Gear Review

Disclaimer: I received Ultima Replenisher to review 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.

As someone with blood-sugar issues (I’m prone to hypoglycemia), I have to be really careful with what I eat and drink on my long runs. Sure, I use the traditional packets of gel and drink tons of water, but I’ve also been known to bring turkey bacon in my hydration pack (next to the ice water) to make sure I have something substantial to eat after three, four and five hours of running. (Thankfully, I have yet to attract any bear or packs of wild dogs.)

When BibRave asked me to try out the Ultima Replenisher hydration product that’s sugar-free and has zero carbs and no artificial ingredients, I figured it might be just what I needed on my long training runs this summer. I sure am glad I did, because this is definitely a product I’ll be ordering and using long after the trial period.

What is it?

I got a 20-count variety pack and 30-serving canister of Ultima Replenisher. It’s an electrolyte replacement powder that the company says is sweetened naturally with organic stevia leaf extract.

My variety pack included raspberry, grape, lemonade, orange and cherry pomegranate packets for one-time use (listed in order of my favorite flavors). I mixed each with ice water that I carried on my hydration pack.

what’s so special about it?

The company says its product is “certified vegan, autism approved, paleo friendly, keto friendly, gluten-free and made with non-GMO ingredients.” I liked the sugar-free aspect, and also that it is zero-calorie. When you’re slow and running for four or five hours in 80-degree temperatures, that makes a big difference.

how does it taste?

As a Puerto Rican living in the Michigan tundra, there are very few opportunities for experiences that take me back to my childhood. The raspberry flavored packet had me envisioning myself eating a piragua de frambuesa from the first taste, so it quickly became my favorite.

As for the other flavors, I liked all of them. The grape reminded me of watered-down Kool-Aid; the others were about what you would expect.

did it work?

I have to say that I didn’t have any tummy troubles when I drank even two or three packets of the Ultima Replenisher. It also helped me get the electrolytes I needed during even my longest runs.

I also liked the convenience of throwing a packet or two in my “luggage” so I could use them later in my runs when I had to refill my water bottles. I even used a packet to help me re-hydrate after a sunny afternoon pool-side left me with a headache, probably from not drinking enough water.

should i try it?

Yup. I can’t think of anything I didn’t like about the product. You can even save 15 percent with code ULTIMABR at the Amazon Store Front.

What are you using for hydration on your long runs? (You may have to click on “Continue Reading” to leave a comment.)

“Disclaimer: I received four Brilliant Reflective strips packs 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!”

To say that I truly needed this product is an understatement. A group of chicas and I run very early in the morning (read: when it’s still o-dark-30) and are always worried about cars pulling out of driveways or coming around corners and not seeing us. We all wear headlamps and/or gear with some reflective features, but have continued to worry about our safety.
Until now, that is. As part of being a BibRave ambassador, I’ve been testing these strips for the past couple of weeks. The company provided both stick-on and iron-on strips, which I promptly applied to the following:
  • The dog’s collar
  • The back of all of my running shoes
  • The back of my winter running jackets
  • The back of my winter hats
  • My winter running mittens
  • The front and back of my hydration vest
  • The back of my favorite running Skirts Sports skirts

The strips include very clear and thorough application instructions inside the packaging.

I still have some strips left, so I will do another round of pasting/ironing on in the coming days. A chica can’t be too careful.

Application is super easy. For the stick-on strips, you peel the back and place on the item. These are best used for things that don’t go in the wash, like the aforementioned shoes and hydration vest.
The iron-on strips took a little more time but are also more durable for washable items like jackets, tights, hats and mittens/gloves. Here’s how I applied mine:
Step 1: Separate the strips.

Brilliant Reflective strips come in several colors, including black.

Once you open the package, the strips are easily separated. Choose the proper size for your item or cut it down to size.

Step 2: Place the strips on your item

I placed my strips on the back of my favorite running jacket.

The company recommends placing the strips in spots “recreating the human form with motion.” That includes placing the strips so they’re visible from all sides of your body and on your head, shoulders, knees, elbows, hands/wrists and feet.

Step 3: iron on using a paper towel

Even the back of my hat got the Brilliant Reflective treatment.

The company recommends making sure to use a paper towel when ironing on the strips and using a slow continuous iron movement over the towel while applying a bit of pressure. This process took about 30 to 40 seconds.

step 4: remove the clear plastic covering

Make sure your strips are cool before removing the clear covering.

Once the strip cools, you can remove a clear plastic covering. Mine came off easily and quickly.

step 5: BE SEEN

My back now lights up when I’m running or walking in the dark.

