Latest reviews by Joe G

(2020)
"Valley Forge Marathon - IRL race! Flat and fast! "
Overall
T-Shirts/SWAG
Aid Stations
Course Scenery
Expo Quality
Elevation Difficulty
Parking/Access
Race Management

Race: Valley Forge Half and Full Marathon
Date: October 4th, 2020
Location: Phoenixville, Pa

Hi Everyone! Hope you are doing well!

I'm here to recap the Valley Forge Half and Full Marathon (I ran the full). My first IRL race of the year!

Background: mid summer (July 13-14th to be exact), the writing was on the wall that my fall races were going to be canceled. Big city races, no way that's going to be "normal", yet. (Chicago and Philly marathons), well, just a couple weeks before that, this popped up into my fb feed. Hosted by Schuykill River Runners, they already had recent success with a couple small races, and more lined up. Chicago cancels, which I was somewhat relieved since I may of had some reluctance about flying through Philly and Chicago. The next day, Philly cancels. Philly is not as big as NYC/Chicago, but 20k+ ppl over the two days. Chicago canceled on July 13, Philly July 14th. Literally within 5 minutes of Philly canceling, I signed up for this race!

Course Scenery/Elevation: "Flat and Fast" paved trail along the Schuykill River that enters the Valley Forge Historic National Park. The course is an out and back for the half, out and back x2 for the full. Overall ascent for the full marathon, 231 ft!

Race is all trail, max 250 people between both races, employees, and volunteers combined.

Crowd Support: not allowed around the finish area to ensure social distancing. Friends/family are permitted along the course as the trail is open to the public.

Amenities:
Aid/hydration: unmanned water/Gatorade bottle stations every two miles. Bottles to eliminate human interaction between people, cups, and runners.
Portable toilets: more than adequate amount at the starting area. Some along the course, but I didn't notice, but did notice a full bathroom off the course in a parking lot.
Expo: Packet pickup day of race. No mail option. An option was provided to pickup at Valley Forge Running Co on Saturday 3-5 pm. Well... I get there right when it starts. A long line. No prob, no plans today except relax and carb load. Wait in line, get my nice shirt, but.. no bib! Bibs weren't available to pickup. The event was listed as packet pickup, and there was no communication that they weren't available. They did apologize, kinda. Sounded like they were supposed to be there, but weren't. Would of been nice to know! Wish I didn't spend 1.5 hrs+. (driving + waiting), and I know some ppl that spent more time than that. Would of been nice to have my bib ready for the race. Some slight anxiety briefly. The line on race day did move efficiently though, and only redid my pins a couple times. lol..

Parking: .7 miles from the race! The race started by a small restaurant by the trail, not enough parking. A couple parks/parking lots along the course, but they are for normal trail use. Parking was at a nearby business complex. No big deal pre race, was a nice warm-up down to the start. But a bit of a hike up a hill after 26.2 miles! But no biggie, it's all good. lol..

The uncontrollable variable, Weather: The day before the race it stated 44 degrees and clear at start time, which is perfect! Well, as I driving to the race, temps went up just a few. Maybe 47. Still great, but will be warming up during the race. Would of loved one more hour of briskness. Can't be picky, have seen much worse.

My race:
Leading up to the race (for those who don't follow my blog/training): May to July, I was in between plans, and ended up participating in the #GVRAT1000k challenge. Was a great challenge, and a bit crazy, most miles in a month for me, 3 months in a row. But towards the end I was very sore, tired, and ended up with shin splints. Focusing on recovery after that, followed my marathon plan to a T, respecting rest days. Summer training kicked my butt as well. Definitely some hesitation. My first 20 miler was exhausting. Continue to follow the plan, recovery, and then seasons began to change, second 20 miler, my best ever! Crazy how things can change in just two weeks. Week after that, my best 10 miler ever (for the Broad Street Run (virtual)). Last month of training had plenty of positives. Time to forget that grueling summer. At least for a bit. Still some anxiety, but not as much.
Week of the race, was sure to focus on recovery, hydration, some carb loading, no alcohol, proper rest, and no extra miles. Also thankful that I wasn't on-call this week for work. No work interruptions overnight!

