Sunday, July 30, 2017

bucktown 5k 2017

Disclaimer: I received an entry for Bucktown 5k 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!

Oops, I did it again. I just registered for another RAM Racing event. Sorry, not sorry. This year, the Bucktown 5k is offering a BLANKET! It's soft and cozy and I can't wait to get my hands on it. The design is the Chicago flag, which I guess this year is celebrating its 100th anniversary. Bucktown 5k always has some unique swag; last year it was a comfy tech sweatshirt that was also the Chicago flag. I love that light blue color, and of course Chicago, so I like that the theme is continuing.

Join me for this fun, Chicago neighborhood race on Sunday, September 17. Bonus: the race doesn't start until 8:30am, so you have a little bit of time to sleep longer. I enjoy not having to wake up at 4am myself. Plus, after the race it's the perfect time to go have some breakfast at one of the local eats (lots of great options).

Use code BibRaveBT17 during registration (right before checkout, click on the button to add a promo code/coupon) to score a free water bottle.

Hope to see you there!

btn big 10k recap

Disclaimer: I received entry for BTN Big 10k 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!

The BTN Big 10k was on Sunday, July 23, 2017 with a 7am start for the 10k and an 8am start for the 5k. I registered for the 10k and this was my second year racing this event. You can read my shorter review here.

I was unable to get my packet during the week (it started on Wednesday and went through Saturday at Fleet Feet Old Town), so I was heading into the city on Saturday after my dentist appointment. My friends Angie and Josh were coming into town for the race, so we decided to coordinate a run on the Lakefront Path together with a planned meet up of around noon.

It took me a while to get into the city on Saturday. I left around 10am and got there around 11 or so. Pickup was a breeze – I had my QR codes ready to go and after going into Fleet Feet and going to the back where the pickups are held, I waited maybe a minute or two for a volunteer to be available and it was another minute to get both packets. Turns out, my mom and I had registered early enough we were also getting cookies. I expected it to be one, but it was five or six in a bag held in a plastic RAM Racing cup. Awesome, and as later I found out, delicious. They were from a place called Carol’s I believe.

I had a little time to kill, so I looked around the store and found a Momentum Jewelry wrap I had wanted that said runCHI on it, so I bought that. My friend Mike was working the register, so we chatted a bit about running and shoes while he checked me out. 

It's nice to have someone with you to take a photo.

I headed over to Montrose Harbor to meet Angie and Josh. I had 8 miles scheduled for the day, and so Angie ran with me. Josh ran 11, but we met up with him a time or two on the LFP while he was getting a snack/drink. It was a warm one, and the path was very crowded, but we had a lot of fun. Afterwards, we ate at the Montrose Docks. I got a BLT and fries and it was delicious.

These two are the best.

Anyway - back to the race details :)

My mom and I parked at Millenium Garages (pre-paid for a spot using SpotHero) and arrived at the race site around 6am. I had a planned meeting with the three other BibRave Pros racing at 6:30, so we hit up the porta-potty lines which were starting to get long.

The Start Line.

I ran into my Oiselle teammate Jen while waiting for the other pros and we chatted a bit. She was out there to cheer and we talked about how humid it was – it was going to be a tough race if it was that bad already in the morning and we felt it just standing there. Temps were already at 75 degrees with 86% humidity and 70 dew point.

Eventually, the four BRPs were able to find each other and we high-fived, hugged, took photos, and wished each other luck. It was time to get into the corrals.

The BibRave Pros.

I was in the last one, so didn’t matter so much for me, but the rest had to get up closer to the start. There were about 2 minutes between corrals and the line-ups were along Columbus with the start line (going north) at Monroe. Soon enough, we were off. I was attempting to race on my own, using my own intervals, which for that day I was trying 70/15.

Mascots at the start line.

I was doing ok the first few miles, though the very high humidity had me struggling. By mile 3.5 or so, it hit hard. I couldn’t keep up with my intervals any more, and I had to walk a lot more than I wanted. I tried bringing them down to 60/15, and then 60/30, but I still struggled. I decided that day was just going to be about finishing, and I assumed my mom would catch up to me before the finish. 

