Tuesday, December 5, 2017

garmin forerunner 935 multisport gps watch review

Disclaimer: I received a Garmin Forerunner 935 Multisport GPS Watch from Garmin 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've been a Garmin watch user for about 3.5 years now. I had the Forerunner 220 and upgraded to the Fenix 3. The latest addition to the collection, so clearly I'm a fan of Garmin, is the Forerunner 935 Multisport GPS Watch.

One of the big upgrades from my Fenix 3 to this Forerunner 935 is the built-in heart rate monitor. I know a lot of people do HR training, so having a built-in monitor can be super useful. I know I can't stand having the strap on; sports bras are enough to deal with, I don't need to add more chaffing items to my body. If you prefer the strap, you can still use one that connects to the Forerunner 935 which can then give you even more data than the wrist function alone.

The amount of data you can get from the Forerunner 935 is outstanding. Besides heart rate, it can analyze your sleep and patterns and your stress levels. How cool is that? Though I have to say, both have been depressing numbers for me. I barely get any deep sleep and my stress levels are higher than I expected. Apparently I don't rest enough, so it's something I'd like to work on in the new year. And as far as light sleep, I'm looking into somethings that might help me get some extra deep sleep – any recommendations? I'm going to try using an eye mask again (I used to use them, but got out of the habit, but wondering if where the new placement of our bed is has more light coming at me than my previous spot and think the mask might help), and maybe trying some yoga moves before bed. Anyway... 

Quick and easy to pair with my phone.

There are a ton of different sports your can track, not just running. I've used it for cycling, and when I join a gym again, I'll be able to use it for swimming. Why would I join a gym again? Well, my husband got me a new bike for my birthday.... and now he's trying to get me to register for sprint triathlons, which means I need to not only re-learn how to ride a bike (and maybe even learn, because when I was a kid, I wasn't focused on technique, just on getting to and from my friends' houses haha), but I also have to get back into swimming. In high school gym we did swimming, so practice with strokes is more recent than when I last seriously rode a bike, but still. It's been quite a while and I'm not sure I could ever really use the freestyle stroke and go in a straight line.

I noticed for cycling, a lap would consist of 5 miles. You can change this if you want in the settings. I'd venture a guess that most people using the cycling are a bit faster than I and wouldn't need updates every mile like we do for running. I'm hoping with practice I'll get faster there too ;)

I love that for running I can have multiple data screens and set each one to be the data I want to see. My most utilized ones are lap pace and time. Other good data items to have on there are average pace, overall distance, and overall time (which for the life of me, I can't remember the correct term for at the moment haha). 

The battery life on this bad boy is nearly two weeks, but if you know me and my odd anxieties, I need to charge it before it gets below 50%. It's just a weird thing I have. I prefer to see the battery on green, rather than yellow or red. It freaks me out of illogical reasons. Green is good, and I prefer to see that color more often on my watch. Speaking of...

Alerts you when you hit recovery heart rate.

Another cool thing you can do with your watch is set the watch face. You can download from Connect IQ on your phone or the computer, and most of them allow you to customize colors and which data items are most important to you. On my old watch, my favorite was the countdown watch face. With this one, I've been using one that shows my stair & step goal and how far I've gotten on each, time, notification number, battery, and date. I was able to choose my colors for each item. You can also create your own watch faces using the FaceIt App. Another fun way to customize it to your style is to get some colored wristbands – I bought a few to try (blue and lime green), but haven't had a chance to switch them out yet. Sounds like it shouldn't be too hard, though. I love that you can make it your own, while still getting all of the benefits it offers.

Ready to run on a cold November day in Chicago.

The watch is extremely lightweight, weighing in at only 49 grams. Way more lightweight than I was expecting. It's very comfortable to wear, but I'm not sure sleeping in it is for me. I think I sleep weird or something, because it's usually in the way or hurting my face haha. I thought that maybe after a month of wearing it every night it wouldn't bother me anymore and I'd be used to it, but not quite. 

