Wednesday, May 25, 2016

chicago marathon training: week 1

I'm back with my coach and I couldn't be happier! After a hiatus from Coach Val over at Sweat Tracker online coaching after last year's Chicago Marathon (due to limited funds — not because I didn't think she was amazing! It was sad to not re-up the plan post-race. You can read my review of the process here.). I decided it was time to get back together to prepare for this year's race. Honestly, I'm still pretty new to this running life, and I could use all the help I can get. I really have no idea what I'm doing haha.

Week 1 of Chicago Marathon Training
Monday, May 16: Strength Training Week 4, workout 1
Tuesday, May 17: Medium run, 6 miles at Conversation Pace (CP); 1:20:26; 13:24 avg pace
Wednesday, May 18: Strength Training Week 4, workout 2
Thursday, May 19: Medium run, 6 miles at CP; 6.2 miles; 1:19:30; 12:49 avg pace
Friday, May 20: Short run, 3 miles at CP; 38:19; 12:45 avg pace
Saturday, May 21: Rest day
Sunday, May 22: Chicago Spring Half Marathon; 13.24 miles; 3:07:24; 14:09 avg pace

Week Total Mileage: 28.45 (I'm using my Garmin stats for mileage, etc)
Marathon Training Mileage: 28.45
YTD: 405.21 (I'm less than 200 away from my 2015 mileage)

Week 4 of strength training was NO JOKE. It's been getting tougher each week, and the fourth week began adding in higher reps, more exercises, and doing the alternate options for exercises (and by alternate, they mean more difficult). It was rough going. It even added in the stability ball, which was a real treat ;) The one exercise took me so long just to get myself balanced properly on the ball without falling off in order to do the necessary reps haha. 

I will say I can definitely notice that I'm getting stronger, as when I first started doing, say, 10 pushups was a difficult task, and now doing 20 is manageable—mind you it's still difficult, but much more manageable than when I first began. My abs and arms are usually pretty sore the next day, which means it's all working. I'm feeling stronger on my runs, and I know in the end this will have been a very goof thing to add into the mix. I'm happy I found this book and that it's working so well. The details, explanations, and photos are super helpful in making sure I get the right form.

My run on Tuesday didn't feel great. My legs were tired and I felt like I was dragging, and that showed in the pace. It's also starting to warm up and get into summer temps here, which if you've read my blog or follow me on twitter, know that I hate. I didn't complain once over winter that it was too cold. This was in part to the fact that I love winter/cold running, and also so that I could complain when it got hot out haha.

Wednesday's strength training went better than Monday's. It was more about balance, which I think I'm a bit better at than my core strength... which is why I'm doing this in the first place. Increasing your core and stability strength is important for runners, and I think balancing (ha) both of those out, rather than having a much stronger area, is good to do.

Thursday's run went well. Even though I felt like I was going slow, when I saw my pace I was happy. No knee pain, which I think I can partially attribute to the core strengthening. Not much to say about the 3 miles.

Sunday was the Chicago Spring Half Marathon. It was much warmer than I was expecting it to feel. Upper 60s and low 70s + all sun. I got so tired after mile 9, but I kept on trucking. Mom and I ran together and we did 30 seconds running and 1:30 walking. I'll have more details about the race when I write my recap (I'm a bit behind on these, but I'll get to it eventually). You can read my shorter BibRave Review here if you're interested in what I felt the Pros and Cons of the race were (not many cons, except that the beer choice was the usual disappointment haha).

I have a good feeling about the training cycle and I'm excited to have some direction (because honestly, I have no idea what I'm doing and need all the help I can get!).

What are you currently training for?

Saturday, May 21, 2016

spibelt h2o venture series review + discount

Disclaimer: I received The SPI H2O Venture Belt to review as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out to review, find, and write race reviews!

I'm a very thirsty runner, especially once spring and summertime come around. My mouth gets dry super easy (perhaps from my allergy/asthma meds) and I usually don't like to leave the house without any water and/or electrolytes, even on short runs as short as 3 miles. ESPECIALLY once the temps are above 80. I NEED that stuff badly. 

