Saturday, August 27, 2016

oofos ooriginal sports sandal review

Disclaimer: I received the OOfos OOriginal Sport Sandal 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!

Taking my OOfos for some ice cream.

I'm not a person that often wears sandals, as I hate looking at feet, including my own. Also, since I re-injured an ankle on my honeymoon while wearing flip flops. As a youngin', I used to wear flip flops all the time, but now as an adult, I'm about comfort and support in my footwear. After the honeymoon, I might have thrown away all my flip flops. After becoming a runner, I became even more into comfort and support, and knew that wearing flip flops without any support wasn't a great idea. I adult hard, now, you guys.

Out running errands.

In come OOfos OOriginal Sport Sandal. The OOfoam footbed provides impact absorption, superior arch support, and unbelievable comfort. Here's the technology behind the sandals:
  • OOfoam: Absorbs 37% more shock than other materials
  • Reduces stress on sore feet, knees, and lower back
  • Cradles your arches
  • Biomechanically designed footbed allows natural motion
  • Soft, comforting toe post eliminates toe chafing
  • Shower/beach-ready; moisture resistant; doesn't retain smell
  • Durable OOfoam holds its cushion
  • Machine washable
  • So light they float
If you wear a whole size, order your normal whole size OOfos. If you normally wear a half size, women want to order a half size up, and men want to order a half size down. I'm a half size, ordered the half size up, and they fit great.

Check out this short, informative video on why OOfos are so awesome:



When I ramp up training and the miles start to pile on week after week, my plantar fasciitis really starts to bother me more frequently. When I wake up in the morning, it's at its worst. I often will toss on my OOfos right after waking up and have noticed a big difference in how my feet feel. I think having that cushion and extra arch support is what helps alleviate the pain. I've taken to wearing them around the house most days, and eventually my husband asked 'what's with the sandals in the house?'. I told him it helped alleviate my PF pain.

Post-long run recovery = compression sleeves and OOfos.

I love tossing them in my car, so after a race or trail run, I can take off my shoes and socks, give my feet some relief from being enclosed (air them out, if you will), and still get the support my arches need. They help my feet recover quicker. Doesn't it always feel so great when you take off the shoes you've been wearing for hours and peel off the socks? That scenario gets even better when you have a pair of OOfos to put on.

grocery shopping is much better wearing OOfos.

These will definitely be coming with me on any vacations/traveling I have in the future. They are now a staple to my travel gear as well as my race day bag.

After Rock the Night 5k changed into my OOfos.
Felt great to take off my running shoes and put these bad boys on.

I sometimes don't like the toe post style (where you have a strap in between your toes), but these never bothered me. They are very comfortable and easy to wear around the house, running errands, etc.



I would highly recommend these to any runner (or anyone that's on their feet a lot). I'd wear these all day long and my feet would feel great. This particular pair retails at $59.95 and comes in cloud white (the color I chose), graphite, marsala, and Rio Limited Edition (red, white and blue). They have plenty of other styles, including a clog and sandals without the toe post thing. I'm looking at getting myself a pair of the OOahh Sport Slide Sandal. Most styles also have plenty of color options, too.


OOfos is sponsoring #BibChat on Tuesday, August 30 at 8pm CT. There's always lots of fun chit-chat, plus it's very likely there will be a winner or two of these sandals ;)

I take my recovery serious.

Connect with OOfos:
website | facebook | twitter | instagram | youtube | pinterest 

What did the other BibRave Pros have to say?
Chadd | Jen | Angie 

xx2i (prescription) australia1 review

Disclaimer: I received the XX2i Australia1 prescription 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!


I love sunglasses, but not only that, I NEED them when I run outside. All the time. Even on a cloudy day, my sensitive eyes need protection, or I squint and get a headache. Another issue I have? I have bad vision. Which means in order to go outside and run, I always have to put in my contacts so I can wear sunglasses. This is not always a fun task, as when my eyes are tired or sore for whatever reason, contacts don't feel great. In comes XX2i and saves me from this problem. I received the Australia1 Matte Black with polarized grey lenses. Beautiful and not at all the the way I envision a pair of Rx sports sunglasses to look. This style also comes in matte white/black with polar grey lenses or matte tortoise with polar brown lenses.

Wearing the XX2i Australia1 for errands.

The only pair of prescription sunglasses I own are a pair of aviators, which would not hold up well during running. They'd slip and fog - not something I want to be dealing with while on the run.

Tested them out on a walk.

