December Running Roundup: 2020 Year in Review and Moving Forward into 2021

I’ll avoid using one of the overused adjectives used to describe 2020, but yeah…it’s been a bit of a year to say the least. Considering everything going on in the world, the end of 2020 has me feeling extremely grateful. In many ways, some of the negatives one can attach to 2020 actually benefited my personal life, health, and professional life. My husband and I cook together 3-4 times per week. The forced work from home, lack of social distractions, and end of in-person school requirements freed up my time from a terrible 35 mile one-way commute to school just in time for me to hunker down at home and focus on finishing a dissertation. Starting in March, the only things for me to do with my life were work/PhD dissertation and workout. This led to me finishing my PhD in July and getting in the best shape of my life, resulting in getting a new and awesome job as a Data Scientist at a startup company and crushing a 100 mile race in 22 hours and 48 minutes (goal was sub-24 hrs). I am forever grateful and humbled by my circumstances and the people in my life, and in awe of the parents, teachers, healthcare workers, food service workers, etc. who are the true rockstars of 2020 and beyond. I strive for better knowing that the challenges in my life are mostly by choice, while many others do not have that privilege. #NoExcuses

Here’s a wrap-up of December, the best of 2020, and looking forward to 2021:

Embracing all that is 2020. If you can live your best life in 2020, than surely anything is possible?

Stats:

  • Running miles : 168.6; year-to-date : 1,754
  • Cycling miles: 172.2; year-to-date : 3,451
  • Crossfit workouts: 21; year-to-date: 205

Peloton Tread+: While some women buy themselves a pair of Jimmy Choos when they get a new, fancy job, I bought myself a treadmill. Of course, go big or go home, so I bought the Peloton Tread+ with the slat tread design. It’s amazing to run on, provides great motivation to get in my early morning workouts, and eliminates many choices I really do not feel like making at 5:30 am each day, i.e. what to wear, where to run in the dark by myself, etc. It’s an amazing piece of equipment. I was definitely a bit judgy of the Peloton crazy but I totally get it; yes, I’ve even had a cry session one morning while running Bec’s 60 minutes NYC Marathon simulation run. I’m not the only one! P.S. If you get a Peloton bike or tread, use me as a referral and we’ll both get Peloton store credits. 😀

Tony Banovich Roads, Tracks, and Trails Memorial Run: My December daily running average was 5.4 miles, keeping me over my goal of running an average of 4.3 miles per day (Tony’s daily average during his run-streak). I’m really glad I had the motivation to keep up the miles during the holidays. It also gave me the confidence to commit to the 2021 goal of “running the year”, i.e. 2,021 miles in 2021, an average of 5.5 miles per day.

Best of 2020:

  • Cookie baking class with awesome friends at Haute Cookie for my birthday
  • Volunteering at the women’s personal hydration station on Peachtree Street for the US Olympic Marathon Trials.
  • Defending my dissertation and earning a PhD in Data Science
  • Getting a new, custom gravel bike and then riding said bike on rail trails all over Georgia, Virginia, Tennessee, and New Hampshire
  • Joining OxFit Crossfit gym and learning that my body is capable of even more than I had imagined
  • Crushing my sub-24 hour goal at the Yeti 100 in 22 hours and 44 minutes
  • Starting a new job and new career!

Ahead in 2021:

  • If/when in person-IRL-chip timed races happen I’d like to keep the PR train moving. I’ve already accomplished more than I expected by Jan 2 with 5k, 10k, and half marathon PRs this morning at the Atlanta Track Club Resolution Run this morning. I went with the goal of running as a fun run/training run for 10 laps/13.1 miles around the track club offices and ended up running my first sub-2 hour half marathon, with most at conversation pace. Whoopsies. Between strength training, Peloton workouts, and continued changes to my body composition, I often have no idea the true state of my current fitness until things like this happen. Just means I need more aggressive goals for 2021 I guess lol.
  • Publix Half Marathon Covid-friendly edition, Feb 28, at the Atlanta Motorspeedway. Another half marathon PR perhaps?
  • Bike Ride Across GA (BRAG), June 5-12. The 2020 event from Chattanooga to Columbus, GA was canceled obviously, so hoping for take 2 this year, same route.
  • Grandma’s Marathon – June 19. I’m registered to run this iconic race in Duluth, MN (new state!) as a BibRave Pro. They’ve limited the half and full marathon fields to 50% capacity so I’m hoping the event is able to take place, although I’ll feel much better about it if I’m able to get a COVID vaccine before traveling there.
  • KSU Graduation? – May 10. I technically earned my degree last July but never had the full graduation/PhD hooding ceremony experience. As of now, they’re saying that graduates from spring, summer, and winter 2020 will be able to take part in official graduation ceremonies this Spring. I want to wear my fancy pants regalia, dammit!
  • San Juan Hut System Bikepacking trip? – August. There’s tentative plans to do this 6 day bike traverse from Durango, CO to Moab, UT with a small group of friends. It’s definitely a bucketlist trip, but feels relatively COVID friendly, so hoping this one can happen as well.
  • NYC Marathon? – Nov 7. I was supposed to run the 50th edition in 2020 but, as with everything else, that didn’t happen. In fact, I’ve now been part of not one, but TWO, canceled NYC Marathons. SMH. Those of us who were supposed to run last year will be randomly placed into one of the events between 2021 and 2023.