How the SPI H2O Venture comes packaged.

So, finding a way to carry the water can be tricky. For runs as short as 6 miles, I don't really need my vest, because I don't need ALL the things. I really just need my phone, keys, some cash and ID (though I also wear my Road ID). And water. I really don't want to have to carry my phone or a water bottle in my hands. I like to have my hands free - helps keep me balanced and on my feet. Also, when I do fall, I'm not dropping anything/landing on anything and breaking it.

What the back clip looks like.

Check out that reflective trim! Safety first.

I was interested in trying The SPI H2O Venture Belt for this reason. I know a lot of people that like using the original SPIbelt, so figured this would probably be something worthwhile to to have in my (ever growing) stack of must-have running gear. It was even awarded 'Winner of Best of Running'. That's pretty cool. 

The SPI H2O Venture Belt, comes with two 8-oz water bottles that you can position anywhere on the belt. Through a variety of placements, I found that I preferred to balance them out, one on each side near my hips.

I found that it took a little bit of adjustment before I found my perfect fit of the belt as well as the best position on my body to wear it (a little higher on the hips meant no fixing the belt when it started to slide down). You need the right amount of tightness to create that no-bounce or slipping effect. I found the sweet-zone for the belt and placement on my second run with it. It's like most products I find – give it a few tests before judging it. Just because it bounces or rides up/down the first try doesn't mean it won't the next time if you make just a few minor adjustments.

I wore The SPI H2O Venture with me on walks and on runs up to 6 miles. The belt pockes holds my iPhone 6 (which is in a Lifeproof case, which makes it probably the size of a 6 Plus... but maybe even fatter), my keys, and ID. Honestly, the first few times it took a bit of work to get my phone into the belt pocket, but once I figured out the best way to do it (and the pocket stretched out a smidge), it was easy. The pocket looks so small when you first see it, but on further inspection, on the reverse side, you can see the extra material that allows for the expansion to fit your phone. When I first opened up the box I was all 'how is my phone going to fit?' - no worries. It will. I personally wasn't able to squeeze much else in there, since my phone with the case is so ginormous, but on the shorter runs, I don't need anything else. I can manage as long as I have my phone and some water.

I don't have the luxury of having someone else to take a photo of me wearing
it, and I'm horrible with the self timer stuff haha. Sorry!

I loved having the option to use no water bottles, one, or two. They are super easy to get on and off, even during the run. Each bottle has it's own clip that once you have your SPI H2O Venture Belt on, you put the bottles on. I didn't have trouble with the bottles/clips staying on the belt while running – when it was one bottle or two. Having two bottles also means I can fill one with water and one with an electrolyte. I just switched my electrolyte drink of choice to a powder, which half a scoop (one serving) is for 8oz of water. How perfect.

Without any water bottles. Can't take a photo of my phone in the pocket...
because I need the phone to take the photo, but it fits in there!

I had no bouncing or adjusting that needed to be done once I got the belt to the correct tightness. I found that having a wider elastic helped keep the belt stable as well. I really liked that feature - it helped make the belt feel more secure. I never experienced any leaking and I do enjoy when a product is dishwasher safe so it can get a good cleaning.

Belt features:
  • Bounce-free
  • WeatherGuard™ design keeps out the elements (however, the product is NOT waterproof. Items may be exposed to moisture and they recommend using a waterproof OKSAK® re-sealable bag if using with electronics. They also suggest turning off said electronics to prevent internal heat and moisture-build up.)
  • Two loops for energy gels
  • Reflective trim
  • Includes a pair of Race Bib Toggles
  • 2" elastic for increased comfort and stability
  • Fits waist

Water Bottle features:
  • Bounce-free
  • Easily clips onto The SPI H2O Venture Belt
  • Two 8-oz BPA-free bottles
  • Wide mouth fits ice cubes
  • Ergonomic shape contours to your body
  • Leak-free Jet Nozzle™
  • Dishwasher safe on top rack

I would definitely recommend this to any runner that is looking for an easy way to bring hydration on the go (running!). I think it would suit the minimalist runners (those that don't bring a ton of stuff along... I know a lot of these) for their long runs. No need to worry about tons of extra weight, since the 8oz bottles aren't very heavy even when full, and the SPI H2O Venture Series Belt is very lightweight.


