Keeping it sweet in 2019: Hot Chocolate Atlanta officially on my calendar!

Disclaimer: I received free entry to Hot Chocolate Atlanta 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!”

After taking 2018 off at the Atlanta Hot Chocolate 15k, I’m excited to be back for some sweetness in 2019 representing BibRave on 2/17! I really enjoyed the race in 2016 and 2017, and I often know a lot of people who run it. The course is challenging but fun, the swag gets even better each year (I’m looking forward to an updated version of my old Hot Chocolate hoodie), and the water stops are stocked with Nuun (always a pleasant alternative to the typically over-sweet sports drinks you see at races). Check out my previous Hot Chocolate blog posts and BibRave Reviews:

I actually have 16 miles on my marathon training schedule that weekend but since I live so close to downtown I can run to the start for a warmup and get all my miles in a much sweeter way! Then I can take MARTA home while enjoying dark hot chocolate and extra goodies. Win win!

Want to join me for the sweetest race in town?! Use code BRHCAtlanta to get a free phone armband for all your training!

In getting prepped for the race, I jumped onto Athlinks and saw that my previous course PR was 1:39:04. I added my name to the start list for 2019 with a new goal of 1:35:00. It’s a really cool feature that allows you to check out other runners who will be running the same race, scout out your competition, and set goals for yourself! Head to Athlinks and add yourself to your next start list.

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Last Minute Gift Ideas for your Favorite Runners: Part 1

Disclaimer: I traveled to The Running Event and received products products from Addaday, Altra, Arcanum, Brooks, CEP, Handful, Incrediwear, Nuun, Vooray, Vuori and Zwift 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 have reviewed Aftershokz and Orange Mud in the past but the products featured in this post are my own.

Inspired by my recent trip to The Running Event Influencer Day as BibRave Pro (which I’m sure you’re all sick of hearing about) and the 12 Days of Christmas, here’s part 1 of a list of 12 awesome last-minute gifts for the favorite runners in your life:

Handful founder, Jennifer, and her partners wanted to design products that support active lifestyles and make women feel great. No more sports bra uni-boobs! I received the Y-back bra and capris at The Running Event and LOVED them so much that I immediately ordered the full leggings as well. When my wallet is looking a little healthier after the holidays I plan to purchase more Y-back bras and the Flippin’ awesome tank.

The product materials are so soft, I’ve had no quality issues with multiple washes, and the sports bra DOES NOT CHAFE! Halle-freakin-lujah! The leggings and capris are mid-to-high waisted so they create an awesome silhouette, and the sports bra is super cute for fitness or just a daily wear bra (I use it for both) since it makes the sisters look so great (no smashed tatas). If you have an important women in your life, pay attention, because a gift from Handful is guaranteed to please.

The best part is that Handful supports some amazing breast cancer programs. Breast cancer survivors are eligible for a 30% lifetime discount through the Breast Friends Forever program, and they provide free additional pad sets that can be stacked as lightweight prosthetic for anyone who has lost all or part of their breast to cancer. In addition, 12.5% of all revenue from sales of the Battle Cry Pink bras are donated to the Young Survival Coalition. Even men appreciate Handful! Check out BibRave Pro Corey’s “review“.

Built by yoga/surf aficionados from the west coast town of Encinitas, CA, the brand was initially men’s active and leisurewear with a west coast style. When women friends of the brand started wearing the smaller size men’s pieces, they eventually expanded to include women’s specific product as well.

I received the Omni Performance shorts at The Running Event. The material feels great and the moss color is a nice change from the typical black running shorts. These are definitely a short running short, so I recommend sizing up if you like things a little more flowy. I can’t run in running shorts (I typically need tights to cover these thunderthighs) but I like the shorts for gym workouts and changing out of wet clothes after a run. Other BibRave Pros, including Vanessa, run in the shorts and have liked them. The guys have had great things to say about the men’s shorts as well, and I noticed at The Running Event expo that they were made from the same amazing, high quality materials. One Vuori product that’s definitely on my shopping list is the Performance Joggers; they look amazing and are so so soft and cozy. Santa, please!

Cute and cozy!

From the Incrediwear website: “The Incrediwear Sports Socks relieve aches and fatigue when spending long hours on your feet or participating in multipurpose activities such as tennis, hiking, training, etc. The Sports Socks are anatomically designed for left and right footing with cooling toe box and heel cups to provide maximum comfort throughout the day.”

One of the common themes I’m noticing with products lately is the improvement in quality of materials used, particularly in sportswear. Incrediwear definitely fits this new trend with incredibly soft, comfortable materials that are still built to withstand repeated use over long miles of endurance activities. I’ve been wearing these socks multiple times a week with many washes and there’s no sign of wear or stretching. Incrediwear products fabric blend is embedded with semiconductor elements for improved comfort and durability.

We received the thin active socks in no show, the regular active socks, and the thin active socks in a knee high cut. The tall socks are too tall for me since I’m only 4’11” but they’ve made great recovery socks and I wore them during our road trip from Atlanta to NH for improved circulation sitting in the car for long stretches. My shoe size falls in the middle of recommended sizes. I ended up with a size small and I still wish they were a bit smaller, so if you’re not sure about size then you might want to go to the smaller size. Just FYI.

Do you want to run in shoes built by passionate people? Do you want to possibly improve your run form? Do you want to feel like you’re running in slippers? Do you want to run in shoes like Kara Goucher? Then Altra’s are for you! I received the Altra Escalante 1.5, Altra’s best-selling shoe of all time.

Altra focuses on “the difference of three”: footshape, fit4her, and zero drop technology. The Footshape (TM) Toe Box allows the toes to spread out in the normal shape of a foot and gives more space for powerful toe off. This also reduces overpronation and enhances stability. The toe box plus the zero drop platform put the heel and toe equal distance from the ground and allow for natural alignment, better form, and low-impact landing. I find that the ultra soft upper plus the amazing cushioning of the sole makes the ride feel like running in slippers or even barefoot with just enough protection. You’ll definitely have to break in the zero drop running with shorter miles at first if you’ve never used it before (your calves and quads will thank you) but the transition is completely worth it! Bonus: the women’s models are actually designed for the unique biomechanics of our feet rather than just making a smaller product: narrower heel and midfoot, a higher instep, a longer arch and unique metatarsal spacing.

BibRave Pros Corey and Nicole really love their Altra’s too!

I didn’t receive Aftershokz as part of The Running Event Influencer Day but BibRave and Aftershokz has a longstanding partnership. I’ve been lucky enough to try several pairs as part of being a BibRave Pro but have become a lifelong customer as part of the process because of how much I love the products. I have gifted many pairs (including several this holiday season) and have spread the word to many more friends who have purchased for themselves and the Aftershokz word has continued to spread from there…

Situational awareness looks great…man-bun not included.

The Trekz Air uses the same awesome bone-conduction technology of other Aftershokz products in a 20% lighter design. The technology and open fit design allow for maximum situation awareness. I use mine for solo runs, listening to music and podcasts at work, and making hands-free phone calls while driving. They literally travel everywhere with me! For more, check out my previous review of the Aftershokz Trekz Air. I’m not officially a member of the #ShokzSquad but I consider myself a valued lurker lol.

I received the Brooks Adrenaline GTS 19 (some BRPs received the Ghost 11s) and the LSD jacket at The Running Event Influencer Day. Side note: Brooks also throws an awesome dance party. I’ve never run in Brooks but always heard great things from my many running friends who swear by their products.

I was really happy to receive the Adrenalines to round out the two pairs of running shoes (along with the Altras) every runner should have in their rotation. The Adrenaline GTS 19s are Brooks most popular road stability shoe (as opposed to the Ghosts which are a neutral shoe). I don’t usually run in stability shoes but I was pleased to feel that the Adrenalines are surprisingly lightweight and responsive, not something I expected from a cushioned stability shoe. I first wore them at the BibRave run around Austin and it seemed they quickly adapted to my feet with an extremely comfortable footbed, and allowed for responsive, punchy stride. I always assumed that cushioned, stability shoes would absorb too much of the stride and feel “clunky” but these were quite the opposite. Within a week of receiving them I ran in a wet 10 miler with no further break-in period and they still felt awesome, stayed dry for most of the run, and didn’t turn to bricks when I ended up sloshing through several bad puddles.

Dry feet and warm body with the Adrenaline GTS 19s and the LSD jacket (assist by the Subaru poncho)

Next up is the absolutely awesome-sauce LSD Jacket! Good things really do come in small packages and this jacket is no joke indeed. The ultralightweight LSD jacket is windproof and (I found) somewhat water resistant against misty or light drizzle winter runs. Have you ever had trouble planning what to wear for a long morning run when the temperature difference between the beginning and end of your run is more than 10 degrees?? The LSD is the perfect jacket to grab for those cold morning runs and then it packs up really small once the temps warm up. It also includes a nifty armband so you don’t have to worry about where to stash it for the rest of your run!

Meridith also loves her Brooks gear!

Check out more reviews from more great gear from The Running Event Influencer Day:

Casey |

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BibRave The Running Event Product Review: Let’s get Schwifty with Zwift!

Disclaimer: I received admission to The Running Event and products from a Zwift run pod 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!

Thanks so much to Zwift for sponsoring the BibRave Pro welcome reception at The Running Event Influencer Day! I’ve had the chance to try out Zwift Run and their run shoe pod. It’s definitely a great addition to some winter run workouts on the infamous “dreadmill”. Watch for more:

And now just because…

Check out what other BibRave Pros have to say about Zwift:

Corey Meridith | Matt | Jenn | Steph | Mai | Lissa | Lisa | Andrea | Tedrick | Jen |

Don’t forget to follow Zwift on social:

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BibRave The Running Event Product Review: Recover in comfort with CEP Compression

Disclaimer: I received admission to The Running Event and products from CEP Compression 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!

Up next for The Running Event Influencer Day product reviews is CEP Compression. I’ve been using CEP for several years and love the quality and comfort of their products. Compression shouldn’t be a struggle and CEP really stands out as a high quality, comfortable, and easy to use brand. Watch below for more!



Don’t forget to follow BibRave and CEP Compression on social!

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BibRave The Running Event Product Review: Find your edge with the Arcanum Edge


Disclaimer: I received admission to The Running Event and products from Arcanum 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! 

I’m going to be mixing in a few video blog reviews, so here’s one of my first with the awesome activated hemp products from Arcanum Edge! I loved chatting with these guys at The Running Event in Austin and it’s been great testing the Sarco Breeze, Sarco Freeze, and The Quill Products. Arcanum products are made in the USA and a portion of every Arcanum Sports Performance purchase is dedicated to providing and funding alternative health options for United States Veterans. And now, onward to the review!

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All the orange and so much more at The Running Event Influencer Day!

Disclaimer: I traveled to The Running Event and received products products from Addaday, Altra, Arcanum, Brooks, CEP, Handful, Incrediwear, Nuun, Vooray, Vuori and Zwift 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!

There really are no words to describe my experience last week at The Running Event Influencer Day with BibRave but I’m going to try my best. To be honest, I was absolutely stunned when BibRave chose me among the 20 BibRave Pros to attend the event. Maybe my lack of confidence as an athlete got tied to my general feeling that I suck at this blogging/social media thing, but something worked in the end and I got to roll with some pretty awesome peeps in Austin. Even before heading to Austin, just being picked gave me a major boost in confidence, something I apparently needed as I struggle to improve my health and fitness while also complete a PhD. Thanks BibRave just for that alone.

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I may have sang Journey karaoke style shortly after this pic, even though there was no karaoke…

The Running Event is the premier conference and trade show for running specialty retailers. This year, BibRave had the opportunity to bring 20 BibRave Pros to the tradeshow for an Influencer Day jam packed with awesome activities, seeded product from retailers, and just lots of love for orange. In 24 hours I connected with a ton of awesome brands, some new and old to me, visited a new city, sang karaoke when there was no karaoke, and met an amazing group of runners from all over the country. My swag bag was certainly full but my heart was overflowing. Here’s the breakdown:

Day 1: I flew to Austin mid-morning for a lunchtime arrival. I actually crossed paths with my first “orange” friend, Lindsey, in the ATL airport before we separated for a few hours on different flights to meet again in Austin. Most people arrived around lunch and I ended up in the second group of 7 people who met at Austin airport and took Uber to meet up with the rest of the BibRave Pros at a restaurant, our first taste of awesome Austin food. It was really awesome meeting 19 people like we were all old friends even though I had only met 2 previously. Some people like to knock on social media but I think it’s pretty amazing when you have experiences like this.

After lunch we checked into our hotel (I stayed with 3 other awesome ladies) and then we started a scooter gang…I mean, we took Uber scooters across the river to quickly take some touristy pics with one of the Austin murals before heading to the first official TRE event, The Influencer Reception sponsored by Zwift. At the reception we noshed on food and drink while digging into our awesome swag bags including: a pair of Brooks Adrenaline GTSn 19, a pair of Altra Escalante 1.5, and a Vooray backpack full of gear from Arcanum, CEP, Nuun, Addaday, more Brooks stuff (a sweet reflective jacket), Handful, Incrediwear, Vuori, and Zwift of course! Hanukkah definitely came early for me this year. While we were digging into our goodies like little kids, there were 4 “chosen ones” pros who ran the BibRave 5k on Woodway treadmills using Zwift. For my cycling friends, you’ll recognize Zwift for it’s cycling in-home training workouts. Zwift launched a run capability back in February and we received the Zwift run shoe pod in our gift bags. I’ve done one of their virtual runs already and it definitely makes treadmill runs more bearable, like playing a video game. It was really fun to cheer on the 4 “chosen ones” while also seeing the hundred other people, including many other BibRave Pros, running the 5k virtually from all around the world.

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So much awesomeness!

After the reception we had a little time to drop our new gear off at the hotel and then head back out to meet the group at Iron Works BBQ for dinner (gotta have BBQ in Texas!). You could tell at this point that everyone was tired from early travels (I had to walk around the restaurant a bit to wake myself back up) but we were ready for a bit of a second wind at the Brooks after-party at Cedar Street Courtyard. This party has a reputation for being a bit crazy each year. We had free beer and wine, and there was an awesome live band that went through a ton of awesome dance/karaoke songs. Des Linden was also there and a bunch of the Pros got selfies. I was lame though and tried to be a little too polite so I missed my chance. I was exhausted and we had originally planned to leave by 10 but the music and dancing was too enticing! We lasted an extra hour and headed back to the hotel around 11, although some of the group definitely lasted until last call I heard lol. I was pretty exhausted and we had to meet again the next morning by 6:30 for our BibRave run around Austin! Best behavior I guess this time around lol.

Day 2: Up at 5:45 to then take scooters back across the river for our 6:30 meetup time for the BibRave run! Professional photographer Larry Castillo followed us around on a scooter and took some awesome shots too! Austin is a really cool city and they had a great path along the river; I wish I had more time to explore and do some longer runs around town. Hopefully I’ll get invited back to TRE next year and I’ll make it a longer trip. After about 3 miles around town, including a stop at the Texas State Capitol, we made it back to the Hilton. We had just enough time to make it back to our hotel for speed showers and then right back to the convention center for our 8:30 am meetup for the tour of the expo trade show floor.

Tour of the expo: basically I kept calling this a race expo on crack. Take hundreds of vendors (it probably takes more than one day to properly visit everyone) and none of the crowds normally found at a large race expo and that’s The Running Event expo. We broke into two groups and had a scheduled tour of 10 vendors with product found in our swag bags. At each stop we learned more about the companies and the products, and had the opportunity to ask questions. It was particularly helpful for products new to me, such as Arcanum, where we got a better picture of their story and vision as well as the best way to use the products. I especially loved hearing from the ladies at Handful who developed sports bras that look great (no uni-boob) and also do a lot of great work with women with breast cancer/reconstruction/etc. They also showcased an amazing tank, the flippin awesome tank, which I desperately want when I get rid of some of this holiday debt lol. I’ll have reviews of all the products in follow-up posts over the next few weeks.

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Andy’s Group A: Clearly the best group

After the tour we had several hours until the expo closed to walk around on our own and talk to more awesome brands. I finally got to meet Josh Sprague, founder/owner of Orange Mud. I’m part of their dirt unit/ambassador program and I really LOVE their products. Josh is an awesome guy who’s genuinely excited about his products and the people who use them. I really wish we had more time in the expo because we barely made it through half of the room, and even that was rushed. I chatted with several other brands, many of them new to me, and we scored essentially another bagful of awesome products. It was like race expo shopping without all the monetary guilt.

After the expo several of us walked to a burger joint for lunch and then it was back to the airport and home for me that night. Honestly, I’m still kinda decompressing and unpacking the whole thing even though it was all over within 24 hours. Attending TRE with BibRave was an amazing honor and one I hope to earn again in the future. More than all the awesome swag, it was really the amazing journey with incredible people that has made it one of the best experiences. If you notice me rocking orange more often, it’s  because the color gives me such joy. More to come…

Hear more from other BibRave Pros who attended TRE:

Vanessa | Kim | Tedric |Mai | Meridith | Nicole | Corey | Amy | Ryan | Gina

Learn more about The Running Event

Follow Fun Size Athlete on FB…

Visit BibRave to find and write race reviews…

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BibRave Review: Recovery of Champions with iKOR

Disclaimer: I received iKOR 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 had the lucky opportunity to try iKOR, a hemp-based CBD oil, in the weeks before, during, and after my crazy fall marathon extravaganza. Within 6 days I traveled to two marathons in different time zones, so rest and recovery was extremely important to avoid a completely broken body lol. Since I started a PhD program in fall 2016 I have struggled with anxiety and fitful sleep due to a brain that just won’t shut the f up…ever. Xanax is not a long-term solution and generally makes me feel like crap. I have considered hemp-derived CBD for some time as a promising, legal, non-psychotropic alternative to chemical based prescription meds as well as it’s THC-bearing sibling. Enter: iKOR Performance CBD.

iKOR’s mission from it’s inception in 2016 is to “bring the recovery-enhancing benefits of hemp-derived CBD to the endurance athlete community.” As a scientist I’m very much about my own peer-reviewed research and easily found many pre-clinical studies confirming the advertised therapeutic benefits of iKOR including:

  • Anti-inflammatory
  • Anti-oxidant
  • Anti-anxiety
  • Improved sleep quality

As I mentioned earlier, due to stress of school and intense training/racing schedule, I am in need of all of the above. Hemp and marijuana do come from the same plant but hemp contains zero to trace amounts of the psychoactive compound THC and hemp-based CBD will not get you high. #SorryNotSorry. In addition, as of January 1, 2018, CBD was entirely removed from WADA’s list of banned substances in sports performance. Products with less than 0.3% THC, including iKOR, can also be sold in all 50 states.

I received iKOR one week before traveling to D.C. for Marine Corps Marathon; perfect timing! The product is meant to be taken as a daily supplement delivered as 5 pumps under the tongue twice daily (total 10 pumps = 10mg), with extra pumps recommended for athletes during heavy training blocks. I took 5 pumps before brushing my teeth in the morning and before bed, each day for 10 days. For this first week plus, I noticed more focus/energy during the day, and consistent, uninterrupted sleep at night. This was the first uninterrupted sleep I’ve had since fall 2016 I think. The only “weird” side-effect I had was vivid, memorable dreams during the first week, something I very rarely experienced before. The dreams didn’t wake me up or bother me; they were just strange and memorable, i.e. leading up to the Revel Mt. Lemmon Marathon I dreamed that while running the downhill race the road suddenly turned into one of those yellow corkscrew play-place type slides. Wheeee!

After 10 days of use it’s recommended to stop iKOR for 4 days in order to see if you can feel any differences in levels of anxiety, stress, muscle recovery, sleep, etc. My 4 days off was during the week between Marine Corps and Revel Mt. Lemmon, so I’m not sure if it presented a great baseline comparison; I was busy unpacking and then re-packing for back-to-back trips, catching up on work, recovering from one marathon and preparing for another in 6 days, etc. I definitely didn’t sleep as well but the added stress of that week in general probably didn’t help. In any case, I was very happy to get back on the iKOR supplement schedule after 4 days off since I knew it would at least help with sleep, especially while traveling to a different time zone. In fact, I slept great in Arizona in spite of timezone change and missing daylight savings. I’ve tried melatonin in the past and it never worked well, so I’m glad to finally find a product that’s much more effective for me for travel-interrupted sleep patterns.

Overall, iKOR CBD has been a welcome and effective addition to my daily supplement regime (which only ever includes a multivitamin anyway). The citrus flavor is somewhat bitter, but pumping it under the tongue just before brushing your teeth has been an easy way around any taste issues. One bottle lasts about a month with the recommended usage and I just ordered a replacement bottle for 20% off with code BibRave20 (valid thru 12/31).

Check out what other BibRave Pros have to say about iKOR hemp extract:

Ben | Corey | Nicole | Logan | Bill | Kim | Brenda | Bridget | Erica | Shannon | Henry | Ryan | Jen | Mai | Maria | Melisa | Chris | Whitney | Lindsey |

Chime in below if you’ve used CBD for recovery or if you want to know more about iKOR. Don’t forget to join BibRave and iKOR for #BIBCHAT this Tuesday, November 27 at 9pm ET for a chance to win iKOR to try yourself!

References

Pertwee RG. The diverse CB1 and CB2 receptor pharmacology of three plant cannabinoids: Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol, cannabidiol and Δ9-tetrahydrocannabivarin. Br J Pharmacol. 2008 Jan; 153(2): 199–215.

Bergamaschi et al. Safety and side effects of cannabidiol, a Cannabis sativa constituent. Curr Drug Saf. 2011 Sep 1;6(4):237-49.

Russo EB. Cannabinoids in the management of difficult to treat pain. Therapeutics and Clinical Risk Management. 4(1):245-259.(2008).

Iskedjian et al. Meta-analysis of cannabis-based treatments for neuropathic and multiple sclerosis-related pain. Curr Med Res Opin. 23(1):17-24.(2007).

Bergamaschi et al. Cannabidiol reduces the anxiety induced by simulated public speaking in treatment-naive social phobia patients. Neuropsychopharmacology 2011;36:1219–1226.

Campos et al. Involvement of serotonin-mediated neurotransmission in the dorsal periaqueductal gray matter on cannabidiol chronic effects in panic-like responses in rats. Psychopharmacology (Berl). 2013 Mar;226(1):13-24.

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BibRave Race Review: Run with Honor at DAV5K Atlanta

“Disclaimer: I received free entry to the DAV5k Atlanta race 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!”
After marathons 6 days apart, including a downhill “ride” at Revel Mount Lemmon that just about murdered my quads, I was very happy to have a recovery 5K last weekend at the DAV5K. From the website, “The DAV 5K is a run, walk, roll and motorcycle ride that thanks those who served and raises awareness of the issues our ill and injured veterans face every day.” Not only was it a great way to get back to the run after some long hard efforts, but it was also a great way to honor veterans on Veterans Day weekend. Double win!
New to the race this year DAV5k stated that, “in order to give back more support to the programs & services that DAV offers, the DAV 5K will no longer be offering official timing and Veteran Branch of Service T-Shirts.” I appreciated the transparency and loved that DAV5K is making better use of the registration fees. There are so many timed 5Ks that I think running one that’s simply meant to raise funds to assist our veterans is more than a good enough reason not to have official timing services. It certainly didn’t bother me, especially since I was still recovering from previous races and didn’t expect to run a PR anyway. 🙂
BibRave Pro Samantha and I met up at the start for a few pics, and I made sure to get a pic with the Navy banner to honor my grandfather (in blessed memory) who served on the US Midway during WWII. GO NAVY! Atlanta has decided for the last week that it’s suddenly winter so I was very happy for free coffee and hot chocolate by Community Coffee truck at the start to keep warm. The pre-race ceremonies included a presentation of the colors by the Grady High School JROTC Color Guard, followed by Pledge of Allegiance (never heard that at a race before!), and the National Anthem. The Motorcycle Honor Guard started the race, followed by hand cycles (I only saw one), runners, then walkers. There was also a short course option (~0.8 mile). The finish area had a variety of snacks but I managed to grab a Chik-Fil-A biscuit leftover from the pre-race. You can read my full race review at BibRave.
Check out other BibRave Pro reviews of the DAV5K in Atlanta and other cities:

 

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The Perfect 10: Atlanta 10 Miler

Disclaimer: I’m promoting Atlanta Track Club PNC Atlanta 10 Miler 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!”

On Sunday I ran the PNC Atlanta 10 Miler as my last long run before Marine Corps Marathon (in 6 days!). Obviously the goal was to run comfortably as an easy taper pace. What’s been interesting during this training cycle however, is that with some health set backs, and the Atlanta heat and humidity through most of training, it’s been difficult to notice how much my running has actually improved. An easy training pace opportunity on a cold and sunny morning gave one hell of an opportunity to see improvements though.

The Atlanta 10 Miler is a notoriously difficult course. We’ve got a lot of hills in Atlanta and the 10 Miler makes wicked use of many of them. However, it’s a well-loved race and, in spite of my best efforts each year to just “run easy”, “have a fun run”, I’m on a 3 year streak of setting course PRs. That was DEFINITELY not the goal this year with only 6 days until my A-race, but stranger things have happened. Since I volunteered as a corral volunteer in wave A I was able to start the race right after the A wave runners left. This meant I ran with folks that are normally faster than me at the start. This could normally be a dangerous way to start a race too fast and suffer for it later. However, I felt comfortable at the start pace and noticed I wasn’t struggling and could still hold a conversation with fellow runners. Ok, carry on then.

The two main struggles I had in the race were 1) stomach issues that required a bathroom break at mile 2 and 2) the first real cold morning of the fall which felt very uncomfortable for my lungs. This resulted in me having to walk 30 seconds here and there, mostly on longer, steeper hill efforts (of which there are many in this course). Between those set-backs, my easy-feeling cadence and effort had me maintaining anywhere from a 9-10 min pace. Each mile ticked by and I realized I was hitting the mile markers below 10 minute average, which would easily put me not only at a course PR but at a 10 mile PR in general. I stopped quickly to hug/kiss one of my running besties and track club coach Amy at the last water stop in mile 9 and then booked it to the finish for a 9:47/mile average finish at 1:37:47, nearly 7 minutes faster than last year. Huzzah! (oops). I’m feeling cautiously confident heading to Marine Corps since temps will be similarly cool (although it might rain, i.e. freezing rain?!). I’m also planning to run the race with 2 training buddies and think that’ll help when I need an extra confidence boost during the race. I’m still a little paranoid though since it’s been a few weeks since I’ve had a bad run and afraid I might be “due”. Yikes! I’m planning to hydrate like crazy and try to eat for success this week all with the thought, “I’ve worked hard and don’t want to waste it!”

Overall, Atlanta Track Club PNC 10 Miler is one of my favorite events of the year and it’s surely staying on that list now. The track club does an amazing job managing the race and making it a standout, fun event. The signs of “encouragement” on the cardiac hill challenge section were certainly on point.  Check out my full race review at BibRave.com. If you want to track me on Sunday at Marine Corps head here!

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BibRave Review: NOW Get Fit with NOW Sports BCAA Big 6

“Disclaimer: I received an NOW Sports BCAA Big 6 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!”

Besides protein powders from time to time, electrolyte supplements, and prescribed iron supplements for anemia, I’ve never been one for supplements. In fact, most vitamins required for good health are readily available in a well-balanced diet. However, as an endurance athlete who treats my body with reckless abandon quite often, I’ve wondered whether there were worthwhile supplements for my level of activity. It turns out, branch chain amino acids (BCAAs) are important for muscle recovery, especially before/after high impact workouts and they are not produced naturally by the body. As such, I was glad to try NOW Sports BCAA Big 6 as part of my current nutrition and workout routine.

From the NOW Foods website:

“BCAA Big 6 is an advanced caffeine-free sports supplement formulated to support exercise endurance and recovery from intense workouts.* BCAA Big 6 features branched-chained amino acids (BCAAs) to support muscle retention and recovery, and betaine to help maintain fluid balance during exercise.* BCAA Big 6 also has taurine, which can further support endurance.* BCAA Big 6 includes L-citrulline and L-glutamine to complement this formula.”

While diet and nutrition science peer reviewed research is a bit inconsistent in many areas, I did find from several sources, including the Journal of Nutrition, that BCAA leucine is an important macronutrient that aids in several metabolic processes (Layman, 2003). Dr. Stacy Sims, an exercise physiologist and nutrition scientist, who specializes in research on sex differences in endurance sports and nutrition (and a recent guest on the BibRave Podcast), recommends BCAAs before and after hard workouts, especially during the training period just before menstruation.

As a BibRave Pro I’ve had the opportunity to try both the watermelon and grape flavors. Both are tasty, although the watermelon was a bit strong tasting to get used to at first. I found that both flavors mix best with ice and cold water (the ice helps mix the powder completely so you don’t end up with a chalky taste, although a shaker bottle would do just as well). I also tried it once in my soda stream water. This caused a bit of a science experiment volcano but was really yummy after everything settled down. I’ve been trying to drink at least one serving per day, specifically before, during, and/or after hard runs and bike workouts. I’ve noticed drinking it before a long run has been associated with less hunger cravings/stomach issues during the run. Overall, my muscle recovery seems fast but, honestly, I’ve always had pretty fast recovery considering how much I pound my legs.

Other interesting factoids from NOW(R) Sports:

  • They’re third-party certified via Informed-Sport for added product purity assurance. The Informed-Sport program certifies that their products have been tested for more than 200 banned substances by their world-class sports anti-doping lab.
  • They’re one of the few brands of natural sports products that does not use any artificial ingredients, including artificial sweeteners, colors, or flavors.
  • It’s vegan and caffeine free

NOW Sports BCAA Big 6 retails $49.99 for a 600g canister. Want to try BCAA Big 6, too?! You’re in luck! Use code 20NOWBCAA on Amazon.com until Nov 15 for 20% off both varieties.

Follow NOW Foods on social at:

FB/IG: @nowfoodsofficial

Twitter/Pinterest: @nowfoods

Don’t forget to follow NOW Foods and BibRave on Twitter and join us at 9PM EST on Tuesday, October 30 for #Bibchat for your chance to win free product!

See what other BibRave Pros are saying about NOW Foods BCAA Big 6:

Deanne | Logan | Danielle | Juan| Ann | Corey | Katy C. | Angie | Amy S.| Lindsey |

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

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