Monday, April 19, 2021

A New Kind of Running Experience: Run to Escape Launches This Week!

I received entry into the Run to Escape: Mission Mt. Olympus as a part of being a BibRave Pro. Check out to read and write race reviews.

So we've all been doing this "New Normal" thing awhile now, yeah? We've all changed the way we work, socialize, exercise, basically everything over the past year plus. And while I know races have been doing the best that they can as far as offering Virtual options to keep us motivated to still get out there and pound out the miles, really, all the innovation has been up to the individual runners to make things fun for themselves. You know I've been the champ at that with creative routes, coming up with my own special challenges, hosting live events for friends and so on, but even I have gotten to the point where I am tired of more of the same.

But finally, I've found something truly new: a brand new, immersive running experience where you embark on an epic adventure to test your wits and your fitness. Think running paired with escape room style logic puzzles and that will give you a good idea of what the new Run To Escape experience is. 

Run to Escape is launching their first (of hopefully many) missions: Mission Mt. Olympus. The storyline in a nutshell (without spoilers) is that the Greek goddess Atalanta, the goddess of running is trying to become the 13th Olympian and take a seat on Mt. Olympus. The current 12 Olympians are making her complete challenges to prove her worth, and she has chosen a mortal (you) to help her complete 6 challenges from Olympians who would deny her bid. 

Atalanta, goddess of running and who you'll help claim a place on Mt. Olympus

(from the Run to Escape webpage here:

"Run to Escape: Mission Mt. Olympus, presented by Runkeeper™, is a first-of-its-kind, virtual experience that mixes running with the clues, codes, and explosive popularity of escape rooms. For those seeking a more immersive, fulfilling virtual experience, Run to Escape is an addictive blend of motivation, dopamine, entertainment, and endorphins."

Basically, once you register for the mission, you will get an email from Hermes with all the details that you need to get started. You'll need to download RunKeeper if you don't have it already, and through the email link, you will send your mission to your RunKeeper account where it will be waiting for you when you are ready in the Races tab. You then download the race audio and press Track Race Now. As you run (or walk) you will hear audio cues when you reach certain distance markers that will guide your challenge. Because of this, the experience is only available to those physically moving for the challenge, so no treadmills. 
It is highly recommended that you use some sort of headphones so you hear the clues clearly while you run. I use Aftershoks (see pic to the left) so I can hear not only the clues, but also have the benefit of hearing all of the surrounding noises around me like traffic and so on. Safety first, yo!

Each of the 6 challenges is presented by a different Greek god and Hermes acts as the official messenger (as expected) and sends emails with important information before and after each challenge. I've only done 1 challenge so far, but it was really fun listening to the audio and over the course of 5K, I want to say I got 4 messages in addition to the introduction message that played about a minute after I first hit go. 

I don't want to give away any spoilers but I completed my first mission on Sunday and well, let's see if you can guess which of the Greek gods was the one to sponsor my challenge by my post run celebratory picture. It was good luck that I chose to start and finish my 5K at a brewery is all I am going to say. But doing the challenge was really neat. There was a nice gentle harp sound that played right before the audio did both to keep from startling you and to give you a moment to pay attention to the information that was given. And no worries if you missed hearing something, when you finish your miles, Hermes sends you an email with the challenge information including the audio recordings in case you need to hear them again. If if you are really stumped, there are also hints. When you solve the clue, you enter the answer into the registration page on your Race Roster page (there will be a link emailed to you also) and if you are correct, you will get the next mission emailed to you. 

I am pleased to say I solved the first challenge and have received the info for my 2nd, which I plan to complete tomorrow morning. I plan to do another update on the series as a whole once I complete all 6 missions, which should be by the end of the month. So stay tuned! And if you have any questions, feel free to comment below or DM me on any of my socials. I am @runnerdgirl on Insta, Twitter and FB if you don't follow me already. 

If you think this sounds fun and you want to try out this brand new running experience, you can learn more about it here: The registration hasn't quite gone live yet (as of this blog post going live that is), it opens up on Wednesday, April 21, but you can enter your email address in to get notified as soon as it goes live. And, when it does, I have a discount code to sweeten the deal. Used code BIBRAVE10 when you do register to save 10% off entry. 

