Aeropex Review

The Best Yet – Aftershokz Aeropex Product Review

Disclaimer: I was given the Aftershokz Aeropex, bluetooth, bone conduction headphones as an Aftershokz ambassador. 

Soo, you might notice I added a disclaimer above, but I would still say all the good things about Aftershokz if I were not an ambassador. I also feel I should write my thoughts about these awesome new headphones.

I have been loving Aftershokz since I was introduced to them, running the United Relay. At the time the Titanium was the model to own. Since that time, technology has changed a lot. Then came the Airs, and I thought WOW, they’ve outdone themselves. They are so light and they fit my head so well – which I especially noticed during the winter, under my stocking hat. Upgrades were also made to the sound.

Here we are today… Aftershokz has done it again with their newest model the Aeropex! Seriously, how could they get any better? Well, as I mentioned technology is changing everyday, so Aftershokz is keeping up.

I love being an ambassador ( I hope they feel the same about me,) they treat us well. I was excited to receive the new package at my doorstep. I opened up the box to find a small, rubbery pouch that included the headphones and TWO charging cords.  I am going to address this right now, the charging system is different than the previous models. Some may complain that it’s a nuisance as they’ve done away with the more universal adapter. However, they included 2!! Also this new charging cord attaches to the headset via magnets, there is no inlet, eliminating any chance for moisture to get inside.

OK OK OK… so I will leave you the bullet points of the upgrade of this model, before I continue: (all found here)

  • Bone conduction technology delivers music through your cheekbones, ensuring ears remain completely open to hear ambient sounds.
  • Lightest bone conduction headphones to-date, weighing less than 1 ounce (26g).
  • 8-hour battery life for music, calls, audiobooks and podcasts, or 10 days of standby time.
  • Complete wraparound titanium design provides a flexible fit for unnoticeable all-day comfort and stability.
  • Fully waterproof (IP67 rated) to welcome intense workouts and extreme weather conditions.
  • Bluetooth v5.0 offers reliable connectivity for up to 33 ft (10m).
  • PremiumPitch 2.0+ delivers wide dynamic stereo sound and louder volume.
  • Re-angled transducers with significantly reduced vibration and enhanced sound quality.
  • OpenFit™ design ensures maximum situational awareness and comfort during long-term wear.
  • Dual noise-canceling mics minimize surrounding noise, effectively enhancing speech for the call recipient.
  • Charge fully in 2 hours with magnetic charging cable. Moisture detection alert included for safe charging.
  • Audrey Says™ voice prompts guide users through power, pair, play and talk.
  • Hassle-free 2-year warranty included.

You can find more specifications here – https://aftershokz.com/collections/wireless/products/aeropex

My favorite feature – the 8 hour battery life. This is also my downfall, I forget to charge them. However, I feel they just keep ticking after the lady says “charge me.” The other day I forgot to shut them off, and when I went to use them 24 hours later, they lasted the entire 3 mile run.

I can also feel that they are lighter. I honestly wasn’t sure how they could feel any lighter, but it was possible. A lot of the time, I forget I am wearing them. I make sure to notice this as I have heard people concerned they can’t adjust the band to fit a small head or they think that band will bounce. They are just soo light, and for my head size are just the best fit yet. If you want to try mine on, let me know.

I also appreciate the IP67 waterproof certification. I will run in any weather condition that is safe. So rain and snow could be a problem for me, so it’s nice to know I don’t have to worry. However, I will say this… I have never had a problem with those weather conditions in the past and my headphones either… and if I do there is a 2 year warranty.

I will also say this about the sound quality, to me that is not a huge thing with headphones. I just need to hear a beat or my audiobook, I am not looking to zone out to music on a run. I truly appreciate the fact I can hear my surroundings at the same time. So, the music and sound enhancements are something I don’t pick up on. Here is what I can say. I just wrapped up listening to an audiobook, which come across quieter than my music, so when I switch to my music, I have to turn the volume down. The sound is more, if that is a thing. Also when I worked an expo, the reaction I heard a lot was about the vibration on cheek bones… I am not sure if I have phased that out over time, but there is less of that when you turn the volume up.

In addition to running with my headphones, I will use them to make/take phone calls or listen while I do yard work. It is soooo nice to not have a cord getting caught in a lawn mower bag or walking from room to room hands free while on a phone call.

I really can’t imagine using buds you stick inside your ears anymore. For one, it’s disgusting, two they never have stayed in my ears ever, and three you can not hear your surroundings. (Ok maybe that’s good in gym or something, but AS come with earplugs.)

If you are around my area, I am serious about letting you try out my headphones. These really are the best. Or if I have sold you on purchasing the newest model, you can save $55 on a bundle with this link glnk.io/4w4/maske-berka and/or type in ANGIEM when you order.

