Disclaimer: I received a pair of Brooks Ghost 14 shoes to review as part of being a BibRave Ambassador. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Ambassador, and check out BibRave.com to review, find and write race reviews!

First of all, I was super stoked to have been one of the ones selected to test these shoes out. I have been running in Brooks shoes for many years and the ghost model over the last few years more so. I did not particularly like the model before this one, the 13, and was hopeful that this one would be just as good, if not better than the 12, and it is!

Second of all, new shoes are THE BEST!! There is nothing better, IMO, than getting into a new pair of shoes, especially the Brooks shoes. I do not feel that their shoes need to be broken in and can be run right out of the box! When I order shoes from Brooks I am always ordering up half a size and they work perfectly for me. If I order my true size I often feel that they are too small for my foot.

Getting to the shoe and the specifics about it. The shoe has a 12mm drop and weighs 9.0 oz for womens and 9.9 oz for me. Why would someone wear this shoe? The Ghost model is a neutral shoe and would be best for someone who has normal pronation. If you have not already done this, the best thing to do is to visit your local running store and have them fit you and take a look at your gait to help you determine what shoe could work best for you. Some are able to wear a nuetral shoe, while others need a stability shoe.

The ghost model is one of the best selling daily trainer out there. I use my ghosts for any easy paced run I’m going on and they last for a good 500 miles before I need to replace them. They have been tried and tested and are very reliable. Important to note is that these shoes are Brooks first carbon neutral shoe. Brooks is hoping to be net zero carbon emissions by 2040 by using recycled material and carbon offsets.

Mine are the Fuschia/Yucca/Navy Color

Since testing these out I have run over 150 miles in my Ghost 14’s this month while training for my ultra marathon. I have done runs as little as 7 miles all the way up to a 30 mile long run and they were great, and very consistent in their feel. No pain, no blisters, no issues. I even went out and bought another pair because when you find something you like, you need to buy more of it! I hightly recommend these shoes if you are looking for a new trainer for your daily easy runs. Head on over to Brooks to check them out and order a pair now, while on sale!

Disclaimer: I received free entry to the Blue Ridge Marathon as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador) and check out Bibrave to review, find and write race reviews!

Let me just start my post with this statement: The Blue Ridge Marathon is not for the faint of heart! It’s definitely a race I would suggest for those that are looking for something different or for a challenge. I would not recommend running this race if you are looking for a PR or to qualify for Boston. This race is labeled as THE toughest road marathon in America and I can confirm with you that it really is. Race weekend here offers the ability to run the 10k, half marathon, marathon or DOUBLE marathon for those that are doubly crazy! I choose to run the marathon. For my training leading up to race day my coach gave me some long runs with speedwork but then I also focused my long runs on getting a lot of elevation in. I found a hill along my run that was about a half mile up and down and began just running it over and over again. My last long run that had hills included I ran that hill for 12 miles in total. I really think that helped prepare me for what was going to occur on race day. The best thing you can do is prepare for what will come on race day so that when things don’t go the way you want them to you can adjust and adapt and still power through.

I live just outside of Philadelphia and so that meant about 6 ish hours of driving to get to Roanoke, VA. With 2 kids that are age 7 and 8, we decided to break up the drive in 2 days. We drove a little more than halfway and stayed over in a hotel before making it the rest of the way the day before race day. We got to the Roanoke area around 5pm and headed straight to the expo. I loved that it was situated right at the finish line so I knew where we would be ending the race the next day. The expo was low-key and very chill. You could grab your bib and race shirt then browse the other booths for anything else you might need. Think socks, sunglasses, sneakers, race fuel, and also fun shirts/hoodies/hats that were Blue Ridge themed! We stayed for a bit to listen to the band and took some photos then headed back to the hotel for dinner.

Our hotel was less than a half mile from the hotel so my kids and husband walked me over on race morning. I stretched out a bit then got into the start line up. It was cloudy and cool but no rain! The energy was booming and I felt blessed to be there. You were in the start area with all the runners (double marathon, marathon, half marathon, 10k and relay). The gun went off right on time at 7:35am and off we went!

Before the start of the race!

I took some of this info right from the race website because I feel that it describes the race perfectly and then added in some of my thoughts along the way!

The course begins easily with one mile of rolling hills, before taking its first turn upward as runners begin the 2-mile climb up Mill Mountain. At the top of the day’s initial climb, the race enters the Blue Ridge Parkway, where there are several lengthy and challenging hills over the next two-plus miles. Then runners will encounter the most beautiful but challenging portion of the course – the climb up Roanoke Mountain.

Roanoke Mountain ascends approximately 780 feet in two miles with multiple switchbacks. Runners will see magnificent views of the region’s mountains and valleys as they pass the numerous overlooks, and will be rewarded with the best view at the top. The steep decent on the back of Roanoke Mountain is equally beautiful and difficult as the gradient forces runners to keep their speed in check. I loved that during the descent down the mountain you got to see the other runners that were making the climb up. There was a lot of encouragement offered from them to me and me to them.

After 4 miles of climbing and descending, the course returns to the Blue Ridge Parkway where runners will re-trace their steps toward Mill Mountain. Participants will then ascend Mill Mountain (the part not covered on the first pass) to the famous Mill Mountain Star, overlooking the beautiful Roanoke Valley and — much of the course still to be run!

From the Star, runners will encounter another major 2-mile decent down Prospect Avenue – also known as the “old road” to Mill Mountain. Back on the valley floor the final 10 miles is rolling with several challenging hills. Don’t let mile 18 and 24 sneak up on you!

