Don’t Run Alone: Review of Sabre Self Defense Products for Runners

*Disclaimer: I received Sabre Self Defense Products to review as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review, find, and write race reviews!*

Things have been a little scary here lately. People are getting assaulted, chased, or worse while out on a run. A time that’s supposed to be stress revealing, is turning into quite the opposite.  We don’t like to talk about the bad things that can happen while out on a run, but I think it’s smart that we do.

Last week, even my boyfriend got assaulted on a run.  So if you think that this is a girl’s problem…think again. When BibRave Pros got the opportunity to test out some Sabre Self Defense Products, I quickly opted in! I like to run alone, and I don’t want anyone telling me I can’t.  But I can be smart about it.

Sabre sent me several products to test out and share:

2 – Personal Alarm with Clip and LED Light

2- Runner Pepper Gel with Adjustable Strap

1 – Runner Personal Alarm with Adjustable Wrist Strap

The Personal Alarm took me by surprise the first time I tested it out.  I was messing with the buttons to see how loud this alarm really is. Well, it is LOUD! It scared my pup into the corner and my boyfriend heard it outside. I used this on a super foggy run with my pup that same day. It was nice having both features on such a small clip. It fit comfortably on my running belt. I did test to see how it would do clipped onto my dog’s leash, but I would not recommend this since the leash tends to thrash back and forth too much for the clip to handle.

The Runner Pepper Gel with Adjustable Strap worked well on my run as well.  It was very easy to hold onto, without having the fear that my finger will trigger the spray. I’m lucky so far I haven’t had to test out the actual spraying of the gel. But if I do, I’ll keep you posted.

The Runner Personal Alarm with Adjustable Wrist Strap was also easy to wear.  It wraps comfortably around my wrist and has a very durable material.  The reflective brand name is also a great touch. To activate the alarm I would only have to pull the ring off, and the alarm can be heard up to 1,000 feet!

I’m very happy with the extra features each item fits into such a small product.  I feel safer already when I’m using them out on a solo run. I’ve even put the Personal Alarm with LED light to use on my bike.  The flashing mode is perfect on the foggy days when I bike commute to work.

At the end of the day, I’m choosing to take control of the situation.  I won’t let the threat of others scare me into missing a run. I just have to be smart about it. And Sabre = Smart.

 

 

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Kickin’ it 90’s Style

*I’m promoting the I Love the 90’s Run Chicago as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to find and write race reviews!*

I don’t know about you, but sometimes I get a little board of the typical week day run or long run. I put on the same running clothes, listen to the same music, and run the same routes. I’m thinking it’s time for a change up!

The new I Love the 90’s Run Chicago is my inspiration this week! Time to wear #allthecolors on my run.  I’m talking bright yellows, greens, blues, and maybe I’ll even sneak in some pink.

I’m also loading my iPhone with all my 90’s favorites. I know, disappointing that I no longer have my totally rad Walkman, but an iPhone will have to do. Since I’m a Wisconsin girl, you know that Jump Around by House of Pain is on my mix! I may even throw in some Ice Ice Baby.badgder

Last but not least, you MUST accessorize. That means wearing the cool shades, maybe a snap bracelet or two, and a scrunchy.

What else would you do or wear at the I Love the 90’s Run Chicago?

 

 

Heading Back to Chicago, Soldier Field 10 Mile

*Disclaimer: I received free entry to Soldier Field 10 Mile race as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review find and write race reviews!*

It’s about time! I’m finally getting the chance to run the Soldier Field 10 Mile Race on May 25th.  I lived in Chicago for a couple years and it never fit in my schedule.  No I’m not a Bear fan (GO PACK GO!), but the setting of the race always appealed to me. After reading reviews about the race and scouring the Soldier Field 10 Mile website, here are a few things I’m looking forward to:

