5 New Ways to Get Dirty at the 2019 PHX Rugged Maniac

I’m promoting the Rugged Maniac 5K Obstacle Run & Mud Run: Phoenix as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to find and write race reviews!

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Rugged Maniac does not want to bore you. Last year you might have gotten muddy in one of the Fall Rugged Maniac races and you might be like, BTDT. Not so fast! The April, 6, 2019 Phoenix race brings 5 new obstacles to the Rugged Maniac series and I’m going to break ‘em down for you.


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1️⃣ 👹 Feed The Beast

Yep, you’re the food! Please tell me you didn’t think differently? Enter the belly through its mouth and you’ll be met with a series of inflatable challenges where you’ll have to climb and squeeze your way through to glory. 


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2️⃣ 🤼‍♀️ Barzan

Are you the queen or king of the jungle? This is like the monkey bars on steroids. Channel your inner kid and kick it up a notch. To make it across the pipes, you’ll need shoulder strength, a strong grip, and hand-eye coordination. 



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3️⃣ 👿💦 Hell & High Water

Don’t. Fall. In. Your goal is to make it to the other side, without getting wet. You better hope you did your balancing workouts prior to this obstacle. You are going to need it. To successfully make it across, you'll have to dodge swinging mats, balance on floating lily pads, and reach out to hanging ropes just to stay afloat!



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4️⃣ 🛠 Iron Curtain 

Don’t rely on sloshing through this wet pit, because there are drop-offs hidden beneath the muddy water! Your view will be obstructed so take your time… or don’t!



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5️⃣ 📉 Slippery Slope

Grab your buddies or make a new one, you’re gonna need it. You scale a slippery 8 foot wall and then traverse down the other side. Teamwork is important here! You’ll need an arm — or two — to grab to pull yourself up.



Ready for the challenge?

Sign up today ruggedmaniac.com/events/phoenix/ and apply code RUN10 for 10% registration fees! 

Cross the Finish Line in a Baseball Field, With Friends! 

Disclaimer: I received free entry to Scottsdale Giant Race 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!

Emily waited for me at the finish line! She ran the 10k and I the 5k. Check us out representing BibRave! Go team Orange!

Emily waited for me at the finish line! She ran the 10k and I the 5k. Check us out representing BibRave! Go team Orange!

I met up with my Instagram friend Anne.

I met up with my Instagram friend Anne.

If you are a fan of the San Francisco Giants, love perfect weather, enjoy people-watching, touring a town on foot and running in general, then the Giants Race is for you. My goal was to PR my 5k time at this race. That didn’t happen but I remember that “There’s No Crying in Baseball!” and I didn’t shed a tear because I met with with fellow BibRave Pro Emily, met an Instagram friend Anne and a made a new friend that was a total stranger! I’ve come to realize that races aren’t only about ‘you’ but it’s about the community. The Giant Race hits a grandslam because their race is about community and friendship and having a ball! Here is my race recap:

The people behind the Giant Race are excellent at communication. Email updates were sent regularly. If you follow them on social on either Facebook, Instagram or Twitter, then you got up-to-date info and they will actually respond to you. Even if you tag them in your posts! To me, that gives a personal experience to the race that I appreciate. 

Making friends with total strangers! That’s what race day is about.

Making friends with total strangers! That’s what race day is about.

Packet pickup is on the small side. I didn’t expect an expo but it did meet my expectations with lots of volunteers, easy bib pickup, free parking and a course map. Delivery options were made if you weren’t able to pick up your bib the day before. Also, if your time was really crunched, you could pick up your bib on race day although they recommend picking it up early.

Race day was a blast! The energy was one of the highest I experienced at a race start. They had a singing cowboy, a cowboy on a horse greeting everyone and Native American dancers. It was VERY Scottsdale and I loved it. Seeing all the runners dressed in orange, black and white was surreal. 

My Strava data and the 5k course.

My Strava data and the 5k course.

Many people traveled from out of state for the Giant Race, I could tell by the locations the emcee was calling out after each racer crossed the finish line. I ran the 5k with 816 other people! The course was jam packed. The 10k had 423 entires. Although the course was beautiful and I enjoyed touring parts of downtown Scottsdale, the large amount of people made it hard to maneuver the course. Giant Race told runners that there wasn’t starting corrals and to find your spot in the corral based on how fast or slow you go. I stood in the middle of the pack at the start line because that’s usually where I fall. Instead, I should have stayed in the very front. I realized that many people walk the 5k and I had to bob and weave around other runners. Not a bad thing, but now I know to stay in the front part of the corral next year.

Running through the finish line was exciting! We entered through the back of Scottsdale Stadium and headed down the dirt part on the outside of left field. A cowboy on a horse greeted us and we crossed the finish line under a canopy of orange, black and white balloons. After we received our medals, we had the option to sit in the stands or head to the food court area of the stadium for snacks. There were lots of places to sit and eat post-race and enjoy the beautiful Scottsdale weather. 

Thank you Giant Race for the fun time!

Finish line crossing on the Scottsdale Stadium field!

Finish line crossing on the Scottsdale Stadium field!

Rock the Remix Challenge

Disclaimer: I received an entry to the Rock ‘n’ Roll Arizona 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

Can’t wait to earn this Remix Challenge Medal at the Rock ‘n’ Roll Arizona Next Week!

Can’t wait to earn this Remix Challenge Medal at the Rock ‘n’ Roll Arizona Next Week!

Gosh, I love a good challenge. I live for challenges. Every year I make running goals and I achieve them. This year I decided one of my goals will be a running challenge. A series of races over the course of 3 days, something I never done before.


Running the Rock ‘n’ Roll Arizona Half Marathon in 2018.