The Valley section of the course briefly skirts the Roanoke River before turning into the historic and scenic area known as South Roanoke, famous for its beautiful homes. A lot of the residents were out cheering us on which was amazing and much appreciated. Be aware of a long climb on Avenham and Peakwood Avenues as you turn into the neighborhood. This climb left me breathless! You will crest the hill right at 20 miles.

The terrain flattens out for the next 3 miles as you make your way through Old Southwest, along the Roanoke River Greenway, and through Wasena before heading downtown to the finish line at Elmwood Park. When I got to flat I could pick up my speed but when it came to the uphill I slowed considerbly and sometimes even walked just to conserve my energy.

So all in all you are climbing 3 mountains and then throughout the rest of the course you are running some rolling hills. Just when I thought the hills would be done, there were more! Even at mile 26 when you only had .20 left the first .10 was UPHILL!! It was so hard that I had to laugh at times so that I would not cry. This was one of the best marathon experiences I have ever had. I cannot begin to tell you how incredible you feel once you have completed this race. It’s unreal. You must find out for yourself. As you are completing the race they will call our your name and where you are from. You then get congratulated by a volunteer and receive your awesome medal and a bottle of water. There are plenty of post run snacks/food to snack on and it’s a really nice area to hang out at.

Finished, and feeling like a ROCKSTAR!

I ended up placing 6th place overall and second in the Masters category. The awards ceremony went off around 2pm so we walked back to the hotel so I could change in the RV. Our hotel would not give us late check out, which stunk. How could they expect me to be done the race before normal check out time, especially this race? We then walked back to the fnish area but along the way is the cute little downtown area of Roanoke with a bunch of stores so we browsed those before getting back. Each trophy is hand-welded from a recycled rail road spike by a local high school shop class to look like a little runner.  Each one is completely unique and made by hand just for you! I’ll treasure it forever!

Virtual Costume Dash 5k

Disclaimer: I received free entry to the Virtual Costume Dash 5k as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador) and check out Bibrave to review, find and write race reviews!

TheCostume Dash Virtual 5k is a fun filled way to run or walk around in a costume or something Halloween related and earn some sweet swag when you are done! I don’t know about you but I love Halloween. It’s a holiday that everyone can celebrate and just have some fun with, with hardly any stress other than getting more of your favorite candy!

Also, and more importantly, the Costume Dash Virtual Run is committed to the fight to treat and defeat childhood cancer as they partner with St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital®. To learn more about their mission and how you can do your part in this fight, please visit their Charity Page and donate today.

I ran my race last week and wore my super fun Halloween tights, my BibRave race tank and hat and had some fun with this one. I then wore my super soft t-shirt all weekend long. My kids loved using the temporary tatoos and the gorgeous medal was added to my medal collection. All in all, a nice Halloween themed race with awesome swag all for a good cause.. a WIN WIN!

Allllll the swag!

You know it was a good race when it’s over a week later and I am still grinning from ear to ear from how much I loved running this race! On May 8th, 2021, I got to run my first in person race of 2021 and my first ever ultra marathon. It was called the Dirty German Endurance Festival. They offer 3 different distances to run: 25k, 50k and 50 miles and the race takes part in Pennypack Park in Philadelphia. The 25k runners run 1 loop, the 50k runners run 2 loops, and the 50 milers run 3 loops plus another 3.5 miles. According to the race director this is a great race to run your first ultra and/or try for a PR if the weather cooperates. I had signed up for the 50k back in January knowing that a friend of mine was running it and had run it another year. This was the 11th year the race has taken place, with last year having to be virtual.

The Start/Finish area

I have done other races put on by Uberendurance Sports and know that they can put on a very nice low-key race with a great experience! I have even been lucky enough to have won a few of their prizes, a cuckoo clock for winning 1st masters and then 2 German weather houses for coming in the top 3 of my age group.  Though, going into my first ultra I really had no time goal in mind.  I just wanted to embrace the race, have fun and finish the race with a smile.  Afterall, the idea of running long has me really enjoying going slower these days.  Slow and steady wins the race is a term that comes to my mind quite often these days.

My training leading up to the race was a lot of miles, at a slower pace, and the last month I was running 60-70 miles per week. I did run 43 miles on my birthday to celebrate 43 miles for 43 years, which technically is considered an ‘ultra’, but it was technically unofficial since it was on my own and not an actual race. However, having gone that far just a few months ago really helped the mental aspect of my mind for race day. The only thing I really wasn’t much prepared for was running on real trails. I have run on rail trails but not really the same as what I experienced at the race. I didn’t even have trail shoes until about a month before the race. Talk about a rookie LOL! I ended up going with a brand called Topo Athletic , and the shoe I purchased is called the ultradventure pro. I had gone to my local running store and tried on many different pairs and this pair felt the best. I had never even heard of the brand before, but the owner assured me that most of their staff runs in this very brand. I only had taken them out once to test out at the trails and ran 19 miles in them right away. That is probably not the best idea, but it worked out great for me.

