Sunday, November 26, 2017

north shore turkey trot 10k recap

Disclaimer: I received an entry for North Shore Turkey Trot 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!

For the past six or so years, I ran a fairly local Turkey Trot and loved it. Unfortunately, it was cancelled this year and I was on the hunt for a new race. If I was going to wake up early on Thanksgiving, a day off from work, I wanted to do something longer than a 5k. That made narrowed down my search a lot. There's a ton of races in the area that are 5ks, but not a lot of longer distance races available. Lucky for me, RAM Racing was hosting a 5k and 10k in Highland Park. Though this was a bit of a trek for me, running 6.2 miles made it worth it, plus, I knew the area well enough from the North Shore Classic Half Marathon in June that I have run twice, which means I knew where I could park, which helps ease a lot of my anxiety when doing new races.

Packet pickup was on Tuesday and Wednesday, which I wouldn't be able to make because of work, so  paid the $15 for packet mailing. I received my long sleeve, gender specific and bib in the mail about a week before the race. Race morning my mom and I got to the parking lot around 7:20. The 5k started at 7:30 and the 10k began at 8:10. We were only parked a block away, so we stayed in the car where it was warm for a while before getting to the race site around 7:45. We hit up the portapotties, no lines, and then walked around a bit to stay warm before getting into the corrals. A–F were the 5k, and then G–I were the 10k. We were in the last corral and started around and started at 8:13am.

It was a pretty chilly morning, starting at 33 degrees and feels like 24 with 10mph winds. It was sunny, so that helped keep me warm, but at times, the wind made it coooold. I ended up taking off my gloves and putting them on a few times. My hat came off pretty early too. The views along the course were pretty – nice homes, lots of trees, and enjoyable. The course was open to cars, but most were very much alert to the event and would go slow. There were a ton of volunteers and police officers on the course to make sure the runners stayed on course and were safe. There were two aid stations on course with water and Nuun, and each mile had markers and clocks.

The course had some hills and was enjoyable. It was a nice way to spend Thanksgiving morning with my mom. After crossing the finish line, there were cups of Nuun, bottled water, Apple Pie (individually wrapped with two in a container), Clif Bars, and mini candy canes.

The results were up the next day along with free photos available to download. My only issue with the race was the lack of weekend packet pickup or race day. I appreciate being able to get it mailed, but $15 is a bit much. If my other race doesn't come back next year, then I'll likely do this one again as I like the 10k distance and the course was great. You can read my BibRave review here.

Sunday, November 19, 2017

eagle creek cargo hauler duffel review

Disclaimer: I received an Eagle Creek Cargo Hauler Duffel 60L 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 probably have noticed that I run with a lot of gear, which also means for races (even local), I have a lot to bring with me. I like to be prepared, so I have ALL the things. And often times, this means I have three different bags of stuff. In the winter it's even worse, because a change of clothes after a very cold Chicago winter race means some bulky, warm sweatshirts, pants, and yep, even a blanket.

Not using your duffel? Fold it up into itself to easily store it.

In comes the Eagle Creek Cargo Hauler Duffel 60L. The 60L is their medium sized bag, and let me tell you, it is a very decent size. For reference, they have a small duffel which is 45L and a large which is 120L. They come in blue/grey, black, fern/grey (my pick, because even though I love blue, I figured I should branch out a bit (pun not intended haha)), cherry/grey, and orange/grey. All great options, it just depends on your style.

Packed with a blanket to put on my legs post-race for the drive home.
Really helped warm me up! 

Surprisingly, the bag is very light and only weights 1lb 12oz. It is made with an extra-durable, water-repellent coated Bi-Tech™ Armor Lite fabric; fusion of technology that merges max abrasion-resistance with ultra-light carry. Don't be confused though, water-repellent is not waterproof. If you are caught in a downpour, it's likely to soak through the bag and get some items wet (most likely the outside pockets vs the larger inside one, if that helps). 

What I love most about this Eagle Creek Cargo Hauler Duffel 60L is that there are multiple ways to carry it – by its removable backpack straps, padded top haul handles, or side grab handle. 

Want to check the bag? Remove those backpack straps and stuff them in a pocket. Lock the #10 zippers. The bottom is foam padded to help protect contents against impact. 


I use this bag just about every weekend to gather my race gear, change of clothes, for the group runs that I attend right after work. My husband makes fun of me for packing it for races, because it is large, asking if I'm leaving for the weekend. Truth it, it's just easier to toss things in it than trying to shove it all in a smaller bag. And it smooshes down, so it's not like it's really taking up that much space. I'm not filling it to the brim haha.

My favorite way to carry it. And yeah, I wear this sweatshirt a LOT. haha.

Eagle Creek also has this great 'No Matter What Warranty'. It covers the Lifetime Warranty promise plus the added insurance of repair or replacement due to damage, regardless of the cause. During this period, they will repair or replace it at their discretion.

