The Rugged Maniac Phoenix Race Recap & Review

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!!

Pre Race

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 Course

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 😜)

The Obstacles

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!

destroying the bell 💪

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!

Overall

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.

👍👍

Turtle Gloves Product Review

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.

Two thumbs up in the freezing rain 👍👍

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!

On the canyon’s edge!

Turtle Gloves have now become a staple piece of Winter running gear for me. If you want to check them out for yourself:

Use the code TurtleBibRave for 15% off
Turtle Gloves Website

Zwift Virtual Running Product Review

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!)

IMG_20181218_195458650.jpg

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!

Sabre – Runner Pepper Gel with Adjustable Hand Strap

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.

img_20181125_161121425

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.

Check it out for yourself on their website: https://www.sabrered.com/pepper-spray/runner-pepper-gel-adjustable-hand-strap

Join me for the Illinois Marathon 2019!

Disclaimer: I received free entry to the Illinois Marathon 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!

A little while back I decided I think I want to be one of those crazies who tries to run a half and full marathon in every state. I think it will be really fun traveling around seeing different people and places! So as a start to that I have officially signed up for the Christie Clinic Illinois Marathon in 2019!

This race offers many distances: marathon, half marathon, wheelchair half marathon, 10K, 5K, and a youth run (1K). It also offers two types of combos: the I-Challenges (5k+ full, 5K + relay, 5K + half, and 5K +10K) and the Illini-Badger Half Marathon Challenge (finish both the Illinois Half and Madison Mini-Marathon), both for extra bling. Not going to lie, I’m kinda thinking about doing the Illini-Badger for the extra bling and state!

The course looks to be a very flat one with lots of entertainment along the way! And swag includes a finisher shirt, and my favorite, free race photos! ❤️

This race also has an ambassador program that runs through November 15th! When you register for the marathon distance, any friend (who didn’t run the race in 2017 or 2018) who lists your name as their referrer will cause both of you to receive a $30-off gift code to Body n’ Sole when you spend $100.

Want to join me in checking Illinois off your race list? Use the code “bibraveillinois2019” for $5 off registration and feel free to list “Samantha Roderigues” as your referrer to get the $30-off gift code!

OOFOS OOrginal Sport Sandal

Disclaimer: I received OOFOS 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!

I had heard a lot about OOFOS before but kind of always assumed they were over-hyped.. That is, until I borrowed a friend’s. It was literally just for a minute so I could run outside to my car since flip flops are quicker to throw on than sneakers, but I immediately new the hype was real.

img_20181103_153556506

I have never been a sandal person, especially not flip flops, and almost exclusively wear Converse sneakers when I’m not in my running sneakers (so much so I am known as the “Converse girl” to some people). Since getting my own pair of OOFOS OOriginals though, I have probably worn them more than all my non-Converse shoes combined. Flip flops normally rub my feet in the wrong spots, but I have worn OOFOS on many walks and even a mildly technical hike with no such issues. It’s great to finally have a comfy shoe that allows my feet to breathe as well.

Everyone’s main claim is how soft and cushy OOFOS are and I have to say it’s kind of hard to believe until you try them for yourself. The best I can come up with is it feels like walking barefoot on soft dirt and the cushiness gives them a bounce that almost helps you walk and makes your legs feel fresher (which is clutch after a tough race).

img_20181102_212537976

My OOFOS have become a staple piece of my race recovery gear

If you are like I was and haven’t tried OOFOS thinking people are just talking them up too much, I would definitely recommend you reconsider and give them a try! I think your feet will thank you 😋

SPIbeam Visor

Disclaimer: I received the SPIbeam visor 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!

When I first heard about the SPIbeam visor (and hat) I honestly couldn’t believe no one had thought of it before! One of my biggest running gear issues is trying to wear a hat and headlamp at the same time in a comfortable and still functional way. With SPIbeam you get the functionality of both with the comfort of just a hat!

img_20181110_003859524

I didn’t realize how often I would slack on safety due to the discomfort of a headlamp. They are large, clunky, and look plain silly if you start your run in the daylight already wearing one. Since receiving the SPIbeam I no longer debate whether I should wear a headlamp and night safety gear or run without in questionable conditions. It is so comfy it’s an easy choice to increase your safety and without the lights on it looks just like a normal visor. I like that it can protect your eyes from the sun at the start of a sunset run and then light your way through the end.

img_20181111_031902440

Not only does it provide the safety of lighting your path and front, but the SPIbeam has a red taillight so you can be seen from behind as well, allowing it to replace yet another piece of my night running gear.

img_20181111_031935967

You can see the taillight’s reflection in this picture!

If you want to try out this extremely versatile piece of running gear use the code “BIBRAVE” for 20% off any SPIBelt item (valid through 11/12)!