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Review of the Orange Mud Phone.Flask.Vest.

*Disclaimer: I received an Orange Mud Phone.Flask.Vest. 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!*

I am that running friend that looks like they took a bath in sweat after every run.  There’s nothing I can do about it.  But this causes a real problem especially in the summer heat and humidity.  At the same time, I do not like to run with a lot of “stuff”. During the winter I can go 10 miles without bringing water or nutrition, and I’d prefer to do the same in the summer but that hasn’t been in the cards lately.  IMG_2594

BibRave offered me the opportunity to test the Orange Mud Phone.Flask.Vest. I’ve been interested in Orange Mud hydration vests, especially seeing friends wearing them on the trails.  The Orange Mud Phone.Flask.Vest (or PFV) is meant to keep the bulk to a minimum while still offering compartments for all the necessary accessories. Some of the special features include:

  • 450mL soft flask
  • front pocket for your Phone
  • stow pocket and clasp for keys
  • shoulder pocket for nutrition
  • back pocket & draw string for any extra accessories

For such a small pack, it’s surprising how much you can fit in all the pockets.

When the pack arrived in the mail, the heat was setting in for the summer.  I was finding it more difficult to even go on shorter runs without any form of hydration.

The first time wearing the pack felt slightly uncomfortable.  For some reason it wasn’t fitting quite right, but I managed to get through a 3 mile run with it on.  When I got back from this run, I checked out a video provided by Orange Mud on how to properly wear the PFV pack.  This video was a game changer.  I realized that I was not tightening the straps evenly on both sides, which caused the pack to shift throughout my run.

The next several times wearing the pack was much more comfortable.  I tried it with just the water bottle as well as fully packed with nutrition, phone, and other gear.  It’s the most comfortable when most of the weight is kept in the back of the pack.  I put my nutrition in the back pocket instead of the shoulder pocket, which helped stabilize the pack.  I love that the key pocket has an extra clasp for the keys, which makes me certain my keys will stay in place throughout the entire run. It is also a nice feature having the phone in the front and easily accessible for all the photo opportunities while out on a run.

The longest run I used the pack on was a 9 mile trail run.  I was worried that the inconsistent movements might cause the pack to bounce too much or chafe, but I did not have problems with either of these issues.  Instead, it was nice to have a lighter pack for a quick 2 hour trail run when I didn’t need to carry a fully loaded pack.

If you’re looking for a super light weight minimal pack that can still hold nutrition, phone, water, and keys, the Orange Mud Phone.Flask.Vest. has a lot to offer. With this pack you don’t have any bulk around your waist like so many other options. The manufacturer definitely thought things through when they developed this pack.

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Are You Ready to Rock?! Review of Rock ‘n’ Roll Chicago

*Disclaimer: I received a free entry to Rock ‘n’ Roll Chicago as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review find and write race reviews!*

I’ve heard a lot of hype about Rock ‘n’ Roll Chicago, so I was pretty hyped to do this race.   I started my weekend with a trail run in the morning, and then went directly down to Chicago for packet pick up on Saturday.  Parking was not my friend around McCormick place.  The race offered $10 parking in Lot C.  However, with all the construction around, Lot C was a pain to find.  I did eventually find it and made my way into the expo.

The expo was HUGE! Not on the scale of Chicago Marathon, but way bigger than I was expecting.  First you get your bib and t-shirt before walking into the full expo area.  I got to try tons of different health foods and hydration drinks. I even managed to meet up with one of my BibRave friends! After an hour of walking around, I left the Chicago to rest up for the evening.

Race morning was going smoothly.  I woke up early and was in the car by 4:30am so I could make it to Chicago by 5:30am.  I used ParkWhiz to reserve my parking spot only 2 blocks from the start area.  When I arrived at the parking garage, the attendant told me that they were past capacity and he could not let me park there, even though I had already paid.  I was furious, and that left me with only 45 minutes before the race would begin to find new parking.  I quickly scrambled around to find the nearest lot, and didn’t have time to search for a deal.  This new spot cost me $38 along with the $15 I already paid for parking.  Speed ahead to after the race.  I was able to get a hold of ParkWhiz customer service through text and they were able to refund me. They also credited my account $5.  That was a definite positive customer service experience!

My adrenaline was pumping after the parking ordeal. I managed to run to the start area fast enough to meet up with my BibRave buddies! After a short visit, we headed to our designated corrals.  The race route was completely different than other Chicago races I’ve done.  This route wound us through 5 miles of downtown streets before shooting south on Michigan Avenue and eventually coming north along the Lakefront.  Throughout the entire route, musicians were positioned to keep the runners entertained – everything from full rock bands to drumlines.  But the best part of the entire run was around mile 5, the entire street was lined with people waving American flags.  I felt a wave of emotion and excitement come over me which drove me through the rest of the race.

