Latest reviews by Riley Fickett

(2020)
"Race Review: Virtual Chicago Hot Chocolate 15K 🍫"
Overall
Race Management
SWAG
Virtual Support

Over the weekend I ran the Virtual Chicago Hot Chocolate 15K! I've been wanting to run a Hot Chocolate race since I first learned about them, but as of now they don't usually come up to the northeast. I hope that changes in the future so I can get the full race experience, but I'm thankful that I was able to enjoy the virtual experience. We've been having a bout of really warm weather over the last few days and I was excited to take advantage of it with this virtual race. Sunday afternoon I laced up, donned my BibRave orange, and headed out on my 9.3 mile journey!

For virtual runs I tend to not wear my bib because I generally find bibs cumbersome, but I do like to put my bib and my medal on the table we have on our porch as a reminder that we're in race mode! It's also so great to have your medal waiting for you when the race is complete, just like it would be at the finish line.

The run itself was coming a day after I had run 15 miles, so my legs were TIRED. You can definitely see in my splits that it took quite some time for my legs to warm up and actually start feeling comfortable. For the most part, I just tried to focus on putting one foot in front of the other in an effort to string miles together because boy was I tired. It wasn't until about mile 6 where my legs actually started warming up and I started feeling good on this run. Sometimes it just takes a while to get into the swing of things! Overall it was a lovely run, I enjoyed the sunshine, and I accomplished the only real goal I have during any race - I finished!

Finish time: 1:40:03

Because it was the Hot Chocolate 15k, I wanted to celebrate finishing with a sweet treat. It was way too warm for hot chocolate, but I felt that not having some form of chocolate was a crime, so I walked down to the convenience store and bought two of my favorite chocolate bars - Take 5 and Milky Way! Chocolate definitely tastes better at the finish line! 🍫😉

In addition to my own finish line treats, the race packets were full of amazing snacks and swag! This race has one of the best items (IMO) that you can recieve for registering - a super cozy fleece-lined hoodie! (The hood is also removable if that's not your thing.) They also sent along some chocolate, hot cocoa packets, and a Honey Stinger Waffle to help recreate the deliciousness you would receive at the finish line during one of their in-person races. Such a great virtual swag bag!

I celebrated Medal Monday yesterday (of course) and showed off the medal you earn by running one of these races while sippin' on a Starbucks Holiday Drink (so happy they're back!). All participants of the 15k and 5k receive a finisher's medal with the same pendant, and the ribbon is different depending on the distance you ran. You'll notice that the 15k medal has a red ribbon, and I believe the 5k medal has a blue ribbon.

One of the coolest things about this medal in particular is that it opens up to reveal a little compartment for a piece of chocolate! I thought this was such a cute touch and one of the more unique medals now in my collection. If you want to see the medal in action, go check out my Instagram post for a video!

I had a really wonderful virtual race experience for the Hot Chocolate 15k, and it has only made me want to try out an in-person Hot Chocolate race even more! In the meantime, though, I definitely recommend trying out one of these virtual races. It doesn't matter where you are in the country, you can sign up for any one of the virtual races and enjoy an at-home Hot Chocolate race experience! Check out hotchocolate15.com/virtual for more details!

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(2020)
"Race Review: 2020 Virtual Smuttynose Rockfest Half Marathon "
Overall
Race Management
SWAG
Virtual Support

Blog review: https://fiveleveninety.blogspot.com/2020/10/race-review-2020-virtual-smuttynose.html

This weekend I had the opportunity to run the Virtual Smuttynose Rockfest Half Marathon! It had been a loooong time since the last time I ran 13.1 miles (since MARCH!) so I went into this race with the plan to take it nice and slooooooow and to enjoy each mile as much as possible. I was bummed that I couldn't be running on the coast of New Hampshire for this run, but I wanted to make the most of it! I had a great time enjoying the crisp fall air, and even vlogged my experience on my Instragram story which you can find in my BibRave Pro highlight on my profile!

I tried to keep my run right around an 11 minute pace, and it looks like I was right on the money! I'm really happy with how the run went. I will say that my legs started to feel the impact of the run around miles 9 and 10, but for the most part I was feeling really great for not having captured this distance in MONTHS! I was so happy to finally finish up my run and have it go as smoothly as it did. Because my race goody bag hasn't come in the mail yet, I decided to pose with a pumpkin as my finish line ~bling~ because my race outfit made me look eerily similar to a pumpkin. 🎃😂 I am excited to get my race swag in the mail to officially celebrate.

