Sunday, August 30, 2015

plantronics backbeat fit review

Disclaimer: I received a the Plantronics BackBeat FIT Wireless Headphones + Mic 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!

If you are like me, you've tried your fair share of headphones, because, like me, you NEED some music when you are running. I'm sure I could get by on a run without music, but honestly, I just don't want to. 

After some searching, I finally found a pair of wired earbuds that worked well for me, but like most people, I wanted to try and find the perfect wireless headphones. No more wires messing up my photos. Plus, I already have so much on me (you might have noticed from photos or other posts that I am the kind of runner that likes to be prepared... aka brings way too much stuff with me on my runs), cutting that wire would be quite helpful in making me feel less encumbered. 

Red light means they are charging.

I have to admit, I've tried a few pairs out. They worked ok, but there was always some problem – music cutting in and out (drove me nuts), or the earbuds not fitting quite right, or the earbuds falling out constantly. Some other BibRave Pros had the chance to try these Plantronics BackBeat FIT before me, and they all had such great things to say, so I was itching to give them a try. Thanks to BibRave and Plantronics for giving me that chance.

Angie and I have had much discussion on headphones. We seem to have the same issue – finding a pair that stays in our ears and are comfortable during our runs. So when she said these worked quite well for her, I was intrigued.

When I took them out of their box, I already had a surprise. From the photos, I thought that the piece that went from one bud to the other was hard, but it was actually rubbery. That was good news, because I tried a pair that was hard and they bounced too much for my tastes. I was pretty excited because I received the blue pair – my favorite color. Yellow is the other option, which is cool, but I prefer blue :)

A feature I knew would be great for me was that they had a battery life of 8 hours. Considering my first marathon took about 7 hours to complete, it was nice to know I'd have a pair of headphones that would last the entire race. 

Another awesome feature is that they are waterproof. No more worrying about my sweat ruining them, or getting caught in the rain. Super good news for me since it rained the first time I used them, and then also I was super sweaty from 11.25 miles + heat and humidity.

Their first run, in fact, was a Saturday long run. I knew this was the test they needed, as any pair can manage to feel comfortable for a 3 miler. 11.25 miles of wear would let me know if they would stay in my ear, have no bounce, leave my ears pain-free, and not go in and out of sound. Check, check, check, and check. 

Another issue I sometimes run across is any type of headphone that goes over ears. I pretty much always wear sunglasses because my eyes are sensitive, and the over ear headphones become bothersome having to deal with that and my sunglasses behind my ear. The BackBeat FIT and my sunglasses worked well together, and even though the headphones go around the ears, they didn't interfere with my sunglasses. Yay!

They survived their first long run!

Like all good researches, one test was not enough. I used them on other short and long runs, outside and indoors on the treadmill and elliptical, and at Fort2Base (11.5 mile race). That waterproof thing came in handy again at Fort2Base as I got poured on about halfway through, briefly, and then again near the finish line. I didn't have to worry getting my headphones in ziplock bag, which was nice.

Both Angie and I with our BackBeat FIT
ready for Fort2Base.

They sync up via your phone's bluetooth, so of course there is the worry of battery life on the phone. I have a fairly new iPhone 6, and after my long runs, my phone still had more than half its battery left (so not only was the bluetooth on the whole time, but also playing music and having Nike+ running in the background). More points for these headphones. PS They were really easy to sync up.

While I appreciate other brands that give you multiple earbud sizes to try out, I can honestly never find the right size. They are all either too big or too small. These don't give you an option, but they fit my smaller ears just fine without any pain or falling out mid-run. I don't have to adjust them at all once they are in.

Once I read the instructions, I made mental notes of all the buttons, and had no problems during my run adjusting volume, switching songs, or turning off/on. A voice even tells you when they are on and connected, and when they are turning off. For music and once they are on, you just use the left side for volume, playing/pausing, or to switch songs (just tap the play button twice). They also charge up pretty quickly. They have a red light during charge which turns green when they are good to go.

Thumbs up for these wireless headphones!

They headphones also come with a carrying case that doubles as an armband. I don't like using armbands, but when traveling to Fort2Base, I used the case to hold my headphones and the charger. It was nice to keep it all together.

I haven't used them to take a call, but you can do so if you are so inclined. They've been great for music. I think of all the times I've used them, they've only cut out twice. Definitely manageable and bearable. 

These headphones are the best wireless pair I've tried out yet, and that's really saying something. You can get yourself a pair online for $129.99. They also sell spare eartips, if you need them, for $4.95.

