A New Type of Race Company

“A lot of people run a race to see who is fastest. I run to see who has the most guts, who can punish himself into exhausting pace, and then at the end, punish himself even more.” ~ Steve Prefontaine

As we are settling in to the new year, it has been patently obvious that on January 1, 2021 – a magic button wasn’t pressed and our lives immediately returned to how they were in January 1, 2020. Life is still pretty un-normal, and they likely have been changed forever, at that is not necessarily bad. That is inevitable with global events such as we are experiencing the last year. While parts of our everyday lives are hoping to get better soon, some of the best things we have learned we will continue to adapt and use once the pandemic is under control. For example, I for one do not hate having the people that serve food wear a mask. I also prefer to wait in my car and receive a call when my appointment is ready, rather than sitting in a waiting room. But that is just me. And there are plenty of things that I miss and can’t wait to see come back – live music, holidays with my family, hugs – and beer gardens at races. 🙂

My point being is that we have evolved over the last year; society, technology, human interactions – life has changed rapidly, and in some parts for the better. Technology has allowed us to stay close while being isolated, it has opened up new work spaces and environments, it has given us the tools to adapt and survive while most of our day to day lives were taken away.

As runners, we are social creatures – we love our group runs and our post-race beers, the sharing of times and PRs, the friendly competitions that encourage us to be be better. While we were still able to run in locked downs, the physical interactions of that were taken away. However, technology allowed us to adapt and survive. We as a race company were essentially shut down these last 10 months. We also as race directors had to adapt to survive. And much like online race results have replaced a local newspaper listing, our running community and road racing is continuing to evolve with technology.

At our core, our mission at Rhode Races is to promote running and fitness and be a good partner to our community. While not being able to host a traditional “goal” race for many, some floundered in quarantine (and many of our partner charities lost much needed funds) while others found ways to change to our new conditions. Personally, I had a milestone birthday this year, and had a calendar of races to help mark the milestone. But we all know this story…… So we adapted, personally and professionally, like much of the world – and found a true love and benefit to virtual events.

At its core, virtual events and challenges can allow you to keep your goals, set personal bests, find new limits and achieve milestones – if you approach them like a true “event.” The essence of any race is typically to set a a new record or personal best for you. For a virtual event, approach that day as you would any race day, but relish in the fact that it is all about you.

You get to be your own race director – think about the things you love the most about a race. Think about something that inspires you or intimidates you and really embrace that as something to conquer. There will be no missed shuttles, or late starts, or early wakeup calls, or crowded portapotty lines – you get to define how the race is going go. This can include not only where you want those aid stations but what would inspire you at that location – you could have your kids make a sign or a PB&J sandwich. Celebrate what you love about the competition and go all in on that. You get to be in total control of your own race for the most successful outcome. It may take the pressure off the actual distance, and more about the experience – allowing you to have the most memorable event possible. Take it seriously, but make it fun, customized and engaging. You get to be the star athlete and best race director that day!

  • When you do want to start? What is the best time of day for you to run? What day doesn’t conflict with the rest of your calendar? (Not that there is a lot on a calendar these days…..)
  • What do you want the course to be? Hilly or flat? Loop or point to point?
  • Where is the optimum location for your aid stations?
  • Where do you need your most support in the race? What parts of the journey can you invite someone to join you – to pace or just for support (they can ride a bike along side you, which would be impossible in an actual race).

Listen to your favorite music, choose a course that you have always wanted to do. Have you family be there for part of it, for all of it.

A virtual event can be a celebration of all the things you love about racing or running and still allow you to embrace your competitive side. In some cases, a virtual race allows you to feel more comfortable about committing to a goal race or distance, without the additional pressures of a full-scale event, or travel logistics, or time constraints. But make no mistake about it, there will still be a results page, there will still be leader boards, there is still a public display of your effort and how you matched up against others in your gender or age. There is still a robust and engaging community surrounding virtual events that will help you achieve those goals, be inspired by your community and satisfy your competitive nature.

And yes, solo events can be hard, without all the glitz, glamour, noise of an actual race day. (And don’t get me wrong, some in-person races can be harder than a solo race. I did one marathon in snow in October and one year of Boston in April with 80 degree heat. Those SUCKED!) But races are supposed to be hard. (“My sport is your sport’s punishment.”) That is what makes the accomplishment so rewarding – the all out effort of achieving your best on that day.

We know that virtual races and challenges aren’t for everybody. But we also know plenty of runners and “lapsed” runners that don’t enjoy races. Or runners that can’t make it to an actual race day for one reason or another. But virtual events are no longer 2nd class events in our running world – they are now true alternatives, sometimes a first step into the world of racing, and a complimentary part of our community. And virtual events allow us to be even more charitable as we don’t have many of the risks and costs of in-person events!!!

For these 3 months of winter, when it is typically difficult to have a road race even in non-COVID times, it can even be a struggle to get out of the house. We have created 3 virtual events to help engage your fitness, give you some goals and connect you to a larger community. January is our Run Streak Challenge – run one mile a day each day. Just because NY’s has past doesn’t mean all is lost – it is never too late to start a streak! February is our Rhode Rambler – each week we will showcase a different 5k course. Break out of your running rut and try some new places to run in RI. Use it as a weekend stay-cation run or amp it up for a race. March will be our Providence Art Mural Running Tour. We are working with The Avenue Concept to create a few course in downtown Providence that will give you a little audio tour (run or walk, it is up to you) of all the amazing art that has cropped up in the Capital city. Learn more at https://runri.us/list-of-events/

Our mission continues to be to foster running, support our community and be charitable in our causes. Our goal is to evolve with technology to support this mission as well as your own personal mission – whether that is to be fit, challenged, solo or part of a larger community – we hope to offer you an event that will allow you to meet those goals – now and into the future.

Thanks for being a part of the evolution this past year. We will all come out better at the other end!

Top 10 Running Tech Gifts

I am not sure what I am more passionate in talking about; running or technology. And when these two items come together, well – I am all in. I listen to podcasts/read articles/watch videos to learn more about the latest and greatest technology to “try” and enhance my running. I started with a Garmin when I was training for Boston in 2011. It made a big difference from the previous year’s training plans in KNOWING how far the mileage was, rather than just guessing how far I had gone based on time and what I thought my pace was that day. I learned I was pretty far off my guesses when running the same routes from one year to the next.