Droppin FBOMBS

FBOMB Nut Butter Product Review

“Disclaimer: I received FBOMB nut butter 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!”

By now you should all know I have been a BibRave Pro for over 5 years, and with that comes some fun things to test out. Enter – FBOMB nut butters! I had to opt in to try these out.

I know you are probably asking what the heck is this? Well it’s not really a bad word, but it is fun to say you dropped an FBOMB. This is a nut butter – you know like that childhood favorite you spread with jam on some bread? However, this is in a convenient little pouch that you can take with you and these are made with macadamia nuts!!

I received the FBOMB Nut Butter Variety Pack. The zippered case (hooray for  a reusable case) included 4 pouches of 4 different flavors: salted chocolate macadamia, macadamia with coconut, macadamia with sea salt and macadamia pecan with sea salt.

The first thing I noticed is that each package contains at least 200 calories. Which may seem alarming, but these are designed to be a snack to fuel you. “Fat is smart fuel.” The other thing I noticed on the packaging is the ingredients – they are all things you can pronounce and mainly nuts and sea salt. The chocolate one has a little more to it. They also specify food allergies.

Next I had to choose which one to try first. I love macadamia nuts, so it was just a matter of going with a basic flavor first or something more exotic?

I went with the salted chocolate and put it on toast. I could have just ate it from the package, but I also needed to eat breakfast. I started by kneading the pouch, then I ripped the top off and it easily flowed out onto my toast.

That first bite was very delicious!! It really had a lot of flavor or taste to it. Since the first slice of toast, I have been dressing up my breakfast with sprinkles!

I tried all the flavors, and I like them all. I would say that the coconut is the most pronounced.

I enjoy nut butters on apples and bananas, makes for a great afternoon snack. However I stopped at a produce market on the side of the road and the farmer said I needed to try his banana peppers with peanut butter on them. I thought that was a strange suggestion, but I knew just the nut butter for the job. Here went nothing… and you know what? It was delicious!! It reminded me of putting it on celery.

I am now at the point where I only have 4 pouches left, one of each flavor and I am scared to eat them, because then they are all gone. However, I could order online using code BRP10 for 10% off a Nut Butter Variety Pack (16-Count) “BRP10” https://www.dropanfbomb.com 

These are a convenient way to snack, they fit easily in a pocket or purse to take with you. They are a great topping on a fruit or perfect on their own. Don’t let the calories scare you as they offer a great way to snack without artificial ingredients and added sugar.

I will continue to drop an FBOMB! Keep up with them on twitter or instagram

BTN B1G 10k 2019 Review

BTN B1G 10k 2019 Race Recap

It feels like we were just in Chicago, but here we are again representing the Hawks in the Windy City at the Big Ten 10k.

Josh and I had a late start as the Saturday before the race was Kids’ Day at Kinnick Stadium. I think this is just a football scrimmage or practice, I never go, but Josh had to work the event.

After that, we had an uneventful drive on the tollway into Chicago. The Park Whiz app had us parking a block away from our hotel, and just like that we were in the room and off to dinner with Kelly.

After some googling of places nearby we settled on the Burger Bar just down the way. We each decided on a different style of burgers and fries, no better way to prepare for a 10k. I also ordered a beer, because beer.

We were back at the hotel to get all our things prepared for the race. If you don’t post a flat runner on social media, how will everyone know what you are doing?

*You might have noticed we did not attend a packet pick up or an expo. This race offers packet mailing, and we always choose that option as our schedules are crazy. Our race shirts, bibs, gear check bag and safety pins arrived about a week before the race. We just always have to remember to bring them along. The one time we did attend the bib pick up it was a disaster, but I think logistics have changed over the years.

Sunday, August 11 – RACE DAY

It was an early wake up call, but we were ready to go and at the starting line quickly, The hotel was a 10 minute walk away. The weather started as overcast, but it was the usual summer conditions of humid.

We stood around by the corrals. Which seemed to be organized differently on a side street. Corrals A & B were side by side, and corral C was behind Corral A, and then Corral D was behind B. Everyone seemed to get in them with no problem.

I was in Corral B, but I stayed near the back. There were some announcements and the National Anthem, then each corral was released. It took a while, because we immediately took a left and started on the sidewalk.

After all the times of running this event I am not sure I have ever run the same course. This course took us a little south, passing Soldier Field, but then turning back around at McCormick – Wahoo, no tunnel!!! However, now we were on the Lake Front Path. Which is never closed, so there are always angry bikers, who miss the signs that say “race in progress.” We took the path along the lake for a while, which is always a nice view…. I really thought we would take it quite a bit north, but we were turning back south again by the marina. Then we were running along the sidewalk on the main drive. Back and forth and back and forth. Finally we were coming back north again, and a left and a left took us to the finish – on the sidewalk.

