bibrave pro

Review: Brilliant Reflective Safety Strips

Disclaimer: I received a Brilliant Reflective Family Pack and Stick-On Strips 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!


In May of 2017, I had been following a community of runners through a weekly conversation called #bibchat for a few months. During that time, I came across an opportunity to snag up some pretty slick running gear as part of a combo package. I received it, put the items to use, and – as one would expect – I reviewed it. One of the items I received was a pack of Brilliant Reflective Safety Strips. Let’s REFLECT (pun intended) on what I said THEN:

“No fanfare here. Simply put, these are removable and reusable reflective strips, designed to enhance visibility of the wearer in lower-light conditions. Incredibly smart idea and I wish EVERYONE who goes for a run/bike ride/etc after the sun goes down had these.”

Truth be told, I used those stick-on strips, but not nearly to the extent I could have. When the opportunity to give it another go came around, and especially now that our little one has arrived, I had to give it a go. Here’s what I have to say about Brilliant Reflective NOW…

My Take…

I love this product. There isn’t a thing about it that I don’t like. It takes some of the stress out of  running in the dark and/or at night. It makes me MUCH more visible to vehicles AND I can use the strips (or the family pack) to ensure my wife and I will be seen when out on an evening walk with our daughter, Shalane. I had entirely WAY too much fun plotting out where and how I could apply the family pack stickers to her stroller! 10/10 – I recommend any of Brilliant Reflective’s products to every single one of you.

Why I Love It

INCREDIBLY REFLECTIVE. Brilliant Reflective products are retroreflective material – meaning that when light that hits them, that light will bounce directly back to its source. It doesn’t even matter what angle the light comes from, the person wearing it will be seen.

ADHESION OPTIONS. Simply put, Brilliant Reflective offers up two options – stick-on and iron-on. I have some of the iron-on that I have not yet used. However, I have used nearly ALL of the stick-on strips and family pack that I have and it could not be easier to apply.

DURABLE & WASHABLE. The shirt in the above photo is in the washer as I type this post. It’s gone through the wash two times already with the stick-on strips with no issue whatsoever. Every strip I applied to this shirt has remained exactly where I put it. Knowing I can take them off and use them elsewhere is great, but knowing I can leave them right where they are and the functionality doesn’t diminish is even better.

AFFORDABLE. Getting a pack…or two…or three…of Brilliant Reflective will not break the bank. The iron-on versions and the Family Pack start at $14.95 and the stick-on version starts at $10. A small price to pay for enhanced low-light visibility and peace of mind.

WhyYOU Need It NOW

1. If a driver can’t SEE you, you’re at risk. The quicker you get a driver’s attention, the better off you’ll be – especially if they’re a distracted driver.

2. Wearing light or fluorescent colors aren’t the answer. These are great when the sun is up, but do next to nothing once the sun goes away. Add in a headlamp and/or knuckle lights AND Brilliant Reflective – THEN you’ll be more visible.

3. The odds of being struck and/or killed increases by nearly 1000% after dark. (National Safety Council)

4. 75% of pedestrian fatalities occur at night. (GHSA Pedestrian Traffic Fatalities by State, 2017) Think about it – it’s dark. Drivers aren’t expecting to see runners, cyclists, etc once the sun goes down and when they do, it’s last second and reactions vary. Also, cars take longer to slow/slop than you might think. Toss adverse weather (rain, storm, snow, etc) into the mix and the stopping distance DOUBLES. And that’s just for cars going 30 MPH! How fast are people driving in your neighborhood or where you normally run?

REFLECTIONS on a Theme

Simplified, I put stickers on my running gear and on my daughter’s stroller, but in reality I did a lot more than that. Using Brilliant Reflective is a proven method to increase the safety of those who are out there running, walking, cycling, etc after dark. I’m definitely looking forward to getting some more!

Be seen. Be safe. Be BRILLIANT.

Head over to Brilliant Reflective and save 30% off your entire order by using discount code BRP30.


Learn more about Brilliant Reflective on InstagramTwitterFacebook.

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Review: Mercury Mile

Disclaimer: I received a Mercury Mile box to review – with a waived $20 stylist fee and 50% off the contents I chose to keep – 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!