When the Apple Watch came out, I snatched that up as soon as I could. While the first iteration wasn’t a very good running watch, it has gotten a lot better by now. The ability to run without my phone has been a game changer for me – less bulk, more freedom.

NOW there are so many apps, software and hardware to enhance your running experience. I do try a lot of them, and wanted to share my experiences. As I am pretty deep in the Apple ecosystem, most of these reviews will be iOS focused.

1. APPLE WATCH
https://amzn.to/37kB7sM

A big jump up from my Timex

I can’t say enough about the Apple Watch. I know there are some limitations to it but I am not a professional athlete and I am not running a lot of marathons or triathlons these days so this watch does exactly what I need. I have had the watch since Series 0 and each iteration has solved many of the issues of the past generation. I currently have the latest version, Series 6 with LTE, it has solved much of my concerns and become all the watch I need for running. It lasts more than all day, has customizable graphics, I can run without my phone, receive my notifications and listen to music. I can even take a call while running! As someone that does run in the middle of the work day, having the notifications on does allow me to know if I have to cut my run short to get back to my computer to handle a pressing issue – or if I can go a bit longer. Plus with all the various watch bands and faces – I can dress the watch up and down. Recently I acquired the new solo loop (just the single band of fluroplastic – or whatever they call it – with no buckle) – and it is SO COMFORTABLE! All of my tech revolves around this watch.

The Apple Watch sells for $300-$500 on Amazon, depending on your configuration.

2. HEALTHFIT APP
https://apps.apple.com/us/app/healthfit/id1202650514

While the main app that I can’t live without is Strava, there has been enough written about this app and wanted to focus on how I get my workouts into Strava. I do prefer the Apple Watch’s native workout app to the Strava app on my watch. Mostly the ability to control my music with just a swipe, the customizable screen, the automatic uploads to my fitness and workout app, it really does it all for me. So the app I use to automatically import all my Apple Watch workouts is HEALTHFIT. While HEALTHFIT is a robust app in itself, it does give you the ability to automatically upload your Apple Workouts to Strava, and for me – that was something I had been looking for for a while. It does this upload automatically, as soon as I finish the workout, and will sync all workouts to Strava that I record on my watch – yoga, strength training, cycling, hiking, etc. And as the Apple Watch has such a wide variety of workouts, HealthFit does upload all of those options. This app has solved so much of my issues with Strava uploads. From the app store description – HealthFit exports automatically in background your workouts from Apple Watch to popular fitness platforms and gives you access to advanced analysis of your fitness data with more than 50 charts.

The app is $3.99 on the App Store, a great stocking stuffer.

Checking out the turn by turns with the Gratitude & Hope Run.

3. RUNGO APP
https://www.rungoapp.com/

I discovered this app when I was traveling to PA for our annual RunSignUp conference. I was staying right in downtown Philly but really had no idea where to run without getting complete lost. (And as a female running alone in an unfamiliar city, I have learned my lesson!) I have a lot of running GPS apps but wanted something to give me a turn by turns for an established route. So I googled it 🙂 and Run Go came back to me. I tried it out that very morning and it was pretty cool. I often get lost when I run in places that I don’t know (been late to a few conference meetings as a result), so being able to pre-select a distance and then have the app show me route options near me within that distance goal was pretty cool. The turn cues were incredibly helpful to ensure I stayed on the route and back to the hotel in time.

But I have been able to explore this app more with our Gratitude & Hope Run and it is even more cool. The Apple Watch app is one of the best I have ever used. The turn by turn directions are super cool. There is an actual map on the watch face. But the ability for us as race directors to layer in audio cues – I had so much fun playing with this for our Gratitude & Hope Run. It really has so much possibility.

The app itself is free for all the needed features but they have a premium upgrade for $14.99/year that allows for GPS export, live tracking, auto-syncing to Strava and more cool features.

The icy wrap is amazing! So comfortable and mobile!

4. Icee Now

https://amzn.to/3qVaGSi

The 3 different products

While this is not technically tech, it is pretty techie…. I have been suffering from some sort of -istis (no idea if it is plantar facitistis, bursitis, etc) since May/June. I have no idea what it is, I just know that the more I run – the more it hurts. My PT tells me the best thing I can do is ICE! But let’s face it, icing is inconvenient. You have to find ice, find a way to adhere it to the affected area, lie somewhat stable, blah blah blah. Icee Now eliminates all of that. There are a few different products – a re-stickable ice pack, an ace-bandage type of product and a wrap tape-bandage that is some what sticky and adheres to itself. These tape wraps are my favorite product. They don’t need refrigeration, and are kept in sealed containers so you can take them literally anywhere. Let’s say you finish a race and have a long ride home. If you have this product in your bag, you can wrap your knees, ankles, whatever, with the IceeNow wrap and “ice” while you drive. Most PTs agree that icing as soon as possible after you have inflamed the area (ie run), helps speed the healing process. Having these wraps readily available and allowing you to still be mobile, eliminates all barriers to the process. I have been wrapping my ankles and calves after I run but while I make dinner so that I am completely mobile. The product works using menthol as the cooling agent so they smell great. Again – not technology in the truest sense but pretty “cool” technology in my mind.

Pink Ice Tape

Blue Ice Tape

Orange Ice Tape

Bandage Wrap

Re-stickable Ice Packs

The grippy palms are so useful.

5. BocoGear Run Gloves

https://runri.us/product/bocogear-run-gloves/

You may be asking why is an apparel item on a tech list? Well, these gloves have the best touch sensitive fingertips I have every used (and I have used a LOT of gloves). Plus they have so much more cool stuff – the grippy grippy plans, the comfort level, the warmth. I wear these so much more often than just running. But the fact that they are so comfy and the touch part of the fingertips actually work on tech – must have for me.

The gloves are $25 and make a great stocking stuffer!