I knew from the beginning of the race that I wanted this to be a stress free experience, especially after the parking situation. I decided not to look at my watch and run a pace that felt comfortable and conversational.  I wanted to enjoy each band, take pics along the route, and enjoy the Chicago skyline views.  I managed to finish the race in 2:00:37. IMG_2875 Maybe I should have looked at my watch once at the end so I could have finished under 2 hours, but oh well! When the race was over I walked through the finisher area and collected a massive amount of goodies.  I had no idea what to do with all the food and drinks! They also gave us an ice cold towel and a sweet looking medal.  I ended up using the towel to help carry all the free food.

I eventually made my way to the post-party where there was a live band, free beer and a large lawn to relax on.  This is exactly the type of atmosphere I want after a race. A fun, chill party where friends can hang out and mingle without feeling rushed.  Rock ‘n’ Roll Chicago is a definite weekend adventure, from the expo to the post-party.  And even better when experienced with friends!

Ready for Race Day: Rock ‘n’ Roll Chicago

*Disclaimer: I received a free entry to Humana Rock ‘n’ Roll Chicago Half Marathon as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review find and write race reviews!*

This weekend really crept up on me! I’ve been looking forward to Rock ‘n’ Roll Chicago since February and now it’s only 1 day away.  I’ve only done one Rock ‘n’ Roll race in the past, and that was several years ago in Las Vegas.  I remember it well because it was the first half marathon I ran under 2 hours.  The Rock ‘n’ Roll races always seem to be a whole weekend event.  They aren’t the type of race you show up, run, and go home.  So here’s how my weekend is going…

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I got to the expo late afternoon.  I drove to McCormick Place because the race offers $10 parking at McCormick Place.  I took full advantage of the expo and walked around for almost an hour! At the tail end of walking around the expo I ran into another BibRave Pro! Always a good time when I can hang out with friends!

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Because the race is so early in the morning, traffic should be a breeze to get to the race from Wisconsin.  Last time I made the drive to Grant Park in one hour flat! I already purchased parking  from Park Whiz only 2 blocks away from the start line for only $15, so that’s one less thing to worry about.

For this race, I set an easier goal set for myself, so that I can fully enjoy the after party.  Once the race is over, I’m looking forward to my post-race beer and to listen to some live bands! Check out the entertainment lineup:

Opening Act – Chicago Funk Mafia: 7:30am – 8:15am
Awards Ceremony: 8:15am – 8:30am:
Second Act – Chicago Funk Mafia: 8:30am – 9:15am:
Headliner – Dirty Dozen Brass Band: 9:45am – 11:00am
Closing Act (PA): 11:00am – 12:00pm

This should make for a great day. Hope to see you all there!

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Review of The Color Run – Chicago

*Disclaimer: I received a free entry to The Color Run – Chicago race as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review find and write race reviews!*
The Color Run is unlike most races I haveFullSizeRender participated in recently. I’ve been so focused on ultras and triathlons, that I forget to take advantage of the fun, family friendly races. Going into the race, I knew this wasn’t the typical timed 5k.  I went into the race ready to relax and have some fun.  This race isn’t timed, it’s going to be slow, and most likely packed full of people.

Because the race was in downtown Chicago, I paid a little extra money to have my race packet mailed to me. It ends up being the same amount I would have paid for parking. I loved that I got my packet early because it gave me time to color in my own bib! Such a fun feature. In the packet, I also received a Color Run t-shirt, retro headband, and happy temporary tattoo.

The race started on the north side of Grant Park. There was a lot of vendors set up, along with fun photo-ops with blow ups and a wall to write on. The start area is set up like a party.  A DJ/MC keeps everyone hyped up while thousands of people corral through the start area.  I didn’t have to wait for a wave, people just start when they like. This made it very easy for big families or groups of friends that were planning on running together.

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The race route was several down and backs throughout the park. Right around mile 1, is when I reached the first color station. There were around 5 different color stations in the 3 mile route. The race got congested at each station, mainly because everyone wanted to get the maximum amount of color on themselves. If you wanted to get completely covered in color, they would pour the color powder on you. If you weren’t too keen on loads of color, there were easy ways of getting by the color people. Just after mile 2 they had a water station set up. It was a little congested, but I wasn’t racing so I didn’t mind the congestion.