It definitely feels like a privilege to be able to plan ANYTHING at this point. However, my attitude is that it’s likely 50/50 any plans actually happen so might as well keep moving forward, plan for the worst, hope for the best, and embrace anything in between. How are you tackling 2021??

Peace, love, and many happy miles. ~Jessica “Fun Size”

Check out my December Running Roundup and 2020 Year in Review: Keep Moving Foward!
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BibRave Product Review: Running Winter Warmer with Buff® DryFlx+ Collection

Disclaimer: I received the Buff® DryFlx+ headband and necker warmer 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! 

Every fall when BibRave starts to offer winter gear review opportunities, I’m always hesitant to apply because it usually still feels like summer in ATL. Without fail, every year I’m glad when I decide to give winter gear a shot because it always seems that ATL summer turns to winter in the blink of an eye. This year has been no exception; as soon as I received the new BUFF DryFlx+ Collection headband and neckwarmer, enough winter had arrived in ATL to make me cranky. Thanks to being a BibRave Pro, I now have some gear to make me a little less grumpy about running and cycling outside this time of year.

One of my biggest issues each winter is that, no matter how cold, I still sweat like crazy resulting in the worst possible scenario: cold + wet. Finding gear that keeps me warm AND dry is the key to continue outdoor training and not getting sick (or just seriously uncomfortable). The Buff DryFlx+ Collection aims to cover the warm + dry winter activity requirements. BUFF describes the DryFlx+ neckwarmer, for example, as:

BUFF DryFlx®+ Neckwarmer is engineered and knitted in one-piece. Designed with technical smart zones that increase breathability and targeted warmth, while enhancing active fit and comfort with an articulated mask design – so you can focus on what matters.

Both the neckwarmer and headband are soft and cozy, without being heavy. It’s a really nice balance between keeping you warm without overheating. I’ve been on a few long runs or rides where the temperature differential between the start and end of the activity was nearly 20 degrees. Whether on the run or bike, both products kept me warm without getting soaked with sweat, and I never felt overheated as temperatures rose.

Great on the bike too!

An added benefit of the neckwarmer was its use as a makeshift mask in a pinch, i.e. running on a crowded trail or needing to go inside a building to refuel. Note however, the neckwarmer has vents in the front for airflow during activity, so it’s primary purpose should definitely not be as a mask, and if you have to use it this way, turn it around so the vented side is not in front of your face. It’s definitely better than nothing for this purpose though. Side note: BUFF makes a line of face masks with filters. 🙂

Thanks to BUFF DryFlx+ Collection I can be a little less cranky about winter.

Here’s what other BibRave Pros have to say about the BUFF DryFlx+ Collection:

Randy | Janell | Michelle | Jaimelee | Kristi | Krista | Jonathan | Chris | Ken | Lissa | Karen | Chris Lee | Scotty |

If you’re interested in BUFF® products, feel free to go to https://buffusa.com/bibrave: Sign up for BUFF® newsletter & get 15% OFF.

Be sure to follow Buff on FacebookTwitterYoutube, and Instagram for product updates and more.

BibRave Product Review: Running Winter Warmer with Buff® DryFlx+ Collection
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November Running Roundup: Maintaining pace with a new career

Inspired by my fellow BibRave Ambassador, ‘She Runs By the Seashore‘ Vanessa, I plan to start a monthly blog roundup as a way to keep motivated and document progress, setbacks, and everything in between when it comes to fitness. In spite of (or maybe thanks to) COVID, this year has seen my highest run mileage yet, and most success on my fitness journey. With little travel, pressure of social gatherings, and work from home, I’ve been able to focus on fitness and school/work with much better results than any previous year. Everyone is different, but for me as much as this year has been challenging, the “great pause” if you will has allowed me to focus on things that really matter: health and quality relationships. So, without further ado, here’s my November stats roundup:

Starting the month strong at the Atlanta 10 Miler: Extreme Hill Edition!
  • Stats:
    • Running miles : 159; year-to-date : 1,587
    • Cycling miles: 271; year-to-date : 3,278
    • Crossfit workouts: 19; year-to-date: 180
  • Atlanta 10 Miler: Ran the modified, COVID-safe Atlanta 10 Miler on November 1 at Road Atlanta racetrack. The race was deemed the “Extreme Hill Edition” due to the insane, sweeping turns and hills on the track. The normal Atlanta 10 Miler course is already considered a difficult course so, hearing that this would be even more of a doozy, I wore a Halloween costume (Rey from Star Wars) with the aim to “just have fun”. Famous last words: I PRd the 10 miler big time with a finish of 1:31:59.
  • Tony Banovich Roads, Tracks, and Trails Memorial Run: Tony Banovich, a good friend of Team BibRave, race director of the Missoula Marathon and Run Wild Missoula, and a seemingly awesome guy (I never had the pleasure to meet him), passed away suddenly in October due to complicationns from a heart condition. As a way to honor his memory and support the Run Wild Missoula mission, “an industry coalition led by BibRave, Event Southwest, and the Louisville Running Company created The Tony Banovich Roads, Tracks, and Trails Memorial Run presented by AfterShokz, with all proceeds benefitting the Montana nonprofit.” The virtual event challenges participants to run or walk 4.35 miles, the average daily distance of Tony’s 1,731 day run streak. Since I already run that distance regularly, I decided to use Tony’s memory to add a bit more of a personal challenge: run an average of 4.35 daily miles through the end of the year. I’m not doing this as a run streak, although I do run 5-6 days per week. My overall daily average through the end of the year will be at least 4.35 miles per day. My November daily average was 5.3 miles. P.S. you can still register to run through December 11 and have until December 31 to complete the run. 😀
  • Professional Changes: Perhaps the biggest change this month which, although not directly fitness related can have an impact on how I structure my fitness routine, is the fact that I started a new job in a completely new career! After completing my PhD in Analytics and Data Science in July, I set the goal to pivot from federal service/public health into a private sector technology job by the end of the year. I made that goal happen and started at a small, startup Data Science consulting firm, A42 Labs, on November 16. Consulting can be a very busy, challenging career, but I was really motivated to get a position that I knew would be a challenge and allow me to learn a lot! I also knew that taking on a challenging new role could risk disrupting my fitness and nutrition routine. I made the personal goal to prioritize my health during this change and be diligent about scheduling my days around workouts. I wake up every weekday morning to run, and then have breakfast and coffee before 8am. Running before works gives me a great boost of energy and focus for the rest of the day. I then bookend the day at OxFit, usually at 5:30. It’s a great way to get my mind away from work and programming code before dinner and bed. So far the schedule is working really well, and has also been super helpful for keeping motivated and efficient while still working from home. Schedules and checklists are your friends folks!

That’s a wrap for November. I plan to keep the same work/workout schedule in December and hit at least 150 miles running for the month as well. There’s nothing else special planned since we’re staying home for the holidays.

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BibRave Product Review: Rock your recovery with Science in Sport (SiS) REGO Rapid Recovery

Disclaimer: I received the Science in Sport REGO Rapid Recovery in chocolate and strawberry to review as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro ambassador, and check out BibRave.com to review, find, and write race reviews! 

Since getting serious about my strength and nutrition journey this year, I’ve realized that 1) I don’t consume nearly as many calories as I assumed, and 2) I definitely do not consume enough protein. As I’ve increased the quantity and intensity of both strength and cardio sessions since the beginning of the year, the necessity to track my macros intake and make sure I’m covering my nutritional needs has been key to maintaining energy, improving performance, and finally seeing changes in body composition. Since I have a very busy lifestyle I manage personal, work, and physical activities by planning ahead as much as possible. Many of you may know, once life gets very busy, nutrition is often the first thing to fall off the wagon. For that reason, having easy and quick access to quality nutritional choices is extremely important. In order to hit all my performance and protein intake goals, I’ve found it necessary to include protein supplements in snacks and meals whenever possible. That means high protein overnight oat bowls for breakfast, protein smoothies for lunch, protein cold brew coffee mix as a late morning/early afternoon pick-me-up, and high protein snacks within 30 minutes of strength sessions or hour plus long cardio sessions.

Science in Sport (SiS) REGO Rapid Recovery is a great post-workout recovery mix that includes the right blend of carbohydrates (23g), protein (20g), and electrolytes. According to Dr. Stacy Sims, PhD in her amazing book “Roar”, while men need to consume about 20g of protein in the 30 minute post-workout recovery window, women need 30-40 g. That’s A LOT of protein. I’ve been running about 60-90 minutes every morning, and crossfit every evening. After my morning run, I quickly grab SiS Rego (it comes in tubs or single serve, easy travel packets) and mix it in a shaker bottle with some ice and 500ml of water. It mixes up smooth (no weird chalky flavor) and is like starting my day with a tasty milk shake (it comes in strawberry, chocolate, and vanilla). I drink that before and after my shower and while getting ready for work. Then I start my day at my desk with high protein overnight oats for breakfast. This whole post-morning workout routine gets me about 40g of protein within 30-45 minutes. Evening workouts are similar in that I drink SiS REGO immediately after the workout and then have dinner within an hour.

Maintaining this regimented workout and nutrition practice has me feeling full and energetic all day, and I wake up the next day without feeling depleted or starving. In fact, most of my morning workouts are completed in a fasted state and I never have that yucky empty stomach feeling. According to Science in Sport website, REGO Recovery also includes 2g of amino acid Leucine, which aids in muscle tissue recovery and repair. REGO Recovery is a soy-based protein, gluten free, wheat free, and nut free. This has been one of my favorite, effective post-workout recovery mixes. Head over to the Science in Sport website and check it out for yourself!

Here’s what other BibRave Pros have to say about REGO Recovery:

Nicki | Katy | Becky | Shravan |

Be sure to follow Science in Sport on Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, and Instagram for product updates and more.