6. AirPods Pro

I use these nearly all day long, not just running but conference calls, Netflix watching, podcast listening. Love the smaller size and comfy ear tips.

https://amzn.to/37iwTlu

I rarely go anywhere without these amazing earphones, not just running. I love listening to either music or podcasts when I run. I have been doing it since the first MP3 players were invented. But wired earphones were SUCH A PAIN! Getting all tangled, getting caught on stuff while you run (I used to always get them caught on branches and mailboxes and they would rip out of my ears). I bought the first pair of wireless earphones when they came out. I will admit that I was slow to purchase AirPods (I bought Jabra’s back in the day) as I thought they looked so weird when they launched. But I ended up getting a pair and was a convert. Flash forward to the AirPods Pro and I am hooked. I love the transparency mode for when I run, and Noise Cancellation for when my husband is watching wrestling on TV and I am pursuing YouTube on my iPad. The AirPods Pro as so comfortable in my ears with the squishy tips. The other upside with the shorter “stalks” – They don’t bounce against my earrings when I run. 😍 them!

Amazon sells the Airpods Pro for $199.

7. Zwift –

https://apps.apple.com/us/app/zwift-ride-and-run/id1134655040

Turn your sufferfest into something fun and engaging.

For cross training, injury prevention and REALLY bad weather days. As I mentioned above, I get injured often. I just can’t run like I used to when I was younger. To that end, I have learned that cross-training is the only way to continue running into my older age. While I do love outdoor biking, I don’t love Spin at all (just too different from my road bike) and I don’t love the indoor trainer, but Zwift is pretty cool stuff and makes the monotony of an indoor trainer a little less terrible. I have Bluetooth speed and cadence sensor on my bike which hooks up to Zwift, but it isn’t necessary. Zwift “gamifies” indoor cycling – not only does it give you a slew of structured workouts you can choose from, but you can also customize your little biker avatar, and ride “virtually’ with people from all over the world. You can join other ride groups, or work your way through a weekly program. In a world where virtual events kept us all connected, Zwift has been doing this for a few years now – and it is pretty cool.

Zwift is $14.99/mo subscription

8. Massage Gun

So bad its good.

https://amzn.to/2KsFRDw

While there are plenty more expensive versions on Amazon, I picked up this one for $50 and it comes with all the extra’s. Having this little massage gun sitting next to me in the living room is like having a little masseuse at the ready. As we know, a little targeted agitation can help speed muscle recovery and reduce tension, this little tool helps hit all the right targets. It is a “good” pain. Most come with a variety of attachments to ensure you are getting the right type of work. Because it is techy and is easier to use, I tend to use this more than my foam roller!

Amazon has this at $75.99 right now.

Great for watch placement, especially when wearing longer sleeves and while cycling.
  1. Edge Gear Shift Watch band
    https://amzn.to/34ilnES

I discovered this watch band a few years ago and it is a neat little band. It provides amazing placement, especially while wearing a jacket or long sleeves. It still allows for the heart rate sensor to work correctly, but puts the watch face right in sight-line rather than fooling around with your jacket sleeves. It takes a little tinkering to get the fit right in the beginning, and not super comfortable for day long use, but for running and biking – I love the placement.

This watch band sells for $39.99

10. BioLite no-bounce Headlamp

I have gone through many headlamps before finding this gem.

https://amzn.to/33Hu0bF

I use this for low-light runs (as well as early morning race starts). This headlamp is not only so comfortable and light that I forget it is even on my head, but it also has some powerful lumens. The best part is that it is rechargeable, so I am not always searching around for some weird sized batteries. The headlamp has a tilt feature so you can position the light where you need it, but it also has a few different light settings.

From Amazon’s description:

  • The ultra-thin 3D molded housing sits flat on your forehead. That means no bounce, no slip. By integrating our electronics into the fabric, we pack all your lighting into an ultra-thin facing that is designed to fit as seamlessly as a contact lens.
  • Moisture-wicking fabric keeps you cool and dry for any activity and the rechargeable battery means you can leave the alkaline behind.
  • Max Output 330 Lumens, Adjustable Front Panel, Red Night Vision Included
  • 40 hours of battery on LO, 3.5 Hours on HIGH, Recharge Via Micro USB.
  • HeadLamp 330 is made from high-quality moisture-wicking band that keeps your forehead comfortable and dry during activity. Best of all – no abrasion points. The easy-adjust clips also take the guess work out of right-sizing your band.

This red version sells for $59.95 on Amazon.

HAPPY HOLIDAYS TO YOU ALL and KEEP RUNNING!

RUNNING IN 2020 – A year to reflect on our love for the sport.

Thank you to our Fall Marketing Intern for writing this piece. Nicole Sciorilli is a Senior at Providence College and we wish her well in her next steps.

It is clear that 2020 has not been the best year for most of us; it has challenged many both physically and mentally. However, with hardships come the determination and hope to keep going and continue to push forward. In times like these it shows what is truly important to each and every one of us; it challenges us to determine what truly matters in making us happy.  For many the answer to happiness may be loved ones, a safe place to live, or a fresh home-cooked meal. However, here at Rhode Races we discovered that many of our runners found this happiness in one of their favorite hobbies: running.

We have talked to a number of different runners and asked them questions that made them question who they are not only as a runner, but as a person. We wish to help spread the holiday cheer and show to other runners that you are not alone. There are many others, like you, fulfilling their passion for the sport. So in times like these when we feel so far apart, let us be connected by something that we all can truly share a love for: a love for the sport of running.

WHAT DOES RUNNING MEAN TO YOU?

Based on our discussion with our runners it was clear that each and every participant has a story of his or her own. Whether running helps to relieve stress, fulfill healthy habits or becomes a “driver to push (yourself) to never give up” (Kate Wilson Somers), it is evident that running can help be an outlet for further success. As one runner emphasized after starting the sport,  “I think it’s safe to say I’m officially hooked” (Danielle Trial Lucini).

“I found strength in running. It gave me a space where I could go with no judgment, no one telling me I wasn’t pretty enough, thin enough, smart enough, strong enough, fast enough. I could think about everything or nothing at all. It was ‘My Time’.” – Lynn McElroy

WHAT WORDS DESCRIBE YOUR RUNNING?

  • Smooth, Calm, Content
  • My Happy Escape
  • Fun, Tourist, Daydream
  • Slow, Cathartic, Invigorating
  • Therapeutic, Fun, Challenging
  • Joyful, Easygoing, Scenic
  • Steady, Slow, Resilient
  • Work In Progress

Whatever your running style may be, MAKE IT YOUR OWN!

