"Disclaimer: I received a canister of Epsoak Sport 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!"
When I was growing up, I remember my mom used to take Epsom salt baths for inflammation. It was in a plain cardboard box, and I didn’t think anything of it or its magical powers. In fact, I pretty much forgot about it entirely until recently when the opportunity came up to test it out. Since I am recovering from a torn meniscus and am working my way back into running and training again, I thought the timing might be perfect.
This enormous (8.5 lb) canister arrived from Epsoak Sport, the sports performance line from SFSaltCompany. Holy cow! It comes in 3 varieties – Energizing, Soothing (with peppermint & eucalyptus), and Pure unscented. I received the Soothing blend – which was infused with lavender oil. This ain't your momma's epsom salt from the 70's!
Epsom salt is a pure compound of magnesium and sulfate. It has been used for decades to relieve joint and muscle pain and inflammation. In water, the salt breaks down and is absorbed into the skin during a warm bath. It has a myriad of other uses, but for now let’s focus on recovery for athletes. What is the science behind it? More than 325 enzymes in the body require magnesium to function properly. Magnesium stimulates nerve and muscle function, limits inflammation, and improves oxygenation and blood flow through the body.
I first gave this a try after a 5k race. It doesn’t sound like much, but for me I just started running again and learned that I have bad arthritis in my knees. I opened the tub of Epsoak Sport and took a nice breath of the lavender scent. Ahh. Really nice. According to the directions, you can use anywhere from 2-4 scoops in your bath. 2 is the minimum, 4 for maximum sport recovery. It dissolves within about 2 minutes.
I will confess that prior to this, I have not been a bath taker. I’m too impatient, I just want to take a shower and be done. Making myself take the extra time to enjoy a long warm therapeutic bath has shown me that it’s worth it to do this as something good for yourself, and part of the training/recovery cycle. I was pre-warned that this isn’t an overnight magical potion, it takes some consistency to get optimal results.
Since I knew I needed to do it more often to get results, and because I enjoyed it the first time, I embarked on a #soakstreak. I soaked for 4 days in a row, and it was awesome! I was wondering how long I needed to soak to get the benefits. I read somewhere that the minimum was 15 minutes. So I set a timer for 20 minutes and just grabbed a mug of piping hot tea. This is easy for me to do in the winter since it’s always cold in my house, but I’m wondering how I will keep this up in the summer in Arizona when it’s 110 on a regular basis?
I’ve been doing some cross training because of my injury so I decided to do a bath after a spin class since my legs aren’t used to that type of intense activity. Again, such a treat to just relax and do something good to help your muscles recover. I got to take a hot bath listening to the rain drops outside. Really nice. I had minimum soreness the next day from the spin class.
One cool side benefit of taking the baths is that between the lavender and the Epsom salt, I seem to be sleeping even better. Score!
So while this canister seems huge, if you’re using the recommended 2-4 scoops, you go through it pretty quickly. I am beyond sad that I’m more than halfway through this container. Epsoak sport retails for $21.99 for the 8.5 lb container and if you buy it through the sfsaltco.com website, they do free same day shipping. Could you buy your own plain generic Epsom salt and add a few drops of lavender oil to it? Sure. Would you get the same result? Maybe. I enjoyed this enough that I’m going to continue to use this product. With my arthritic knee I feel like I need to give it a try, and keep this “me time” and self-care going. I'm considering it a "new year's resolution" to do this to feel better as an athlete.
Use code "RAVE10" to save 10% off Epsoak SPORT 5lb bags in all scent varieties.! Visit their site and treat yourself.
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As 2016 comes to a close, I am pausing to reflect on my running year – the good, bad and the ugly.
Some of my favorite things that happened in my running and racing life this year are:
The year also brought many challenges:
Things I’m looking forward to in 2017:
Disclaimer: I received a pair of Fotonyk performance glasses from Rudy Project NA 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 love bright colors, so I chose to try out the Fotonyk Yellow Fluo Gloss with Multilaser Orange. They came with black “bumpers” along the bottom which are there for fall protection. Much like the Fluo helmet I recently reviewed, these are designed to protect you in case you take a tumble.
I was looking for bright colors, and I sure found them! The glasses arrived in a protective pouch covering the lenses only and also with a cool Rudy trucker hat. The bumpers are removable and you can also order them in different colors in order to customize your look. In case you are not familiar, Rudy Project is a premium Italian handcrafted performance sports accessory company.
The glasses are super light weight (just under an ounce) and are made of Grilamid®, a shock-resistant, hypoallergenic, high-quality, light thermoplastic for its stability, flexibility and durability. When I put them on, they instantly felt like a perfect fit. When I took them out for their first run, they totally stayed put, no slipping at all.
I wore them for a 5k race – it was 45 degrees and they did not fog up. There is a tiny “vent controller” gap at the top of the lenses that lets air escape to help prevent fogging.
It was now time to take off the bumpers and try a different look. I was a bit hesitant to try to take them off, ,as it requires you to actually remove the lenses and put them back in. I was so worried about breaking them. But they pop out and back in quite easily. Voila!
These performance sunglasses are high quality, lightweight and stay put when you are running! They are easy to customize with the bumpers. I like having the photocromic option, it would be nice to change out the lens color for a more subtle look. The Fotonyk glases retail for $174.99. backed by Rudy Project’s 3 Year Frame Warranty and industry-leading Replacement Lens Guarantee. That means consumers can opt to replace scratched lenses for a nominal processing fee, no questions asked. Shop e-rudy.com for their wide assortment of performance gear.
You can read more about the Fotonyk glasses. Hear from some other BibRave Pro's on their experience trying out this product: Brenda Angie Heather
"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!"
