review

REVIEW: Knockaround Fast Lanes SPORT

Disclaimer: I received a pair of Knockaround Fast Lanes SPORT sunglasses 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!

Get your own pair of Knockarounds and use code BIBRAVEKNOCKS3 save 20% your ENTIRE order – one use per customer.


The fall racing season is almost over – for me at least – but the need for a decent pair of shades never ends. When the chance to link up with Knockaround again to test their new Fast Lanes Sport series sunglasses, I wasn’t going to pass that up.

What do you mean – AGAIN? Well, back in April, I had the opportunity to test out the Knockaround’s Fast Lanes series. You can read THAT review here, but long story short: I quickly added a new favorite to my sunglasses collection. The same can be said about the new Fast Lanes Sport.

What is Knockaround?

Simply put, Knockaround sunglasses (regardless of series) are simple, stylish, and durable. They are able to fit seamlessly into daily life, no matter what you’re into.

The Fast Lanes & Fast Lanes Sport aren’t the only shades they make, though. However, all Knockaround sunglasses have impact-resistant lenses and UV400 protection. For those who want a little something extra, almost all of their offerings are available in a polarized version.

Fast Lanes vs Fast Lanes Sport

Right out of the gate, the most noticeable difference are the rubber nose pads built into the frame of the sunglasses. This is a game-changer for Knockaround as it allows fans of the Fast Lanes (who may happen to be runners like me) to now have an option that will absolutely stay put and not slide around.

One of the key features of BOTH editions of the Fast Lanes is that that they will look good on most any face shape, especially those with medium and larger shaped faces. That means no more stretched out sunglasses and/or imprint marks on the side of your head from the arms of the shades!

My Takeaways

For this review, I went back to a simpler look, opting for the Matte Black / Smoke Fast Lanes Sport. Truth be told, I actually LOST my shades about halfway into this test! So this was the first time I was testing a product AND had the opportunity to purchase that same product. The experience could not have been easier and I even snagged a custom pair of the original Fast Lanes in my new favorite colorway – orange with amber (brown) lenses.

But I digress, here are few things I really have enjoyed about the new Fast Lanes Sport:

  1. The Nose Pads. A lot of brands attach nose pads to their frames and, unfortunately, they often break off. I’ve been using these Fast Lanes Sport shades for almost 6 weeks, running consistently in that time frame, and I’ve had absolutely no issues. The nose pads win the day.
  2. Simple. One thing that stands out is that the branding on the glasses isn’t obnoxious. Still not a huge fan of the additional branding in the upper corner of the right side lens, but it’s a detail I can get past.
  3. Durable. Any shades I own must be able to stand up to LIFE (running, getting tossed pretty much anywhere, getting snagged by my daughter, etc) and, let me tell you – they definitely fit the bill.

Final Thoughts

Simply put – yes, there are LOTS of options out there when it comes to sunglasses. My advice as you shop for your next pair? Live life in the fast lane and get a pair of Knockarounds!


Like ’em? Go snag a pair (or more) for yourself! Order your Knockarounds and use code BIBRAVEKNOCKS3 to save 20% your ENTIRE order (one use per customer).

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REVIEW: Indy Mini Marathon

Disclaimer: I received an entry into the OneAmerica 500 Festival Mini-Marathon (and Delta Dental 500 Festival 5k) 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!


Rather than bury the lead, here it is:

GO RUN THE INDY MINI.

This entire experience was absolutely phenomenal. From the registration process all the way to the post-race party, the people involved with organizing the OneAmerica 500 Festival Mini-Marathon (aka the Indy Mini) know what they heck they’re doing. This shouldn’t come as a surprise though. In 2018,  the Indy Mini was voted #1 half marathon in The BibRave 100!

BibRave Pro meet-up the night before the race!

I decided to step it up for this particular race and participated in the Mega Mini Challenge – running the Delta Dental 5k and then running the OneAmerica Mini Marathon (half). My PLAN was to somewhat sandbag the 5k and go for a really amazing time in the half. That plan went out the window quite quickly as I decided “why not?!” and pushed fairly hard in the 5k. Finished in the top 50, roughly a minute and a half slower than my current 5k PR.

Start line prior to the 5k

After crossing the finish, challenge participants were to stay to the left and follow signage to return to the start area. It seemed as if the volunteers knew this, but there was a little confusion in the finish area. To stay on point, I turned my music back up, put my head down, and do what the race instructions told me. I got back to the start line pretty quick, found Bill – a fellow BibRave Pro! – and we lined up for our second race of the day

Me and Bill (& 6500 new friends) in Wave 2 before the half

I knew before I crossed the start line for the half that it was not going to be a PR. Not after the performance I just threw down in the 5k! I was fine with that. If I could come within 10-15 minutes, I’d still be happy. Honestly though, I wasn’t really focused on that. I was focused on what everyone else was focused on – getting out to the speedway and taking a lap on that iconic track! Although I was posting a pretty good pace through the first half, I slowed up once I got to turn 4 at the track and turned into a tourist for a little bit.

The second half of my half marathon was definitely slower and I could tell that the 5k was catching up to me. My legs weren’t having this run as much any longer. There was definitely some run/walk happening in those last 4-5 miles, but thankfully more running than walking!

Ultimately, I came in around 1:49 for the half marathon – only 8 minutes off of my personal record. Not too shabby at all. Rolled into the post-race party, met up with Bill again as we collected our medals for the 5k as well as for the Mega Mini Challenge.

***

All and all, this race is well worth the trip and definitely lives up to the hype that surrounds it. The history, the tradition, and a very unique 2.5 mile section. Beyond that, this event is incredibly well organized, there is pretty decent crowd support, and it is very evident that the City of Indianapolis (and even the State of Indiana) truly get behind this race.

In conclusion, you should absolutely consider running the Indy Mini in 2020. Registration is open NOW. Seriously. Go to Indianapolis next year and find out for yourself – as I did – why this race is one of the top half marathons in the country!

RECAP: Blue Ridge Marathon

Disclaimer: I received an entry into the Foot Levelers Blue Ridge Marathon 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!


About a week or so before heading to Roanoke for the Blue Ridge Marathon, I published a preview of the things I was excited for and a few things I wasn’t as excited about for this particular race. Figured it would be a good idea to recap my race weekend experience and revisit that list. I will recap my overall travel and lodging experience in a separate post soon, but spoiler alert – my AirBnB host was AWESOME.

RACE RECAP

The only thing I will say in THIS post regarding my travel is that 6 hours in a car followed by not nearly enough sleep isn’t helpful for a successful marathon. Sure, one can finish the event, but maybe not as well as one would like!

My homebase through AirBnB was less than a 10 minute walk to the start/finish line. This made race morning so very easy because I was concerned about crowds at the pre-race bib pick-up. My fears were incredibly unfounded, as I picked up my bib at 5:30am and was the only one there! I had time to walk back to the house, drop off the shirt I received (which I didn’t order – bonus!), re-evaluate what I was going to have with me as far as nutrition, music, etc, and head back to the start to meet up with some of my fellow BibRave Pros.

Even though I was traveling alone, it was awesome to know that I had a group of people that I could instantly bond with upon arrival. And while most of us had never met in person before race weekend, we hit it off as if we’ve known each other for years! Team BibRave was in full effect in Roanoke and one member of our crew attempted the DOUBLE MARATHON! After running the regular marathon, I think I’m good.

Once the race got started, we were CLIMBING (more like walking) no more than a mile into the 26.2 mile journey. Those mountains mean business and they take no prisoners. Woefully under prepared might be an understatement to describe my experience on those mountains, but I managed to get to the top of each one and the reward was well worth the effort.

Entering the Blue Ridge Parkway section of the race

 

Making our way up Roanoke Mountain – the 1st of 3 mountains on the Blue Ridge Marathon course

 

The reward that waited at top of Roanoke Mountain

The thing that got me through the race (aside from having some level of training for the distance) was the camaraderie with other runners. Ran with a handful of runners throughout the event and got the chance to learn where they’re from, why those individuals came to Roanoke, what motivates them to keep putting one foot in front of the other. Chatted with Lauren whose dad is challenging her to earn a BQ so they can run together at Boston in a year or two. I ran with Ron who was a local and was running his FIRST MARATHON EVER (pictured below).

Ron Butler (bib 668) and I as we approached the Mill Mountain Star near the halfway point of the Blue Ridge Marathon – his first marathon EVER!

 

My new best friends – the “moo-mosas” station at the halfway point, just after the Mill Mountain Star.

A few miles after Ron and the moo-mosas – right around mile 16.5…and at the base of what I would consider the most mentally and physically draining sections of the entire race…I linked up with Katja and Marion. We started talking…because it was easier than running at that particular point…and learned that we had a shared experience – living in North Carolina! Okay, I lived in NC for a few years and they live in NC now, but who cares?! That led to the next 5(ish) miles of having some pretty awesome people to share in the pain we were putting ourselves through! Ultimately, I had to drop back and let them push onward, but thanks to their humor and motivation (“let’s run to those three little shrubs!”), they made the hardest section of the course MUCH more bearable!

Tried to take a group photo at what we thought was the top of the Peakwood section. 1) Katja wasn’t quite ready – sorry! 2) It was DEFINITELY not the top.

 

Katja & Marion – darn good people! 

From about mile 20.5 onward, the rest of the race was more of a walk for me. Mentally, I could have kept going and kept running. Physically, my LEGS were having none of that. There were glimmers of energy here and there, but for the most part, my running ended about 10k from the end. In any other race, I probably would have been devastated. At Blue Ridge, I accepted it and knew that I did what I came to do – get from point A to point B and FINISH.

Speaking of the finish, with less than a 1/3 of a mile to go, one of my fellow BibRave Pros, Brenda (2nd from left in the photo below) – who I thought was WAY ahead of me the entire race – snuck up on me, passed me, and egged me to go with her! Caught me completely off guard, but it definitely helped me get across that finish line with a smile.

Some of the BibRave Pros and some other new friends in the post-race VIP area. Thank goodness for free pizza.

***

REVISITING MY PRE-RACE PRO/CON LISTS

Not-as-excited #1 – The inevitable BONK.

Truthfully, this could have been worse if this race were a more typical marathon with rolling hills and a more average change in elevation. However, because of all the elevation change and the changes I had to make to my race day strategy, the BONK itself didn’t really rear its ugly head as it has in the past. It was more of a consistent process rather than a sudden smack in the face at mile 18-19. I guess that’s a good thing?

Not-as-excited #2 – Hills…I mean, FREAKING MOUNTAINS

Again, MOUNTAINS. And the excitement of the challenge was definitely GONE about midway up the first mountain incline. Knowing I’d have to do it again TWICE (even though on smaller mountains) was not something I was looking forward to doing.

AND LET’S TALK ABOUT PEAKWOOD. This is the last section of the course with a significant uphill (a la mountain) and it GOES ON FOREVER. AND EVER. AND EVER. This is, without a doubt, my least favorite section of the entire course. Thankfully, there is an end to that misery (and champagne!) and then it’s mostly downhill to the finish – but don’t be fooled, there are a FEW remaining hills (HILLS not mountains) before you’re done.

Not-as-excited #3 – The drive.

“This one, I did to myself.” -ME

The drive TO Roanoke wasn’t too bad. Almost exactly 6 hours door-to-door with no issues or delays. The drive BACK home took…well, a little bit longer. That’s not hard to imagine considering I just ran 26.2 miles and covered over 7000′ of elevation change! Pretty sure I stopped every hour or so, just to get out and walk/stretch. Think it took me almost 9 hours to get home!

In both legs of the drive, my GPS was spot on the whole way, listened to more podcast episodes than I ever have in one sitting, and jammed out to some classic 90’s pop – don’t judge. Major props to the BibRave Podcast, Joe Rogan Experience, The Negative Splits Podcast, and The Morning Shakeout Podcast for helping me pass the time

Excited #1 – New State.

This was the easy part  – adding another state to my list of states in which I’ve completed a marathon. On top of that, Virginia certainly did not disappoint with its hospitality, friendliness, and stunning scenery!

Excited #1a – Running on the Blue Ridge Parkway

Wow, amazing, and unique – three words that barely scratch the surface of how awesome this experience was. The photos I took don’t even do the scenery justice. Go and drive part of the Blue Ridge Parkway if you have the opportunity to do so!

Excited #2 – Hills…I mean, MOUNTAINS

“I know – this one seems out of place. Hear me out though. What good is a race if it doesn’t offer a challenge? This course offers some pretty tough hills that will absolutely challenge my climbing ability as well as probably make my quads feel like someone took a meat tenderizer to them when it’s all said done.” -me, about 2 weeks before the race

Yeah…about that. Naive is an understatement when I look back on that quote. Those “hills” were freaking mountains and challenge me they did – like nothing else before them. The reward at the top of every climb was well worth the pain to get there…and trust me, there was pain…but damn it was hard! My legs, specifically my quads, felt as if someone took a baseball bat covered in aforementioned meat tenderizers and beat me up one side and back down the other. BUT IT WAS WORTH IT!

Excited #3 – Bojangles Bo-Berry Biscuits.