HOW OUR RUNNING STORY BEGAN

” I started running in high school as a short distance sprint and hurdler. Running the 1 mile warm up at track practice was a daunting task. I would’ve much rather run 50 yards at all out speed than consider anything even remotely long. In college, I discovered the Color Run 5k’s. These untimed fun-run’s got me hooked. After a few years of running 5k’s sporadically, in 2018, I discovered the Pell Bridge Run. I was intimidated by the idea of 4 miles and decided to “trick” myself into training by making a New Year’s resolution to run one 5k every month, leading up to the Pell Bridge 4 mile. When that year was over, I decided to try for something that would actually require some training, and set my sights on running the Providence Half Marathon in 2019. I thought it might be a one and done kind of resolution, but I fell in love with the 13.1 distance and ended up running a second half marathon that year. My 2020 resolution was to complete the Rhode Master’s series, and I thought that completing 5 half marathons would be a real challenge, but I ended up running 7 half marathons this year! I think it’s safe to say I’m officially hooked.” – Danielle Trial Lucini

“When I first started running, I had no idea what I was doing. As a kid, I was a mediocre athlete, at best. Every year when we did the “Mile Time Test” in gym class, I always finished last. It bothered me. A lot. But I didn’t give up. What I lacked in athletic talent, I made up for in stubbornness and determination. ​As a teenager, I spent years in an unhealthy and emotionally abusive relationship. ​A couple times a week I would jog 2-3 miles through my neighborhood. ​I found strength in running. It gave me a space where I could go with no judgment, no one telling me I wasn’t pretty enough, thin enough, smart enough, strong enough, fast enough. I could think about everything or nothing at all. It was ‘My Time’. ​ I was slow. I had no idea how to breathe. My form was probably terrible. But I kept going. By the time I was in college, I was a “casual runner”. I had no plan, I simply ran for the exercise to elude the “freshman 15”, to get away from my books and six roommates for a while, and to clear my head. This casual running continued into my twenties, when at the age of 22, a friend of mine suggested that we run a 5k. I was filled with overwhelming doubt about my ability, but I trained and toed that first Start Line with the only goal being to finish. ​When the start gun went off, my stubbornness and determination kicked into high gear, and with adrenaline rushing through my veins, I ran that race as fast as I knew how. It wasn’t until I crossed the finish line that I realized what I had accomplished. I had not only run the entire race and crossed the finish line…I had placed 4th in my age group (13-24) That was the first time I felt like a “real runner”. I have since completed 29 half marathons, 6 marathons, 7 Obstacle Course races, 2 Ragnar Relays, and numerous 5 & 10k’s- many of them run by Rhode Races! I am now an RRCA certified running coach and have an amazing group of running friends who share a passion for running and the mental and physical strength it gives us.” – Lynn McElroy

“My running story began the summer after I graduated high school almost 18 years ago. I was feeling generally unhealthy and wanted a change. I lost 20+ pounds and discovered a piece of me that was missing. It really changed my outlook on my body and my abilities. Throughout college it wouldn’t be uncommon for me to run 5-7 milers but running took a backseat to heavy drinking. In 2013 I started taking my running more seriously when I trained for and ran my first race – the Providence half marathon. I fell in love with running all over again. That fall I ran the Philly marathon, and soon after I quit drinking for good when I realized it was too hard and too hypocritical to think I could devote my time to both. I’m happy to report that I’m still sober and still running marathons.” – Kristy Wang

“I spectated the Boston Marathon back in 2006, when I was in high school and knew then that one day I wanted to run a marathon. I was never a runner, and in the years following that day I would go through spurts where I would run a mile or two for a few days in a row and then become unmotivated, convinced I would never be able to run more than a mile or two. I finally signed up for the Providence Half Marathon in 2011, with the mindset that signing up for a race would leave me no choice but to start running consistently. There were many days when running 1 mile seemed impossible, let alone 13.1, and 26.2 was just ludicrous.  As I slowly but surely increased my mileage, I proved to myself that impossible things are happening every day. I now have 6 marathons and numerous half marathons under my belt, and am looking forward to more!” – Katie Weygand

QUIRKY RUNNING HABITS

  • Everything must be just right.
  • Having to run in a loop.
  • Running as a means of meditation.
  • Memorizing license plates on the cars that drive by.
  • Tapping each mile marker/ sign.
  • Listening to music circa 2008.

“I am forever retying my shoes.  I’m like Goldilocks – not too loose, not too tight- they have to be just right!” – Kristy Wang

FEELINGS ABOUT VIRTUAL EVENTS DUE TO COVID-19

These unprecedented times challenge activities to be done in unique ways, that includes running races. With some more free time, runners have the ability to improve their running, fitness, and meeting goals. Many runners have shared how they felt more connected to people virtually through longer challenges, virtual apps, and social media. Although virtual races take away from some of the beautiful scenery of the state, runners like the flexibility of being able to set their own route and run on their own time.

“Virtual racing has provided a way to continue the camaraderie of a community and reaching goals together while doing what we have to in order to stay safe. Some race companies have definitely done a better job than others, Rhode Races topping that list! I am so grateful for the communication and care you have shown to our running community. I have always felt a personal connection to Rhode Races and our RI running community and in a year as challenging as 2020, I am forever grateful for that. I ran 5 virtual half marathons and 2 virtual marathons this year and the 2020 Virtual Falmouth Road Race. I miss the energy & excitement of in-person races- the start line, runners warming up, the national anthem, the cheering and the energy. I miss seeing the finish line in the distance and pushing just a little bit harder to reach my goal time. So many things have been out of our control this year, so I am holding on tight to the things that I can control: my mindset, my goals, and my running. #runningisnotcancelled” – Lynn McElroy

THANK YOU TO ALL OF OUR RHODE RACERS WHO PARTICIPATED IN OUR BLOG! WE APPRECIATE YOU!

November is a month of Gratitude and Hope

If you have been following this blog, the November post is always one of thanks and gratitude. Not only is it the anniversary of when we started Rhode Races, but it is also the month that our race season is over and we are able to reflect on how grateful we are to have another year in the books, and more importantly how thankful we are for all of our volunteers, Rhode Crew, security, vendors and runners that helped us along the way. And while this year is certainly different from typical years, we are no less grateful. 