Great views of the city. This was right after aid station 1.

The first aid station was pretty packed, so I kept going (I brought my own hydration for situations like these – and I get to drink the electrolytes I prefer), but I stopped at the second and third for some water (to both drink and to dump on my head). 

Shedd Aquarium.

I really like the course (minus the bad cracks and holes in the lower path near the lake, but that can’t be helped. One of these days the city will fix that area, right?). We had some beautiful views of the city, and the lake looked really enticing on such a hot day – I wanted to just jump in.

When you aren't having a good race, might as well stop for some photos.

There were clocks and mile markers for each mile, and three aid stations, and 2 slip and slide blow-up things. I passed on those, assuming I wouldn’t have the energy to slide the whole way haha. I think there was a timing mat around mile 3.1 too, but not completely sure. I get runners brain and forget a lot of things about on course happenings ha.

Around mile 5 mom caught up and so we ran the last mile together, keeping each other going when I know all we both wanted to do was walk. We did 30 secs running and 60 secs walking I think. Eventually we crossed the finish line. Summer running in Chicago isn’t my favorite, and so I know to have lower expectations of my finish times. This one was far from a PR.

At the finish line you got your medal, which was the same for everyone this year (10k finishers only), bottled water, a banana, and Clif Protein Bars. I saw towels laying around, so they must have been giving those out, but I couldn’t find any and assumed they were all gone. I did grab a bag of ice to help cool me down (wrapped it in my BUFF® and then held it to my neck, face, and put it on top of my head).

Trying to cool off using ice in my BUFF®

After leaving the finishers chute, we headed to get our magnetic coins. This is where you would go to your alumni tent for the school you chose when registering. You tore off the claim ticket on your bib and exchanged it for the coin, which then stuck to your medal. Mom got the generic BTN Big 10 Fan shirt at pickup (liked the colors a lot), and so we headed over to that tent first to grab her coin. Then it was to Illinois for mine. Luckily, Iowa Hawkeyes was right next to it, which made it easy to find Angie, Josh, and Kelly. I also met up with another Oiselle teammate from WI, Allison, who was super sweet.

A ton of people hang out for quite some time at this race. There are games, photo opportunities at your alumni tent (if there weren’t trophies or mascots, there was at least the school backdrop). The Illinois tent gave out coupons for Chipotle (free guac and chips). Food was Amylou sausage and pretzels – I didn’t get any, as after being super hot, the thought of eating something hot just wasn’t doing it for me. They also had Revolution beer. I was SO happy to see that the race partnered up with them, a local brewery, instead of one of the big guys. Thank you RAM! I didn’t have any, but I’m always in favor of supporting and promoting local. 

We hung out behind the tents in a tree shaded area for a while, then decided it was less crowded so we could get our photos taken at our tents with props and things. On our way out, we had a small dance party (I believe Angie posted a video on her twitter or instagram) and then some more photos by the blow up football. We went to Buckingham Fountain for some photos, then Dunkin’ Donuts for some drinks (I was very disappointed that they didn’t have the iced teas they had on the menu, but the Strawberry Banana smoothie was good… and the hashbrowns), and then over to The Cloud Gate. Lots of great photos and conversation. Lucky for us, my mom doesn't love to be in photos, so she took all of the group ones for us. She's awesome. Eventually will sat down by the fountains where the wind would bring over some cooling water spurts that felt awesome. Kelly headed out and we talked with Josh and Angie a bit longer. Around 11 I think it was, we all said our final goodbyes until hopefully Marathon weekend. 

I'm a good sport.

Exhausted. Early wake-up. Hot. Humid. Sunny.

