Sunday, September 24, 2017

5k crate subscription box review

Disclaimer: I received one 5k crate 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 trying new things, so when the change to try a subscription box came up within the BibRave Ambassador Program, I decided to opt in. There's a lot of products out there, and can cost a lot of money to try them all out, and the choices are overwhelming. Getting a subscription box with handpicked items from 5k Crate can make that a little easier. Plus, it's not just the snacks, gels, or whatever. It's gear and accessories. Yes, please. October boxes start shipping on 10/16.

What is 5k Crate? Let's go into more details before I talk about what I got. 5k Crate is a curated quarterly box for runners of all levels. It costs $59.99 (free shipping within the US), and every 3 months you'll get a box filled with 4–6 handpicked items. The 5k Crate is about offering subscribers a premium subscription that provides the best apparel and accessories on the market today. They promise not to be another subscription box filled with just snacks and gels, but rather deliver to you a box filled with products that you will happily be able to use over and over again.

Each quarter you will receive quality apparel, gear, and accessories from well known brands like Nathan, HydraKlick, Mission, Nike, Zensah, Kunckle Lights, Nike and others that are sure to motivate you but more importantly, that you are sure to use over and over again. You choose men or women, then your shoe, top, and bottom sizes. 

When I opened my box, I noticed how nicely packed it was. There was a card (with a short handwritten note on it) that described the products inside and what the costs of each product was. So what came in my box (July–September box)?
  • Mission VaporActive Alpha Running Shirt (hot pink) $35.95
  • Mission VaporActive Cooling Towel (blue) $19.99
  • Spigen Wireless Bluetooth Headphones (black) $45.00
  • Zensah No-Show Compression Socks (white, grey, and bright pink) $19.99
  • Epic Full-Size Body Wipes (x2) $2.50 each
  • La Fresh Travel Sunscreen Samples (x3... except mine only had 2, but that's ok) $1.00 each

The box arrived the day before I left for Disneyland, so I packed the Zensah socks and the travel sunscreen samples since I knew I could get some use out of those on my trip. Let's go down the line and discuss a little about each product.

Mission VaporActive Alpha Running Shirt
I'm not gonna lie. I didn't love this shirt. While the VaporActive and the color were great, it just wasn't a great cut for me. I'm very picky about what I wear for running, because if there's any seams rubbing, that can be uncomfortable (and lead to chaffing). The shirt was just a snug on my muffin top, and I could tell it would bother me while running, so I didn't wear it for that. It's fine for walking or just to wear for errands/around the house (because I wear tech shirts all day if I can), but not great for me personally to run in. I think maybe if I went a size up on that one it would work... but you know how tricky sizing can be. For whatever reason, sizes are different and fit different depending on brand and style. 

Mission VaporActive Cooling Towel
This came in HANDY. It has been hot here in Chicago, and while training for the Chicago Marathon, some of these long runs have been brutal. Like, 90s and sunny. That is not my cup of tea at all. If you know me or follow me, you'll know that I prefer 30s over summer temps. I tossed this towel in my bag and would use it after my long runs. It helped to cool me down and feel more comfortable post-run. Just yesterday I ran at noon in the city when it was another hot day (95 and sunny, ick). I actually folded up the towel and put it in the pocket of my hydration pack. I only had to run 3 miles, but they were tough. At mile 2, I took out the towel, wet it at the water fountain on the lake front path, and wore it around my neck for the last mile. It's getting a lot of use and I would highly recommend it for anyone that overheats like I do in the summer. I say overheat like I do, because I get crazy hot running even in the 50s and 60s haha.

Spigen Wireless Bluetooth Headphones
So, I already have a pair of wireless bluetooth headphones I love for running. They are open ear so they are awesome for safety when outside. And they fit nicely. I have a really hard time getting most earbuds to stay in my ear, especially when running. So I'm not going to mess with what already works so well. Instead of wearing these for running, I decided to bring them to work. They're nice headphones, and it's nice not to be constantly dropping my phone because I turned and pulled the cord of wired headphones, landing my phone on the floor.  

Zensah No-Show Compression Socks
I'm a big fan of Zensah, and wear their compressions sleeves and socks a lot. I've never actually tried their low socks, though. Don't ask me why. I was excited to give these a try. They are thin and lightweight and come up to your ankles. They fit nicely and were very comfortable. I wore them for running and all day for work and for when I was Disneyland walking around in the parks all day. No blisters or problems. Very comfy.