We are SO VERY grateful that we were able to execute ONE event this year. Down from our typical 11-12, but that one felt so incredible. We are so appreciative for all the people that were there that day – runners, volunteers, staff, vendors. That one race felt amazing! Moreover, we are so thankful to all of our dedicated runners that stuck with us this year and were so kind and patient as we dealt with the unimaginable. But mostly we are just hopeful that we see a vaccine in the future and our ability to get back to our normal lives, not just races but dinners at restaurants with friends, and live music, and travel – all that has been restricted in the last year. WOW – we can’t wait!

Enjoying the peace and serenity of foliage strewn backroads

In the meantime, we would like to share and showcase our feelings of gratitude and hope. We know that our typical turkey trots won’t be happening this year, most of them utilize schools or other small indoor spaces. We also know that our food banks are hurting – with more and more people out of work and struggling, food insecurity is rising. Finally, this year has been one that has brought diversity and inclusion to a boiling point in many cities. All of this can get very overwhelming and troublesome. So we always go back to where we feel best – running outside and appreciating the natural beauty around us.

I have been listening to a number of running podcasts lately and one that struck me hosted a diversity panel. They featured a Native American runner talking about her experiences and feelings about running and races. It was incredibly moving. (There was a number of other thought-provoking insights on this podcast if you are interested – #255 – Diverse We Run Panel Chat: Safety In Running As A BIPOC)

“You’re giving a piece of yourself to the land by engaging with it, by running on it and giving it your energy, giving it your time, giving it that space and acknowledgment,” Dinée Dorame said, a citizen of the Navajo Nation. The Indigenous belief of connecting with the earth and honoring nature while you run just represented the thankfulness of being able to run when all else around us is in upheaval – that simple basic emotion of feeling free and connected to nature while running.

So all of these thoughts swirling around has coalesced into our Gratitude & Hope Run – not a virtual race so much: less turkey trot, more audio running tour. We still wanted to get out and run on Thanksgiving morning – for me, that is as much a part of the celebration as the turkey! But we also wanted to honor the history behind this holiday and call to mind the truth behind it, just as a reminder as to what the day means and see if we can learn from it. Finally, we wanted to honor the tradition of sharing food with our neighbors.

A historical plaque on the Warren Bike Path.

So the Gratitude and & Hope Run is using some cool technology for all of this, while bringing a unique virtual experience. First – $10 of every entry fee will go to either the East Bay Food Panty or the Jonnycake Center, depending on what course you sign up for. Secondly – you will earn a long sleeve shirt and a top of the line technical mask from BocoGear. (I have been using this mask since August and it is hands-down the best mask I own, rated “Best of” by Runner’s World). The mask has HOPE written on on the front, not just as an homage to our State motto, but also to remind ourselves to always be hopeful. We will also be awarding $50 from a local running store to any individual that raises the most money as part of this event. They can pick their charity – we just need to get them set up in the system, so reach out to info@rhoderaces.us to get this set up.

Stone walls, cows and farmland on the run course help us connect to our roots.

As for the run itself, we are offering 2 distances to choose from – 5k or 10k – and two courses – East Bay and Narragansett. The East Bay course starts in Warren at the bike path near Hugh Cole School and heads out to Touisset. The Narragansett course starts at Pt Judith and enjoys part of Galilee. You can either choose to run the actual course we created, complete with audio turn by turn directions as part of the app, or you can run virtually – on your own course or treadmill. The unique feature of this event is that the app will not only share the turn by turn directions, but also has a number of audio cues throughout the race providing a little of the Native Americans’ history in our area. While you are running, you will learn about the indigenous history relevant to the area as part of the audio cues of the course. While the true history of the Native tribes is not a happy story, I think recognizing the history behind the holiday is important and we can honor some of their beliefs of connecting with the earth and nature as we run on some of the same roads enjoyed by generations and generations.

The watch app gives you a map on your wrist as well as turn by turn directions.

You can run with your phone, but this worked just fine on my Apple Watch, without my phone (I do have an LTE enabled watch). I used earphones and I was able to listen to music with the audio cues playing over the music – much like your car navigation plays over your car stereo. The app will provide mile markers and turn around points on top of the historical information we have entered.

The end goal for this event is to raise money for our food banks, raise awareness of the Native American history in our area surrounding Thanksgiving, but most importantly as a reminder to ourselves as runners – to run with gratitude and hope for all of the blessings that we have in our family, our surroundings and our lives.

I will be out on the East Bay course on Thanksgiving morning, if anyone wants to wave HI!

At the finish line!

Run to Heal – a Celebration of Wellness


We are so excited to be hosting next weekend’s Ocean State Rhode Race! While much of the race will look different from what we normally do, or how we would really want it to be, we are just so happy to be able to race.

Running has always been therapy for us: Mind-clearing, soul-searching, trouble-shooting, therapy. It is a rare occasion that we have come in from a run and not felt better. Not only do we know that running, ie physical activity and outdoor exercise, is the best way to counteract the virus, we also believe that a road race is one of the best ways we can model and celebrate health in the COVID era.

We are constantly surrounded by talk of sickness these days – physical, mental, etc. I don’t know about you but sometimes it is all that is on the news, I are overwhelmed with it all and start to have phantom symptoms! 😦 But to counteract that, I have always done what is best for my physical and mental health – go outside and run to escape from it all!

So we are viewing this race as a Celebration of Health, a run to heal, a run to celebrate life! While there are some restrictions and change from what we have grown accustomed to in a road race, it is at its essence just the purest form of exercise and physical fitness. The race is not just a chance for us to show that we can safely bring back road racing, but also it is a day for us to celebrate healthy lifestyles and showcase how lucky we all are to be able to have strength in our legs to run, breath in our lungs to test ourselves and a heart that beats to the love of our sport.