In addition to the fun, immersive storyline and experience, the mortals who embark on this quest will have lots of opportunities to win really cool prizes from Run to Escape partners like Aftershokz, Knockaround, BibRave, RunKeeper and others. Serious, I know I keep saying I do not want to spoil anything, but I saw one of the upcoming prizes and let's just say I really really hope I am eligible to win. Cause WOW! 

And lastly, let me leave you will a little challenge to whet your whistle. See if you can solve the riddle below. If you can, you're totally ready to embark on Mission Mt. Olympus! 

Women's Half Marathon - Rock Hill Edition

By now, you've learned that I love any excuse for a party. Like I am literally game for about anything. So when I was asked about hosting another live event for a virtual race, I was totally in. This time, I hosted a Women's Virtual Half Marathon event. 

So there were a couple of things that appealed to me about this event.
  1. The event celebrates ladies. Not saying that men were not welcome to join in, but hey, ladies celebrating ladies is an awesome thing. Of course I wanted to gather my girl squad together for this race!

  2. The race benefitted Girls on the Run. Love GotR! I typically volunteer at their local races here in Rock Hill but due to the whole Covid thing, there haven't been any GotR races, so this was another way to throw some support their way.

  3. The SWAG for this race was NEXT LEVEL! I'm talking $100+ worth of cool stuff including tech shirt, Bondi Band, adorable medal with detachable charm, reusable shop bag, Ultima Replinsher powders and sunscreen. Some really cool stuff. Everything was really brightly colored and everyone received a different Bondi Band so it was fun to see everyone's. (Fun fact: my daughter has already stolen mine)
Next level SWAG

About 15 of us registered for either the 5K or the 10K cause options are awesome and welcoming for every level. I am still on injured reserve or I'd have done the Half (next year). I was registered for the 10K, cause I'm totally fine with walking 6.2 miles. You could even do double and triple play events to earn multiple medals.

For the race day event, I came up with some scenic routes in downtown Rock Hill and gathered supplies for a finish line party on our race day of April 10. The official race dates were the 10th and 11th. The weather was a bit damp, but another beauty of a Virtual is that you can play with the time. 2 ladies decided to do their races the day before to stay dry and 1 was out of the area so she did hers solo but posted on our FB event page. We had coffee, donut holes, Ultima, water and bananas to celebrate after. 

And since I was technically RD for my event and manning the finish line I went out the next morning to put in my 10K at my favorite local trail. Again, Virtual Races = Flexibility.

My solo 10K the next morning

I was very impressed with everything about this Virtual Race. As far as the race management, they were super communicative and supportive. If you tagged them on social media, they always commented. They had a Facebook group for the event that encouraged lots of posting and even had photo tags to decorate your pictures. They held several giveaway events, one of which I won a visor. A friend of mine also won a visor as well so that was cool. One of the ladies was missing something out of her packet and sent them a message and it was immediately resolved. You could tell that they really cared about their racers. 

It was a great event and I'd for sure do it again. I am not sure what next year will hold, whether the event will go live or stay virtual, but either way, I would highly recommend this one. 

A Few Photos From Race Day

*You may have noticed, no disclaimer at the top of this one like many of my other race reviews. As a BibRave Pro, I get lots of great opportunities to run cool races for free in exchange for my honest opinion. This was not one of those opportunities. This race was one I chose to register personally for. Just thought I should mention that so there was no confusion. 

Friday, April 16, 2021

An Inside Look: Ready.Set.MOVE Box Subscription

"Disclaimer: I received the Winter Ready.Set.MOVE. Box to use and review as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out to review find and write race reviews!"

If you are like me, you are all the time getting ads on your socials about different subscription boxes. They have them for everything now, books, food, beauty items, geeky things, sporty things, pretty much endless things! If you love something, you can get a blind box of it delivered right to your door. Well, if you know me (and if you are reading this blog, I assume you do) then you know that I love running gear. So I had been curious about the Ready.Set.MOVE boxes for a while. So when I had the opportunity to check out a few for myself, I was so IN!

What is the Ready.Set.MOVE. Box?

