Catch those Summer Vibes with Ultima Replenisher’s Mocktinis!

Disclaimer: I received an Ultima Replenisher Mocktini Variety Pack 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’ve reviewed Ultima Replenisher products on this blog a couple of times now. This time I have a new product to share with you — the Mocktini Variety Pack!

It’s a pack of 18 easy-open stickpacks. There are three flavors – Coconut Pina Colada, Appletini and Peach Bellini. They are all delicious, but my favorite flavor is Appletini, or maybe Peach Bellini – I can’t decide.

We’d had a lot of hot weather here in North Carolina, so I’ve been using these drink mixes constantly. They are so refreshing and packed full of electrolytes that your body needs to stay hydrated.

There is 0g sugar (no artificial sweeteners either!), 0g calories and 0g carbs. They are also non-GMO and Keto friendly.

Of course, that changes when you add it to other beverages!

You may know I like to brew Kombucha and always have a batch brewing, so I had the chance to experiment with adding these flavors to my Kombucha.

The Kombucha turned out really good and everyone in the family enjoyed it.

However, you definitely do not need Kombucha or any other drinks to enjoy these Mocktinis. They really taste amazing on their own.

To mix a drink, you simply tear a stickpack and add it to 16fl oz of water. I love the glass bottle that Ultima Replenisher sent me. Shake or stir to mix it (5-10 seconds) and enjoy!

I don’t have a discount coupon, but if you sign up for their newsletter on ultimareplenisher.com you will get 20% off your order.

MISSION COMPLETED!!! Run To Escape: Mt Olympus

Disclaimer: I received an entry into RUN TO ESCAPE: MISSION MT OLYMPUS 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 finally completed the last race in the Run To Escape: Mt Olympus challenge. It was nice to be able to spread out all the (six) races and puzzles to fit my schedule, as work has been very busy lately.

This was a running experience like no other.

I ran…

I listened…

I puzzled…

While this is a virtual experience, I was never alone. There is an online community where I could engage with (real) people at each stage of the challenge. There is also a multi-level hint system that I could use if I got stuck.

I thought the theme and the puzzles were very clever, and were challenging enough to keep me engaged and looking forward to the next one.

The longest run distance is 6 miles. If this distance is too daunting, there is nothing wrong with walking some of it. The other runs in the challenge range from 3-5 miles.

The audio clues play during the runs using the ASICS Runkeeper App (available for free for both Android and Apple Phones). I had not used Runkeeper before, but it worked great and Run To Escape provided all the instructions needed to get set-up.

I liked some of the other features of Runkeeper that I saw, that are intended to keep you motivated (if you continue to use it after the challenge is over).

When I completed the whole challenge, I unlocked the after party, with lots of great discount coupons from the series sponsors — like AfterShokz and Knockaround.

There are also links to great food and drink recipes and even music playlists recommended by the Greek gods themselves.

Sign up now at runtoescapeseries.com and you’re guaranteed a good time, or your money back. Where else do you get an experience that includes 6 virtual races, great stories and puzzles, all for the price of one virtual race?

Use code BIBRAVE10 for 10% registration.

Race Review: Allstate Hot Chocolate 15K Charlotte (Virtual Race)

Disclaimer: I received an entry into the 2021 Allstate Hot Chocolate Charlotte race to review as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review find and write race reviews!

The Hot Chocolate 15K Charlotte virtual race was the best run of my life. #hc15k #hccharbr #hcvirtualbr #bibchat @hotchocolate15k @bibrave

The story begins around twelve weeks ago, when I embarked on a new training plan in preparation for some spring races. I started following a sixteen week plan half marathon plan, known as the “Run Less Run Faster” program.

It just so happened that in week twelve of the plan, the same weekend as the Hot Chocolate 15K Charlotte race, the scheduled long run was 10 miles! This race was the perfect fit for my training schedule!

TRAINING: wearing Hot Chocolate race swag from a previous year!

The training plan has been going really well. I’ve been seeing lots of personal improvement and numerous PRs, so I knew I would at least beat my previous Hot Chocolate 15K race times.