After arriving home, I indulged in some puppy kisses, a nice hot shower, and a breakfast sandwich before logging on to the virtual finish line celebration on Facebook Live. Fellow BibRave Pro Ryan from IRunonBeer hosted the event which was so cool! One of the big draws of the live Rockfest event in Hampton, NH is the finish line party where you get to indulge in craft beer, lobster rolls, and live music. During the Facebook Live event, there was live musical performances, recipes to DIY your own lobster rolls at home, and Ryan even taught us how to create an at-home beer tasting! There was also plenty of opportunities to enter into giveaways for future race entries into some of Loco Running's upcoming events.

It was so much fun to chat along with my fellow Rockfest runners and enjoy some comradery even though we were all just hanging out in our own homes. One of the hard things about virtual racing is that it's tough to create that finish line feeling of joy and accomplishment when you're running by yourself in your own neighborhood. I think Loco Running did a fantastic job of recreating the finish line festival, and it felt great to have a commemorative moment after achieving another 13.1!

The rest of the day was spent lounging with Snowy and watching football. I also picked out a Smuttynose beer to enjoy as I lazed around for the rest of the afternoon - the Smuttynose Mysterious Haze Double Dry-Hopped New England IPA! I actually really enjoyed this beer and it's exactly what I look for in an IPA: juicy-yet-hoppy with a citrusy taste. 10/10 would recommend.

Overall, I really enjoyed my experience with the Smuttynose Rockfest Virtual Half Marathon. Race directors are having to make some seriously difficult decisions this year in order to make their races as safe as possible, but I know that they're trying their hardest to recreate the racing experience to the best of their ability. I really feel like Loco Running did a great job with Rockfest, and I would absolutely love to run the in-person event in future years. I definitely recommend that you do the same, and hopefully we can run together in person in the future! 🧡🍻

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(2020)
"Race Review: Run for the Zoo Virtual 10K 🦁"
Overall
Race Management
SWAG
Virtual Support

Disclaimer: I received a registration to review the 2020 Run for the Zoo Virtual 10k 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!

It feels so great to be writing a race review again! I have been missing racing so much these last few months, and I feel so lucky to have been given the opportunity to virtually participate in the 2020 Run for the Zoo! This race is usually based in Chicago at the Lincoln Park Zoo, but due to the pandemic they were not able to have the race in person. Instead of cancelling the event outright, they opted to make the virtual and open it up to runners from all over!

The Run for the Zoo has been running for 42 years and all proceeds directly benefit the animals that live at the Lincoln Park Zoo, as well as ensures that the facility can stay free and open to the Chicago community. I really love running races that have a direct charitable cause, and especially one that directly benefits animals. Upon registration, you had the opportunity to make an additional donation to the Lincoln Park Zoo, and if you donated at least $25, you would earn a commemorative medal.

Runners had until June 7th to register, and then had the chance to run their miles between June 7th and June 21st. I love that they gave runners some flexibility in when they could run their miles for their race. I opted to run my race on the 7th - the date the race was originally scheduled for - so that I could keep it as close to the actual race experience as possible. It was great because a lot of my fellow BibRave Pros were also running on the morning of the 7th and having a blast. It was so fun to check in with everyone on the Slack channel after the run!

I definitely rocked some zoo-themed attire. I bought these awesome mint zebra striped shorts from Fabletics, and also picked up a lion tail and some lion ears from Amazon! Since we can't come together to race in-person, I wanted to make the day as fun and as festive as possible. I may or may not have gotten some funny looks from everyone out on their Sunday morning walks, but I know they weren't having as much fun as I was! 😋

The run itself could not have gone more smoothly. I didn't want to push too hard, as the week leading up to the race was particularly stressful at work and I have been having some trouble with foot pain lately, but I listened to my body and ran at the pace that felt good in the moment. I ended up running 10K in under and hour which is *so* good for me so I am thrilled with my time, and I am also so happy with how I felt throughout the run!

