Altra Escalante – Product Review

PRODUCT REVIEW – Altra Escalante 1.5

“Disclaimer: I received the Altra Escalante 1.5 to review as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out to review, find, and write race reviews!”

I received a bag full of items at The Running Event, I will do my best to give each item their proper review.

At The Running Event welcome reception we received our swag bags, that included a pair of Altra Escalante 1.5 running shoes.

I am familiar with this company and their shoes. I attended a local running store’s group event once and was able to test their product. I knew that they are a zero drop shoe with a wider toe box to accommodate for your natural foot fall.

I received the Escalante in heathered gray (or silver), with gray shoelaces and white sole. They are extremely lightweight. They retail for $130.

During the guided tour at The Running Event expo, the presenters at the Altra booth were very passionate and provided a lot of information in a brief amount of time. They emphasized their wide toe box and zero drop technology. Then went on to show us many new models of shoes, complete with all the specs. I had a hard time taking it all in.

The women’s shoes are also specifically designed for a woman’s foot. It is built to accommodate a narrower heel and midfoot, a higher instep, and a longer arch.

What is zero drop? This means there is no difference from the heal to toe of your running shoe, or no heel to it. The heal and forefoot are equal distance from the ground.

*I would like to say running shoes are very specific to each person, what works for me may not work for you.

I really wanted to like these shoes after listening to all the great things they had to say, in fact I was wearing them at the expo.

The next day when I woke up my calves were very sore. It was the zero drop.

I came home from the trip and knew I really had to break them in before I would consider running in them. I walked the dogs, walked laps around the sporting arena, and even ran a quarter of a mile as I was running late somewhere. After that short run, I felt some pain in the PF area of my right foot.

I run in a different shoe that works for me, in order to continue to wear these to run I believe I would have to fully transition to a zero drop shoe. I am not sure I am ready to make the commitment.

The community behind this shoe had me wanting to love the sock like fit and roomy toe box, but at this time I don’t think this is a shoe for me.


Arcanum – product review


“Disclaimer: I received Arcanum products to review as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out to review, find, and write race reviews!”

I received a bag full of items at The Running Event, I will do my best to give each item their proper review.

I had no clue what Arcanum products were before The Running Event. When I opened my swag bag, I discovered a new to me product.

I will provide you with a little information about the product, from what I can understand. Arcanum is an activated hemp product, designed to aid in performance and recovery of muscles with topical application. The science of the Endocannabinoid System is explained in better detail on the website including many FAQs – make sure to check it out –

I would also like to note that hemp is not an illegal product and Arcanum uses 100% organic, locally grown hemp. It is also tested twice.

I received three Arcanum products:

  • Sarco Freeze 4 oz, sport massage oil, activated hemp moisturizer. This is a clear oily liquid with no scent. It retails for $40
  • Sarco Breeze 42.5G Topical Cooling Action. This is a white colored cream with a minty scent. This retails for $35.
  • The Quill, gel pen. This is a brown colored cream with a delightful smell. It retails for $50.

At the Running Event expo, on our guided tour stop of Arcanum we were told all about the product. There was a lot of information coming at us fast. The presenter was very knowledgeable about all the products and provided a demonstration of how to use them.

None of these products are on my radar, but after the presentation I was sold! I wondered if I would benefit.

I immediate went to use the Sarco Breeze sports massage oil. As a runner in a colder climate, the weather kills my skin. It is so dry in the winter due to low humidity and hot post run showers. I began using it on my face and my shins. I found better results with the dry skin on my shins, maybe it’s due to more tired muscles so I massage them more. I do enjoy the fact there is no scent.

I then tried the Sarco Freeze. I would relate this smell to other topical cooling creams available. I put this on my legs, they are very tired as I try to accomplish a running goal. Within minutes my legs felt cooled and refreshed. I didn’t want to move them. Also, with a quick wash of my hands, they were not feeling the same effect. This is great for more of an instant relief feeling.

The Quill I tested out last, I was a little more skeptical of this one. In the description at the presentation, I felt like it was good to apply before I would go to sleep to help me relax. The first thing I noticed was the smell, it wasn’t perfumey, but pleasant. I applied using the technique described on the pen to the inside of my wrist. I then rubbed with my other wrist. Then I went to sleep. I tried this over a few nights. I really don’t have any issues sleeping, unless it’s the night before a big race. I am usually so exhausted, I crash every night. So, I compared my sleep stats over the week from my watch with other weeks, it was the same. However, I did have my husband try it too, he thought it worked. I am still testing this and think it would be good to use on a road trip or before a big race.

I am happy to try this new to me product. It really is interesting to learn about the science of things and how just an easy topical application can improve your performance and recovery.

*These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.

Vooray – Product Review

PRODUCT REVIEW – Vooray Ace Backpack

“Disclaimer: I received the Vooray Ace Backpack to review as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out to review, find, and write race reviews!”

I received a bag full of items at The Running Event, I will do my best to give each item their proper review.

This is THE bag all The Running Event items were packed inside. It’s a compact backpack that holds A LOT!

This brand is new to me. I am being honest when I say, how can you be so excited for a backpack? Well that quickly changed when I listened to the presenter at our guided tour of the expo. They did a great job explaining their product, and I need more!

I carry a backpack everyday to work, I am not a purse person. A backpack is more durable, it can take some abuse. I was due for an upgrade.

The Vooray Ace backpack has two water bottle holders, need I go on? Ok, so it is made of nylon and mine is black. It has a 15″ laptop compartment in addition to an interior zippered mesh pocket. There is one zipper pocket on the outside.  The straps are adjustable, mesh lined and padded. It retails for $39.99

I need to add some patches!

During the tour we were also given the Vooray Active Fanny Pack. It’s a waist pack made from the same nylon material. It has a zipper enclosure and a mesh pocket inside. It retails for $19.99

I carry my phone on every run, for safety and to listen to music or a book. I have been loving this pack. It fits me well, there is no bounce and I have found it to keep my phone dry. It also holds lots of things as I have used it to run errands and chalk a running route.

I am happy I was introduced to this brand. Not only were they passionate at the expo tour, the items are great quality at a reasonable price.

TRE – Influencer Experience

The Running Event: An Influencer’s Experience

“Disclaimer: I received admission into The Running Event, as an Influencer, 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!”

TRE – BibRave Pro
Influencer Experience

The Running Event was held in Austin, TX at the end of November. It’s “the premier conference and trade show for running specialty retailers.” Throughout the week there are speakers and an expo set up. I was part of the first ever social media “Influencer Day” with BibRave. Here is my recap of my experience. It’s long, so settle in.

Ahhh, Texas…..not exactly close to Iowa. ROAD TRIP!! I met my friend Kate and her mom, Deb in Des Moines. They would be visiting family in Austin and couldn’t resist a road trip with yours truly. We loaded up the snacks and an actual road Atlas and head south on I-35. 

Wednesday, November 28. The weather was great and we landed in Denton, TX for the evening. This stop was complete with dinner at the Waffle House. Deb was not impressed, and it wasn’t my favorite WH experience either. We called it night.

Thursday, November 29. I woke up early to run laps around the hotel to keep my run streak in tact. After some snacks from the continental breakfast, we were back on the road to Waco. Kate was sooo excited, and had been talking about this moment since I mentioned the trip.

Around brunch time we pulled into Magnolia Table. Apparently it’s the place to be in Waco. The food was delicious and the coffee top notch! Then we had to go see the Magnolia Market Silos. I am not a viewer of HGTV, so I really didn’t know what I was seeing. The place was cool…shhh don’t tell Kate I said that. 

We got back in the car and then next stop was going to be the hotel in Austin. We arrived at the Holiday Inn – Town Lake. This is where we met up with fellow BibRave Pro, Brenda who would be staying with us. 

The Zwift Welcome Reception would be our first event at 5:15PM. I will have more about the product Zwift in a later post. Brenda left to get to the Hilton early and I had some drinks with Kate and Deb. 

I arrived to the Hilton at about 5:13 PM, all the other pros were gathered there. There were about 20 of us. We proceeded into a conference room where our reception was being held. 

There were two treadmills set up for the Zwift event. Zwift is an app and foot pod so you are able to run virtually with others while you are on the treadmill. At this reception, four Pros would run on the treadmill to show and teach us about the platform. Representatives from Zwift Running were there, explaining things. 

This is also where we would get our epic swag bags! I believe another pro described us like kids on Christmas morning. There was a table set up with backpacks and shoe boxes. The pros converged on the table.

I opened up my Vooray Ace backpack to find all the goods: a Handful Y-back bra and squeeze play leggings; CEP merino wool trail socks, recovery socks and reusable bag; all the tubes of Nuun and a water bottle; Vuori Omni Performance shorts; Incrediwear women’s Performance Capri, sport thin knee sock, sport thin no shoe sock and active low cut sock; a Zwift shoe pod; Addaday Type C Roller; Arcanum Sarco Freeze, the Quill and Sarco Breeze sports massage oil; and the Brooks LSD Jacket.  In addition to the contents in the backpack there were Brooks Ghost 11 shoes and the Altra Escalante 1.5. I will have product reviews in a later post.

WOW!! All the things, the fun was just beginning. There were also drinks and snacks served while the running, mingling and bag opening was happening. A lot to take in at once.

The treadmill running was coming to an end and the pros were going to meet again for dinner at 7:30 and then attend a party. Brenda and I hightailed it back to the hotel to drop off our things, then booked it to a BBQ place for dinner. All the walking! When this was over, we did more walking to the party.

The party, otherwise known as the Brooks Party, was the place to be! There was a live cover band, dancing and drinks! Desiree Linden even stopped by. Around midnight, I couldn’t hang with the kids any longer, so I convinced Brenda we should head back to the hotel. (Which was more walking.)

Friday, November 30. At 6:30 AM most of the pros had gathered again at the Hilton for a group run. We would explore Austin on foot. We ran by the bat bridge and to the Capitol. However, time was getting away from us, so after all the fun photos from Larry Castillo Photography, we went back to the hotel for some breakfast. 

photo credit: Larry Castillo Photography

Breakfast was a bagel, that was eaten as Brenda and I ran back to our hotel. We had to be back to the Hilton in like 20 minutes. We were quick and luckily we had woken up Kate, she gave us a ride back to the Convention center, where we arrived at 8:28 AM.

photo credit: Larry Castillo Photography

8:30 AM Guided tour of the expo, involving the products from our swag bag. There were two groups of us pros. Whew…. I was exhausted…it had been a whirlwind of a morning already, but I was time to learn more about the products in my bag.

Many of the items were new to me, while a few were some I was familiar with. It was the last day of the event, so I found it interesting that some exhibitors seemed more or less interested in telling us about their products. I really appreciated the brands that demonstrated and seemed engaged, it helped me not lose interest. 

Around 10:30 we wrapped up the guided tour and convened with the other pros. Some people had to get on their way, so we said our goodbyes if needed. For those of us who were staying, we were allowed to tour the expo on our own. It would be closing down 

There were soooo many vendors, and we only had until 1 PM. I had no system of what I wanted to do, no guidance…. I was just going to wonder around. I did see a few vendors that caught my eye while on the guided tour, so I stopped by their booths first. I scored quite a bit of swag, I was glad I brought along a backpack. However, I noticed that many vendors started packing up early. Yes, it was the last day of the show, but there were many booths with no one in them if I had a question. On the flip side, this meant they didn’t want to travel home with product, so more stuff in the bag.

1 PM  – I needed a nap and my brain didn’t know what just happened. From the running to the tour to being on my own, I had seen and heard a lot of information in a short time. Overwhelmed is an understatement.

However, the fun just continued. For those pros that were still in town, we ate lunch together, scootered together and then ate dinner together. This is my favorite part, and the best part of any community. Getting to experience things with others, really makes the community stronger. 

It was time to call it a night, Brenda and I were running a half marathon in the morning. (I wrote about that here.) 

December 1, 2018. Brenda and I woke up to drive to Liberty Hill, TX. It was an excellent day for a run. When we came back to Austin we went looking for some street art, we finally found what we were looking for.

Then I finally had some time to recoup. My brain just didn’t know what to think. I needed to sit down and organize it all. After I did my best with the organization, I hit the town. First stop, Voodoo Doughnuts. I was not impressed, the building was just hot and gross, and my maple bacon bar wasn’t tasty. I walked around some more looking for some street art to find a few murals, but walking alone in Austin wasn’t my favorite.

I ended up at Banger’s Sausage House and Beer Garden, mostly because there were 207 beers on tap and I could sit outside. I ordered a chicken sausage and fries, because I hadn’t eaten much all day. It was getting dark, so I walked back to the hotel.

It was nice to relax for a while, I think I watched some college football before falling asleep.

Sunday, December 2. I was up early to go hit the Lady Bird Trail for a run to continue my run streak. It was a gorgeous morning, finally 50 degrees. I also found it odd the leaves were still on the trees. 

I came back to the hotel where no one was awake. It was the day to drive all the way back to Iowa – 15 hours and we needed to get moving. WAKE UP!!! Ok, so I failed to mention that Kate returned to the hotel at 4 AM, party animal!

Brenda didn’t have to leave until later in the day, so after we got our things packed we said our goodbyes to her. Always great to meet other BibRave Pros in real life. 

Kate had her brother’s car, so with a quick stop to return that and see Deb – who would fly back later in the week – we were on the long lonely highway to Iowa. 

On the road again…. a billboard had us stopping at a Czech truckstop for kolaches, other than that, we carried on north.

We got near Kansas City and the weather had taken turn. It was raining, but the temperature was dropping. So we decided not to chance it and stayed north of Kansas City for the night. Luckily we had enough road trip snacks for dinner. 

Monday, December 3. It was about 4 hours more to get home. However, the roads were taking a while to clear up, so we waited it out and enjoyed the saddest continental breakfast.

It was finally time to leave, so we hopped in the car and made it home.

What a trip. I am still processing everything as I write this, including testing all the products that came in my bag. I did have a great time, I hope if I am able to go back I could listen to some speakers and stay closer to the action.

photo credit: Larry Castillo Photography

BUFF® DryFlx – Product Review

BUFF® DryFlx – Not Just a Tube of Fabric

“Disclaimer: I received the BUFF® DryFlx neck warmer and headband 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!”

Here in the midwest, it’s BUFF® head wear season. I have many of these from a baseball style hat, infinity scarf, visor, and hood. I was ready to expand my wardrobe with the new bright and reflective BUFF® DryFlx neck warmer and hat.

I came home to a package with the yellow fluor color 
BUFF® DryFlx neck warmer and headband. The package also had a catalog, I was briefly distracted by all the stocking hats and knit neck warmers. 

I was ready to rock it out. I really appreciated the bright color, and when I took a photo I liked it even more as the reflective detail appeared.

As you can see this is bright and reflective (reflective 360), but there’s so much more: 

  • 4 Way Stretch
  • 100% Seamless
  • UPF Sun Protection
  • High Moisture Management

Where I run, all these factors are important. First, because it’s winter, it’s cold. I choose to run outdoors, and I layer up. I need to protect my skin, face, ears, etc. The stretch in the fabric allows me to layer up, including hiding my headphones underneath.

Also because it’s cold, moisture management is very important. There is nothing worse than your gear getting wet and being exposed to the elements. You might as not be wearing anything then. In the times I have run with this, and breathing through it, I don’t feel the cold due to the moisture in that area…if that makes sense. 

The UPF 50 and reflectivity are a no brainer. No matter how obnoxious you look, cars still never see you. And all added sun protection is a bonus.

I don’t feel I have to explain the 100% seamless, but to some this may just seem like a fabric tube. In addition to the above qualities, having no seams makes for a comfortable fit. 

I am happy to have this BUFF® collection join my wardrobe. While there are imitations, there is nothing like the original!

If you are looking to upgrade your collection, check out all the colors of the BUFF® DryFlx. 

Keep up to date with all things BUFF® on social – TwitterFacebook Instagram

Need more information, here are what the BibRave Pros are saying: JanelleKatyPreston – 

Sabre Safety – Product Review

Product Review – Sabre Safety

“Disclaimer: I received the 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 to review, find, and write race reviews!”

Safety on the run is something at the forefront these days. I recently wrote a post about runners safety due to an unfortunate local situation. This prompted me to purchase the Sabre pepper spray after a recommendation from the University Police. When the opportunity came to test the gel, I was intrigued.

I was surprised when I opened the package to find the personal alarm with clip and light, the duathlete pepper gel with adjustable arm band, and the 3 in 1 runner pepper spray with adjustable hand strap

I opened the personal alarm first, after some work to get the battery in place. I gave it a test – the light lit up green. While a little apprehensive, I also tested the alarm. It was shrill and the light flashed red. I clipped it to my belt and went for a run. It never accidentally got bumped, nor did it feel like I was wearing it.