Though I’m not a super fan of college sports, I enjoy this race. It is well-managed, packet pickup is easy (and you can have it mailed if you wanted up to 3 weeks before the race for $15 and packet usually arrives about a week before race day), the course is a little different, great scenery, and great vibe from the runners. Though there’s school rivalry, it’s all in good fun. I’d recommend this to anyone that’s looking for a fun race, there is an Elite start so it’s great for the fast runners too. I love that so many people are still there when I finish. A lot of races, most people are gone by the time I finish, so I think it’s cool that there’s enough going on at this post-race tailgate that entices people to hang around.

Closing out a fun weekend with fun friends.

Saturday, July 29, 2017

run mag mile 2017 updates

Disclaimer: I received an entry for Run Mag Mile 10k 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!

Run Mag Mile 2017 has undergone some changes. This race seems to be evolving a little every year; it was once the Women's Magnificent Mile Half Marathon and 5k, then switched to the Run Mag Mile Half and 5k, and for 2017, they swapped the half marathon for a 10k.

Initially, this was disappointing. You all know how much I love to run half marathons, but honestly, after doing so many + marathon trainings I was a little relieved to have a shorter race distance. Plus, the 10k was still going to get medals. I love that bling at the finish line.

Some really cool features to look forward to:
  • Post-race brunch! What runner doesn't love brunch?
  • Hooded, full-zip, light-weight sweatshirts for all participants (light grey for men, light blue for women)
  • Post-race libations – choice of Revolution Brewing OR a Moscow Mule
  • 10k or 5 option
  • Running on Michigan Avenue! Not a lot of races get to do this, let alone north of the river. This race takes you north to Chicago Avenue and then turns back around. Pretty cool to run down that iconic street.

Registration took longer to open this year as they finalized all the details, but it's open now and you can score yourself a free RAM racing branded water bottle using code BibRaveMM17 (add it into the coupon/promo code are at checkout). Check out the website for details and to register.

Who's all in?

Saturday, July 22, 2017

btn big 10k quick guide

Disclaimer: I received entry for BTN Big 10k to review (and one package to give away) 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!

BTN Big 10k is tomorrow! Who’s ready to have some fun? Here’s some last minute details for you to plan your day. You can also read my post from yesterday for more information. You can view the participant guide here.

10k start: 7am
5k start: 8am
Grant Park

Packet Pickup
Today is the last day to get your packet! There is NO RACE DAY PICKUP since the event is so large. Can’t make it? Send your friend with your bib confirmation email with a note how you give them permission to get your packet. You can go to Fleet Feet Old Town (1620 N Wells) from 10am–6pm.

Transportation information can be found here. Driving into the city and need parking? I highly recommend pre-paying for your parking spot, or you’ll be spending a lot more money if you wait to pay on race day. There’s a ton of spots in the Grant Park/Millennium Garages and you can buy online here.

Course Map

Runner Tracking
Sign up for runner tracking here. You can sign up to follow your runner from start to finish as they run for school pride! Live runner updates send you free notifications via Facebook, Twitter, or text as runners cross specific points on the course.

Results & Photos
There will be timing clocks at each mile marker along the USATF-certified course, as well as at the finish line. Results will be posted online within 24 hours after the race.

Photos are FREE! After the race, you’ll be emailed free pictures and videos of yourself at the race. Share it on Facebook, tweet it, or download/print it out. To make sure they are able to accurately tag your pictures, wear your bib on the front of your body and make sure it isn’t covered by clothing, race belts, etc.

Get ready to TAILGATE!
This year’s post-race Tailgate will be unforgettable for Big Ten fans! Celebrate the conference with mascots, cheerleaders, food, music, beer, tailgate games, exciting prizes, BTN talent, and former Big Ten player appearances—all with the beautiful Chicago skyline as a backdrop!

Fan Fest & Tailgate features:

  • Mascots and cheerleaders from Big Ten schools
  • Interactive football and tailgate games, hosted by Chicago Sport & Social Club
  • Post-race snacks and hydration from CLIF and nuun
  • A free sausage from Sausages by Amylu and beer provided by Revolution Brewing (21+ registrants only) for all registered participants
  • Additional drinks and grilled food for purchase
  • Recovery gear and race rehab services provided by Aligned Modern Health
  • Tons of great prizes, including Big Ten Football Championship tickets and contests hosted by MB Financial Bank
  • BTN on-air talent and former Big Ten player appearances
  • Photo opportunity with the Big Ten Championship trophy
New in 2017! All BTN Big 10k and 5k finishers will receive this awesome medal, complete with school-specific magnetic coin, to show your pride even after the race is over!