This watch is pretty baller and I haven't even scratched the surface of everything it can do yet. I think it might take me a year to figure out all of the amazing features and how it can improve my running and day to day life. Highly recommend, but if it's not quite in your wheelhouse, I'd say you could get any Garmin and be happy. The phone app syncs quickly and easily to your watch and all of the information can be found in the app and online; which they are continuously updating to make it more user friendly. I've been a fan for a few years, and I don't think I'll ever switch to a different brand because I've been so happy with their products and user experience.

Three of the same watch. Three different watch faces and personalities.

Quick information:

  • Offers advanced running and multisport features in a comfortable watch you can wear all day, and it only weighs 49 grams
  • Provides elevation changes with a built-in barometer; altimeter and electronic compass help you keep your bearings
  • Evaluates your training status to indicate if you’re undertraining or overdoing it and offers additional performance monitoring features
  • Provides advanced dynamics² for running, cycling and swimming, including ground contact time balance, stride length and more
  • Battery life: up to 2 weeks in watch mode, up to 24 hours in GPS mode, up to 50 hours in UltraTrac™ mode (with wrist-based heart rate), or up to 60 hours in UltraTrac™ mode (without wrist-based heart rate)

Connect with Garmin Fitness:
website | facebook | instagram | twitter

Sunday, December 3, 2017

boco gear hat and visor review

Disclaimer: I received BOCO Gear 360º Visor and Trail Hat 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! 

You're probably noticed the only time I don't run with a visor or hat is when the sun isn't out. Even on cloudy days, I'll still usually wear something with the lip to protect my face and shield my eyes from too much light. I have very sensitive eyes. Having to squint leads to headaches, so I always have sunglasses and hats or visors on. I'll also wear one if it's raining to help better see while running in the rain and keeping that said rain out of me eyes and face.

I had the chance to test out some BOCO headwear for BibRave, and as it so happens, was also BibRave branded ;) I also own the trucker hat and the stocking hat from BOCO. 

BOCO Gear is the new leader in performance gear for endurance athletes. They offer stylish, technical headwear and accessories for your brand, team or event. Fully customized with wicking fabrications and technical innovation, their gear is designed for and tested by top athletes. They sweat the details!

The one I wore the most was the visor. I liked the fit and it absorbed the sweat well. I heat up quickly once I start moving, so visors are usually my pick over hats, unless it's a shorter run. Long runs require a visor unless it's below 20 degrees. That's usually when I'll need something to cover my ears... which might also turn into a BUFF® as an ear band to keep my head open for air haha. Anyway – we are all different and what we require on our heads is different for everyone.

The specific visor I received is the BOCO 360º Visor®Whether you are on a run or on the run, the BOCO 360º Visor® is a great option for the active athlete across all sports. Stylish and updated, the BOCO 360º Visor® will be one of the most comfortable adjustable visors you have ever worn.

Some key features of the BOCO 360º Visor®:

  • Lightweight wicking materials outside
  • Wicking internal sweatband to move sweat from your forehead
  • Soft brushed elastic back for comfort and fit
  • Relaxed fit front panel for a better performance and comfort
  • Black underside of the bill to reduce glare
  • Curved bill
  • Machine washable
Definitely a keeper in the visor rotation list.

The other BOCO hat I tested was the Trail Hat. I wore this one when I went bike riding. It's not quite the style I like to wear for running – just not me – but I did find it was great for riding to wear under my helmet, but also keep the sun out of my eyes. Being lightweight, it still allowed my head to breath while being safe in my helmet, and didn't seem bulky or uncomfortable at all.

Some key features of this hat:

Straight from the innovation lab  (aka- the trails) to the production line and finally to KONA…our latest creation, the Trail Hat. Combining the features of our ever popular Run hat and the award winning Tweener hat with a little Kona inspired design. Moisture wicking sweatband and lightweight mesh panels work with the moldable bill to make this hat exactly what you need. Function and Fashion are equal here….so by all means Train, Race, Hang out, and repeat often.
  • Camp hat styling
  • Performance fabrications
  • Wicking sweatband
  • Adjustable back closure
  • Flat moldable bill

Are you someone that always needs a hat or visor to run? Have you tried BOCO Gear? They've got some pretty sweet gear on their website. I suggest you give them a look-see.