Running the Rock ‘n’ Roll Arizona Half Marathon in 2018.

Love for Rock n Roll

This will be my third year in a row of rocking out at the Rock ‘n’ Roll Arizona but this year will be slightly different. Friday, the 18th, I'll run my heart out in their 1-mile race. Saturday, the 19th will be an easy yet scenic run during for the 5k race. Come, Sunday, I'll put it in 4th gear again and run the 10k. Participating in races on two or more consecutive earns you a special Remix Medal and it's super cool. Scroll on down to see the Arizona themed race medals, the scenic course maps and tech shirts that I'll be earning next week, including the Remix Medal.


Jam Sesh, Then Chill, Then Jam Out Again

1 Miler - Jam
A strategic plan had to be developed for my 3 days of race rock out. My plan is to not go all out for each race. I need to save my strength for next month's MESA-PHX Half Marathon that I'm in training to PR at. Friday night is the 1-miler. I'll be working that day, so that means I'll be drained and I'll need to stop at the expo first to get my bibs. But I'm not letting that hold me back! Race starts at 6 p.m. and my plan is to run my fastest mile yet. It would be great to PR my mile time. The time I have to beat is 8:54.

5k - Chill
Saturday morning is the 5k. This will be my opportunity to do an easy, green heart run. My plan is to take in the scenery, enjoy the music and just chill! I need this time for my body to recover.

10k - Jam
Sunday is my jam out day — again! My plan is to PR this 10k. It will be tough. The time I have to beat is 1:02:15. That means I need to run this 10k in the high 9's. Oof. That's a huge deal for me. I've been training and I know I can do it. But is the course hilly?


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Rock With Me!

This is my opportunity to put my half marathon training to the test. My goal is to PR my 10k and 1-mile time and those times will set the tone on me PR'ing my MESA-PHX Half Marathon time. Can't wait to rock out next week and earn 4 medals!

There is still time to sign up to run the Rock ‘n’ Roll Arizona! Registration ends on January 13th. Apply code RNRBRAZ19 for $10 off the half or full distance. See you there!

I'm a Zwifter!

Disclaimer: I received an Zwift RunPod 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.

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Do you dream of running in far away places but simply can’t? I do. My husband, son and job are my number one priority and unfortunately, I can’t run or race in dreamy distant places. Not in real-life that is. BibRave recently introduced me to Zwift, a virtual platform to run and bike in with others from around the world in distant places around the world all from the comfort of my own home or gym. Now, this I can do!


Cool to run virtually & you see a real map on Strava!

Cool to run virtually & you see a real map on Strava!

What Does It Mean to Zwift

Zwift is an app that connects to indoor training gear (a bike or foot pod) that allows you to run or bike on hundreds of miles in 5 worlds with other athletes from around the world. Think if it as playing Halo on your Xbox with other people but instead of your thumbs getting a workout, your entire body is getting a workout. You can just start running on your own with Zwift or you can train with one of their structured workouts. They have training plans for 5ks, half marathons and even triathlon events. Do you prefer to run with groups? This is where Zwift is awesome. They host hundreds of events — fun group runs like the BibRave 5k I participated in lat month to intense races with real prizes to be won. On Strava? Zwift connects with third party apps like Strava and Garmin Connect so you can share your virtual runs from Zwift to those platforms and your friends can actually see the virtual map you ran! All of this got me super excited. Back in my teenager days, I was a gamer. Gosh, I wish Zwift was invented back then, I would have been getting fit instead of gaining weight because Zwift reminds me so much of playing a video game. It made running on a treadmill fun for me.


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Becoming a Zwifter

I tested out Zwift using their RunPod. It’s the RunPod that allows you to connect to the app while you are on your home treadmill or on a gym treadmill. The RunPod pairs with Zwift via Bluetooth and attaches to the laces on your running shoes. It will measure your speed, cadence and distance through the Zwift app and thankfully it only weighs less than a half an ounce, so you don’t notice it’s on. It takes a standard CR2032 battery that is easy to replace. Zwift recommends removing the battery after each use to extend the life. 

Attaching the RunPod onto your laces — as well as removing the battery — is simple: hold the bottom and top of the RunPod in each hand, twist counter clockwise to remove base from pod. Now you can see the bottom of the pod and grab a coin or flathead screwdriver to remove the bottom to insert the battery. Match plus side of battery to the plus side of the foam backing on the bottom of the pod. Use a coin or flathead screwdriver to reattach the bottom while the battery is inserted. Now, grab a pair of your running shoes. Tip: It’s easier to attach the pod onto shoes that you haven’t put on your feet yet. Slide the base of the pod under two of your laces. I attached mine on the 4th and 5th row of laces. That worked best for me. Now, place the top of the pod on the base and turn clockwise until you hear an audible click. Make sure it’s attached properly because you don’t want to lose your RunPod. Tap your RunPod a few times and you’ll notice a green light glows. That means your pod is on and ready to link up to the app.


Ima Zwifter

Now that your RunPod is attached to you, it’s time to sync up to your app. Like I said earlier, there are a few ways to sync to the Zwift app. I decided to connect through a MacBook. It was easy to download the app. Once it was launched, make sure the Bluetooth on your device — laptop or phone — is turned on. You’ll see the RunPod syncing up. I took the extra time to customize my avatar. Although, I wish it had more facial and body customizations. Like, my body isn’t skinny like my avatar. I’d like her to be a size medium versus a size extra small LOL! Also, I’d rather my person have brown eyes than the blue default. Maybe I need to run more to get more options. I did notice that there were special clothing, shoes and accessories that could only be applied if they were unlocked. 

Now that all of my settings were updated, I was ready to run! You could either sign up for a group for a scheduled group run. There is a calendar on the right to see what runs are available, or you can check your Zwift Companion App for events that will start soon. Or, if you just want to run right now, you can. Click on the orange run button and start running. Once you are in the Zwift environment, you can see other runners. Sometimes you’ll see a cyclist. I notice some people chat with each other, I’m sure I’d trip on the treadmill if I tried to chat and run at the same time! The interface shows your speed, targets you’d like to make, other Zwifters, you can even change the view of your runs. One of the difficult things I found was selecting the turns. I like to do the bare minimum while running and deciding which way to turn is cumbersome. When I participated in the BibRave Group Run 5k, I realized I was going in a different direction than the group. It wasn’t until later that I noticed I could have gone their same direction if I chose that route during the prompts. 


Zwifting is Cool

I don’t own a treadmill, but after testing out Zwift, I’m thinking I should have asked Santa for one! Phoenix weather is dreamy right now and outdoor running is where it’s at. But come summer time, treadmill running will have to be done because no one wants to run in 115 degree full sun temps. It’s great how Zwift could keep you motivated during terrible weather either it be snow or full sun. Also, I like how I can be part of a group run even though I don’t have to be in their physical presence. I’m not the only one who thinks Zwift is cool. According to this Forbes article posted last week, Zwift raised $120 million (yeah, million) to expand its platform to running competitions as well as eSports tournaments. 


Do You Wanna Be a Zwifter?

Ok, I know you do. It’s reasonable to join to Zwifting community. An account for runners is free (cyclists pay about $15 a month) and runners only need to purchase a RunPod. BibRave and Zwift partnered to offer 15% the cost of a RunPod with discount code BibRave15. That makes it $25.49 with free shipping in the U.S. Come Zwift with me and tell me what you think! 

Ready to Get the Stink Out with WIN Detergent

Disclaimer: I received an WIN Detergent 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.

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No one likes to talk about it but it happens to all of us. Stinky workout/tech clothes retain their stink even after washing. I smelled it before at many start lines. As clean tech clothes start to warm up the bacteria stored in them starts to wake up and then that stink smell starts to emit. No one is running yet, but the smell is there. WTF? It happens with my workout clothes too! This weird bacteria science experiment of smells doesn’t happen with cotton clothes but happens every time with technical or synthetic fabrics (I’ll explain later.) When BibRave gave us Pro’s the chance to test WIN Detergent, I opted in immediately! 


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How WIN Works

Your Running shorts stink.

Have you ever just put on clean workout clothes and after a few minutes of just wearing them you start to smell something funky? That smell is the bacteria waking up on your tech clothes and the gas they are releasing. YUCK! Those tech clothes you wear are made with synthetic fibers. They are great for wicking away water, keeping you dry and keeping you chafe-free. But tech clothes tend to trap oil that feed bacteria. Then those bacteria release gas and that’s that funk/sweat smell you catch a whiff of before you even start working out. Niceeeeeee? Not!

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Cotton Doesn’t Have this Problem.

Did you know that cotton fabrics absorb water. This is why cotton is perfect for towels but not so perfect for workout wear. When you wear cotton and workout, the fabric will swell and that’s when chafing happens. Also, cotton naturally repels oils, so cotton usually doesn’t small as bad as synthetics. 

Your Regular Detergent Won’t Help

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Whatever regular brand you use to wash your running clothes won’t help to get the stink out. I use a free and clear by Costco and although it’s great at getting stains and regular dirt out, it does not get that bacteria skunk out of my clothes. Regular detergent is optimized for cotton and not synthetic tech gear and not for getting the funk smell out. Ugh, this is totally grossing me out.

WIN Gets the Job Done

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The main difference between WIN Detergent and regular detergent is that WIN has the ingredients in its formula that separate the oils from the synthetic fibers. WIN will break that bond between oil and the synthetic fibers! WIN’s formula contains special detergent molecules called Surfactants. Pretty much all detergents have surfactants, but the type in WIN specifically work to get the oils out of synthetic fabrics. Want to geek out? Surfactants are two-sided molecules and one side is hydrophobic so it repels water and grabs onto the oil. The other side is hydrophilic so it grabs onto water. When the water goes down the drain after your wash cycle, so do the oils and the bacteria and that funk smell that NO ONE likes to talk about. Yay!

Since WIN removes that stink oil from your favorite workout wear, the wicking properties of your clothes are restored. So your tech clothes actually work better and smell better and now you don’t have to worry about if that gal next to you has a grimace on her face because she caught a whiff of your clothes or because she forgot her sunglasses. LOL! 


WIN helped me

I tested out WIN because I will admit, my running clothes don’t smell pretty. To get the most out of WIN detergent, follow the directions and here are a few bonus tips. 

Hot Chocolate 15k Scottsdale post-race stinky clothes and my son’s swim gear are not match to WIN Detergent!

Hot Chocolate 15k Scottsdale post-race stinky clothes and my son’s swim gear are not match to WIN Detergent!

  1. Use the hottest water possible. That will help WIN remove the oil from your clothes faster. Think of it as if you are washing an oily pan in the sink you would use hot water and not cold. It’s the hot water that will help the surfactants even better to get that oil off. 

  2. Use 2oz. I always put in a double shot of WIN during my wash. This just got the stink out better than using 1oz. Also, my wash loads tend to be on the extra large side.

  3. Double rinse. This is also important. Do a second rinse cycle. This ensures that all of the stinky oil goes away down the drain with the water.

  4. Tumble Dry on Low. High drying temps could damage fabrics. Most synthetics, especially good wicking fabrics, dry quickly on a low.

  5. Sensitive to fragrances? My entire family (including myself) is sensitive to extra fragrances in products. I was thrilled that I was able to test out the fragrance-free version of WIN Detergent. It works exactly the same as the regular WIN, but doesn’t have any added fragrance or dye!


Smell you later?

Sorry, I don’t mean to joke but if you own tech clothes then know that they smell if you use regular detergent. That’s just the stinky reality! BibRave and WIN is sweet enough to offer a discount code of 20% orders. Apply code RAVE4WIN to get 20% off any WIN purchase (individual bottle, 2-pack, or 4-pack.) This is good for orders on Amazon. Offer good through 1/15/2019. Limit one use per household.

Let me know what you think! Do your tech clothes smell better?

Check out some other reviews of WIN from other BibRave Pro’s:
The Marathon Lady
Run Katy Run

Running Safe and Smart With Sabre

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.

Protecting myself by being smart and while carrying Sabre.

Protecting myself by being smart and while carrying Sabre.

I play the scenario out in my head. Being attacked while running. Would I fight back? Yes. Would I scream? Hope so. Would I run away? I'll try if my fighting back isn't working. This is a reality that all outdoor runners — male or female — have to deal with. Society has been talking about it more because more people, women in particular, have been attacked or killed while doing something they are passionate about, running. I am careful while I am running and do particular things that I will elaborate more on but I didn't run with protection. It was a surprise to me that BibRave was offering a unique testing opportunity. An opportunity that I couldn't pass up. Test pepper spray by Sabre. The interesting thing is, this isn't ordinary pepper spray, it's actually a pepper gel and Sabre is the most trusted brand by police. Here are ways that I keep safe while running and how I now incorporate Sabre in my running routine.


Be Aware of Surroundings

I'll only run in the dark in areas I know, like my own neighborhood. I'm constantly looking and seeing and listening. Yes, I look behind my shoulder a lot. I'm not paranoid, I'm being observant. If you are running somewhere new, think about what could be there before you hit that run. Will there be commuters, animals (domesticated or not), train tracks, alley ways, no street lights, etc. If we are aware about surroundings, then it's less likely we will be caught off guard by a sudden surprise.


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Be Visible To Those Around You

My running clothes are bright or have reflective elements ironed on them (hello, Brilliant Reflective!) You'll also find blinky lights on my head and hydro vest. I'll put one red blinky light on the back and side that faces the street on my hydro vest. I look everyone in the eye and wave. That could be others walking or running and even people in their cars driving. Tired morning commuters see me better when I acknowledge them. I always remember that a person driving is NOT looking for people on bicycles, runners or walkers. They are looking for other cars, so acknowledging them goes a long way. A coyote will always be greeted with a stomp of my feet, loud clapping hands and a yell of "GO!" They run off when I do that. I even greeted two dogs off their leash that way! Thankfully they ran off.


Hand held protection by Sabre. The Runner Pepper Gel w/ adjustable hand strap.
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Be Willing To Carry & Use Protection

I don't ever want it to come to this, but I will protect myself any way possible against harm. Lately, I've been running with the Sabre Runner Pepper Gel with Adjustable Hand Strap. It's a gel, so there isn't blowback like from a spray. It has UV dye aids. I never thought about a pepper spray or gel having this technology. The UV marking dye aids in suspect identification. It's the #1 brand trusted by police and consumers worldwide which included county sheriff & U.S. marshals from New York, Chicago PD and Los Angeles. The spray range is huge at 12 feet and Sabra mentions that is 20% greater range than other products. I get that running with extra running gear is cumbersome. During my multiple runs with the Sabre Runner Pepper Gel, I didn't notice it on my hand. It also stayed on my hand securely because of the adjustable velcro hand strap. So I took it to my food scale and discovered It weighs only 1.4 ounces, even with the velcro hand strap and holder! It can also be used-multiple times, there is enough protection in the bottle for 35 bursts. This surprised me because I assumed that a pepper spray or gel is a one time use only.


Walking your dog while carrying the Sabre Runner Pepper Gel is easy.

Walking your dog while carrying the Sabre Runner Pepper Gel is easy.

Not just for running

For the most part, I run alone and that's a good reason to carry the Runner Pepper Gel. But I also frequently walk my dog, Wally. He's 30 pounds, so not totally a small dog but he could appear to be an easy target for a coyote or bobcat. I have both species living in the desert preserve behind my home. Sabre doesn't recommend spraying the Runner Pepper Gel at dogs, they make a specific dog spray for that, a product that won't permanently hurt the dog, just disable their attack in a humane way. If a coyote or other non-domesticated animals comes between me and Wally, I will spray it with the Runner Pepper Gel. I noticed that the Runner Pepper Gel is perfect for when you are walking a dog. The velcro strap makes it simple to keep the pepper gel on your hand while picking up doggy doo-doo. All I did was flip the strap and case around to the top of my hand, then proceeded to clean up. Once I was done, I just flipped it back. No need to put anything in my pocket. My protection was always there. Since protection is always near, Sabre built in a reinforced trigger with a twist lock. It can be turned on and off with the flip of your thumb. I'm right-handed and I found the pepper gel was easy to engage and disengage the twist lock with either my left or right hand.


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Final takeaways

I had no idea that something so small could make me feel so confident. Each mornings run now includes me running with the Sabre Runner Pepper Gel. My brain is already in an euphoric state during most of my runs so it feels good that I could let my mind wander just a bit because I know I'm carrying strong protection.

If you are interested in the Sabre Runner Pepper Gel, it can be purchased from their website or from their Amazon store.