I next opened both the spray and the gel. I was really interested in taking the gel with me, but it came with an arm band. I am not too excited about running with anything on my arm, plus seems like it would be more difficult to access. I switched the the containers. I had the gel in the hand held elastic holster, however the container was taller than the spray container.

I make the observations as to the ergo-dynamic fit into my hand. I am not sure the taller can works as well as the designed spray size. I did take it for a spin. The way the strap is designed to carry the spray works perfectly in the palm of my hand. My grip naturally fits around it, with or without a clenched fist. It didn’t feel like anything extra.

I then decided it was time to actually test the gel. The whole idea is that I will never have to use this product, however if I do, I want to make sure it works and I know how to.

“Pepper gel virtually eliminates wind blowback and only affects what it directly contacts.”

I took to the snowy trail for this task. The trigger on the container is locked, but a swivel and it becomes unlocked. I unlocked the trigger and pushed down with my thumb…nothing…I then put the opposite pointer finger and pushed really hard – an orange liquid spit out and in a direct squirt. Hmmm, it shouldn’t be that difficult. 

I was baffled, and then I thought, maybe the temperature has something to do with the gel, it was a feels like 10 degrees. I tried a few more times…ending with a situation on my glove. I was happy to be wearing gloves and happy I could easily clean it off in a snow bank.

“Pepper sprays deliver a concentrated burst of capsaicin, the chemical found in peppers that give them their heat. When it comes in contact with mucous membranes — including the eyes, nose or throat — it triggers a strong inflammatory response. Along with intense pain, the target’s eyes may swell shut and he or she may have difficulty breathing. The combined effects can incapacitate a person for at least a few moments, potentially up to several minutes , giving you the time,you need to get to safety.” –

I also thought that maybe due to the taller canister, it just wasn’t fitting the right spot on my thumb for it to spray. I want to be prepared, this took too much time. Or, perhaps I am a weakling and I am not strong enough to push it? I will have to wait for a warmer day to test it again.

I was looking through the FAQ on the website and it says it has been temperature tested and not to store below 32 degrees. 

Beyond this issue, I will continue to carry a Sabre Safety product with me on my runs. From the simple press of an alarm button, to a handheld gel or spray, Sabre makes safety easy. 

Sabre makes a variety of products that are tailored to specific needs, make sure to check out their website –

Keep up with Sabre on  Twitter or Instagram.

Check out what the BibRave Pros are saying: GinaAmyVanessaJennAndreaEricaStephanieLindseyPreston – 

High Five a Volunteer!

A Race Doesn’t Happen Without the Volunteers!

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

It’s the week of the Madison Marathon (Half marathon) and while I need to write something, I am stumped at what to say. I will be headed to Madtown to run my 50th half marathon.

I have run these events in Madison: Madison Mini 2013, Madison Mini 2014, Madison Mini 2015, Madison Mini 2017, Madison Half Marathon & 10k spring 2016, Madison Marathon 2016, Run Madtown 10k 2017, and Run Madtown 10k  & half marathon 2018.  If I have counted right, this is my 11th event, so I feel I have exhausted all there is to say about running in Madison.

I asked my friend Frank (he has a great blog with the best race posts) and he suggested why not write about the volunteers. AH YES PERFECT!!! I myself volunteer many times throughout the year.

First things first – if you have not registered to run – online registration closes 11/7 at 11:59pm – code MMRAVE18 saves you $$. WHY NOT VOLUNTEER? You can check out this link here – it looks like course marshals, bike lead, water stop, finish line medals, and gear check duties still have open spots.

If you are still hesitant on being a volunteer, here are the reasons I volunteer:

  • To Give Back – I know how hard it is to make an event happen, it takes a lot of people.
  • Be a part of race day when I can’t afford to run – Lately this is every race, so why not show up and hand out water, or take off timing chips. I can still be at the race and I might even get a shirt too.
  • It’s simple and easy – hand someone a t-shirt, give them gu packet.
  • It’s fun – give high fives as a course marshal, cheer on the runners.
  • Community – Sign up with your running club or running friends.
  • It’s rewarding – work the finish line, walk away feeling motivated and inspired.

Be sure to thank all the volunteers you encounter on Sunday. While they enjoy doing what they are doing, volunteering can be tasking. They are out in the elements for many hours so we can run for fun.

If I don’t see you handing me a cup of (frozen) water on Sunday, I hope maybe someday I will volunteer alongside you.