As I finished the 5k winner was coming in. The 5k starts after the 10k. There was a lead bike clearing the way as the lead runners were smokin’! They were shouting that the runner was coming through, well they had all the path cleared except on woman who the bike guy about pushed over because she didn’t hear him. *This is where I go on a rant about headphones – you may know I am an Aftershokz Ambassador, but it’s more than that. If your music is too loud you can’t hear race communication, it’s not safe. If you ever read all the fine print on race registrations, it usually says no headphones. So here is my PSA – turn your music down, put only one ear in, or consider a pair of Aftershokz. ( I have demo pairs if you need to try them, or a discount code.) End of rant.

When I finished I was handed a medal and I could grab a bottle of water and/or bottle of Gatorade. Then I was at the post race area. This year, for the first time it was surrounding the Buckingham Fountain.

In addition to race sponsor tents and the DJ stage, each B1G School had a tent giving out school branded swag. Each tent had a multi use charger cord, and then depending on the school’s marketing plan, there might have been more or less things.

At the Iowa tent, the Chicago I Club was in charge. There were many people giving out small reusable cloth bags with plastic cups and coozies. The football schedule posters and magnets were on the tables too. The Iowa tent always does a great job with swag and fun things. This I believe is also dependent on what is easy for the school, for example Penn State might find it harder to travel to Chicago or not have a chapter of fans in Chicago. Towards the end, many schools abandoned their tents.

After a walk through the school tents was the race provided post race Amylu’s sausage and beer tent. I was actually in line for the Rita’s Ice that the Hulu tent was giving out while Josh went and grabbed my sausage and beer. This year they had Oberon.

We met up with Kelly, Heather and Marge and chatted. The school mascots were walking around so we made sure to snap a photo. Thank you Marge for you beer ticket!

It was getting to be the time where we needed to be out of the hotel, so we said our goodbyes and walked the short jaunt to the hotel.

We were checked out, and were on the hunt for Garrett’s popcorn – because when in Chicago. We threw our things in the car and took a walk to get some popcorn. Then we stopped at a Potbelly for some lunch. While we didn’t have anywhere to be, we made the walk back to the car to head back home.

The B1G 10k is always fun as you get to represent your school and tailgate when you are done. It’s one of the only races where wearing the race shirt on race day is the norm. It does get pricey, the race date changes as well as the race course – but maybe that is what keeps it interesting. I am sure I will try to keep running this event if it works with my schedule.

GO HAWKS!!

Completing the Illini-Badger Challenge

Madison Mini Marathon 2019 – Race Review

“Disclaimer: I received entry into the Madison Mini Marathon 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!”

It was finally time to head back to Madtown. I am pretty sure I have wrote about running more in Madison than in Iowa City. Honestly, when there are no sporting events, it’s a great place to be. In fact this would be my 5th Madison Mini.

Josh and I hopped in the car on Friday afternoon, for the 3 hour trip… a 3 hour tour….Anyway, nothing eventful happened on the drive and we were at our hotel to check in and drop our bags off.

Next stop, the expo.

We were staying about a half mile from the expo/packet pick up at the Alliant Energy Center. In the many times I have run this, it was the first time I would experience packet pick up at this location. It was always at the Union South (way too crowded and no parking) or I had made arrangements for someone else to pick up my things.

There was plenty of free parking here, no congestion. We were able to walk right in, snake through the vendors to the back and find the letters of our last name to get our bib and shirt. They put the short sleeve, gender specific shirt and bib that was in an envelope in a plastic bag.

We wondered around the expo a bit. It wasn’t big, but if you need some last minute supplies or branded race gear you could get what you needed. We stopped by the corner of banners with names on them, took some photos, and then moved towards the exit. This is when Josh ran into social media and Hawkeye friend Jake. We said hi and then moved on to say hi to Jan at the Illinois Marathon booth, where we scored more mini boxes of Kodiak Cakes. We really didn’t see any other booths that caught our attention, so we were back to our car in a jiff!

From here we were on our way to get some grub. I had reached out to social media friend Steena – you may recall I ran with her at the 2017 Madison Mini. She suggested a place called Glass Nickel Pizza.

We had a short wait and we were seated. We thought we would start with some breadsticks while we waited. I also had a small beer. Then we placed an order for a margherita pizza and side salads. WHOA!!!  The breadsticks arrived and well it was like a whole pizza, then soon after that our salads, which were also huge and very fresh. Then, just like that our pizza arrived. We ordered way too much food! When we decided we couldn’t eat another slice, we asked for a box and were on our way.

We arrived back at the hotel to discover even though the lobby was ice cold, our room just wasn’t cooling down. So Josh bumped the temperature colder.

We caught up on social media and prepared all our things for the race the next day.

Saturday, August 17 – RACE DAY!!!