Thanks to my new Brilliant Reflective strips, I now light up beyond just my headlamp. I am a lot more comfortable running or walking my dog when it’s dark outside.

I genuinely can’t think of any downsides to the product, except for any user error like when I accidentally put the strip down incorrectly and accidentally ironed the strip to the paper towel. Oops.

If you want to light up on your run, you can save 25 percent off all Brilliant Reflective multi/assortment packs with code BRP25. Or click here to automatically get the discount at checkout.

What do you do to make sure you’re seen when it’s dark on your run? What other spots should I consider for additional strip placement? (You may have to click on “Continue Reading” to leave a comment.)

Review: Oofos sandals

by lachicaruns on

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!

When BibRave announced to ambassadors that we could opt in to review the Oofos Project Pink line, the excitement was immediate and infectious.

I had heard of Oofos sandals, but hadn’t yet tried them. I am so very glad I did.

Bonus? The company donates $10 out of the $59.95 price for every Project Pink shoe sold to the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute for breast cancer research.

The sandals came with information about the cancer research donation.

The OOahh Sport Project Pink sandals came in black, with a tiny pink logo on the outside of both shoes, and the always-present double Os on the top in white.

As for the feel, the shoe is absolutely comfortable, lightweight and can be worn with and without socks. That’s important to this chica because I’m always cold and often wear my SmartWool socks with my slippers at home.

I should note that I haven’t work said slippers since I got the Oofos sandals in the mail, in large part because the sandals are comfortable and because I can wear them outside to let the doggies out.

The company boasts that its sandal “absorbs impact, cradles your arches and allows you to move naturally.” I do like how squishy the shoe feels, especially after a long run, when I can toss my trusty Brooks aside and slip into something more comfortable.

They also don’t smell, despite my obviously stinky feet, and don’t make my feet sweat either. The company says they can be machine washed, something I haven’t yet done.

Good shoe post long run.

I haven’t worn flip-flops in years, mostly because I don’t like the smack-smack sound they make when you walk.

The only downside I have seen with my Oofos sandals is that sometimes, when I wear them without socks, they make a, well, fart sound when I walk. It’s not often enough that it’s stopping me from wearing them, but I also wouldn’t want that to happen when I’m out and about.

Overall, they’re a comfortable shoe that easily fit in my gear bag so that I can bring them with me when we go camping and after races. I can see myself wearing them for many years to come.

What’s your favorite post-long-run shoe? Have you tried Oofos? What did you think?  (You may have to click on “Continue Reading” to leave a comment.)

Review: 5K Crate subscription

by lachicaruns on

Disclaimer: I received running gear to review from 5K Crate 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!

He didn’t resort to a personal protection order, but I definitely stalked our mailman for a few days as I eagerly awaited a box full of running goodies from the 5K Crate subscription service.

All of the items in the 5K Crate I received for this review.

For $59.99 per box, 5K Crate ships you a box each quarter with what they describe as “premium apparel and accessories for runners of all types and fitness levels.” Shipping is free.

Sent out every three months, each box has five to six items from brands such as Mission Athleticwear, Zensah, Epic Wipes, Nike and Knuckle Lights. And the company guarantees the items will have a value of more than $100. You get to pick a woman’s or men’s version.

As for my box, my first impression ranged from ooh and aah to wowza. My 5k Crate included:

  • Mission VaporAcitve Alpha Running Shirt ($35.95). It’s really, really pink. It’s also well made and the medium fit me perfectly. I ran with it and did yoga in it (and even slept in it). No rubbing or weird chaffing. I washed it on a regular cycle in cold water and hung it up to dry. Held up just fine.

    My 5K Crate included this nice, soft, comfortable and very pink shirt.

  • Mission VaporActive Cooling Towel ($19.99). The weather hasn’t been warm enough to try this out yet, but the towel looks well made and the fabric is nice and soft.

    Haven’t tried the cooling towel, but it looks well made.

  • Spigen Wireless Bluetooth Headphones ($45). Probably my favorite item in the box. I’d been looking for a good set of wireless headphones because cables drive me bonkers. These are super easy to use and set up. I had them paired up to my iPhone right away and ready to go. Unfortunately, it took me several tries to get the things to stay in my ears. The best thing I can tell you is to stick them in your ear, then twist them until they stay. Once I figured out how to do all that, they stayed put, even during my run. The sound is good, but I only wore one earbud in my ear so I could hear cars and other sounds. The battery life was longer than I imagined and the headphones gave me two low-battery warnings before they died. Removing the cover to plug in the charging cable was also a bit of a challenge because it’s tiny. But they charged just fine and I’ve continued to happily use them.