See you tomorrow!

Friday, July 21, 2017

orange mud phone. flask. vest. review

Disclaimer: I received the Orange Mud Phone. Flask. Vest. to review (and one package to give away) 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 HUGE fan of Orange Mud products. If you follow me on Instagram, you'll notice that just about every running includes some kind of Orange Mud pack

When I first started running longer distances, I used the HydraQuiver Double Barrel. Then I got to try the Vest Pack 1 and the Endurance Pack (links bring you to the reviews). I love them all and rotate through them depending on the day, route, how I'm feeling for the day. I'm an extremely thirsty runner, so the Endurance Pack has been my favorite for long distance training and running since the bladder holds 2L. 

Despite most races having plenty of aid stations, I still prefer to have my own on me so I can drink when I want (and some races have run out by the time I get to certain points in a race, so I just feel more at ease knowing if that happens I’ll be ok). I also get used to having my phone in a front chest pocket along with all the other gear I carry (Chapstick, Kleenex, Clif Shot Bloks, inhaler, anti-bacteria gel). I carry a lot with me, and that’s how I like it (well, need it, I guess… it would be great if I didn’t need anything, but I prefer to be over prepared than under).

View from the left. Notice the bite valve is not inside the dust cover.

View from the right side. Here you can easily see the shoulder pocket.

Anyway, when they sent out an email a few months back about having some newer packs coming out for the summer, I was of course very excited. One of those packs was the Phone. Flask. Vest. I was intrigued by the design and was curious how it would fit on this larger chested girl.

First off, I need hydration on almost all of my runs, even the short ones. Especially in the summer. In the winter I can get by 3 miles without, but not right now. I need water often in this heat and humidity. Knowing I’m a thirsty runner, this shouldn’t be too surprising. It was awesome when BibRave and Orange Mud gave some of the BibRave Pros a chance to test it out.

This is the back of the pack. Notice the shock cord to hold you jacket. Where the green stitching is is right below where the back pocket is. No zipper or velcro here. You can also see the right shoulder pocket.

I found the PFV pack easy to get on and off. I put my arm through the right hole, put my head through the top, and then clipped the left side on. I tightened up the straps, put them through the clips that hold them in place, and went for my first run with the flask filled up in the back pocket (there are two pockets up front; the back one fits the 450ml flask (which it comes with; will also fit a 600ml flask) while the front one is for your phone). I have the iPhone 7 Plus, a big brick of a thing that I love, and it fit fine in the pocket.

A view inside the back pocket.

There was a bit of bouncing, but not enough to bother me. I just knew that as I wore the pack more, the more it would start to settle into my body shape and that I would need to adjust the straps a few more times until it fit just right.

Ignore the goofy face. Where I'm pointing is the pocket my phone is in when I run,
not shown since I am using it for the photo.

Some cool features of this pack:
  • Strap for the flask hose and then a dust cover for the bite valve. While it’s not necessary for running, I found the hose bounced a little if it wasn’t in the cover, so I usually put it in there.
  • Right side is a shoulder pocket for electrolytes or backup nutrition
  • Back has a shock cord to hold a jacket
  • Back has a small pocket for small bags and/or sticks of nutrition
  • Key clip in the pocket on the left lower side

Left shows the straps loose. Right shows the loose strap tucked into the clip
so there's nothing dangling.

As you can see, it’s a minimal pack meant to hold the essentials and not much more. It’s perfect for short runs, hikes, mountain biking, or for obstacle course racing. Mainly, it all depends on how you drink and what type of course you are running. If you are running one mile loops during an ultra and have constant access to aid, then it’s perfect for something like that. Run by a lot of water fountains and can fill up quickly and easily? Perfect. You don’t drink a ton of water and can go 10 miles with 450ml? Great.