The best part of the race was at the finish area. First we went through a foam station. This was new and so much fun! Then we went through one last round of color before going through the finish. At the finish, they handed out medals to everyone along with our very own packet of color powder to use at the post-party. I immediately went the post-party where there was a DJ, tons of people dancing and throwing powder on each other! It was a crazy party but very family friendly as well. After some time participating in the party, I decided to check out the vendors surrounding the park. I got tons of samples of different juices, chips, candy, and so much more.

If you’re looking for a fast paced competitive 5k, this is not the race for you. But if you want a fun, light-hearted, party atmosphere, this is your race.

Review of Buff® UV Arm Sleeves

*Disclaimer: I received a pair of Buff® UV Arm Sleeves 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!*

I don’t know how familiar you are with Wisconsin weather, but it can be a bit unpredictable.  For example, last year during my ultra race in May it was snowing.  This year during the same race we had temperatures in the mid 80’s.  How do you prepare for the unexpected?

This month I was offered the opportunity to test out the Buff® UV Arm Sleeves.  These arm sleeves have reflectivity, UV protection, moisture wicking, and they are  lightweight, compressible, and packable. With this list of details, I was interested in trying them for some of my early morning runs, as well as, on some bike rides.

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My first time time wearing them was on my bike trainer. I wanted to get a feel for them before taking them outside. I tend to wear long leaves when I’m on my bike, because it helps with control when I’m on my aero bars.  I like the idea of arm sleeves, because I can wear a tank top or a short sleeve shirt when it warms up. The arm sleeves were very comfortable during my entire ride even when I started to warm up.

IMG_2331My second time wearing the Buff® arm sleeves was during an early morning run.  The temperature was in the low-50s, so usually I would either rough it in a short sleeve till I warmed up, or wear a thin long-sleeve. The arm sleeves were very comfortable the entire run.  I ran 6 miles and completely forgot I was wearing them.  Part of the reason they are so comfortable is because I did not over heat when I wore them.  Once I started to perspire, the arm sleeves started to feel cool.  I also liked that they have reflectivity, which helps keep me visible on my early morning runs.

Next, I wore them for a long bike ride.  I went out for a 30 mile ride, but ended up only being 20 due to a thunderstorm that hit half way through my ride. The temperatures fluctuated throughout the long ride due to the pending storm.  It was nice to have the Buff® UV Arm Sleeves because they protected me from the drastic cold wind and then the hot sun.

Some other great features I noticed when trialing the Buff® arm sleeves

+They are easy to put on and take off

+They don’t feel too tight like other arm sleeves

+ I didn’t get chafing from them like other arm sleeves

I look forward to adding the Buff® UV Arm Sleeves to my regular running gear! I hope you try them out too!IMG_2321

Preparing for The Color Run: The Messy Truth

*Disclaimer: I received a free entry to The Color Run – Chicago 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!*

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Tomorrow I am running The Color Run in Chicago.  It’s been a few years since I’ve ran one of these races so I quickly looked up a few things about the race.  One thing I noticed is that the paint can stain your clothes and hair.  This was a fun aspect a couple years ago when I was in my 20’s, but today makes me nervous about going into work on Monday with a streak of pink in my hair.  But how do I prepare for this while still having fun at the race?

 

The Color Run came to the rescue! They posted some recommendations for taking full advantage of the different color zones, without having the scare of semi-permanent streaks on your hair, skin, and clothes. Here I’m listing some of my favorite recommendation along with a few others that I thought of:

  1. Put oil in your hair before the race.  The oil acts as a barrier against the color powder!
  2. Wear a bandanna or Buff® over your face and hair.
  3. Use the “Color Blower Station” at the post-race party to get all the excess color off of your clothes and skin.
  4. Prepare your car for the ride home. I am putting a garbage bag and a towel on my seat, so I don’t have to worry about the color coming off on my car.
  5. Carry wet towelettes to help wash up your skin after the race.
  6. If you still have color stained hair, The Color Run suggests using baking soda and blue Dawn dish soap to help rinse it out.

With these preparations in mind, I’m more excited than ever to have fun and get COLORFUL!

P.S.-Check out my bib that I colored myself at the top!

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Tearing Up the Twilight 10k

*Disclaimer: I received a free entry to Run Madtown Twilight 10k 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!*

If I haven’t said it enough, I was super excited to run the Run Madtown Twilight 10k again this year.  This race has by far one of my favorite 10k routes, with a beautiful tour of Madison as the sun sets on the horizon.