Connect with BOCO Gear:

knuckle lights colors review

Disclaimer: I received Knuckle Lights COLORS 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 fall and winter upon us, that means running in the dark. The sun rises late and sets early, leaving us runners with very little time to run in the daylight. Not all of us work from home or have the ability to go for a runch. Even my short runs take me close to an hour, so even if I didn't mind showing back up to work all sweaty, I just don't have the time to go during my lunch break.

This leaves early morning runs (not my thing), or evening runs. I'd say that even if you have street lights in your area, having Knuckle Lights COLORS with you is a smart way to go out, as it can allow you to see the cracks, potholes, etc a bit easier, it also makes YOU more visible to cars. Just like wearing bright, reflective clothing is safe, having some extra lights that make you more visible to cars can help keep you on your feet.

I've tried the Knuckle Lights rechargeable, and they are awesome. They hold a charge for a long time, and being able to plug them in to get them ready for the next run is easy. I was a little weary of the battery powered ones, as I had a pair a very long time ago that seemed to require new batteries every run. Lucky for me, these do not have this problem. The batteries last MUCH longer and I have yet to replace them, even after maybe 8 hours of use. 

Knuckle Lights COLORS have three different power settings: High, Low and Blinking. I'm not sure why anyone would use blinking, but I suppose if you have good light for running, it's a great setting to use to make you more noticeable to drivers. I'm always in low light conditions using them, so I'm always on high. They are comfortable to wear and easy to adjust, plus lightweight (they only weigh 3oz each).

Not only have I used Knuckle Lights COLORS for running, but also to go get the mail and when the power goes out to navigate the house. They're awesome for so many activities!

The Knuckle Lights COLORS come in baby blue, pink, or black. I picked blue, as it's my favorite color and of course matches a lot of my running outfits haha. Each unit requires one AA battery, and two batteries came in the package, so you can take them out and use them immediately – no wait. They cost $39.99 and you'll get free shipping in the US. Grab a set now with a 15% discount using code BIBRAVEPRO. They'd be a great stocking stuffer for the runner friend or family member in your life.

Here's a quick guide to Knuckle Lights COLORS:

Knuckle Lights are designed to be worn on the front of your hands, in a perfect position to light your path and be seen on your next walk or run in the dark. 

The ultra wide flood beans move with the natural motion of your arms, providing an even, steady light that illuminates the entire area in front of you.

Knuckle Lights COLORS includes:
  • 120 Total Lumens — The extra bright lights emit a wide flood beam, providing a steady, even light in front of you that does not bounce, even with your arms moving.
  • 2 Lights Per Set — The units connect together magnetically. The soft silicone straps are easily adjusted to fit any size hand and even over gloves. The units are almost unnoticeable at less than 3 ounces each.
  • 3 Power Settings — High, Low and Blinking.
  • Batteries Included —  Each unit operates on 1 X AA battery
  • Waterproof — The units are fully waterproof and can be used in any type of weather, and will operate in below freezing temperatures down to -20 Celsius.

With Knuckle Lights you can confidently step out in the dark and SEE & BE SEEN. 

Join BibChat on Tuesday, December 5 at 8pm CT for a chance to win your own Knuckle Lights COLORS!

Connect with Knuckle Lights:
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Sunday, November 26, 2017

north shore turkey trot 10k recap

Disclaimer: I received an entry for North Shore Turkey Trot 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!

For the past six or so years, I ran a fairly local Turkey Trot and loved it. Unfortunately, it was cancelled this year and I was on the hunt for a new race. If I was going to wake up early on Thanksgiving, a day off from work, I wanted to do something longer than a 5k. That made narrowed down my search a lot. There's a ton of races in the area that are 5ks, but not a lot of longer distance races available. Lucky for me, RAM Racing was hosting a 5k and 10k in Highland Park. Though this was a bit of a trek for me, running 6.2 miles made it worth it, plus, I knew the area well enough from the North Shore Classic Half Marathon in June that I have run twice, which means I knew where I could park, which helps ease a lot of my anxiety when doing new races.