We woke up to a stuffy hotel room, something was wrong with the air conditioning. So we kept moving along to get out of there. I had VIP access, so even though I had some hotel coffee, I was ready to take advantage of the pre-race spread.

The last time I ran this race, I drove in that morning, and the times before we always stayed within walking distance of the starting line. This year, I looked at a map for the starting line, then zoomed in to a P, for parking and mapped us to the first ramp. Well, it was about a half mile or so walk to the starting line. I am sure if we took the time to find free on street parking we could have found something closer.

I ditched Josh around 6 AM to go to the VIP room. While I might have felt a little bit guilty, I was going to enjoy. I had a green sticker on my bib, but when I arrived the person checking in names seemed a bit confused, however I was given a wristband and allowed to enter. I was also in line behind fellow BibRave pro Amy.

I hit up the buffet and grabbed a muffin and granola bar, I also snagged a cup of coffee. I say next down to Amy and her friend. We made small talk and they were ready to go warm up. I stayed and ate my muffin, drank my coffee and scrolled through my phone. I then went outside on the balcony to check out the calm before the storm.

It was getting close to starting time, 7 AM. I made use of the VIP bathroom and finally went back outside. I was in one of the last corrals, which was right outside the door, so I was never in a hurry.

It was a nice morning, the sun was out and temperatures would rise, but not be too horrible. The National Anthem was performed by a group and the race began.

While there were lots of corrals, they were not held, so it was more to encourage people to line up by paces. However, I did not see anyone checking bibs.

I was ready to run. I didn’t have a goal but to get to that finish line and get that challenge medal. With all the events I run in Madison, I can never remember which race goes with which route, it also doesn’t help that I feel each year, every race changes their route…..so I was also ready to see where we were running.

The race started with a slight uphill and then towards the Capital, where the Farmers’ Market was going on. Then we were off onto State St. This is where BibRave Pro, Jonathan caught up to me. He said he was running behind and almost started last, and he was just catching up. We ran a couple of miles together, and then he was feeling good and proceeded on just before we got to the arboretum.

I enjoy the arboretum, I know many people find it boring, but I like it. Maybe it’s because there is a small shoulder of gravel I can run on. After we ran this section we were back to running the streets of Madison. This included heading towards Camp Randall, then we were on the path that goes along the lake. The course finished by taking us up Observatory Hill, before finishing back at the Terrace.

The course was lined with 10 aid stations, many of them with energetic cheer squads, or screaming high school kids. There would be a winner of best station after the race. The aid stations offered water and Gatorade. However, each station had a different flavor  and sometime water was first. They were always in different cups. It was kinda fun to guess which flavor of Gatorade I would get, and until the last stop I thought I got lucky by avoiding lemon lime.

I really liked the course and was having a great time, but around mile 10 something happened to my calf. Out of no where it was like a rock was living inside my left calf muscle. I stopped and stretched a bit and then kept moving. It was just so tight, but wasn’t cramping. I didn’t carry my pack, so that is why I was drinking all the Gatorade. I steadily made my way towards the finish line.

I came across the finish line in a time near 2:24. Not my best, not my worst. I really am going to have to start putting in the work if I want to have better times. However, I am happy every time I can cross a finish line.

A medal was placed around my neck, I grabbed a bottle of water, and chugged down the chocolate milk. There were bananas, granola bars and 2 choices of Wisconsin popcorn.

I was on a mission to find my challenge medal. I had to walk back towards to entrance to the VIP area, just about a half block away and I found Jan handing them out. They were a nice medal. I hung it around my neck and clanged my way to the post race VIP area.

There was a new buffet set up with chicken, brats, cookies, potato salad and fruit. There was soda, water and Gatorade. Out on the balcony, overlooking the lake and the 14th mile party, was where the beer was – this year was a raspberry lemon radler from Wisconsin Brewing.

I grabbed myself a beer and then made sure to get a brat and then went to add my name to the massage list. In my journey to find the massage sign up, I stumbled upon a woman who insisted on rubbing CBD oil on my calf.

While I waited for my massage, BibRave pro Jonathon made his way to the VIP area and we chatted some more. Then just after I got myself a second beer, my name was called for my massage.

This massage was the strangest thing. I have done the post race massage before and usually they ask if there is a trouble area, or something they should target. This person didn’t ask and I laid down on my back and she proceeded with her routine. She was very fast moving. Then when I rolled to my front side, it was the same thing. I did find myself relaxed and then the karate chopping started. I am laughing just typing this. I would compare this to something my 8 year old niece would do. I did mention the pain in my calf, and while there was some weird stretching, there was no extra massage there. Like I said I was relaxed, but it was weird.