Over the course of my time participating in #bibchat and also as a BibRave Pro, I’ve had the opportunity to converse with some really awesome runners, learn about new running opportunities, and become aware of some amazing running gear I knew nothing about. Our ability to opt-in and test/review running gear is fantastic, so when the chance to try out a box from Mercury Mile came around – I had to jump at the opportunity!

So, What is Mercury Mile?

Simply put, Mercury Mile is a personalized online shopping experience, created BY runners FOR runners. Their personal stylists really do understand what runners need and want, because they are runners themselves. What they do is use information taken from a profile you create and then – based off of your likes, dislikes, etc – they group a selection of various running gear at a reasonable prices.

As an added bonus for ME, Mercury Mile is based out of Columbus, Ohio – which is where I live! They took their experiences working at Columbus Running Company and applied that to cultivating this personalized running experience.

As a general practice, you can expect to find in your Mercury Mile box:

  • 4 to 6 hand-selected pieces of running related activewear. Think wearables – shirts, tanks, shorts, etc. They take into consideration function AND fashion.
  • A note from the stylist who built your Mercury Mile box. It’ll help you understand why they picked what they picked. (Spoiler alert: My stylist, Helen, was SPOT ON in what she picked)
  • Return Shipping Bag. If they pick something you aren’t thrilled with, send it back. 
  • Bonus Stuff! Exactly what it sounds like – bonus stuff for you to keep for no charge! Energy gels, accessories, who knows? 

The biggest and overarching big win of this box, without a doubt, is the variety. Anyone who says that running is an inexpensive experience is a liar, but this box makes the experience of shopping for running gear worth it. I had a good mix of tops (two tanks, one sleeveless) and shorts (three pairs of shorts with a variety of features/feel). Every single item in my Mercury Mile box was a home run and I’m not even a little ashamed to say that I did keep ALL of it. So, with that in mind, let’s talk product!

Products*

Note: prices shown are full retail. As a BibRave Pro, I received 50% off each item and my $20 stylist fee was waived. 

ASICS –  5″ Short (M) – Grey – $40

Right out the gate, I wasn’t sure about these shorts. These were the first shorts from this box that I took out for a run and I was pleasantly surprised. Comfortable, great fit, light, great for visibility for later-day runs. Didn’t get uncomfortable at all and actually kept me quite cool.

FEETURES – High Performance – White – No Show – $12.99

I can’t say enough about Feetures socks. They are almost honestly all I wear when I have to wear shoes. They’re comfortable and there isn’t a seam that rubs the wrong way. Feetures socks are like a dream on the feet and I don’t want to wake up.

NEW BALANCE – Reflective Impact Short 5″ – PGM (Pigment) – $55

Many of my runs happen as the sun is going down (or is already completely down), so having the ability to be seen is KEY. I’ve recently become a pretty big fan of the reflective gear out there, so these shorts caught my attention (yes, that’s on purpose) right away. The peace of mind that being able to be seen gives me – as well as the peace of mind the Mrs. has – while out on a run is the biggest plus of these shorts. Plus, they’re a little bit shorter than shorts I’m used to, so not constantly hearing the swish/swish as my thighs hit together is nice.

RABBIT – Welcome to the Gun Show (M) – Dress Blues – $40

I LOVE pretty much anything Rabbit puts out, so when I saw this singlet in my box I was pumped. Actually, pumped is probably an understatement. I already own a few other colors of this particular singlet, but I didn’t have a blue one. Now I do and it’s still one of my favorite tops to wear when running. It’s light, it doesn’t irritate, and it’s made in the USA. Win-win all around.

RABBIT – steve mcsleeve – $45

Oh hey there, Rabbit! It has been a LONG time since I’ve worn a sleeveless top to do anything outside of housework, but this one has changed that. Much like the singlet above, this sleeveless is light, SUPER soft, and very breatheable. I’ve worn it around the house as a lounging shirt, I’ve worn it to do yard work, I’ve worn it on runs. Versatile is the key word with this top.

SAUCONY – Throttle 5″ Woven 2-1 – Black – $50

Helen hit the nail on the head with these. I told them I like to run in mid-length shorts and they delivered. I normally wear compression shorts under running shorts, but with these I didn’t need to do that. They have an inner compression mesh that is comfortable enough to – pardon the expression – keep things where they should be and allow me to enjoy my run. It’s nice to only have to deal with one set of shorts on when using these instead of two!

SAUCONY – Endorphin Singlet – Blue Aster – $38

Saved the best for last! While I love nearly everything I’ve ever touched that is made by Rabbit, I absolutely love the feel of this singlet from Saucony. It’s light and is so quick to dry after a long (and/or hot) workout. Honestly, there have been a few moments when I forgot I was wearing it!

*BONUS!!*SWEAT X SPORT – $0!

Earlier this year, I had the chance to try SWEAT X SPORT (read that review HERE). It’s hard to get super excited over laundry, but this stuff really does get the stank out of my running gear. It also helps my gear last just a little bit longer, too! Definitely used the pouch that came in my Mercury Mile box within a week of getting it.

Overview

When looking at the items in my Mercury Mile box, I’m hit with a trifecta of themes: quality, comfortable, and stylish. All the brands are well-known for their quality, everything fits well and comfortable, and I’m not afraid to wear any of it out in public! Everything in this box absolutely has a place in my plethora of running gear. Thank you Mercury Mile (& Helen) for putting together such a great box for me!


Try Mercury Mile for yourself! Set up your profile, request a box, and use code “BibRave10” to save $10 on your styling fee.

Review: Gatorade Endurance

Disclaimer: I received Gatorade Endurance products 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!


Let me say this going into this review: I’ve not always been the biggest fan of Gatorade at home for workouts. On race days though, I’m always happy to have it as it helps to keep me going. So, over the last couple weeks, I’ve incorporated the new Watermelon version of Gatorade Endurance Formula Thirst Quencher Powder into my workouts. With that in mind, my view on Gatorade in my workouts might have changed!

Gatorade Endurance Formula Thirst Quencher Powder 

For this review, I received Gatorade Endurance Formula Thirst Quencher Powder in Watermelon flavor. In addition to the fairly sizable container, they also sent a water bottle in which to use said powder. During the summer, I try to avoid running in the extreme heat of the day, but sometimes my run will still get good and hot. Prepping a bottle (or 2) of G Endurance beforehand  is always helpful to keep me hydrated – regardless of whether I down it before the run, put it in my handheld, or chug it after the run.

To mix, I added three scoops of powder in with approximately 24 ounces of water. Yes, three – because I, too, like to live dangerously. 🙂 In past experiences with Gatorade products, I’ve felt like the flavor is there, but it is always too syrupy and that the product coats the throat. They got it ALL right with this Gatorade Endurance though.

It isn’t syrupy.

The flavor (in this case, watermelon) is fantastic.

I’ve used it before runs, during runs, after runs. I’ve filled up a bottle (or two) to take with me to work, just to have something as an alternative to hitting up the vending machine. Did I mention that I LOVE THE WATERMELON FLAVOR? 

Gatorade Endurance Formula Energy Gel

In addition to the watermelon powder mix, I also got the chance to check out Gatorade Endurance Formula Energy Gel in the mango flavor. Despite the fact that mango isn’t my favorite flavor in ANY product, I actually really enjoyed this! Gatorade Endurance Formula Energy Gels are designed help athletes hydrate and get the nutrients they need during training or racing in a convenient on-the-go package.

Much like the powder, the biggest thing I noticed and give big props for is the thickness of the gel itself. I was pleasantly surprised as it didn’t seem as thick or syrupy compared to other brands. I didn’t feel like I was “chewing” it! The gel went down easy and also didn’t feel heavy. In addition, the size of the pouch is pretty comparable to others out there, but where the Gatorade Endurance wins is the opening. The package tapers to a very functional opening, making it easy to consume during a run. ALSO, and very important, the edge of the pouch doesn’t feel like shredded glass cutting into my mouth!

Overall

I’m definitely much more open now to incorporating Gatorade Endurance into my workouts going forward after this! Try it for yourself – head over to Gatorade Endurance and get free shipping on orders over $50.

Recap: 2018 Flying Pig Marathon

Disclaimer: I received a free entry to the Flying Pig 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!


Everyone has that ONE television show and/or movie that they absolutely believe their friends MUST watch right now. For example, when “The Office” was in its prime, a good chunk of my friends would ask me if I had watched the most recent episode. The answer was always no, because I hated that mentality that something was SO popular that I “had” to watch it.

I make this point because, to me, “The Office” was to television what the Flying Pig was to running. Friends and fellow runners had hyped this race so much that I wanted nothing to do with it – ever.

Obviously, that has changed. Before I recap the race, and in the spirit of full disclosure, let me bring you up to speed on how I got there…don’t worry, it’s the CliffNotes version…

***

About three weeks prior to the Flying Pig (of which I had given NO thought or attention), I noticed that a significant amount of attention was being paid to races in and around Chicago. Being from Ohio, and having some pretty decent races coming up, I was curious as to why this was the case. I reached out to the coordinators of the BibRave Pro program and they were PDQ in getting back to me. I won’t share all the details of why the Ohio races weren’t getting as much attention, but know that there are definitely opportunities for them to get love again in the future!

After a little bit of back and forth, I was extended the opportunity to jump in to help promote the Flying Pig via Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, etc. This quickly escalated to an invitation, if interested, to participate (read: RUN) in said event.

So here’s a race I’ve been avoiding for quite a while and now not only a chance to promote it, but a chance to RUN it.

To paraphrase one Don Vito Corleone – they (Team BibRave) made me an offer I could not refuse. With that said, I officially registered to run the Flying Pig Marathon on April 25th. For those of you playing at home, that was a week and a half before race day.

***

Now that the backstory is out of the way, let’s recap this thing.

On Saturday, May 5, I was running a 5k in my hometown, which is roughly 90 miles north of Cincinnati. The race went well and almost as soon as I had arrived and run, I was back in the car and on my way to Cincy. Thankfully, I had some friends from college who were signed up for the 4-Way Challenge with Extra Cheese who had generously offered to let me crash in their hotel room the night before the race. Upon my arrival in Cincy and getting settled in the room, we ventured to the expo so I could collect my bib and other race goodies.

The expo for the Flying Pig Marathon is incredibly well done and VERY well organized. The layout was very friendly and you knew exactly where you needed to go, thanks in large part to the volunteers and signage throughout the Duke Energy Convention Center. As one would expect, vendors galore with all their various wares and enticements. However, the most noticeable was the primary event sponsor – P&G – who had a massive setup where expo participants could snatch up some free samples of various P&G products, such as Tide, Olay, and so on. They also provided a nylon laundry bag to keep all the samples (and other expo purchases) in, which made navigating the expo very convenient.

OH YEAH – can’t forget about that sweet race SWAG! For this year, it included a technical race t-shirt, a poster commemorating the 20th anniversary of the race, and a premium travel blanket (think indoor/outdoor blanket). I was VERY impressed as all I expected was the race shirt to be honest!

The rest of the evening was relatively quiet as we all turned in fairly early. This proved to by a fantastic decision as far as being rested for race day. However, it also proved very difficult as I am usually a night owl when it comes to falling asleep.

Our hotel was maybe a half-mile from the start line so it was a very easy downhill walk to the Cincinnati riverfront and Paul Brown Stadium. Finding the gear check and my corral was, again, super easy due to TONS of signage and fantastic volunteers. As I got settled in my corral (D for those wondering), I was fortunate to connect with Juan, a fellow BibRave Pro who was in from Texas for the race. Sidenote: this was my first official race as a BibRave Pro, so it was fun getting to meet up with a fellow ambassador! Of course, as with most things, we had to take a photo (pics or it didn’t happen, right?).

Met up with fellow BibRave Pro, Juan! (@3dotjuan)

There was a very nice woman standing close to us who was kind enough to snap a photo for us. We then learned her name was Sarah and this was her VERY FIRST MARATHON! As with most marathons that I have run, the race organizers provide TWO bibs for first timers – the normal race bib to be worn on one’s front and a “it’s my first marathon” bib to wear on one’s back. Not wanting to draw that level of attention to herself, Sarah opted to forego the first-timer bib on her back. Of course, I had to snap a selfie with her because running a marathon is a huge accomplishment and she SHOULD get her moment in the sun!

She ended up finishing the marathon in 4:12 – well done, Sarah!!

Before I knew it, I was crossing the start line and on my way. The first few miles were relatively slow going – mainly because of how crowded in I felt, but this ended up playing to my favor in the later stages of the day. The first mile took me by one of my favorite locations in the world – Great American Ball Park, home of the Cincinnati Reds. GABP brings back great memories from my childhood, so this is already making this race very enjoyable. After crossing the Ohio River into Kentucky and then coming BACK across into Ohio, the remainder of the course stays in Ohio – winding its way back into downtown and then out into the easternmost points of the metro area (as most marathon courses do).

What sets the Flying Pig Marathon apart from a lot of other races, or so I’m told, are the HILLS. There is a pretty significant incline that begins at about the marker for mile 6 and then levels out just a little after mile 7.  For those wondering, this is about 250 ft of gain in the span of a mile. That may not seem like much to some, but to others this is like climbing a mountain. After this, the hills become more rollers than anything – some being worse than others. However, aside from these rollers in the second half, the course is mostly a downhill or fairly flat course from mile 12 to the end.

Throughout the course, there were plenty of sections where there were supporters and aid stations to get runners through the event. In addition to the water/Gatorade/Gu stops along the course, some of the other aid stations included the GraHAM station (graham crackers) and the SWINE & Cheese station (ham & cheese?). Before you ask – yes – there WAS a bacon station. This is the Flying Pig, after all.

As I progressed through the course, it became apparent to me exactly why this race IS as popular as it is. It’s most definitely a combination of the people involved in putting this event on (from the organizers down to the volunteers at the water stops) as well as the amenities that make the pre-race, race, and post-race absolutely enjoyable.

As I returned to the riverfront area and made my way again past Great American Ball Park, another realization came to the forefront – I was going to PR. The goal coming into this race was to FINISH and nothing more, especially having completed another marathon (and PR’d there as well) only two weeks prior! I was pleasantly surprised to see that I was still in good enough shape to not only finish the race, but to also put down another solid effort on a course that would be best described as challenging.

After crossing the FINISH SWINE (yes, that’s what the finish line is called at the Flying Pig Marathon), I met up with my friends/roommates and took in one of the best post-race celebrations/parties I’ve ever experienced. The park that they use for this post-race party is right along the river, with more than ample space for runners to walk around, stretch, grab food, grab a beer, and check out some of the local businesses who have set up shop. This is also where all runners would collect their post-race premium item – a black finisher’s jacket with a black version of the Flying Pig Marathon logo on the chest. I love the jacket…I just wish we didn’t get it on such a hot day!

Simply put, I avoided the Flying Pig for so long because of hills and the peer pressure of popularity of the event. With that said, I should have absolutely listened to that pressure, said screw the hills, and taken on this race YEARS ago. I totally understand the hype and the hills – yes, they are tough, but they could be MUCH worse. All and all, I am very glad to have accepted the gracious invitation to run the Flying Pig Marathon. A huge THANK YOU to Team BibRave for providing this opportunity and who knows…maybe I’ll get “piggy” again in the future!


In the days after the Flying Pig, I was able to jump on Athlinks.com and “claim” my race results. I say “claim” because the results from this race have not published to Athlinks as of the publishing of this post. HOWEVER, I was able to manually add my time to my account, which will become official as the race results begin to populate.

Athlinks allows me to keep all my race results in one location. Head over and check out my Athlinks stats HERE and learn more about how I claim past results as well as why I enjoy using it HERE. It’s incredibly easy to use and it’s a lot of fun to see races you might have forgotten about pop up in your results feed! So while you’re taking a look around over there, set up your own Athlinks account. That way you can start claiming your results!

Review: AfterShokz Trekz Air

Disclaimer: I received the AfterShokz Trekz Air headphones 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!


About a year ago, I became aware of a weekly Twitter conversation called #bibchat. As my participation in #bibchat has grown, I have met (in-person or online) some fantastic runners who have inspired me to push harder and strive for bigger goals. Additionally, I’ve been made aware of brands that are putting out great products for running – products I would probably not know anything about if not for #bibchat. One of those companies is AfterShokz and the product in question are their Trekz series headphones. In this post, I’ll be focusing on the Trekz Air headphones.