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Honoring a Running Industry Great on the Roads, Tracks, and Trails

Disclaimer: I received an entry to the Tony Banovich Roads, Tracks, and Trails Memorial Run 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 running industry recently lost a friend and supporter, Tony Banovich. Tony was the Race Director for the Missoula Marathon and Executive Director of the nonprofit Run Wild Missoula. I never had the opportunity to meet Tony, but he was a big supporter of BibRave, and a 2-time guest on the BibRave Podcast. Hearing him on the podcast made it clear his passion for running, the running community in general, and his community of Missoula, Montana. I’ve never been to Montana but knew, without a doubt, that I would run the Missoula Marathon one day simply from hearing his enthusiasm for the town and the race. Please listen to Tony’s BibRave Podcast episodes here and here to experience his story, passion, and humor. Run Wild Missoula sums it up by describing Tony as “kind, generous, and encouraging of all, welcoming countless members of new runners over the years.” There needs to be more Tony’s in the world.

To honor Tony’s legacy and support his beloved Run Wild Missoula, BibRave, Event Southwest, and Louisville Running Company have created The Tony Banovich Roads, Tracks, and Trails Memorial Run. Participants have from 11/12 to 12/31 to run 4.35 miles, the average daily distance of Tony’s 1,731 day run streak. All proceeds from the event will be donated To Run Wild Missoula, the organization near and dear to Tony’s heart. As we reach the end of this ridiculous year, I think there’s no better way to stay motivated and healthy than honoring someone who encouraged others to stay motivated and healthy.

While you can run/walk/hike 4.35 miles anytime between now and 12/31, I’ve decided to add a personal challenge by averaging Tony’s daily mileage for the event period, 217.5 miles in 50 days. Registration is $35 and includes a commemorative pin, donated by Ashworth Awards, embossed with Banovich’s signature email send-off  – “See you on the roads, tracks, and trails.” Run for yourself, run for others, run for Tony.

Follow Run Wild Missoula on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to learn more about the benefit organization.

Happy Miles,

Jessica “Fun Size”

Honoring a Running Industry Great on the Roads, Tracks, and Trails
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5 Reasons to Register for Grandma’s Marathon 2021!

Disclaimer: I received an entry into Grandma’s 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!”

As more and more road races were cancelled this year due to COVID-19, I’m sure many of us started to wonder when (or if) we’d be able to run races IRL again. I was really lucky my “A” race this year was a trail ultramarathon that, due to it’s size and the spread out nature of running 100 miles, was able to take place, albeit under modified conditions. However, some of my favorite road races such as AJC Peachtree Road Race, NYC Marathon, and other major events were all cancelled and/or forced to move to virtual events this year. Many folks have opted to not even risk signing up for future events until the post-COVID world becomes more clear (will it ever?). As races try to plan for the future, I’ve decided that registering for events is a good way to support race organizations, help them continue to plan contingencies, and keep myself motivated through winter. With that in mind, I’m excited to announce that I plan to check off another state next year and run the 45th Grandma’s Marathon in Duluth, Minnesota!

Lake Superior views for 26 miles!

Here’s 5 reasons why you should join me at Grandma’s next June:

1. Grandma’s Marathon has a perfect 5-star rating on BibRave.com and has consistently made it to the top of the BibRave 100! “When the entire town looks forward to Marathon weekend, you know it’s going to be a party! “

2. Race management has a robust COVID19 contingency plan including limiting the field to half capacity, offering a virtual option, and 40% off registration discount for up to 3 Grandma’s race weekends between 2022 and 2026. Contingency details can be found here.

3. It’s a point-to-point race run entirely along Lake Superior. Rumor has it, the lake makes a great post-race ice bath. 😛

4. Average temperatures in Duluth in June are high of 66 and low of 49. Enough said.

5. Forget the pre-race shuttle: Grandma’s has a pre-race TRAIN RIDE! WOO WOO!

This will be my first time to Minnesota and I’m really excited for this famously hospitable race. Convinced to join me yet? The half marathon is already sold out (although they may open more slots next year once COVID situation is more known), but you can register for the marathon and/or 5k for 10% off with code BIBRAVE1021 at this link.

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7 Life Lessons from the Yeti 100

It’s been one week since I embarked on the Yeti 100 with the stretch goal (it seemed that way at the time) of earning the coveted sub-24 hour buckle. They say there’s no such thing as a perfect 100 miler, but locking down as many controllable factors as I could, tackling the race as something that should mentally be easier than completing a PhD, and surrounding myself with amazing support led to results beyond what I had even imagined. I believe there’s some key takeaways to training and racing (during COVID), and crushing my goal in 22 hours and 44 minutes.

1. “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.” ~ Wayne Gretzky

I finished my first Yeti 100 (and first and only other 100) in 2017 in just under 29 hours (30 hour cutoff). I truly believe ANYONE who wants to can finish a 100 if you have mediocre fitness and mental grit. Honestly, finishing a 100 is NOT easy but as long as you keep moving forward you can finish even if you hike the whole time. I never questioned whether I could finish in 2017, but I felt generally pretty crappy the whole time and did question whether I would ever have the fitness to be more competitive and actually manage a sub-24 hour finish. It seemed pretty unattainable at the time but I’ve made it my business to try hard things, so why not? The bug got in my ear and I volunteered at the 2019 race so I would have a guaranteed spot in 2020 to go for it; you never know what you’re capable of until you try something that previously seemed impossible.

2. “The way to get started is to quit talking and start doing.” ~Walt Disney

Once I set the sub-24 hour goal, I knew things would have to be different in 2020 in order to make it happen. The 2 aspects of training I never quite mastered previously were nutrition and strength training. I suspected if I could implement a strong plan including both of these missing elements that it would help get me closer to my fitness goals, including the sub-24 hour finish. I avoided crossfit for so many years but joined OxFit near my home in Grant Park at the beginning of January and immediately jumped into their fitness challenge to jump start the journey. My thought process/experiment was if I could hit the strength training hard and then start increasing my running mileage, including double crossfit/run days, it would train my body to run long on tired muscles. The benefits were several-fold: ability to run faster even on tired legs, improved recovery times, and decreased muscle imbalance. The workouts moved to Zoom for several months during early-COVID and it became a great way to stay strong and motivated. 7 months later, I’m in the best shape of my life, and lost nearly 25 lbs and over 10% body fat. Carrying less weight over long distances definitely adds up.

Don’t forget to HAVE FUN!

3. “Oh would some power the giftie gie us, To see ourselves as others see us.” ~Robert Burns

Due to COVID, the Yeti 100 course was changed to make it more accessible to those self-supporting since some crew may not have been able to travel. It also allowed for more frequent aid stops using less physical aid stations, i.e. less volunteers, logistics, etc. However, even though self-supporting at Yeti is more than doable, even during a “normal” race year, there’s something to be said about surrounding yourself with amazing people. A couple months before the race I reached out on FB to see who would be interested in crewing/pacing and ended up with a badass lady gang crew consisting of 3 Atlanta Track Club friends and 1 new friend local to the race course in Damascus who connected with me through mutual friends. Just knowing I had friendly faces to see every 16ish miles, who were able to hook me up with snacks, drinks, motivation, etc. was enough to keep me moving consistently through most of the race. I must have been really excited to see them because I ended up at least an hour ahead of my proposed pace for most of the race lol. Definitely find yourself a crew, both for life and races, who are positive, motivated, and flexible.

4. “It’s when the discomfort strikes that we realize a strong mind is the most powerful weapon of all.” ~Chrissie Wellington

At a certain point in life, in a marathon, in a ultramarathon…whatever…you’re going to feel like shit. This is when the heart and mind start brawling worse than the Real Housewives of Atlanta. In Jesse Itzler’s book, “Living with a SEAL”, we learn about the Navy SEAL 40% rule: When your mind is trying to convince you that your body is down for the count and you’ve lost the fight,  you’re actually only 40% done. 40% is A LOT. You can become President with less support than 40% so you can certainly keep moving forward with that.

5. “Every storm runs out of rain.” ~Maya Angelou

For what is now known as the “Weti Yeti” this is an absolute LIE. But what kid doesn’t love to run in the rain…right??

Still raining…

6. “The best way out is always through.” ~Robert Frost

Remember that rain mentioned above? Or what about COVID? Guess what? It’s not going away and it’s out of your control. Worry about what you can control, like your training and nutrition…and wearing a mask. Shut up and run.

No sitting allowed, but stretching is a MUST!

7. “If you can’t fly then run, if you can’t run then walk, if you cant walk then crawl, but whatever you do you have to keep moving forward” ~Martin Luther King, Jr.

I was moving consistently on 4:2 intervals like, as my friend says, “a steady Yeti” for 82 miles. Then, I was tired of moving, tired of being nauseous, and just plain tired, so I hiked my damn heart out for 18 miles until that shit was done. I never sat down and I never stopped for more than 5 minutes to use the bathroom and/or force myself to eat potatoes or soup at an aid station. Remember how I said at the beginning that anyone can finish this shit if you KEEP MOVING FORWARD? Yeah, keep doing that. The finish line never gets closer if you stop to worry about shit that’s out of your control.

In case you’re wondering what all the fuss is about…

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BibRave Product Review: 2020 must-have Body Helix Ultra-Light face mask

Disclaimer: I received a Body Helix Ultra Light Face Mask to review as part of being a Bibrave Pro. Learn more about becoming a Bibrave Pro (ambassador), and check out Bibrave.com to review, find, and write race reviews”

It’s certainly been a weird year. Adding to my list of dedicated gear drawers, i.e. sock drawer, hat drawer, multifunctional headwear drawer, etc. I’ve now added a mask drawer. With many companies now pivoting their manufacturing to offer masks and face coverings to comply with CDC recommendations, there’s a multitude of styles to select and I’m a “collect them all” kinda gal. Most of the options I already had I would carry with me on runs, bikes, errands, etc. to wear if I needed to stop in a store or found myself around more than a few people. However, the heat and humidity in Atlanta makes them uncomfortable and pretty suffocating for wearing during any activity beyond walking around a store. When BibRave teamed up with Body Helix, a sports compression-wear company, I was excited to test their new ultra-light face mask as a potentially more breathable option for activities.

Unboxing the new Body Helix ultra-light face mask!

Some benefits of the Body Helix mask are:

  • Reusable and washable – I just throw it in the wash with my technical clothes/delicates
  • Breathable technical material – since Body Helix is already a technica/athletic company, the material used is similar to their other products; light, breathable, quick drying
  • Disposable filters – this is the first mask I’ve had that comes with a pack of disposable filters, reducing particulate transmission while maintaining breathability
  • Comes in multiple sizes so you can measure for the most comfortable and effective fit
  • Soft-stretchy material is comfortable over the ears
  • Nice blue color available, which also looks like a friendly version of ‘Jason’. I kinda love it because keeps people away 😀 lol.

Easy to use and setup the filters and nose bridge, all for a more comfortable and effective fit.

I’ve made a habit of carrying the mask in a plastic baggy in my pocket on every run or ride. Since I’m folding it flat in my pocket, I’ve opted not to use the nose bridge since it was bending too much and falling off. Since the mask is sized for my face, it fits great without the nose bridge anyway. The material feels like a super soft wetsuit type material, but much lighter then an actual wetsuit. When I first put it on I was amazed how comfortable and breathable it was; certainly the most breathable mask I’ve tried yet! Even though I don’t wear a mask during most of my outdoor activities, I’ve put it on several times when I’ve encountered crowded sections of trail and I’ve noticed my breathing and heart rate do not change.

If you’re looking to wade through the tons of mask options available for the one that’s ultra light and breathable for activewear use, then I highly recommend the Body Helix ultra-light face mask. The mask comes in Cool Blue (seen here) and Black. They retail for $24.99 and $19.99 respectively and the 30 pack of replacement filters and 10 pack of nasal bridge wire strips are $14.99. Head over to bodyhelix.com and grab yours. Use code BR15 to get 15% off your order of $40 or more.

If you’re on Twitter, join in for the #bibchat this evening at 8pm est. I’ll be there and I’m looking forward to connecting with friends!

Be sure to check out Body Helix on social media:

Body Helix Facebook
Body Helix Twitter
Body Helix Instagram

Here’s what other BibRave Pros have to say:

Tedrick | Stephanie | Meridith | Charline |

BibRave Product Review: 2020 must-have Body Helix Ultra-Light face mask
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BibRave Product Review: Summer Runnin’ Lovin’ with Buff Pack Run Cap

Disclaimer: I received a Buff Pack Run Cap 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!”

As you may already know I’m obsessed with Buff ® products. I have a dedicated drawer for my many styles of Buff multifunctional headwear, my friends joke that Buff is part of the ‘Jessica Rudd uniform’, and I have 7 previous Buff product reviews on this blog. It’s not surprising then that I was excited to add a new (to me) style Buff product to my drawer.

The Pack Run Cap is described as “Ultralight and ultra smart…built to go the distance.” I normally wear visors or Buff multifunctional headwear when running instead of a full cap but decided this was a good opportunity to give running hats another shot. I was immediately impressed as soon as opening the package to find the hat has a “barely there” weight to it and crushes down to smaller than a palm size. I already knew this would come in handy for travel (whenever we get to travel again), as well as easily stored in a pack during during ultradistance events. From the Buff website, the many amazing features of this small yet mighty product are clear:

  • Exceptionally lightweight, weighs only one ounce
  • Packable design with crushable brim that regains its shape for reliable sun protection
  • 4-way stretch fabric for comfort
  • Upper panel provides UPF 50 protection*
  • Fastwick fabric side panels wicks away moisture and improves breathability
  • Low profile sweatband keeps perspiration out of eyes
  • Adjustable elastic cord at back for a secure fit
  • Reflective tab on back, logo on front add low-light visibility

I have used the hat on several training runs and, most notably, two long distance events with sunny, 90+ degree, high humidity conditions. The super light design keeps the sun out of my eyes without trapping heat on my head. One nice advantage of wearing a hat instead of a visor is the ability to hold ice on my head as well, something that was REALLY NICE while running loops around a track for 6 hours at Merrill’s Mile a couple weekends ago. One of the best features for me, considering I have a ton of hair, is the super simple adjustable elastic cord, which allowed for quick adjustments regardless of whether I have my hair in a bun or ponytail.

Finally, this hat will always have a special place in my heart now because I was wearing it yesterday when I podiumed for the first time ever in a race! 2nd place female, 4th overall at the Run The ATL 20-ish mile adventure race around Atlanta. Bonus points for the fact that it fit easily under my helmet for the bike ride to the start of the race. 😀

If you’re interested in getting the Buff Pack Run Cap, or any other amazing Buff products for that matter, sign up for their newsletter at https://buffusa.com/bibrave for 15% off!

Here’s what other BibRave Pros have to say about the Pack Run Cap:

Lisha | Mike | Stephanie | Kim | Kelly | Becky |Michelle | Sarah | Riley |

BibRave Product Review: Summer Runnin’ Lovin’ with Buff Pack Run Cap
Posted in Discounts!, Product Reviews | 5 Comments

Is there a doctor in the house?