Race day:

Pre Race:
Packet pickup starts at 6. Race starts at 7, half marathon starts at 8. With the rolling start and the half not starting 'till 8, I can take my time a bit. Still want to start early, but won't feel as rushed. Up just before my normal alarm. Was able to watch the end of the women's London Marathon! (just the last 5 min). Coffee, morning "routine", light breakfast, and on the road before 6. Slightly more traffic on the turnpike than I expected, but everyone flying. Parking lot by 6:30. Short line for my bib. back to my car to get my shirt/bib just right, and head down to the start. Speed walk to get the blood going. Race starting as I get there. Got in line for the other queue. lol..

My race:
Off to a quick start! First mi was way ahead of pace. Continually pulling myself back for a few. But was very comfortable. Enjoying the views. The race was along the river. Clear views across. Was cool to watch the fog/steam lift off the water(sorry, no pics, in a zone, lol..). Entering the valley Forge Historic National Park, meadows on either side, short section with highway 422 on the one side, some slight noise, but not bad. There was one hill around 2.7 mi, a ramp up around the highway. Not bad. Back into the woods, small creek, with a few buildings on the other side. Timing mat at 1/4 marathon, and then turn around to head back to the beginning for the first half marathon. My first half marathon was at least 5 min ahead of goal. Not trying to bank time, but still feeling great/ and not over doing it. Second out and back, really trying to focus on comfort. Didn't hydrate at all, yet, was sure to grab a Gatorade at the half. Didn't see trash cans for a while, held that bottle longer than expected. Saw three deer early in the second half! Pretty close too! Sorry, no pics. Temps were great in the first half. Starting to feel the sun, especially in the meadow portion in the second half. That hill felt fine the second time through. Pace was more relaxed/comfortable, just ahead of target. But at the 3/4 turnaround knew it may get rough at some point. 22 miles, knew the wall was approaching, but saw my wife! A nice boost! Wall around 5k to go. Some negative thoughts kick in, but kept telling myself to think of it as just a tough 5k, you can do a tough 5k, right? lol.. Lost pace in that 5k, but hung in there for a PR! Still room for improvement, but making progress with that darn wall!
Post race:

Met up with BibRavePro, marathonmaniac.chloe, from Miami! People want to race and are willing to travel! Passed by mult times in the race, was sure to meet up after!

Also met up with a social media follower, louamerica, IRL! Always great to meet people you interact with on the web!

After my post race lunch/drink, met up with another BibRavePro, lacey timony, (not pictured). Great people, and they twisted my arm to head over to a nearby brewery. :)

Swag:

Lunch! Sorry, no pics! The race started/ended in front of "The Fitz". They had a smoker going and it smelled great! Lunch was a nice sized BBQ sandwich, cole slaw, baked beans. Grilled corn also available. I need some time after running before I eat, but once I was ready.. The sandwich was fantastic!

Beer: one "free" beer! There were two options from Brothers Kershner Brewing Co. There was an american pale ale option, and a hefe option. I went with the Porch Ale. Nice hops and very refreshing.

Shirt: Red tech shirt. American flag: stars section containing '76 with stars rounding it. Soldier. Over the stripes to the right, there is a circle with Valley Forge Marathon written around and containing trail/highway paths within the circle. Bottom left of stripes, Schuykill River Runners written and their logo.

Medal: no medal, yet. It will be mailed. Race management was sure to communicate this ahead of time. Will be sure to update once received!

Race Management: the race was well put together, and provided proper safety measures. Am very appreciative of them in these unprecedented times. The two cons.. Communication regarding the Saturday packet pickup. The other, which is also on the runners.. There was plenty of litter on the trail. Masks, water/gatorade bottles, etc. Rude of the runners to discard items, but one thing I did notice, trash cans were only by the hydration stations. If you grabbed your bottle on the run, you're responsible to either consume/discard right there, or carry for two miles. Could of used more trash cans. Maybe every .5?. But again, runners need to be responsible as well. Two small items I would definitely not hold against them. Again, I am very appreciative of the opportunity to do this race. Would I do it again? Schedule permitting, yes!

Let me know if you have any questions regarding the race!

Site and Socials:

Site: schuylkillriverrunners.com
FB page: Schuykill River Runners
FB group: Schuykill River Runners

For more pics, Be sure to to check my blog site below. Blog site also has Race and Gear discount tabs!

http://caffienefeen.blogspot.com/2020/10/valley-forge-marathon-race-review.html

Good luck to everyone with racing and training, keep kicking butt!