Submitting your times to the race was super easy. I don't think I've done this before for a virtual race (I usually just sign up and run the miles and it's all based on honor system) so I wasn't really sure what to expect. When you sign up you get a confirmation number for your registration, like most races. Once you're done running, you needed to hop on to the Run for the Zoo website, look up your confirmation number, enter your race time, then put up proof of your run. I uploaded the first Garmin screenshot above for my proof. If you don't have a GPS watch, you can always use a free run tracking app - there are dozens out there! Once I hit submit on my time, I could officially say that I had completed the Run for the Zoo!

All participants of this race received a participant tech shirt, which I ended up wearing for the rest of the afternoon as a symbol of achievement! It's a super comfy, loose-fitting tech tee (which I prefer!) and I know that it will easily fit into my running attire rotation.

Overall, running the Run for the Zoo virtual 10k was a great experience! The crew at Lincoln Park Zoo that managed this event communicated with participants so well, and I never felt confused about what I needed to do in order to complete the race. I'm sure that coming together and racing in person in Chicago would have been exponentially more fun, but I so appreciate everything that the Lincoln Park Zoo did for its runners and pivoting so seamlessly to a virtual race. This is a great organization and race to run for, so I definitely recommend signing up for their 2021 race!

Thank you again to both BibRave and the Lincoln Park Zoo for allowing me to run this race!
I am (finger crossed) going to be in Chicago this fall for the Chicago Marathon, so I might try to swing by the Lincoln Park Zoo for a little visit while I'm out there! 💗

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(2020)
"Race Review: Medford2Medford Race Across America"
Overall
Race Management
SWAG
Virtual Support

Last week I finally finished up my Massachusetts2Medford Challenge, which is part of the larger Medford2Medford Virtual Run Across America sponored by DMSE Sports! As I mentioned in my initial blogpost, this challenge was celebrating Dave McGillivray's 1978 run across the United States from Medford, OR to Medford, MA. For the Massachusetts2Medford challenge, I had to run or walk 142 total virtual miles across the state to complete this goal. Finding the motivation to run this summer had been a huge challenge for me, so I'm glad that I had this challenge to keep me motivated!

Things I Loved About the M2M Challenge!

Great communication! The cool thing about the M2M was that the organizers sent weekly updates to congratulate folks on completing their challenge, regardless of what distance. They really knew how to keep the runners and teams motivated throughout the challenge and I always appreciate that. The updates also served as a great reminder to get out there and keep chipping away at the miles!

The personal map tracker! One really awesome thing about this challenge is that when you entered your miles, it would update your personal map so you could see where you were virtually along the route. It was so cool to be able to see where my little pin was after each logged run or walk and, because I'm so familiar with the state, I could totally visualize what area of MA I was "in". Here's an example of my completed map!

The medal! The medal for this virtual challenge was so cool. Each distance had it's own colored ribbon (the Masschusetts2Medford was blue) and featured a map of the continental United States with a sneaker that slides from one end of the medal to the other. The show also features the distance you ran! This is actually such a cool medal and I was so excited to finally earn it once I completed my last few miles.

The swag! I signed up for the Premiere Pack when I registered for the challenge, which gave me access to some additional swag items, including a neck gaiter, Dave McGillivray's picture book Running Across America, and the medal! I wore my neck gaiter on my August 29th run which was the commemorative end of the challenge as that was the same day Dave entered Medford, MA back in 1978. It helped me celebrate the moment!

Things I Would Improve

Clarity on the distance. One of the things that bummed me out was finally logging my last 10 miles to reach that 142 mile marker, and realizing that I wasn't officially done with the challenge until I logged ANOTHER 10 miles? The website does say that the Massachusetts2Medford challenge is 152 miles long, but as you can see on the medal, 142 miles is plastered all over it. I also went the entire challenge working off of the 142 number, so needless to say I was pretty disappointed when I thought I had finished the challenge and realized that I didn't finish it quite yet. This is a combination of my own error and the distance not being super clear, so I would have appreciated some clarity.

Pay more, get more. I'm never a huge fan of situations where you get more access if you have more money you are able to spend. The Premium Pack of swag is an additional $25, and while the swag that comes with it is definitely worth the price, I think it always feels kind of icky to get all of this cool stuff knowing that if I didn't have the financial means I wouldn't have access to it, especially when we're all putting in a ton of effort to complete the challenge! I may feel different if the finisher's medal was included in the base price (even if that base price went up a bit!), because the other swag items were truly "extra" in my eyes, but every challenge finisher deserves to celebrate their hard work with a medal, in my opinion!