Do you want to feel it on your hand before you buy? I’ll be at the Scottsdale Half Marathon & 5k this Sunday, December 9th pacing the 2:50 half marathon group. I’m bringing the Sabre Runner Pepper Gel to show one of my Instagram runner friends. You are welcome to come check it out! Find me holding my pacer sign or comment here!

Curious what other BibRave Pro’s have to say? Here’s a compiled list of other blog reviews:
She Runs By Faith
Runner Antics
Back to Basics
Crazy Hamster
Preston Ramsey
Elbow Glitter
The Marathon Lady
BluegrassBAMR
She Runs By The Seashore
Running Around the Boyz
Marathang
Another Half Please
Living Loving Runner

Expo Love: Hot Chocolate Scottsdale

Disclaimer: I received free entry to Hot Chocolate 15k Scottsdale race 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.

My friend Mysti and I at the AllState photo booth.

My friend Mysti and I at the AllState photo booth.

Doesn’t a fantastic expo get you pumped for race day? The Hot Chocolate 15k Scottsdale expo did just that for me. Yesterday, I picked up my packet (and packets for 3 friends!) on the first expo day. Here are a few of the coolest things that stood out to me:


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Long Line But Flew Through

I really thought I was a smart one to arrive at noon, as soon as expo doors opened. Apparently, everyone else had the same idea! The line to pick up bibs was long! My tummy did a little flip at first. I realized there was only one line. It wasn’t organized by last name letter. Hmm. I panicked because I thought I’d be in this line forever. Not the case. A Hot Chocolate volunteer was at the very front of the line, directing the next person to the first available volunteer bib-passer-outer-person. In about 3 minutes, I was already next! I handed the volunteer my QR codes and she quickly turned around, found my bib and my friends 3 bibs. She told me that my friends were all legacy and that I needed to go to the legacy booth to pick up their special gifts! I got serious FOMO, I’m not legacy. Then she directed me to the other end of the expo to get my jacket & goodie bag.


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The Sweet Perks of Legacy

Technically, this is my 3rd time running The Scottsdale Hot Chocolate 15k. But there’s that little ol’ 2 year gap. Oops! I was swooning over the special swag legacy runners received. Similar to the bib pick up, the legacy pickup went super smooth! The volunteers at this table were extra peppy and congratulating me on my legacy status. Then I reminded her that only my friends are legacy. Boo! Still, she reassured me and told me to sign up again for next year. Excelling selling tactic!

My friends were celebrating their 3rd years of running Hot Chocolate 15k races and their extra swag included: a copper-colored mug medal and pin with the 3 year legacy logo on it, a legacy novelty bib and a legacy beanie. Curious if legacy status also gets you into shorter-line portopoties on race day morning! Now that would be a perk! LOL


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All About the Jacket

I don’t know about you, but I LOVE the Hot Chocolate swag jackets. That was a reason why I signed up for my first Hot Chocolate 15k back in 2014. And, check out my Instagram post, I still own and wear it. The jackets are that good. It’s just a different race perk that sets the Hot Chocolate races apart from other races. I have enough tech tees, so receiving a race jacket is a special treat. The 2018 jacket is extremely soft, lightweight and the in the most beautiful color. I’m glad the people at Hot Chocolate went with a muted color this year. So on trend. The men received a dark charcoal colored jacket in the same material.

The lines to pick up the jacket also went quickly. The volunteer asked me to try on my jacket and I was able to exchange it for a different size if needed at a booth on the end of the expo. My jacket fit well. Size M, thank you very much! I’ve been working hard at losing fat weight.


Ready to Race this 15k

So, who’s also racing tomorrow? I’m officially pumped to run my 3rd Hot Chocolate Scottsdale Race. I’ll be doing my flat runner later today and I’ll be dressed in BibRave Festive. Stay tuned!

The Turkey Trot With Heart

Disclaimer: I received free entry to Virtual Oakland Turkey Trot 5k race 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!

First Turkey Trot complete! Thank you Oakland Turkey Trot!

First Turkey Trot complete! Thank you Oakland Turkey Trot!

Having fun at my virtual startline.

Having fun at my virtual startline.

I never ran a turkey trot before.

I know, I know, I’m in the minority here. It’s difficult for me because I have lots to do on Thanksgiving morning and driving to run a race doesn’t fit. Thankful for the opportunity to virtually run the Oakland Turkey Trot through BibRave.

The Bay Area holds a special place in my heart. I lived there for about 4 years. Originally, I was born in Chicago. In 1982, my parents took me to San Jose and lived there till 1986. That is an important reason why chose to run the Oakland Turkey Trot, virtually on Thanksgiving Day. 

My Strava route.

My Strava route.

The Turkey Trot With Heart

The Oakland Turkey Trot partnered with the Oakland Mayor’s Office, Alameda County Community Food Bank, Oakland Public Schools, and local sponsors and charities. 100% of proceeds are going straight back to the Oakland community! This is huge and another reason this was the race I chose for my first turkey trot.

#FeastMode Medals at the finish line.

#FeastMode Medals at the finish line.

They also had one of the coolest shirts designed and their #feastmode medal is pretty cool. I was impressed with the custom bib I received. See the photo I have attached to see the outfit I ran in on Thanksgiving morning.

I would have loved to actually run in Oakland around Lake Merritt. The course looks so pretty.

It was awesome how responsive Oakland Turkey Trot was on social media, especially Instagram. They posted a ton and liked my posts as well as shared some of posts and IG stories on their stories. It felt good to see that and get acknowledged.

If you want to run a fun turkey trot with a whole lot of heart, then choose the Oakland Turkey Trot. You can plan ahead and register here for 2019! https://runsignup.com/Race/Register/?raceId=45514#register

My Most Flavorful Hot Chocolate 15k Yet?