Plantronics is sponsoring #BibChat on Tuesday at 8pm CT. Make sure to come by for the hour-long chat, and have a chance to win some great prizes. You can follow Plantronics different accounts here:

Read what the other Pros thought:

Saturday, August 29, 2015

fort2base race recap

Disclaimer: I received a free race entry into Fort2Base 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!

Pre-race ritual: laying out flat Heather to make sure I have
everything ready for the morning, some compression
with Zensah and rolling with Addaday.

When I was asked to race Fort2Base, I was pretty excited. It would be a new race and a new distance for me, plus, it looked like a really cool race. When asking about it on Twitter, there was a very positive response from other runners who had previously done it. (You can read my shorter review on BibRave.)

Fort2Base offers both a 3 Nautical Miles and 10 Nautical Miles race. 3NM equals 3.45 miles, and 10NM is 11.5 miles.

Working out the logistics of the race was more time consuming than a lot of other races, but now that the race is over, I'd say it was most definitely worth it. I was able to convince Angie and Josh to run it by suggesting we split a hotel room. With a 7am race start, and having to be shuttled over to that location (with a 30 minute transportation time), I knew that I wouldn't want to wake up at 3am in order to make it there on time.

Booking a hotel room was an excellent idea, and you'll see why. Included with the hotel room was packet pickup at check-in, runner's breakfast starting at 3:30, shuttles to the shuttles to the race, and a late check-out at 1pm. 

Angie and Josh had two other races on Saturday, so they wouldn't be in until late Saturday evening (ended up being around 11:45), so I told them I would get their packets. When I registered and learned that you could get packets at check-in, I emailed the race to make sure that all three of our packets would be there. I figured they would know to have mine, since I was the one that registered through the race hotel link, but they wouldn't know about Angie and Josh's. Even if it was just me, I would have emailed to confirm that my name was on the list for packet pickup at the hotel, since I knew I wouldn't be making it to any of the other packet pickup dates/times, and I wouldn't get to the hotel in time to run to the packet pickup on Saturday if my packet wasn't at the hotel. I got a quick email response back that our names were added to the list. I'm not sure how it worked out for everyone else that did the hotel room, but it worked for me.

I got to the hotel at about 7pm Saturday evening, had a quick and easy check-in, and received the three packets for the race. The hotel worker knew my name from check-in, so just had to give the other two. She found all three easily, and gave me some pins. Inside the bags were our bibs, shirts, race guide book, and a little goody bag with candy and smiley stickers. I really like the shirt, but unfortunately, it was a bit large, and I didn't know how to go about exchanging it – I couldn't find any info about it in the guide book, and never received an answer on Facebook about it. I feared I could only do it after the race, and so I would either have to do gear check, or carry the shirt with me while I ran. I already have so much stuff to worry about on race day, I decided I would just keep it and wear it around the house/about town rather than for running (unless I can figure out how to shrink it a little haha). 

They had a shuttle sign-up sheet at the front desk, and the only time slot with three spots left was at 4:15. I wrote our names down in case, but after some discussion with Angie, we decided to get some extra sleep and drive ourselves to the university parking lot to catch the buses to the start line. So, I ended up going back to the front desk to whiteout our names, so they wouldn't be waiting for us in the am and others could sign up if they wanted. It seemed like the first shuttles was at 4, and then the last one at 5:45ish. They seemed to leave in 15 minute increments, but I can't be sure. The hotel also had signs up all over the lobby cheering on the runners – it was fantastic.

While waiting for Angie and Josh to arrive, I got all of my gear ready for the next morning: clothes, shoes, BodyGlide, charged my Plantronics Backbeat FIT (excited to take them out for their first race), Clif Shot Bloks, FlipBelt, chapstick, OrangeMud Backpack and bottles, Nuun, watch, SparklySoul Headband, RunGoo, ID wallet, Road ID... is that it? Like I said... I have a lot of stuff haha. I laid everything out so I didn't have to do much thinking come our 5am wake up call. 

After Angie and Josh arrived, we chatted a bit and finished our race morning logistics, deciding to wake up at 5 and try to leave by 5:45 to get to the parking lot for the bus (they ran from 5am–6:15am). After a little more chit chat, we went to bed around 12:15/12:30.

And runners love Courtyard!

5am came way too soon, as I didn't sleep very well (which is the usual for me on race nights and when I'm at hotels – I think I get anxious and there just isn;t enough white noise for me to get a good nights sleep.). We all stumbled about as we got ready to go, and somehow we were all able to be ready to leave the room at 5:30. Go us. We stopped in the lobby to grab a bite  – they had provided coffee, mini bagels, and mini muffins. I had half the mini bagel, as that's all I was able to handle so early in the morning. As we were leaving, we saw a shuttle pull up, so we ran to the car so we could just follow them to the drop off.

