Disclaimer: I received a package of Smell Well 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 going to sound weird to be excited about shoe fresheners, so we might as well get it out of the way right now—these Smell Well pouches are amazing!
My running shoes get replaced so often they don’t really get stinky, so I wasn’t sure how I was going to test these Smell Well packets until one of my fellow BibRave crew mentioned using them with other gear. Aha! Low and behold, I had a running belt sitting around that was still a little funky even after a wash (gotta love summer running), so I figured it couldn't hurt to try…
I just set the belt on top of the Smell Well pouches for day or so, and viola! back to new. I still don’t understand exactly how these freshening pouches work, but that’s ok—a little magic is just fine once in awhile. :- And seriously, once you figure out how well these things work, you could buy them by the case to have a pair handy for everything:
Disclaimer: I received Luvo Meals 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 had to pick the one thing I like most about Luvo microwaveable meals as an athlete, it would be that many of them contain close to 20 grams of protein. That makes it easy to hit the mark from the nutrition / paleo challenge I did earlier this year, which suggested 20 grams of protein per meal. It turns out including 20 grams of protein in each meal is not easy (a full can of tuna isn’t even 20 grams!), and Luvo meals made it very easy.
As an entrepreneur, the one thing I like most about Luvo entrees is the healthy convenience option. When you’re running on all cylinders, there’s not always a chance to do the meal prep you’d like for lunch, or to run out and grab a healthy meal. (Although I admire the Pinterest devotees who somehow manage to package up beautiful meals a week in advance, I have not yet reached that achievement level. ;-) However, with a stash of Luvo frozen meals on hand, I know I’m covered with a healthy meal choice whatever the day throws out at me.
As far as which meal is my favorite goes, the easy answer is that you can't go wrong. I liked them all. The only ones I wouldn’t pick up again were the mildly spicy ones, as I’ve never learned to eat anything even remotely hot or "packs some heat" in Luvo labeling. Even those meals (like the Tandoori-Inspired Spiced Chicken were still tasty with the addition of some starches like sweet potato to cut the "heat". I use heat in quotes on purpose, because I know most of my friends would laugh at the idea that those meals were spicy—it’s only the truly midwestern palette that would notice any heat.(!)
The meal I’d be most likely to keep on hand would be the Chicken in BBQ sauce with white chicken, millet grits & collard greens. It's got 20g protein, 2/3 c. veggies, and a decent list of ingredients, though I wish they'd left out the added sugar. For my vegetarian friends, I thought the roasted vegetable lasagna was amazing. I didn't expect much from steamed lasagna, so it was the most surprisingly good meal of the bunch. With 12g of protein. 1 cup of veggies, low saturated fat, this was a yummy, healthy meal.
Still on my list to try: Luvo bowls, and cauliflower mac & cheese. One sounds healthier than the other ;-), though I've heard rave reviews about both!
Quick Tip: Finding Luvo meals can be a bit of a trick, as they’re not stocked in every store yet. That said, I was able to find a nice selection locally. If you have trouble finding Luvo in your hometown, the good news is it can now be ordered online—and there's an offer running now for FREE shipping!
Disclaimer: I received a pair of Adidas Ultra Boost X shoes 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!
As all runners in training know, logging more miles means going through more shoes, so I was more than happy to test these new shoes from Adidas! I was a little skeptical about going back to a shoe with a higher drop (10 mm), but figured it was worth a try as the promised "ultra-cushioned boost" and "extra ordinary grip in wet and dry conditions" sounded good to me after having run in minimalist shoes that didn't have much grip in the rain. (And I seem to have a talent for picking road races in the rain...)
Unboxing the shoes was a surprise. I expected "regular" running shoes, but the Adidas UltraBOOST X is clearly different "out of the box". It's hard to describe if you've never seen a shoe like this before, but the fabric of the shoe is more like a sock. It wraps around your foot, leaving a gap between your arch and the footbed—you can literally see through the arch of the shoe. You can catch a glimpse of it in this short running shoe unboxing video in my Instagram feed.
On feel: These are quite a bit different than any other shoe I've tried! Again I find it hard to describe, but it feels a bit like my heel is in a cup. Not good or bad—just different. The shoe also gives me the sensation of falling forward when walking, though not so much when running. I imagine it's nudging me toward better running form and that beautiful forward lean that all of the fast kids have, and that could only be a good thing, right? ;-)
On fit: Another unique thing about these shoes is the fit of the "sock" around your foot. It really is like a sock as the laces only adjust the fit around your arch and the sock hugs around your foot vs. the laces making the closure. A heads on up socks: to comfortably wear these shoes I needed to get new socks. Typical low-cut athletic socks hit below the "sock" of the shoe, causing uncomfortable rubbing on the heel. I picked up some low crew cut Balega socks at the local running store, and they're perfect—just high enough to provide protection from the seam on the heel of the shoe.
