Posts Tagged ‘bibrave’

Original BUFF®

Disclaimer: I received an Original BUFF® 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!

Since receiving my first BUFF® product, I’ve been a huge fan. I’ve done a couple of reviews before:

When I got the opportunity to test the Original BUFF® – and to select my own design – I was thrilled! Honestly, you can’t have too many BUFF® products! I chose the pattern called MOTION because I felt the colour palette would go well with my own!

Original BUFF®

We’ve learned that BUFF® products are extremely versatile, but of course I have my favourite styles and uses, and pretty much stick with them. But since the packaging promotes “more than 12+ ways to wear”, I thought I’d give it a go and try them out!

Original BUFF®

Here are some of the ways to wear the Original BUFF® – and my perspective on them!

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San Francisco Second Half Marathon

It was kind of a dream come true when I had the opportunity to run across the Golden Gate Bridge – not just once, but twice – at last year’s San Francisco First Half Marathon. It was such a fun, well-organized race that within days of registration opening for the 2016 race, I had signed up to run the San Francisco Second Half Marathon.

By way of explanation…each year, the San Francisco Marathon also includes two half marathons: the 1st Half, which mirrors (not surprisingly) the first half of the marathon course, and starts alongside the marathon runners, like I did last year; and the 2nd Half, which starts at a slightly different location, but joins up midway through the marathon and ends at the same spot. My motivation for running the 2nd half was two-fold: 1) to visit our friends in San Francisco again, and 2) for a medal – and not just any medal…

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UV Half BUFF

Disclaimer: I received a UV Half BUFF® 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!

Anyone who reads my blog regularly knows that I’m a huge fan of BUFF® products. You can revisit my previous reviews here:

But today I’m talking about the UV Half BUFF® – half the length of the Original BUFF® but no less awesome!

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Platte River Half Marathon

Disclaimer: I received a free entry to the Platte River 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!

When the opportunity to run the Platte River Half Marathon caught my attention, it didn’t take long for me to reach out to my good friend Annmary and ask if she and her family were open to receiving guests in their home in Colorado. Thankfully, they were! We booked flights, scheduled time off work, and waited in anticipation. That was October.

As race weekend approached, I got nervous. What would it be like running at altitude? Would I pass out on the course? The answers to these questions…coming up!

Friday – Acclimatizing

Pre-dawn alarm, train to the airport, one of the smoothest security and immigration checks I’ve ever experienced, and we were in the air before 8am. Three hours later, we landed in Denver, a mile above sea level, and our long weekend had begun! We grabbed our rental car and arrived at Annmary’s place just in time for lunch. We hadn’t seen each other since we lived in Japan – could it be 15 years already? But it was like no time had passed and we were welcomed warmly into the family.

The girls – Meghan and Becca – arrived home from school and decided to join me on my shakeout run. Armed with a bottle of water (I never carry water, but Annmary cautioned me on the only way to prevent altitude sickness) and we were out the door. Half a mile and a loop of the block later, I dropped the girls off at the house and ventured out on my own.

Platte River Half Marathon Platte River Half Marathon

The Cherry Creek Spillway is an urban nature trail – I saw prairie dogs, birds, rabbits and deer along the 2 kilometre route, and then extended my run to incorporate the West Tollgate Creek Trail. Ended up going a bit further than planned – 11km. Although I drank my entire bottle of water, I had a splitting headache. I blame the elevation (averaging about 1,700 metres or 5,500 feet).

Platte River Half Marathon Platte River Half Marathon

Slept early, after taking a Tylenol.

Saturday – Bib Pickup

Not too early on Saturday, we headed off to Runners Roost (a local Colorado store) to pick up my race packet. In the downstairs community room, I got my bib, an awesome long-sleeved race shirt, and samples from race sponsors nuun and Honey Stinger. It was quick and efficient, and the volunteers were friendly and helpful.

Platte River Half Marathon Platte River Half Marathon

My only regret: I neglected to stock up on my go-to fuel – PowerGel Double Latte flavour – and despite visiting several stores, no one had it. I bought ‘Orange Dream’ instead. Lesson learned.