Ready.Set.MOVE is a quarterly subscription box created for those passionate about moving toward their fitness goals. Each box is filled with industry-leading products, always valued at $100+, that can be used during workouts and training. Boxes are curated quarterly and cost $49.99 each but you can save $20 by signing up for the whole year ($179.99 total). They ship out in January, April, July, and October.

I received the 2021 Winter box that was shipped to subscribers in January. You can start your subscription any time and when you do, you will be sent the current box and then fall into the regular shipping schedule. There are select numbers of the past season's boxes available on their website as well to order. They also offer occasional special holiday boxes for special occasions like Valentine's Day and Women's History Month. These specialty boxes are not a part of the subscriptions, but are optional added bonuses you can choose to purchase if you want. 

What was Inside? 

  1. The Original SPIBelt
  2. SPIbeams LED Hat
  3. LaColombe Triple Draft Latte
  4. Bracoo Calf Compression Sleeves
  5. KT Tape Recovery+ Pain Relief Gel Roller
  6. KT Tape Sample Pack
  7. Floyd's of Leadville Mini Full Spectrum Lavender Blend CBD Balm
  8. Floyd's of Leadville Single Pack Protein, Vanilla
  9. Floyd's of Leadville Single Pack Protein, Chocolate
  10. Trigger Point Nano LTE Foot Roller
  11. Nuun Sport Fruit Punch Tube
  12. Nathan Sports HyperBrite Stobe
  13. Brooks Croakie
  14. Brooks Greenlight Headband
  15. Honey Stinger Honey Waffle
  16. Honey Stinger Honey Organic Fruit Smoothie Gel
  17. A pack of really cool Stickers 
17 ITEMS!! That's a ton of stuff in one box. And you know what, I used every single item. Which is a fear that has always kept me for ordering boxes like this, but no fear here, everything in there was super useful. And, I felt that there was a really great mix of items I knew and loved, items that I was curious about but never quite tried before and items I'd never heard of.

If you are curious about how I used and felt about each item in the box, I did a "Item of the Day" on my Instagram here: 

Here's a sort of highlight list though, based on a few commonly asked questions:

What is your favorite item?
Hard question, cause there is a lot of neat things in here that I use a lot, but probably have to go with the SPIbeams LED Hat. It's just so useful! I've worn it a ton since receive it. Way more comfortable than a headlamp and perfect for running right before sunrise where you can easily turn it off with a click of the brim when the sun comes up and you no longer need light. 

What is an item you've heard of and never tried but wanted to?
I have heard of CBD balms before, but never tried them. And ironically, it turned out to be something I really needed! I recently had a minor surgery to excise a basal cell carcinoma form my forearm. Y'all they cut out like half my arm I swear! 11 stitches. And there is a nasty looking scar left behind. Anyway, my PT mentioned that CBD balms are great on those kind of wounds and help reduce pain, swelling and scarring. I had no idea. So it's been getting a lot of use!

What is an item that you never heard of before?
I had no idea that KT tape made a pain relief gel. And I've used KT tape products for YEARS (crap knees, yo). That was an awesome find and I love it. Easy to apply and feels amazing on sore muscles.

What is an item that you've used before and love?
Honey Stinger gels are my go-to fuel while on long runs. I love them, and fruit smoothie is one of my favorite flavors so I was super stoked to see that in there.

Was there anything in the box you never would have bought for yourself but was glad it was included?
The Trigger Point NanoLTE foot roller is amazing and something I never ever would have splurged on myself. It now lives under the desk in my home office and I use it a lot during the day. It feels amazing!

Bottom line, I am super excited to receive the next box, which should be coming to me soon. I'm already excited by seeing some of the Spring box product reveal post on Ready.Set.MOVE.'s Instagram page (here if you are curious:

Interested in receiving quarterly goodies for yourself from Ready.Set.MOVE.? Need a bit of extra incentive? You can order a yearly subscription and use discount code BibRave10 for $10 off the first box for all first-time subscribers! Subscribe here:

Friday, March 12, 2021

Hot Chocolate 15K/5K - Charlotte (Rock Hill Edition) Race Day

received entry into the AllState Hot Chocolate Charlotte15K as a part of being a BibRave Pro. Check out to read and write race reviews. 

So yeah, a bit of life got in the way so I am WAAAAAYYY late posting this, but OMG this event was so much fun!!