  1. Free Parking – THIS IS UNHEARD OF! Yes, they have complimentary parking for runners. This saves me at least $10 and a lot of hassle of figuring out which ParkWhiz lot to use.
  2. Beautiful Race Venue – Even though I’m a Packer fan, I still appreciate running through Soldier Field. I’ve also read that Soldier Field offers a reprieve from the hot sun at the end of the race.
  3. Great Race Swag – The tech shirt and medal look awesome! I’m looking forward to adding these to my collection.
  4. Well Organized Race – I’ve run a few Ram Racing events (North Shore Classic, BigFoot Tri) and every one is very well organized and thought out.  They always have great volunteers, vendors before and after the race, and the aid stations fully stocked. I expect nothing less at this event.
  5. Post Race Party – As a Wisconsin girl, I always appreciate a free post-race beer! The party setting with music, vendor booths, and friends to hang out with are also a perk.

I hope you consider running this race with me! Check out my discount page for the code to get a surprise FREE item with your goodie bag!

Zwift into the New Year: Review of Zwift Runpod and App

*Disclaimer: I received a Zwift Runpod to review as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review find and write race reviews!*

Are you a treadmill runner? I’m not going to lie to you, treadmills are my last resort. I have a treadmill at home which may very well have been made in the 1990’s. But it works and does the job when there’s sleeting rain or a snow storm outside.

As part of being a BibRave Pro I was offered the opportunity to trial the new Zwift Runpod and Zwift Run app. I figured it would be worth a shot since the treadmill experience is not super enjoyable to me. And anything that could improve my treadmill workouts is worth a shot.img_7150.jpg

The Runpod arrives in a small little box with directions on how to insert the battery and connect it to your shoe. Once I did that, I downloaded the Zwift app and Zwift Companion on my iPhone. Zwift Companion is a great way to check out who else is using the app and to look up group runs that are scheduled.

For my first run, I signed up to join the BibRave TRE 5k. They had 3 different pace groups to join. Before the race, I made sure to calibrate the Runpod with my treadmill. I also used my Garmin Forerunner 935 to calibrate the speed. The app walks you through the process very easily. Once I was calibrated, I was able to join the run.

I joined the run a few minutes early. When joining a group run they line everyone up on a start line, just like a real race. However you can either just wait for it to start or start a warmup on your treadmill, where you’ll see your Zwift avatar run in place.

When the race starts, everyone’s avatar rushes out of the start corral. I thought it was cool to see people running that I knew. I even ran along side another BibRave Pro. Running with a group of people virtually definitely boosted my competitive side and made the treadmill experience a lot more enjoyable.

Since the BibRave TRE Virtual 5k, I’ve been able to run using the Zwift app several more times. Some fun perks of running with the Zwift app:

  • You can change the appearance of your Zwift avatar
  • You can change the view that you see your avatar running
  • You are never running alone – even if you can’t make one of the scheduled runs, you can always join the thousands of people who are running in Watopia
  • The Zwift app is FREE!

Ultimately I would recommend the Zwift Runpod and Zwift app for anyone wanting to enhance their treadmill running experience.  I even bought one for my brother!

More than Running: Embracing #LiveMoreNow

*Disclaimer: I received 3 Buff® products as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.comto review find and write race reviews!*

I’m taking a step back.  Running has been literally “running” my life for the past year, maybe longer.  I’ve accomplished some major goals this year alone.  But what happens when you need a break?  In the running community we almost look down on these down times from training.  When people ask, “what are you training for?” You feel obligated to have an answer.

I’m determined to not let this break from major running goals define me or depress me.  Instead, I’m opening up my options.  Buff® encouraged a few of us from BibRave to #LiveMoreNow and embrace all the opportunities around us. Here are some ways I have chosen to embrace some  non-running fun this summer!

Crosstraining – I’ve been swimming and biking primarily.  I’ve also thrown in some yoga and strength training.  It’s been nice to mix things up, especially with the hot weather. Love how easy the UV Multifunctional Buff® makes it to go from swim to bike and more.