The remainder of the afternoon was spent sightseeing in downtown Denver. I probably walked too far, but we had a great time with the family!

Platte River Half Marathon Platte River Half Marathon Platte River Half Marathon Platte River Half Marathon Platte River Half Marathon

Another relatively early night, since morning would come early!

Platte River Half Marathon

Sunday – Race Day

The Platte River Half starts in Littleton, a small city south of Denver. It took us about 30 minutes to drive, accompanied by Annmary, Meghan, and my better half. After a quick porta-potty visit, I glimpsed a flash of orange and dashed over to meet fellow BibRavePro, Katherine (@MagicofRunning) – moments later, we were joined by Abbie (@AbbieMood). Thank goodness for BibRave orange! This was my first official BibRavePro race, and I was thrilled to represent with these two amazing women! We hugged, wished each other well, and headed towards the start line.

Platte River Half Marathon Platte River Half Marathon

A few announcements were happening, and despite being near the front I couldn’t hear a word – some sound system issues? And all of a sudden the countdown was on, and we surged forward into the streets of Littleton. It’s a cute, historic town – we did a loop and ended up back where we started before turning west down a small path (Little’s Creek Trail) until we reached the Platte River.

Platte River Half Marathon Platte River Half Marathon

For the next 10km, we followed the windy river route, crossing several bridges (5, by my count) before detouring into an industrial area as we got closer to the city.

Platte River Half Marathon

Highlight! The race includes a 3-leg relay – two 5-mile legs, and a final 3-mile leg. As we approached mile 5, a boy of about 6 or 7 was pushing towards the exchange point with his dad. It was obvious he was running out of steam, but a whole bunch of runners started encouraging and cheering him on, and he sprinted towards the timing mat to pass the baton to his older brother. Great inspiration!

The aid stations – and I took advantage of every one of them – were well stocked with water and nuun, and the volunteers were great. I got a chuckle out of how many pronunciations of ‘nuun’ I heard…from ‘noon’ to ‘nun’, and every diphthong in between. But it was excellent hydration no matter how you say it!

We veered back towards the river, now running alongside the highway as we crossed another bridge. The finish line couldn’t be too far away. I resisted the urge to look at my watch, and spent a significant amount of time converting miles to kilometres and back again.

Platte River Half Marathon

One more right turn, we passed under the highway – and then Mount Everest was looming in front of us. OK, it was actually just the 8th Ave Viaduct, but after running a gentle downhill slope for the past 12 miles, it looked insurmountable. It wasn’t, of course, but once I reached the top the bridge itself seemed to go on forever. I started encouraging myself – I think I was speaking aloud: “You’ve got this. Don’t give up. Almost there.”

Down the far side, a quick left, and the finish line was just a block away! I picked up the pace, and pushed myself with a finally burst of energy. Platte River Half Marathon complete!

Platte River Half Marathon Platte River Half Marathon

Everyone was there to welcome me, and accompany me to the post-race festival. In addition to a nifty mason jar mug, there were lots of freebies and samples. Best of all, I got not one but two veggie burgers from the Buckhorn Exchange, and a beer from Breckinridge Brewery! First sip of beer, and Katherine was there for a cheers and a race debrief!

Platte River Half Marathon Platte River Half Marathon

Back to Littleton to pick up the car – and the rest of the day relaxing with the family!

Monday – Hiking

Making as much as we could out of this trip, we took an extra day to enjoy Colorado. Annmary took the day off, and we headed south towards Colorado Springs. Not too far out of town, however, we caught sight of some beautiful landscapes, and pulled off into Castlewood Canyon State Park. We intended to stay briefly, but ended up delighted by the scenery and hiking for nearly two hours. Exhausting, but totally worth it.

Platte River Half Marathon Platte River Half Marathon

Platte River Half Marathon Platte River Half Marathon

We finally reached the remarkable geological phenomena called Garden of the Gods. Striking red rock formations protruding from the ground – simply amazing! It was a bit foggy, and we were pretty worn out – so we just drove around and snapped a few photos before heading back to Denver.