Photo courtesy of Angie.
This is my 'we got less than 5 hours of sleep' face ;)

The university was about 4 miles from the hotel, and it ended up taking about 15 minutes to get there, with some back up of cars all going to the same place. Parking was a bit of a jumble, as no one was really directing cars where to go. We mentioned how it would have been nice if they were doing stadium parking — as in, someone directs the cars to the farthest spot down the aisle, and then cars follow in parking in the spots next to it, going down the line, until the lane is full. Then on to the next one. Unfortunately, we were just scrambling about trying to find an empty spot. Luckily we snagged one and were off to hop on the bus. There were two lines – one to get on buses to the 3NM and the other for the 10NM (they started at different points). There were volunteers there letting us know which was which, so no problems with messing that up.

While getting in line for the bus, we ran into fellow BibRavePro Tom. Yay! I had a seat mate now! We all chatted the whole way there, so the 30 minute bus ride went by quickly.

Photo courtesy of Angie.

We got there at about 6:45ish I think, and then met up with other BibRave Pro running the race, Kati. We snapped some quick photos, and then she was off to do gear check and then a mile warm up. The remaining four chatted until it was time to line up. I stood with the fast group for a while, and then about 3 minutes before starting, I went to the back where my pace belonged. I was so happy to see that they had pacers, but not only for the quicker people, but up to 16 minute mile pace. That is rare, and so awesome, especially since they promoted the race as walker and runner friendly – the 10NM race had a 16:10 mile pace cut off, which is 10 secs slower than most other races, if not more. 

BibRave Pros!

I had been having some knee problems, but when we started, I was feeling good. I ran the first few minutes, and then began my run/walk intervals (which I noticed a lot of others doing as well). I went with 45 secs running and 2 minutes walking. I loved the change of scenery, and that the race was a point to point instead of an out and back or a loop. I was feeling good (albeit uncomfortable thanks to 80% humidity) until about mile 4. Then the knee pain started, though not as bad as it had been previous weekends. It's strange, since it only hits a few miles in on my long runs, and I don't have pain on my short runs during the week. Doing some more research, I'm starting to think it might be my IT band. Further review will be taken with my physical therapist. 

Anyway, I slowed down a bit, but still stuck with the intervals. I had been staying near the 14:00 min/mile pacer, and my goal was to try and stay that way. As long as she was in my sights, I was happy. I think around mile 5 we hit some rain – it started slow, then poured, but it was all in about a minute span. I didn't mind, since it felt nice. The weather would have been perfect if the humidity had stayed away – it was low/mid 60s and cloudy with a breeze. Lovely. After running around the Fort, we were onto the trail that would take us to the Base. I thought the trail was nice, and most cyclists gave warning when they were coming, which was helpful. I didn't notice any issues with congestion.

At about mile 6 or 7 there was a DJ encouraging runners, saying their names and helping morale when people were starting to get tired. He told me to keep up the great work, and then said that he loved my outfit – and then proceeded to tell everyone around to give me a cheer for it haha. It made me laugh.

There were also a group of three friends that were on similar intervals as me, but opposite. So they would catch up to me and walk, and right about when they stopped to walk, my beeper went off for my run. It went on like that for a while, but they eventually passed me when I slowed down. I had another goal to keep them in my sights and not let them get too far. Doing things like that keeps me motivated, plus, helps the miles tick on by. I was shocked when I got to mile 8, because normally by then I am tired and have been slowly ticking off the miles, but not that day – they went by so quickly (but not really quickly because I'm a slow runner haha).

Anyway, eventually we were turning onto the naval base. It was cool to see so many active military members out cheering for us. Their encouraging words really helped keep me going. The woman at the last water stop (I think it was the last one) had hilarious rhymes for her water stop cheers – I loved it. 

I ran past Angie, Tom, and Josh as they cheered me on (they had just finished and walked over to catch me). Yay! Angie got some really great photos of me here. HA. I complained about my knee, but continued on, telling them I'd see them in an hour ;)


And then, after going by the lake for a bit, Hero Hill was in my sights. Whoa. I had heard that there was a hill (thank goodness for the warning, because if I hadn't known about this bad boy near the end of the race, I think I might have collapsed and cried). It was SO STEEP and long haha. Luckily, they had motivational signs leading up to it, and then military men and women were there running up and down with the racers to encourage them and push them up. The one guy asked the person in front of me (surprisingly enough two of the friends that I had been playing tag with) if they wanted to run up with him. I laughed to myself, because I knew there was no way I'd be able to run up that thing and still finish the race... so, I walked. (By the way, even my pacer who I chatted with briefly had said we walk the hill no matter what haha). 

Didn't even realize till after the race that my skirt matched
my socks and KT Tape.

My thoughts exactly. I put all my efforts into just putting each foot in front of the other, but everyone cheering us on was quite helpful. The guy in front of me just kept saying it doesn't matter how we get up – run, walk, or crawl – just get up that hill. And then, at the top, there's a banner you run under that says 'Hero Hill'. After what seemed like forever, and enough time to slow my average pace considerably, we were up the hill and I was running my intervals again.

It started raining again, about a mile or so from the finish. No bother. Before I knew it, I was turning the corner to go down the finisher's chute and cross the finish line. The gang was there cheering me on, as were some other spectators and runners. An active military man placed a medal around my neck, and then I got a towel from a little boy handing them out. What a cutie. I then got some bottled water and bottled SoBe Life Water, and then headed to the food tent. There, I grabbed a banana, pita chips, popcorn, a Clif Bar, and Cracker Jacks.

Oh, before I forget, my pacer was at the finish line with some other pacers. I just had to go up to her and thank her for her encouraging words on the course. Anytime she passed me, or I passed her, she would say motivating things that put a smile on my face. She got away from me around mile 9/10ish. I had her in my sights until Hero Hill, and then she disappeared, but having someone to keep my sights on really kept me motivated and entertained during the race. I gave her a hug and said thank you, and we chatted a bit. It was my first time even attempting to stay near a pacer, so it was cool for me. I knew I couldn't stick with her completely, since I didn't want to change the intervals I had been working with, but keeping her in my area helped out. Anyway, I didn't catch her name, and I doubt she'd read this, but I appreciated her awesomeness.

And later realized that my post-race outfit matched my race outfit.

The BRP gang chatted a bit more, and then Tom was on his way. We stopped briefly at the merchandise tent and then stopped for samples of PowerBar. We walked over to the bus line, which was quite long, but moved pretty quickly. If we weren't so tired, I'd say we could have walked to the parking lot, I think it was only about a mile or so away.

A sad little note about Fort2Base was that once you were at the Base, no photography was allowed – so I have no photos of Hero Hill (the event photographer wasn't even taking any photos when I was going up), the finish line, or anything like that. I was attempting to take a photo right before entering of the entrance sign, but heard a military dude tell a guy a little in front of me no photos, so I put my phone away. Also when entering, I saw a sign of all the 'dont's' inside the base, and photos was one of them. I totally understand it, but really wish I had a few photos from the course or finish. Anyway, that's why I have no photos to show for that portion of the course.

Another thing of note was that I couldn't tell weather the mile markers were for Nautical Miles or regular miles. My watch is always a bit off (as they tend to be if you don't run the tangents exactly, which I most certainly don't/can't haha), so I was confused the whole race until I got to 10 and it wasn't the finish line haha. Not a big deal for me, as the miles ticked off pretty quickly, but I'm sure it could have been disheartening for some. Perhaps there was clarification or word about it somewhere, but I didn't see it, and one of the pacers wasn't sure either (or if I had looked at the map more closely, but I have a hard time remember where the mile markers are anyway unless I write it down haha). Anyway, sorry that's a bit out of sorts... I sometimes ramble on ;)

We got back to the car, and then went on our way back to the hotel. On the way, we stopped at Dunkin Donuts for donuts and warm drinks (chai tea for me, coffee for the others). We were pretty cold after being all sweaty and in the rain, so it was nice to drink something warm. We got back to the hotel, took our turns showering and rested/chatted until checkout at 1. 

Because, well... donuts! Another Angie collage.

We went for lunch at buffalo wild wings before parting ways. It was so fantastic to hang out with Angie and Josh again – they are so fun to be around.

I had a great time at this race. It was nice not to be on the lakefront path, as nice as that is, for the millionth race – new scenery was welcomed. It was also very humbling to be running with members of the navy and army, as well as having them cheer us on. I think it was a well organized race, and would definitely do it again. The only 'problem' was the logistics, as far as needing to get a hotel, figure out how to get to the buses, figuring out packet pickup, etc... but getting the hotel was definitely a great idea, especially being able to split it with someone. 

After long before parting ways. One last photo was needed.

The swag was top notch, though I would go down a size next year if they used the same shirts. The medal was a pretty decent size, and it had Fort Sheridan on one side, and the Great Lakes Naval Base on the other. I would definitely consider doing this race again next year.