Let’s get to race day! I woke up around 6am, had a little bit of coffee and my usual granola bar. I took a quick shower and then got my race clothes on and everything ready to go. Then it was time to get the kids up, have them eat and get dressed and we were on the road by 7am to head to the start. Fortunately, I live no more than 10-15 mins from the race start. We all had different start times with the 50m starting at 7:15a, the 50k at 8am, and the 25k at 9am. To give you an idea of race size here is how many finished in each category: 129 50 mile runners, 219 50k runners and 444 25k runners. I got down to the bib pick up area and ended up running into 2 friends I haven’t seen since before the pandemic. Bib pick up was a breeze, got a few pictures, went to the bathroom, stretched a bit and then it was time to head to the start. My husband and kids drove me to the race and once I started, they left and came back to great me at the finish!

My son looks thrilled to be here 😂

I thought that it may be helpful for some of you if I tell you what I packed in my running vest for the race. I use the Salomon Sense Pro 5 vest and I love it. I filled both my flasks with Tailwind Nutrition berry flavor, and then packed some goldfish, swedish fish and a broken up pop tart in snack size bags. I also had two Huma Gel, chocolate flavor. I also had my handkerchief, does anyone else’s nose run when they run if it’s not hot out, or is it just me? I also brought my little AM/FM radio in case I needed some tunes for the second loop (never used it) and my GoPro to get some action shots when I could remember to do so!

I was the first wave to go off right at 8am and once they said GO, we were off. It seemed there were 10-12ish of us that started off. (Each wave went one minute after each other) I was in the back of the pack when we started as everyone went off and ran like a bat out of hell. I knew that I was not going to go or even try to go super-fast as 1, this was my first ultra, and 2, we are on the trail where you have to slow down a bit just to stay upright, or I do anyways. The first few miles were a little tricky with me being a newbie to the trail and seeing lots of mud and puddles, and then we came to a stream and everyone was running right through it, and I think I said out loud are you kidding me LOL! Thankfully, my trail shoes weren’t too bad off though with being completely soaked. I know that my regular shoes would have felt 10lbs heavier. I do recall telling myself that not only was having fun and finishing with a smile on my list of things to accomplish for this race, NOT FALLING WAS ANOTHER at this point.

Just to give you an idea of the mud I’m talking about!

I came to the first aid station after a few miles in and everyone there was so super nice. At that point I realized that I hadn’t even really drank anything yet so that was my reminder to start. I couldn’t believe how muddy and wet some sections were and how dry others were. It had been a bit of a rainy week prior to the race. I was glad though that most downhill sections were dry because I found going downhill to be the toughest with trying to be fast yet not fall! At some point, I’m not sure if it was mile 6 or 7ish, I ended up connecting with the guy who was in front of me for the first miles and we started talking and running together. It was not his first ultra and I feel like he took me under his wing as we ran together for the rest of the race. I did end up falling once, tripping over a root that I missed seeing. I really thought I was going to go down by slipping on the mud. I got up quickly and was ok, whew! Most of the race was spent looking down.

This is how the course was marked.

As far as fueling went, I nibbled on my snacks here and there throughout the race. I also took a few things from the aid stations, which were stocked full of great things, all individually packaged due to Covid. At some point I craved chocolate so I ate some. At another point the cheese-it’s sounded good so I grabbed them! When you are running long you must fuel the body and give in to your cravings. We made a pit stop in the woods around mile 10ish and at that point I took my first gel. I was saving my other gel for around mile 20. The reason why I only had two was that more than that my stomach could go wonky and no one has time for that!

This silly grin was on my face the whole race!

I had read a bunch of reviews that others had posted about this run from years past and have to agree with them that the 1 mile paved bike trail that we had to run on for each loop was extremely painful. After running on the softer surface for most of the race and then going to that was pure hell for the feet. However, it’s only 1 mile so I told my brain to shut up and get it done.

Around mile 12 we reached this cool area that on their site they call the rollercoaster section. It was a single track that had a lot of turns and was really fun to run. Once we got through there, we were on our way back to finish the first loop, so exciting! I stayed with my new friend (Michael) once we got back to the main site so he could fill up his water and then off we went. I do love running a loop course because the second time around never seems so bad knowing that you have already done this before. Interestingly though we saw some things the second time around that we both didn’t remember from the last time.

We ran over many bridges but never crossed one single street.

We really lucked out big time with the weather. It was supposed to rain all day and somehow it managed not to, at all. I think the race would have been completely different if it had rain. Michael told me very early on to walk on the uphill areas, and conserve my energy, which made sense. The second loop took us a bit longer than the first, as we were both running on tired legs. Running on the trail takes a lot of the calves and the quads and I was definitely feeling it. Around mile 21 I rolled my ankle running downhill. Luckily after a few minutes of walking I was able to run again. Another one of those whew! moments. I’m guessing that running on a trail you have a lot of those moments. I think the only thing I wished was different was that they would have had mile markers out on the course. My watch was slightly off due to GPS and there’s nothing better than knowing how close you are to the finish. The last 10 miles were relatively calm and I don’t think I felt ready to stop running until I was a few miles from the end. Whenever I have moments of wanting to quit is when I quickly tell whatever is hurting to shut the heck up and it’s my brain that helps me push through. Believe it or not at one point I actually thought to myself, maybe I should have done the 50 miler. Then I stopped thinking that the minute we crossed the finish LOL! I saw my family right before the end and I wanted to bawl my eyes out seeing them there waiting for me. All in all, this is a great race and I will return next year to tackle it again. Maybe next year I will try the 50 miler.

Crossing the finish of my first 50k!!

