"Disclaimer: I received a complimentary race entry for the Hot Chocolate 15k 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’m coming back for another round of chocolate! This will be my 5th hot chocolate race. I ran Hot Chocolate 15k here in Scottsdale the first year they offered it, back in 2012, and just the 5k last year, due to injury. I have also ran the 15k in Las Vegas for the last two years.
Since I missed the 15k here last year after recovering from surgery, I am rearing to go and have a good 15k race experience here this year.
Hot chocolate has both incredible swag AND delicious hot chocolate and chocolate fondue with dippers. It is enough motivation to get you across the finish line!
It’s always a chilly morning on race day, so the thought of hot chocolate is a great incentive! The location for the Hot Chocolate race is Salt River Fields, where the Arizona Diamondbacks call home for spring training. In my next post, I’ll share some tips for packet pickup and race day to make things smooth.
If you haven’t signed up yet, what are you waiting for? Use BRHCSCOTTS17 for a free Hot Chocolate cap.
Yours in chocolate,
"Disclaimer: I received an Eagle Creek Cargo Hauler Duffel 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!"
Traveling is in my blood. I grew up taking lots of trips with my parents and went on to work for a major airline for over 10 years. I can’t sit still, I just wanna go on adventures!!!! Can you say racecations? I run a ton of Ragnar races all over the country now, and when I do a Ragnar, I don’t use a suitcase – I use a duffel bag because of it’s easy access and ability to smush into spaces in the van since it’s not rigid.
Enter the Eagle Creek Cargo Hauler Duffel! When the shipment came, I was like how is it fitting in this tiny box?? This is how it arrives – it folds down into itself into this tiny space saving cube!
The one annoying part of the duffel bag that I had been using for my Ragnars is that it can be difficult to carry. There is no shoulder strap, just the two handles. Not fun when you’re travelling through an airport with it. The feature on this Eagle Creek beauty that I was excited about the most is that there are BACKPACK straps on it! Doesn’t get much easier than that! Super sporty.
The tiny cube unfolded into this giant 60 L bag:
Here's what this amazing bag can do:
I was immediately inspired to take a road trip! First up was a 4 day trip to Savannah, GA for Rock n Roll Savannah half marathon. I had plenty of extra room in my bag on the way there. I used a set of packing cubes in the main compartment and then just had toiletries and charger cords in the end compartments.
It traveled really well through the airport and on connecting flights. With the handles on each end, it made it easy to grab out of the overhead bin with one hand. I took a smaller commuter type plane ride from Savannah to Charlotte, and it even made the cut! I was able to stuff it overhead and not have to gate check. Score!
This bag really, really makes me want to go camping. Alas, I didn’t have anyone to go camping with during this campaign, so I had to settle for a nature hike instead.
How good does this bag look in rugged nature settings?
Two things I was not able to test. One was the water proof factor. It hasn’t rained here in the Arizona desert in over 2 months! The second was being able to tie it to the roof of your car. I don’t have a roof rack unfortunately. However, I am over the moon with this bag and can’t wait to take it on my next Ragnar race!!
This bag comes in 5 color combos and retails for $99. There are also smaller versions available. Eagle Creek makes a wide variety of travel bags, backpacks, luggage and accessories. You might want to add one to your holiday wish list!
"Disclaimer: I received samples of Health Warrior Chia Bars 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 always been a snacker. Especially in the afternoon, I’m always scrounging around for something to snack on. I’ve seen friends post pictures of their Health Warrior snacks and have been curious.
Health Warrior is known for superfood bars – either chia, protein or pumpkin seed. I received 2 boxes of chia bars to try. 1 box of Apple cinnamon, and 1 box of dark chocolate. I immediately assumed that the chocolate flavor would be my favorite, as I am typically drawn to that – over fruity flavors. The bars are not very big, but they are a mighty nutritional powerhouse. Each chia bar is on average 100 calories, has 3 g protein, low sugar, and over 1000 mg of omega 3!! We all know that omega 3 is good for managing cholesterol, fueling your brain, and a strong antioxidant for your body.
Fun fact: chia bars are higher in omega 3 than salmon!
To my delight, my 11 year old son immediately grabbed an apple cinnamon bar and proclaimed them to be delicious. I think he ate 6 of them in the first 2 days before I had to hide the box so that I could try them myself!
Benefits of chia seeds:
Ok time to take the taste test. I tried the chocolate first, because I assumed I would love it. Unfortunately, I found the chocolate flavor to be offputting. Fortunately, my son likes it. It does have many ingredients I like – cashew butter, chocolate chips, cocoa liquor, rolled oats, almonds and more.
Next I tried the apple cinnamon. Success! This was a little sweet but I liked it. Still had cashew butter, almonds, oats, but also dried apples and cinnamon. It was very dense and moist. Like I said previously, these are small but mighty. One down side is that I did end up with chia seeds in my teeth afterwards. They are “white” chia seeds, but still…
There are other ways to enjoy your health warrior bar. I topped a bowl of plain greek yogurt with a chopped up bar and it was a really nice touch.
Both varieties meet the following criteria:
And lastly, Health Warrior is offering a FREE coloring book, specifically for runners. They are funny scenes that distance runners would appreciate. Get yours free with your Health Warrior order at healthwarrior.link/colorbookbr
"Disclaimer: I received a set of ThermoNet™ Multifunction Headwear and hat from BUFF USA 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 have been a fan of BUFF USA for years. You know, the company that makes the original buffs for Survivor? I’ve tried out many types of their buffs as well as the UV arm sleeves and have always been impressed with their quality and functionality. I don’t own much in the way of cold weather active headwear, since I live in Arizona. However, I travel a lot – especially for races – so I decided I should give these items a try.
The ThermoNet™ items arrived as a set – a beanie and a BUFF. They definitely had a different feel than the other buffs I own. It is a woven, stretchy fabric that helps trap heat in. Designed to keep you warm without feeling bulky.
I brought these 2 items with me to Ragnar Michigan. I’m a total cold weather wuss, which is why I moved from Michigan to Arizona in the first place! I thought there was a good chance I would want this for my night run, at the very least.
As the sun was setting, we were at Pentwater Beach on Michigan’s west coast. The wind was whipping and it was probably around 40-45 degrees. I started out with just the BUFF to protect my neck and keep it warm. It has a loose fit, but it helped a lot. We slept in our vans that night, and I slept in my BUFF! We woke up to 36 degrees. Oh my Lord. I threw on the beanie too and bravely stepped out into the cold. Boy, did it look cute!
I tend to have trouble keeping hats or headbands on my thin, fine hair, they sometimes slide right off – sometimes without me even realizing it. But the beanie is very fitted, it fit like a glove. Even at the lakeshore, where the windchill was in full force and it was even colder, these items kept me warm. A few hours later, when it was my turn to run, I decided to still wear the BUFF around my neck when I ran a 6.6 mile leg. The nice part – even after all that running it was not soaked and uncomfortable. Maybe just slightly damp. I threw it in the wash when I got back home, and it came out beautifully. One note: If I am going to wear it around my neck (and not a headwrap), I do like it to be tighter. The fit is really loose when wearing it like a scarf. When it gets colder in Arizona in the coming months, I can see wearing this as a headwrap over my ears possibly
Here are the product features:
The hat comes in 3 colors and the ThermoNet™ BUFF comes in 9. They retail for $27 each.
But, wait, there’s more! For a special limited-time offer, BUFF USA is giving you 20% off your entire order at www.buffusa.com when you purchase at least one product from the ThermoNet™ collection. Includes ThermoNet™ Multifunctional Headwear, Hats or Balaclavas. Enter code: *BIBRAVETHERMONET20* at checkout. Expires: 11/17/2017. Get one for yourself or as a holiday gift for a running buddy!
"Disclaimer: I received 2 sets of Travelwise Packing Cubes to review as part of being a Fitfluential Ambassador. Opinions are my own”
This was my first time using packing cubes of any kind. I’m typically a folder, not roller – but I will admit there’s never been any real organization to it. And there’s nothing worse than opening your suitcase up to see that everything has shifted and now you have a huge mess on your hands.
The set came with 3 sizes.
Small – 11.5”x 6.75” x 3.75”
Medium – 13.75” x 9.75” x 3.75”
Large – 17.5” x 12.75” x 4”
I recently gave these a try on my trip to Savannah, GA. It was a 4 day trip, just using a carry on bag. I used the smallest cube for socks and underwear. There was still plenty of room, even with 4 days worth. I used the medium size for sport bras, shorts and tops. Lastly, I used the largest cube for jeans and leggings, even a pair of flip flops. I only used the 1 set of these for this trip, but I think I could have used both sets. I totally could have put things like the curling iron and charger cords in one so they weren’t flopping around.
I enjoyed knowing right where things were because they never moved! Plus being able to see through into the cube made things easy to identify. The cubes are extremely lightweight and flexible – I almost wish that was just a little more structure to it so that nothing would get crushed. The side handles were very "handy" too, made it easy to grab and carry.
Here are the features of the cubes:
They also recently introduced new colors – there are 9 colors to choose from!
Retail price is $14.95 per set, you can buy them from Eat Smart direct, or through Amazon.. ! If you like to stay organized when you travel, I recommend these cubes!
Here’s the link to the scale on our website: https://eatsmartproducts.com/collections/travel-accessories/products/travelwise-packing-cube-system-durable-3-piece-weekender-set-2014-version
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Instagram: http://instagram.com/eatsmartproducts #travelwise
"Disclaimer: I received a complimentary race entry for the Rock n Roll Savannah Half 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!"
I chose the Rock n Roll Savannah half marathon for a special purpose – 1) to visit my friend who lives nearby and 2) to have somewhere different to celebrate a big milestone – my 50th half marathon! I have ran several rock n roll races before and know that they don’t disappoint.
Over the months of planning for this, another mutual friend decided to join in on the fun and make a girls weekend in Savannah. I’ve been struggling with my running for the last 6 months or so, but was looking forward to this race.
We flew in on Thursday and stayed at my friend’s house about 30 minutes away in South Carolina. Friday we drove over to Savannah and checked in at the Marriott Riverfront. What a nice hotel, just about a half mile from the start/finish and right on the river. We took the ferry over to the expo (um, how cool is that??) . It’s a short, free ride on the Savannah Belle.
The expo was busy, but not too overcrowded. We were desperately hungry and in search of snacks and samples – it was so strange, but we did not see one energy bar company there at all. Zero. Other than gummies and sport beans, there was nothing. The expo overall seemed smaller and was a bit disappointing.
We had received a message that they were moving the start time up 10 minutes due to heat concerns. Not sure how 10 minutes makes a difference, but it was well communicated by race management. Temps were expected to be the 60s/low 70s and humid. After the expo we went to the City Market – a collection of restaurants and shops over a few blocks – it was very quaint. We sipped on a little Georgia peach sangria in a to-go cup. Did I mention that I love the open container law here in Savannah? Three cheers for that! We decided to go to the prohibition museum across the street for something different. That was really cool. Learned a lot about what it was like back then, and how people got around the law. It ended in a fun speakeasy.
We meandered back to the hotel to put our feet up. It was SO much walking. We went out for dinner and boy did that go wrong. The city was slammed with runners and the restaurant we had a reservation at and had to walk nearly 2 miles to couldn’t handle the crowds. They were nearly and hour behind schedule We had to to uber to another place and wait 20 minutes for pizza. Oh well…at least we had some nice views along the way!
Here is my flatrunner for the race: Bibrave tank top, Skirt Sport Shorts, Pro Compression Socks, Buff USA Buff, Bocogear hat and Garmin Forerunner 935.
Our alarm went off at 6:15 for a 7:20 start. The walk to the start seemed really short. I was meeting up with 2 of my fellow BibRave Pros, Samantha and Jessica. Managed to find them for a quick pic and then got into my corral. We started on time, just as daylight was starting to break. My friends switched to the relay, so we were also able to take a quick start pic together before going our separate ways.
The first 3-4 miles of the course took us through an industrial section of town and over an overpass. Final we turned into a residential area, and there were many residents out in their driveways, cheering us on and providing high fives. Around mile 6 they were handing out mimosas…or so I thought. I had already started taking short walking breaks, so I thought what the heck, and I grabbed one. I swear it was all orange juice. We were finally in the heart of the historic district, which we basically stayed in for the duration of the race. I caught the sun coming up, and what was a typical scene of running under the hanging Spanish moss.
Around mile 7 I was taking a gel and my hands were so sweaty I couldn’t get it open. There were tons of people lining the streets, and I stopped and asked a nice gentleman if he would open it for me. He was so nice. I took intermittent walking breaks roughly every mile or so. I wasn’t that tired, but I was being a little lazy.
At mile 11 they were handing out iced sponges. Glorious. I took a second one they just felt so darn good. At mile 12.5 there was an opportunity for beer, but I was just too close to the finish to give in. I finally had that finish line within my sight.
The last .25 mile was magical, like rainbows and unicorns. I was feeling emotional, euphoric, happy. I was finishing my 50th half marathon feeling fantastic. No pain, not dying from pushing myself hard, but smiling like I had just won the lottery. That feeling continued past the finish line, while I took pics, got my free beer, and waited for my friends to finish the relay. My time was not a great one for me – I finished in 2:22( only 4 minutes faster than my last one, but 32 minutes past my PR). But I took time to really enjoy my surroundings – took pics – high fives – mimosas – and let the thrill of finishing give me satisfaction, instead of stellar finish time.
At the finish, the lines for beer were LONG. Like crazy long. There were plenty of salty snacks, water, chocolate milk and bananas.
Overall, I could not have enjoyed myself any more. I loved the course, the humidity didn’t bother me that much – and even though my time sucked I had a blast seeing the sights. I would enjoy doing this race again!
"Disclaimer: I received a complimentary race entry for the Rock n Roll Savannah Half 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!"
Holy cow, we are just one week out from Rock n Roll Savannah! Although my training was less than stellar, I am feeling ok going into race week.
In my last Rock n Roll Savannah post, I told you all about the reasons why this race will be special to me. I also went over all the different race distance options. This time I thought I would talk about the course, live entertainment and area attractions.
Overall, the course looks to be relatively flat. The most elevation gain is 70 feet. Hills around 4.5 and 11 miles approximately. It starts in front of city hall and winds through historic downtown Savannah. Finish line festival in Forsyth Park, which is full of southern charm.
Check out this video which shows highlights along the course:
Of course, Rock n Roll races are always known for terrific live music on the course. They are also known for the post race concerts. This year’s headliner is Fitz & The Tantrums, with hits “Out of My League” , "The Walker" and “Handclap”. Since one of the friends I’m doing this race with is walking it, I think I may actually still be around to see the headliner!
The expo takes place on Thursday and Friday at the Convention Center. We are going to park in downtown Savannah and take the free Savannah Belles water ferry across to the expo! Where else can you do that? I’m looking forward to just sightseeing along the river in general. And the historic homes and uniquely southern architecture.
My top 5 to do’s in Savannah:
Weather is looking to be fabulous!!! Low of 60 and high of 80 and sunny. I'm excited to do this race with friends, as well as meet up with 2 of my fellow BibRave Pros!
If you need to squeeze in another marathon or half, join me! Right now, you can save $15 with BIBRAVE15 on the half or full.
"Disclaimer: I received a pair of Oofos recovery sandals 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!"
Earlier this year, I discovered the magic of OOfos. When I heard they had a product line that gives back to charity, I was very interested to know more.
The Project Pink line at Oofos is a collection of sandals that utilize the incredible OOfoam technology, but also gives back to breast cancer research.
First, let’s talk about the technology that makes oofos so special: (read more here)
For recovery, it provides the support and pressure where you need it. More on that in a bit…
I brought my Oofos project pink sandals with me to Ragnar Michigan. I put them on at the end of the race and even ran across the finish line in them. Here’s me in my finisher pics wearing my Project Pink sandals!
The entire day after the race was spent in compression tights and oofos, while I went out to lunch, a festival and wine tasting!
But the REAL test for me came after my half marathon recently. I suffered through a very hilly half marathon and the bottoms of my feet were SO sore. Everything else on my body felt pretty good except for my feet. I put on compression socks to get that squeeze and they felt good while I was laying down, but walking across my house was painful. It dawned on me before we went out to dinner to put my oofos on, even just walking around the house. Seriously, it was night and day. Feet felt instant relief, all because of that foam! My feet felt so supported. No more barefoot!
I just can’t recommend oofos enough for recovery (and everyday, really). Ok now back to the cause. $10 from every purchase from the Project Pink collection goes directly to the Dana Farber Breast Cancer Foundation. It’s a win-win! There are 8 styles and a variety of colors to choose from, ranging in price from $44.95 to $59.95. Shop the collection here. October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, so there’s no better time to do something good for yourself and good for others!
"Disclaimer: I received a complimentary race entry for the Craft Classic Phoenix Half 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!"
The Craft Classic Race series includes craft beer-themed races in San Diego, Phoenix and Seattle.
I was disappointed not to run this race last year due to injury, so I was looking forward to getting the chance to run this race this year! Running and craft beer are two of my favorite things! Aside from the beer itself, there was the promise of unbelievable cool swag! More on that later.
Hill training is not something in my regular repertoire, so I was worried about the challenging hilly terrain of this course. Rightly so…
Going into this race I got in the mindset that this would be a “training run” for the Rock n Roll Savannah half marathon I have coming up 3 weeks later.
I was excited to have many friends running this race to join in the misery…I mean fun! Aside from my local running group, I had my Team Nuun buddy Jeremy (@runblogaz) and my fellow BibRave Pro Christine (@cginpnw). She flew in from Spokane and we met up for breakfast the day before.
Packet pickup was held for two days in two separate locations for convenience, as there was no race day packet pickup. I headed over on Friday on my lunch hour, and was soon tempted by tiny samples from Huss Brewing Company, the official beer sponsor. I managed to avoid them, but I was quite excited about all the other swag!
Speaking of swag, inside my bag was my personalized race bib with beer can background, the softest tank top ever that said “on a beer run”, my groovy beer socks I prepaid for, a Huss Brewing pint glass, and an unexpected surprise – a nice pair of sunglasses! Wow.
I tried to lay low the day before, carbing up and hydrating. The race took place in Fountain Hills AZ, about 30 minutes from my house. It was pitch dark until about 25 minutes before the race start. It made it a little challenging to meet up with friends when you couldn’t see anyone clearly. I made it in time for a meetup with my local Moms Run This Town (MRTT) chapter.
I was also looking forward to seeing a good friend of mine who had taken a break from running half marathons, but was inspired to do this one due to the incredible swag and beer! As the start time got closer, my nerves were in overdrive, which was odd given the fact I had written this off as a training run.
It was still “cool” outside – mid 60’s with a light breeze. The race started with a gentle downhill, which is always appreciated. We all knew what was coming though. We looped around the town’s iconic fountain and meandered for a few miles with small rolling hills. And just when you think "this isn't so bad", the monster hill started. Somewhere around mile 4 a hill started that just didn't quit. At one point it was so vertical that I was walking fully leaning over to feel like I was moving forward. It was truly insane. Around mile 5 before we got a brief reprieve from that hill, our local MRTT chapter leader was there cheering us on. It gave me a little oomph to run for a minute (ha ha ). She captured this photo of me acting like it didn't suck.
Some of my other MRTT friends passed me at that point, and I was officially beat down. The pity party/walkathon was in full swing by now and it was walk/run as best as I could. By mile 8 we were heading downhill, so that gave me a boost. Miles 8-10 went by pretty quick. We hit a strong headwind when we turned onto Shea blvd, but otherwise things were still going ok.
From miles 10-13, even though they were smaller rolling hills, and still some downhill - if I hadn't been beat up so much on those earlier hills maybe I would have had more energy to keep going. But the truth is, I gave myself permission to walk as much as I needed to, and that added a lot of time onto my finish.
I tried some new fueling during the race - I used Clif shots at mile 4.5 and 9. I hate the consistency of gels. I felt a tad queasy after the first one, but it ended up ok. I can't say that the caffeine gave me any noticeable energy boost. There was Nuun on course (yay!), so I was drinking a ton of Nuun and water at every stop. For whatever reason, I was SO thirsty!
There were what seemed like a million race photographers on course, more than I have seen at most races, especially one this size. Seeing them so often did make me pick up the pace and smile though! The mile markers were courtesy of Huss Brewing. Seeing the pint glass at every mile marker also made me smile!
After I passed the last photographer at 12.9 miles, I turned the corner and praise the Lord, it was a straight shot to the finish line! I used all that energy I had saved up by walking and hightailed it to the finish. My buddy Jeremy caught some of the pics of my finish.
So then it was finally time to enjoy that finish line party I'd been waiting for! It was a little confusing. Your race registration got you one free beer, which you had to pick up in one location - then if you wanted additional beers, you had to go to another tent on the other side of the beer garden. It wasn't far, but still odd. Of course there was only one type of beer for the free one, but 5-6 to choose from at the paid tent. It was getting very hot very quickly in the sun, and there was zero shade. It seemed like people weren't hanging around very long.
We did stumble upon a fun photo prop area - we couldn't resist the opportunity to ham it up with beer themed props.
Check out the elevation profile - we had over 800 ft elevation gain, my fitbit said I climbed 70 floors!
Overall, I came in at 2:26:16. It was my 3rd slowest out of 49 half marathons. 257/403 overall, 128 out of 228 females and 17/27 in my age group. Meh.
I came away with some final thoughts about this race:
"Disclaimer: I received a pair of Skins A400 compression tights 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’m a big fan of compression tights, for both running and recovery. I was excited to try the new A400 Compression Tights from Skins. I was not previously familiar with this brand, so I was curious to see what they were all about.
It came in shorts, 3/4 capris or full length. I chose capris since that is the most versatile for Arizona weather.
The 3/4 tights are “high rise” – they came up to my belly button. Bonus: it helps keep excess tummy held in and smooth. The material is very, very soft, and light. I put them on and they fit like a glove. Like a second skin, but not super tight like some other compression tights.
Technology behind A 400:
I went for a few runs in my tights – they were light enough that I didn’t get hot. The tights move with you, they don’t feel constrictive or restrictive.
I also used them for recovery after my Ragnar Michigan relay. I wore them the day after for the race. My quads were crying a little from the race, and these tights felt fantastic. I will say that even a small pocket for a key would be a huge plus. The website mentions a waistband pocket, but I did not find a pocket on my pair.
The A400 women's 3/4 tights retail for $119.99 If you want to treat yourself to a pair, you can save 20% with BIBRAVE20 through the month of October!
Hi, I'm Emily! I'm an avid runner in Arizona with a passion for travel and racing around the country!