Epic Full-Size Body Wipes
These body wipes are no joke. They say full-size and they mean it (dubbed the Massive Wet Wipe. Yep, it's massive alright). I tossed one in my bag for a post-race wipe down. Obviously in the heat of summer, we get sweatier than normal, and here's some real talk: I've been dealing with some body acne which I think has to do with being so sweaty, but not being able to shower for another hour because I have to drive home. Being able to wipe all the sweat off and clean the pores has helped reduce this body acne. I've never dealt with this before, so it was new to me and confusing, but I think I pinpointed the problem, and these wipes have helped to fix it. They work great and smelled nice. I'm not sure I always need such a large sized wipe, but I bet they'd be awesome for ultras, camping, and other travel. What's really great about these wipes is that they are made with bamboo, which is a wildly renewable resource, which makes the wipes 100% biodegradable. Score.

La Fresh Travel Sunscreen 
These travel packs came in handy for traveling. Much easier to put in your purse than a full container of sunscreen (and light-weight!). It was easy to apply, and you don't get all that sunscreen lotion all over your hands. I really liked having these, and might stock up. It certainly makes applying sunscreen more convenient, and we all know how important it is to sunscreen up! I know as an Irish, blonde-haired girl I need it bad. I burn very easily.

5k Crate was a pleasant surprise. You never really know what to expect from these things, and I was really happy with the selection of gear and accessories. I've found some new staples that'll get a lot of use (or something I know is worth buying more of). Give it a shot. You might find some of your new favorite products!

Connect with 5k Crate:

What the other BibRave Pros had to say:

Saturday, September 23, 2017

chicago half marathon updates

Hey guys! The weekend is already flying by. Tomorrow is the Chicago Half Marathon and it looks like it's gonna be pretty rough weather-wise. Hot and humid and sunny. Woof.

Lucky for us, Chicago Half is preparing for the day and will have misting stations, along with ordering extra ice and water for us all to keep us safe. Race Guards will be on site (and racing) checking on all of the runners. They are always so awesome, and though I've never had to use them (knock on wood), I appreciate them being out there looking out for us all.

Chicago Half as updated the EAS (event alert system) and we are currently starting with a yellow flag. It's likely to jump to red, but hopefully we'll stay within the yellow/red and never jump to black (which means race cancelled). Keep an eye out at aid stations for the EAS flags so you know what's going on. You'll want to slow your pace a bit as well, so your body can cope with the higher temps and humidity. I've heard it's about 30 seconds slower per mile for every 5 degree temperature increase above 60F. So that can be 1–2 minutes tomorrow depending on what we are starting out/ending with. 

Play it smart. Play it safe. Listen to your body. Drink that water (and electrolytes! Gotta replenish what we are losing through sweat). I personally am brining my own hydration pack so I can drink as much as I want/need. I'll stop at the aid stations for water to dump on my head.

I made it through Disneyland Half in 100 degrees, so I know I can finish, it just won't be my original game plan. With how training has been, I thought I might be able to PR without pushing myself too hard. I do have Chicago Marathon in two weeks, after all. Now I know there'll be no PR, and I'll just run how my body is feeling. It'll be slower, and I might have to walk more than I want, but it's about finishing upright and not exhausting myself too much.

I'm excited to see my Oiselle Volée teammates at Cowbell Corner around mile 8 or 9, and am hoping to meet up with fellow BibRave Pros Frank and Zenaida beforehand. Frank is doing the half as well, and 

Tips for running in this heat:

  • Slow down your pace; about 30 seconds/mile for every 5 degrees above 60F.
  • Don't wear a hat. You lose a lot of body heat off the top of your head and covering it up will prevent this. I recommend a visor (and sunglasses to protect your eyes)
  • Dump water on your head. The evaporation helps cool you down, and it feels really good.
  • Wear light colored and loose fitting clothing. Tech material is a must in my opinion. 
  • Does it look like a runner nearby you is having some issues? Give a helping hand. Ask if they are ok and if they need assistance from a Race Guard. Look out for one another.

This is a great race. I've been running it for the past... five or six years (I really need to look back and keep a record of when I did races haha). Running on Lake Shore Drive is really cool (though not very shaded... you've been warned) and since you are on wide streets, congestion with other runners is minimal. Though I am on the slow side, so maybe there is more crowding in the faster corrals, I wouldn't know haha.