I started thinking about running 1 mile per year lived for my birthday back towards the end of January. I had seen a few others that I follow on social media do this kind of challenge and they had turned even older than I was turning. One fellow runner friend ran 53 miles for her 53rd birthday and then another had run 60 miles for her 60th! I was in utter shock, completely in awe of these ladies for doing this. I thought to myself, could I really do something like this? The furthest distance I have ever run up to this point was a marathon and I’ve done 19 of those in all my years of running. I even asked the question on both my social media platforms on whether people thought I was crazy to run this far or should I do 43 miles or 43k. It was interesting to hear that most that responded did not think I was crazy for attempting something like this! Though, on twitter more followers thought I should attempt 43k over 43 miles. Anyway, in the end I decided on having 43 miles be the A goal, and 43k be the B goal, with 4.3 miles the C goal.

I googled ‘ultra-running’ and found some awesome quotes by ultra-runner  Michael D’Aulerio.  Quotes give me all the feels and help inspire me; Anyone else with me on that front? Here are a few that resonated with me the most:

“If you make finishing your most meaningful goal, keep your pace relatively slow, find a big enough purpose, and nail down nutrition, the finish line of your first ultramarathon will come.”

“When will you feel ready? You won’t. It takes a leap of faith. Signing up for an ultramarathon takes a jump into the unknown.”

“An ultrarunner’s stamina is the result of all the struggles they are willing to overcome both inside and outside their running shoes.”

I spent the first two weeks of February prepping by running longer runs on the weekends, 20 miles the first weekend and 26.2 miles the following weekend. I had also been running longer on the weekends for a while now so that base was already there with me running between 45-60 miles per week. My original plan from the start was to run this on the local trail and either direction I went I would be no more than 5 miles from my car so that I could have supplies there, plus a bathroom!  Well unfortunately, a bunch of snowstorms later the trail was basically snow and ice covered and just not an option for my run. I was a little disappointed and a little scared thinking how am I going to run 43 miles just around town? It seemed almost daunting and impossible.  A friend, who lives close by, that I had connected with who runs ultras had reached out asking me what my plan was and reassured me that I could in fact still get this done even without the trail being available.  She told me that she had run a virtual run back in December and had run almost 42 miles all around town, and that the trail was her original plan too! She then even offered to come along with me for some company.  How thrilled was I that someone was so kind as to take me under their wing and show me the way!?  I decided that I’d like to run at least half the distance on my own and then have her join me the rest of the way.

The week leading up to my epic run I had my normal day off on Monday, ran for 60 minutes easy on Tuesday, 4 miles Wednesday and 3 on Thursday. After all the miles I had been putting in my legs and body welcomed the shorter distances! I used to have such an issue with the taper but not much anymore. I know that it’s necessary, so I try to embrace it.  My birthday thankfully fell on a Friday, which was perfect to give me the weekend to help me recover before work on Monday.

My friend and I talked the night before about my game plan and she offered some advice of what to bring with me in my vest for fuel which was very helpful! Once thing she kept saying to me was this: you are going to surprise yourself when you realize you can do this!  Here is what I stored in my vest, S/Lab Sense Ultra 5 from Salomon to start:  I filled both my soft flasks (17oz each) with berry flavored Tailwind my new go to hydration favorite, packed different snack size bags filled with goldfish, Swedish fish and dark chocolate Hershey kisses.  I also packed some tissues and $5 cash, all based on my friend’s recommendation.  Dinner that night was what any normal runner would eat: some type of pasta dish, my pick was ravioli and garlic bread.  I even sometimes have pizza, depending on my mood.  Give me all the carbs, please! 

I got up around 5am and did my normal routine of drinking some coffee and eating a granola bar.  Only this time I ate 2 granola bars.  I got myself dressed, did my pre run stretches and hit the road by 6am.  My plan was to run for 4 hours alone and then meet my friend back at my house at 10am. I knew by that point I’d need to come home to get more hydration, fuel, bathroom and possibly change my shirt or whatever I may need.  What I didn’t plan on was seeing so much black ice out there. I knew I would be having to stop to get through snowbanks but not so much ice! Because this was my own birthday run and the first time ever running this far, time didn’t matter so I wasn’t letting it bother me and just tried to be careful. 

It was chilly to start off (28 degrees with a real feel of 25ish), so I brought my warm mittens from Turtle Gloves with me and they worked perfectly! It has only taken me 20+ years of running to realize that mittens are best when it’s freezing! I knew from talking to my coach to try my best to keep the pace between 10-10:30 per mile so that I could save my legs for once it got tough! Thankfully it wasn’t too hard to stay in that range with having to stop for snow and ice and cars and lights, etc.  I stayed in my neighborhood for about 2 miles then at that point it was light out, so I made my way out and I was off. I hadn’t really planned out my route but knew what neighborhoods I was going to head to and see how the miles played out before having to go back to my house.  I had to go to the bathroom around mile 9-10 but the wawa I was going to stop at was so busy and I decided to skip it and ended up going to a grocery store many miles later.  Unfortunately, in the dead of winter it’s not as easy to use the bathroom outside as all the trees have lost their leaves and there is nowhere to hide!  I brought my phone with me but wasn’t going to use it for music because the battery wouldn’t last all day. I ended up buying an AM/FM small radio that I brought with me and just listened to 92.5 the whole time.  A lot of what I thought about during these first 4 hours was how was my run going to go once I met up with my friend.  I knew that I could run 26.2 miles, as I’ve done that many times before.  I knew that the real ‘race’ would start after that distance was reached.  I was thankful that I would have someone there with me when I was in that moment.  It made it seem so much less scary!