Platte River Half Marathon Platte River Half Marathon

Hugs and farewells – and we headed to the airport. Home again after a successful race weekend!

Platte River Half Marathon – Quick Review

Social Media: I engaged very regularly with Platte River Half on Twitter, and was disappointed that I never got a response. In fact, their most recent Tweet (as of race day) was from St. Patrick’s Day. Their Facebook page was kept pretty much up-to-date, however, and they provided few (but enough) emails.

Packet Pickup: Quick and straightforward with some sponsor samples available to try out!

T-Shirt/Swag: Beautiful long-sleeved technical shirt in just the right size.

Course: Scenic views of the river for the majority of the route, and mostly downhill. The foray into some industrial areas was nothing special. The viaduct uphill in the final mile was a killer. The altitude was a challenge, but despite the ‘thin air’ I was happy with my results.

Post-Race/Medal: Excellent after party include free burgers and beer for runners, and a variety of sponsors sampling their wares. Big, beautiful medal – the largest so far in my collection! Plus a Breckinridge Brewery mason jar mug branded for the race!

Organization: With the exception of disengaged social media, the race itself was extremely well-organized. Volunteers were plentiful and friendly, aid stations were well-stocked, and everyone had a great time.

Would I run it again? Colorado is a beautiful place and I’d love to visit in the future. Given the time and opportunity, I would definitely do another Platte River Half!

Final Results

Chip Time: 1:53:15
Average Pace: 8:39 min/mile
Place Overall: 190/540
Age Category Place: 35/75
*Also, from the results page, it looks like I might have been the only runner from Canada!

Platte River Half Marathon

Have you ever run a race at altitude? Did you find it more challenging?

WeeklyWrap

And after a bit of a hiatus, happy to link up again with HoHo Runs and MissSippiPiddlin for their Weekly Wrap!

Merino Wool Buff

Disclaimer: I received a Merino Wool BUFF® 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’s no secret that Buff has become one of my favourite products and most indispensable pieces of running gear. My Buff tags along with me to most of my races, and it’s an essential part of my running routine. You can read my previous review of the UV Buff here. When the opportunity arose to test and review the Merino Wool BUFF®, I leapt at the chance!

Initially, we weren’t certain whether or not Buff could/would deliver to Canada – but I was hopeful since they had done so previously. The outcome was still pending when I got a note from our office reception that a package had arrived. Ta-daaaa! My BUFF® headwear was safe and sound on Canadian soil!

Merino Wool Buff Merino Wool Buff

The first thing I want to comment on is the colour. We had quite a good selection to choose from, but I’ve been leaning towards the orange palette since embracing BibRave, so I chose the one I felt best suited: Rooibos Tea Dye. According to the packaging, it’s hand-dyed and – as such – totally unique. No other BUFF® product has the same pattern, which makes me feel pretty special.

Although merino wool is certainly not as rough as other sorts of wool, I was a bit concerned that it might be itchy or irritating. There was nothing to worry about. This is high quality material and gentle on the skin. Hooray for merino wool!

One thing I noticed right away is that the Merino Wool BUFF® is longer than my other standard ‘full BUFF®’ products by about 3 1/2 inches.

Merino Wool Buff

Quick visit to the website reveals:

The classic BUFF® headwear shape, but with a few extra inches of length for cozy protection–in the fabric outdoor enthusiasts love most.

With that in mind, time to try it on!

We’ve had some pretty mild weather in Vancouver this year, so there wasn’t a lot of call to wear my BUFF®. If I’d had it in time for my Snowshoe Race, it would have been the perfect gear to wear!

When the morning of the MEC North Vancouver Trail Race dawned overcast and chilly, and I knew we’d be running in the shady forest, my Merino Wool BUFF® was the natural thing to wear. Pre-race, it kept me warm and cozy as we waited at the start. My only ‘complaint’ (and it’s barely even that) is that the longer BUFF® headgear with additional material makes it a bit bulky when doubled up as a toque. At the same time, though, it’s particularly comfortable.