Since I am not a minimalist runner, and on my long runs need all the things (as mentioned above), I think a 6 mile run or shorter is my best time for using The SPI H2O Venture Series Belt. Once I get into the longer miles, I need chapstick, my inhaler, kleenex, Shot Blox, snack bars, and I'm sure other things I'm forgetting, which unfortunately wouldn't all fit in the pocket. I do love having it for the shorter runs though, because now I won't feel so silly having to take a pack just to hold my phone and keys haha. I feel so much lighter! It's a great solution for being around town and not needing to bring a lot with me.


Interested in giving this product a go? Use code heather10 for a 10% discount + free shipping. Retail price is $44.99. All four options are black with subtle color on the trim  – black with silver trim, black with yellow trim, black with hot pink trim, and black with turquoise trim. I debated between the pink and turquoise and went with turquoise, but they all look nice. 


I also like that it comes with the bib toggles, so if you wear your belt for a race, you don't also need a bib belt or those pesky safety pins. Three birds, one stone (hydration, storage, and bib belt!). 


They have a ton of different products (running/fitness, medical, travel), so even if this might not suit your needs, I have a feeling you'll find something else over there that will.

If you read a bit about the company, you'll find that it's a company for runners, by runners. I love knowing that runners are involved, because they get it. They see the problems we see, and try to come up with solutions that work. I found The SPI H2O Venture Belt to be one of these solutions and am happy I was able to test it out to review. It'll be getting a lot of use in the upcoming weeks as marathon training has officially begun! Also, if you are curious, SPI stands for small personal item. 

Make sure to head over to Twitter on Tuesday, May 24 at 8pm CT to chat with host BibRave, the BibRavePros, an awesome group of runners, and sponsor SPIbelt. I bet there might even be a giveaway of The SPI H2O Venture Belt for one lucky winner or two.

Connect with SPIbelt:

Sunday, May 15, 2016

10 reasons you need a uv buff

Disclaimer: I received a UV BUFF to review as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out to review, find, and write race reviews!

BibRave Pro and one of my best running friends Angie and I having fun with BUFFIES.

10 Reasons You Need a UV BUFF:

1. Great for all seasons. Wear it as a face mask in the winter to keep your face warm (and get the air warmer to breathe in), or wet it down and toss in some ice cubes and wear it as a neckerchief in the summer. Pro Jeremy loves this trick in the Arizona heat.

Classic Black - goes with everything.

2. I could write about 20 ways about how you can wear it. They show you 13 options alone on the website, but you can get creative and have fun with it. Check out the video.

Wearing it as a hairband. Perfect to protect my ears on those windy days!

3. Blocks 95% of UV rays. I know BibRave Pro Daddy, Did You Win? loves to wear it to prevent sunburn on his noggin'.

4. Soft, breathable Coolmax® Extreme fabric.

5. 100% Seamless. I've never had problems with chaffing when I've worn it as a wristband or on my neck.

6. Polyigiene® Active Odor Control (less washings needed! This could be another point, but let's add here that it's easy to wash. I put it in on my washer with my other running clothes on delicate cycle and hang to dry.)

7. Moisture-wicking & quick drying: we know how important that is in our running gear!

8. So many great colors and patterns to choose from! I'm really digging: Ranjit, Pingrey, Blue Sun, Cartons Cru, Mirage, Streaker, Mosaic, Tiger Sky, Surf Flower, Moxie, Starburst, Batik... like I said, so many great options!

9. Works as a great eye mask during travel (those pesky hotel lights - the clock doesn't dim all the way, the light from the tv that is off, etc).