I started to make my way back to my neighborhood around 9 am based on where I was at and was going to run back and forth once or twice on this flat one-mile area that I knew of before heading back home to meet my friend at 10.  One of the best parts about this day was the sun was shining the entire day!!  Sunshine on a run just makes everything that much better.

Fueling wise, since I had 2 granola bars before I even left the house, I didn’t feel the need to eat anything until around mile 10-11.  At that point I reached in my vest for those goldfish I had packed, only to find that the zipper was open, and they had fallen out somewhere, I was so bummed.  I instead opted to have 2 dark chocolate Hershey kisses.  Also, because it was cold out, I didn’t feel extremely thirsty and hadn’t been drinking that much so I started making myself knowing I needed to.

As I was making my way back, I ran into my friend who was just a few blocks from my house.  I knew from our conversation the night before that I wanted to get in and out of the house as quickly as possible so I could keep moving and not have a huge lull.  I had already set out everything that I was going to need so that I could just refill, throw stuff in the vest and I ended up changing both of my top layers. I used the bathroom, ate a PB&J sandwich, had a few hard pretzels and we were on our way!  She told me that we could go at my pace and she would take my lead with whether I needed to walk at any given point. She also told me she brought me some fuel that she uses for her longer runs that works well.  Once we got going, I had told her the places I had already ran and told her that I was open to her leading us to the least hilly spots LOL!  We spoke here and there but often we were silent, listening to our footsteps hitting the ground, saying hi to people we saw out, listening to the birds chirping and hearing the snow melting.  I remember seeing the miles click by and then once I got to 26.2, I thought, well, this is when the real race begins! It’s time to go further than I ever have in one shot.  Once we got to around 30 miles in, she gave me a gel.  It was called Spring Energy.  I had never heard of them, but she said they work well for her tummy, so I trusted that!  And I’m happy to say it worked well for me!  She had also brought me a box of candy hearts, which I ate here and there and a butterscotch candy, which I stuck in the side of my mouth and sucked on it for a while!  I drank a lot more on the second half of the run.  It had gotten warmer; it was 28 degrees when I started and close to 45 by mid-day!  However, we just kept going and going. We did take a few walks breaks like after we got up a long gradual hill.  I couldn’t believe the numbers on my watch as the miles kept clicking by. Once we passed 31 miles I said well, I can certainly do that 50k I signed up for in May!  Then I think when we got to 35 miles, I keep telling myself that I could do this. I only had 8 MORE MILES.  Really, I just said get to 40 and you have 3 more miles after that! Sometimes you just go with one mile at a time but it’s just about playing tricks on your mind to get it done.  I think around 39 miles I said to my friend, why couldn’t I be turning 40?! She then said, well, be thankful that you aren’t turning 50! So true! I needed that perspective at that point. I seriously could not believe that I was 3 miles from hitting my goal.  3 miles. A 5k. A distance I have run almost every day of the week for so many years.  I could totally do this!  But really, my exact thoughts were that I wanted to stop and just lay in the middle of the street and make it stop.  It literally took until I reached 40 miles for my brain to think this, which is amazing! And then once we were almost done, I can’t begin to describe the feelings I felt the moment that my watch hit 43.  I honestly knew that I had it in me to run this far but you really never do realize exactly what you are capable of accomplishing until you are in that moment and pushing yourself to do your best and to keep going!  As I ran those last 20 miles I kept thinking about David Goggins 40% rule.  When your mind is telling you you’re done, you’re only 40 percent done. Now let that sink in.  It’s seriously true!  But, remember, it’s up to YOU to be the one to determine what you are capable of! 

I will write another blog on how I recovered from this epic birthday run!! Stay tuned!!

Disclaimer: I received free entry to the Virtual Hot Chocolate San Diego 5k/15k 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!

The Hot Chocolate race first debuted in 2008 and now has become one of the fastest growing running races in the country, with events in over 15 cities across the US! It even won as one of the best races with one of the best medals and swag in the BibRave 100!

Geographically I live just outside of Philadelphia and I had heard about this race over the years on social media because they do have one in Philadelphia but I had never signed up for it. I remember seeing the pictures of the sweet jacket and the mug filled with some delicious hot chocolate and fondue that you received at the end and it sounded amazing! I also had heard about the chocolate stations that were placed along the way during the race!! Who knew that come March 2020 most, if not all, races would be cancelled and still now in 2021 most are either cancelled or virtual. Here’s hoping that we can run more in person races in 2022!

When the opportunity came up to run this virtually, I decided I need to see what all the hype was about! When my race swag finally arrived last week, I was highly impressed! The charcoal jacket was so super soft, had 3 different pockets and a removable hood!

The medal was a replica of a piece of chocolate in gold and was gorgeous! Plus, it had a piece of chocolate in the middle, I couldn’t love it more! 

I also received extra chocolate pieces, hot chocolate packets, nuun hydration tablets and a honey stinger waffle!  So many goodies in one bag! 

The nice part about running a race virtually is that you can run or walk it anywhere and at any time. The San Diego race was held on February 28th, 2021 and that is when I ran it. I tried my best to run up some hills because I heard that the San Diego course is quite hilly, and I wanted to try be as close to the race course as I could!  We had a cloudy day here in the 40’s and it was drizzling for most of my run, which is the opposite of the sunny warm weather they have out in San Diego!  I came home and immediately tried one of the hot chocolate packets they had given me, and it hit the spot!