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For the first half of the race, I was glad to have my BUFF® to keep my ears and head toasty (though it did nothing to help me keep my eyes open for the photo).

Merino Wool Buff

Soon thereafter, when the trails became hillier and I had to exert myself considerably more…the BUFF® (as well as my jacket) were too warm. I tied the jacket around my waist, and converted the BUFF® from a toque to a neck warmer. This is what I love about BUFF® products – the versatility!

Merino Wool Buff

A week later at the West Van Run, the weather was sunny and warm, so I only needed a cap during the race. However, when things cooled down afterwards, I was glad to have it stashed with my gear to keep out the chill as I cheered in other runners. Here’s me and fellow BibRavePro Brie (briehemingway.com) hanging out post-race:

Merino Wool Buff

The latest adventure for my Merino Wool BUFF® took us to Pacific Spirit Regional Park, an amazing wilderness with scenic trails. Emily and I did nearly 10k and had an absolute blast. Once again, BUFF® started out on my head, and ended up around my neck once things warmed up. Had to show off my BibRave t-shirt, too!

Merino Wool Buff Merino Wool Buff Merino Wool Buff Merino Wool Buff

In short, I love BUFF® products. We all know that. About the Merino Wool BUFF® specifically – I think this is a great product, and I wish I’d had more cold weather opportunities to try it out! I’m not a skier and not hugely into winter sports, but I think this BUFF® product would be especially awesome for someone who is. Great for runners/cyclists who live in colder climates – or who spend more time in the back-country trails.

But don’t just take my word for it. You should get a BUFF® product for yourself – they have so many styles and options! Visit the US site at buffusa.com, or the Canadian site at buffcanada.com.

Have you tried the Merino Wool BUFF® or other BUFF® products? What do you think?

Luvo

Disclaimer: I received free samples of LUVO to review as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review find and write race reviews!

I am not a big frozen meal fan. Frozen fruits for smoothies and veggies for quick cooking? Sure! Frozen bread so it doesn’t go mouldy since I’m the only one in the household who eats bread? Of course! Ice for gin & tonics? You betcha! But frozen dinners? Not something I’m likely go out of my way to buy. Until Luvo came along…

Luvo

The connection between Luvo and running jumped out from behind a tree on Thursday morning. I was running the Seawall with the #RunVan club, and started chatting with one of the folks who, when I asked where she worked, told me she worked at Luvo! I was excited to tell her all about the samples I had just received from BibRave, and she told me a bit more about this awesome Canadian start-up!

Headquartered just over Granville Bridge on West Broadway, Luvo has former lululemon CEO Christine Day at its helm. My new running buddy, Meghan, excitedly told me about the company’s vision of delivering healthy and convenient frozen meals across North America.

I am also happy to share my thoughts on the yummy goodness I have been able to sample over the past week!

Delivery

Initially, we expected to receive coupons to buy Luvo products from local grocery stores. I learned that both Urban Fare and IGA carried the Luvo brand. However, we were then told that Luvo would be delivering samples directly to our front doors! Or, in my case, to the office.

I got a message from one of the managers: “There’s a package for you at reception.”

When I went to the front, I discovered this remarkably large styrofoam container emblazoned with my name.

Luvo

I emailed the manager back: “I didn’t expect it to be so big!”

His reply: “I thought your lunch had been delivered. Or maybe your liver transplant.”

After manhandling the meal to the physiotherapists office (“human organs?”) and home again, I finally got to open the box and see what was inside!

Luvo

Four meals later, here are my thoughts!

The Meals

The vegetarian BibRavePros received the following samples – and I enjoyed every one of them!

Kale Ricotta Ravioli

With two samples of the ravioli, I offered to ‘cook’ and relieved my better half of the responsibility. Luvo offers the option of microwaving or baking every product, so I opted for the oven.

Luvo Luvo

It took longer (about 30 minutes), but the pasta slid onto the plate warm and ready for enjoyment!

Luvo

Smothered in a rich tomato sauce, the ravioli are tasty, if a tiny bit bland. I wasn’t the one who noted a hint of nutmeg – but suspicions were confirmed on the ingredient list! I liked the fact that there wasn’t much salt – that’s something you can always add. If anything, I was disappointed there wasn’t more. It was kind of like dining at a high-end restaurant…good food, but not as much as you want.

