I hydrated and stretched a bit. The weather was perfect for a hill day. Definitely prefer cool air on any run that may be a challenge. The first mile was smooth, but once the hills set in, got into rhythm for them and maintained where I wanted to be. Probably pushed it slightly harder than I should have for marathon training, but no regrets. yet. :) Once the results have been released, I'll be sure to claim them on Athlinks! Love having all of my race results in one place!
Aid: adequate water and Gatorade throughout the course.
Expo/packet pick-up: bib pickup was a breeze. Able to pickup on race day! Also able to pick up my shirt and check out the expo post race! Notable stands such as Altra, Balega, and AfterShokz! Various other stands as well.
Shirt: Grey long sleeve Poly/rayon blend.It's very comfy! Almost a heather cotton, but softer with a slight tech feel. The front of the shirt has the Runner's World Half & Festival presented by Altra. On the back, has the factory building outline with a gear behind it. All of the distances are listed. Bethlehem, Pa. Sponsors Altra and Balega.
Socks: If you were doing the 5 and dime, you also got socks! Grey with fluorescent green. "Runner's World" and "Balega" written on the top front/back.
Medals: Flat square in a diamond angle with the Distance, Date, "Runner's World Half and Festival" logo, and "Altra" sponsor. If you did all four races for the grand slam, there is a magnet that connects all four!
Management: Runner's World know's how to put on a race. Who would of thought that?! lol... A great experience for all distances and skill sets. I do have a slight criticism for the 10k. Before the race starts, there are flags for your expected pace, but there wasn't a pause between corral start times. Basically a constant walk to the start line and then go, congestion after the starting line for a bit. It did clear up and was able to get into a groove, wouldn't hold this against them.
Overall: The race, scenery, and festival are a blast. I will definitely be coming back to this race to do at least one if not all four.
Did I mention this was a festival? Had to meet up with some of my running buddies! Met up with team BibRave, a couple of my buddies from work, and the #RWRunStreak group! The races were great, and meeting up and cheering everyone on made it even better! The running community is so supportive and awesome!
For more pics, check out my blog below: