Disclaimer: I received Ultima Replenisher to review as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review, find, and write race reviews!
As someone who sweats a ton and doesn’t really like plain water, I have been looking for a good hydration/electrolyte drink mix for awhile now. But I guess I am picky with flavors because I hadn’t found anything that I would rather drink consistently than be dehydrated half my life 😂 All that said, I was very excited for the opportunity to try Ultima after hearing great reviews on it during my search!
My Experience with Ultima
Ultima is a powder so it dissolves instantly with a few shakes. This might not be super high on your (or even my) list of needs but a very sick, impatient boyfriend once asked why his drink was taking so long with a different brand of electrolyte product 😂
I LOVE lemonade, so that’s always the first flavor I try in hydration products, but I had yet to find one that I thought actually tasted like good lemonade. I found that all of Ultima’s flavors seem more spot on than other brands, but their lemonade is SO GOOD! I also noticed they have a pink lemonade (that I need to try), but it’s sold out right now.. probably because it’s too good.
I’ve been trying to cut back on sugary drinks since I eat enough sugar I certainly don’t to drink it too. That means pretty much every flavorful drink, including my precious lemonade, is out. It’s awesome that their lemonade flavor is so on point AND has no sugar for me to feel bad about!
Disclaimer: I received an Orange Mud Gear Vest Pro to review as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review, find, and write race reviews!
Vest are by far my favorite way to carry liquids while on a run. They cost zero extra effort, unlike holding a handheld, and from what I’ve seen are way more secure and less bouncy than belts. But even narrowing your search down to just hydration vests, there are still tons of different ones out there. As someone who was in the market for a new hydration vest recently, here are some of the key things I was looking for and found in the Orange Mud Gear Vest Pro:
Coverage (or lack of)
I almost always run hot so with all my running gear the less fabric touching my skin and keeping heat in, the better. I was extremely happy to find this vest goes above and beyond to be as non-covering as possible. The back pockets are stacked width-wise so the pack only covers the top part of your back, while still holding lots. The sides and front (besides the front pockets) are made of thin straps, for as little coverage as possible, while still being very secure. The vest pretty much only covers about where a sports bra does, and that is a huge bonus for me. I was able to use it on the first hot, buggy day of the season and return without feeling like a complete puddle. It also made me think how much other hydration vests are actually helping if wearing them makes me sweat way more than normal 🤔
POCKETS!!!! (Especially front accessible ones!)
One major issue with my last hydration vest was the small number of very tiny front accessible pockets. The Gear Vest Pro has tons of them! It has two Velcro shoulder pockets, two very large cinch-able chest pockets, and one pocket on the outside of each of those chest pockets. It’s fantastic to be able to access so much of your gear without having to take off your vest!
The back has three large pockets that cover the entire back and are layered. The inner most Velcros shut and is where you would place the bladder when you plan to use it and the outer most is a fully closable zipper pocket. All three can be cinched tight with the zigzag elastic cord on the back. I was sick during the Newport Half and couldn’t decide how many layers I needed and was able to easily take them all with me with plenty of room to spare!
The front pockets are also large enough for front bottles, which I would now highly recommend! Not only is it nice to be able to have multiple different fluids on you, but placement and shorter straws on the front bottles keep the liquid cooler longer. My least favorite thing is having cold water in my bladder warm up as it sits in the long straw on my shoulder.
You can also get add-ons to attach poles that can go on the front or the back of the vest!
My last vest was specifically “made for women” but I honestly like the fit of this vest better. I found putting the front pockets over your chest (just like a guy would) worked better than having them go around it. When I used to put my vest around my chest it would cause my arm swinging to hit the pockets sometimes. I feel like putting it over your chest is actually more secure and keeps everything out of the way. This vest is also easy to get on and off so accessing the back pockets isn’t an issue!
Overall this vest is the perfect balance of space and coverage (and honestly better on both ends than I originally thought possible together). I can’t wait to actually be responsible with hydration while hiking this year since this vest so comfy that I’ll actually wear it 😂 And I can’t wait to try running my second ultra in it!
If you want to check out Orange Mud gear for yourself use the code BIBRAVEGVPRO for 15% off!
Gear Vest Pro
Disclaimer: I received an entry to the Rugged Maniac Phoenix to review as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review, find, and write race reviews!
After years of running the Rugged Maniac New England, I finally got to try a second location by running the Rugged Maniac Phoenix this past weekend!
The Rugged Maniac races are so fun that even my non-runner boyfriend loves them. They are currently the only race he actually asks me to sign him up for each year instead of just tolerating me dragging him along 🙈 So when I mentioned the race he jumped at the opportunity to join me!!
One great thing about most OCR (including the Rugged Maniac) is that the race goes off in small heats. These heats are usually throughout the day so runners have the chance to choose what time of day suits them best. We arrived the day before the race because I like time to adjust after travel so we could have run in the morning, but my boyfriend LOVES diners, cafes, and large breakfasts. Last time we were in Phoenix we found an AMAZING all gluten-free cafe, Jewel’s Cafe so we opted to go there first and took a later race time of 12:45 PM.
We are not a timely people though, so we ended up late to the race anyway.. But the process to fix our mess-up was painless and didn’t cost us anything (thanks Rugged!!).
On an unrelated note, (I’m not going to pretend like this was the reason we were late because it wasn’t) make sure you listen to their special instructions as to how to get to the race. The address was slightly off, but they gave you special instructions that I originally confidently ignore that corrected the issue.
We ended up with a little time before our new start time (we chose to) and quickly realized we weren’t prepared for a race in the desert (will I ever learn??). We ended up having to buy water because we couldn’t wait for the usual bottle you get at the finish. To us it seemed kind of cruel not to have free water beforehand, but I realize now that not only have I never run a race with that, but literally no one else seemed phased. I think it was just us being out of our element, but a note for other non-locals.
The race course was really similar to New England in many ways. Both are held at some kind of motocross park and use part of the park’s course and part of the natural land surrounding it. Both, when on the park’s course, are comprised of a very fine dirt and had twists, turns, rises, and dips. I would say New England’s motocross course portion featured more ups and downs, while Phoenix’s more twists and turns, but they were still pretty similar. The natural land was where they varied, New England’s wooded portion versus Phoenix’s desert. I was happy they did add some more up and down into the desert with man made dirt mounds and by making us run stadiums. (Wouldn’t want it to be TOO flat and easy 😜)
I love how they always seem to find the perfect mix of challenging, doable, and just for fun obstacles! There are too many to mention them all, but here are some of my favorite/most memorable:
Barzan – This one’s a new, classic arm & grip strength obstacle where you need swing across bars facing different ways & angles. It’s definitely one of the more difficult ones and I was excited to try it. I didn’t make it across, but my boyfriend did. I’m very excited to try again at New England!
Antigravity – It’s got trampolines!! Plus it’s hilarious how many people don’t seem to know how to use a trampoline 😂
Off The Rails – You have to run at and grab a rope with enough forward momentum that you slide on it down a rail to the end where you ring a bell. We’ve had many renditions of this type of slide on a rope obstacle in ninja class. Also someone got the bell stuck up in the metal framework a couple of people before our turn and my boyfriend was able to dislodge it to become the hero and be cheered as he left the water pit!
Full Tilt – A teeter totter hanging ladder! It’s almost like my ninja gym knew I’d need to climb an inclined ladder because we did exactly that the week before in class! In my opinion this one was a good intermediate obstacle that was slightly easier than Barzan. The only weird thing I noticed was this was the only hanging obstacle I’ve ever seen them have without a water pit under it. One of the things I love about the Rugged Maniac is they always have water pits under their hanging obstacles so you can try them without fearing the fall. (I’ve seen someone fall and break their elbow at a different brand OCR.)
Iron Curtain – Didn’t know about this one but I LOVE IT! But telling you about it would ruin it so just trust me it’s a fun one! 😉
Feed The Beast – I wasn’t sure what to expect with this one. Blowup obstacles aren’t generally my favorite (except the slide!), but I really enjoyed the blowup walls you have to bounce over!
Check out the full list of obstacles here if you want!
This race gave me confidence to continue recommending the Rugged Maniac to anyone who will listen because it seems they put on similarly AWESOME races no matter the venue! Rugged Maniac are friendly for all skill levels and make sure everyone has a blast! For Phoenix specifically, I would just recommend you bring water and sunscreen if you aren’t a crazy local who doesn’t seem to notice they’re out in the middle of the desert 😂 Also the parking lot situation gets a little crazy toward the end so I’d recommend an earlier time slot if you need to be out of there ASAP.
Disclaimer: I received Turtle Gloves to review as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review, find, and write race reviews!
While the rest of me is almost never gets cold, my hands are terrible and constantly switch between too cold and too warm. Winter (and some of Spring and Fall) running used to be the biggest pain as I had to take my gloves off and put them back on every few minutes. I hated having to carry them when I wasn’t wearing them so some days I would opt out of bringing them when I really should have.
Now that I have Turtle Gloves though, I never have to debate it! Turtle Gloves are extremely versatile so they can be used in any amount of cold! I have now used them to keep warm in cold from pouring freezing rain for an entire half marathon to windy canyon side otherwise in the desert, and they were perfect for both situations. I want to say it’s partially because of their soft, stretchy, moisture wicking fabric (that keeps you warm, while also letting your hands breathe) and partially because of the flip design.
Turtle Gloves are actually mittens that you can flip the top of to turn into “fingerless” gloves. I put fingerless in quotes because there is still a tube of fabric that covers your fingers until you roll it down. I really like that they left this tube long so you can choose exactly how much to roll it, therefore exactly how much of your fingers are still covered. A few cold days, just flipping the top off for some extra ventilation (not actually exposing any of my fingers) was all they needed to be comfy. The fabric tube also means you can store items like keys and things in the gloves without them actually touching your skin and rubbing. I also found out I would much rather be able to quickly expose a finger to use my phone than mess around with “touch screen” gloves 🙄
These gloves keep your hands warm like no other! My first half of the year was in freezing downpour the entire time. So much that my legs went numb (that was a first!). It didn’t even hit me until after the race when everyone else was complaining, that my hands hadn’t felt cold AT ALL during the race. I also didn’t get that stiff, “can’t move your hands fast” feeling, which I usually do after even slightly chilly races. The gloves are not waterproof (they were soaked with all the rain that day), but kept my wet hands perfectly warm through the windy race.
An almost opposite situation where Turtle Gloves saved me was during the Antelope Canyon Half. This half was in the desert, but had a ton of cooler sections along the rim of the canyon. It was too hot for a shirt, but my arms were cold. I also forgot any of the pouches I brought in order to carry my fuel and things. Turtle Gloves saved me by functioning as arm warmers with pockets!
Turtle Gloves have now become a staple piece of Winter running gear for me. If you want to check them out for yourself:
Disclaimer: I received a Zwift Running Footpod to review as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review, find, and write race reviews!
If you’re a highly competitive person who sometimes needs to run on a treadmill (or cycle indoors) then you need to try Zwift. I originally didn’t think much of it but figured I’d give it a shot since nothing could possibly make treadmill running worse.
Zwift is an app (for running and biking) that allows you to hook up to your indoor equipment and run virtually with others using it. You need a phone or tablet to view your adventure and either can hook up to a Bluetooth treadmill or their footpod for reading your pace. You can then see your avatar running along with others in a virtual world full of interesting scenery! (I ran through volcanoes one run!)
My avatar resting after my run 👍
You’d think avatars on a screen would be completely different than real people on the roads, nope, my brain went straight into race mode and I upped my speed to pass anyone I could see just like on road runs/races 😅 It was CRAZY motivating and highly entertaining for me. I hadn’t cared to run so fast on a treadmill in FOREVER (or ever, I’m not sure)! It’s also helpful on the other end, where while it keeps you entertained, it takes actual action to increase your speed, so you can’t pick it up without noticing and ruin a planned slower run/interval.
I ran two different types of runs with Zwift: a 5K race (kinda free for all mode where you just go run) and then a workout with intervals. The race was really neat and brought runners I “know” from all over the world together, but the workout was what really kind of blew my mind. I am someone who SUCKS at staying on pace for workouts so doing one on a treadmill where your pace is set for you is AMAZING. I still had to manually change the speed by pushing buttons, but that was easy enough and then I got to just run without thinking. It also alerts you when to change speeds and what you should set it to! I honestly will probably be running more workouts than necessary on a treadmill with Zwift now that I know how magical it is.
With Zwift allowing me to enjoy a treadmill run now, I finally ordered myself a treadmill the other day. I’m excited to have no excuse on days with extreme New England weather when it’s dangerous to run outside and I can’t get to the gym. I’m glad I found Zwift to add to my 2019 training arsenal and think it will be a big help making the year amazing!
So I may have had a mini crisis over 2018 after thinking the year over the other day (I’ll go into detail in another post once the year actually closes out) and decided to step up my game for the last little bit of the year. I’ve always wanted to do a streak and a few of the reasons for my crisis could have been helped via run streak, so I decided to start a 2019 goal early! I actually started the 16th, but am happy to report I ran 2 miles or more everyday this past week! Since my previous mileage had been super spotty I took it nice and easy on most of the days, which is fine because the goal is just to get out there consistently. My week ended up looking like:
Monday – 4.01 miles / 11:09 pace
Tuesday – 2.70 miles / 9:02 pace
Wednesday – 2.30 miles / 10:58 pace
Thursday – 6.54 miles / 9:51 pace
Friday – 2.04 miles / unknown
Saturday – 3.36 miles / 8:27 pace
Sunday – 2.01 miles / 10:58 pace
Total – 22.96 miles
Weirdly, I ran on a treadmill everyday except one. Normally I avoid treadmills like the plague but I’ve also been too lazy to put in the extra effort it takes to stay super alert while running at night. Tuesday was another Zwift run, which was super fun! But unfortunately the WiFi at my gym won’t let me make every treadmill run a Zwift one. It’s making me thoroughly debate finally getting my own treadmill. I definitely felt a bit of tired and achiness in my legs/feet toward the end of the week when standing at my desk (this was also the first week I had my standing desk ❤️) but doing less Friday and Saturday fixed that by Sunday.
In other news:
I am a Tiux Ambassador again for 2019! Feel free to use the code SAMRTIUX for 20% off purchases from their site.
I am also a Rhode Races Newport Ambassador this year! I’m super excited since I love the Rhode Races series and their Newport race is my absolute favorite half marathon! If you’re a 50 stater I’d definitely recommend this race for Rhode Island and if you have any questions feel free to ask me 🙂 I don’t have a discount code yet, but keep an eye open for that soon!
Disclaimer: I received Sabre – Runner Pepper Gel with Adjustable Hand Strap to review as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review, find, and write race reviews!
Shortly after I started running at night a lot, I also found out you no longer needed a permit to carry pepper spray in MA so I went out and bought myself some. I had been recommended it tons of times before, but didn’t really know much about it. It was only after buying it that I was told if you carry pepper spray you should spray yourself with it to get a feel for it since you most likely will get hit with some upon using it..
When I heard about Sabre’s pepper gel and it’s ability to cut down on blow back I was very excited to try it out! While I still haven’t sprayed normal pepper spray to be able to compare the two, I tested the pepper gel and had no issue at all! It shoots a small laser-like stream only in the direction of your choosing! It kind of reminded me of silly string 😂 It also is colored red so you can easily see the stream and “tag” the threat. I find this particularly comforting since I am terrible with faces. I can barely describe the stranger I just had a full out conversation with, never mind identify someone after a situation like being attacked.
I only had time to test mine in the dark after work so check out the awesome picture by my fellow BibRave Pro below!
I was happy to find Sabre’s pepper gel didn’t take a ton of force to spray. It didn’t take too little either, but the cap has an easy twist to lock/unlock system for added safety.
The hand strap was also a really nice feature which I didn’t originally think much of. You don’t realize how much effort it is to hold something your whole run until you don’t have to hold it. My old spray just expected you to hold it, but Sabre’s holder keeps it snugly in your hand without you actively having to hold it so you honestly could forget it’s there.
Overall I’m really happy I made the switch so I can confidently use my safety product instead of having to worry about a safety product making me possibly more unsafe, like normal pepper spray.