Luvo

The Kale Ricotta Ravioli is best served alongside a salad and some garlic bread. It’s not enough on its own to satisfy. It could use a bit more flavour (so add a bit of salt and pepper and you’re golden). Solid 3 stars.

Farmer’s Market Frittata

Coming home from a Saturday morning run, I usually ask someone to prepare dashi-maki tamago (see Japanese Food Favourites!) for breakfast. But when the resident kitchen expert is off snowshoeing, I’m left to my own devices. As luck would have it, there was a Luvo Frittata in the freezer!

Luvo

I erred on the side of convenience and popped the package in the microwave. My heart skipped a beat when there was a dramatic POP from the microwave, but the box assured me this was normal.

Luvo

I toasted up some sourdough, and slipped that puppy onto the plate.

Luvo

SO GOOD! The frittata itself was light and fluffy – not heavy and chewy like some egg dishes can be. The sauce was light and flavourful with a hint of heat, cut with sweetness from diced mangoes and sweet potatoes. Heavenly. This definitely stands out as my number one favourite. Five stars!

Roasted Vegetable Lasagna

We shared the lasagna, and supplemented with some other dishes (because one wasn’t enough to share). Microwaved this one, too. Meghan (who I ran with that morning) told me the best way to enjoy the lasagna was straight out of the package to ensure you got all the saucy goodness, but I wanted to split the dish so I served it up on plates.

Luvo Luvo

The flavour was decent, if a bit pesto-ish. The filling is mostly greens (kale, spinach, collard greens) and low-fat ricotta. The butternut squash topic was de-lish! We wanted a bit more cheesy-ness. Maybe there was a wee bit too much garlic? But overall, pretty enjoyable.

Funniest, though, is the ingredient list:

Ingredients: Cooked Whole Wheat Pasta; Butternut Squash; Tomatoes; Red Bell Peppers; Tomatoes; Tomatoes; Water; Roasted Tomatoes; Kale…(the list goes on)…

Seriously, how many tomatoes does one lasagna need?

Three and a half stars.

Steel-Cut Oatmeal

Friday morning. Busy day ahead. I’m gonna give the Oatmeal a try!

Luvo Luvo

I eat oatmeal every day – made from regular quick oats, topped with chia seeds, hemp hearts and frozen blueberries. I like to keep it simple.

While I didn’t mind this breakfast, it was a bit too much in terms of flavours, sweetness and heartiness. Quinoa is one of those foods that I like from time to time, but not so much in the morning. Peaches and pears are OK, but I like warm fruit in desserts (like cobbler) more than for breakfast. And even though this dish doesn’t have too much added sugar…well, I simply don’t need any added sugar. Honestly, just a bit too much going on here.

Good food quality, but I’m going with two stars for this meal.

What I really like about Luvo

From their product box:

  • No artificial colours, flavours, or sweeteners (I’ve adapted spelling to satisfy Canadian urges)
  • High in fibre
  • Non-GMO corn, oils
  • No sugar added
  • Cage-free eggs (from the Frittata)

Plus good vegetarian options!

I also love that this is a Canadian company, making some solid inroads into the US market.

I foresee great things for Luvo. I look forward to trying more of their tasty products, and spreading the word about this exciting new brand! Stay tuned for what else Luvo has in store!

Have you tried Luvo products?
Is healthy frozen food something you could see enhancing your lifestyle?

Disclaimer: I received a pair of 2XU HYOPTIK Thermal Compression Tights 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!

NOTE: I’ve edited this post since it was originally shared on December 27…because I’ve fallen in love (with these tights!) – updates are in BLUE.

2XU HYOPTIK Thermal Compression Tights

Running in Vancouver generally means running in the rain, rather than the cold. But there’s a chilly dampness in the air that means even on days where the temperature is hovering above zero, it’s still pretty darn wintery. I have a pair of tights that I bought a couple of years ago, but I’ll admit I was pretty excited to have the opportunity to try and review a new brand as a BibRave Pro!