Disclaimer: I received free entry to the Hot Chocolate 15k Scottsdale race 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!

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In 10 short days, I’ll be racing my 3rd Hot Chocolate Scottsdale race. As I look back at the last two times I ran the race, I feel proud. My times improved by 2 minutes per mile in just one year! It’s fun to reminisce about the past times I ran this race and think about what my body could do on December 2.


2014 is when I first started running.

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I was clumsy, my breathing was still out of whack, yet I loved it. It brought me pure joy! The longest race at that time for me was the 10k. Since I was new to running, 6 whole miles was a big deal. My goal was to run a half marathon in January and I needed some races to help build my confidence. I already was in training, but the races would be there to make the runs more fun. Hot Chocolate was coming up in December and the idea of eating chocolate while running sounded too good to be true! For the most part, I run races alone. I rather run alone. It’s like my own personal ‘me-time.’ So I signed up for the race alone and hoped for the best. I ended up totally surprising myself because this was the first time I ran 9 miles at once. One of the coolest things about the Hot Chocolate races is that so many runners dressed up in costume. It was incredibly fun to people watch! This fueled the fire in me to sign up again the following year.

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2015 is when I finally had control of my body.

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That concept never made sense to me prior to being a runner. In control of my body? How? I can move it, but I can’t push it hard because my body can’t take it. I’ll overheat, can’t breathe, my legs will fall off. Then, after a year of running I realized that I can push my body hard and sustain it. It was incredible. I finally felt powerful and in control. My speed was getting faster and I wanted to see what my body could do at the Hot Chocolate 15k. This time I dressed in a costume! My idea was a hostess cupcake but I think I ended up looking like a gingerbread cookie. I totally surprised myself that year and ran over 2 minutes faster than the year before! If you hadn’t noticed, I am smaller in size from 2014. I lost about 20 lbs of fat weight from running more, tracking my food & calorie intake, making healthy food choices and doing strength training.

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2018 is when I …

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That is the statement that has yet to be completed. In 2016 I had major work changes and my fitness went down, which meant my fat weight went up. Although, I kept getting PR’s and running happy, I wasn’t happy about the amount of fat I was carrying. 2018 is when I decided to gain back some control and track what I ate again. I’m proud to say I’m at or better in fitness than what I was in 2015, the last time I ran the Hot Chocolate 15k in Scottsdale. In 10 short days I’ll be able to prove to myself that I got it. I may be 3 years older now and just 1 year to 40, but I know I can beat my 2015 time.

Run with me on December 2nd! Code "BRHCScotts" gets you some extra swag, a free phone armband. Link to register: http://hotchocolate15k.com/scottsdale 

All My Favorite Brands Brands Brands Brands

Disclaimer: I received free entry to Virtual Oakland Turkey Trot 5k race 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!"

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My first official turkey trot is just 3 days! I’m totally pumped for race day and why not celebrate with a flat lay. What the what is a flat lay you say? It’s basically any photograph you take from directly above while the objects are on a flat surface. Usually the objects are arranged neatly or in a creative way. If you follow my IG or Pinterest feed, you know I LOVE doing flat lays of my run gear aka flat runner!

Here’s a rundown on my favorite brands included in this flat lay:

  1. Oakland Turkey Trot: This race is pretty unique. All proceeds go back to the Oakland community. Part of my heart belongs to the Bay Area (I lived there for a number a years while growing up.) Both of those are reasons why I signed up to have this race as my very first Turkey Trot!

  2. Knockaround: These sunglasses are my go-to shades. They are reasonable, stay on your face and look good on.

  3. Buff: Lightweight, comfortable and keeps you warm. Buffs are the best!

  4. Altra Running: I was favoring an ‘other’ brand for a while and my right hip as been killing me. Decided to bust out my Altra Impulse Flash and I wish I did that sooner. My hip pain is going away and I’m running fast. Wow. Love Altra.

  5. Aftershokz Trekz Air: Hear the world around you and your music. I feel safe while wearing my Trekz Air during runs. Also, no cords to deal with and the Canyon Red color looks fab against my skin tone.

  6. Garmin feñix 5s Rose Gold: Oh, momma! Talk about beauty meets tech. This watch is my favorite watch of all time. It does NOT leave my wrist unless I need to charge it. My favorite features is all day HR monitoring and how accurate it tracks my pace during runs.

  7. BibBoards: I first noticed rust on my shirt last year. WTH? It was from the safety pins! BibBoards protects your favorite tech shirts from rust and holes and they are customizable!

  8. Sparkle Athletic: #TeamSparkle 4eva! Be bold, be bright. Running is FUN, so have fun doing it. I like to shine during races and I am absolutely wearing a Sparkle Athletic skirt while doing this virtual 5k Turkey Trot.

Join me in getting your #feastmode on and sign up for the Oakland Turkey Trot. Apply code BROTTVIP for 10% off registration.

Running My 1st 🦃-Day Race: Virtual Oakland Turkey Trot 5k

Disclaimer: I received free entry to Virtual Oakland Turkey Trot 5k race 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!"

The design and colors of the Oakland Turkey Trot 5k really caught my attention.

The design and colors of the Oakland Turkey Trot 5k really caught my attention.

Running a turkey trot on Thanksgiving morning is THE thing to do these days. According to Runner’s World Magazine, it’s become the most important race in America. They say in 2015, Thanksgiving passed the Fourth of July as the most popular day to run a race, drawing nearly a million participants to more than 1,000 different events across the country. So why haven’t I raced a turkey trot yet and more importantly, why is my first one a virtual?