So much of our lives have been restricted and controlled in recent months. But everything that happens from that starting line to the finish line are completely within our control – our pace, our attitude, our focus and our desire to finish strong. To be in control of our minds and our bodies. That feels a bit rare these days. It reminds me about a few lines in my favorite running poem:

Run to heal

IN A WORLD WHERE I OFTEN FEEL HELPLESS, VICTIMIZED AND CONTROLLED,

RUNNING HELPS REVIVE FEELINGS OF HOPE, STRENGTH AND CONVICTION

THAT I CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE AND I CAN BE RESPONSIBLE FOR ME.

Part of our mission is to inspire a healthy and active lifestyle. We can show that road races are essential, that running = therapy. That this is the simplest form of health and wellness – legs moving, heart pumping, air flowing, life confirming. While we know that this won’t look like our traditional Rhode Race, and we are certainly struggling with that – we have learned that being able to host any race is a gift right now – just as life itself is.

Virtual races have a place and a purpose and are a new definition of events. We will likely have hybrid races for the foreseeable future as virtual events have some great aspects to them. We believe that we can be together through in-person and virtual events, achieve our personal goals, celebrate our fitness and set new records. We have learned that they have a spot in our event planning and we are constantly learning how to make them better and more connected. They will allow participants to be a part of an event, celebrate their fitness and foster their self-achievement even if other factors are preventing them from being actually standing on a starting line with others.

But we are so happy to be able to set up a starting and finish line for you: To help you run a beautiful course, meet that time goal that you have set and just be a part of your finish joy. And we are so happy to show the world (or at least our community) that a road race is the best way to represent our health and our well-being.

Run with joy and appreciation – we are truly lucky!

August Race Director’s Challenge

To say that 2020 has been a rough year so far might be an understatement – professionally and personally. Everyone has a story as to how they have been affected by the virus. Some have had the ultimate loss; the loss of loved ones, loss of jobs, loss of security. For those of us that are runners, the loss of road races was a lost social identity. Our running squads are our therapy and our family. Races are our family get-togethers and our social connections, our ability to celebrate our accomplishments and hard work. Our desires to challenge ourselves and achieve new goals. To measure ourselves and remain competitive. They gave us some purpose when other parts of our lives felt out of control. So with races shut down, many of us went reeling. We had goals for the year, we had plans, we had things we wanted to do!

Where most road races are run by runners, the industry pivoted quickly to still try to bring those race experiences to runners in the best way we knew how. While virtual events were not created in March, they certainly took on new meaning this year. The industry developed new technology to replicate a race experience in the Covid world. And while many of us are old-school, die hard runners – we are learning that virtual events/races/challenges certainly can help us satisfy some of our competitive goals.

Personally, for Karen and I, this year has been so tough. If you had told us back in March when we had to cancel Newport that we would still be struggling with Covid in September, I am not sure I would have believed it. I am not sure I would have wanted to believe it.

Karen and I started this company in 2015 and no lie, that first year or two was incredibly tough. We worried, watched every penny, learned what we could from other successful race companies and worked day and night to ensure we would survive.

This year was meant to be year 5. We felt like we were in a good place. We had seen some growth, had good numbers, could budget correctly and continue to evolve to bring even better races to our community. We were so excited for this year.

Well the wheels fell off that wagon pretty early in the year. Each time we tried to make a plan, we would get pulled back down. It is like trying to navigate a storm as the winds keeps shifting. But we will keep swimming up to the surface, we will learn and watch and evolve to bring the best possible event to our community.

Personally, I turn 50 this year, and my oldest son was graduating college. I too had many plans – goal races, fun events and celebrations. All gone. I won’t lie when I say there have been some dark days. But again, we will keep getting up and doing the best we can with what we have been given. In these sink or swim days we are choosing to swim! (We are just repeating Dory the fish in our daily affirmations.)

To that end, I have competed in a few virtual events myself as way to stay competitive, have goals and celebrate this milestone birthday. But because I miss our Rhode Races family, I created an August Challenge that I hope you all will join me in. After running for 30+ years, I break down a bit more easily than I would like so I work hard at cross-training to stay healthy and stretch my running years. This challenge is about that cross-training. It involves running (of course!) but the emphasis is off. Swim, bike, yoga, strength train – all those things we need to do to stay healthy. It is time-based, not distance based, so the goal is to try to build up the time you spend in those other exercises, not just running. Earn rewards and badges for hitting time-based goals. I will be sharing some of the workouts I do, and the locations I get to enjoy and and I would love if you will too.

For many of us, racing is about setting goals to attain, hitting new PRs and PBs, connecting with our running families, having something on the calendar that we are looking forward to and working towards. Virtual events hit all these marks – at least they are for me. Having an online results page is still keeping me competitive, humbled and accountable.

So I hope that you will join me this month, come celebrate with me – celebrate our 5 years, how lucky we are to be able to still do what we love, to focus on our whole health and well-being, connect while apart and #MaintainYourDistance.

https://racedirectorchallenge.runri.us/

Education and Support for our Diverse Community

Like many of you, the daily news has been especially troubling these days for us. Between Covid, politics, riots and shootings, we are searching for positivity. So when Alyssa Mason approached us with an idea for a virtual race that was something positive and proactive that we could be a part of – we immediately signed on.

Alyssa wanted to do something hyperlocal to Rhode Island that would raise money and awareness for the Black Lives Matter movement here in our State. Her suggestion involved raising funds for children’s organizations that promoted education and support to our diverse community. In order to foster rich and inclusive cultures, we needed to start at the youngest ages.

We have been struggling with what can we do, within our wheelhouse, to help with this movement. We watch the news, we try to educate ourselves, we work on showcasing and supporting our diverse participant base, but it wasn’t enough. Essentially, how can we help further?

After some conversation with Alyssa, we knew this would be the right cause. For those that know me, I have been involved in multiple youth organizations that were focused in the education arena: School Committee, PTOs, Boosters, School Board Task Force, etc. While I have never been a teacher, I do have a passion for education.

Alyssa’s idea was to create a virtual event focused on the education of our communities youth, with a theme around the distance learning that many have been part. The goal of the event is to raise money for education of our minority population as they work through the challenge of today’s learning environment. There are 9 charities involved, all RI-based and all focused on youth and education.

We did want to note that 100% of the entry fees and dontations are going to these charities. Rhode Races is happy to donate our experience and support to this cause, as we wanted to DO something to help. The entry fee is low, to eliminate any barrier to joining the virtual race, but additional donations are happily accepted.