I was done and sat back down with Jonathon. He has been dealing with an injury, but still had a decent race. I had never met him before, so it was nice to talk. Then it was his turn for a massage, so I said see ya later. I went to the balcony and grabbed another beer and then made my way to Josh.

We made sure to take some pictures in the oversized chairs on the terrace, and listened to the band. It was a nice day, and the area they host the post race party is perfect!

It was about time to check out of the hotel, so we departed the finish area and tried to remember where we left the car. It felt like a 67 mile walk back. Once we found the car, we proceeded back to the hotel room.

We arrived back to the room to find it even more stuffy than when we left it. Blech! We were so over it, so we showered and checked out. We made sure to mention the situation as we departed.

Besides Josh eating the leftover pizza on the ride home, it was another uneventful drive back to the Hawkeye state. It was a rare trip where we didn’t buy any beer or cheese though.

The Madison Mini is nice summer race, make sure to register early for the best price.

Durant Dusk Hustle – 2019

Race Recap – Durant Dusk Hustle 2019

Friday, August 2. Durant, IA. 7 PM. Sunny, 80 ish degrees.

This is a fun, small town event. I have participated many times and this year I was going to test my legs and actually try to race the 5k.

I don’t mind an evening race, except for the wait all day to run. My body is actually a little looser at the end of the day too.

I left work for the day shortly after 5pm. It’s maybe a 35 minute drive. I found a parking spot on a side street, walked over to registration where I paid $25 for entry without a shirt. Then had way too much time to kill. I walked over to the convenience store to grab a bite to eat and use the bathroom. I then ran a mile and it was finally time to start the race.

In the meantime there was a kids run and the National Anthem was sung.

I lined up, then it was time to go. I followed the pack through the streets of Durant. A friend jokingly asked if Durant had enough roads for us to run 3 miles. In reality, the race was on one side of the highway and the town could probably host a 10k too.

It was nice in that the temperature was cooler than years past. The combination of paved and asphalt roads get warm with an evening start. There was one hill in the race, but nothing steep. This was around the water stop just after the half way point. We ran a loop in a neighborhood that bordered a farm. The course was marked with spray painted arrows in the road as well as volunteers at major turns.

I came into the finish line at stopped my watch, I had 3.1 and 28:38. Another sub 30, 5k in the books. I really tried to push my pace, but it has been a long time since I tried to run faster than normal. I was happy with my mile pace though.

I grabbed a bottle of water and a popsicle. I walked over the to the timer to get a printout of my results…. and 4th in my AG. This is the worst place to finish, I was defeated! I tried soooo hard and yet I was still not good enough. I feel this way as fast paced runners are those who are celebrated. Don’t get me wrong, I did my best and thought I had a good pace, it was just my feeling at the time. (Off on a tangent here…. I do always try to say or post my times and paces, because as a middle of the pack runner, I hope to inspire and encourage everyone that all paces are ok to be proud of!! It’s just rough on race day when you are alone and no one says good job in person at a small town event. OK end of rant)

I did wonder around the small town festivities. There was a slow pitch softball game, rides and live music.

When I returned back to the race area, it was time for the awards, I listened and clapped for everyone. I did happen to look at the times for the 33-40 age group, and I was 2 minutes and 18 seconds or so from 3rd place, which is a big difference. I would say my age is pretty competitive.

IT was getting late and I was ready to go home. I drove home on the side roads and stopped to pick up some Paul Revere’s bread sticks in West Liberty. They are soooo good and we don’t have this pizza place in Iowa City. One (One Christmas Eve on our way back through, we stopped and bought some too… they were open on Christmas Eve!)

Overall, this race isn’t anything to add to a bucket list, but I like to throw it in the mix of events. Also, it’s a race where I don’t see many familiar faces so maybe the different competition is a good thing.

Inaugural Hoover Prairie Run

Hoover Prairie Run 2019 – Race Recap

This race is associated with the annual Hoover’s Hometown Days in West Branch, IA. For many years there was the Presidential Races, then the Fergalicious 5k and then last year there was no event. I was excited when the local Lions Club posted there would be a run for 2019. I had to sign up!

This was not going to be like any other run, it was going to be held in the Hoover Prairie, and it was posted to be a 4.5k. The distance had instant PR written all over it, but running in a prairie is a challenge itself.

If you don’t know, West Branch is the community where I grew up and went to school. It is the birthplace of Herbert Hoover. There is a presidential library and museum along with the birthplace cottage and gravesite. On those grounds there is a restored prairie. It is maintained by the National Park Service, and offers some mowed paths.

I also work in West Branch, so on one of my lunch hour runs – or runch as I like to call it, I decided I would check out the course. This wouldn’t be my first run in the prairie, but my first in a long time. I wanted to make sure there were not many ruts or holes.

I discovered the mowed pathways to be in excellent shape. However, I guess I forgot about all the hills. Nothing like running on grass, up and down a bajillion times.