Canoeing – this has been a great summer for canoeing.  The water has been high, which makes it easy to check out all the rivers and waterways in the area.

Gardening – I love growing my own food.  When my running mileage was high, I found it difficult to keep up with my garden. But now, it’s relaxing to dig my hands in the dirt. The UV Insect Shield Buff® keeps those pesky mosquitoes and UV rays away from my neck while I work out in the sun.

Hiking – One of the reasons I started trail running is because I love taking in the beautiful views around me. Hiking allows me to continue to recover from my ultra, but still do what I love.img_5633

Hangin’ with my pup – Mr. Cooper, my 8 year old yellow lab, has been a trooper throughout my training. Since he can only handle around 4-6 miles, I’ve had to leave the little man at home too many times. Now is the opportunity to make it up to him.  I love taking him to the beach and seeing him swim around in Lake Michigan.

Let me know how you embrace #LiveMoreNow this summer!

New Adventures: My First 100 Mile Ultra

*Disclaimer: I received 3 Buff® products as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.comto review find and write race reviews!*

The weeks of constant planning and anxiety came to an end. Kettle 100 race day was finally here. I couldn’t plan any more and whatever happens, happens. I tried to mentally prepare for every disaster and at the same time prepare myself to take whatever mother nature handed me.

Saturday morning was cool with img_5464-e1529352052692.jpga slight breeze and cloudy.  Pretty much ideal race conditions. I placed my drop bags on the designated tarps, hoping that I had everything I could possibly need. I had some goal times in mind, but at the same time, I just wanted to finish.  It was my first 100 miler after all.

My friend Sarah was also running the race, which was nice to have a running partner for the start. I told her right away that I was going to take the first 64 miles excruciatingly slow. The last thing I wanted was to show up at mile 64, dreading the final 36 miles. Another worry of mine was the bugs.  Trail reports throughout the week warned us that the mosquitoes and ticks were the worst they’ve ever been. So keeping a steady pace was necessary to keep the bugs off, but not too fast that I wear myself out. Good thing I packed my UV Insect Shield Buff®.

The race began at 6 a.m. sharp. Sarah and I started out nice and slow, chatting with some other runners around us. We got to the first drop bag in no time and that’s where things became a bit more challenging.  I was waiting for Sarah, all the while, she thought I had already left and she was trying to catch up to meIMG_5466. Eventually I headed out to continue the race, hoping I’d catch up to her at some point. After the first drop bag, the runners started to disperse considerably.  There would be long stretches of time before I’d see another runner. For the most part I kept to myself, and that’s pretty much how things went for the next 49 miles. I would have quick chats with runners here and there, but nothing substantial.  This was probably the longest I’ve ever run by myself – around 12 hours of running alone. At first when I was 4 hours in to this lonely stretch, I got nervous on what mental state I’d be in once I arrived at Nordic (where my pacers were waiting). But after a while, I kind of enjoyed taking in the trails, going my own pace, and really absorbing everything.

By the time I got to Nordic, mile 64, I was ready for some company.  There was no more IF at this point, it was WHEN will I finish.  I didn’t have a difficult time leaving the transition area like I thought I might.  Probably because I just spent the last 12 hours running alone and couldn’t wait to talk to my friends. It also started to thunderstorm soon after leaving Nordic, which allowed me to focus on something besides the soreness that was setting in my legs and feet.

Miles 70-75 threw a whole other curve ball at me. The rain basically made this section into a major mud pit of technical trails. The leaves from the surrounding trees were sunken down, blocking the light from my headlamp. It was slow, and long, and made me very sleepy. But the last thing I needed was to trip and fall 30 miles from the finish. When the trail opened up just before HWY 12, I felt refreshed and so glad to experience the beautiful sight of the moon and stars shining overhead with my friends.