If you do any races, please remember to review them on BibRave.com! Your opinions help other runners decide what races to run! #BibChat Follow me on BibRave Joe G

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(2019)
"Rock On! Rock N Roll Philadelphia Half Marathon!"
Overall
T-Shirts/SWAG
Aid Stations
Course Scenery
Expo Quality
Elevation Difficulty
Parking/Access
Race Management

Disclaimer: I received free entry to Humana Rock 'n' Roll Philadelphia Half Marathon 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!

Hi Everyone!

Hope you are all doing well!

Here to review the Rock 'n' Roll Philadelphia Half Marathon!
Q: have you participated in this race or any other Rock N Roll Marathon Series race(s)? Did it rock?!

Race: Rock 'n' Roll Philadelphia Half Marathon

Location: Philadelphia, Pa
Race date: September 15th, 2019

Background: This was my first half marathon (2016), and I will always have some sentiment towards this race. I don't do many summer races, this usually kicks off my fall schedule. Although, technically not fall yet, and may not feel like it. (as was the case) Always look forward to this event as summer winds down.

Expo: September 13-14.
Location: Pennsylvania Convention Center.
If you've never been, the building is several blocks long, best to note which end you are going to before parking. Believe me, I have learned the hard way. Parking for the expo: limited metered street parking, may require circling once or twice, but doable. Pay lots nearby as well. I circled once and found street parking.

I did the expo on Friday after work. Although it was very tempting to go Saturday. Saturday, there was a Q&A session with Des Linden and Jordan Hasey! There was even an option to do a shakeout run with the elites on Saturday morning!

Packet Pickup: very efficient. Bib lookup stations if you don't have your number handy. Bib and shirt pickup, 5 minutes, tops.

After bib pickup, you are funneled through the Brooks Running section. Shoes, clothes, you can even do a running analysis on treadmills to review form and be fitted properly

Additional Rock N Roll Marathon Series merchandise (wine/beer glasses, magnets, etc) available for purchase before heading to the rest of the expo. As well as fueling needs. Ex: Gatorade Endurance and Science in Sport.

Vendors: several check out at the expo, here's just a few:
Humana
Garmin
Aftershokz
5 Hour Tea (made by 5 hr energy, but sugar free)
6AM RUN
So Delicsious
Altra Running

Before exiting, you can check out all the other Rock N Roll Marathon Series location's medals and sign up!

Attended the expo with: fellow BibRavePro Chris, long time friend T'Sean (his first half, so proud of him!), and bumped in #RWRunStreak buddy Jill!

Race day:

Parking: public transportation is encouraged. But I do know a large pay lot nearby that has never been full for me! Hit me up if you are interested.

No traffic issues this morning, at the race nice and early. Took it easy by the fountain in front of the museum. Also saw Jordan Hasey by the elite tents.

Portable restrooms: more than ample amount pre-race. No lines early and manageable lines just before race time.

Course/Scenery: Race starts in front of the Philadelphia Museum of Art. A little over 3 miles in the city, including around City Hall (yo, Billy P!). Towards the Constitution Center. Around and back to the museum. Great views of the river. Down Kelly Drive along the Schuykill River (boathouse row side), cross the river, then back down the river on Dr Martin Luther King Jr Dr back to the museum.

Elevation: Relatively flat. A couple slight inclines on Kelly Drive, at the bridge, and one last incline at the museum before the finish line.

Crowd Support: excellent crowd support throughout the city portion of the race. Does get a bit sparse once you pass boathouse row along the Sckuykill River. Picks up again as you get closer to the museum on the way back.

Music: This is the Rock N Roll Marathon series! At least 6 rock bands along the course and a full stage at the after party. The Philadelphia Eagles drum line was along the course as well. Headliner at the post race party, Element K.

Hydration Stations: Plenty of water and Gatorade fluid stations along the course. At least one Sports in Science gel station.

Weather: The one factor you can't control. The day started humid! As the humidity dropped, the temp and sun rose! I was drenched by mile 2 and definitely felt the sun as it warmed up. There was one or two breezes along the river, but that was very brief.

My race: This may have been my first half marathon in 2016, but no PR's at this race since then. Have definitely learned that I PR better when it's cold out. I can go into this race knowing I most likely won't PR, knowing I will have fun, and still put in some good work.

That being said... I did a full marathon the week before. (VIA Marathon). Goal for this week was to rest, get a couple recovery runs in, and hope to have a respectable outing. Without doing anything stupid. And have fun!