10. Thermal protection from cold & wind.

For my goal race with rain/mist and temps in the 40s. Worked perfect, though
I was so concerned with the race and getting a PR I didn't really take any photos...

I could probably list plenty more reasons why you should add a UV BUFF to your running gear collection. I found it extremely important in my winter running, as it was often windy and snowy/sleeting, so it protected my face. Plus, warming up the air before breathing in is always a plus on those super cold days. It also helped to protect my ears.

In the summer, I've found that drenching it in water and then tying it as a wristband to wipe my face worked wonders to keep me cool. It's also fun to wrap some ice cubes in it and then wear as a neckerchief to stay cool. On those sunny days, I used it to protect my neck from sunburn, which was an awesome use. I'm super pale skinned, so I burn within 5 minutes of being outside. Sunscreen and UV gear help keep me protected. No doubt the BUFF will be an integral piece of running gear used during Chicago Marathon training this summer.

You can see hairband has been a favorite way to wear it...

Some days I wear it as a headband to keep the sweat out of my eyes, other days a hairband keeps the hair out of my face (I have all those short hairs... I don't know where they come from since my hair is long, but they are always getting in the way). It seriously is a product with so many uses—being so versatile is definitely a plus in this runner's life. I now have 3 full BUFFs, a UV Half BUFF, the Merino Wool BUFF, and the Thermal Hoodie. I love them all. I still prefer the UV Half BUFF for the summer because there is less fabric, but have found that the full is pretty awesome tool to have as well (especially for that ice cube trick I discussed earlier). I'm really interested in trying out the UV Insect Shield BUFF, which would be awesome on the trails since it repels mosquitos, ticks, ants, flies, etc. Check out their website and tell me you aren't interested in anything on there. I dare you.

BibRave and BUFF have partnered up for a fun giveaway during the month of May, too. You could win a $215 prize pack of awesome BUFF swag. Take a read here on how you can enter:

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

Make sure to join us for BibChat on Tuesday, May 17 at 8pm CT for a quick hour of running chitter chatter with sponsor BUFF, who I'm sure will be giving away a UV Full BUFF :)

Check out what the other BibRave Pros thought:
Jessica  |  Jen  |  Frank  |  Abbie

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

final rundisney tinker bell half marathon weekend preparations

Which one of these will you be earning?
I'll be grabbing the first four on the left. Boom!

It seemed like runDisney Tinker Bell Half Marathon Weekend was so far away! It's hard to believe it's this weekend! Have you started packing and getting everything gathered? A few last minute prep ideas for you...

Source: Disney Parks Twitter

Print out your waivers before leaving. You can do that here. Forget to do this? Don't freak out - they usually have computers/printers set up at the expo (don't take my word for it though, you never know what changes might be made). I'm sure if you are at a hotel, they wouldn't mind helping you out if you needed it.

What corral are you in?

Source: runDisney
Source: runDisney

Give the Official Event Guide a read. You'll find just about anything you need to know in there. Event start times, locations, courses, road closures, etc.

Are you doing the Pixie Dust Challenge? Make sure you get your photo taken with your race bib before leaving the expo on Thursday or Friday. There's usually some signage and plenty of workers/volunteers to help you find where to go if you are lost. After you finish the half marathon, check in at the Challenge tent located at the Finish Line to receive your Pixie Dust Challenge medal.  Yay!

Make sure you get to the expo to pick up your packet – only you can do this, no friends or family can pickup for you! Here are the expo hours:

A little bit of racing etiquette to keep in mind (helpful tips for a happy race for all):

  • Walk no more than two abreast.
  • If you are walking, try to stay to the right so that runners can pass on the left. Give a hand signal or shout 'Walking' so others around you know you are going to be going from a run to a walk (also helps to look behind you to make sure you aren't stopping right in front of someone else).
  • If you have to squeeze through, say 'excuse me'.
  • Accidentally knock in to or shove someone? Say sorry.
  • See a photographer on course while running? Try not to just stop and pose - they can capture you while running, and an abrupt stop can cause accidents, falls, trips, etc.
  • Speaking of abrupt stops – if you need to tie or shoe or are waiting for someone to catch up, step to the side of the course so no one trips over you.
  • If you want to run with a friend who is in a different corral, the faster of the two will move back to the slower corral.
  • Be kind to your fellow runners and encourage one another!
  • Have fun!