Overall I had a really positive experience with the Medford2Medford Virtual Race Across America! This challenge kept me motivated to keep lacing and running this summer which is always so appreciated, and it was so great to know I was running with so many other people across the country and working toward this difficult goal together! I would definitely participate in this challenge next year, and maybe even team up with some folks to complete the longer TheMississippi2Medford challenge or the entire Medford2Medford and work my way across the entire country!

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(2020)
"Race Review: Medford2Medford Race Across America"
Overall
Race Management
SWAG
Virtual Support

(copied from my blog review, which you can find here: https://fiveleveninety.blogspot.com/2020/09/race-review-medford2medford-race-across.html)

Last week I finally finished up my Massachusetts2Medford Challenge, which is part of the larger Medford2Medford Virtual Run Across America sponored by DMSE Sports! As I mentioned in my initial blogpost, this challenge was celebrating Dave McGillivray's 1978 run across the United States from Medford, OR to Medford, MA. For the Massachusetts2Medford challenge, I had to run or walk 142 total virtual miles across the state to complete this goal. Finding the motivation to run this summer had been a huge challenge for me, so I'm glad that I had this challenge to keep me motivated!

Things I Loved About the M2M Challenge!

Great communication! The cool thing about the M2M was that the organizers sent weekly updates to congratulate folks on completing their challenge, regardless of what distance. They really knew how to keep the runners and teams motivated throughout the challenge and I always appreciate that. The updates also served as a great reminder to get out there and keep chipping away at the miles!

The personal map tracker! One really awesome thing about this challenge is that when you entered your miles, it would update your personal map so you could see where you were virtually along the route. It was so cool to be able to see where my little pin was after each logged run or walk and, because I'm so familiar with the state, I could totally visualize what area of MA I was "in". Here's an example of my completed map!

The medal! The medal for this virtual challenge was so cool. Each distance had it's own colored ribbon (the Masschusetts2Medford was blue) and featured a map of the continental United States with a sneaker that slides from one end of the medal to the other. The show also features the distance you ran! This is actually such a cool medal and I was so excited to finally earn it once I completed my last few miles.

The swag! I signed up for the Premiere Pack when I registered for the challenge, which gave me access to some additional swag items, including a neck gaiter, Dave McGillivray's picture book Running Across America, and the medal! I wore my neck gaiter on my August 29th run which was the commemorative end of the challenge as that was the same day Dave entered Medford, MA back in 1978. It helped me celebrate the moment!

Things I Would Improve

Clarity on the distance. One of the things that bummed me out was finally logging my last 10 miles to reach that 142 mile marker, and realizing that I wasn't officially done with the challenge until I logged ANOTHER 10 miles? The website does say that the Massachusetts2Medford challenge is 152 miles long, but as you can see on the medal, 142 miles is plastered all over it. I also went the entire challenge working off of the 142 number, so needless to say I was pretty disappointed when I thought I had finished the challenge and realized that I didn't finish it quite yet. This is a combination of my own error and the distance not being super clear, so I would have appreciated some clarity.

Pay more, get more. I'm never a huge fan of situations where you get more access if you have more money you are able to spend. The Premium Pack of swag is an additional $25, and while the swag that comes with it is definitely worth the price, I think it always feels kind of icky to get all of this cool stuff knowing that if I didn't have the financial means I wouldn't have access to it, especially when we're all putting in a ton of effort to complete the challenge! I may feel different if the finisher's medal was included in the base price (even if that base price went up a bit!), because the other swag items were truly "extra" in my eyes, but every challenge finisher deserves to celebrate their hard work with a medal, in my opinion!

Overall I had a really positive experience with the Medford2Medford Virtual Race Across America! This challenge kept me motivated to keep lacing and running this summer which is always so appreciated, and it was so great to know I was running with so many other people across the country and working toward this difficult goal together! I would definitely participate in this challenge next year, and maybe even team up with some folks to complete the longer TheMississippi2Medford challenge or the entire Medford2Medford and work my way across the entire country!

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