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 ;)

Connect with XX2i Optics:

What the other BibRave Pros had to say:

Thursday, April 14, 2016

don't compromise your safety: aftershokz trek titanium review

Disclaimer: I received a pair of Aftershokz Trekz Titanium 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 think you all know it. I'm headphones fanatic. A hoarder. A snob, some might say. I'm a modern day, grown up Goldilocks looking for the perfect pair of headphones. This pair is too tight. This pair doesn't stay in. This pair is uncomfortable. This pair has wires. This pair is juuuuuuust right.

While I have found a great pair that are super comfy and work wonderfully at the gym, I'm always a little nervous wearing them when running outside. Music has to be very low so I can hear my surroundings. Safety is a major concern, of course. I run trails, and sometimes there are coyote and deer spottings. I'd like to be able to hear any brustling that might occur around me.

The Aftershokz Trekz Titanium wireless stereo headphones are perfect for just this setting. You see, they don't go IN your ear! They use bone conduction technology and an open ear design that allows you to be aware of your surroundings. They were designed with athletes in mind, so they are sweat proof (IP55 certified), secure, and allows you to hear your surroundings — no matter where life takes you.

Trekz Titanium are lightweight, comfortable, and are the safest alternative to traditional sport headphones and earbuds. The longest I've worn them for is 3.5 hours, but I think that's plenty long to know if they're comfortable or not. They didn't cause me any discomfort and I barely noticed them there (except for being able to hear my music, of course). They are wireless and connect to your phone using bluetooth — that might go without saying, but figured I'd mention it any way.

Red light means charging. Blue light means they are ready to go!

I've loved having them for races — so far I've done three in them (Chicago Quarter Marathon, Shamrock Shuffle, and Chi Town Half Marathon). It's great to be able to hear the announcements before/after the race and on course if there are any. It's also great because I do most races with my mom, and with these headphones it's easy to chat/listen to her without having to pause my music or take out an earbud. I can set the volume so I can hear the music when there's a lull, but also hear her if she's speaking. It's awesome.

Apparently I really liked this pose haha.

They're also great for use around the house or for doing yard work. I can listen to music, but if my husband is calling for me for whatever reason, I can still hear him. Boom.

Some Features of the Aftershokz Trekz Titanium:
• Bone conduction technology delivers music through your cheekbones, ensuring ears remain completely open to hear ambient sounds
• Titanium wraparound headband is lightweight and flexible for durability and portability
• OpenFit™ design ensures maximum situational awareness and comfort during long-term wear
• PremiumPitch+™ guarantees a premium audio experience, including wide dynamic range and rich bass
• Wireless Bluetooth® 4.1 connectivity and convenient multipoint pairing
• LeakSlayer™ technology significantly reduces natural sound leakage
• IP55 certified to repel sweat, dust, and moisture—from workouts to wicked weather
• Enjoy six hours of continuous music + calls on a single charge
• EQ presets boost bass and reduce vibration on the go
• Dual voice canceling microphones exclude surrounding noise, effectively enhancing 
• Audrey Says™ voice prompts guide users through power, pair, play, and talk
• Hassle-free 2-year warranty

Check out this short video that talks about the technology and design:

When I received them (the Ivy color), I immediately took out of the box to charge. The light is red when charging, and blue when charging is complete. This took about 30 minutes, though if you've used them so much they've died, it's about an 1.5 to charge (not bad at all!). 

Once they were charge, I turned them on and did the pairing to my phone. This was super easy to do – I didn't even have to put them in pair mode (though according to the instructions you'll want to hold down the power for 5 seconds... I guess I did that automatically haha), just turning them on and going to my Bluetooth settings on my phone, the phone had already found the device to pair them up. I haven't had any issues connecting to my phone in all the times I've used them, which is a lot.

Flat Heather for the Chicago Quarter Marathon.

I know you can answer/end calls from them as well, but I don't really make or receive many phone calls, so can't really speak to how well that worked, though it seems easy enough.

They also came with silicon rubber bands that provide adjustability to accommodate smaller head sizes. I have a smaller head (and by small, I mean most adjustable hats can't be pulled tight enough), but haven't found a need for the bands.

I figured out the best way to get on my BUFF along with my headphones.
 Gotta keep my ears warm.

Also in the box is a pair of earplugs. Why? So you can use your headphones in environments where it is safe to block out ambient noise, such as an airplane or train.

While running I don't notice any bouncing and rarely have to adjust the headphones. They've been fantastic. I'd say my only problem with them was when it was cold out and I needed to wear a hat. I couldn't quite figure out how to wear them and still be able to cover my ears, because I couldn't fit the band under a fitted hat. Well, I finally figured out a way to wear my BUFF so the headphones would still work and fit properly, and eventually the smarts on how to wear my fitted winter hat came out too. Problem solved with a bit of quick maneuvering to get the hat or BUFF in the right spots and to headphones underneath. With the hat, I ended up just putting the headphones on over them and I could still hear the music perfectly. 

Because of the back part, I couldn't get them inside my
fitted winter hat, but worked just find on the outside!

I generally had no issues with the music cutting in and out, like I have with other headphones. The rare times it had, it was brief and not annoying (I've had some headphones that for an entire run went in and out and it drove me bonkers). I do wear my Orange Mud HydraQuiver VP1 on most runs, in which I put my phone in the front chest pocket, so maybe the nearness to the headphones is partly why it's always been so awesome. When I went on walks my phone was in a jacket pocket, and they worked fine then too. 

I've worn them on super windy days – can still hear just fine. I would recommend you have the volume all the way up on your phone when connected, and then you adjust the music volume on the headphones from there. If you have the volume low on your phone, then the headphones can only go up so much. That being said, I usually am able to run with them on maybe the third from the lowest setting and it's perfect (for me). I usually run where there isn't a ton of traffic or on the trails, so don't need them super high, but sometimes I up it if I'm near a busy road. 

The volume is very easy to adjust while on the run - the volume buttons are on the right side, near the ear. The play/pause button is on the part that goes on you ear bone. Again, easy to use. You can also skip songs by double tapping this same button.

Aftershokz has been very active on social media, so I know if I had a question they would answer promptly. They've interacted with me a few times, and it's always appreciated when companies take the time for customer service.

They Trekz Titanium come in three colors - Ocean (blue/black), Ivy (green/black), and Slate (grey/black). They cost $129.99. Here's the user guide.

Great news! I also have a discount to share with you! Save 20% on your purchase using code BIBCHAT (updated code as of 4/19)! 

Aftershokz is sponsoring #BibChat this upcoming Tuesday, April 19. Come join in on an hour of fun and some fun prizes! 

Also, The United Relay of America, in association with Aftershokz, needs runners! Check out my post here to learn more about it, and see if any of the routes are near you! Not interested in running? You can donate to my fundraising efforts for All Out. There is no donation too small - every penny is greatly appreciated!

Connect with Aftershokz:
website | facebook | twitter | instagram | google+ | pinterest | youtube

Check out what the others Pros had to say:
Rachel | Frank | Amy | Christine

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

tinker bell half marathon weekend 2016 program guide and courses

Hello all you Tinker Bell runners out there! The Official Event Guide has been posted on runDisney! You can check it out here. You can find just about everything you need to know in there, including Weekend Itinerary, Park Hours, race courses, speakers, road closures, race etiquette, spectator viewing, etc.

Looks like the course ends in a new location near the Disneyland® Hotel/Downtown Disney® this year instead of in the Disney's Paradise Pier parking lot.

Neverland 5k:

Start: Main Street, U.S.A. - Disneyland® Park
Finish: Lilo Parking Lot, near Downtown Disney® District

Tinker Bell 10k:

The course for this race is full of adventure and begins on Disneyland Drive where runners get their first mile on the city streets of Anaheim before flying into Disneyland® Park and getting a peek backstage, arriving at Mickey’s Toontown. While running through Disneyland® Park, participants experience Fantasyland and King Arthur’s Carrousel, Sleeping Beauty Castle and rootin’ tootin’ Frontierland, 999 happy haunts of Haunted Mansion, treacherous jungles of Adventureland, and a touch of Tomorrowland before reaching turn of the century Main Street, U.S.A.. Next, it’s off to Hollywood Land in Disney California Adventure® Park, a cruise through Cars Land and shrinking teeny tiny in A Bug’s Land, then winding around the glistening bay of Paradise Pier and into Downtown Disney®. Upon completion of the flight and landing at the finish line, runners finally receive a medal fit for a pixie.

Tinker Bell Half Marathon:

The course for this race is packed with pixie dust, beginning on Disneyland Drive where runners pass under Downtown Disney® on their way into Disneyland® Park. While passing the home of Tinker Bell and her pixie pals at Pixie Hollow, the race continues with a loop around Fantasyland, through Sleeping Beauty Castle, and over to the Rivers of America. Next flying down Main Street U.S.A., it’s off to Disney California Adventure® Park, where racers flitter through each land on their way into the City of Anaheim. Enchanting historic neighborhoods of downtown Anaheim, the new and modern Anaheim Center Street Promenade, and the sights of the town are an ever-entertaining backdrop before it’s back to the Disneyland® Resort for the “Fairy”-tale finish near Downtown Disney®.

Last year was my first year running the Neverland 5k, and I was super excited to learn that it actually started INSIDE Disneyland! It was awesome.

Who is all going? What races are you registered for? Are you getting excited or what? Less than a month away!