Sunday, May 29, 2016

xx2i hawaii 1 review + discount

Disclaimer: I received a pair of XX2i Hawaii1 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!

Remember when I said I was a sunglass hoarder? Well, add another great pair to the list. This is another active lifestyle pair - for running, cycling, etc. They are a new model in the list of XX2i products and are called Hawaii1. Now I have the Hawaii1, USA1, and Bermuda1.

I think the first thing you'll notice when you put on the Hawaii 1 are how extremely lightweight they are. So much so that you can barely feel them when you're wearing them. Major bonus points for that. 

The noticeable difference between the USA1 and the Hawaii1, at least in looks, is that the Hawaii1 doesn't have the frame at the bottom of the lenses, and the arms are thinner. I really like they way they look when they are on. They come in matte white with polar grey lenses, matte black with polar grey lenses, or matte tortoise with polar brown lenses. Unlike most of their other sunglasses, these do not have the option to change lenses (not a big deal to me – I love the polar grey... they look blue and I dig it). The nose piece is adjustable to help fit any face shape for any activity.

It's been summer weather here, with lots of sunny days. If you're read any of my other sunglasses reviews you know that I have sensitive eyes and need sunglasses even on a cloudy day. I squint and get headaches and it's just no good. Plus, wearing contacts, having sunglasses helps protect my eyes from dust, dirt, and whatever weird things are floating in the wind. Also, I have a fear of getting bugs in my eyes, so there's that.

The Hawaii1 are great eye protection. Keeps out the sun and bugs. Again, they are super lightweight so often times you don't even notice them there. I've found for my face size, they fit/stay on best when I tuck them underneath my headphones or visor. Take note that adult sized visors and hats are usually large on me – I'll have them on their smallest possible size and they are still loose. I have been known to wear a child size hat if it's an option. So, if I don't tuck in these sunglasses at all, even after adjusting the nosepiece, I find they are little big for my face. They'll slide a little bit and I'll need to push them back up. It's more of a frame fit than the nosepiece that makes this happen — I think the frames are made for just a little bit bigger face than mine. I know most of the guys testing this particular pair didn't have this issue, so I think it's just my childish head size (it's also why I have a hard time finding regular glasses frames at the eye doctor haha). Anyway, if I keep them tucked in, then no problems at all. And honestly, I'm almost always wearing my headphones and a visor or hat, so it's not much of an issue for me. No bounce, no slide.

Flat Heather for Chicago Spring Half Marathon.

One other thing of note was that without the frame on the bottom of the lenses, there's a bit of space for some sunlight to come through. Not a lot, just a little, and it also depends on how close to your face you wear the sunglasses. I need a little space so that the frames aren't touching my eyelashes, and I don't like them right up against my forehead. This didn't bother me at all, and I liked being able to glance down and easily see the cracks, holes, puddles I'd like to avoid. Sometimes lenses can be too dark and it's harder to see where you are going — makes it easy to trip (not any of my XX2i sunglasses, other brands!).

Chicago Spring Half Marathon.

Some ladies have mentioned hair pulling when taking off their sunglasses. I didn't have this issue with the Hawaii1. Let me tell you my secret. Instead of sliding them onto your head, place them. This means you aren't sliding the rubber temple arms through your hair. You are just putting them on top of it. Take them off the same way. This makes it so your hair is getting caught on the rubber. I'm not sure if my explanation makes sense, so let me know if you need further clarification. I never had any hair come out this way. I don't even think about it, for some reason with sport sunglasses, I've always put them on this way. Unlike my everyday pair that I slide on through my hair. I must have subconsciously learned at some point that anything with the rubber won't work well if I put them on normally.

Flat Heather for United Relay of America Stage 318.

Bright, sunny day in Chicago for the United Relay Group Stage.

I obviously like them, or I wouldn't have worn them during so many runs and races. I've done a half marathon and 10 miler in them + countless training runs of 4+ miles. If they bothered me, I wouldn't be able to race in them, as any little thing that is off/bothersome aggravates me for the entire race. Even the smallest distraction over the course of 13 miles drives me insane (yeah, I'm one of those people). Say, if I had to push them up every few minutes because they were falling down, or take them off because they were fogging a lot. This doesn't happen with XX2i Hawaii1. Give them a try, you won't regret it (and even if you maybe get a style that doesn't work for you, see below for their amazing return policy – try a different style that might fit you better. For anyone with a smaller noggin' like me, I'd suggest a smaller frame).

Summer has hit in Chicago. This means high heat, high humidity, and sun.

XX2i has a lifetime warranty. No questions asked, you break or scratch them, send them back to be replaced for a nominal shipping and handling fee. They also have a 365 day return policy. What does that mean? You can take up to 365 days to determine if you want to keep them and if not, send them back for a full refund less any shipping and handling fee. This is a great return policy, as it can be hard to know when buying something off the internet whether it's going to fit properly or not. Even with something like sunglasses, trying them on in store isn't enough. You need the time to wear them while doing your activity (for me, running), to know if they'll work. It's sort of like your shoes. They might feel great in store for 2 minutes of running, but the real test is when you get them out for long runs (once broken in).

Flat Heather for Soldier Field 10 Mile.

On the 'field' post-SF10. Beyonce's concert that weekend meant the
field was covered. Boo.

The Hawaii1 cost $124.99, but you can get 50% this pair (or any other XX2i\) on their website using code XX2iRocks. I'm actually looking at adding the Crystal USA1 to my stash... don't they look super awesome with the green flash lenses? 

Fellow BibRave Pro and best bud Angie and I sporting the Hawaii1 for SF10.

XX2i will be sponsoring #BibChat on Tuesday, May 31. Join us at 8pm CT over on Twitter. Follow BibRave and XX2i, answer the six questions, converse with running pals, and be entered for a chance to win a pair of the XX2i Hawaii. If you don't win, use the discount code to snag yourself some sweet sweet shades.

Connect with XX2i:

What other BibRave Pros are saying:

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?