    I used these Spigen wireless headphones almost every day during my 5K Crate review period.

  • Zensah No-Show Compression Socks ($19.99). I’m a SmartWool snob, but I have to say that I also loved these. They’re super soft, comfy and washed well (ie, they stayed bright white and there were no loose threads). Because I run at 0-dark-30 a couple of mornings during the week, I also wore these to sleep in. I’m a big enough fan that I will buy another pair (or three!) to run next summer.

    I liked these socks a lot more than I expected.

  • 2 Epic Full-Size Body Wipes ($2.50 each). I haven’t tried these either because I’m saving them for next week’s Run Woodstock 50K. I am throwing them in each of my drop bags as a carrot to have something to look forward to when I’m exhausted and need a pick-me-up.

    Sticking these babies in my drop bag for next week’s 50K.

  • 3 La Fresh Travel Sunscreen Samples ($1). El husbando used these today at a football game since we had seats in the full sun, but they didn’t keep him from frying. That said, he burns easily and they are the perfect size to keep in a hydration pack or pocket for long summer runs.

    These sunscreen packets in the 5K Crate are the perfect size to stick in a hydration vest.

So is it worth selling out almost $60 based on what I got in my box? Yes. Am I hoping that my familia sees this post and decides to get me one for my birthday or Christmas? YES.

If you’re interested in trying out this service, you can pre-order the fall box, which ships out in early October. The ordering process includes listing your top, bottom and shoe sizes, and whether you want a box for a woman or man. Signing up for a year’s worth of boxes ahead of time saves you 14 percent, or more than $50.

Like a lot of subscription services, you need to know that 5K Crate’s terms and conditions state that “in order to avoid being billed for your next subscription—whether recurring on a quarterly or annual basis—be sure to cancel before the next billing date.”

Have you tried a subscription service before? Whatcha think? Was it worth the money? Do you know a runner who would love a 5K Crate? (You may have to click on “Continue Reading” to leave a comment.)

Running’s supposed to be an inexpensive sport because, theoretically, we just need shoes and the open road. Yeah, well, runners lie. There’s lots of gear to buy. Oh, boy, is there gear.

So how to decide where to spend your hard-earned money? I’m here for you, chicos and chicas.

Today’s Debrief item is SLS3‘s Dual Pocket Run Race Belt, which the company provided for me to test and review.

SLS3 Dual Pocket Run Race Belt

SLS3 Dual Pocket Run Race Belt

Looks

The belt is very streamlined. My sample is all-black, although it also comes in black with blue, lime or purple zippers. There is nothing flashy about the belt, unless you consider a stripe down the middle in the aforementioned colors flashy.

The belt itself is about an inch and a half wide, is made of water-resistant fabric and features two zippered pockets. The zippers worked nicely, didn’t catch and are easy to manage when running, even while wearing winter gloves. The elastic belt also has a plastic buckle which didn’t pinch when taking the belt on and off.

There’s a plastic piece that allows you to adjust belt to fit it around your waist, or if you’re a freak like me, around your hips.

I wore the belt on my hips.

I wore the belt on my hips.

Performance

I easily adjusted the belt around my hips and clipped it in place. The company claims the fit is bounce free and the belt delivered. My iPhone 6 (with a Lifeproof case) fit a bit snugly in one pocket but easily zipped up; I stuck a couple of Gu packets and one of SportBeans in the other, plus some tissues and Chapstick.

I took the belt on several three-to-six milers and one nine-miler. I barely noticed the thing and did not have to adjust it at all.

SLS3 belt close up.

SLS3 belt close up.

In fact, at least twice, I removed all of my running gear (I thought) before heading into the bathroom to shower before realizing that I was still wearing the belt over my running skirt.

Downside(s)

I felt like I was cheating on my Nathan’s hydration belt, which allows me to bring my “luggage” with me on my long runs plus a couple of water bottles. I suspect I can bring just as much stuff with the SLS3’s belt, but I probably won’t use it for any long, un-aided runs because I don’t want to carry water bottles in my hands.

I also wish it had some reflective features because I run in the dark relatively often, especially in the winter.

Cost

La Chica Runs readers can get the belt for $12.90, or 57 percent off, on the company’s Amazon store and get 40 percent off the company’s entire website using the code BLOG40.

Bottom line

The belt appears well-made, expands to fit a bunch of crap, I mean, must-have gear, and at the reduced price is a great buy. I plan to continue to use it for my shorter runs or for long runs when I know I’ll have access to water/Gatorade.

Do you have a favorite running belt? Why did you pick that particular belt?