Thanksgiving Day is an insanely busy day for me. I do have time to run in the early (5 a.m.) morning and that’s it. I best be getting back home from my run by 7 a.m. latest or my meal prep time gets messed up. Basically, I don’t have time to drive anywhere to go to a race. When I found out as a BibRave Pro that I could participate in a virtual turkey trot, I knew this was my chance to finally run in a real turkey trot.


Loving the cuteness of the Oakland Turkey Trot beanie.

Loving the cuteness of the Oakland Turkey Trot beanie.

A Special Place in My Heart

Did Y'all Know? I lived in the Bay Area for about 4 years. Originally, I was born in Chicago. In 1982, my parents took me to San Jose and lived there till 1986. The Bay Area holds a special place in my heart. That is an important reason why I'm supporting and promoting the Thanksgiving Day Virtual Oakland Turkey Trot


Volunteering while on the run with the 2:40 pace group on 11/04/2018.

Volunteering while on the run with the 2:40 pace group on 11/04/2018.

Giving Back

Location alone isn’t the only reason I’m passionate about this race. The Oakland Turkey Trot partnered with the Mayor’s Office, Alameda County Community Food Bank, Oakland Public Schools and local sponsors and charities. 100% of proceeds are going straight back to the Oakland community! This is huge.

I too enjoy giving back to my community. This is why I regularly pace local half marathons. Here I am at my latest pacing race at the November 4, 2018 3TV Phoenix 10k and Half Marathon.


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Join me

If your time is limited, you can’t drive anywhere to go to a turkey trot so a virtual is your only option OR if you live in the Bay Area and you want to run a super fun turkey trot that gives back immensely to the community, then sign up for the Oakland Turkey Trot. Apply code BROTTVIP for 10% off registration.

Wally did a 10k with Scoobtober!

Disclaimer: I received free entry to the Scooby-Doo Virtual Run Series 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!

Wally has some serious proud bling face going on!

Wally has some serious proud bling face going on!

It was totally fitting for Wally and I to complete the Scoobtober Virtual 10k on Halloween morning. I’m proud of my 9-years-young pup. Similar to how we ran the Scooby Doo DooGood 5k, we completed the 10k challenge in 12 bite-size walks.


Routines Form Good Habits

Wally loved to take the same route everyday. I noticed he’d stop and smell all the same spots and leave pee-mail messages behind! He was on a mission that always took us to the neighborhood playground at the top of the hill. To keep things interesting, I’d mix it up and we would still make our final destination but get there by taking separate routes. The Scoobtober challenge is now over, but Wally gets all perky eared when he sees me put on my running shoes. 

See above all 12 of our runs that made the entire 6.2 miles of the Scoobtober 10k and you’ll see what our favorite routes are.


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All the Bling

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The team behind Scooby Doo really did a fantastic job with the quality of the medals, t-shirt, bandanas and backpack for the swag. The details and quality in their items are great. Colors are vibrant in the ribbons and in the enamel of the each virtual race medal as well as the challenge medal.

I never seen a medal specifically for a dog before. That is just the coolest thing.

The drawstring backpack was much larger than I anticipated. The material is durable and there are 2 zippered pockets. As a nice touch, the Scooby Doo logo is on the pull tabs. This will totally be my new Wally walking bag.



Final Thoughts

The Scooby Doo Virtual Run Series was by far the best virtual run I participated in. Scooby Doo is a strong brand with a huge following. I could totally see an in-real-life race event where people bring their dogs. What’s the biggest takeaway from the Scoobtober and the race in general? I was able to get closer to my dog. We love being outdoors together.

I Love The Light Life

Disclaimer: I received an SPIbeams LED 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!

The startline was dark at the November 4, 2018 3TV  Phoenix Half Marathon . I came prepared to pace the 2:40 group with my  SPIbeams LED Visor .

The startline was dark at the November 4, 2018 3TV Phoenix Half Marathon. I came prepared to pace the 2:40 group with my SPIbeams LED Visor.

Words I can’t believe I’m saying: I miss the summer. I live in Phoenix, so I must be crazy to utter those words. It’s finally starting to cool off and shorts are being traded for long pants. Yet, I miss the summer. It’s because I miss those pre-5a.m. sunrises. More light means safer and happier running for me. As the fall season starts to progress, the days are getting shorter and morning runs feel like night runs with the sun rising later. I’m more of a daytime runner. When the opportunity came to test the SPIBelt Beams LED Visor, I had to jump on it. I had other tools to keep me safe on the run, but now I could have something to light my way, other than a headlamp. Here are my favorite features of this supercharged visor.


Morning runs now include the  @SPIBELT  Beams LED Visor. Light to brighten the sidewalk & the visor to protect my eyes during sunrise.

Morning runs now include the @SPIBELT Beams LED Visor. Light to brighten the sidewalk & the visor to protect my eyes during sunrise.

Dark to light, still shine bright

The interesting thing about headlamps is that they work well when you start and end your run in the dark. But what if you start your run in the dark and end it in the sun? What do you do with your headlamp? When this was my problem, I left it on my head and then suffered when the sun would rise because I had nothing to protect my eyes. Also, nothing to protect my forehead from sunburn. This is where the SPIbeams LED Visor is brilliant, both in idea and brightness. I can wear my visor at night with the lights turned on. There is a main on/off switch in the sweatband and a quick switch under the brim. As the sun starts to rise, I just turn off the front lights from under the brim. Then I can still keep my visor on to trap sweat and keep the sun out of my eyes. Totally brilliant.


Around mile 11 of the October 13, 2018  Craft Classic Phoenix Half Marathon  where my  Beast Pacing  teammate and I paced the 2:45 group.