On sizing: It seems a little tricky to me on these shoes, but I bet part of that is due to the way my very narrow feet fit in a shoe like this which is meant to hug the foot. The initial pair I ordered was my typical running shoe size (8), but I wound up going a 1/2 size down and still debate whether I could possibly go down one more half size. TIP: We worked with Dick's Sporting Goods on this promotion, and they do offer free shipping both ways on shoes. If you're on the fence, you might just want to order a couple pairs and keep the one that works. (Dick's also offers some pretty good coupons and discounts if you sign up for their points program—I've long been a member with 2 kids in soccer...)
Overall, while the very different feel of this shoe has been slow to grow on me, I like them more every time I wear them. The cushioned ride is a welcome relief, and feels like I'm easing the stress of all of the training miles when I'm wearing them. Thumbs up!
I'm trying out Smell Well as part of being a BibRave Pro, and they sent along an extra pair to share. :-) You're welcome to enter once a day to increase your odds of winning, and you may want to sign up for blog updates, as I'm envisioning more of the giveaways happening in the not-so-distant future...
More good stuff:
Disclaimer: I received Aftershokz Trekz Titanium headphones & a water bottle 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!"
My kids would tease that it's pretty meta to listen to podcasts about running while I'm running, but it's one of my favorite things to do—now that I've got AfterShokz Trekz Titanium headphones. While I did used to run with "regular" headphones sometimes, I felt like I had to be on high alert for other stuff going on around me, which doesn't exactly make for a relaxing run.
Little did I realize what a complete game changer bone conduction headphones would be. Wearing them the first time is one of those surreal moments—like snorkeling for the first time and breathing under water. Being able to listen to a podcast AND your surroundings at the same time just doesn't seem possible—until you experience it.
On top of that, there are no little buds to bounce out of your ears, or any earpieces to lose--AfterShokz is just one simple band that fits comfortably around your ears and doesn't bounce around. (Yeah, I found that hard to believe, too—but I seriously don't notice I have them on while I'm running.) There's even a "mini" Trekz Titanium version that happens to fit me perfectly. Just use their handy measuring guide to know which size is right for you.
One of the most common objections I've heard to trying AfterShokz are the price, so let's talk about that for a minute. While it's true they're not inexpensive, neither is buying multiple pairs of cheaper headphones that don't last (unless I'm the only one that happens to?). And when it comes to safety, can you really put a price on that? For all the gear we invest in for running and triathlon, a pair of bone conduction headphones ought to be high on the list for anyone listening to music, podcasts or audiobooks while training outdoors.
Why not try them for yourself and find out what a game-changer bone conduction headphones can be? Aftershokz offers free shipping and a 45 day money-back guarantee. Pretty low risk to give them a try. And if you order a pair of Trekz Titanium headphones now through BibRave, you'll receive a bonus stainless steel water bottle.
Bottom line: it's important to do whatever we can to be safer when training outdoors, and bone-conduction headphones can play a big role in that. Whether this brand or another one, I hope you give them a try!
Disclaimer: I received a race-entry, VIP package & accommodations 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 Cap City Half was an awesome #runcation / #racecation, even if the weather didn’t cooperate!
If you’ve been thinking about a #runcation, here’s the scoop: Sign up for this race, splurge for the VIP package, and book the race hotel (the Sheraton Downtown). It’s a combo that guarantees an amazing weekend. We headed home on cloud nine, and I can honestly say this is one of the best race operations I’ve have the opportunity to experience.
Pre-race communications were spot on. Emails started arriving on Monday of race week with important details about timing, location, etc. saving me the trouble of looking things up during preparations for our trip.
Even before getting into town I called the hotel to confirm reservations, etc. and the front desk manager, Stacy, was so helpful I felt like the VIP experience started before we left home. Although the VIP package isn’t tied to the hotel at all, the hotel clearly rolls out the red carpet for the race.
At packet pickup, VIPs were directed to an upstairs balcony—away from the hubbub—and offered a glass of champage upon arrival. I did know there would be VIP packet pickup, but I did not expect a champagne reception! That was quite a way to set the tone for the weekend.