If you have missed out on running this race thus far, don’t fret! There are plenty more scheduled virtually for the remainder of the year. Head over to their site Hot Chocolate 5k/15K and get yourself signed up!!

Disclaimer: I received Science in Sport REGO Rapid Recovery to review 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!

As a person who has been running seriously, for more than half her life, I will fully admit that I wasn’t taking my recovery very seriously up until recently. Prior to late last year, I was only using an electrolyte tablet for my water after my runs and trying to eat a balanced diet. I never really thought about taking something immediately after my runs and hard workouts. I didn’t really think I needed it. I WAS SO WRONG! I’m now all about the motto of training hard but recovering harder.

Consuming a proper amount of carbs and protein after exercise is essential. It will stimulate muscle protein synthesis, improve recovery and enhance performance during your next workout.

Science in Sport REGO Rapid Recovery is a complete recovery product to be consumed within 30 minutes of exercise.

  • It contains a blend of carbohydrates (23 grams), protein (20grams, soy), and electrolytes with vitamins and minerals.
  • Replenishment of your glycogen helps preserve muscles and accelerate recovery!

Flavor choices are: Vanilla, Chocolate and Strawberry 🍓 . I was able to try both the chocolate and the strawberry, and I love them both, though strawberry is my absolute favorite!

Can I also state just how easy it is to use and consume this recovery drink? If you are anything like me, you are always running late and don’t have much time before you have to be on to the next thing, and for that reason this will be perfect for you!  All you need to do is fill the shaker cup up with water, (I also add ice), then added in the powder, shake and drink to enjoy! Who knew it could be this simple?!!

Stretching, and enjoying my recovery drink after a tough track workout!

Other important fun facts about the product are that it’s ideal for lactose intolerant, and is also wheat, gluten and nut free!

And last and MOST IMPORTANTLY….. how does it taste? I find it refreshing! It’s not chalky, or too sweet – I think it’s just right! But you should be the judge of that.

If you are not taking anything for your recovery, I highly recommend you head over to their site, and order some to try out https://www.scienceinsport.com/us/

Feel free to use code REGO10BIBRAVE for 10% off on top of all all promotions! This is good for a one time use and expires on 12/14/20!

Well, one can say that I sure as heck jumped OFF the blogwagon!! I was so good about posting my training every single week and then BOOM, I stopped. I just got busy with everything. So, rather than go back and do every week I missed, I’m just going to highlight some of the things that have happened since then and then promise to do better in January with keeping this up to date.

If we go back in time to August, when I stopped blogging about my weekly runs, I was doing the trials of miles races at the track. That is where I did a series of different virtual distances at the track and competed against other female masters runners. In August I had the 5k race, and finished in 20:39, which pushed me through to the final round and then I ran the 2k, which is 5 laps and finished that 7:38. I had fun doing this virtual race, mostly because I love running at the track! Second, it allowed me to realize that the work I have been doing with my coach is paying off and I am getting faster!

I also got to be on a podcast! How cool is that? It is called The Social Run podcast and you can check them out here: https://www.stitcher.com/show/the-social-run

Stephen Cameron is a really cool dude and I’m so thankful to have connected with him this year. I had a lot of fun chatting with him about my running over the years! You can follow him on twitter, here: https://twitter.com/midagedrunner?s=11

The next fun thing I did in August was go to the beach with my family for a week. My parents and sister went as well. We just head to the Jersey Shore because it’s close and a nice place to take a family vacation. We are always a little leery about what the weather will be like in mid to late August but we lucked out this week! We had hot weather every single day and we spent most of the time at the beach or just hanging at the house. It was so much fun and we enjoyed our time together!

The kids started school in September right after Labor Day and it was all virtual. My mother in law offered to help us for 3 days a week, which has been a lifesaver so far this year! I work from home on Monday and Tuesday, while helping my son with his virtual kindergarten. My daughter is in second grade and can usually follow along with her teacher independently. Then I head to the office Wednesday through Friday and get as much work done that I can in those 3 days! We have enjoyed having my mother in law around more, as well as her dog Daisy!!

The Sunday before school started I decided to run my virtual 10k for the Queen of Prussia race. This 10k holds a special place in my heart because it’s a women’s only race and it was my first ever 10k that I ran in 2019.

This year I was set to be mentor and was so excited to mentor new friends but then COVID hit and the race didn’t happen in June as planned. It ultimately got pushed till September with a virtual option only. I had run an easy paced half marathon the day before I decided to run this 10k because that was on my schedule. I wasn’t sure what to expect knowing my legs were a bit tired from the day before, but knew that running this on the track I would have some advantage since it was completely flat. I did have other runners at the track that day that I had to run around but other than that I’d say that it went well. I ran a PR!, if you can consider running virtually and on your own, a situation where you can call it a PR! But I ran my heart out. I’ve attached my splits.

Crazy though, I actually ended up WINNING the race and I’m the Queen of Prussia 2020! I could not believe it. I almost dismissed it off at first thinking, well, no one fast ran and so that is how I won, etc. My husband quickly told me to knock it off, a WIN IS A WIN!! The race directors came to my office and spoiled me with stuff a few weeks after the race. It was one of the best moments in my life to date. I felt so damn special, and after the year we’ve had, I needed it!

I also ran a virtual relay with a bunch of runners I’m connected with on Instagram where we each ran a certain hour of the day on 9/26 and all the miles got added together. We ended up coming in first place, how exciting! You basically ran as much as you could for 1 hour and then recorded your time. It was pretty cool and something different!