Here's a quick recap. 

The 15K crew ready to hit the road!

Me and like 40 of my closest friends all gathered bright, early (and cold) to run the Hot Chocolate 15K and 5K races. We had 16 15K runners and the rest were 5K. Quick reminder, I was still in my leg brace so no running for me, which was perfectly fine, I had plenty to keep me busy organizing everything! 

Before the event, which started at 7:30 am I set out before the sun came up to mark the courses that I had laid out, the 15K with orange arrows and the 5K will yellow. A bit extra I know, but hey, I knew some of the racers were coming from outside of Rock Hill, so I wanted to make sue that no one got lost on my watch. I also set up a table with goodies and printed routes. Special shout out to the Hot Chocolate 15K/5K for donating awesome magnets and extra chocolate for our event and to Nuun Hydration for donating tubes of Nuun for all. These were laid out with water, granola bars and M&Ms to help fuel the racers.

Right at 7:30 am the 15K racers set off. The way I laid the course, racers would complete 10K and loop back to the start where they had the choice to either run through to finish the final 5K, and/or take a quick rest stop and meet up with friends racing the 5K. The route went through the start and back out again so you didn't have to awkwardly turn around. It also helped me keep track of the placement cause yeah, again extra, but I had placement awards for 1st, 2nd and 3rd in each gender/race. 

The 5K start was a bit more laid back, officially at 9:00 am, but racers kind of started whenever they arrived, found their friends, or felt like it. No matter what, it seemed like everyone had a great time. We had a constant stream of people hanging out, cheering, visiting Knowledge Perk for post-race cocoa and coffee and picture taking. I think everyone has been missing the vibe of real races so this kind of helped a lot. The weather could not have been more perfect and no one got lost, so extra yay!

It was a lot of work, but it was totally worth it! Everyone, me included, had a blast. After, I cleaned up and grabbed lunch with Kim, Toni and Kim's hubby who helped me loads during the event. And since this was really the first day I had left really left the house after my knee surgery, so I was in NO hurry to go back inside, so we met up with some of the other racers and went back to the start area to hang out at Dust Off and finish off the race chocolate.

Most of us received our gear prior to the race so we had everything all ready for the post race medal and jacket photos. I say most because there were some shipping delays due to the massive winter storms in the center of the country, but then again, it is a winter race series. The medals were so cool and had chocolate actually INSIDE it. Here's a few of us showing off our jackets and medals. 

I would totally take on the challenge of hosting a live virtual event again. It was so great to see everyone running, laughing and having a great time. In fact... I'm totally doing it again next month, this time the Virtual Women's Half Marathon (if you are interested in this race, discount code “BibRAVE$5off” gets you $5 off any distance).  Again, it's a bit extra, but totally worth it!

Have you ever hosted an in-person virtual? Want more info to host one? Let me know in the comments below. And there are still several other Hot Chocolate 15K/5K races that you can register for and host a similar event! and use extra SWAG code BRHC20 and receive a free Hot Chocolate Tech Hat. 

And just for fun, here are a few more random race day photos!

How to host a virtual race

Thursday, February 18, 2021

Planning the Hot Chocolate 15K/5K Group Virtual

  received entry into the AllState Hot Chocolate Charlotte15K as a part of being a BibRave Pro. Check out to read and write race reviews. 

So, last month I wrote here about how I had an idea about hosting a in-person race for my local friends who wanted to run the Hot Chocolate 15K Charlotte. This came from me wanting to arrange something nice and fun because we were all a little bummed that the race went Virtual. Well... much like most of my Virtual Epic Race Day Events, things have escalated.

Heck, I've even got 2 runners that will be doing their miles and checking in via video chat that are ON ANOTHER CONTINENT! 

So here is a little bit of what is going to happen on Saturday:

  • I've got two courses routed. One for 15K runners and the other for 5K. The last 5K of the route will be the same so the 15K runners will start at 7:30 and the 5K will join at 9. I am pre-marking the course and providing written routes I also ran the course before my surgery to make sure that everything was safe and a good route. See my post here about my run:

  • We are staging our race to start and finish at a local coffee shop so we can get hot beverages like Hot Chocolate and Coffee

  • The awesome folks at RAM Racing have donated a bunch of chocolate and some magnets for the races as a bit of an extra perk

  • I will have water, Nuun and treats at the finish. My awesome fellow BibRave Pro and running bestie, Kim (aka Barkingmadrun) has secured a bunch of Nuun tubes to give out.