Saturday, August 3, 2019 – RACE DAY!!

I drove the 15 minutes to West Branch, but the streets were already closed up for the day of festivities. I finally arrived at work to park and walked over to the race starting area to get my bib. The event started and finished at the Hoover Presidential Library. There is parking there, but it’s for the museum. There was a port-o-potty set up too.

It was easy to grab my bib and I received a unisex, gray cotton t-shirt. It had a black logo on it. I took my things and walked back to my work, where I attached my bib to my belt and used the bathroom.

I walked back over to the starting area in time for the pre-race announcements. I was standing near some people I knew and we chatted about the actual route. There was a map and some verbal instructions, but I still wasn’t sure. We were supposed to go this way, then that way and do a loop here and there. There was also a 1.5k walk happening too.

My sister and niece arrived to cheer me on. They didn’t understand the map either, but they also didn’t care.

It was time for the race to start, so I found a place near the back. Then I was off and running. I knew there were 10 year age groups, so I was trying to size up my competition. Is that person in my AG? What about that one? Can I pass them?

We started on the drive near the gravesite, there was a volunteer stationed at the point where we needed to veer off into the prairie, so I followed the group and turned right. It wasn’t soon and we were huffing and puffin up the first hill. There were volunteers all over the prairie directing us where to go, even a water stop that we would pass twice. I was never lost and always knew where to go. There were signs placed where there were some ruts and holes, but they weren’t anything huge. There were no mile markers.

After all the turning and climbing and sizing up my competition, I was rolling into the finish line. I pushed stop on my Garmin and I had a 5k distance and a time of 30:22. Everyone that participated received a ribbon. I discovered it was good enough for 3rd place in my age group, wahoo!! I will be honest though, there were not that many people who ran the race.

There were bananas, granola bars and bottles of water available. The results were tallied and the awards were announced. I recognized the name of the overall female and realized it was someone I ran the Rival Game Relay with, years ago.

My sister, niece and I cheered for all the winners and then decided to stake out a location to watch the parade. Races with small town festivals are the best. We ended up getting a ton of candy pelted in our direction, too much!

The parade was over, so we went and had lunch at the Mexican restaurant, I got to learn all about the day in the life of an 8 year old and enjoy huevos rancheros. Then it was time to say good bye and get on with our days.

I really hope this race continues on. I know how much work it takes and I am glad the Lions took the initiative to bring this back. It was a successful first year event!

BibRave Summit Weekend

Chicago BibRave Summit Weekend

Disclaimer: I received entry into the Rock N Roll Chicago Half 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!

WOW – I am about 5 blog posts behind, and it’s only going to get worse, so here’s hoping I can catch up and remember all the races and things.

Thursday, July 18.

Josh was joining for this long weekend in Chicago. We made the decision to take the Amtrak, as it’s expensive to park a car multiple days. When it’s hot the train gets delayed, and this day was no exception. We made the most of it and went to grab some lunch in Galesburg, before we hopped on the rails.

The train finally arrived and we are on our way. We were put in a double decker car with a group of boy scouts. Their troop leader was very talkative and loud and made sure everyone heard him talking. Josh managed to nap through all this. I did learn from the loud conversation that the couple he was talking to was on the train for days, traveling from New Mexico to New York.

After what felt like eternity, we had rolled into the very busy train station. We got our bearings and made it out on the streets of Chicago. We only had a short walk to our hotel, the Club Quarters.

We made it just before 6pm, which meant we made it to happy hour. This gave us access to wine and snacks! We took part before we trekked up to our room. We had never stayed in this brand of hotel before.

After we checked into our tiny room, we discovered we were near Garrett’s popcorn, so of course we went to get some! No trip is complete to Chicago without purchasing the Garrett’s mix!

Then it was time for real food, so we walked over to one of our favorite places, Miller’s Pub. This restaurant offers just about anything you would want to eat – burgers, breakfast, seafood, pasta and beer! After we were full, we walked back to the hotel as Friday would be the start of a BibRave filled weekend.

Friday July, 19

We woke up early as we were to meet up with the crew for a service project. However, soon after we woke up I received an email that the project was cancelled by the city because it was too hot. This lead to a little chat, but it was decided that we would still meet and go for a little run, followed by coffee and donuts. It was nice to meet up with new and old pros, put names to faces.

The day was packed with events, so we went back to the hotel on foot and showered to then take an Uber to the McCormick Center for the Rock N Roll Expo. I think we squeezed in a sandwich at Potbelly for lunch.

The Rock N Roll expo was smaller and quieter than I expected. However, I kept forgetting that it was Friday afternoon and many people were still at work. It was easy to get your bib and shirt, even exchange it if needed. Then there was an area to buy race branded merchandise and then you snaked through the vendors. It didn’t take me too long to go through, although I did stumble on a great new beef jerky! I love food samples!