I think the photo speaks for itself. 🙂

*** *** ***

Final Thoughts

Simply put, this would normally be a race I would avoid if only because of the massive elevation change. This is slightly reminiscent of why I chose to avoid a particular race in Cincinnati for so long before running it as well! However, I am so very glad I took a step out of my comfort zone – figuratively and literally – because there is just so much GOOD about this event. Don’t mistake the mountains for hills – trust me, they are mountains and they are tough. However, this race – while challenging – is rewarding in ways that are truly hard to put into words. A huge THANK YOU to Team BibRave for affording me the opportunity to run the Blue Ridge Marathon! 


If you’re looking for a race that will challenge you and a race that has big race amenities, but a small race feel – head to Roanoke and run the Blue Ridge Marathon!


In the days following the Blue Ridge Marathon, I was able to head over to Athlinks and claim my race results. Athlinks allows me to keep all my race results in one location, compare my stats across multiple distances, download a digital finisher certificate (shareable on social), and even see how I compare against friends (read: followers) who might have been in the same race with me.

Check out my Athlinks stats and learn more about how I claim past results as well as why I enjoy using Athlinks. 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 and start claiming your results!

REVIEW: Stunt Runner Leash from Stunt Puppy

“Disclaimer: I received a Stunt Puppy Stunt Runner Leash 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!”


Team America: World Police (Paramount Pictures, 2004)

As a runner, I’m kind of a loner. While that isn’t necessarily a bad thing, it’s not always fun.

I’ll join in on the occassional group run with my hometown running club, but due to work & parenting, my ability to do so is limited. Even when I do, I am often either going further (which means starting/ending by myself) OR going at a harder/faster pace. Running alone has its benefits though – allowing me to just focus in on my running, let the stressors of the day, the week, or the month (or even your year…I’ll be there for you…) just fade away for an hour.

Back at home though, I have a very energetic 6 year old dachshund/beagle mix who LOVES to run. Our backyard is her playground, but I know she wants to get out and explore. When she’s on a traditional leash, she tends to pull a little bit more than I’d like. This is problematic when trying to maintain somewhat decent form, even on an easy run. Ultimately, that also makes running with her not enjoyable and not something we share very often (read: ever). As you may have guessed by this point, that has definitely changed!

Enter the Stunt Runner from Stunt Puppy.

What is it?

The Stunt Runner is designed, as you would imagine, for those who want the freedom to run with their dog(s) without the constant struggle of a wrist-based leash.

Built for any runner – road or track (consult your local track rules first), trail or sidewalk – and their four-legged companion, the Stunt Runner is incredibly lightweight and relatively unnoticeable. It’s adjustable for any situation, providing plenty of space while on the trails or keeping you and your pup a little closer while on city sidewalks. The bungee section absorbs the action and variances in stride, speed, and direction between you and your doggo.

What I Like

What isn’t to like about the Stunt Runner leash?! I get to run…with my dog…without fear of arms/wrists getting pulled the wrong direction. It’s a win-win for everyone. On top of that…

  • Comfortable. When I put the Stunt Runner on, I don’t really notice it – aside from the fact I have a belt strapped around my waist which happens to be attached to a dog. Also, it doesn’t rub or irritate which was definitely a concern going in!
  • Flexible. I can let Ruby run well out in front and still keep up with her if we’re out at the local park. I can tighten things up and keep her closer if we’re venturing into our downtown area. Either way, she’s close and I’ve still got a sense of control on her.
  • Shalane approved. Two birds, one stone. Not only can I walk Ruby, but I can do it safely while pushing Shalane around the block. Also, she loves getting to see Ruby in a setting that isn’t our living room. Double bonus!

What I Don’t

Honestly, I’ve got nothin’! The Stunt Runner leash genuinely provides a solution to a problem I’ve been trying to figure out for a while and it hits the nail right on the head. Having the opportunity to test this out has been nothing but good!

Final Take

The anxiety I felt leading into this review was real in a lot of ways, mainly because I genuinely wasn’t sure Ruby would be open to this. I wasn’t sure that I would be open to this. I am SO GLAD I gave it a shot.

This is a no-brainer, friends. If you already run with your dog, but use a traditional leash – you need the Stunt Runner. If you don’t run with your dog, but want to (like I did) – you also need the Stunt Runner. The Stunt Runner is comfortable and flexible, meaning less pain on your arms or wrists from pulling, and it provides a hands-free (and much less stressful) solution to dog walking/running.

This has been one of my favorite products to review as a BibRave Pro and I truly cannot recommend it highly enough. I’ve always wanted to run with Ruby, but never found the right solution to make it happen – until now.

Loner, no more!


Check out what other BibRave Pros are saying about the Stunt Runner from Stunt Puppy

SamanthaAndreaJessicaVirjiniaMattChrisStephanie

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.

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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!