2018 Hot Chocolate 15K Charlotte — 1:18 — 8:23/mi
2019 Hot Chocolate 15K Charlotte — 1:21 — 8:45/mi

When I signed up for the 2021 race, it was planned to be held in Charlotte. However, it is no surprise that the race decided to move to a virtual event, due to our lingering pandemic.

TRAINING: BibRave Pro Nilesh and I at the “track”.

Most people find themselves running alone for virtual events, but I have been fortunate. I trained with fellow BibRave Pro, Nilesh, and a few of our friends signed up to run the race with us. It was like a mini race day event here in Morrisville, NC!

We planned to start the race at 7:30am on the Saturday. However, there was really cold weather predicted and we feared the greenway and bridges would be too icy to run safely. In the end, the start time was moved to 11:30am, which turned out to be a great decision.

PRE-RACE: Ready to Rock the Orange!

While still a little chilly, the conditions were excellent for a race. The sky was blue, and the sun was out. I even managed to scald my bald head when I removed my hat for a section of the route.

The route we picked was fairly flat, and wound through trees and alongside lake Crabtree. There was a little headwind at times, but nothing to complain about.

I think, due to the tree cover, the GPS signal on my Garmin was sporadic, so at times it reported I was running much slower than I needed to be! This made me work that little bit harder, and all I could think was, “how do I maintain this pace for the next x miles?!”

TRAINING: through ALL the weather — wearing 2021 Hot Chocolate Race Jacket.

To my surprise, I ended up running at an average pace of 8:00/mi, giving me a new 15K PR of 1:14:34. Also wrapped in that is a new 10K PR of 49:22!

There was definitely an extra boost provided from just running with other people — so a big thank you to Nilesh, Steve, Thelma and Purvi for that!

I’m also thankful we all still have virtual races to participate in, motivating me to keep running and training, while we wait for things to re-open in the future.

You can sign up for any of the future Hot Chocolate races and run virtually with some friends or solo. They will mail you possibly the best swag of any race. You’ll get a really, warm race jacket, a great medal and lots of hot chocolate.

If you use code BRHC20 when registering you’ll receive a free Hot Chocolate branded hat!

POST-RACE: One happy fella.

Stay Hydrated and Energized with NOW® Foods Effer-Hydrate Tablets

Disclaimer: I received NOW® Sports Effer-Hydrate and NOW® Sports Effer-Energy tablets 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!

You only have to do a quick search online on the importance of hydration and results are unanimous — hydration is critical to the optimal functioning of our physical bodies.

As a runner, or athlete, our bodies also need electrolytes to aid in our recovery.

Electrolytes are chemicals that conduct electricity when mixed with water. They regulate nerve and muscle function, hydrate the body, balance blood acidity and pressure, and help rebuild damaged tissue. The muscles and neurons are sometimes referred to as the “electric tissues” of the body.

Everything you need to know about electrolytes – Medical News Today

I am terrible at staying hydrated. I’ve said it many times before. Especially during the winter, I just don’t feel like I need as much water when I’m exercising. I know this is bad and I need to improve. This was one of the reasons I wanted to try out NOW® Sports Effer-Hydrate and NOW® Sports Effer-Energy tablets.

I received my sample pack just before Christmas, which included the flavors, Lemon-Lime, Orange Strawberry, Tropical Punch and Mixed Berry.

The tablets dissolve easily and quickly in water, giving the water a slight carbonation feel and flavor. I have used them on rest days, before runs, during runs, and post runs.

One thing I did notice was, when dissolved in bottles that I ran with, because of the “fizziness” the bottles would leak a little from all the shaking around. This can be alleviated by shaking the bottles well and releasing the pressure before starting to run.

My favorite flavor is, by far, Mixed Berry, while my second go-to is Tropical Punch, as it is designed to provide a little more energy. *

I keep a tube on my desk so that I remember to pop a tablet in my glass of water while I work. Since I have a few tubes I can place them in other places, like the car, where I can just drop in a water bottle to hydrate and replenish on the go.

In previous training cycles, I’ve often made the mistake of over-training, and this ends up derailing all the hard work I’ve put in. So far, my current training cycle is going well. I’m running less miles, running only “quality” runs. This gives my body time to recover between sessions, and the NOW® Sports Effer-Hydrate and NOW® Sports Effer-Energy supplements have been helping with that recovery.

Try them yourself by ordering online! Through March 31, 2021, use code NOWSPORTS20 for 20% off your purchase of NOW® Sports products at nowsportsproducts.com **

* These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent disease.

** Offer valid 1/1/21 through 11:59 PM Central Standard Time 3/21/21. Offer valid only on products found at https://www.nowfoods.com/sports-nutrition/sports-nutrition-all-products. Prices are as shown. Some exclusions may apply. Must use coupon code NOWSPORTS20 in the Promotion Code field at checkout. While supplies last at nowfoods.com. This offer does not apply to applicable taxes or shipping and handling. Offer cannot be used on previous purchases. NOW Health Group, Inc has the right to end any promotion at any time.

Before you go, check out other reviews from fellow BibRave Pros: Izzy, Phil, Cynthia, Angela, Katy, Francisco, & Leslie.

Race Review: 2020 Enmarket Savannah Bridge Run

Disclaimer: I received an entry into the Enmarket Savannah Bridge Run 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 ran my virtual race today, not in Savannah, Georgia, but in Morrisville, North Carolina. Due to COVID-19, the Savannah Bridge Run was converted to a virtual event.

I didn’t have to get up super early and get ready. I didn’t have to drive anywhere and find a parking lot. I didn’t have to line up for the porta-potty three times. I didn’t have to freeze my butt off standing around for an hour waiting for the race to start.

Instead I slept in. Cut my hair. I had breakfast. I practiced some Christmas music. I had some lunch. Then I got ready to go run. I asked my daughter Katie to be my official race photographer – she agreed. I walked out the front door, stood on my driveway and started my watch.

And we were off!

Katie raced ahead on her bicycle and stopped every so often to snap photos. I didn’t have to wait long after to see my race photos. Nor did I have to pay for them. Katie simply air-dropped them to my phone.

The race itself went very well. I picked an out and back course with plenty of bridges – nothing as high or as scenic as the Talmadge Bridge in Savannah.

The weather was perfect – early 50s. I wore my BibRave long sleeve, shorts and my Buff lightweight hat, and HOKA Clifton 6 shoes.

Oh, and I PR’d on this race. That was totally unexpected. It’s funny how the mind works. I know for sure, if I was running a normal 10K I would have unlikely come home with a PR. However, tell your head that it’s a race and the body automatically works harder. Right?!

Whether my science checks out or not, I’m really happy with today’s result. Days like this keep me encouraged and provide the motivation needed to stick to the plan.

I’ve been dealing with a fear of never reaching pre-injury speeds again. This result has helped me realize that that fear is unfounded, and I can be even faster yet.

Just earlier this evening I uploaded the proof to the race website (a screenshot of my activity tracker). My race shirt and medal will be mailed out this week! I’ll post a photo when they come in.

I hope by next December I will be looking at running this race in Savannah, and across the Talmadge bridge. In the meantime, let’s all keep safe!

Move Through COVID-19 with a Body Helix Ultra-Light Face Mask!

Disclaimer: I received a Body Helix Ultra-Light Face Mask Helix 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!

By now we’re all fairly used to wearing and seeing other people in face masks. When it all started, it was hard to get your hands on a mask even if you wanted one. Fortunately now we have many options to choose from, and I’ve tried a few.

Masks come in all shapes and sizes these days. I did see a man walking into Target recently in what looked like a World War II gas mask. That has to be heavy and uncomfortable, especially in North Carolina humidity. Each to their own, is what I said to myself.

My first mask ever, during this pandemic, was kindly made by a friend of the family. It was a cloth mask that allowed us to go out in public, and feel protected. We bought several more cloth masks online as they became more widely available, and I had been using them exclusively until I received my Body Helix Ultra-Light Face Mask.

The Body Helix Ultra-Light Face Mask is made from a light-weight, ultra thin (0.5 mm) closed-cell fabric that prevents transmission of water, viruses, and germs. The included (disposable) filters add a further layer of protection.

The actual mask itself can be machine washed (with filter removed), and laid flat to dry. Once dry, you simply apply a new filter with the adhesive provided.