The crew of pros had taken photos and picked up all their things, so then it was time to depart again and get ready for the next event, the orange carpet dinner. Josh and I found another Uber and went back to the hotel.

We were all fancied up and called up another Uber to take us to the City Winery North. That was fun, it was shared and the person already in the car was talking loudly on her phone the entire ride. This didn’t bother the driver as he was deaf. It was super annoying to those of us who could hear, Josh and I texted each other back and forth on the ride.

Of course, we were the first to arrive at the orange carpet event, and we were too early. We sat at the bar and ordered a wine flight. It was good. More pros started to arrive, so we chatted. Then it was time to go into our private room.

There was indeed an orange carpet rolled out for us, complete with a sponsor backdrop and photographer! I did my best smize and Kardashian pose as I worked it. We were given swag bags too! Mine had two pairs of Knockaround sunglasses, a t-shirt and candy.

A bar was set up with some wine and drink choices. I had some more wine. Then a dinner buffet appeared with ravioli, salad, and veggies. We all enjoyed the evening squeezed into tables dining, drinking and taking more pictures.

During the evening, a message was sent that the RnR 5k was cancelled in the morning due to the heat. I wasn’t running the 5k, but it meant more people could join the BibRave shake out run in the morning.

As the sun started to set on the evening, I wasn’t ready to go back to the hotel and I wanted a beer! We ended up leaving and running into more pros at a nearby establishment for a drink. Then a few more of us moved onto another establishment and had another drink. Around midnight we thought we were going to turn into a pumpkin, so we got another Uber and went back to the hotel.

Saturday, July 20

An early and painful wake-up. We were going to the lake front to meet up with the group for a short shakeout run and a photo shoot. We were running a little behind, so we took another Uber or Lyft – at this point I don’t recall. We were dropped off at the location that was on our itinerary, but apparently that was not the correct location. There was a group of about 5 of us, that then appeared to be late as we had to hustle from the wrong location.

When we made it, we went for a short little run, and a photographer took some photos. The lake was really high, so the waves were crashing right next to the path. When we got to the turnaround point, I realized I didn’t start my watch, UGH! I also caught up with a few people who said after we left the night before then carried on and went to eat the most delicious hamburger ever. I am old, I was mad, but I am glad I got some sleep.

When we got back to our starting point, I kept going to at least get a mile because I am still run streaking. I had some time as people gathered around for more coffee and donuts and took turns getting individual professional photos.

Josh and I reenacting engagement poses


Then we took some group photos and just like that, it was time to get back to the hotel, take a shower and get ready for our next adventure. Sooooo, this time we did walk back to the hotel.

Our next adventure was a day game at Wrigley Field!! Yay, go Cubs! We both hadn’t been to see a game since they did the renovations, maybe 5 years. We found the red line near our hotel, discovered it accepted Apple Pay, and got on the train to Wrigley way early.

It was super hot! We walked around and then questioned what we should do. We didn’t have time to actually go to a bar and enjoy a drink, but we also had more time than just waiting on the group to show up. So we wondered into the McDonald’s across the street for some McNuggets and a real bathroom. It was also nice to cool off for a minute.

On the walk back to the marquee to meet the group, we purchased some peanuts and waters from a street vendor.

We waited to meet up with the others in the hot sun. They arrived and we took a photo and the tickets were passed out. We were in the 4th level, under the awning – shade!!

We did some walking around and made it to our seats. My seat was directly behind a pole. I had to lean one way to see the pitcher and lean the other way to see the batter. I was not enjoying the game. So I left the group and found an empty seat in the very top row of the stadium, there was a breeze!

The Cubs had a good game going, and I was going to stay until the end, because why even go if you are going to leave early. ( I am looking at you people who leave at the under 4 timeout in CHA!) I am glad I stayed, I think it was after we sang the stretch, there was a storm system coming in to the north and the wind changed direction and blew in off the lake. I think the temperature dropped 20 degrees, there was as roar from the crowd. It was like the air conditioning was turned on. There was only other pro left in the stands at this time, so we moved to sit together and we watch the Cubs win!! Ben, the Brewers fan was not so thrilled.

The sky was looking like it could open up at anytime and we needed to decide what we were going to do. Ben decided to go home. Josh and I had more BibRave plans to attend, but we didn’t have enough time to go back to the hotel and then to the event. We walked a bit south and thought we could get a ride easier, but the rideshares were expensive. So, just as it started to rain, we popped into some random bagel shop. Josh purchased a drink so we could use the bathroom.

We waited out the rain, and wasted time as we would be early to the next event. Josh kept his eye to his apps for a ride, but when we popped out of the bagel shop we were at a Red Line stop, so we just hopped the train and made our way to the City Winery on the river walk for our next event.