You can’t accomplish anything without the possibility of failure.

~Lazarus Lake – creator of the world’s most difficult ultramarathon

I’ve just spent the last 4 years in the very privileged position as a PhD student in Analytics and Data Science at Kennesaw State University. Today I “defended” my position in the field to earn the title “Dr.” A PhD program is very much like an ultramarathon; there are moments where you feel badass, moments where you have no idea why you’re doing what you’re doing, and many existential crises in between. Just like an ultramarathon, even though you have to put your own feet one in front of the other to get the finish line, the journey is often not possible without incredible support. I’ve had so many amazing family and friends act as my PhD ultramarathon crew over the last few years, I knew it would not be possible to thank them all during the public defense presentation. For that reason I’m including the full text of my dissertation acknowledgements here. Even then, I know I must have missed some folks. Please know, if you’ve patiently remained in my life these last 4 years, or became my friend during that time and actually like me still, then you are so loved and appreciated.

Here is where I get to use my own voice and time to thank the incredible people in my life, hopefully without the band playing me off the stage. That also means I have no excuse if I accidentally leave someone out, but it will probably still happen so apologies in advance. First and foremost, a PhD is not a solo adventure and my husband, Adam, knows that more than anyone. He walked this path with me for the past 4 years, and took the brunt of the highs and lows, stress, mood swings, and every other emotion that comes with self-imposed academic masochism. He took it all like a champ; there is no one else in my world who lifts me up more than he does, and I’m forever grateful for the best partner in an incredible adventure.

My mom and dad, Tim and Sheryl Moore, always joke that they do not know how two ‘C’ students created an ‘A’, but 23 years of cumulative education and too many degrees later, here we are. My parents did not always understand what made me tick, but they are masters at supporting whatever each of their unique kids needed or wanted in life. From putting me on a plane by myself at age 10 to go to Space Camp to traveling all over the country for robotics competitions, they made sure my brother and I never missed an opportunity. When they moved me 1000 miles away from home to Atlanta when I was 18 for college, I did not fully understand the difficulty and sacrifice of that transition at that time. It is an amazing testament to their faith in me and my ability to face challenges (which I had yet to recognize in myself), although I am not sure they realized I would still be here 17 years later. I grew up on Long Island but my parents now live in the great state of New Hampshire. Whenever people ask me where I am from, I almost always respond, “New Hampshire”, because home will always be wherever I find my mommy and daddy.

My “baby” brother, Dan, is one of my biggest supporters even though he also thinks I am a huge nerd. It only took 35 years, but I finally felt cool after I started doing some sports analytics and Dan was finally interested in my nerdiness. I knew I had made it in life when I was able to call my brother for sports stats advice. Now I just need to get a job with the Yankees and I will officially be the best sister ever. I am working on it Dan. 🙂

My sister-in-law and brother-in-law, Jenn and Brandon, are the family everyone else wishes they could marry into. The time and adventures we get to enjoy together have brought so much joy to my life. Now that I have finally reached the end of this academic journey I really hope there are many more adventures to come, hopefully with me being less of an anxiety-filled mess. Thank you for your enduring love and patience.

I think the two biggest supporters of the Jessica Rudd fanclub will always be my grandparents, Marvin and Sandy Udasin (in blessed memory). Granna and Grandpop always seemed so excited seeing the personal and, particularly, academic achievements of their grandchildren. Granna was an exceptionally happy, caring person who taught me how to make the best matzoh ball soup and latkes. When I was scared during a thunderstorm, she would just tell me it was the sound of god bowling. She was a very talented afghan knitter; whenever I was having a particularly bad day trying to write this beast of a dissertation, I would sit at my desk wrapped in one of her many cozy creations. It was always like getting a hug. She left us last fall but the last time I saw her I was able to tell her that I would be the first doctor in the family very soon. Whenever I hear thunder now, I just think she must be bowling. Granpop used to joke with me when I told him I got 100 on a test, “well, why didn’t you get any extra credit?” He was always very proud to share that he “graduated last at Brooklyn Tech”. He was a Navy veteran and very proud American, and one of his ways of sharing that was to hand out state quarters to all the kids. It was his way of giving back and making sure no one left his house without change in their pocket. I have a roll of Georgia State quarters sitting on my desk that I meant to hand out at my defense as a way of honoring his memory and giving something back to an incredible community who has supported me through this process. I can no longer do that in a virtual defense but will hold on to them for a time when we can all meet in person again. If you are reading this, you definitely deserve a quarter. This whole dissertation is dedicated in honor of Granna and Grandpop, and the many other family members who are no longer with us including grandfather Richard, grandmother Agnes, Uncle Rich, Aunt Jan, and my father-in-law Hollis Rudd.