The race offers packet pickup starting on Thursday afternoon (the race is on Saturday), so we took advantage of the early pickup and enjoyed a night on the town without pre-race food restrictions or early bed-times cramping our style. This is what truly gave us the opportunity to make it a #runcation, so a huge thumbs up for Thursday packet pickup!
The VIP swag bag was a nice drawstring bag that I’ll use again (not the typical plastic/disposable bag), as well as a nice Adidas tech long sleeve half-zip—with thumbholes. And I love thumbholes. 😃 Also included in the swag bag was a fabric bracelet to wear for access to the VIP tent at the race.
ALL of the goodie bags included free food and drink tickets, as they were attached to the bib. The bags also included a race “magazine”, which I’ve only seen for a few races and this was by far the most interesting. Pro tip: read about the elite racers when you get the magazine so you know who you’re running in to at the race hotel. ;-)
It’s such a luxury to stay at the race hotel—what a treat! I still got up ridiculously early to start fueling and stretching, but without travel and parking to worry about, I was way more relaxed race morning than usual. It also helps now that I don’t freak out about it being “race day” and treat it like “just another run”—with crowd and nutrition support. 😉)
Logistics should be easily manageable no matter where you’re coming from as there are parking garages nearby. Note: the VIP package includes a free parking pass.
With rain looming as it was time to line up, I checked a bag even though the finish is basically at the hotel. I’ve learned that I chill very quickly after a race and dealing with bag check to have something warm and dry waiting is worth it. In this case, the VIP pass came in handy again as there was a private VIP bag check that was super fast to drop-off (and pick up).
Also located in the VIP tent/area were additional porta-potties and catered breakfast. I forgot to take a peek to see what was for breakfast, as my feeding schedule didn’t mesh with picking up something at the race. I had asked around a bit at the expo but couldn’t find the answer to what would be served, so that mystery will continue until next year…
The corrals seemed well managed and spacious, with lots of porta-potties right next to the corrals. After a little more warming up, I hopped in not long before the Star Spangled Banner. This race featured a local celebrity announcer for each wave, which was a neat additional way for them to include sponsors, etc.
Given the forecast, most of the bands that would have been set up (understandably) opted-out so we didn’t get to experience a band every mile. I had really been looking forward to that extra energy, but totally support safety first!
Columbus is a pretty flat course, and known to be great for PRs. As we wound up with the course being shortened mid-race, the most I can say is that I was PRing every intermediate distance and on track for a great overall race. I’m looking forward to the opportunity to prove it’s a great PR course next time around. ;-)
Wow! What a medal! And what a storm! Race support did a great job of quickly shepherding people off the course and into shelter. I wound up grabbing my bag and heading straight to the hotel, figuring I’d head back to check out the food after the rain let up. In the meantime, the after-party got cancelled, so I missed my opportunity to sample the amazing-sounding post-race spread.
All runners were to receive a slice of Papa John’s pizza, a Coors Light, one sparkling wine, and a Patron margarita. And as if that weren’t enough, VIPs were also to receive a catered lunch! I’m looking forward to checking out all of the food and the post-race concert next time around.
Despite a rain-out, we had a wonderful time in Columbus for this race. I whole-heartedly recommend it, and can’t say enough about all of the VIP perks. You get a ton extras like tech half-zip, a parking pass, catered breakfast and lunch—and an “eased” race day experience with shorter lines, etc. If you’re looking for a #runcation, put the Cap City Half on your list!
Disclaimer: I received a race entry 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!
Running a new distance is always fun, because it's a guaranteed PR—and this race was no exception. Thanks to the Hot Chocolate 15k, I can put another PR in the books! :-) Here are a few other highlights of the day.
The Hot Chocolate 15k delivers on the chocolate theme, starting with the inflatables on the race site. I tried to take this mug of hot chocolate home with me, but as you can see it was a little too big to fit in my suitcase. ;-)
As you may notice in the picture, the park was a bit flooded from the rain, which did put a bit of a damper on the day. I gave up trying to keep my shoes dry pretty quickly—it was basically impossible to get around to bag check, etc. without walking through the muck. My shoes were a muddy mess after the event, but after a quick spin in the washing machine they were like new before I packed to head home. Thanks, Angie!
I was lucky to be joining local friends who have done this race many times and knew where to park, etc. so that took a fair bit of stress out of race morning. Once at the site, all of the tents were well marked and super-efficient:
One of the many nice things about the Hot Chocolate race series is the opportunity to apply for a preferred corral. I've not had this experience before, nor do I consider myself fast. However, I've gotten just fast enough to appreciate the opportunity to avoid the dodging and weaving that becomes a part of races where the seeding isn't very accurate (or formalized at all).
I was surprised to learn that my corral, "J", was the first corral. It turns out that the lettering scheme begins with the 5k which started earlier in the morning. The 15k lined up next. The line up is where things got confusing, because apparently the signs the pacers were using had two different times on them for the two different races. I didn't realize this, and happened to find the "wrong" group of 9 min. mile pacers. By the time I discovered my error and started working my way forward, the race was already starting. Oops!
I spent the first bit of the race catching up to my teammate, and after that the miles flew by. This was our first time meeting each other, and running a few miles together was a great way to get to know each other and forget about the drizzly day. Thanks for keeping me company, Amy!
The course was well designed to be a closed course and take in some local scenery. On a less gloomy day, I'm sure it's a beautiful course! Much of the race is along the Mississippi River, which should have been a clue to me that it wasn't going to be a truly flat course. (After several years of riding RAGBRAI, I've learned land gets "rolly" around the Mississippi and Missouri rivers.) The elevation map would have been a clue, too, if I had looked at it. ;-) Not that the course is hard—and according to the locals the course isn't hilly—just normal for around town. I'll let you be the judge based on the data and where you live:
After all of the pre-race chatter about treats on course like marshmallows and such, it was a disappointment not to experience that. I'm guessing that the rain may have been a factor in this. Though I'm not sure the rain explains why there also wasn't nuun at some stations? In a 15k, it's not a big deal, it was simply a surprise to be told there wasn't nuun at one of the later aid stations given their sponsorship and all. I've heard so many good things about the Hot Chocolate aid station experience, I'm sure this isn't typical.
If you're in to collecting medals, the Hot Chocolate medal is definitely one to add to your collection! The chocolate bar is a cool idea, and a serious piece of bling. Here are my friends Theresa and Angie showing off their new hardware.
After picking up the hardware, the next stop was the post race food—the true highlight of the Hot Chocolate 15k. I had as much chocolate as I could possibly want and still took home a huge mug full of treats! Fortunately, the teenagers back at Angie's place were happy to help us with the leftovers. ;-) Amy snapped this nice photo of the huge mug full of dipping chocolate and treats to dip in it:
The biggest thing I would change about this race is to have the water bottles near the food vs. at the finish (on the other side of the park)—or to at least have *some* water accessible near the food. It's a little hard to wash down chocolate treats with hot chocolate, especially after a long run.
All in all, it was a fun event with a cool medal, great treats, and good friends—both old and new. With a PR to boot! Highly recommend the Hot Chocolate 15k!
Did you know bike choice in Zwift makes a difference? I've been riding for awhile (876 miles), and only just learned this, so I'm guessing it might be news to others, too!
The idea that what bike you're on make a difference is not a foreign one, and one that I did assume made SOME difference in Zwift, I just didn't realize how much. Given that I recently upgraded from a road bike to my first tri bike IRL (In Real Life), I did the same in Zwift as soon as I "unlocked" one (i.e. earned enough points) figuring a tri bike might be faster in game as well.
Any speed benefit of the upgraded bike in Zwift was quickly negated as I learned "TT" or Time Trial / triathlon bikes are not allowed in most (all?) group rides on Zwift, just as IRL. So I reverted back to one of the other frames and din't think any more of it. I also stayed away from the aero wheels, as I thought they might not be allowed as well.
Fast forward a year, and now that I'm joining Team ODZ for some rides, I need every advantage I can manage to keep up with these fast cats. We'll see if what I just learned about frames and wheel sets makes any difference (fingers crossed!)
The bottom line for newer riders is that you've got one choice—the one my avatar is pictured on above. It's the Zwift Carbon Bike (which every rider starts with in their options), with a Zip 808 wheel set (unlocked at level 10). Somewhat counter-intuitively, you'll continue to unlock other bikes and wheel sets after these that are NOT faster, so there's no advantage to switching until you've progressed far enough to hit level 22 and snag a Canyon Aeroad.
The good news is, the Zip 808 wheel set is as fast as you can (currently) get in game, so early on you'll be able to run on the best/fastest wheels. Working up to the fastest bike—the Tron Bike—is a whole different ballgame. It amazes me how many of them you see in game given you have to complete the Everest Challenge AND climb an additional 41,150 meters to unlock it! Someday...
To recap what's fastest for the beginner on Zwift: Know that the Zwift Carbon is the place to start and stay until you've progressed significantly in game. Keep an eye out for the Zip 808s, and switch to them as soon as you're able. Then it's a matter of working up the ladder another long big to the Canyon Aeroad. For more detail, including test lap data on the fastest equipment in Zwift, see the links below.
Disclaimer: I received Beachbody Performance 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'm in the market for new triathlon nutrition options, and Beach Body walked in at just the right time. Last triathlon season I used Ironman Perform, and either a) I didn’t get how to use it or b) it just plain didn’t work for me or c) some combination of both… By the end of the season my GI system was in full revolt. Time for a change!
I do think there was some “user error” in my mixing of Ironman Perform last year, as I simply followed the package instructions, not understanding that the mix ratio they proposed was probably not for a relative lightweight like me. To their credit, Beachbody Performance spells it right out on the canister for their pre-workout Energize product, so you know the standard measure is for someone 160 lbs.
My tip of the day: No matter what nutrition product you use, make sure you understand the weight for the “baseline” mix ratio and adjust from there.
I'm halving the recommended dose for Beach Body Energize, using 1 scoop per 16 oz and calling it “close enough”. I think excess sugar is part of what made me so miserable last season, so I’d rather have too little sugar than too much at this point. Later in the season sweat tests will make sure I’ve got the right ratio of water, salt, etc. so I’m not worried about being terribly precise at this point, other than to avoid too much sugar.
I started my Beachbody Performance test with the pre-workout drink “Energize", and did a double-take after opening the bottle—the color is bold, kind of like tumeric! The drink itself is also a pretty vivid yellow and lives up to to the lemon flavor on the label. Even though I’m not a huge fan of lemon, I've grown to like the taste.
Actually, what I think I've grown to like is the caffeine kick! ;-) Beachbody Energize must have the caffeine equivalent of a triple-espresso, because I am AWAKE when I use it before an early morning workout. It delivers way better than a cup of coffee, which means I don’t have to drink coffee AND something else as I gear up for a workout or race. Simplicity for the win!
The “Hydrate” product is a lot more like the usual sports mix, so that was an easy switch. We’ll see how it continues to perform as my workouts get longer—so far, so good!
As I don't typically use a post-workout drink (other than the occasional chocolate milk), I'm curious to give the “Recover” product a try. In the short time I’ve been using it, it’s hard to know how much difference it makes, but I can say I was pleasantly surprised. You know its going to be tasty as soon as you open it, because it smells just like a chocolate bar. (Even kiddo wondered where the chocolate was when he wandered in the kitchen after I opened the jar!)
While there is plenty of controversy about whether chocolate milk or a recovery drink is the "best" fuel, one of my current goals is to get 20g of protein in post workout. There are 20g of protein in a serving of Beachbody Recover, vs. 8g in a serving of the chocolate milk we've got sitting in the fridge. Given the current goal, Recover makes sense. If my focus later in the season shifts to whole foods, then it's nice to know there's an easy swap at the ready.
Last but not least is the vanilla “Recharge” product, which was an entirely new concept to me. I’m aware that recovery drinks are important after working out, but I guess I’m behind—I didn’t know we were supposed to be drinking them before bed as well! In talking with the InsideTracker team about evening whey protein drinks, I learned a few interesting things. They help:
I foresee using Recharge more later in the season when the big miles kick in and evening cravings set in. The “Energize” looks like it could easily become a go-to late-night “snack” that’s designed to help with recovery without sabotaging the work of the day.
The true test of a nutrition product is how well it serves you over the course of a whole season, and on your big day(s). Given the positive experience I’ve had thus far, I’m looking forward to giving Beachbody Performance a go for the season!
Disclaimer: I received XX2i sunglasses 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!"
While I may be guilty of (over)analyzing many aspects of my triathlon gear, sunglasses haven’t yet made that list. Frankly, I’ve got such a talent for abusing (and losing) sunglasses that investing in a really nice pair of sunnies hasn’t been a consideration. I tend to race in the Ironman brand of sunglasses that Target sells—that’s how fancy I get. 😉 Consequently, I was happy to review the XX2i France2 sunglasses and find out if there's a noticeable difference in higher-end shades.
Because XX2i is running a special through March 28th for ***50% off*** let me cut to the chase. With the special, you can spend just a few bucks more than I’d be spending for my basic shades at Target, and have better glasses with all kinds of extras—it’s a great deal! I honestly couldn’t believe how much stuff XX2i includes in the package—it was like pulling one of those un-ending ribbons out of a magic hat as I unpacked the box.
Just to show you I'm not exaggerating about the value in the XX2i France2 package, here's an example of what it would cost to buy all the elements they include separately: