What do you know?

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.

IMG_2363
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.

IMG_2222

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!*

12.1Brand_Social1

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!

2017-tour-map

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.

IMG_2285

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!

18157895_1307074166013292_3962701751252722771_n

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!

IMG_9288

Be Seen, Be Brilliant [Review of Brilliant Reflective]

*Disclaimer: I received Brilliant Reflective Safety Strips 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!*
With the time change and my ultra race coming up in May, I’ve been forced to run in the dark outside several times a week. I enjoy the calm early morning before rush hour hits.  Running along the lakefront, I get to see the sun’s rays just as they start to rise over Lake Michigan at the end of my run.
IMG_1303
Despite how beautiful this view is, I still have to worry about running at night.  And in my neighborhood, we don’t have sidewalks. Running on the road can be stressful at times.  I never know if the cars driving by are aware that I’m on the road, especially at night.  I was offered to opportunity to trial the Brilliant Reflective Safety Strips. I decided to put the Brilliant Reflective Safety Strips on all of my accessories, because I wear these the majority of my runs.  For example, I put the strips on my running watch, belt, gloves, vest, and my hat. The strips were easy to place on these items, especially the stick-on strip.  Some of my accessories already had reflectivity on them, but after many times washing them their reflectivity had worn out.
The item I particularly liked putting the Brilliant Reflective Safety Strips on was my dog’s collar. When I run with my pup, he tends to stray further in the road.  The strips help him Be Seen better! I ended up putting the strips on his leash too!
image4 (1)
The Brilliant Reflective Safety Strips are an easy solution to running at night.  With the 3M™ Scotchlite™ Reflective Material, any piece of clothing can be your safety gear.

Training Plans and Forming Goals: Week of March 10th

*Disclaimer: I received a free entry to North Shore Classic and 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!*

Training plans are never  set in stone.  This is something I’ve finally convinced myself of.  In the past, I would pick a training plan and then inevitably something would happen (a sickness, an injury, a busy day at work…). I would make myself feel guilty for not sticking to this plan, which would fill me with fatigue on a regular basis. But this is life, and your training plan needs to fit in that life, otherwise, it just won’t work! That’s why I see my training plan as fluid.

I have several goals in place that I’m preparing for:

  • Training for Ice Age 50 Miler – May 13th
  • Changing gears over the summer and focusing on Triathlons and Half Marathon training.
  • Running the North Shore Classic Half Marathon on June 4th
  • Running the Rock n’ Roll Half Marathon in Chicago on July 16th
  • Slowly transitioning back to long distance trail
  • Marquette Ultra 50k on August 19th
  • The North Face Endurance Challenge 50k on September 16th

With these goals in mind, I was going all out with training for Ice Age 50 Miler over the winter.  I picked a little more intense of a training plan than on my previous 50 milers, just to see if I could push myself a little harder. However, life does what it does best, and IMG_8212changes plans. I got a new job, which threw in a whole new set of challenges.  I now had to change my running routine as well as deal with work fatigue.

My original plan had 6 running days a week and 3 days of strength training.  However, I was completely worn out by the time the weekend hit, physically and mentally.  So now I switched to 5 running days (adding some distance during the runs in the middle of the week to make up for the extra rest day). Hopefully this does the trick.

I do believe that switching to a different focus of Triathlons and Half Marathons this summer will help with motivation as well.  I haven’t had the chance to properly train for a Half Marathon in years.  I would love to beat my PR of 1:51, which was set 2 years ago.  It will also be nice to have an extra opportunity to hang out with friends in Chicago!

Search For the Perfect Headphones: Review of Aftershokz Sportz Titanium Headphones

*Disclaimer: I received Aftershokz Sportz Titanium Headphones 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!*

Some days are more difficult than others to convince myself to go out for a run. One motivator that proves to work on most occasions is listening to music or podcasts while running. Listening to music or podcasts has a way of turning my brain off from the reality, even if it’s only for a few minutes. With using music as a motivator, it also brings another challenge, especially for long runs; What headphones work the best? In the past, I have used several different headphones when listening to music while running. Here is a quick overview of which headphones have and have not worked for me in the past.IMG_8451

iPhone headphones– these are sleek and lightweight.  However, when running, they tend to fall out of my ears.

Earbuds– These have been my go to in the past for long runs, because they stay in my ears for the most part, and stay moderately comfortable for some of my 5+ hours runs and races. However, when it is warm outside, they tend to slip out of my ear.  Another concern of mine has always been safety.  When I have the earbuds in my ears, I cannot hear much of anything around me. So I’ve always had to to keep one earbud out of my ear.

IMG_8316Aftershokz Trekz Titanium-I trialed these wireless headphones almost a year ago.  I loved that you did not have to put them in your ear.  Instead they sat on your temples and used bone conduction technology.  This was particularly nice when running with friends, because you can still hear conversations clear as day.  It is also nice that I am able to hear my surroundings for safety reasons. However, with these wireless headphones, they drain the battery on my iPhone, and do not last for an entire race. For shorter runs (under 2 hours), these are my go to headphones. img_1227

Aftershokz Sportz Titanium– I was happy to see that Aftershokz developed a wired headphone, with the same bone conduction technology.  This allows me to still have the benefits of hearing my friends chat while listening to music for longer runs, without the fear that my phone will die. The headphones need to be charged, but they last 12 hours, which is perfect for my 50 mile race coming up! The headphones also have a microphone, which is convenient at work when I want to listen to music, answer phone calls, and still be aware of my surroundings. Another nice feature is how comfortable and stable they stay on my head.  Even in windy conditions, the headphones stayed in place.  The only con that I noticed with these headphones is that when wearing a thick hat or cover-it over my ears, the headphones tended to slip a bit.

Years of running while listening to music is finally getting easier and more comfortable.  Aftershokz definitely listened to their client when developing the Aftershokz Sportz Titanium Headphones and I look forward to seeing what other great features and headphones they come up with.

img_1083