All the previous masks I’d tried were one-size-fits-all, but with Body Helix you have small, medium and large options. There is a sizing chart on the website to help you select the correct size for your face.

This ensures a snug fit and all day comfort — with or without the optional nasal bridge wire strip (great for spectacle wearers). The large over-the-ear strap design helps reduce ear discomfort during long-term wear.

The Body Helix Ultra-Light Face Mask comes in two colors — Black and Cool Blue — at $19.99 and $24.99 respectively. The mask comes with 6 filters and 4 nasal bridge wire strips. Additional filters can be purchased at BodyHelix.com in packs of 30 (+10 nasal bridge wire strips) for $14.99 (free shipping).

I have been pretty much wearing this mask every day since getting it. It’s my go-to for dropping Xander to daycare, going shopping, or eating out at restaurants. I’ve had quite a few people comment on how great this mask looks.

You may be wondering if it’s possible to run in this mask. I’ve tried it, but I’ll be honest — I hate running in ANY mask. I don’t think I necessarily need to wear a mask when running unless I’m unable to keep physically distanced from other people. For this reason, I’ll often carry my Body Helix Ultra-Light Face Mask with me in case I need it.

I do know other Bibrave Pro’s that do run with it and love it. For example, check out reviews from Teddy and Stephanie.

DISCOUNT CODE

This is a great, quality-made mask and if you’re interested I have a discount code. If you use code BR15 on bodyhelix.com you’ll get 15% off any order of $40 (subtotal) or more (expires Oct. 31, 2020).

The FitnessBank Step Challenge with Des Linden

Disclaimer: I participated in the FitnessBank Des Linden Spring Step Challenge 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!

Have you ever wondered how many steps a two-time Olympian, AND Boston Marathon winner takes in a day? I have.

Thanks to FitnessBank partnering with Des Linden, I can actually find this out.

By joining the FitnessBank Des Linden Spring Step challenge, you not only getting to step along with Des, but have many opportunities to win great prizes, including Brooks running shoes, and free race entries for a year, etc.

You do not need a FitnessBank Bank account to participate to use the Step counter or participate in the challenges. The group on the FitnessBank app is called Des’ Running Group.

I’m a bit of stats freak and track daily steps with my Garmin watch. I was happy to find out that my Garmin account is automatically synced with my FitnessBank account. This means all I need to do is pull up the app and see how I’m doing against the competition!

What a crazy time we’re living in! The gyms are closed, fitness classes are canceled, and cabin fever is rearing its ugly head. A lot of people are looking for alternative ways to keep fit. Walking and running (while practicing social distancing) are some of the activities people are exploring more, and counting steps is a great way to stay motivated.

The actual challenge runs until the end of May, so jump right in now for a chance to win. The FitnessBank step is free, and can be downloaded from the Android and Apple stores.

Body Helix Compression Sleeve Review

Disclaimer: I received a Body Helix Elbow Compression Sleeve 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 tell you a story.

For Christmas I received a gorgeous new GPS watch. My wife had totally surprised me. She had spent way more than I would have, if I’d have been shopping for myself, and she also played me.

You see, leading up to Christmas, my friend PRETENDED he was looking for a new Garmin watch and was fishing for recommendations. Well, it wasn’t my money, so I recommended the Garmin Fenix series, or the Forerunner 935/945.

Turns out he wasn’t looking a new watch at all! My wife was orchestrating the whole thing behind my back to try and find out what watch I’d like.

The day after Christmas I headed to the track with my shiny new Fenix 5X Plus — the watch of my dreams….

About a mile or so into my workout, I started to get a pain in my left side. I just knew it was the watch, since I used to get similar issues when running with a water bottle in my hand. The Fenix weighed more than twice the weight of my previous Forerunner 230, but it was still only 96g. Good grief! I just needed some time to get used to it, I thought.

I continued to train with the watch, and I continued to end up with more aches and pains. A few weeks in and now I was experiencing pain in my elbow and wrist. This wasn’t getting better.

In the end, after much deliberation, I returned the Fenix 5X Plus and ordered a Forerunner 945 instead. Best decision ever! I still had some pain but I knew the Forerunner wasn’t contributing to that. I just had to let my arm recover now.