The dust cover.

I drink a lot (I’ve said that already), so for summer, I like to use this pack for 4–6 mile runs. Anything longer, I need to use my VP or EP. Come winter, I can probably manage 8–10 with this pack, as I don’t drink quite as much during the winter while running. It really is quick and easy to grab and go and doesn't take long to get the flask filled up and get going for my run.

Where my finger is: you want to tuck the flask hose underneath and then
tuck into the dust cover.

This pack is packed with lots of great innovation and little details that Orange Mud is known for (in my opinion). They really think through what an athlete might want/need in these packs and they add it in there.

The right shoulder pocket. Great for an inhaler, kleenex, your gels, etc.
Uses velcro to keep things inside and secure.

It took a few runs to get used to having the weight of the flask and phone and most of the material of the pack up front, but I did get used to it. I found the bounce had a lot to do with my phone, too, since it is so big. I would experiment with where I put it, and when I tossed it against my body in the same pocket as the flask, it actually felt more comfortable.

Small pocket on the left side.

There's a key clip inside!

So for me, I think using this pack comes with experimenting for a few runs to figure out how things fit and work best for you. I thought that maybe I would have issues with the fit because of my body shape, but it actually wasn’t an issue once I wore it a few times and got things situated correctly for me. Don’t dismiss this pack. It truly is awesome to have something smaller for the shorter runs (or whatever type of runs you can get away with the 450ml flask – everyone is different!) and while simple, it’s also packed with so much detail to fit most athletes (the cord in the back for a jacket, pocket for nutrition or whatever you want to use it for, pocket in the back for a bag, place for your phone). They really do think of it all. And once this pack is out for a while, I bet they’ll come out with an updated version that has even more punch. That’s just how cool they are — always innovating and trying to make things better. They truly listen to feedback and care about the people using their products.

Two large pockets up front. The one in front is for your phone while the
one in back is for the flask. Sometimes I put them both in the back
because it was more comfortable. Both have a toggle to keep everything snug
inside. Adjust to fit your phone and flask. Flask getting emptier? Tighten that up.

Obviously, constant use of the pack during summer leads to some interesting smells. I recommend hand washing your pack with unscented detergent in lukewarm water. To be honest, I have washed my other packs in the washer on occasion because I just can’t get them as clean and fresh as I would like by hand (obviously all that water I drink is partly because I sweat so dang much haha). I’ve put them in a laundry bag, put a few towels in the machine with it, and wash on gentle with cold water. I should note that I have an HE front-loading machine, so there isn’t an agitator, which I would not wash my pack in a machine that had one in fear of damage, since they are a little harder on clothes/whatever is in the machine. Then I lay it flat on the top of my drying rack. Again, using a machine is not recommended, but my packs have held up nicely so far with a washing about once a month or so (I've had the VP1 and the EP for over a year now, and they are still going strong). Here's the instructions on the website for the washing best practices.

Source: Orange Mud Website

Even if this pack doesn’t seem like it’s for you, I highly suggest trying out any other pack they have. You’ll find something that works for you. I love having the two bottles sometimes because I’ll use one for water and one for electrolytes (easy to dump on your head when it's 100 degrees, but still have electrolytes to help replenish those you are losing). Bottles are super easy to clean. I found with the EP the bladder is easier to clean than others I had tried in the past (plus, I need that 2L of water sometimes). They may look different from what you’re used to, and that’s a good thing! Give them a try.

Special bonus for you: Save 10% on ANY Orange Mud Product using code BRPPFV.

Come to #BibChat on Tuesday, July 25 at 8pm CT for a chance to win a PFV and chat with other like-minded runners. It’s always a jam packed hour long fun time. 

Connect with Orange Mud:
website | facebook | instagram | twitter | youtube

What the other BibRave Pros had to say:
Casey | Mai | Fallon