  • Placement medals for 1st, 2nd and 3rd, Male and Female, for each distance

  • We are collecting donations for the Rock Hill Community Pantry and Fridge which is located right where we are starting/finishing our race

  • I am bringing a camera to take tons of finish line photos and celebratory photos with their awesome SWAG.

Sounds like a party right? It is all going down this Saturday morning. You can check out my Twitter and/or Insta on Saturday morning to follow along with the fun. I will also be posting a recap on this blog early next week. 

You can organize your own virtual event if interested. I am happy to share any advice, just ask in the comments below. You and your crew can register for the Hot Chocolate 15K/5K Charlotte here: Register with code BRHC20 and receive a free Hot Chocolate Tech Hat. 

Phase 2 of Recovery... Delayed 1 Week

Yesterday I had an appointment with the doctor who performed my knee surgery. Since I had gone through the process before I know the deal.

4 days after surgery, remove the bandages myself - ✅
10 days after surgery, go in to get the stitches out and get to finally unlock the brace - ✅
4 weeks after surgery, go in and get the clear to remove the brace and walk again - ❌

Wait, what?

Instead of getting sprung from the brace, I have to wear it another week. That is 5 weeks of leg brace for those counting. I guess there was a bit of good news still. Now I can now walk on the leg but I have to keep the brace on it and locked straight when I do. 

The doctor said that this knee was so much worse than the other so he wants me to ease into it more slowly. He then pulled out a knee model just to show me how large the bone spur he sawed out was (a couple inches) and how it was digging a groove into bone underneath (which he tried to fill) every time I took a step. And then glared at me and said “And you were running with it”.

The being able to put weight on does make it a lot easier to do stuff, so I’m thankful for that. And I can drive now. I am also still able to start PT on Friday as I had planned, I just have to be patient a little bit longer as far as getting out there and really moving again. On the bright side I guess that’s one more week for it to warm up before I have to really get out there, so bright side. 

So yeah, yesterday wasn't a great day. TBH I took it pretty hard which involved sitting on the couch (in my brace) and eating about a half a bag of popcorn. But today is a new day, so I put my "big girl pants" back on this morning and focusing on moving forward. I am still focused on rebuilding, it just got delayed a week. 

Friday, February 5, 2021

What I Learned This Time Around: 2nd Knee Surgery Edition

Well it has been 2 weeks now since I had surgery on my right knee. And since this was my second surgery of this kind, this time around, I was going in with a bit more knowledge. Here are the couple of things that I am doing this time around to make my recovery go much more smoothly and get back to doing all the things that I want to more quickly this time. 

Starting PT Sooner

Last surgery, I was SHOCKED at just how quickly I lost muscle, especially in my quad on the leg where I had the procedure. 8 months later the quad is still smaller on the left than the right (for now). So the day before my surgery, I made a consultation appointment with IVY Rehab, the place where I did PT last time, to talk to them about what could I do to both not lose as much strength in the leg that is having the surgery and to also not lose any of the progress I had made back on the other leg. They staff there is AMAZING and they hooked me up with a 31 minute, 7 exercise session that I could do at home, starting as soon as the bandages came off. 4 were for my right leg (the new surgery) and 3 for the left (the older surgery). So starting that Monday, just 4 days after surgery, I have done my 31 minutes of PT faithfully every single day. Not gonna lie, the first few times it hurt, a lot. The straight leg raises were not fun at all! But after a week or so, it is getting loads easier and my legs are both feeling quite strong. I plan to keep it up until I can start back to going to PT on February 19th. 