As if by divine appointment, an opportunity to test Body Helix compression sleeves came along at exactly the right time. I opted for an elbow sleeve and as instructed online, measured my arm to ensure correct sizing. When the sleeve arrived it fitted perfectly.

I have ran multiple track workouts, long runs, interval sessions, all while wearing the Body Helix elbow compression sleeve. You can feel the extra support as soon as you slide it on.

It was the support my elbow needed. I started to wear it for all my runs and it has been helping tremendously. In only a few short weeks my arm is almost back to normal.

I have been through a ton of compression gear over the last year for different injuries and pains, at times even sending products back because they didn’t fit properly. I have not had that kind of experience with Body Helix. They have definitely helped me, as their tag line states, “move through it”.

Here are some things I really like about Body Helix and their wraps/sleeves:

  • You can choose from a large range of sleeves for upper and lower body.
  • Body Helix take fit very seriously! Recently they noticed one customer on Instagram whose sleeves were bunching up. They sent him new sleeves in a better size. That’s amazing customer service!
  • You can put these sleeves through the washer and dryer with no issues.
  • The material and build of these sleeves are of very high quality.
  • The material seems to be fairly breathable and is very comfortable to wear.
  • Body Helix products are recommended by doctors and rehab specialists.
  • They are based in North Carolina!
  • And last, but not least, you can take 15% off your order on BodyHelix.com by using code BH15BR

If you’re still not convinced, or you’re looking for a review on one of the other Body Helix products, check out the following:

2020 Krispy Kreme Challenge – Race Review

Who runs 2.5 miles, eats one dozen Krispy Kreme doughnuts, and then runs another 2.5 miles to the finish — all within an hour? Not this guy…

You see, I already learnt my lesson. I just can’t eat that many doughnuts. I tried the challenge a few years ago and could only manage nine doughnuts before I’d had enough.

So this year I grabbed my box, ate two, then pushed through the crowds and ran on. In the same period, my daughter consumed five doughnuts. I’m saying nothing.

I run this race for the buzzing atmosphere, for the people in ridiculous costumes, and for the puddles-of-puke obstacle course. It’s also for a great cause, with the proceeds going to North Carolina Children’s hospital.

There was one guy, back on the course after the doughnut stop, still trying to swallow multiple doughnuts that he’d crammed in his mouth. He was running with a group of friends. I heard his friend encourage him, “Think about the kids!”, as he continued to gag.

There was two lads in a horse costume, the guy at the back running completely in the dark. I heard someone shout, “any chance of a ride?”. I bet they’d heard this a dozen times throughout the race, but they replied in good humor, “Sure, hop on! It can’t get any worse!”

One other memory is of a poor guy in a Care Bear suit. I was actually worried about him. His face was pained, red faced and he was breathing real loud and heavy. I had doubts he’d make it, but he survived. I saw him at the end.

Is really is an event for everyone!

Reading in 2019

Of all the books I read in 2019, the following deserve a mention. Did you read any of these? Or do you have some recommendations for my 2020 reading list?

  • In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto – Michael Pollan
  • Outliers: The Story of Success – Malcolm Gladwell
  • Small Fry: A Memoir – Lisa Brennan-Jobs
  • Black Klansman: Race, Hate, and the Undercover Investigations of a Lifetime – Ron Stallworth
  • The Road Back to You: An Enneagram Journey to Self-Discovery – by Ian Morgan Cron, Suzanne Stabile
  • Shortest Way Home: One Mayor’s Challenge and a Model for America’s Future – Pete Buttigieg
  • Man’s Search for Meaning – Viktor E. Frankl, Harold S. Kushner (Foreword), William J. Winslade (Afterword), Isle Lasch (Translator)
  • When Breath Becomes Air – Paul Kalanithi
  • Searching for Sunday: Loving, Leaving, and Finding the Church – Rachel Held Evans
  • David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants – Malcolm Gladwell
  • Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis – J.D. Vance
  • I’ll Be Gone in the Dark – Michelle McNamara, Gillian Flynn (Foreword), Patton Oswalt (Afterword), Paul Haynes (Contributor), Billy Jensen (Contributor)
  • Becoming – Michelle Obama
  • Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking – Susan Cain
  • Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience and Redemption – Laura Hillenbrand