I’m headed to the Philly Hot Chocolate 5K/15K!

Disclaimer: I received a free entry to Hot Chocolate Philadephia 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!”

I’ve finally come to accept that I am probably done with racing for 2017. As much as I want to race, nothing really fits into my training schedule for the Goofy Challenge at this time. However, that doesn’t mean that I can’t look forward to 2018! I already have four races planned, with one of them being a race I’ve wanted to check out for a while now!

On April 7th, 2018, I’ll be heading to Philadelphia for the Hot Chocolate 15K! Here are just a few reasons why I’m so excited:

1. 15K (or 9.3 miles) is a new race distance for me. A new distance = automatic PR! There is also a 5K 🙂

2. A Philadelphia race didn’t happen for me this year (Rock N Roll Philly).  The race start/finish is near the famed Art Museum with the Rocky Steps, and the course runs along a riverbank, which is flat! I’m happy to finally be getting there to run.

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Art museum on the left, you will run a majority of the race on the right side of the river!

3. Have you heard about the awesome swag?! Hot Chocolate races are known for their incredible premiums and medals. The shirts for this year’s races are so pretty. I’ve been needing a purple shirt for my collection! I also like that the medals come with a city-specific key chain!

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photo: hotchocolate15k.com

4. Finish line sweets! Most of you know I’m all about the post-race beer, but  hot chocolate, and warm chocolate with goodies to dip in it? Sign me up! (I might have to run with a mini of Bailey’s for that hot cocoa 😉 ) There are also sweets on the course!

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photo: hotchocolate15k.com

5. I’ll be there as a Bib Rave Pro! I’m super excited to be back as a Pro in 2018. I ran three great races with them in 2017 and cant wait for more wonderful experiences and products to try! Don’t miss out: Bib Rave Pro applications for 2018 are open now, until 11/15! Don’t be afraid to apply to be a part of an amazing team. Feel free to tell them that I sent you!

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Do you want to run with me in Philly? Hot Chocolate races consistently sell-out, so sign up now. When you do, use the code BRHCPHILLY18 for a free hat!

Baltimore Half Marathon 2017: Baltimoron Race Recap

What very well may be my last half marathon of 2017 has come and gone. It was quite the race day; but as always, I’m glad I ran! Yet again, this year was a reminder of why I love Baltimore so much, and also why I love running.

Friday, race-day eve: I got up on Friday morning (a little later than normal) and went out for an “easy” 6 mile run. The run felt like a little more work than I would have wanted it to, but I knew it was a sign that there was a good run coming on. I took my time getting breakfast and getting to the expo. While it is technically an “expo”, the Baltimore Running Festival is a little anticlimactic. I enjoyed trying and buying some Plow On energy gum (just found the rest of one of my packs in the dryer – womp), and a new shoe charm for my friend and myself. I spent the rest of the day relaxing in bed before going out for Harry Potter trivia night with my friends. My friend Kaitlyn was running the 5K with me and spent the night at Jake’s, so we both slept in the living room on couches. We were up until after 1 talking, then were repeatedly woken up by Jake’s roommates coming in the house and drunkards walking/screaming down the street. I most definitely did not sleep well!

Pre-race Saturday: With a severe lack of sleep, I was thankful that Jake lives less than a mile from the start/finish area. After about 1/4 of an english muffin and a bite of Kaitlyn’s protein bar, we were off for the 5K start. I was surprisingly feeling pretty awake but I was worried how my body would feel after little sleep on a very uncomfortable couch.

5k: When Kaitlyn and I got to the start line, it was a complete free-for-all. I estimate that it took us about 4 min to cross the start line. Thankfully, we weren’t going into the race with any goals other than to finish and have fun. Our plan was to run 60:30 run/walk intervals, like we had for the Baltimore Women’s Classic in June. The first mile was very crowded, which slowed us down, but I was okay with it.

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Approaching the halfway point.