Spoiler alert: I love these headphones. 

Not long after I got involved with #bibchat, I had an opportunity to get a pair of headphones from AfterShokz. The pair I purchased was the Trekz Titanium – which I reference HERE – and they have served me very well. Naturally, when the opportunity was presented THIS year to test and review the latest & greatest version (Trekz Air), I jumped at the chance.

My approach with the majority of my running gear is that it must fit and work well before I give a second thought to how it looks. Well, I try to employ that mindset at least! So that’s how I’ll layout this review – function before looks. Luckily for me, AfterShokz makes this very easy. But first, some background…

Background and Technical Info

The Trekz Air is the newest addition to the AfterShokz family. They are about 20% lighter than the previous Trekz Titanium model and have a much more comfortable fit. They have a run-time of approximately 6 hours and are water/sweat resistant. The OpenFit™ design ensures maximum situational awareness – which is absolutely essential when running in any environment, be it urban, suburban, or rural. They are wireless and connect via Bluetooth to your device of choice and have dual noice cancelling microphones which make picking up a call while on the run a seamless action. The Trekz Air come with a hassle free 2-year warranty.

So what’s my take on them? 

Fit

The Trekz Air fit perfectly – almost TOO perfect because it I barely even know I have them on. They are much lighter than their big brother (Trekz Titanium) and the piece that wraps around the back of the head is just right. It’s not too big, not too small, and it doesn’t bounce or rub against my neck.

Sound Quality & Battery Life

The sound quality with the Trekz Air is great as well. When synced, the volume control (behind the RIGHT ear) actually takes over the volume control on your device rather than having two independent volume controls. This is a great upgrade from previous wireless headphones I have tried! Podcasts are still a little quiet and are often drowned out by a strong gust of wind or a passing truck, but that’s to be expected. Aside from that, music and other content come through strong and sound amazing.

The great sound quality will just keep going and going thanks to the battery life that is packed in. These headphones can go quite a bit without having to be recharged. This is great especially when someone like me takes them off and tosses them in the car and doesn’t remember to A) turn them off of B) bring them in the house to recharge them. Either way, in the month or so that I’ve had these, I think I’ve only had to charge them fully ONCE. Coincidentally, that is happening now!

Looks

Well, they fit amazingly, they sound great, and they hold a damn good charge. So, how do they LOOK? If you look at the picture above this and the one below, you can see that they honestly blend in and are almost not noticeable at all. The side profile photo a little bit further up shows a little bit different look, but again, they look like they are supposed to be there and they’re out of the way. I think the most common questions I’ve gotten when other runners see me wearing them are:

  • “Aren’t they supposed to go IN your ears?” NO. 
  • “Those look weird to me. Do they feel weird sitting over your ears?” Nope. *at this point, I usually take them off and hand them to the person asking, insisting they try them on.* 
  • “Do they still sound like normal headphones?”YEP. *as they try them on, I’ll usually play something fun…like The Humpty Dance.*

Caution: side effects when wearing AfterShokz Trekz Air include answering all kinds of questions, making new friends, and advocating for your fellow runner’s safety.

Like I said at the beginning of the review, I’ve been using Aftershokz headphones for my running for about a year now and that is unlikely to change anytime soon. My first pair sold me on the idea and my Trekz Air has set the bar massively high for anything to dethrone it. The Trekz Air fit like they almost aren’t even there, the sound quality is fantastic, and they hold their charge for a WHILE. Plus, they look great no matter which color you go with.

So, if you want to run safely AND still want to be able to enjoy your content while running through some comfortable and powerful headphones, then you’ve got to get yourself the AfterShokz Trekz Air!

I’m not the only one who thinks so – check out what some of my fellow BibRave Pros are saying!

Danielle – Lindsey – Amy P – Barb S – Amanda L

SamanthaLoganAmyLisaBrad – Dodie


Convinced? Want to get a pair for yourself? Of course you do. Especially when you have three awesome color choices – Slate Grey, Forest Green, or (my personal favorite) Midnight Blue. Head over to bibrave.aftershokz.com and use the code BIBRAVE30 to save $30.