Here are all the quick read details and features:

  • ULTRA-LIGHT (You can’t tell by the picture, but the 60L weighs only 1 lb 12 oz!!)
  • Made with an extra-durable, water-repellent coated Bi-Tech™ Armor Lite fabric: a fusion of technology that merges max abrasion-resistance with ultra-light carry
  • Bartack reinforcement on all high stress points for maximum schlepping
  • Carry by its removable backpack straps, padded top haul handles, or side grab handle
  • U-shaped lid for easy access to main compartment
  • Sizeable easy-access zippered end pockets for gear organization
  • Six heavy-duty lash points for attaching this bag to a roof rack
  • #10 lockable zippers with storm flap shield zipper from rain
  • Bottom is foam padded to help protect contents against impact

Product Specification:
Capacity – 3665 cu in | 60 L
Dimensions – 26.5 x 10.25 x 13.5 in | 67 x 26 x 34 cm
Modular Dimensions – 13.5 x 10.5 x 5 in | 34 x 26.5 x 12.5 cm
Weight – 1 lbs 12 oz | 0.82 kg
Material: Bi-Tech™ Armor Lite

The Eagle Creek Cargo Hauler Duffel 60L is usually $99, but is currently $79.20, so act fast if you want to grab yourself one of these versatile bags. If you want to go smaller, the 45L is $71.20 (marked down from $89), and the 120L is $95.20 (usually $119). You'll also get free shipping on orders $49+ (may depend on your location).

Check out this cool video that fellow BibRave Pro and good friend, known as Daddy Did You Win? on social media, posted on YouTube packing the Eagle Creek Cargo Hauler Duffel 60L:

It fits so much stuff!! I'd definitely recommend the Eagle Creek Cargo Hauler Duffel 60L if you're looking for a durable, versatile, sturdy, light-weight bag for traveling or if you're a need all the gear for every single run kind of person like me.

Connect with Eagle Creek:

website | twitter | facebook | instagram | pinterest | youtube

pumpkins in the park 5k recap

Disclaimer: I received an entry for Pumpkins in the Park 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!

RAM Racing Pumpkins in the Park 5k took place on Saturday, October 21 with a race start of 4pm (2:30pm for the Kids Spooky Sprint). I love afternoon/evening races, so this is ideal for me (though traffic around/in the city on a Saturday afternoon is not ideal. 

We got to the race site around 3pm (parked in the Lincoln Park Zoo lot) and grabbed our packets. The line was pretty long, but went quickly. We stopped back at the car to get race ready and then wandered the zoo a bit before heading back to the race. They also had packet pickup on Friday at Fleet Feet Old Town, but I wasn't able to make that, so I was very glad they did race day and I didn't have to pay $15 for shipping.

I met up with fellow BibRave Pro Bree for a quick chat and photo, and then it was time to line up. We were in corral C, which started a few minutes after 4pm.  The course is below, but it basically wound around the park, went north, turned around and came back south till the finish.

The course was a bit narrow at times, and you had to be careful of your footing because it wasn't always a smooth surface (cracks and bumps, sometimes pavement, sometimes dirt). It didn't seem as congested as the year before, or maybe it was, but being prepared for it had my expectations on the same level.

It was fun to see all of the families and different costumes. At the finish line, we received a cup of Nuun, bottled water, a taffy apple covered in sprinkles, mini Clif bar, and individually wrapped mini pumpkin pies (two in a package). Yum. I found Bree again and we talked about our race, then she had to get going. We initially were going to grab beers, but then saw the very long line (as they were checking IDs and doing wristbands), and since we were hungry for dinner, decided to leave. They were also making popcorn and handing that out.

For dinner we went to Burger Antics in Brookfield, which has some amazing food and beer. I couldn't decide on a burger, so I got the three slider option where you can choose different ones. It was awesome. We then had some pumpkin pie cheesecake for dessert. Great way to celebrate my birthday - running, burgers, fries, beer, and pie.

Favorite burger? The one on top with FOUR different cheeses.
Get in my belly!

If you're looking for a fun Halloween race, you should give this one a go in 2018. They also have a costume contest, so bring your A game and win some prizes. I think there were also awards for the top 3 women and men, but don't quote me on that.

Friday, November 17, 2017

buff® thermonet™ multifunctional headwear and hat review

Disclaimer: I received BUFF® ThermoNet™ Multifunctional Headwear and hat 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!

Winter is coming (or here for some people). Despite the fact that it's still fall as far as dates go, plenty of us have been getting those sub 20 degree temps already. Granted, here in Chicagoland, it didn't seem to get away from summer until the end of October. I was hoping that when the BUFF® goodies came in early October, I'd be able to use them right away. Unfortunately, it didn't cool down enough for me to test them until Hot Chocolate 15k came around.

I love BUFF® products. I use the half BUFF® all summer long to wipe away sweat from my face (and to prevent that unpleasant eye burn) and it's great in the winter as a headband to keep the ears warm or as a face mask to keep the face warm and to warm up the air a bit before breathing it in. It's been an essential piece of gear no matter the weather, so of course I wanted to try out their new ThermoNet™ line.

I love the color options – I went with crash berry, which is a mix of purples, but also really liked the arrowhead option. The hats come in four options: crash berry, black, arrowhead, or Banff Film Festival. The multifunctional headwear has a few more: black, crash berry, soft hills turquoise, damask purple, hunter military, and tip logo.