It spread out a bit after the turn-around at the half-way point. I really enjoyed just taking our time and having some girl talk. My favorite part was running up Charles St towards the new finish line in the Inner Harbor. This was mostly because I got to point out Jake’s new place (official this week, hopefully!). We finished with me feeling fresh and Kaitlyn feeling good. We have another 5K this weekend that she needs to be ready for! Our finish time was about 38:00 (the picture below is wrong).

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The 1:15 in-between: Kaitlyn and I quickly got our medals and food and made our way through the finisher area. This wasn’t quite as quick as it has been in past years, but this was also a new setup. My favorite part was getting our medals from Baltimore police officers. As many of you know – Baltimore isn’t the safest city, and relations between many residents and the police are not always positive. It was an awesome way for the police to get out in our city and support people from all ways of life 😉 Nevertheless, we swiftly made our way south through the Inner Harbor to get back to Jake’s. Kaitlyn had to head home and I wanted to change into some fresh clothes for the half marathon. I was back to the Harbor within 40 minutes. After 2 trips to the porta-pots, a November Project bounce, and running into a friend, I was ready to go again!

My 3rd Baltimore Half Marathon!

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The IT Bands are good – I always tape them in races to be “safe” after MCM 2016

I shared my goals for this race last week, but I mostly wanted to have a decent training run! I ran into a friend while moving through the corral and was happy to keep her some company for as long as we could stick together (no picture = fail). Or really, I told her I was running 90:30 intervals and welcomed her to join me 😛

Miles 1-5: These miles were spent catching up with my friend and trying to keep a steady, modest pace. I didn’t want to run too easy, but also didn’t want to go out too hard. We did skip a few “walks” due to crowding and took some extra time at the first water stop because she didn’t bring any water with her. There was a good downhill around mile 3, but aside from that, the course was a gradual uphill. I didn’t pay much attention to my splits, but noted that they were all under 11:00/mi. Running with someone kept me humble, which really helped. I sadly lost her at mile 4 (she hadn’t trained, but she finished!) but kept on trucking along despite starting to feel a little warm. I knew if I kept it up, that I would set a course PR with the downhill slope in the final miles and my ability to negative split runs (#likeaboss). Splits: 10:56, :59, :55, :47, :52.

Miles 6-10: It’s weird splitting up the race like I always do, because these miles were so split. I finished the long uphill stretch from mile 3 – 6.5 feeling completely in the zone. I was quickly warming up and honestly thought about ditching my visor. I knew it was adding to that “slightly overheated” feeling, but I also didn’t want to lose it. I felt awesome until mile 8, coming along the end of the stretch around Lake Montebello. I suddenly got a massive headache and began to mentally feel weird. I got anxious about very little things and just felt like I was in a “fog.” I saw someone to the left of me who had dropped and was being helped by 4 runners with a police officer running to him. .75 miles later I saw someone on the side of the road getting an IV. At this point I was still running as steady as I could, but physically my body (head) was fading fast. I eventually took a prolonged walk break or two. I told myself I had to make it to the November Project cheer station, then I would re-evaluate. Splits: 10:58, :57, 11:04, :53, 12:18.

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Attempting to smile and wave (just after mile 9). Photo cred: Emily Bryson

Miles 11-13.1ishAfter I hit the NP cheer station, I definitely got a little bit of power. Once I made the right turn towards where the “tiger” always is (but was NOT) I truly re-evaluated. By this time it was about 11:30 and it was hot. It was “only” about 72 according to my phone, but with full sun (and non sunscreen) and how I was feeling with my headache, I was nervous. More and more people were stepping off the course and I knew I had not hydrated well the week leading up to the race. I decided to dial it back to 60:30 intervals and take walk breaks as needed. This was not my goal race. The Baltimore Half Marathon is hilly and I am fully aware that I will never PR there. I just wanted to finish upright and not derail my Goofy Challenge Training. While it was hard to step back, I was happy that I remained with the pack I was running with. I ended up stopping at a med tent for vaseline (holy chafing), but mostly kept a slower, but still steady pace to the finish. Pouring water over my head helped, and I was able to kick it in to the finish! Splits: 12:20, :23, :26, 2:19 (.24 nubbin)