The XX2i Australia1 Rx are AMAZING. It was so great to be able to roll out of bed, brush teeth, get dressed, and go run... and NOT have to include forcing contacts into my eyes before leaving the house. I wore these sunglasses during the Humboldt Park 5k and on multiple training runs, from 6–20 miles. So don't worry, they got a full testing done before I wrote this review. No slipping. No bouncing. No bothers (and I'm easily bothered once I get into the longer runs and close but so far to the finish, minor things get on my nerves and these never did). I always wore a pair of over the ear headphones and then the sunglasses on top, still no issues.

How they fit with my headphones.

Now, with all new prescription glasses, it took a moment to get used to. Different lenses and shapes of glasses means the lenses themselves might be shaped different than what you are used to. I got a new pair of frames/lenses earlier in the year, and those took me a day or two to get used to because of the different shapes in the lenses. Anyway, after 5 minutes in them, I got used to it. It's mainly the peripheral that looks a bit weird, since the lenses curve around your face a bit (and by peripheral, I mean if I look all the way to one side with just my eyeballs). Anyway, the only that I needed to adjust to.


My big fear of wearing Rx lenses for running was that being a different lense than what I'm used to would lead to tripping and/or falling. Luckily, this never happened. I could see clearly and had no issues. Hooray.


I'd say the only 'issue' I had with them was since I'm uber sweaty when running, I had to wipe my face a lot, and often that meant I'd smudge the glasses. This is user error and in no way a problem with the sunglasses themselves. I guess the other thing is when I took them off to clean or dry the nosepiece is that you can't see haha, but again, this isn't really any kind of problem. They'd be off for a second, and I could see clearly enough to wipe down and put them back on.


The only time I dealt with very minor fog issues was on a 7 mile run this week when it was 95% humidity and felt so dang muggy. I know humid and muggy are similar terms, but I think they have different feels, and having both humid and muggy on one run, whoa. Tough to run in, and was the only time the sunglasses fogged up a couple times. Not a ton, just a little, so I would pull them away from my face a smidge to let airflow in and it went away.

Wearing them to drive home.

The Australia1 are XX2i's only performance sunglass featuring an interchangeable temple arm / strap system for intense activities. I personally didn't have to switch them out, as my running isn't that intense haha. I never experienced slipping or them falling off, so I kept the arms as is. The Australia1 also incorporates a removable padded insert for extra protection against the elements. Again, this wasn't necessary in my running conditions, but I do plan on giving that a test come winter time. They are a sturdy and lightweight frame with a unique wraparound style for enhanced peripheral vision. They come standard with polarized lenses that employ 8k optical technology, ensuring the utmost lens clarity and frame durability.


What's super cool about XX2i as a company? How amazing their customer service is. Their sunglasses have a lifetime warranty. No questions asked, you break or scratch them, send them back to be replaced for a nominal shipping and handling fee. They have a 365 day return policy. 365 DAYS! Practically unheard of.


Without prescription, the Australia 1 retail at $124.99. Good news for you - I have a 50% off code to offer you. XX2iRocks. Use it. Fall in love with some amazing sunglasses and a great company.


With each pair I've received a hard carrying case and a soft cloth case (that doubles as a lense wipe). 

When leaving the house, I'm always wearing a pair of XX2i. Whether it's the USA1, Australia1, Hawaii1, or the Bermuda1 – they are the perfect sunglasses for just about any need. One other thing I want to note of the Australia1 is that there is not an adjustable nosepiece on them This didn't bother me at all—they fit well, no slipping or adjusting was even needed, but thought I'd let ya know. Each sunglass style has its own features – some have adjustable nosepieces, adjustable temple tips, some have open lenses on the bottoms where others have frames all the way around.


Getting prescription lenses is a bit trickier. You'll need to email your current Rx from your eye doctor to the Rx Manager (jaustin@gorace.pro) along with what frame style you are interested in and what lens color your want. Then you'll be able to discuss the best options. Getting Rx can cost anywhere between $260–$500. Again, you'll learn more after emailing them your choices. Keep in mind that not all Rx can go into the lenses/frames. I know a few other pros wanted to get the Rx but their prescription was too high and wouldn't work with the style. Don't let this deter you from emailing, though, because I thought my Rx would get rejected (I feel my eyesight is very bad), but it didn't. If you're interested, just shoot them an email, tell them a BibRavePro sent you, along with the other infoI mentioned, and talk it through with their Rx Manager.

Connect with XX2i:

What other BibRave Pros are saying:
Those that tested regular lenses:
Jen | Jeremy | Samantha | Jessica | Christine | Brenda

Tested Rx:
Angie | Alex

Monday, August 22, 2016

humboldt park 5k recap

Disclaimer: I received an entry for RAM Racing Humboldt Park 5k 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!