Read what Angie and Tom had to say.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

bibravepro spotlight: caroline

Hello and welcome to the second installment of BibRavePro Spotlight! A little bit behind the series if you missed the first one
I'm excited to introduce a new series on the blog – BibRave Pro Spotlight! Each Tuesday (or at least, most Tuesdays) I'm going to feature a different 
BibRave Pro. The program is thriving, and new Pros are joining the team everyday. I've loved my almost year of being a BRP, and have gained some great friendships through it. It's super awesome that so many new people are being added, but with a large group, it can be hard to get to know everyone as closely as I'd like. Hence, the idea for a blog series developed. I'm thrilled to get to know each Pro a little bit more, and hope you enjoy it too!

I haven't had the pleasure of meeting Caroline in person yet, but we don't live TOO far from each other, so hopefully we'll meet at a race someday soon :) She is super sweet and full of life. We are quite similar in the fact that we both love to read, though she's kicking my butt in numbers this year, as you'll see below. 

Some other things we have in common are our love for Nuun and Clif Shot Bloks! She always has beautifully painted nails, and I wish she would come over and paint mine each week ;) She has a fantastic reason as to why she started running—I think you'll get a kick out of it. She has a great outlook and perspective on life, and it's a joy to get to know her even better with this post. Without further ado, here she is!


Caroline at Rock 'N Roll Chicago.

Name: Caroline
Location: The Midwest!

When did you start running and why? 
The story of how I started running is pretty great. To make a long story short, one night I had a dream that I was running, and it felt fantastic. When I woke up I thought that if running could be anything like that, then I needed to give it a try. I went on my first run that day, and made it 0.75 of a mile before almost passing out. I had to lay down in someone’s front yard for awhile to get my vision and hearing back to normal, and then I shuffled home feeling defeated. My brother encouraged me to build up slowly (I had been diagnosed with POTS, a chronic illness, many years earlier, and that makes exercising really difficult), so my next run I ran 30 seconds followed by walking 4 minutes, and just slowly built my way up. I learned to absolutely love it! So, essentially, I’m ACTUALLY living out my dream :)

What is your favorite race distance? 
My favorite race distance is the half marathon, although I think that 10k or 15k is probably what’s best for my body. I wish they had more races of that length!

What are your top 3 races (these can be running, triathlons, whatever you want)? Why?
  • Monumental HalfMarathon in 2014. I had been training for this race with Team in Training in memory of my grandma, and then ended up with shin splints about 5 weeks before the race. I thought for sure I was going to PR that race, but in that moment I thought it was all over, and I hoped I would just finish the race. I ended up setting a new PR and cried across the finish line. It was an epic final mile of the race and I still get goosebumps when I think about it.
  • Carmel Half Marathon: This race was not only run fantastically on my end, but I met my best running friend during mile 1 of the race! I found BibRave through her!
  • My first triathlonin 2012. This race got me back on the bike after 11 years of not riding, and I found a real love of biking because of it. A friend had died just a few days before the race, and I chose to do it in memory of him 

(I, Heather) Love this photo! Caroline at Monumental Half Marathon 2014.

What's the toughest race you've ever done, whether because of weather, distance, mental fatigue, etc.? 

There were a few races that popped to mind immediately, but I think I’ll stick with the Indy Women’s Half Marathon in 2014. It was ridiculously hot that day, and with POTS I can’t cool myself the way that I could before POTS. At mile 12 I started shivering and got goosebumps. It was rough. Here’s the recap.

Do you have any race day traditions? 
I’ve been told I have way too many, but I love them. In an ideal world, this is what happens: The Sunday before a race, I make two specific dishes: a pasta dish that I eat every dinner, and a quinoa dish (quinoa, sweet potato, salt, craisins, sliced almonds, cinnamon, and turmeric – it smells like Thanksgiving!) for lunch. It’s a perfect mix of carbs, protein, anti-inflammatory things, magnesium, calcium, sodium, etc… The days leading up to a race I watch a running movie. I used to watch Spirit of the Marathon but now that it’s off Netflix I’ve switched to “Pre”. Ideally I paint my nails gray or silver, and I try to wear my green t-shirt that says “We run for love not fear. #indylovesboston”. The night before the race I have a bit of oatmeal with almond milk and cinnamon. Before a race I drink 8 ounces of orange juice, and eat one banana and 1 granola bar. That pretty much sums it up!

The most important lesson running has taught you? 
I can do so much more than I ever thought possible. With my chronic illness, I never thought that running and biking like I do was ever possible, but I worked up slowly over the course of many years to where I am today. We can all do hard things when we put our minds to it!