Packet pickup was on Tuesday and Wednesday, which I wouldn't be able to make because of work, so  paid the $15 for packet mailing. I received my long sleeve, gender specific and bib in the mail about a week before the race. Race morning my mom and I got to the parking lot around 7:20. The 5k started at 7:30 and the 10k began at 8:10. We were only parked a block away, so we stayed in the car where it was warm for a while before getting to the race site around 7:45. We hit up the portapotties, no lines, and then walked around a bit to stay warm before getting into the corrals. A–F were the 5k, and then G–I were the 10k. We were in the last corral and started around and started at 8:13am.

It was a pretty chilly morning, starting at 33 degrees and feels like 24 with 10mph winds. It was sunny, so that helped keep me warm, but at times, the wind made it coooold. I ended up taking off my gloves and putting them on a few times. My hat came off pretty early too. The views along the course were pretty – nice homes, lots of trees, and enjoyable. The course was open to cars, but most were very much alert to the event and would go slow. There were a ton of volunteers and police officers on the course to make sure the runners stayed on course and were safe. There were two aid stations on course with water and Nuun, and each mile had markers and clocks.

The course had some hills and was enjoyable. It was a nice way to spend Thanksgiving morning with my mom. After crossing the finish line, there were cups of Nuun, bottled water, Apple Pie (individually wrapped with two in a container), Clif Bars, and mini candy canes.

The results were up the next day along with free photos available to download. My only issue with the race was the lack of weekend packet pickup or race day. I appreciate being able to get it mailed, but $15 is a bit much. If my other race doesn't come back next year, then I'll likely do this one again as I like the 10k distance and the course was great. You can read my BibRave review here.

Sunday, November 19, 2017

eagle creek cargo hauler duffel review

Disclaimer: I received an Eagle Creek Cargo Hauler Duffel 60L 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!

You probably have noticed that I run with a lot of gear, which also means for races (even local), I have a lot to bring with me. I like to be prepared, so I have ALL the things. And often times, this means I have three different bags of stuff. In the winter it's even worse, because a change of clothes after a very cold Chicago winter race means some bulky, warm sweatshirts, pants, and yep, even a blanket.

Not using your duffel? Fold it up into itself to easily store it.

In comes the Eagle Creek Cargo Hauler Duffel 60L. The 60L is their medium sized bag, and let me tell you, it is a very decent size. For reference, they have a small duffel which is 45L and a large which is 120L. They come in blue/grey, black, fern/grey (my pick, because even though I love blue, I figured I should branch out a bit (pun not intended haha)), cherry/grey, and orange/grey. All great options, it just depends on your style.

Packed with a blanket to put on my legs post-race for the drive home.
Really helped warm me up! 

Surprisingly, the bag is very light and only weights 1lb 12oz. It is made with an extra-durable, water-repellent coated Bi-Tech™ Armor Lite fabric; fusion of technology that merges max abrasion-resistance with ultra-light carry. Don't be confused though, water-repellent is not waterproof. If you are caught in a downpour, it's likely to soak through the bag and get some items wet (most likely the outside pockets vs the larger inside one, if that helps). 

What I love most about this Eagle Creek Cargo Hauler Duffel 60L is that there are multiple ways to carry it – by its removable backpack straps, padded top haul handles, or side grab handle. 

Want to check the bag? Remove those backpack straps and stuff them in a pocket. Lock the #10 zippers. The bottom is foam padded to help protect contents against impact. 


I use this bag just about every weekend to gather my race gear, change of clothes, for the group runs that I attend right after work. My husband makes fun of me for packing it for races, because it is large, asking if I'm leaving for the weekend. Truth it, it's just easier to toss things in it than trying to shove it all in a smaller bag. And it smooshes down, so it's not like it's really taking up that much space. I'm not filling it to the brim haha.

My favorite way to carry it. And yeah, I wear this sweatshirt a LOT. haha.

Eagle Creek also has this great 'No Matter What Warranty'. It covers the Lifetime Warranty promise plus the added insurance of repair or replacement due to damage, regardless of the cause. During this period, they will repair or replace it at their discretion.

Here are all the quick read details and features:

  • ULTRA-LIGHT (You can’t tell by the picture, but the 60L weighs only 1 lb 12 oz!!)
  • Made with an extra-durable, water-repellent coated Bi-Tech™ Armor Lite fabric: a fusion of technology that merges max abrasion-resistance with ultra-light carry
  • Bartack reinforcement on all high stress points for maximum schlepping
  • Carry by its removable backpack straps, padded top haul handles, or side grab handle
  • U-shaped lid for easy access to main compartment
  • Sizeable easy-access zippered end pockets for gear organization
  • Six heavy-duty lash points for attaching this bag to a roof rack
  • #10 lockable zippers with storm flap shield zipper from rain
  • Bottom is foam padded to help protect contents against impact

Product Specification:
Capacity – 3665 cu in | 60 L
Dimensions – 26.5 x 10.25 x 13.5 in | 67 x 26 x 34 cm
Modular Dimensions – 13.5 x 10.5 x 5 in | 34 x 26.5 x 12.5 cm
Weight – 1 lbs 12 oz | 0.82 kg
Material: Bi-Tech™ Armor Lite

The Eagle Creek Cargo Hauler Duffel 60L is usually $99, but is currently $79.20, so act fast if you want to grab yourself one of these versatile bags. If you want to go smaller, the 45L is $71.20 (marked down from $89), and the 120L is $95.20 (usually $119). You'll also get free shipping on orders $49+ (may depend on your location).

Check out this cool video that fellow BibRave Pro and good friend, known as Daddy Did You Win? on social media, posted on YouTube packing the Eagle Creek Cargo Hauler Duffel 60L:

It fits so much stuff!! I'd definitely recommend the Eagle Creek Cargo Hauler Duffel 60L if you're looking for a durable, versatile, sturdy, light-weight bag for traveling or if you're a need all the gear for every single run kind of person like me.

Connect with Eagle Creek:

website | twitter | facebook | instagram | pinterest | youtube

pumpkins in the park 5k recap

Disclaimer: I received an entry for Pumpkins in the 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!

RAM Racing Pumpkins in the Park 5k took place on Saturday, October 21 with a race start of 4pm (2:30pm for the Kids Spooky Sprint). I love afternoon/evening races, so this is ideal for me (though traffic around/in the city on a Saturday afternoon is not ideal. 

We got to the race site around 3pm (parked in the Lincoln Park Zoo lot) and grabbed our packets. The line was pretty long, but went quickly. We stopped back at the car to get race ready and then wandered the zoo a bit before heading back to the race. They also had packet pickup on Friday at Fleet Feet Old Town, but I wasn't able to make that, so I was very glad they did race day and I didn't have to pay $15 for shipping.

I met up with fellow BibRave Pro Bree for a quick chat and photo, and then it was time to line up. We were in corral C, which started a few minutes after 4pm.  The course is below, but it basically wound around the park, went north, turned around and came back south till the finish.

The course was a bit narrow at times, and you had to be careful of your footing because it wasn't always a smooth surface (cracks and bumps, sometimes pavement, sometimes dirt). It didn't seem as congested as the year before, or maybe it was, but being prepared for it had my expectations on the same level.

It was fun to see all of the families and different costumes. At the finish line, we received a cup of Nuun, bottled water, a taffy apple covered in sprinkles, mini Clif bar, and individually wrapped mini pumpkin pies (two in a package). Yum. I found Bree again and we talked about our race, then she had to get going. We initially were going to grab beers, but then saw the very long line (as they were checking IDs and doing wristbands), and since we were hungry for dinner, decided to leave. They were also making popcorn and handing that out.

For dinner we went to Burger Antics in Brookfield, which has some amazing food and beer. I couldn't decide on a burger, so I got the three slider option where you can choose different ones. It was awesome. We then had some pumpkin pie cheesecake for dessert. Great way to celebrate my birthday - running, burgers, fries, beer, and pie.

Favorite burger? The one on top with FOUR different cheeses.
Get in my belly!

If you're looking for a fun Halloween race, you should give this one a go in 2018. They also have a costume contest, so bring your A game and win some prizes. I think there were also awards for the top 3 women and men, but don't quote me on that.