HWY 12 was the area I was most intimidated by. I knew this section would be difficult to maneuver through at night, especially after already running for 20 hours. I kept my head down and just kept moving. After the mud-apocalypse section, this 4 mile out and back section wasn’t so bad. I was back at HWY 12 in no time.

The Final Stretch

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I had 14 miles left – That’s it! I felt great. The sun was coming out and I felt a burst of energy. Things were going well, and I was keeping a strong pace north of HWY 12, until I started to feel the blisters expanding on the balls of my feet.  They were getting worse by the minute and there wasn’t anything I could do till the next aid station which was over 4 miles away at this point. I had to keep moving because the clouds of mosquitoes were ready to bite if I were to stop.  Because of stupid blisters, I had to change my running form completely, which is never a good idea. The 4 miles felt forever until I finally stumbled to the final crew allowed 34308696_10211835446510308_7385648302189969408_n.jpgaid station – Bluff Road.

There, my awesome crew put mole skin on my blisters.  They wanted to pop them, but even the thought of it made me want to puke. But the moleskin at least gave it a buffer from my socks. Thankfully the final 7 miles I was allowed up to 5 pacers, and without even a second thought, 5 of my best running friends were there to see me finish up this final stretch.

34500183_1743058969093994_5805364065433812992_n.jpgThe last 7 miles didn’t seem real.  It was like I was there on the trails, but not there at the same time. It felt amazing and sad all wrapped together. This event that I’ve trained so hard for would be done in just a few short miles. The last 7 miles, my friends made me laugh – and made me feel slightly embarrassed for reasons that will stay on the trail. It was the perfect ending to this great journey of training for my first 100 mile trail race. I couldn’t have asked for a better crew and pacers. #LiveMoreNow

 

 

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Training for Kettle100 #LiveMoreNow

*Disclaimer: I received 3 Buff® products as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review find and write race reviews!*

 

New adventures are what I live for. All the emotions of excitement, nervousness, and fear wrapped up into one event. I love this and hate this feeling all at the same time. It seems like every year I pick a new adventure or goal to tackle. I don’t always accomplish this goal, but I always try.

This year I’ve decided to embrace the #LiveMoreNow campaign from Buff ®. My crazy adventure is to tackle my first 100 mile trail race. To this point the furthest I’ve gone is 64 miles at the Frozen Otter Ultra in January. This was a whole other adventure of its own (feel free to read my blog post about it).

Throughout the last 4 months of training, my schedule has predominately looked like this:

Monday: Strength Train (focus on legs/hips/glutes)

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Strength Training using my UV Multifunctional Headband from Buff®

Tuesday: Hill Repeats + run = 6 miles, followed by Strength Training (focus on glutes/core)

Wednesday: Mid-week long run of 8-12 miles, plus some additional Strength Training (core/arm focus)

Thursday: Speed Work =7-9 miles

Friday: Either easy 4-6 mile run or rest day

Saturday: Long trail run (anywhere from 18-50 miles depending on the week)

Sunday: Long run (usually on the road and less than the Saturday run)

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Relaxing after Ice Age 50 miler (wearing Dorn Hat from Buff®)

With this schedule, I typically put between 50-85 miles in each week. I hope I’m ready to take on the challenge of Kettle 100 in 6 short days. All I can do is give it my all, and pray for good weather. Wish me luck!

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Sharing some watermelon with my pup after my last long run before Kettle 100

 

Review of FlipBelt Crops

Disclaimer: I received the FlipBelt Crops to review as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check outBibRave.com to review find and write race reviews

Once I find running gear I like, it stays in my running gear forever. I don’t play fast and loose with my gear and I like what I like. That being said, I can be a bit skeptical when I am introduced to new running gear. BibRave offered me the opportunity to test out the FlipBelt Crops.  I’ve heard of FlipBelt before, but was satisfied with my running belt so I never purchased one for myself.

I’ve had some issues with running belts in the past – either they don’t fit what I need, they break easily, or they tend to ride up while running. It’s never a fun run when you’re constantly messing with your running belt. I’ve also had some bad luck with running capris as well. But I wanted to try the FlipBelt Crops despite my issues trying something new in the past.