Some of your favorite running products - either for while running or for recovery and why are they your favorite? 
  • Compression sleeves: I wear them every run! With POTS my blood easily pools in my legs, so wearing compression sleeves both during and after work outs helps me avoid getting dizzy and helps my recovery time!
  • Clif Shot Bloks: I eat them on long training runs and during races. My favorite flavors are cran razz and margarita (extra sodium!).
  • NUUN! It’s so important to stay hydrated, and with POTS I need to be consuming extra sodium and extra fluids, and nuun electrolyte tablets help me accomplish this!
  • My UV buff! I just did a review of this product, but have fallen even more in love with it since then! It’s great to block UV rays on runs and rides, it helps catch sweat from dripping in my eyes, and it’s great for hiking as well! I LOVE it!
At Pikes Peak - you can see that UV Half Buff right there.
And how cute is her hair?!

What are you currently training for? 
I’m currently training for a fall half marathon, but I haven’t pulled the trigger on actually signing up for one yet (I’m debating between two right now!). I WILL be toeing the line this fall though!

Are you a morning runner? Any tips for those of us (i.e. ME) who have trouble getting it done in the AM? 
I am absolutely a morning runner most weeks, as I love to try to beat the heat or get my long run out of the way so I still have a lot of my Saturday. I try to go to bed earlier on Friday’s, and either scheduling a run with a friend or scheduling something late morning really is helpful.

You also do a lot of cycling, would you say that's your favorite form of activity? 
I’m not sure that I have one favorite; I enjoy various activities for different reasons. I absolutely love being outdoors, so doing a 4–5 hour bike ride gives me a great reason to enjoy the peace and quite in nature for many hours. Cycling is a great form of cross training!

Other than running, what are some hobbies you enjoy? 
I also love walking and hiking (again, excuses to be outside!), reading (I’ve finished 55 books this year), writing, and spending as much time as I can with friends and family members. I also love traveling, and have managed to squeeze in a number of trips this summer!

Badlands, South Dakota.

You were diagnosed with POTS quite a few years ago. Can you explain briefly what that is, and how it affects you (in life, running, cycling)? Does exercise help?
POTS is basically abnormal functioning in the autonomic nervous system. So for me, the things that are regulated by this system (brain, eyes, stomach, intestines, blood flow, heart, etc…) are all malfunctioning. I’ve had it for almost 12 years now, so it impacts me less than it did. At first I felt overwhelmingly sick most hours of the day, was walking into corners and walls, had migraines almost constantly, and was in so much pain I could barely stand or eat. Obviously it’s not that way as frequently now, although I still have at least some moments of the day where I am impacted by those things. I’ve had a constant headache since February of 2004, and get migraines regularly from that. I get really dizzy and some days I feel like I have tons of energy and some days I have almost no energy. It’s really frustrating, and while it deeply impacts my life daily, people don’t see that. People see the smiling girl who loves her job, her friends, and all sorts of exercise. While all those things are true, they don’t see my invisible illness. It impacts exercise because I not only feel sick or “off” at points each day, but I get injured easier, it takes longer to recover, and I can get dizzy easily. Exercising is a critical component to managing POTS, but it’s the exact opposite of what your body on POTS wants to do. That being said, exercise has ultimately been really helpful. If you’d like to read a bit more about POTS, you can find some more information and my posts on it here:

How long have you been a BRP? 
Since December of 2014!

What's your favorite thing about being a BibRave Pro? 
The people that I have met! I honestly love the community of people, and find a lot of encouragement from their posts, tweets, etc. If I need some running encouragement, I know I can count on them.

Any fun tidbits about yourself, running, etc that we should know? 
I LOVE running but think it’s important to be balanced about exercise, so I try to bike, walk, do pilates, and sometimes even weight lift during the week (I want to lift regularly, but it’s hard on my own!). I just spent the last 10 days hiking out west, and I feel really sad that I don’t have great places to hike around me- talk about a great form of exercise!

If you aren't following her blog or social media accounts, the info is below. She's adorable and inspirational and honestly, just a delight. So follow her already!

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Make sure to join us tonight for #BibChat tonight at 8pm CT – follow BibRave on Twitter and use the hashtag BibChat to join a conversation about running, food, motivation, music... really, we discuss it all. It's always a fun time, and the hour flies by. The sponsor for tonight's (August 18) chat is the Honolulu Marathon! If you are interested in registering, use code TOMPRO for 20% off! BRP Sarah ran it last year and it looked AMAZING. I wish I could go.

Interested in becoming a BibRave Pro? Fill out an application here.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

bibrave pro spotlight: angie

Hello and welcome! I'm excited to introduce a new series on the blog – BibRave Pro Spotlight! Each Tuesday (or at least, most Tuesdays) I'm going to feature a different BibRave Pro. The program is thriving, and new Pros are joining the team everyday. I've loved my almost year of being a BRP, and have gained some great friendships through it. It's super awesome that so many new people are being added, but with a large group, it can be hard to get to know everyone as closely as I'd like. Hence, the idea for a blog series developed. I'm thrilled to get to know each Pro a little bit more, and hope you enjoy it too!