The last race I ran virtually was the Broad Street Run! This race also holds a special place in my heart because it was my first race that I had ever run back in 2001. It got me hooked on running distance big time and it’s now one of the largest 20 mile races in the country! I ran this easy paced and just enjoyed the 10 miles around my neighborhood. They mailed you out the shirt and medal since they had already purchased everything before the pandemic hit in March for the May race date. Hoping to run this race live in 2021 but realize that it may not happen.

Cool backgrounds they offered for you to upload your photo to!

The rest of my runs since then have been pretty consistent with what I have been working on all year with my coach. I run 6 days per week and usually 4 of my runs are easy paced, and the other two have speedwork built it. Our goal is to get me faster, and to get the 7:30 pace to feel not so hard and attainable! I have been good with still keeping with my training knowing that I don’t want to lose time and want to be ready if and when races do come back. I have felt a little burnout though from time to time, but that is normal even in a normal training cycle. I still make myself get out there and run on those days because I know that I will always feel better having gone than having skipped.

Almost forgot, Danny and I celebrated our 10 year wedding anniversary in September as well. My mother in law offered to watch the kids so we went to the Hershey Hotel for 2 nights and really enjoyed the alone time! We are still thinking back to that awesome weekend and wishing we could go back again!

On a walk outside the Hershey Hotel

My son Braeden turned 6 in mid November! We had a small party for him outside with our neighbors who we have considered in our bubble since the pandemic hit! We also decided to give him the Nintendo Switch that he has been wanting so badly! I think he quite enjoyed his pandemic birthday this year!

The best picture I could get with 5 crazy kids

I think that’s it. We visited a farm to pick apples one day! We still had Halloween, again just on a smaller scale with masks. Kids got their Christmas PJ’s and have been in countdown ever since!! We then went to another farm for our Christmas tree this year! Overall we have tried to make the best of everything as we could. Now looking forward to Christmas Day and then we are heading to Vermont for a few days to end the year off with my husband’s family!

Apple picking

Ready for Halloween

Christmas PJ’s

At the tree farm

My feature in Gear.com

DECEMBER 03, 2020


Lisa Perry is a mother of two and a dedicated runner. Lisa has run for most of her life, she would go running with her dad in her teens, but she didn’t fully commit to running and embrace the lifestyle until after graduating from college and making her start in corporate America. Lisa met a coworker who shared her interested in running and encouraged her to run in a local 10 mile race, little did she know that a couple years later she would be running marathons. Learn more about Lisa below!

When you are traveling and away from home for extended periods of time (for competition, training, etc) what meal do you crave the most?

A good cheesesteak! No one makes them as good as they are here in the Philadelphia area. Or a soft pretzel.

If you could have any three people (dead or alive) over for dinner who would they be?

Steve Prefontaine, Jerry Garcia and Jimmy Fallon.

How do you relax? Do you have any favourite hobbies that help you winddown?

When I’m not running, or working, or tending to my family, I enjoy golfing, reading, playing games or doing a puzzle, or shopping.

How have things changed for you and your training during this pandemic?

I have always run alone so nothing about that has changed. What has changed for me is now not doing in person races. Everything is virtual these days.

Has the pandemic impacted how you can prepare for your sport? Will/Is your competition/race/etc schedule being impacted?

It hasn’t impacted my training all that much because I can still go outside and run! Running isn’t cancelled!! But in person races surely have been. I was scheduled to run many races this year and none of them have happened. So, I have been doing virtual races for now to keep myself going and in race shape.

What do you love most about Odlo?

I love that I’m never uncomfortable when wearing their clothes. They are breathable, light and seamless. Even when I’m out in the rain, soaked, their shirts never make me feel like I’m 5lbs heavier like other brands do. Plus, they look good while training or even when out casually!

What sets Odlo apart from other brands?

I think everything I have from ODLO is awesome and I love it. ODLO has created sportswear for all levels of movement. I always used to say that the most important thing you can invest in is your sneakers but nowadays it’s your clothing as well. However, to wear clothing that can help keep you dry or cool or less smelly is an amazing thing and ODLO has created these items, unlike most other brands.

What is your favorite product? Why?

I love everything they offer but my most favorite is the BLACKCOMB PRO t- shirt. The fabric is soft and seamless, and it lays perfectly on me, not too tight or loose. It’s has been through so many runs with me and still looks brand new.

What do you expect from a brand that you work with?

Well, first, I would want them to make the best of the best, which ODLO does. They allow me to wear and test their products, and I can then share with others how awesome the product is and hope that they buy into the brand. It’s also fun when brands allow you to have giveaways so that others can try it out as well and then you hope they get hooked on the brand, as I have been. Odlo did that with the BLACKCOMB shirt with me and also with some of their sports bras and it helped get the word out on social.

I’ve worked with other brands that make me pay for the gear, and then expect me to post about it. I think that is kind of backwards and no longer rep that brand. I don’t expect a brand to send me a whole wardrobe but let me try a few pieces, test them and then if I love them, I’ll buy more so my wardrobe is full! Hope that makes sense.

How long have you been working with Odlo? How did that relationship start?

Since earlier this year around mid to late April. Adrian from ODLO US had reached to me on social media and asked if I’d like to try out some pieces. The relationship started there and has flourished ever since.

What is the best advice you can give to younger athletes or aspiring distance runners?

Always believe in yourself. Start slow and set small goals along the way. Pat yourself on the back for EVERY SINGLE victory.