My first time trying on the FlipBelt Crops, I still wasn’t sold. To be honest, I didn’t run in them, I only tried them on and walked around a little. They were comfortable, but I was skeptical about the waist area. It didn’t fit very snugly, it felt slightly loose.  My running belt and capris are always super tight on my hips in order to keep my cell phone and keys in place and prevent them from flopping up and down. But they were comfortable, so that was a definite plus.

The second time I put them on was for an easy run after work. I put my keys on the key hook in the front as well as my cell phone in the front. I have an iPhone SE with a wallet case, so it’s not the lightest phone in the world. When I started running, I was very surprised to not feel my phone or keys bouncing around my waist. This was completely different from all the other running belts I’ve encountered. I didn’t have to adjust anything and I didn’t have to wear it super tight on my waist.  This will be especially nice when I go on long runs since I won’t have to worry about chaffing or rubbing.

Another plus with the FlipBelt Crops is, it doesn’t look like I’m wearing a running belt.  Running belts always looks like I’m wearing a fanny pack. With the FlipBelt Crops, the belt melds right into the capris, so it just looks like a part of the pants.  This makes it very easy to go from running or workout straight to running errands or having brunch with my running partners. Everything I need stays on me and you can’t even tell.

Try the FlipBelt Crops for yourself and find a discount code on my Discount page!

Rivals for life: Fun Perks of Using Athlinks

Disclaimer: I reviewed Athlinks as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review find and write race reviews!

It’s been a while since I looked into my past running records. In fact, my sister had to inform me last year that I PR’ed my 10k time. I’m not good at keeping track of that sort of thing, nor did I think I was even close to PRing that day. This year BibRave partnered up with Athlinks, and asked all the BibRave Pros to check out their profiles. I was surprised with how many races of mine were listed and ready for me to claim.

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After accepting my results, I looked at the results tab. Without having to do any work, it tallied my PR results for 5k, triathlons, all the way to my ultra trail races. Now I no longer have to rely on my sis to tell me when I get a new personal record.

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Another fun feature I was messing around with is the Rivals tab. You can follow friends on Athlinks. Then Athlinks automatically will compare the races that you both have run. It’s like a game to see who has won the most races. I even found that some friends from BibRave ran in the same Chicago marathon several years ago as me, before we were even BibRave Pros. I especially like that Athlinks shows that I’m beating my sister overall in races. We may be a bit competitive.IMG_4738

Another feature I like is how easy the app is to use. Because let’s be honest, I’m usually on my phone and never on my desktop. Now I have all my PR’s and race results in the palm of my hand!

Now the question is, will you sign up and be my rival?

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One of the Frozen Few

This was my second attempt at the Frozen Otter Ultra. MountaineeringOtter_200_0 For those of you not familiar with this race, it is 64 miles on the North Kettle trails. The only support along the way is water provided every 7-9 miles and a drop bag at mile 46.  Everything you might need you have to carry, along with required gear that you must carry for emergencies.

My first attempt at Frozen Otter ended at mile 46.  I couldn’t stop shivering, couldn’t eat or drink anything, and couldn’t feel my hands.  I’m pretty sure I had an early stage of hypothermia.  When I decided to sign up for Frozen Otter again, I knew I had to find a way to beat the cold.

One reason Frozen Otter is so difficult, despite the obvious, is that you never know what conditions will be on race day. There have been years with 3 feet of snow on the course, or other years with -30 degree wind chill.  This year, we were fortunate not to have snow, but we had temps as low as -6 degrees, and the ground was icy and frozen solid including many mud potholes from people’s footprints and deforestation.  We were fortunate to not have to carry the extreme weather gear, but we still had the severe cold to contend with along the way.