The finish: While it wasn’t the same as finishing through Camden Yards, I was thrilled turning left and finishing on Pratt Street. The crowds were thick and the view was as beautiful as always. I was happy to have made it upright. I finished in 2:31:12. Six minutes slower than last year. It’s not what I was working or hoping for through the first half of the race. It’s my third slowest half marathon time. But I made it. I was happy to receive my half marathon medal from a police officer, but had to find my own way to my Baltimoron medal, which was just sitting on a table. By the time I finished, this process was quick, and I easily made it through the water/gatorade/food line.

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#holdmeupplease

Post race: The hours after the race were rough. I honestly felt worse than I had after either of my marathons and considered going to the med tent. I was planning on Jake to be there, but at the last minute he wasn’t able to be. I’ve finished many races alone at the finish line but this was a day that I really needed someone to be there. It took me about an hour to make it back to Jake’s house, which was just over half a mile away. Mentally and physically I was shot. I could hardly stomach anything and didn’t even have my typical post-race beer (#dehydrationprobs)!

Post-post-race: Once I started feeling better, I was able to reflect on the day. My half marathon time was slow, but still evened out to be a decent pace for a long run. My numbers may look like I crashed and burned, but I don’t look at it that way. I listened to my body and ran wisely. If I look at the statistics of the whole race, my performance increased percentile-wise, in both age group, gender, and overall place. I also came in the top 50% for the Baltimoron. While I normally am not sore after long runs, I was a little sore the next day. I felt back to normal two days later and the races of Saturday did not negatively effect my training. Overall, I take it as a win.

Verdict: I will never say anything bad about the Baltimore Running Festival. I love this event for so many reasons. The #1 reason is that it brings out such a positive spirit in the city that I love so much. The city shows up on this day and the race organization is impeccable. I would not run the 5K again unless a friend was running it with me. It’s an expensive 5K and while I get that you get a shirt and a medal, but for somewhere that I run all the time and during other (better) 5Ks, it’s not worth the price tag. So I would potentially do the Baltimoron again in the future, or just the half, but not the 5K. Baltimore peeps – you’re better off running Shamrock 🙂 Will I be back next year? We shall see….this year the race was the day before the Marine Corps Marathon…and I’m eyeing either MCM, New York, or Chicago for next fall…but I will be back for years and years to come.

 

 

Run Laughlin 2017 – I’m in!

Disclaimer: I received a free entry to the Run Laughlin Half Marathon 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!

I remember the first time I went to Bullhead City, Arizona. The night started in the New Hampshire airport, my mom and grandmother telling my brother and I we were going somewhere, but not telling us where. We landed in Detroit and headed to our gate for Las Vegas. 2nd grade me screamed “BUT THAT’S WHERE OLD PEOPLE GO” for like, 2 hours. Little did I know we were headed to Arizona, where my aunt and uncle lived, and where my best friend had moved to months before. It was amazing. Across the river, in Nevada, was a little, “mini Las Vegas” called Laughlin. I loved the lights and I definitely  loved the buffet at Harrah’s.

I went to Bullhead City, Arizona and Laughlin, Nevada twice growing up, the last time being when I was 13. I loved it there – I loved the heat (but it’s a dry heat), the red clay, the desert that stretched out for miles, and nearby Las Vegas. I seriously considered going to college out there (but the threat of snakes deterred me, seriously).

A couple years back, I saw an advertisement on twitter for the Run Laughlin 13.1 race. It started in Laughlin, ran through two states (Nevada and Arizona) and two time zones. And it was scheduled for the weekend before my birthday. I was in grad school so it wasn’t the year, but I knew I would be there some day.

Some day is December 2, 2017. I’m finally going back to Laughlin for the Run Laughlin Half Marathon! I’m excited that Bib Rave is sending me to experience the beauty that is this race.

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Photo credit: Run Laughlin

Some awesome things about this race:

  • As this is a relatively new race, it is rather small in participant size. This can be a curse for some, but I appreciate a less-crowded course
  • They added a 10K this year – so there is a 13.1, 10K, and 5K
  • The half marathon course is a net downhill. There are two significant climbs on the course, with rewarding downhills.

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  • You run in two states and TWO TIME ZONES. YASSS. #bucketlist
  • The race will end along “Casino Row” with free beer (and for me, blackjack)

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  • You can get hotel rooms in Laughlin less than $40 a night.

This race will fall at the peak of my training for the 2018 Goofy Challenge and I’m dreaming of an amazing run. Will you join me in Laughlin? Save 20% off entry with the code BibRave20.

Have you ever ran a destination race? Disney 2017 didn’t work out so well for me…let’s hope this one is better?

2016 Running in Review

I feel like these “look back” posts always creep up on us, while realistically, we all know the end of the year is here. I love this time of the year as a runner – looking back on the year and forming goals for the year ahead. By the time 2016 is over I will have put in almost 900 miles, as opposed to about 675 in 2015. I’ve run the healthiest I’ve ever ran *knock on wood* and finally saw some improvements.

January-March: I put in two months of training in preparation for the Half at the Hamptons. Most miles were completed on the treadmill in the twilight zone that is otherwise known as a New Hampshire winter. January was great however February was plagued with a flare-up of my ITB syndrome and the beginning stages of a weird hip/quad injury. I finished the Half at the Hamptons in 2:19:35, running a very consistent race and meeting all the goals I set!

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April-May: After March’s half, took it easy before my second half of the year. My ITB problems subsided, but my hips/quads were all kinds of messed up (from sitting in child sized chairs, I believe, as it still bothers me at work sometimes). I ran the Vermont Half Marathon Unplugged again, which I should have DNS’ed. It was a horrible experience and taught me to listen to my body. I took the next 5 weeks off to heal and to focus on finishing my Master’s program. I slowly returned to running when I moved to Maryland, enjoying a 5K with one of my best friends.

June: In June, I considered myself almost fully back from my hip/quad injury. It still felt wonky at times, but I was managing. I began running using Jeff Galloway intervals and by following a loose “heart rate” plan. I was able to build my miles back up in time to start marathon training. June included two fun races with friends, the Zooma Annapolis 10K  (1:04:30) and Baltimore Women’s Classic 5K (29:30).

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July – September: July started with a 4 mile race, my last race for a while. After that I started marathon training with a coach. She truly led me though a great training cycle that I followed as closely as I could – very well during the summer, but struggled once I started my full-time job. I continued running with intervals and with prescribed heart rate zones, which I attribute to my running injury free. I was seriously loving running in a new way. I ran the Parks Half Marathon (2:22:xx) in early September and finished off the month with my first 20 miler -a huge feat!

2016 Parks Half Marathon - Photo by Dan Reichmann, MCRRC

October was THE month. A second 20 miler, my 10th half marathon, and my first marathon. I killed my 20 miler. I had a good Baltimore Half Marathon  (my last long run) on a hard course and set a course PR (2:25:11). (Actually, at first I thought I didn’t beat last year’s time. But I DID and realized it when I went through last year’s recap and remembering I started my watch late. I need to edit my 2016 recap!). The Marine Corps Marathon was a bittersweet experience, with many ups and downs. No matter how it went, nothing can take the pride away of finishing my first marathon!

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November-December: These two months have been full of recovery and running when I want to. There has been a lack of any structure to my runs and I’ve just done what has felt good. Unexpectedly, I set a big 10K PR at the Annapolis Running Classic  (1:00:20) and a huge 13.1 PR at the Race 13.1 Half Marathon (2:09:05). I have one race left for the year, a 5 miler on Saturday. Like the last two races I just plan to have fun, and if I have a good day I’ll maybe push myself a little. It’s my first 5 mile race, so it will be an automatic PR.