We hope that you will consider joining us as we “Go the Distance” in this virtual 5k! Learn more here: https://runsignup.com/Race/RI/Providence/GoingtheDistanceVirtual5k

Need some summer motivation? I know I do.

It is hard to believe that we are only half way through this year. We have completely altered our lives in the last 6 months, we have seen unspeakable tragedies and amazing stories of inspiration. But BOY – has it been a long few months. While some aspects of life return to normal, for many of us, road racing is so much a part of who we are; our social interactions, our goals and self-attainment – this part of our lives is still not back. They help us mark milestones, define our days and give us purpose. And for many of us, we need those defined deadlines and marked points on the calendar to help keep us motivated.

As the Spring races started to fall like dominoes, we heard it over and over – “I have been training all winter and if there is no race, I don’t have the motivation to get out the door to continue.” Some were floundering a bit without a race looming on the calendar to help keep the momentum going. Many of us had more time at home, more time to snack, and no real “events” to worry about. We were struggling without the definition of “road racer,” without our run-squad helping us get out the door when we didn’t feel like it, and our group runs to catch up with our friends. And BOY – did we miss that post-race beer and feeling of accomplishment!

Personally, I turn 50 this summer. When I turned 40 – I had 2 goals; qualify and run Boston – and – finish an Ironman 70.3 in less than 6 hours. It got me in the best shape and I accomplished those two goals, running the fast times in my life. I conquered what I thought “40” had to mean and really brought so much self-esteem as I entered “middle-aged.” I again had running goals for this Summer-of-50 as well. My body has aged in the last 10 years, and I always seem to have some sort of nagging injury, so marathons weren’t part of this goal. But I did have goal races that I had signed up for to keep me motivated, moving and most importantly challenged. I have run HUNDREDS of road races but trail races are something new to me, so difficult and a bit scary, yet beautiful. I had signed up for 3 trail races in May and June alone, with an August triathlon. Like your goal races, these are all gone.

As with so many of you, there are other things that have been canceled or postponed, milestones missed – and worry, lots of worry. And like many of you I am sure – running is therapy. When it starts to get overwhelming, when the world feels heavy, lace ’em up and head out the door to sort out your thoughts, pound the pavement to eliminate the pain, and lose yourself in nature’s beauty and architecture. Nothing beats the feeling of the post-run accomplishment. You ALWAYS feel better, maybe not physically but always mentally.

But while running for therapy is great and necessary – we still need GOALS, we need something to keep us motivated, to make us work harder than just going without a plan. We need something that sets a bar that we can strive for and show that we can meet whatever challenge we set for ourselves. Right now so many of our goal lines are being moved by factors out of our control. A race has always been a defined goal – a set distance, date and time. It didn’t move from a calendar date, it didn’t change in distance, we just had to hit our mark to meet that goal. It provides us mental strength when so much of our lives are out of our control. But a goal race was static. Or was.

But with the lack of traditional races, we have had to get creative to help us keep our motivation up, to create new goals, to show that if we work hard enough, we can attain new bars, to give us a sense of self-accomplishment and purpose. To gain back some feeling of control.

To that end, we created two summer challenges – one for July that is a distance based challenge, and one for August that is a time based challenge. Personally, where my goal races for this year are gone, I am committed to 4 challenges this summer. I plan on running the Independence Virtual Half on 6/27. I haven’t run a half marathon in MANY years, at least 5 years. So this will definitely be a challenge for me. I will also complete the Run RI challenge, to get my weekly mileage up as cross country season approaches, as well as the Race Director’s Challenge which will hold myself accountable to all of you. Finally, I will be completing the Save the Bay “triathlon” – bike, swim and SUP. I mixed in SUP rather than run as the run part is easy for me, SUPing 2 miles will be HARD! Not only will these challenges be much needed therapy for my mind, it will also allow me to give back to our Rhode Races community through fundraising.

People always ask me if I run our own races. And for those of you that see us on race day, you know that we can’t do that. But with these virtual events, I can be there with you on the starting line, be a part of the event as a participant and competitor, and have the same goals and fears of a competition. There is something about having to be accountable with an actual finish time, on a results list, rather than just a Strava segment.

And while it is no where near as awesome as an actual race, it is motivating me to train a bit harder, to have this deadline and be challenged – but challenged in a way that I don’t feel like a victim of circumstances, but master of my destiny.

Hope that you all will continue to join us as we find new ways of remaining positive and productive. Ready to race?!?!?!

Impact of Coronavirus on Rhode Races

It is hard to believe it has been two months since we made the incredibly difficult decision about our ability to host the Newport Rhode Race in its traditional sense.  It feels like a lifetime ago.  And while we feel so much has changed in the road racing landscape, so much still remains unknown.

In the weeks and months since the Coronavirus has canceled all Spring road races, the running community has come together in a show of strength and resilience – not that anyone who is a runner is surprised!  These traits define a runner.  While road races were shut down, running was not canceled.  We have come together through virtual events, social media sharing and long-distance support to show that no one runs alone.  And we have seen so many new converts to our sport!  Running has maintained its normalcy.

While Rhode Island is now emerging from the Stay at Home orders, we are in a wait-and-see status to determine if and when we can go back to holding races.  I won’t say “go back to work” as we have been working incredibly hard behind the scenes to research and read about how to host a race in the safest possible manner, trying to think of creative ways to support our community, and encourage your physical fitness during a lockdown.

To that end, we wanted to share our new Covid-19 promise to you for the remainder of the year:

As the COVID-19 global pandemic is still unfolding, these are Rhode Races’ promises to you:
* If we are forced to cancel or postpone the event, registrants will receive a 100% transfer of the net entry fee and add-ons paid into ANY Rhode Races event, good for 1 year from the original race entry. The entry fee of the race that you are transferring into will be determined by the pricing schedule for that event on the date you complete your registration into the new race. No refund of any difference, if applicable, will be issued.
* Alternatively, you may switch to the virtual race, in lieu of the deferral/transfer above, if you choose.  The virtual race will keep many of the same components of the actual race with virtual bibs, age-graded results, race swag and a rich community to share your successes.
* We will continue to keep you informed as information becomes available and decisions are made.  We promise to answer all email inquiries within 24 hours.
* Once we are finally able to race, we will continue to provide you with a clean and safe environment to race; and will implement additional measures to ensure the health and safety of our community as necessary.
* You can review our complete policies [HERE]

Our Bristol race is next on the agenda and we are currently working with the 4th of July Committee to see if any manner of an outdoor event can be held this summer.  We have about two weeks before we will know what, if anything, will be possible.   In the meantime, we are also working on an alternative plan, and again – just waiting on a few answers before we can communicate.