During hot races, my mantra is to live to run another day. I won't go balls out and I'll be listening to my body. If it feels tired and overheated, which can happen quickly for me, or feel nauseous, I'll take it even slower. Hopefully not so slow I get put on the SAG wagon. The nice thing about this race is they keep the finish line open a little longer. You are supposed to keep a 16 minute mile pace, but if you go below it, they can push you over to the Lakefront Path and you can still finish if it's before 11:30. The party afterwards finishes at 12. They have pizza and beer at the finish line, but I know usually after this race I'm pretty hot and tired and can't stomach eating anything.

Good luck + some reminders from Chicago Half Marathon (via their Facebook page):

Be safe out there and I hope you have a great race! Remember to say hi if you see me – I'm nice, so don't be shy ;)

Sunday, September 17, 2017

run mag mile 10k recap

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!

You can read my more succinct review here.

The Run Mag Mile 10k was held on Saturday, September 9 in Grant Park at 7am. I had attempted to pre-pay for parking at the Millenium Garages, but for whatever reason, SpotHero was saying all of the spots were gone. So we ended up at Soldier Field. A little bit of a walk, but that was fine. At the start, temps were about 58 with 76% humidity and when I finished it was in the mid-60s. Sunny most of the way.

I wasn't able to make packet pickup, so my mom grabbed our stuff on Friday morning at Fleet Feet Old Town. She said it was easy, though for some reason they didn't give her the right goodie bag. I guess if you registered before a certain date you got the sweatshirt and then after a certain date you received the same long-sleeve as last year, but branded with this years info. We found this out later. She had been excited for the sweatshirt, so I told her to email them to find out what happened. That's when we found out about some people getting something while the others got something else. Anywho - she had registered early enough that she was supposed to get the sweatshirt and they emailed her back quickly saying it was a mistake and they would have the sweatshirt waiting for her at the info tent at the race. That was cool of them (not only to fix the problem, but also how quickly they responded – some folks don't even respond to their emails). She returned her other shirt in the morning when we got there and then gear checked her new sweatshirt.

We got to the race around 6:15, I met up with my friend Angela (a fellow Oiselle Volée) and Zenaida (fellow Volée and BibRave Pro), and then we got into our corral (which was E, it went up to F). They released corrals every 5 minutes or so. I ran on my own rather than with my mom, because getting close to marathon day, I needed to work on my own run/walk intervals (especially after being in Disneyland and running wacky intervals for photos, the heat, etc). Since we were pretty familiar with the route, I knew she'd be ok on her own. 5k and 10 runners all started together.

The course started on Columbus heading south (if you were corral maybe C–F you lined up facing east on Jackson), then it sort of bottle necked on the east side while then curving west to go down Congress Parkway, around the curve to go north on Michigan, turn around right before Chicago, east on Randolph, south on the lower LFP, down to the end before it goes around Shedd where you turned to go on the middle path until Balbo, which you then went to the upper path next to LSD, back down to Randolph to head west, then south on Columbus to the finish line. Here's the map if you're a visual person:

Thanks to being on the streets the first few miles, runners have some time and space to spread out before getting on the LFP where it can get a bit crowded (especially since it's still open to the public – so beware of cyclists and other runners; maintain etiquette by running or walking only 2 across and let people know when you are going from a run to a walk). I enjoyed the course – it's nice not having the entire thing on the LFP and getting some different sights made it more interesting. 

There were four aid stations along the course with water and Nuun. I decided not to run with my own hydration since it wasn't going to be TOO hot out and it was a shorter distance. There ended up not being quite enough volunteers to meet the demand of the high volume of runners. I felt bad for them as they were trying to pour and hand out as quick as they could, but couldn't quite keep up. I ended up grabbing off a table most of the time since luckily they had poured a lot of cups and that seemed better than having to stop and wait to be handed a cup.

I also love the few out and backs where you have a chance to cheer on other runners. As I was going down Randolph, I caught Angela heading towards mile 6 and cheered for her as she ran past (and she actually heard/saw me and waved - yay!). 

I ran 75 seconds and walked 15 seconds and felt pretty good the whole way. The course was clearly marked and plenty of volunteers to warn the 5k to split and head to the finish line while the 10k was to keep heading east to the LFP. 