When we arrived, the sun was coming back out. We were one of the first to arrive and the best smelling – nothing like a hot sweaty day at the ballpark! I grabbed a cold cucumber, lime radler – very interesting!

This event was a live recording of the BibRave podcast with Cindy Kuzma. There was a buffet of noodles, salads and dessert. They also made sure to have the sauce on the side, wahoo that’s a win for team no sauce!!

As we dined, the events of the evening started. All the pros in attendance were asked to stand up, and they asked us to start sitting in the order we joined Bibrave. I was thinking, I feel like I know where this is going and thought, should I just stand on the table? I knew I was the only pro that started in 2014. However, I didn’t know where they were going with this. I was indeed the last pro standing and I was receiving an award. WHAT?!?

I received the BibRave Legacy award. I have been a BibRave Pro for 5 years. I was given a card and a scented pillow in the shape of a tangerine. I was shocked to be honored or receive anything. I was asked to speak and I didn’t know what to say. Thinking back, I should have encouraged those in attendance to get to know everyone in the program as that is my favorite part. I really like meeting up with the pros at races and hopefully making new friends.

Wow, after all that, I needed a cookie! We sat and listened to the live recording.

It had been a long day, so we made left with some extra cookies and made it back to our hotel room. We laid out all our race clothes and called it a night.

Gear: Sparkle Athletic skirt, Hawkeye hat, Orange Mud pack, Adidas shorts, Aftershokz Trekz Air, Brooks Ghost 12, 2xu socks, Garmin 935, Zensah bra

Sunday, July 21.

RACE DAY!! If you want my race review check out Bibrave.com. This was my second time at this race. It was my second ever BibRave partner race in 2014. I wasn’t too impressed with it then, but was ready to give it another chance.

We were up early again, we had to make a race day picture at the starting arch. We were able to just walk over from the hotel. We found the group and smiled pretty.

Josh threw some more smack talk to Jess as they had some contest to see who could run the race the fastest. They are close in race times, so it was for fun. It was a hot, humid day, so I kept encouraging them to be smart.

There were lots of corrals, many complaints they were too crowded. However, I wasn’t in a rush to join one as I was going to say, hi to my friend Heather who was also running. I happened to catch her on her way to the loo. After that, I hopped into to some random corral and proceeded to the start line.

I had no goals for this race, except get to the finish line. I did have expectations for a Rock n Roll race, and hoped it to be better than the last time I ran it.

I ran and saw some pros on the course, saw the BibRave cheer station, heard a few bands, but as usual, there is not one every mile in Chicago, especially downtown. Then came the dreaded McCormick Tunnel. At this point it’s just part of about every running event in Chicago as there is not a better place to get from point A to point B.

When I left the tunnel, we were rerouted onto the sidewalk. I was shocked and saw a man getting chest compressions on the road. I was about in tears, this shook me up. To this day, I have no idea if that man is ok. It also puts things into perspective. Whoa….

I just kept putting one foot in front of the other, and aimed towards the finish line.

I made the finish. I was given a medal and a cold towel. There were bottles of Gatorade, boxed water and pineapple juice. Apparently they were out of chocolate milk. There were Pringles and granola bars. I kept walking over to the park to meet the BibRave group, this is also where the post race band was performing. You could also get a Michelob Ultra.

We stood around, chatted, took a photo, then some people left. I knew there were still a few pros and Heather out on the course, so Josh and I waited for them to finish. We also were able to listen to the music too.

I don’t know if the race is better than when I ran in 2014, but maybe because I didn’t have too high of expectations in the first place? It’s tough when other Rock N Roll events get huge headliners as the musical act and then this one is usually someone I have never heard of. I also understand each event can only do so much in each city. I have said this before, but I think if I would pay to do another Rock N Roll it would be Las Vegas. ( I would have to do the half though as the marathon cut off is 5 hours. )

It was getting close to the time we had to be out of the hotel, so we walked back and got cleaned up, packed up our bags and left them at the concierge. We had one more event to attend.

We arrived at the Public House for a post race brunch. I had a bloody mary and a huge breakfast scramble. I was sooooo exhausted! We only stayed a while before we had to make the trek back to the hotel, grab our bags and then get to the the train station to get on the Amtrak back to our car.

Chicago is a fun place to visit, however I am so glad I do not live there. I like being able to get in my car and go where I want, when I want, park where I need to park. I guess it might be different if I didn’t have a car and could walk everywhere I needed to get.

We were on the train back to Galesburg, and of course Josh was asleep before we were in the suburbs. I passed the time scrolling my phone and playing games.

We were back at our car, and ready to get home. However, I wouldn’t let Josh leave Galesburg without celebrating National Ice Cream Day.

What a fun time in Chicago!