There are 2 types of runners at the Frozen Otter. 1) People who pack the bare minimum, go out fast, and hope that their water doesn’t freeze and nothing causes them to slow down.  2) People who want to be a little more prepared because things always go wrong at these temps, so they start at a slower pace and carry a lot more emergency gear.  I chose the #2 path.  I had experience with frozen hoses and bladders before, as well as my sweaty clothes causing hypothermia when I slowed down.  In my pack I had 2 Liters of Nuun water with an insulated hose, a change of clothes, extra down mittens, my food for 46 miles, hand warmers, vacuum sealed Yeti container, and the required gear (emergency bivy, emergency blanket, whistle, headlamp with extra batteries, cell phone, fire starter, medical kit). In all I would guess my pack weighed 10-15lbs.

26805515_10159799807410394_2446310567768996792_nThe race started at 10 am.  Because I packed extra clothes, I started out at a faster clip knowing I would change at the first turn around spot at mile 23, right when the sun was going down. Right away my nozzle on my hydration pack was freezing, even after blowing the liquid back into the bladder each time I used it.  I was forced to detach the nozzle every time I needed a drink. I eventually was able to keep the nozzle from freezing by keeping the nozzle stuffed between my layers of clothing and closer to my body.  I kept to a strict schedule with food and hydration.  Every mile I took a good drink, every 3 miles I ate 200-300 calories, and every 2 hours I took a salt tab.  I originally planned on eating more at the aid stations, but extended stops were causing my hands to freeze so I stuck to minimal stops along the race.  26733703_10159799807455394_8956338696081112329_nI wished I could have spent more time at the aid stations, since my friends and sis were there to cheer me on.

I was feeling awesome until around 25 when I tripped on one of the many frozen potholes in the mud.  At that point my right knee and ankle started to go downhill.  I was relying more and more on my trekking poles.  This took a toll on my hands and wrists since the ground was frozen.

The timing couldn’t have been more perfect since my first pacer, David, was joining me at mile 30. He pushed me hard and helped me stay optimistic all the way to mile 38.  My buddy Jeff joined me from mile 38 to 46. He helped me focus on the beauty of the race.  The ice on the ground and trees sparkled like glitter from our headlamps.  And the stars were brighter than I’ve ever seen them before.  This was a great distraction from some tough miles. Mile 46 was the aid station for my only drop bag, and the place I stopped last year.  I knew that this would cause a major mental hurdle for me.  But Jeff and my friends helped me focus on changing out of my wet gear, grabbing more fuel, and setting out for the last 18 miles.

The last 18 miles were the most challenging physically and mentally.  I started mile 46 at around 1 am, 15 hours into the race.  Chris was joining me for this leg. He was great with keeping me distracted from the severe pain in my leg and the fatigue setting in.  The ground seemed to sparkle even more bright as the night went on. And it was uplifting seeing a dozen or more people heading back from the last check point, ready to become one of the frozen few. At the last check point, Faith was ready to help me chase the sunrise.  We left just before 5 am, giving me 5 hours to finish the last 9 miles. I knew I just had to keep moving, which was becoming more and more of a challenge. But Faith kept me focused and excited about the beauty of the trails and the finish line. I couldn’t have picked a better pacer to watch the sunrise with on the last leg of the Frozen Otter.  This leg was definitely the coldest, dipping down to -6 degrees. My hands were frozen and I had no interest in my food anymore. But once the sun started peaking over the hills, my spirits were lifted and my pace picked up  (probably not much, but it was all I had left).

IMG_0109One of my best memories of the race was going around the last turn of the race and seeing Steve and Jeff waiting for Faith and I with big smiles on their faces.  I made my way to the finisher area, dropped my trekking poles, and announced my number for the

last time. A group was huddled together and they all welcomed me to the Frozen Few! The race director came over with the coveted Frozen Otter dog tags, and congratulated me on my finish.  It took me just over 22 hours, leaving about 2 hours to spare before the cut off.

#ForTheLoveOfMisery

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