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2 weeks. 2 races. 0 expectations. 2 goals and PR’s CRUSHED.

In 2016 I completed 1 marathon, 5 half marathons, 2 10K’s, and 5 races shorter than 10K. In just 6 weeks I set 3 PR’s (+1 more if you count this next race)! Part of me is a little stumped about where I should set my sights yet, but I’m also very optimistic about what 2017 will hold!

What were some of your running highlights this year? What was your favorite race?

Baltimore Women’s Classic 2016: Race Recap

On Sunday, June 26th, I ran the Baltimore Women’s Classic 5K, which is one of the largest women’s-only 5K’s on the east coast. It was the first 5K I ran in 2016 (and potentially the only one).

Packet Pickup: I went with my friend Beth to pick up our bibs the Wednesday before the race at a running store in the greater Baltimore area. Charm City Run has multiple locations, and bib pickup rotated throughout them during the week before the race. It was quick and easy – we had been emailed our numbers beforehand and we didn’t experience any lines!

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Pre-Race: I was so exhausted the night before the race I didn’t even put out my typical “Flat-Sam”. Normally Beth is the one struggling to get going race morning, but that morning I was the one not wanting to get out of bed! I eventually got up, forced down 75% of a Pro Bar Base bar before Beth, her aunt + friend, and I were out the door! We got to Rash Field in plenty of time to use the porta johns (plenty, and very clean!) take selfies, and stretch!

20160626_073704Miles 0-1.5: I felt so strong the first half of the race. I went out rearing and ready to go, hitting the first mile in 9:04, despite the steep hill around the .7 mark. While the temperature wasn’t truly that high, the heat and lack of shade very quickly got to me.

"Ohmygod I am running so fast wheee!"
“Ohmygod I am running so fast wheee!”

Mile 1.5-3.1: I struggled in the second half of the race, taking frequent but short (15 second) walk breaks. One of the ladies running with us caught up to me and I basically said to myself that no one in my “group” was passing me and I kicked it back into gear. While I kept the short walk breaks, I got a huge side stitch from mile 2.25 to 2.75. Coming around a turnaround I saw the people in my group close behind me and I found it in myself to get over the cramp and just go. For the first time in forever, the competitive edge came out in me!

Feeling good once the side stitch was over!
Feeling good once the side stitch was over!

Finishing: Despite a strong first two miles (9:04, 9:20), I finished in 29:3o (9:30 avg). This was good for 21 of 109 in my age group and 293 of 2876 overall. I was hoping for, and working for a faster time. With how slow I’ve been training lately I was happy to have two strong miles and to stay as strong as possible until the end.

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At the finish line we received water (from my horrible ex-roommate’s boyfriend, awkward) and ice cold towels. Considering how hot I felt, this was incredible! I grabbed a piece of watermelon and a bag of chips before heading to our group’s meeting spot. We hung around for just a little bit before heading back to make breakfast and mimosas. Lots of mimosas!

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The Baltimore Women’s Classic was a really fun race experience. It is definitely crowded, as it is a large race of almost 3,000 people and for many of these people, it is their first 5K. Also, being in June, it is bound to be hot. I paid $40 for my registration and would do so again. Participants received a quality New Balance tech shirt, a beautiful medal, and a carnation!

What’s your trick for working through a cramp during a race?

Charm City Wine Run: Race Recap

This weekend I had the best time running a race for fun with one of my best friends. When I saw this race, I knew it would be a perfect way to celebrate my graduation without actually going to it! What’s better than running, with my best friend, with a food and wine festival after!?

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#FlatSam with a new Plattsburgh State shirt.