Angie is my first BibRave Pro Spotlight. She was the first Pro I met in person – back in October of 2014 we both cheered for runners at the Chicago Marathon BibRave Cheer Station, and then hung out for much of the day. Since then, we have gotten really close, and I consider her my BRF (best running friend). I honestly think I talk to her—or maybe I should say communicate, as it's usually via email, Facebook, texting, tweeting—than I do most of my other friends, and I'm totally ok with that. 

She helps keep me motivated, she makes me laugh, and she supports all of my running endeavors. It's funny that we haven't spent a ton of time together in person, but somehow, I feel like I've known her for years. It's probably from all of the joking around and chatting we do on social media. Plus, I think there's something about runners that make it so easy to get to know them – most everyone is friendly, helpful, supportive, honest, and just all around awesome.

Our first real life meeting!

Since last October, we have had the chance to meet up at runDisney Princess Half Marathon weekend, as we both ran all three races, and then again in May for the Soldier Field 10 Mile. Next up is our adventure at Fort2Base in less than two weeks (there's still some spots left - grab yours while you can! Discount code = BIBRAVEDISC and you'll get $14 off the 10 Nautical Miles and $7 off 3 Nautical Miles), then again at The North Face Endurance Challenge Series in Wisconsin, where I'll be cheering her on for the 50k and I'll be running the 10k on Sunday, and then AGAIN the following week at Chicago Marathon, where this time instead of cheering, we both will be running. I am so excited for all of our meets ups!

A collage of fun Angie & Heather photos.

She's been a BibRave Pro for over a year, and she's one of the top contributors every week at #BibChat. PLUS she has 71 race reviews written on and adding more all. the. time. Yeah, she's a superstar! Anyway, enough chatter from me, here she is!

Name: Angie
Location: Iowa

When did you start running and why? 
Started running about 6 years ago, it was a the start of a weight loss journey.

What is your favorite race distance? 
Half marathon, long enough yet short enough to run my fastest.

What's your favorite race (or top 3 if you can't decide)?
WDW Marathon, Blue Ridge Marathon, Grandma's Marathon

What's the toughest race you've ever done, whether because of weather, distance, mental fatigue, etc.? 
The Music City Trail Ultra (50k) I woke up with a fever, the trail was very difficult plus it had rained the days before (slippery and hilly), and I was directed the wrong way.

Do you have any race day traditions? 
Toast/english muffin with peanut butter and coffee an hour out. Otherwise, just another day to run.

Somehow it's not in the interview,
but Angie is a huge Hawkeyes fan.

The most important lesson running has taught you? 
Anything is possible with a little training.

Some of your favorite running products – either for while running or for recovery. Why are they your favorite? 
I love Sparkle Athletic skirts, adds a little fun & flair to race day. My RoadID for safety. Compression socks, compression pants, compression everything :) I just found the perfect for me running shorts, you know the spandex ones with just the right length inseam, the Adidas 7" boy short! I love my Addaday roller for recovery. 

What are you currently training for? 
I always have a race on the calendar, but the one I am actually training for is the North Face Endurance Challenge 50k in Wisconsin. There will be the Madison Mini, The Backpocket 7 miler, the Fort to Base, probably the Quad Cities half marathon and other 5k's to help get me there. Then the week after the 50k, I will run the Chicago Marathon.

Are you a morning runner? Any tips for those of us (i.e. ME) who have trouble getting it done in the AM? 
I prefer the morning, then I don't have to wait all day to get it done, plus it allows time to participate in #bibchat, or mow the lawn. It is hard to get out of bed, but just wake up and do it!

What's your favorite thing about being a BibRave Pro
The community it has created, love my orange wearing running people. It is nice to get products and run races, but meeting new people and traveling to new places is hard to beat.

If you aren't following her on Twitter or Instagram yet, I suggest you get on it pronto. She's funny, inspiring, and she's always out there getting it done (and taking awesome photos, while she's at it). I mean really, she never makes an excuse like some of us are prone to do {clears throat and looks away}. I also love that she doesn't take herself too seriously. 

Angie's social media info:
blog | twitter | instagram

Make sure to join us tonight for #BibChat – follow BibRave on Twitter and use the hashtag BibChat and converse with other like minded folk. It's always a fun time, and the hour flies by. It's at 8pm CT, and tonight's (August 11) sponsor is Buff! They are giving away two UV Half Buffs to two lucky winners, so don't miss out. Not sure what the UV Half Buff is? Check out my review.

Interested in becoming a BibRave Pro? Fill out an application here.

Saturday, August 8, 2015

how i buff: uv half buff review + discount

Disclaimer: I received the UV Half 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!