Doing Upper Body Workouts

Another thing that I was woefully bad at last time around was being quite lazy in general. Just because I couldn't move around very well, I kinda didn't move much at all. When I finally did make it back to Burn, I noticed I had to drop the weights in my upper body workouts by quite a bit, even struggling with the 15 and 10 pound weights. Well, I realized this time, that it made no sense that not being able to use my right leg should mean that I don't use my upper body. So I turned to YouTube to see what kind of upper body workouts I could do seated. Turns out, quite a few!! So, with the vast resources of YouTube at my disposal, I made myself a schedule, 6 days of upper body workouts with 3 different focuses repeated and then a rest day. My schedule is:

  • Monday: Rest
  • Tuesday: Yoga
  • Wednesday: Strength
  • Thursday: Cardio
  • Friday: Yoga
  • Saturday: Strength
  • Sunday: Cardio

I've found some pretty great workout to do and am actually having fun. Typically will choose a workout that is right around 20 minutes or so to do as I will then do my 31 minutes of PT after. Because yes, I do want to remain active and not lose the strength and endurance as much this time around, but I also acknowledge that I am still healing and don't want to overdo it. But I am still getting in a pretty good amount of work if the soreness in my arms is anything to go by!

Modifying my Crutches

Last time that I was on my crutches I was very stubborn about mastering them. I was determined that the crutches would not win over me and I would become an expert at making them do my bidding. And these were a temporary irritant in my life so I would make no concessions to them, even ignoring well meaning advice from friends on how to make them more manageable. And to no surprise, they tore me up! My hands ached all the time, I would get huge blisters on the palms of my hands and I chaffed like mad on my sides. I am still not sure why I was so stubborn about not trying to make my stint on the crutches easier for myself, but this time around, Day 1 I logged on to Amazon and order some gel pads. They have made the WORLD of difference. 2 weeks in and my hands feel just fine. They are not even red or sore at all. Friends, if you find yourself on crutches, trust me, this will be the best $13 you will ever spend: Vive Crutch Pads. Love them and they come in fun colors too (I went with teal). 

Trying Harder to Keep Positive

I will be the first to admit it, my first knee surgery I was MISERABLE! I remember one particular Sunday, I think about a week or so after my surgery, I went upstairs, laid down in bed and cried, as in sobbed out loud, for like 2 hours. I spent a lot of time in bed just kind of lamenting all the things I could no longer do. After I was adamant that I would NEVER do that again, knowing full well that my right knee, while not immediately "injured" as the left was, it needed the same procedure if I would ever hope to run (or really even walk) without pain. But finally, after 6 months with the last few of no pain in the left leg and still massive amounts of pain on the right, I decided to go ahead and go through with the surgery. 

Maybe because I already knew from experience that things would eventually be better has me a bit more positive this time. I've been trying to focus more on the positives and less on the negatives. Yes, I can't walk, but I can still do something active every day (see above). I am not having to go out in the below freezing temps. My cats cuddle with me more since I am mostly camped on the couch with a cozy blanket. I am working from home this time (I was laid off due to the Covid pandemic during last surgery recovery). I also have 2 super fun events coming up later in February to look forward to, both of which I will totally be able to do, my Hot Chocolate 15K Charlotte Virtual event (which I already ran, but will be organizing the event on race day) and the Wine 5K race (which I will be walking).

I also have been reading the book The Comeback Quotient: A Get-Real Guide to Building Mental Fitness in Sport and Life. This book was the Book Club book for the BibRave Pros and it was a perfect read for my current situation. I haven't quite finished it yet, our book club discussion is Feb. 9th, but I am more than half way through it and should be done in time no problem. The book talks about how those who have had the most successful comebacks, those who overcome injury and hard times, do so with not just a positive attitude, but a realistic attitude. The book emphasizes accepting, embracing and addressing reality as a way of coming back from injury. I have been trying to take the lessons to heart, even though one memorable passage talked about how utterly miserable one runner's situation was and it pretty much described what I was going through almost verbatim right now. Laugh so you don't cry and all that. It's a good book though, and I recommend it to anyone going through an injury, or even if those not, to get some valuable insight on how being an "ultrarealist" can help your overall outlook. 

With all that said, I still have some bad days, days where I cannot shake being sad and lonely. I still get frustrated at how long things take to do and how simple things like taking a shower and getting dressed take so much longer than they should. I hate not being able to do things that should be easy, like walk and carry something at the same time. And I HATE asking for help (like a lot a lot). But... I am doing a much better job this time at staying focused on the future and not dwelling so much on the present.

This is tough. But I am tougher. And I may be broken right now, but I will rebuild stronger.