I am also incredibly grateful to an amazing family of friends, most of whom are from the Atlanta running and cycling community. The Atlanta Track Club community has given me mental and physical strength, much laughter, and a little bit of insanity required to take on literal marathons as well as the metaphorical marathon that is a PhD. In my application letter to the program, I suggested that completing a PhD would be like completing a marathon or ultramarathon. I was not wrong. Very special credit is due to my fun size wonder twin, Tina, who is an incredible cheerleader, and always supported this PhD process in the best possible way; with a never-ending supply of mimosas. Stephanie and Amy round out the Charlie’s Angels girl-gang that every woman deserves. Carol Gsell invited me on the best Boston Marathon weekend of all time and deserves rock star status for editing this entire dissertation on last minute notice in less than 2 days. To Michael and Brad who are always up for a Backstreet Boys concert or a trip to Six Flags. There are really so many other people I am so lucky to have in my life, I would list them all if I didn’t think it would jeopardize my ability to actually graduate this year. If you are my friend from Atlanta Track Club, Bike Ride Across Georgia, or BibRave you are on the list. I owe you all a party like it’s 1999 as soon as quarantine possible.

To the three incredible mentors who wrote my recommendations for entrance into this program. My biostatistics professor from Rollins School of Public Health, Paul Weiss, helped spark my love of statistics and analytics in general. His mantra, “there are people in p-values” perhaps started the obsession that resulted in this dissertation. My team lead in CDC Division of Viral Diseases, Aaron Curns, told me that he hired me to be a “Jane of all trades” and then gave me the space in my career to do just that. Atlanta Track Club coach and 2018 Olympian Amy Begley (the same Amy in the aforementioned Charlie’s Angels girl gang), gave me the confidence to think of myself as an athlete and inspired me through her own perseverance on the road to the Olympics. I am honored to have her as a friend; this PhD is my own Olympics.

Of course, a PhD journey is not possible without an academic family. I am incredibly thankful to have an all-star committee of Dr. Gene Ray, Dr. Jennifer Priestley, and Dr. Lin Li. I had the pleasure of working with Dr. Li on a really fun “data for good” project for Bert’s Big Adventure in 2018 and was very happy she was excited to join my dissertation committee. Her unique insight, especially after my proposal presentation, was very helpful for formulating a well-connected research problem.

I am pretty sure that Dr. Ray became my committee chair through a long series of begging and no shortage of tears, but he deserves now a long series of thanks for his invaluable input, time, and constant encouragement. One of the most difficult parts of academic research, in my opinion, is learning how to feel confident in your knowledge and ideas. Dr. Ray through his many roles as professor, adviser, dissertation chair, and a simply friendly ear when I needed it, taught me how to “make it my own” and find my academic voice. I kicked and screamed the whole way but, by the end, I can say I enjoyed it because I ended up part of an awesome academic lineage.

Dr. Jennifer Priestley, Mother of Dragons, is the most influential academic and professional cheerleader I have ever had in my life. I would not be in this program at all had it not been for her belief in my ability to succeed in a program I was, on paper, not qualified to attend. Dr. Priestley works hard to make sure the Analytics and Data Science students have as many academic and professional opportunities as possible, and I benefited from so many of them. She wrote me countless recommendations whenever I asked, and never said no to something I was interested in pursuing. I am most thankful for her determination to make the PhD program full of talented women, as well as her ability to encourage the best work from people. I still don’t think I can beat her at Galaga but, no, I’m not whinging and my heart is definitely not troubled.

There are many other faculty and staff connected with the Analytics and Data Science Institute who have been incredible resources to me over the past 4 years. In particular, Dr. Sherrill Hayes has been my fellow social sciences warrior in the Institute, and provided key encouragement for finding my own way with a dissertation topic I felt very strongly pursuing. His insights helped me articulate and connect my passions for both social science and data science. I am also immensely grateful for the many hours he allowed me to use his office during my moments of existential crises, as well as many discussions of all things nerd-related. Cara Reeve is an indispensable resource for every student and faculty within our program; I am confident we would all be quite useless without her. Dr. DeMaio, Dr. Westlund, Dr. Yang, Dr. Xie, Dr. Moazzez, Dr. Ni, Dr. Ferguson, Dr. Chowdhury, Dr. Laval, and Mr. Michael Frankel have all had incredible influence on my academic and professional development while at KSU and I would not have made it to the finish line without any one of them.

Finally, a PhD is truly not possible without the support and teamwork of awesome classmates. My fellow Cohort 2 classmates Yiyun Zhou, Lili Zhang, Yan Wang, and Shashank Hebbar are perhaps the best team of people with whom I will ever work. My “mei mei” (little sisters) Lili and Yan, are the most brilliant women I know and never had a shortage of kindness or patience whenever I needed it the most. When I entered the program with barely enough mathematics background to survive, Bob Vanderheyden and Bogdan Gadidov provided an endless supply of notes and explanations, and Bob was always the best classroom partner. Lauren Staples is the classmate and friend every female academic deserves. Sanjoosh Akkineni often drove me crazy, but he always knows how to throw a birthday party. To all of the current and future cohorts of students: “The pursuit of a PhD is an enduring daring adventure (Lailah Gifty Akita).” I’m glad we took this adventure together.

Just call me Dr. Fun Size Data Science Unicorn!

Is there a doctor in the house?
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