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This year I had to work Saturday morning, so I was cutting it close to the expo/packet pickup time.  I made it with 15 minutes  to spare! I wish I could have spent more time checking out all the vendors, but at least I made it in time to buy a running belt since I forgot mine at home.  After packet pickup I headed back to the hotel to get ready for the race.

I ventured back down to the start line of the race around 7:30pm to meet up with my fellow BibRave Pro buddy, Angie! While we were waiting, we got to watch the 5k racers start.  As soon as they were through the start line, it was time for us to line up.  IMG_2290

At 8:10pm we were off! We ran around downtown Madison before finally approaching Observatory hill.  This hill kills me every time. The one nice thing about Observatory hill is the view at the top.  Here you can overlook part of UW-Madison Campus and the lake. Unfortunately this is not the end of the hills, but at least this year I was prepared for them.  At the half way point, we start the trek back towards the capital. This is the second best view of the race, because you can see the capital building lit up at night, calling you towards the finish line.  The remainder of the race winds through UW-Madison campus, past Camp Randall, and along the bike path. The entire way, students lined the route, cheering for all the runners. Towards the finish,  the photographers are staged to take free photos. I love free photos, but it’s hard to put a smile on at the end of a hot and hilly 10k. I did finally smile when I turned the last corner to see the finish line. _BSP6040

The race definitely feels like a party zone just past the finish line.  First I got my medal and water, then came some finisher pics.  Finally the free Rocky Rococo pizza and free beer!

I really look forward to this race every year.  And now I have some awesome free pics to remind me of this event!

Run the Night: Run Madtown

Disclaimer: I received a free entry Run Madtown Twilight 10k 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!

Tomorrow marks my 2nd time running the Twilight 10k in Madison, Wisconsin. This year the race has a new name Run Madtown. With a new name one would expect a lot more changes. But why change a good thing, right? That’s why I am pleased to hear that the name and logo are the only things that changed for 2017.  

With this great news, here are a few things I’m looking forward to at the Run Madtown Twilight 10k this weekend: IMG_9264

1. All the swag! Last year, I received a great neon green shirt, nice bling at the finish line, and many other pieces of swag at the expo for packet pickup.

2. Running the capital at night- Madison is a beautiful city. And running Madison at night with the capital building lit up is enchanting!

3. The post-party! Madison knows how to throw a party for runners. Especially hungry and thirsty runners. I’m looking forward to the post-run Rocky Rococo’s pizza and of course the free beer!

4. The after-after-party! Just because the race is over doesn’t mean it’s time for bed (unless you are doing the Conquer the Capital Challenge and are running the Madtown half marathon in the morning). Madison has a huge night life that is ready for hundreds of sweaty runners to embrace! Within walking distance you can find tons of bars and restaurants. Take your pick because they have too many options to count. IMG_9288

These are just a few reasons I’m excited to be racing the Twilight 10k again. I hope you enjoy these perks too!

The Color Run – Chicago: Ready for the Party!

*Disclaimer: I received a free entry to The Color Run Chicago 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!*

Only 2 weeks away until The Color Run in Chicago! I have participated in The Color Run in Milwaukee several years ago, but I’m excited to see what the Chicago venue has to offer.  Some exciting new additions to the Color Run Chicago are:

  • all-new Lay’s® Poppables™ Foam Zone
  • Unicorn Medal, inspirational Dream Wall
  • giant inflatable unicorns
  • Purple Color Zone

I’m ready to let loose and enjoy the PARTY! Check out my discount page and join me for this COLORFUL event!

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Ready to test my speed at Madtown

*Disclaimer: I received a free entry to Run Madtown 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!*

I’ve been running and running and running.  I will finally be running the Ice Age 50 miler next weekend after months of training.  Some of the weeks of training, I’ve ran up to 60 or 70 miles.  With such high mileage, I’m slowing down.  This is a price I’ve had to pay since switching to the world of ultras.  But part of me misses the speed of a race.

When BibRave offered me free entry to run the Madtown Twiight 10k again this year, I jumped at the opportunity.  The course isn’t an easy 10k.  In fact, early in the race you have to climb a fairly high hill within the UW-Madison campus.  Despite this challenge, the race is one of the most beautiful and entertaining 10k races I’ve ever ran.  Seeing the sunset half way through the race and having college students cheer along the race route make this a race to remember.  Another reason I’m so fond of this race is because it currently holds my 10k Personal Record (PR) of 48:48.

One month from now I’ll attempt to break my PR again.  Even if this PR is out of my grasp, I look forward to the always fun post-race celebration next to the Capital building. If you’d like to join me, make sure to use the discount code listed in my Discount Code tab!

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