I was glad I brought both the hat and multifunctional headwear for Hot Chocolate 15k on Sunday, October 29 as it was pretty cold standing around waiting to start, especially in the shade. I think it was around upper 20s. Once we started going, I was able to warm up and eventually take off the hat and then the BUFF® that was being used as a gaiter.

They came in handy again for Hot Cider Hustle 8k last weekend when it was windy and the temp was 19 degrees during the race. Snow and ice on the ground, BUFF ® ThermoNet™ at and multifunctional headwear around the face kept me warm. Of course, I eventually got hot and took off the hat haha, but it's always needed the first mile or two (and all that pre-race standing around). You know me, I always get hot fast, which is why I'm still in shorts when it's in the 40s ;)

They are both super soft and comfortable and can be worn together, or separate. I like that the hat is able to fit my headphones underneath a little better than some of the other hats I've tried. These items will definitely be a staple this winter along with the Merino Wool BUFF® (also super soft and necessary to add to your collection!).

Here are more technical details about the products from the website:

When weather conditions require high-thermal insulation, the new ThermoNet™ multifunctional headwear provides maximum protection from the cold. This comfortable, thin multifunctional headwear is made with breathable, durable PrimaLoft® yarn that is four times warmer than regular microfiber. The result of years of research and testing, ThermoNet™ multifunctional headwear wicks moisture away from your skin while trapping heat inside, keeping you comfortable and dry in even the most frigid winter weather.
  • Featuring PrimaLoft® yarn
  • High-thermal insulation: mimics the warmth of down
  • 4 times warmer than microfiber
  • High warmth-to-weight ratio means you don’t need bulk to stay warm
  • Moisture management
  • Seamless

Complete the look with a matching ThermoNet™ Hat:

When the temperature dips, keeping your head warm is the key to whole-body temperature regulation. Our new ThermoNet™ Hat provides maximum protection from the cold with a breathable, durable PrimaLoft® yarn that is four times warmer than regular microfiber. The result of years of research and testing, the ThermoNet™ Hat wicks moisture away from your skin while trapping heat inside, keeping your head comfortable and dry in even the most frigid winter weather.
  • Featuring PrimaLoft® yarn
  • High-thermal insulation: mimics the warmth of down
  • 4 times warmer than microfiber
  • High warmth-to-weight ratio means you don’t need bulk to stay warm
  • Moisture management

BONUS: Receive 20% off your entire order at when you purchase at least one product from the ThermoNet™ collection. Includes ThermoNet™ Multifunctional Headwear, Hats, or Balaclavas. Enter code: *BIBRAVETHERMONET20* at checkout. Expires: 11/17/2017

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

rundisney wine and dine half marathon weekend

You guys! It's here! One of my favorite race weekends of the year. The 2017 Wine and Dine Half Marathon will be my sixth year here, AND, it's the race that got me into running and runDisney (and honestly, Disney too – yes, I loved the movies when I was a kid, but I was too busy traveling for Irish Dancing to go to Disney as a kid, so now I'm feeling like a kid when I'm here to make up for it haha).

While I'm still sad it isn't a 5k and half marathon all in one day, with the half marathon at night (I LOVE night running. It's my favorite.), I do enjoy that there is a challenge and I can earn an extra two medals now. Now that I'm older, I really need my naps post-races with those super early morning wake up calls, so having to do that three days in a row really eats into my park time. It used to be just one day 'wasted'  – wake up early, run the 5k, nap and rest all day, run half marathon, party, sleep in Sunday, and rock out the rest of the days. Now it's wake up early, run, nap, park time, bed early. Repeat. Repeat. So I feel like I spend too much time napping rather than having fun at the parks. I'm just so tired these days haha.

Anyway, the expo starts tomorrow and I'm excited to see what all of the merchandise is; runDisney just revealed the race shirts. I really want the kids one with Figment on it! How cute. I like Mickey and all, but I wish the 5k, 10k, and half marathon shirts had just a little more variety to them. I'll make my final decision on them when I see them in person. I'm really hoping that orange is more neon than it seems, but I really like the other colors.

Expo at ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex (remember to print, sign, and bring your waivers):
Thursday, November 2, 2017 - 10:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m.

Friday, November 3, 2017 - 10:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m.

Saturday, November 4, 2017 - 9:30 a.m. – 3:30 p.m.

Check out the event guide here for all the information you need.

The courses look interesting too. Different than last year. I'm a little nervous about the 10k and half you don't get to anything good until mile 4 or so. Plus, starting so close to Magic Kingdom, but not actually running through it kind of stinks. I know this race never has, but with the course changes, and starting in a MK parking lot, it's like why not? haha. I'm really glad the 5k is back at Animal Kingdom and that the half goes through AK, Hollywood Studios, and Epcot like the good old days (though I'll be missing the dancing lights!). 

Regardless of good course or bad course, runDisney races are always a ton of fun, and I'm sure this year will be no different. Who else will be here? Any fun costumes? What are you most excited for? Any social meet ups happening that I'm unaware of and should go to?