Do you have any tips for finding motivation to push through tough days?

Not all days will be sunshine and rainbows and not all days we’ll feel like running or being active. But for me, I go anyway. It’s part of my schedule and I know that almost always I’ll feel much better either while I’m running, mid run or when I’m done. I never ever regret a run so on tough days I must remind myself of that. And, the sooner I get out there and do it, the sooner I can get home!

Have you learned any travelling tips or tricks through your experiences?

Be prepared for any kind of weather! It can change quickly, and you don’t want to be stuck with the wrong gear for race day.
Also, if you take a certain kind of fuel, bring that too. You don’t want to be upset because it’s not available at the race.

How do you prepare for your event? Do you have any tips for handling the stress or performance anxiety?

I always go back to review all my training and really remind myself of the fact that I am ready and have put the work in. I think the minute that you doubt yourself or your mindset goes south, that’s when things can go bad. Having a positive mindset and really believing in yourself is how I can help myself put some of the race nerves at bay.

How do you cope with adversity in your sport? Whether it’s a bad day, bad weather, equipment failure, cancelled event, etc?

I try to remember that I get to run. Others cannot run for whatever reason (sickness or injury) and at the end of the day it’s all supposed to be fun. So, that helps keep things in perspective. Plus, as mentioned, not all days are going to be good. It’s those days that you still must show up and make your own sunshine!

Rapid-Fire Q&A

What is your least favorite type of music?

Heavy Metal

Do you snore?


What did you eat for breakfast?

Granola bar and coffee when I first get up, then a protein shake after my run

What is your favourite movie?

Without Limits

Coffee or tea?


What is your favourite season?


Dark chocolate or milk chocolate?

Dark Chocolate

Would you go to a movie alone?

Probably not

Window or aisle seat?


Favourite ice cream flavour?


(ed. note: interview has been edited for length and clarity)


Monday August 3rd—Running rest day! I love Mondays… a day where I don’t have to set an alarm, and I just naturally wake up by 7:30am. Monday’s are a work from home day for me with my kids in tow.

I decided to get out on my bike after work and rode 12 miles. I helped calm my nerves down. I was a little nervous because I was doing a podcast – my first podcast ever! I wasn’t sure what to expect but once I got the technology working (with the help of my husband) it went well and I enjoyed the conversation with Stephen. I’ll post a link to listen in my blog for next week if it’s available by then.

Tuesday August 4th—Today I opted to run on my treadmill for a softer surface and no humidity. I love the hot summer running but the humidity is just so draining that I needed a break!

My run today was 2 mile warm up, then 8 x 200’s (6:45-6:30 pace goal), with 1 min easy recovery, then I cooled down to 6.5 miles. It felt good and I was happy with how this went!

Wednesday August 5th—Decided to get back outside for my easy run today. I ran 7.25 miles, and this again went well! Got an email from the 5k race that I was supposed to run on 8/14 that it was being CANCELLED. Bummer. I was really looking forward to running an actual race. But I get why they had to do it.

Later in the day I decided to take my kids for a walk during a break from work, while they scootered and noticed a bit of tenderness in my right heel.  I then went out for a bike ride at night and rode 10 miles. I figured that biking wasn’t going to hurt the heel since there’s no pounding and it’s more of the top of your foot that is used for biking. Trust me that if I had felt pain while biking, I would have stopped. I know not to push when I could rest. 

Thursday August 6th—When I got up today, I still had that tenderness in my right heel so decided to not do my run and rest instead. As the day went on the tenderness almost went away. I also realized that I had stopped using my orthotics that I normally would have had in my easy run shoes. I guess I thought that I didn’t need them anymore? Lesson learned. So, I put them back in my shoes.

When I got home from work, I decided to still go out with my mother in law’s dog Daisy for some miles. There was no pain and we went slow so I was happy to still get to go out for my dog miles. It’s become our weekly thing and I didn’t want to miss it.

Friday August 7th—Got up again today and decided to skip my scheduled run again. Taking a few days off or altering your schedule when something hurts should not be a big deal. If you are in it for the long run, then you shouldn’t mind taking proper care of yourself when that time comes up. And so, this was another complete rest day. I made sure to ice and baby my heel as much as I could when I was home.

Saturday August 8th—I woke up today and my heel felt much better. I decided to go for an easy run and see what I could do. I kept the pace VERY easy and felt no pain other than the humid weather which made me a sweaty mess. I ended with going 8.25 miles. I was supposed to run 13 miles but again, no big deal if you need to alter your run! You need to do what’s best for you in the moment. Since there are no races happening it really doesn’t matter.

Then I was scheduled to finally get my hair done. I haven’t gotten it done since December so it was long overdue. I had been putting it off but figured now they were set with proper procedures and overall I was pleased with how it went. There were maybe 6 total people in the salon and I felt very safe there. Now I’ll put off going again until next year LOL. That’s just how I roll. I’d rather be running or biking than at the salon for hours on end.

Sunday August 9th—Today was the last day to run the 5k for the virtual track event that I’m in right now. I was considering just telling them to put me as DNS (did not start) but then as my heel started to feel much better with the rest I decided to head to the track today to see if I could pull it off. I did a 2-mile warm up then went for it! I ended with 20:39, which is way better than I thought I was going to given my heel pain and being off, etc. For a 5k on the track, I’ll take it! It was actually enough to pull me into the last and final round.

The last round is where you have to run the 2000m, or 5 laps around the track!