I finished with a good for me time, not a PR, but pretty close I think. 12:34 pace, which I was happy to see. I wasn't happy that I forgot to put my watch on Manual Laps, and my watch was off by about a mile. Once it got to be a full mile ahead, it helped to know my pace, but generally I was just going by feel, because I can't do math when running to decipher my pace per mile in correlation with my time elapsed haha. It's why pace bands or tattoos are something I like. So I really had no idea if I was going too hard or not, but just listened to my body and that seemed to work out well for me.

When I finished I grabbed my medal, bottled water, Luna bars, and then I met up with a new friend (and another volée member) Nora. She was such a sweetheart to hang around at the finish area waiting for me to finish. We then chatted a bit, met up with my mom, and then grabbed our brunch. She's a vegan, and she said they were very nice when she asked not to have eggs or sausage in her container (and offered her an extra bagel, which she declined). The post-race brunch consisted of Parm Crisps, Dole mixed fruit cup, Piroucrisps, plain bagel, grape jelly, ketchup packet, sausage, and eggs, along with a packet of utensils, napkin and a wet nap. Pretty awesome. Beverage options were some Revolution Brewing brews (I think Oktoberfest and Cross of Gold) or a Moscow Mule. I've never had a Moscow Mule and was intrigued, so grabbed one of those, while my mom grabbed a CoG. Very much appreciate the race partnering with a local craft brewery. Thank you! Tickets for drinks and brunch were on your bib.

The race kept everyone up to date on race details with frequent (but not annoying) emails, and afterwards they sent out a post-race survey, link to results, and photos. Photos were FREE and I actually had more than one. Hooray! Not to mention they were ready about two hours after the race. Super quick.

I enjoyed this race and would recommend it for anyone looking for a September 5 or 10k. RAM just about always comes through with unique swag and medal designs. Registration is already open for next year if you're interested.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

bucktown 5k this sunday

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!

Another weekend, another race! Join me at the Bucktown 5k on Sunday, September 17. Some great news? Race start is at 8:30am. A little extra sleep never hurt anyone, plus, since it's a 5k, still plenty of time to grab some breakfast afterwards. There's some great places to grab food nearby, or at least some coffee. I ran last year and had a great time. You can read my recap here.

Registration is winding down, and from what I hear it's almost sold out, so register now if you're interested. You get an AMAZING, soft, snuggly Chicago flag blanket and if you use code BibRaveBT17, you'll also get a free water bottle.

You can grab your packet at Fleet Feet Old Town on Friday, September 15 from 10am – 8pm and on Saturday, September 16 from 10am – 6pm. There is no race day pickup.

Here is the course:

Get this free using code BibRaveBT17 during registration.

You can register here and then let me know that you did so we can meet up :)

Friday, September 8, 2017

run mag mile 5/10k

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!

Hey guys! Tomorrow is the Run Mag Mile 5/10k already. I can't believe it. This week has been fast paced and BUSY as all get out. I got home from California at about 1am on Wednesday (and by home I mean landed, I wasn't home, showered, in bed until after 2am. And then I had work in the morning. Woof.

Anyway, I had my days all mixed up, and I thought the race was on Sunday! Oops. I'm just using the day as a training run, though if that also means feeling good in the cool temps and setting a PR, I wouldn't hate it ;) I'll have my long run on Sunday now, so don't want to push the legs TOO much when they still need to last another 18 miles the next day ;)

Looking forward to earning this:

California was in the triple digits most days, so coming home to 60s feels so amazing. I love this weather, and if it goes into the 50s and never gets warmer till next summer, I'd be a happy camper. However, I am realistic, and know that this IS Chicago after all, and in a few days time I'm sure we'll be back up in the 80s.

Can't wait for cooler temps to wear the sweatshirt they gave out this year! Cute color, too.

Some last minute info for the race tomorrow.

Start Times:
7am for both the 10k and 5k

Grant Park - the start is on Columbus and Jackson and heads south.

I'd recommend hitting up Spot Hero to find reasonably priced parking during the race. Usually you can get something at one of the Millenium or Grant Park garages for $20 (which, to be honest, is reasonable in this city haha - certainly better than the $35+ you'd likely pay if you don't reserve a spot first).

The finish line is just north of Jackson and Columbus.

Course Map:

According to the map, there'll be water and Nuun at 4 stops for the 10k. 5k has 2.

So, who all will I be seeing there?