Ice baths, Epsom baths, Cryotherapy. Come race day, still didn't have "fresh" legs, but felt decent. Drenched early from the humidity. Comfortable pace of 8:30 through about 8 miles. Feeling it 8-10. Heavy legs, + humidity to heat. Mental countdown 10-12. A bit of a struggle to maintain that last 1.1, but hearing the crowds roar as you get closer to the museum and starting to see them cheer you on as you round the corner helped me fight through! Wasn't planning on doing a PR, didn't, but still had a max time in mind. Missed it by 22 seconds. I have no problem with that considering all the variables.

Post Race:
Food: water and Gatorade immediately. There was a pallet of ice nearby for the drinks, may have sat on it for a few.
banana, soft pretzel, fruit cup, chips, crackers. chocolate milk.

Post race party: beer garden with music stage (featuring Element K) and beer (Micholob Ultra)!

Swag:
Medal: City Skyline above a record. Sponsor Humana, Rock N Roll logo Philadelphia distance and date.

Beer: Micholob Ultra.

Shirt: Sponsor black short sleeve tee. Humana, Rock 'n Roll. Runners with music notes. The date is on one of the runner's bibs. Distance written in graffiti, Philadelphia.

Photos: available for purchase from finisherpix. tons of professional photographers prerace/along the course, and finisher area. I was tagged in about 20 pics. Remember how I said I struggled towards the end? They got that.

Tracking: app and sms alerts available. Multiple mats along the course to provide updates to your friends and family tracking your progress. I noted the tracking as a race I recently did had no tracking.

Post-Post Race: lunch and beverages in nearby City Tap. Although someone complains about me making them walk another .5 there and back after the race. (Pic not included.) $18 burger (with bacon add-on, but that $3 bacon add on is totally worth it! Great time celebrating at the post race party and the unofficial post-post race. ;)

Summary: I really enjoy this race and would recommend it. A great course, crowd support, music, and excitement. The only flaw is the weather can be hit or miss as it's near the end of summer.

Sites and Social:
Site: https://www.runrocknroll.com/en/events/philadelphia
Facebook: RunRockNRoll
Twitter: @RunRocknRoll
IG: @rocknroll

If you do any races, please remember to review them on BibRave.com! Your opinions help other runners decide what races to run! #BibChat Follow me on BibRave Joe G

For additional pics, check out my blog below:
https://caffienefeen.blogspot.com/2019/09/race-review-rock-on-rock-n-roll.html

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(2019)
"Flat and fast?! Well, pretty flat. "
Overall
T-Shirts/SWAG
Aid Stations
Course Scenery
Expo Quality
Elevation Difficulty
Parking/Access
Race Management

Race: St Luke's VIA Marathon
Location: Allentown>Bethlehem>Easton, Pa
Race date: September 8th, 2019

Hi Everyone!

Hope you are all doing well!

Here to review the VIA Marathon! :)

Background:
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.

Race day:
Parking:
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.

My race:
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..

Post Race:
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.

Food:
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.

Swag:
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.

Sites and Social:
Site: https://www.viamarathon.org/
Facebook: StLukesViaMarathon
IG: viamarathon
Twitter: viamarathon

for more pics, please check my blog review below. ;)
https://caffienefeen.blogspot.com/2019/09/race-review-via-marathon.html

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(2019)
"How Sweet it Is!"
Overall
T-Shirts/SWAG
Aid Stations
Course Scenery
Expo Quality
Elevation Difficulty
Parking/Access
Race Management

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!

Hi Everyone!

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! ;)

Race day:
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.

Race course/map:
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.

My race:
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.

Swag:
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!
Twitter: https://twitter.com/HotChocolate15k
IG: https://www.instagram.com/hotchocolate15k/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/HotChocolate15k/
Site: https://www.hotchocolate15k.com/philadelphia/

For more pics, be sure to check out my blog below!
https://caffienefeen.blogspot.com/2019/04/race-review-how-sweet-it-is-hot.html

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(2019)
"Still feeling the Love, the Love Run Philadelphia Half Marathon!"
Overall
T-Shirts/SWAG
Aid Stations
Course Scenery
Expo Quality
Elevation Difficulty
Parking/Access
Race Management

Hi Everyone!

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.

Course:

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.

My Race:
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.

Swag:

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!

Site and social
Site: https://www.motivrunning.com/the-love-run/
Facebook: LOVERUNPHILLY
Twitter: @LOVERUNPHILLY
IG: @loverunphilly

For more pics, be sure to check out my blog below:
http://caffienefeen.blogspot.com/2019/04/race-review-still-feeling-love-love-run.html

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