There was a brief debate among BibRave Pros about when the tights would arrive, and the very next day I got a package at my office. Given that I’m one of the few BibRave Pros in Canada, shipping can either be ridiculously slow or remarkably fast. This time, it was a latter (and better!).

2XU HYOPTIK Thermal Compression Tights

The first thing I have to remark on is the name: HYOPTIK. I flashed the box at a few people, who immediately thought it said ‘HYPNOTIK’. I think it’s kind of a neat name, though, and captures both the imagination as well as the reflective qualities of the tights.

My first trial run was 2 days later, heading out for a 16km run with my running group from Forerunners. I struggled with a couple of things:

  • What do I wear under my compression tights?
  • How do I get these things on?

In answer, I have since tried my tights both with and without underwear. I don’t know if there is a definitive best practice – and would welcome feedback on this point. I have concluded that a good pair of athletic boxer briefs (SAXX, to be precise) is the best under layer for these tights!

In terms of getting them on – my other tights have zippers at the ankles, making them easier to fit over my feet, but I’ve also noticed that they’re getting a bit ‘flappy’. The HYOPTIK tights have very tight ankles, so it takes a bit of doing to get them on – but once on, they’re snug and comfortable.

I’ve taken these tights out for several a whole bunch of runs now, including one in very low-light conditions (i.e. Stanley Park in the dark).

What I like:

  • Snug, comfortable fit – I selected my size based on the detailed sizing chart on the 2XU website, and I feel like I made the right decision
  • Thermal material, but not bulky – the ‘brushed interior thermal layer for added warmth‘ does its job, but doesn’t add thickness to the tights – and as the weather got colder, I stayed warm!
  • Cool design – I just like the look of these tights – kind of fun and funky
  • Compression seems to make a difference – I’m not fully bought in to the value of compression garments, but I’ll admit that my legs have felt pretty good both during and after my runs in these tights. During the runs, I feel like my muscles are supported, and my tweaky knee has felt better; afterwards, I don’t feel the fatigue I sometimes do.
  • Wearable shorts-free! I have always been a bit shy/modest and have a few of my own body issues. Whenever I wear tights, I always wear shorts over them. BUT – there’s something about how these tights fit and feel that make me think that it doesn’t really matter. I’ve been out, running, in public – shorts-free! This is awesome, because it’s way less cumbersome and makes me believe that I’m more aerodynamic!
2XU HYOPTIK Thermal Compression Tights

Shorts-free tights!

What I like less *with some key caveats*:

  • Sub-par reflective quality – I have some other gear that truly shines in the dark, makes you stand out; the HYOPTIK logo seems like more of a matte finish, and I don’t feel it does its job as well as it should. Upon further experimentation, I think they do a pretty decent job – just not as ‘shiny’, but still visible.
  • Hard to get on and off – but as noted above, this is a challenge offset by the positive effects of the compression. But no quick changes when I have to sit on the floor to get them over my feet! I changed out of these at the gym this week – a bit challenging, but I’m getting the hang of it.
  • Material bunching at knees – during my runs, I was aware of the material behind my knees, a bit like elephant ankles. It’s probably something I’ll get used to, but during my first couple of runs I found this distracting. I’m used to the fit now – this doesn’t bother me at all.
  • Lack of pockets – there is a tiny pocket inside the waistband, maybe enough space for a key. Is it feasible to have a back zippered pocket and still maintain compression? Not sure about this one. Not practical to have pockets in these tights!

Overall, I’m pretty happy thrilled with my 2XU HYOPTIK Thermal Compression Tights! Throughout the upcoming winter months, I expect they’ll get a lot of mileage.

2XU HYOPTIK Thermal Compression Tights

I’m pleased to note that the Canadian 2XU site has some pretty amazing Boxing Week sales through until January 3, 2016. Over at the US 2XU site, there are some good post-Christmas deals.

Follow 2XU on Twitter @2xu_usa, #RunHyoptik, and #bibchat.

Do you run with tights? Have you had any experience with compression tights?