We got to the race about 45 minutes early and had time to relax and catch up at Rash Field in the Federal Hill portion of Baltimore. There was plenty of good peoplewatching and many pictures were taken, with and without my cute little graduation cap headband (courtesy of my momma!)

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The race started on time and was pretty straightforward, 1.5 miles out and back with a little extra at the end. I ran with K, and it was only her second 5K! We ran the whole first mile, then took some walk breaks for miles 2-3. Our running was at a comfortable pace for where I am, coming back from my injury. The course was beautiful and ran around the Inner Harbor, which was a great “welcome back” to Baltimore. There were two aspects of the race I didn’t like. The water stations were not prepared and we waited at least a minute for water each time we stopped (I’m still adjusting to the heat here), and there were multiple pedestrian bridges on the course. After the faster runners had hit the turnaround, these were very congested and really unsafe when the race leaders were pushing others to the side.

The best part was sharing this run with K, who I never thought I would see running a 5K, let alone with me! When she wanted to give up I was able to push her along, and she got a 1:xx PR!

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The race finished into the Baltimore Wine and Food Festival with a great band at the finish line. K needed some time to recoop. As she may have said “I’m gonna puke/die/pass out”. So I took the good friend route and went and got her food and such, returning with those and BEER for me. Yes, BEER at a wine festival. I like wine, but I love beer.

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Beer in a wine glass. (Unpictured: K riding the struggle bus, you’re welcome K.)

After a while, K finally felt better and we were able to roam around! There were many great drink options, she sampled from most wineries and I sampled about half of the breweries available. They even had some distilleries! Shopping was great as well, and there were about half a dozen food trucks. We got some pasta and called it a morning before the rain hit.

All these before noon! Love it! (I forgot to tag one, Angry Orchard Gumption, which is always good)
All these and more before noon! Love it! (I forgot to tag one, Angry Orchard Gumption, which is always good)

The race and festival were put on by The Trigger Agency, who also puts on some other festivals in Baltimore and DC metropolitan areas including the Beer & Burbon Festival and Crab & Beer Festival. While these runs are definitely more of a “fun run” I would gladly do one again because I had a great time!

I’m linking up with  PattyErika, and Marcia today for Tuesdays on the Run! Check out the other posts to see how other runners are getting a hold of their favorite running gear!

Zooma Run Love Challenge

Now that the new year is approaching, I’m truly starting to plan and look forward to my training for early 2016 races. Whether you’re looking for some motivation to make it through the cold winter or simply looking for a supportive way to start running as a new year’s resolution, I have the perfect event to share with you all today.

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The Zooma Run Love Challenge is the first virtual event put on by the ladies of the Zooma Women’s race series. Starting January 4th, you will receive a training plan for either a 5K or 10K, a weekly newsletter and access to an online community with great ideas and guidance, an exclusive podcast bonus, and of course swag! (We all love swag!)

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The swag includes this super cute sweatshirt, a medal, and gear from Zooma sponsors including Feetures! socks. The easiest part of a virtual event is that there’s no traveling involved. You can sleep in, run where you want, and run alone or with your running buddies! This is especially nice for those of you who, like me, live where it’s cold and you otherwise wouldn’t do a race in the middle of Feburary.loverunmedal

I have never done a virtual race before and I’m really excited for this event. The February 14th date is at a nice place in my half marathon training. It also gives me something to look forward to on Valentine’s Day as I’m single as can be. I love running more than I could love a man right now anyways 😛

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I hope you all are now just as excited about the Zooma Run Love Challenge as I am. While training starts on January 4th, registration is available until January 11th. For $50 you get all of the great things I mentioned above, as well an opportunity to fall in love with running if you haven’t yet. Either check out the last link or click here to register!

Have you ever done a virtual race or training event? Does the Run Love challenge sound right up your alley? 

**Disclaimer: I am a Zooma ambassador, and have received free entry into the Zooma Love Run Challenge in return for promoting and participating in the event. However, all opinions shared here are strictly my own.**