Looking to grab yourself a new pair of runDisney New Balance Shoes? Runners get first dibs on them Thursday, while other guests can purchase May 6th or 7th (no virtual queue on these days). If you are running, jump in the virtual queue at 7pm Wednesday evening (May 4th) to try on and purchase footwear on the first day of the expo (May 5th). Once you fill out the form and submit, you'll get a text or email with your group number and return time. On expo day, you'll receive another notice when you're group number is up. You'll want to get there within an hour of your callback notice to ensure access to your requested shoe. Once you're at the booth, check in with an NB associate so they can get your name/confirmation number to get the process started. More information can be found here.

2016 New Balance runDisney Ariel

I plan on attending the We Run Social event at 1pm on Saturday (after the 10k) that's at Trader Sam's. This will be my first social meet-up, so I hope I don't just sit in a corner being shy and instead make the most of it! haha. I should be able to recognize a few faces from social media. Anyone else planning on going?

If you see me at all during Tinker Bell Weekend—whether at the expo, at the parks, on the race course—please don't hesitate to say hi! I understand the whole shy thing, as I'm shy too, but let's be friends :)

Who's all ready to go? I've got some packing to do myself and hoping I remember everything I need. What's on your packing list?

Friday, April 29, 2016

buff in the wild campaign

Disclaimer: BibRave and BUFF have partnered up for a BUFF prizepack giveaway, and as part of being a BibRave Pro, I am giving you a chance to win! Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out to review, find, and write race reviews!

This is the UV Half BUFF that's likely to make an appearance or two.

If you are a frequent reader of this blog, you know I've had the chance to test a few different BUFF products, and I've loved them all. There was the UV Half BUFF, the UV Full BUFF, the Thermal Hoodie, and the Merino Wool BUFF. All great products and I almost always have some version of the BUFF on me when I go for a run.

Here's a #BUFFIE all by my lonesome with my Merino Wool BUFF.

Prize pack of BUFF gear for one lucky winner includes:
1 Original BUFF
1 Merino Wool BUFF
1 UV Half BUFF
1 Headband
1 Shirt
1 Sweatshirt 

This all comes to a retail value of $215! Honestly, I wish I could enter! So much awesome gear.

How do you enter? 
First, you'll need to find me at a race in the month of May. I have a few, so if you do a lot of races too, you're odds go up!

May 1: Southwest Half Marathon
May 22: Chicago Spring Half Marathon
May 24: United Relay, Stage 318, Chicago
May 28: Soldier Field 10 Mile
May 30: Ridge Run 5k

On a side note, I'll also be at all of the Tinker Bell Half Marathon Weekend races, but I haven't decided if I'll be doing the contest there, as it's already a hectic race weekend. Make sure to follow me on Twitter (@HeatherRuns13_1) and Instagram (@HeatherRuns13.1), and I'll post a Flat Heather and let you know whether you should come find me or not. I'll definitely post Flat Heathers before each of the other races, and try and tweet out my whereabouts once I get to the races, so you can better find me :) It's very likely I'll be in my BibRave orange tank or tee for many of these races.

My BibRave BUFF.

1. Take a #BUFFIE with a BibRave Pro and post it on Twitter or Instagram.
2. Tag @BibRave & @BUFF_USA (same handles on both Twitter and Instagram).
3. Use hastags #BUFFIE AND #BibChat.
4. Contest runs May 1–31, 2016.
5. For US residents only. 
6. Photo must be taken at a race (so not the expo or a training run)
7. Participants can enter the #BUFFIE contest at multiple events 
8. One #BUFFIE entry per race 
9. Twitter and Instagram entries only* 

An example of a #BUFFIE with my pal Julia.

I'm pretty much game for any kind of #BUFFIE you want - silly face, smiling, being 'buff'. I mean, I have my limits, bit I'll do my best to accommodate the kind of #BUFFIE you'd like to post to Social Media haha.

Let me know if you have any questions. If you know you'll be at one of these races - let me know which one(s) in the comment section. It'll help me keep an eye out for you as well :)

Not in the Chicagoland area? Maybe one of the other participating BibRave Pros will be at one of your races. Check out their posts (I'll update as we go and add the Pros once their blogs are up):

Angie | Mark | Karen | Brenda | Katherine | Lisa | Elizabeth | Samantha | Gina

Remember to keep an eye on my Twitter and Instagram feed for my outfit and locations for the races! You definitely want to win this prize pack!

*This giveaway is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with, Instagram or Twitter

Thursday, April 28, 2016

shamrock shuffle 2016 recap

Source: @ChiShuffle

The Shamrock Shuffle was held on Sunday, April 3, 2016. The Health and Fitness Expo was on Friday, April 1 from 10 a.m. – 8 p.m. and on Saturday, April 2 from 9 a.m. – 6 p.m. You can read my more succinct review over on BibRave.

I was able to get to the Expo on Friday morning when it opened. Packet pickup was quite easy - just head on over to your bib number line and show them your confirmation email.They give you an envelope with your bib and safety pins, and then you head to the back to grab your shirt. They give you your plastic bag with some coupons, samples, sunglasses, and shirt. I felt like the size I got was a little snug, so I went to the exchange booth area. They just scan your envelope barcode and you exchange your size for the new one. They had sample shirts for you to try on as well. (You were allowed to have someone else pick up your packet, they just needed your confirmation email.)

The Expo was closer to the Parking Garage this year (West Buidling, Hall F), which was nice. No longer needed to walk the mile to get to Expo Hall A. It was filled with vendors and races - most offering expo discounts. I snagged some new Sparkly Soul headbands and chatted with some of the race folks. Nuun was also there with their new formula, so I tested a few of the flavors hoping to find one I liked as much as the old formula. Negative. So disappointed that I have to find a new hydration mix, but I digress.

Fleet Feet Chicago is always there with the Nike Shamrock Shuffle gear - way too many awesome items here! Sweatshirts (they had the cowel neck one similar to the Chicago Marathon, so obviously needed that), t-shirts, tech shirts, tech 1/4 zip jackets, and those new Nike Flyknit shoes. I grabbed a few items as I'm a sucker for Chicago Irish items haha. I also got a pint glass from the Official Merchandise area (they had water bottles, coffee mugs, stickers, magnets, etc).

We also made sure to get our parking ticket validated so it was $10 instead of $20 (there was a kiosk before exiting the expo hall with someone who did this for you).

This race is always very well organized. They have two separate waves to help keep the congestion to a minimum. Along with these waves, you are designated a color - red or blue. This designates which area of gear check you use. I don't do gear check ever, so I can't speak to how this went, but I have a feeling it was smooth. It opened at 6:30 am and closes at 11:30 am.

Flat Heather ready to go, though I made some adjustments in the morning.

Food trucks.

Start corrals opened at 6:30 am, with Wave 1 starting at 8:30 am (Corrals A–D), and Wave 2 (Corrals E–H) beginning at 9 am. Now, take note that since there are multiple corrals in each wave, unless you are A or E, you won't be starting at the start time of the wave itself. They leave a few minutes (maybe 5?) between each corral start so as to get the course cleared a bit before releasing the next group of runners. I was in Corral H, and I think I crossed the start around 9:30. There were plenty of porta-potties at the start, also.

Forgot I had a Shamrock Sparkle Athletic skirt and leggings!

My mom and I parked at Soldier Field and walked over. There was someone else in the parking lot heading over who didn't know where to go, so she walked with us. It's always nice to make new friends :)

With so much of the area blocked off for safety reasons, it took us a bit to find our way into the start area, but we eventually made it and went our separate ways. There was a Thomas' food truck there giving out free bagels and muffins to participants, which was cool. The line wasn't too long, but I can't eat before races, so we passed. When we finished, the line was super long.

At the Start Line.

Like I said earlier, this race knows what they are doing. The aid stations are all well staffed and it's always Gatorade at the first few tables and then water after that. Each aid station also had plenty of porta-potties. The two aid stations were at Mile 1.6 (State and Randolph) and Mile 3.6 (Harrison and Wells).

Running down State Street.

The course time requirement is a 15-minute per mile pace and must complete the full 8k (4.97 miles) in 1 hour and 15 minutes. There were clocks and mile marketed at every mile. Timing mats were at the start, 5k, and finish line. Don't expect your GPS watch to be completely accurate - along with adding distance by not running the tangents, it's often difficult for the watches to get accurate satellite readings in the city. My watch at the finish said 5.53 miles.

Going up Mt. Roosevelt.

Being in the last corral, we tried to stay towards the back since we are slower. However, once we started moving up, a ton of runners were suddenly behind us. Whether they were running late and missed their corrals, I'm not sure what happened, but suddenly Corral H was monstrous in size. It could have used a separation between the two halves before starting, even. I think this might have been part of the problem with the course never really thinning out and being crowded the whole way. I've never had that problem before this year, and I think it's because so many people were starting in the last corral.

Headed into the Finish.

The course begins on Columbus and Monroe. You head north on Columbus, west on Grand, south on State, west on Jackson, north on Lasalle, west on Randolph, south on Franklin, east on Harrison, south on Michigan, east on Mount Roosevelt, and north to the finish line on Columbus. At the finish line you received your medal and grab photos and goodies until you are out of the finishers chute. Goodies this year included bananas, bottled water, cups of Gatorade, snack bars, pretzels, Sun Chips  The post-race party is around Buckingham Fountain in Grant Park. Each participant received a free beer (Michelob Ultra).

My mom and I took a quick look around and as I was wondering how our new friend did at the race, we actually ran in to her! We took a photo and then mom and I began our journey back to the car.

The day started out a bit windy and cold, but it was fine while running (minus a few big gusts of winds that made me glad I didn't wear a hat because I know I would have lost it). The weather was in the mid-30s at start (7 am was a feels like temp of 25) and at races end was in the low-40s. Approximately 10mph winds. I was comfortable during the race – it was cold waiting in the corrals, but that's the norm it seems.

I love doing this race, and for most it marks the beginning of race season in Chicago. I race all year long, so doesn't so much for me, though it does mark the beginning of when there are more races to choose from every weekend. As long as I'm able, I'll definitely be back again for 2017. I was coming off of a late night from a wedding, so wasn't expecting anything crazy with my pace. Having a large crowd that never really thinned out around us made it difficult to pass or  weave around, so we just kept an easy pace and had fun. It's a nice change to actually run through the streets of Chicago versus the Lake Front Path, and not a ton of races in the city are afforded that luxury. My advice is to just enjoy yourself the best you can :)

Sunday, April 24, 2016

the perfect sunglasses for an active lifestyle: xx2i bermuda1 review

Disclaimer: I received the XX2i Bermuda1 to review as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out to review, find, and write race reviews!

I love sunglasses. You know how I said I have a headphones addiction? I think my sunglasses one is worse. I'm a big fan of freebies, too. My favorite local brewery is currently giving away sunglasses during their Spring Break week, and there are five colors. I'm trying really hard to get in there 5 days to collect one of each. It's a real problem. I think it stems from the fact that I often end up scratching them so easily (I'm clumsy and drop things a lot, which is why my phone is in a giant Lifeproof case haha), and once they are scratched, I can't wear them anymore. That's all I can focus on, and it gives me a headache.

Also, I have super sensitive yes, so even if it's cloudy, rainy, or snowy, I still need to wear sunglasses. This means I need to hair a pair in both mine and my husband's cars, and in my purse, and in my set of workout gear, etc. I love the XX2i USA1 that I received a while back - they work great for running and I don't have any issues with them fogging up (I'm a super sweater when I run, so that's important). They are a quality product, so when I heard that they were giving a few BibRave Pros the chance to test out their first Lifestyle sunglasses (before they were even for sale - how cool!), I definitely wanted to be included.

They are called Bermuda1 and they are amazing. I received the Matte Tortoise color, which can be a tough color/pattern to get right, but XX2i executed it wonderfully. It's not that super light brown and dark spot kind, it's a subtle color change. 

After the Chi Town Half Marathon.

I've gotten to try a lot of cool products thanks to the BibRave Pro program, but these sunglasses were the first thing my husband actually tried on and said that I should just give them to him, or buy him a pair when they come out. I asked him if he felt the tortoise were too girly, but he said he'd definitely wear them and think that because the colors are so subtle (they almost look just dark brown) that it didn't bother him at all. I guess the point of this story is, I better keep an eye on my Bermuda1 or buy him his own pair ;)

After races, heading out for birthday parties. Pick me up provided by Starbucks.

I've worn them just about every. single. day. since receiving them. They are great for going on walks, running errands, driving, taking the dog to therapy sessions, outdoor children birthday parties on beautiful, sunny days, yard work. 

I've even worn them for a few runs. They worked great - the only minor issue I had running in them was a little bit of fogging at the bottom of the lens where the base of the sunglasses basically touches my lower eye/cheek area, which now that it's been in the 70s with high humidity the past few runs, means a ton of sweat... so it didn't surprise me too much since these are meant more for the casual wear rather than running itself. Since they don't have as much room to get air in there to stay anti-fog, it made sense. They are a larger frame than their running/cycling sunglasses, so again, no surprise that they might fog a bit, however, it wasn't so much that it ruined my vision or bothered me much. They didn't bounce at all or slide down. They stayed in place the whole time. Anyway, I only wear them to run if there's a breeze or if it's a short one. I'll stick to my USA1 for the longer/hotter runs :)

I love the polarized lenses. They're mirror-like if you're looking at them, which I just think is a cool look. I found them to be very comfortable, even when I used them with my Aftershokz Trekz Titanium, which have a loop around your ear. They are very clear lenses so my vision was never impaired. I even accidentally dropped them (yep - that clumsiness coming out again), and might have shouted 'NOOOOO', but when I picked them up, no scratches. Phew.

Since they aren't up on the website yet, here are some details XX2i provided us with:
As XX2i's first casual model, the Bermuda1 is the ultimate go-to sunglass that goes easy on your wallet. Available in classic Matte Black, Matte Tortoise, White & Black, and Crystal Black, the Bermuda1 is the perfect accessory for adventure, whether that be a trip to the beach or a quick walk with the dog. Using the same advanced material's as XX2i's performance models, the Bermuda1 comes standard with polarized lenses that employ 4k optical technology, ensuring the utmost frame durability and lens clarity. All XX2i shades come with a 365 day money back guarantee and a lifetime frame and lens warranty.

In the box you receive a hard case + a soft case. I like to keep the soft case in my purse, since part of my scratching problem comes from tossing sunglasses in there without any protection. I don't want this to happen with these beauties, so I make sure to put them in the case first.

You can get yourself a pair once they are available with a 50% discount! Use code XX2iRocks at checkout. I'll update the blog once there is a direct link to the Bermuda1. You can stock up on some runner shades too while you're there, too. I know I will be (France1 Hyper Pink, I'm looking at you!). 

{Editor's note: The casual line has been released and is up the website for viewing/purchasing. They retail at $99.99. Head on over and remember to use the discount code for 50% off!}

Sometimes when it's a beautiful day, you need to head to your favorite
local brewery and grab a beer while their garage doors are open.

Join BibRave, the BibRave Pros, and sponsor XX2i for #BibChat on Tuesday, April 26 and be the FIRST to find out how to purchase (or maybe even win) the XX2i Bermuda1. You seriously want to get yourself a pair... I love them. Probably more than a person should love an inanimate object ;)

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