This was my 3rd hot chocolate race. I ran Hot Chocolate 15k here in Scottsdale the first year they offered it, back in 2012. I have missed it the last few years, so I was looking forward to doing it again. I also ran the 15k in Las Vegas this spring.
As many of you know, I had knee surgery in October for a torn meniscus. As the date drew closer, I knew that 15k was going to be too much too soon. I was able to drop to the 5k. They told me just to take care of the switch at packet pickup.
One cool thing about Hot Chocolate series is that they actually send you a training plan each week via email! With your entry you also got a logo jacket which is pretty warm, a chocolate finishers mug, and the 15k folks get a nice medal. More about that later.
The location for the Hot Chocolate race is Salt River Fields, where the Arizona Diamondbacks call home for spring training. It’s a nice area, but a little out of the way in terms of racing. Packet pickup was held there too, on Friday and Saturday. No same day pickup was advertised. You could also opt to have your packet mailed to you for an extra fee. I went on Friday afternoon, which was pretty easy – as long as you were carpooling! We breezed through traffic, luckily. Packet pickup took place on the concourse of the ballpark. There were booths from other local races, Ragnar, as well as Hot Chocolate merchandise for sale.
Pickup was pretty easy, there were lines at times but they moved FAST. When I got to pickup and told them I needed to switch to the 5k they sent me over to the Information Services booth. When I showed up there, they said no, you just wear your normal 15k bib and show up at the 5k start line. So back in line I went. A little frustrating to say the least.
They were handing out samples of chocolate and hot chocolate, which was tasty!
On race morning, we drove up there nice and early, knowing would be a fiasco later. There were over 8,000 people participating in these 2 races! It got crowded and it was chilly (about 45 degrees which is cold for AZ!) Luckily we all had those nice jackets from the race! While we waited for the start of the 5k, there were warm up dancers but nothing else really going on. I couldn’t find any water available. There were 5 corrals for the 5k.
The course for the 5k was flat and basically a loop through an office park. With 5,000 doing the 5k, it was quite crowded the whole time. Even though strollers weren’t allowed, I saw several. There was one “sweet stop” for the 5k folks – strawberry marshmallows – around the half way point. Then, at the finish, the cruelest thing – the racks of medals were there FOR THE 15K RUNNERS ONLY – so it was just there to tease the rest of us! I do hope they will consider some small medal for the 5k folks next time. It was a disappointment to many.
Ok the consolation prize was the finishers mug that we had all been dreaming about for the last 3 miles. It was a cup of hot chocolate, pretzels, a banana, a marshmallow, 2 chocolate pirouette cookies and some chocolate fondue for dipping. I actually really enjoyed this part, although it was pretty messy. Then I decided to get in line to have my picture taken with my happy marshmallow friends. They offer free race photos for download, but unfortunately there were none of me! L
Bottom line, this is a huge local race, with no big competing race in the area the same weekend. Everyone was happy and enjoying their chocolate. Seating areas would have been welcomed, everyone was sitting on curbs in the parking lot trying to eat their chocolate. I watched the 15k finishers come in and they all seemed like it was a challenge, with a sweet payoff at the finish! I saw so many local running friends here. I would definitely recommend this race to anyone, for a fun experience. If you want to read more about the 15k, check out my fellow BibRavePro Justin’s review here. Interested in doing Hot Chocolate 15k? Look for a Hot Chocolate race near you!
"Disclaimer: I received a Merino Wool BUFF ® 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!"
Last year, I had the opportunity to try out a BUFF® from Buff USA. You know, they make those cool buffs seen on Survivor? When I was offered the chance to try a Merino Wool BUFF (R), my first reaction is “well I live in Arizona, so there’s no way I would be able to use one”. Then I started reading up on the benefits of using them as an insulator and thought I would give it a try. It was also 95 degrees when I said yes, but as of this morning was 37 degrees. So yes, wool has a place in Arizona!
When I first received it, I loved the pattern and texture even more than I thought I would. I immediately started envisioning this as more than just a running accessory, but also a stylish fashion accessory that would keep me warm. It is REALLY soft. I wore as a scarf for a few runs, and also to work and going out with the girls!
I took it out on a chilly morning to walk the dog, using it as a head scarf. I loved how it contained all my hair, covered my ears and kept my head warm. The natural stretch in the fabric made it conform to my head and stay put!
Now it was time to put it to the running test! I wore it on 2 weekday runs plus the Hot Chocolate 5k. It was cold! I hadn’t washed it in between wearings and it didn’t’ smell!. It is supposed to provide thermal comfort between 32 and 68 degrees. The cool thing about the BUFF is how many different ways you can wear it. I wore it around my neck, but had it been any cooler, I could have easily pulled it up so that it covered my ears. Check out this diagram and video of all the ways to wear a BUFF!
Merino wool is a bit different than the standard wool you may think of. It comes from New Zealand and Australia and offers some unique properties . Not only does it provide excellent moisture management, Merino wool transfers moisture away from the body helping you keep cool and dry during exercise or hot weather. It's great for efficient temperature regulation and odor control. It has natural stretch and retains its shape.
I went on to buffusa.com to look at all the color/style options and WOW – there are so many cool ones to choose from. They range in prince from $27-$32 each. I’m going to need to add to my collection, for sure.
The verdict: I love the versatility and texture of the Merino Wool BUFF. Now I know that it can help you regulate temperature, no matter what kind of climate you live in. This will be a part of my running gear all year, not just in the winter!
Hi, I'm Emily! I'm an avid runner in Arizona with a passion for travel and racing around the country!