Around mile 11 of the October 13, 2018 Craft Classic Phoenix Half Marathon where my Beast Pacing teammate and I paced the 2:45 group.

Race wear, hardly there

Race day is a critical time in that you can’t be bogged down. I hesitate wearing anything extra because I don’t want the weight on me. I wore the SPIbeams LED Visor during two half marathons I paced. Each of them had a pre-dawn arrival time. I didn’t have the capacity to carry a flashlight or wear a headlamp because there wasn’t anywhere to put it when as the sun rose. SPIbeams saved the day again, with the front LED lights that could be easily turned on and off. That’s not the only plus on race day though. During both races, I didn’t notice the visor on my head and it’s because it’s super lightweight. It weighs approximately 2.6oz.


Andrea Heser© 2018

Andrea Heser© 2018

A few of my favorite things

Check out the annotated graphic for my favorite features of the SPIbeams LED Visor. Cool features include: it’s super lightweight, 4 LEDs on the front that shine 128 lumes, 2 red LEDs on the back closure, on/off quick switch under brim, replaceable batteries inside sweatband.  

If you’d ask me what my favorite feature is, I’d tell you the 2 blinky LED lights on the back. To me, that gets a drivers attention.

If you’d ask me what my favorite feature is, I’d tell you the 2 blinky LED lights on the back. To me, that gets a drivers attention.


Interesting observations and conclusions

OMG. Is that…salt?

OMG. Is that…salt?

During two runs and one race, I wore my SPIbeams LED Visor. I took a risk and won. Nothing broke, but it could have. The components of the main on/off switch are not waterproof. Lot’s of water poured down on me and thank goodness nothing happened. The electrical wires could have been damaged. With that being said, I don’t recommend running with this visor in the rain unprotected. Maybe wear it with a waterproof hood covering the sweatband part.

During my last half marathon this past Sunday, I realized the sweatband was covered in my own salt! Yikes! SPIbelt does recommend handwashing with specific instructions on their website. I plan on doing that this weekend.

I’m pleased with my SPIbeams LED Visor and glad it’s keeping me safe on the run and race. SPIbelt is generous and offering a 20% discount on purchases through November 12. Apply code BIBRAVE at checkout. Also, all orders in the U.S. include free shipping.

Luvo Taught Me Veggies Don't Need Meat

Disclaimer: I received a Luvo Vegan Essentials Bundle 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!

Photo by Luvo Foods

Photo by Luvo Foods

I'm not vegan or vegetarian and thought I should give the Luvo Vegan Essentials a try. The high amount of veggies in each bowl is what sold me to test out these flavors as a BibRavePro. I figured I could pair the bowls with the lemon pepper chicken I make weekly. What I learned is that every flavor in the Vegan Essentials was so satisfying that I didn't need the meat after all. It surprised me that I could have a meat-less meal. All eight boxes from my Vegan Essentials are now gone and I’m thinking it’s about time I place an order. See below for my reviews of each flavor.


The Most Fresh Looking Frozen Meal I Ever Seen

So Cal Kale & Bean

This was the first Luvo meal I tried out of the Vegan Bundle. Microwaveable meals usually never look they way they look like the photo on the box. Luvo proved that wrong! The heated meal out of the microwave looked exactly like the photo on the box. The broccoli was the vibrant green. The kidney beans were a deep red and not dull one bit. The meal was hearty, smelled and tasted delicious. I did add baked-skinless chicken breast to the bowl. Still, I could see myself eating this bowl as a vegan meal. 

10g Protein / 360mg Sodium / 14g Sugar / 1½ cups Vegetables / 23g Whole Grains


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Pineapple & Black Rice, Unexpected Yum

Hawaiian Un-Fried Rice

I would have never thought to pair pineapple with black rice, but they make a nice couple! The black rice is much hardier than sticky rice. Also, I felt full for about 3 hours after the meal and it must have been the rice. The pineapple was a nice touch and not too sweet that it overpowered the meal. The cashews were a nice touch and gave the bowl a good texture. This was a great comfort food meal for in-office lunch. Also, I typically would have added a meat to a vegan meal like this (I'm not vegan.) But this bowl didn't need it. I felt satisfied!

10g Protein / 330mg / Sodium / 10g Sugar / 1 cup Vegetables / 42g Whole Grains


Hearty and Satisfying, No Need for Meat!

Great Karma Coconut Curry

Your curry bowl made me re-think curry. Honestly, was not a fan of curry in the past. Noticed it was part of your Vegan Bundle and took a risk. So glad I took that risk! So good. Also, was totally thrilled to see Butternut Squash as a featured veggie. I was thinking that I should bring some cooked chicken to go along with the bowl. Didn't need the meat! I just finished this bowl at the office for my work lunch and I feel full and satisfied. The Great Karma Coconut Curry bowl is a perfect bring-to-work meal.

10g Protein / 390mg Sodium / 5g Sugar / 1 cup Vegetables / 16g Whole Grains


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Perfect for Those Venturing Into the Spicy World

Chana Masala

Honestly, I'm nervous to try food with extra spice. As my Chana Masala bowl was microwaving at work, a co-worker commented how delicious it smelled. I was so eager to try! The flavors blended so well that the spice didn't bother me. The Chana bowl is my favorite. I could have it 3x a week if you let me! The texture is great and the veggies look fantastic, so fresh looking. Also, I was full after just eating this bowl with no added meat.

11g Protein / 360mg Sodium / 2g Sugar / ½ cup Vegetables / 11g Whole Grains


If you are a person who feels meat should always be a part of each meal and would like a change, then consider the Vegan Essentials bundle by Luvo Foods. I have a strong feeling you and your tastebuds will be pleasantly surprised.