Across the country, a few races are starting up again – albeit very small, local ones.  We will know in a few weeks how those races went, what protocols are working and what aren’t, and the immediate future of events.

We are still very hopeful about the fall races, but they will likely be different from what we are used to. We are lucky in that our remaining races are primarily small local events, which are more likely to come back sooner than larger, international ones.  We imagine we will have to limit participant fields and have other safety protocols.  The next few weeks are really going to be a test to see how running events can evolve in the Fall.

In the meantime, we also have some fun ideas and challenges that we are creating in the coming weeks to help keep you motivated, fit, and connected while we try and determine the new normal.  We will have a RUNRI Challenge for July and a Rhode Races Fit Challenge for August. One of the main components of both of these challenges will be to raise some much-needed funds for local charities and support our running community.  Two main components of our Rhode Races mission.

So we thank you, from the bottom of your hearts, for your continued support and kindness as we struggle through these times.  Your words have made such a difference as we are reeling through all of our emotions.   We cannot wait to get back together with you all in person soon!

Thank you!

 

How to Spring Clean Your Running Routine for a Fall Race PR (Personal Record)

We have partnered with some coaches, physical therapists and running specialty stores to provide tips, best practices, and advice as we run solo – but we are not alone.

The following are some tips and notes from Coach Catherine of Fit Armadillo.  Check out her website at https://www.FitArmadillo.com

Whether you signed up for a spring 5K as part of a New Year’s Resolution you haven’t been too diligent about keeping or love the challenge of a 5K and had plans to earn a personal record (PR) this spring, you’re likely sad that you can’t compete alongside friends this month. But all is not lost! Running the 5K Virtual Race can help you spring clean your running routine so you can enjoy fall races (and maybe a PR!).  Here are some tips to help you make the most of this event and spring training, no matter what your current fitness level and 2020 running goals:

-It’s All About That Base, So You Don’t Get Into Injury Trouble

Hum that tip to the song if you know it! Did you know that the fastest 5K runners and marathoners both run similar weekly mileage? It’s true and based on the fact that a solid base of mileage helps you increase your overall aerobic capacity aka endurance, which is important for any long-distance running event. Now, you don’t need to run 100 miles a week like an elite athlete to build a solid base (and probably shouldn’t this year unless you’re an Olympian – it takes years to build up to this point), but you can use this tip as a beginner or advanced runner. Check out your weekly mileage and how many days a week you are currently running. With more time between now and your next big in-person road race, you can spread out your training plan and build a better base. Unlike most cookie-cutter running plans that often increase mileage week by week and increase your risk for injury, you can take more time to progress your training and skill as a runner.  Even if you aren’t aiming for a PR, a better base will lead to a more enjoyable fall race!

Action Step: Look at your current weekly mileage. Aim to repeat this for 2-3 weeks in a row before upping your mileage in week 3 (or 4) and then having a recovery week 4 (or 5) before increasing your weekly mileage in week 5 (or 6). Your running coach can help you with some of the finer details (and the Fit Armadillo trainers would love to help!), but building a base is often rushed. Instead of rushing your training this year, use this extra time to your advantage!

-Stop a Strava Compare and Despair Cycle

While Strava and other social running apps can be a great way to stay in touch with your running friends, especially while social distancing, they can also encourage bad running habits. One of the most common mistakes runners make is running their easy runs too fast. Save that competitive spirit for your next 5K race! When your workout schedule notes an easy run, it should be easy. Your body will make the appropriate adaptations during this run at a slower pace. But run at a hard effort, when that’s not the plan of the day? You risk getting injured! Even Kenyans and other elite athletes run “slow” on slow run days, but they are hardly slow on race day!

Action Step: If you do monitor paces and heart rate, see if you’re able to hit your goals for all workouts on your plan. If you’re not able to hit your speed day paces, you might be overdoing things on an easy day. Easy runs should feel comfortable and be done at 70-75% of your maximum heart rate to avoid the risk of injury and fatigue. Already a seasoned 5K runner? Your easy runs can be done about 2 minutes slower than your 5K race pace.

-How a 5K Virtual Race Can Fit into Longterm Plans

The Virtual 5K event can be a great part of anyone’s running plan. If you’re a beginner, you can use the event as a way to find out how long it takes you to complete 3.1 miles. Did you walk at all? If so how long? Are you able to pace yourself? Even lifelong runners struggle with pacing! No matter how you do on your first 5K distance attempt this spring, challenge yourself to work on pacing and try running “negative splits,” faster each mile vs. starting out too fast and ending the race wishing you hadn’t started. More advanced runners can use the virtual 5K to practice that same tip – running negative splits!

Another idea for those of you already up to 12 miles for a long run? Your 5K could be the first quarter of a 12.4 mile Long Accelerating Run workout. This challenging workout, which could be done as an 8-15 mile workout, has you break your run into four quarters. The first quarter is done at an easy pace (maybe across the street from a friend who’s also running the virtual 5K for some mutual moral support?), the second quarter at slightly below lactate threshold pace, the third at lactate threshold pace, and the fourth at faster than lactate threshold pace. It’s a demanding workout (not recommended more often than every other week), but a good one! What’s lactate threshold pace? It should be 25-30 seconds slower than your 5K race pace or 85-90 percent of your maximum heart rate.

Action Step: Sign up for the Virtual 5K Rhode Race event and schedule your 3.1-mile attempt and route (5K or maybe more!) into your calendar.

Did you do some spring cleaning to your running routine based on these tips? Tell us about it on social media so we can give you a virtual high five and pat on the back!

P.S. Fit Armadillo has been scoping out some 5K routes around Newport, Rhode Island and has something fun planned for those of you who want to play along. Stay tuned for details and, happy running!