Feel free to read my shorter Pros/Cons list over on BibRave.

I have never ran the Humboldt Park 5k. The only time I had been to Humboldt Park was for Riot Fest back in August or September of 2014, and it looked much different this time around haha. This race was held on Sunday, August 14, 2016 in conjunction with Humboldt Park Community Wellness Fair.

Registration is super easy with RAM Racing, especially if you have an account. You can log in to see all of your upcoming races. One major bonus to having an account is being able to add on packet mailing at any point in time, up until about 2 weeks prior to the race. Turned out my weekend was going to be quite busy, and not knowing what the packet pickup would be, I added it on for $15. 

I received my packet about 5 days prior to the race and it included my bib, awesome water bottle, and some safety pins. It also had a little typed note thanking me for registering, what was inside the package, and where I could get more race day information (web address). Having the packet mailed is super convenient, and worth the cost if it means I don't have to drive into the city and deal with traffic and parking.


If you didn't get it mailed, they did offer pickup on Saturday, August 13 at Fleet Feet Chicago Old Town from 10am – 6pm, and then again at the race site from 6:30 – 8am. (If I had known soon enough, I would have just done pickup on race morning, but no biggie).

The only minor problem I had with this race was that I didn't know the area well, and so didn't know what parking was like. Was it metered? Were there garages? Is it free and plentiful? The only information available on the participant guide was that they highly suggest walking, biking, or taking public transportation to get there. I don't live in the city, so this wasn't an option for me. I found it surprising that they didn't offer any other parking tips, since they were so great at letting us know about parking for North Shore Classic back in June. 

Turns out I didn't have to worry, as there was plenty of free street parking right up against the park near the start/finish. I had asked fellow Pro Kim (who ended not being able to race, but lives nearby) for ideas on where to park, so it was nice having something going into it. When I got there, I saw one car parked with a 13.1 magnet on the back, so turned around and parked in front of him. I saw no signs saying parking wasn't permitted, but still waited for about 4 other cars to park in front of me before feeling confident haha. I'm a worrier!

I got to the race pretty early, as I gave myself ample time to get lost / deal with parking. I ate a snack bar, caught up on social media, and then with about 45 minutes until race time, I got my gear ready to go (aka put on my bib, headphones, visor, etc.) and hopped out of the car. I went to the race area where yoga was taking place, but my main focus was the portapotties. There were about 11 there and no lines.


The kids 1 mile race started at 8, and there was music and an announcer keeping things entertaining until the 8:30 start of the 5k. It was weird being there alone, as I do most races with my mom (who was busy with her sister and couldn't come with me). I enjoyed myself nonetheless.

I was shocked when I got my bib and I was in corral B. I was like whoa - did I put the right estimated finish time in? Then when I got there, I realized why. There were only A and B corrals haha. Now I get it ;)

At the start line.

Corral A was released at 8:30am on the dot. Corral B was around 8:33. It seemed like a smaller race, less than 1,000, which gave it a laid back feeling. Plenty of walkers and runners on the slow side (like me), along with the elites and speedy runners. It was a nice mix. With a smaller field and a wide course (even if half was sectioned off for runners coming back, as it had some out and back portions), there wasn't much congestion or issues with crowding, from where I was at least. When looking at results there were about 700 runners/walkers. I like RAM events because it allows a 15 min/mile pace, so you can get a lot of different speeds of folks out there.



The course was scenic and pretty, and the weather was pretty good for a summer day in August. It was in the 70s/low 80s, mostly sunny, and about 70% humidity. It's sort of hard to explain the course, other than it looked like an 'M' with some out and backs. I'll just post a photo to give a better idea, but it was clearly marked, and plenty of volunteers out there cheering and guiding you the correct way.




There was one aid station around the mid-way mark and it had Nuun at the first few tables (Nuun cups) and then water at the next few. Volunteers shouted out what they had, making it easy. There were a few potholes/uneven parts, so I'd say just be careful of where you're going and take care of your footing, but I didn't notice anyone have any problems, including my clumsy self.





I was doing 45/30 intervals which felt comfortable, and then I pushed a bit the last .25 miles or so. I was at the finish line by myself, which is rare, but quite fun. The announcer mentioned my outfit was on point (I really take that as a huge compliment, because I usually feel like I am just awkward haha). It also meant I got some great FREE photos to download of me at the finish line. Smiling. YAY!



Had to add some calf sleeves due to shin/calf pain the day before the race.

After crossing the finish I got a bottle of water and a bag of goodies that included Clif Trail Mix Bar, mini pretzels, Creme de Pirouline, Nature Valley Chewy bar, and a Rice Krispy Treat. I stuck around a bit longer to cheer on other finishers and grab a cup of Nuun from the tent near gear check, and then headed on home to run a few more miles to get in my scheduled total for the day.


I would recommend this race to anyone in the Chicagoland area. I enjoy unique swag—I love racing shirts if they are the right fit, but I do have so many it was nice to get something different. The course was interesting (good interesting) and it was a well-organized event. Even by myself I still had plenty of fun, and now that I know the parking situation, next year will be a breeze.

Sunday, August 14, 2016

btn big 10k recap

Disclaimer: I received an entry for RAM Racing BTN Big 10k 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!


Feel free to read my more succinct (and of course, my personal opinion) Pro/Con list of the race over on BibRave.com.

Ok, so I'm not insanely into college sports (or honestly, care much about them at all), but I DO love to run races. Of course when the opportunity to run BTN Big 10k came up, I opted in, and was lucky enough to receive an entry. I was super excited because three other pros got in, including my BRF Angie.

Now, I didn't go to any of the schools that are in the Big Ten, so I went with what I'll call my 'sister' school U of I. I visited that place quite frequently, as a TON of friends from the neighborhood went there. I went to UIC myself, aka the U of I in Chicago. The University of Illinois system comprise three campuses — Urbana-Champaigne, Chicago, and Springfield. Anyway, I did think about just going with the generic option ('BTN Fan' gender-specific tech shirt), but U of I seemed fitting enough for me, plus orange and blue = Bears as well. And orange, because BibRave ;) But anyway...


So, when registering, you chose the school you wanted to represent. Your options were Indiana, Maryland, Michigan, Michigan State, Ohio State, Penn State, Rutgers, Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska, Northwestern, Purdue, or Wisconsin.

Packet pickup was available the week of the race from Tuesday–Friday at Fleet Feet Sports Old Town location, 10am – 8pm each day. That's pretty awesome. I had a meeting in the city on Tuesday, August 2, so I went at about 2pm to grab my packet. Pickup was a breeze, even with the other 2 packets I had to grab. The other two also got extra swag – bandana (thanks to the BibRave code) and a water bottle. I didn't even have to mention those items to get them – they were on top of it! All packets I grabbed were of different schools, too. For everyones packet (including your own), just provide your QR code that they sent via email.

Front and back of the shirts I picked up at packet pickup.
Best on the right, of course ;)

They had plenty of people working, so even if it were busy, I think there wouldn't have been much wait. They validate parking there, too, so I only had to pay $2 instead of $12. You could also have chosen to get your packet mailed, which I think was $10–$15. No race day pickup, but I think with the amount of days they had it available, that's acceptable.

RAM Racing did a great job at communicating everything about the race. What amenities were on course and what would be at each station, the new course for 2016, corral info, and then about a week or two before the event, you could find a participant guide on the website that detailed just about anything you might have a question about.

I had to wear my BibRave gear for the event rather than my school shirt, but worked out perfectly, as it's orange. So I added a blue Sparkle Athletic skirt to make the perfect Illinois race outfit.

Heading to the start corrals.

For the race, mom and I parked at Soldier Field. It was a quick walk post-race, but maybe 15 minutes to get to the start line. We met up with Angie, Frank, and Kelly. The Pros took the opportunity to take some fun photos before heading to corrals. Corrals weren't being monitored, though if you were in A–C, you wanted to be there with time to spare, because they blocked those off maybe 10–15 minutes before the race start. I was in Corral H... the last one, so had no worries. Angie and Kelly decided to run slow with me, and it was a ton of fun. It was nice to be able to take mid-run selfies, or just fun photos of each other running (without being asked) with great backdrops like the lake or the skyline. We did 45/30 run/walk intervals, except for the inclines (Angie told me Chicago has no hills, so I couldn't call them hills) in which I prefer to walk up and run down haha.

Instead of explaining the courses multiple turns, I'll just show a map here:


It was nice to have the first few miles on the streets of Chicago. It helped with congestions and allowed for a more enjoyable race experience. Also, I do a LOT of races on the LFP, so it was nice to have a little bit of scenery change. (Don't get me wrong, the LFP is awesome and beautiful views... but a change is always nice).


Obligatory pre-race selfie!

Frank, Angie, me.

My one issue with the lower portion of the path, the part that's next to the lake, is that it's filled with bumps and potholes and cracks. I'd love it if the city would fix it. It's been like this way too long. I know it's not the races fault, but definitely something you want to be aware of if you run down there ever. Watch your footing.




At the aid stations they had Nuun first and then water. This made it easy to know where to go for what you wanted. I do believe they were in different cups, too (Nuun cups for Nuun and then something more plain I think for water). The 10k had 3 stops. There were also two opportunities for fun slip-n-slide inflatable tube type action, which Angie took advantage of. While it was 'cooler' temps when we started, that sun heated up the place real quick. I know I was crazy sweaty by the end. I was glad to have brought my Orange Mud Endurance Pack with ice water in the bladder, so I could drink a little bit every few minutes. At 7:05 it was 71 with 73% humidity, and I'm pretty sure it was in the 80s when we finished, with bright, sunny skies.


Great day!


What being a Pro means... being on your phone all the time,
even during races for Snap Chat, photos, videos, etc.

Slip n Slide fun!


After you finish, you received a bottle of water, a towel you could dip into ice cold water (if you got there in time. The side we were on were out of towels, though there were some unused ones near the boxes on the floor that I snagged, and then people used the bottled water tubs to soak their towels), and then you proceeded to your school's area to grab your medal. There was a tag on the bib you had to rip off to exchange for your medal. Each school had it's own ribbon, and then the medals were the same. You also could get bananas and Clif Bars (their new nut butter fills!).


Almost finished :)

The Finish Line!

Silly Josh!

The post-race party was where it's at. Each school had it's own tent, and you could go chat with alumni, take photos with a backdrop, and grab school sunglasses. There was Goose Island 312, Amylou Sausages (spicy or savory) which included ketchup, mustard, pretzels, handy wipe, and these delightful creme de Pirouline. It was all very filling.

It's important to hydrate post-race.

Great medal.

There was music, games, and photo ops with cheerleaders and mascot. We met up with Cass and took some more Pro photos, along with plenty of laughs and chit chat. Josh, Kelly, Angie, my mom and I stayed till about the end, which was 11. 
Twinning.


BRFs!

She's funny.

BibRave Pros!
Angie, me, Frank, and Cass

Then we all (minus Kelly) went to Dunkin' Donuts for some snacks. We said goodbyes around 12, when mom and I had to hit up Road Runner Sports for packet pickup for another race the next day. Always busy! It was sad to say goodbye to my BRF and her #ProSpouse, as we didn't know when we'd see each other again. Boohoo. Good thing we talk everyday at least ;)


Rio Donuts. Getting into the Olympic spirit! haha.

I'd definitely encourage any one to run this race. Don't be shy or afraid if you aren't into the Big 10 stuff. You can enjoy it even if you know practically nothing, like me :)

RAM Racing is really hitting their stride and nailing it with the Chicago races (that's all I've run, I'm sure the others are great too) - amazing swag (which has been happening for quite some time), but also just great all around. Enjoyable courses, cool shirts, fun post-race party, large post-race party so it didn't feel too crazy crowded (even though it was pretty dang crowded!). Really fun. I think something they do right is send out a survey after their races to get feedback from the runners. They take into consideration what the runners say and then adjust to make things better the following year. I'm guessing maybe the crowd was too big to have a Soldier Field start? Maybe too much congestion on the course? So they moved it. I can't verify that's why it was moved, but from what I've heard, seems like maybe that's why.

Either way, kudos to them on another successful race, and I'm looking forward to running a bunch more of their races in the next few months (I just did the Humboldt Park 5k for the first time on Sunday it was awesome).

Read what the other Pros had to say about the race:

By the way, want to run any of these with me? Great swag and I've done the first two before and had a blast!


Friday, August 26
Soldier Field at 7pm
A cool black technical t-shirt with a reflective log (gender specific)
Amylou Sausages and Bell's Brewery
Maggie Speaks
Code: BibRaveRTN = free RAM Racing multi-funcitonal bandana/headwrap


Saturday, September 10
Grant Park, Chicago at 7am (both half and 5k)
Men and Women both welcome and encouraged to participate!
Awesome 2016 medal, long-sleeve tech shirt (gender specific)
Code: BibRaveMM = free RAM Racing multi-funcitonal bandana/headwrap



Sunday, September 18
Blurr Elementary School Grounds in Bucktown at 8:30am
Amazing technical fleece-lined hoodie featuring the Chicago flag (gender specific)
Code: BibRaveBT = free RAM Racing multi-funcitonal bandana/headwrap