Wearing the Buff and visor for lots of sweat absorption
and sun protection.

Once again, it's clear that being a BibRave Pro is awesome. We were all told that we'd have a chance to test out the UV Half Buff - whoo! I had seen such products before, but never had a chance to test one out. I know a lot of people use the full Buff (Original) for winter (which I'll be doing come winter, so I'll let you know how that goes), so I figured it would be interesting to use the Half during the summer. The half is, you guessed it, half the size of the Original Buff.

I chose Stadi Fuchsia  one of my favorite colors, and I figured I could pretty much use it/wear it whenever, because it would pretty much match anything I wore. Although now that I have it, I wish I would have chosen a more fun pattern haha. Guess I'll need to add a few more to my collection ;)

I first used my Buff on a 10 mile train run. It was hot and sunny, so I put the Buff on like a headband (though it sat farther on my forehead than most of the headbands I wear) and then put my visor over it. It absorbed the sweat a bit more than my visor normally does, so less sweat dripping down into my eyes. Win #1.

Before and After.

Buff went on its first race for Burgers and Beer 5k, which was a very hot and humid Monday evening race. This time, I wore it more like a sweatband and I called the look 'Warrior'. Ha - seriously though, it worked well as a sweatband absorbing the sweat, and honestly, stayed on better than it does for me as a headband. I have a strange shaped head, and most headbands I wear ride up in the back (I think I'm missing the roundedness back there that most people have). With the visor, I don't notice any issues because the visor keeps it in place. I digress.

I call this 'The Warrior'.

I went on another trail run (remember, I'm training for The North Face Endurance Series 10k in Wisconsin) and this time put Buff wrapped on my wrist. I don't know if it's just me, but I sweat right below my eyes, and after a while, it really stings (my eyes). Buff was a great way to dab at the delicate skin below my eyes to absorb the sweat without making my eyes burn. Plus, it's quick drying, so I don't have to worry about it running out of room to absorb all the sweat ;) I'm also pretty thankful for the odor control aspect. 

Soaked in water and cooling off post-run on the bottom left.

On another really hot run, I decided to dump some of my water on it and wipe my face with the wet Buff. THIS IS MY FAVORITE USE so far. It feels SO amazing to have something for my neck and face to help cool me down. Even though the water had gotten pretty warm, the Buff felt cold on my skin. It even stayed that way the whole run. So refreshing and just gave me a relaxing feeling during the long, hot, sweaty, tiring runs. You could also soak it in water and then put it on as a headband to cool you down.

My pal Julia and I before Burgers and Beer 5k. 

I used it during Rock n Roll 5k and Half Marathon Chicago as well. It was in the high 80s and sunny, so you know I was a hot sweaty mess for this race. I dumped water on it, then put it on my neck, face, legs, arms, and squeezed out excess water on my head. Ahhhhh relief. After another long run, I put it on around my neck for cool down while I sat in the car with the air blasting. It felt great.

There are still a bunch of other ways to wear Buff that I plan on trying, but I haven't gotten to them yet. It's also a great way to protect your skin from the harmful UV rays – I generally try to run where I'll have lots of shade, but it's nice to know if I'm out in the sun, Buff helps keep me protected. I'm also going to mention that I use sunscreen too – I'm so pale, that sun protection is extra important for me (and really, for everyone). 

Materials & washing instructions.

Oh, and another thing - it has a reflective logo on there to add an aspect of safety. That's always a good thing for us runners (or anyone that is active outside).

I also really enjoy whoever is in control of their social media accounts (especially twitter). Whether it was one person, or a bunch, they were aways on point. I would ask a question or mention Buff, and they would like/favorite/respond in less than 60 seconds most times. Talk about fast response time. Not to mention that I find it to be in good form to be active on social media if you have an account for a product or race, and to engage with your consumers. Five stars for Buff on social media!

Some specs from Buff's website:
• Blocks approximately 95% of UV rays 
• Multifunctional
• Exceptional Moisture-wicking with its 4-channel fibers
• Soft, breathable Coolmax Extreme fabric
• Cool in the summer, extra layer of warmth in the winter
• Polygiene Active Odor Control
• Quick drying
• Machine wash (no fabric softeners and air dry - no dryers!)

They have a lot of products that I'm looking into buying, plus, most of their items come in so many color and pattern options. Like, too many – I can't choose! 

Just a few of the options...

And here's something special for you - a 10% discount code! Use BIBRAVE10 for 10% off all orders :) Get yourself a Buff or two (or three, or four... you get the point).

If you go with an Original Buff, here's a video on how you can wear it:

Connect with BUFF:

Read what other PROS thought: