Review

It had been a while, but I had promised myself I would return to the North Eastern State Trail at Aloha State Park near Cheboygan and I’m really glad I did.

Map of the North Eastern State Trail where I ran

The North Eastern State Trail was great for running.

After checking the trail map, I chose to head toward Cheboygan, a convenient 8 miles away, the perfect distance for my Woodstock 50K training plan, which is also getting me ready to run the Detroit Free Press Marathon in October (use code 2018 DETROCKS for 10 percent off race registration).

I haven’t been wearing my hydration vest because it bothers my shoulder, so I filled up the small water bottles on my luggage, I mean, hydration belt. I had my Bib Rave visor, plenty of fuel and temperatures in the low 70s.

The trail itself is crushed, packed limestone, which tried to get into my running shoes a few times. It was a good reminder to follow my friend Brandess’ advice and finally get gaiters.

Having run 26.2 miles last weekend, 16 sounded just perfect, so I headed out with a spring in my step, steady 2:1 run/walk intervals and a back-up battery in case I needed to listen to music or a book on Audible.

Everything went great. I saw deer. I drank my Gatorade and fueled every four miles. And I took lots of pictures. I should note that there is basically nothing between Aloha State Park and Cheboygan other than some fields, farm houses, an RV park and a few homes. There is nowhere to stop, get water or pee (unless you’re a dude and then the world is your toilet).

Eventually, I got close to Cheboygan and its awesome trailhead, which features a covered pavilion, bathrooms, air pump and bike tools, and a water fountain.

north eastern state trail review. It's great for running.

The North Eastern State Trail has great signage, including this one near Cheboygan.

I took advantage of the facilities and filled up my now-empty water bottles with water before turning around and heading back.

A picture of the North Eastern State Trail near Cheobygan, which has bathrooms and a water fountain. Used it during my run.

The North Eastern State Trail trailhead near Cheboygan.

By now, I’m two hours into my run but still feeling good.

Until I didn’t. I resorted to listening to a book on Audible. No big deal.

I took an extra packet of fuel. Still fine.

Then. I. Slowed. Down. Even. More.

Did I mention that there’s also no shade on the North Eastern State Trail?

I ran out of water at about mile 14. And out of juice at about mile 15, so I walked the last mile right up to the small store by the campground where I bought a regular Pepsi and it was the most delicious thing I have ever tasted. (Good thing I had stocked my luggage so I had cash!)

Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed my run on the NEST. It’s well-maintained and incredibly convenient.

I even ran on it again this morning and plan a few more runs yet this week. Which again validated my always well-stocked luggage (seeing a theme here?) when I had to pull out bug repellent wipes and then Wet Ones to clean my hands afterward. Them skeeters were trying to eat me!

a picture of my bug repellent wipes and wet ones to clean my hands

So glad I stocked my hydration pack!

Have you ever run on the North Eastern State Trail? Would you recommend it? Any tips to share? (You may have to click on “Continue Reading” to leave a comment.)

 

 

 

 

 

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 am promoting Athlinks as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro and check out BibRave.com to review, find and write race reviews.

Athlinks‘ tagline is “All of Your Results in One Place” and, boy, they aren’t kidding.

This database tool allows athletes to pull in times for races, triathlons, swimming, cycling, mountain biking and other timed sports by typing in their names into a search box. If the tool can’t find the race, you can still add the information by hand.

In the interest of full disclosure, Athlinks and I had a rough start. I created my account on my iPhone about six months ago and couldn’t, for the life of me, figure out how to get my races loaded. I almost gave up on the tool, then other BibRave Pros suggested I try the desktop version and it worked wonderfully. At the time, the company said it was working on its mobile version, so I suspect there won’t be much of a difference these days.

When I got it up and running, Athlinks pulled in all of the 17 races I’ve done — from my first 5K in 2012 to my last one in 2017 and everything in between. When you first log in, it shows you your personal records for different events and even logs your total distances (for all of your races, combined).

It also shows your personal records for each distance.

Once you find a race and add the results, you can see your chip time, pace, placement, splits and even the weather on race day. You can sort results by distance, year, category or event.

As I train for the Woodstock 50K for what will be my third time, for example, it was great to see how much I improved from my first to second year.

For someone with a Swiss cheese brain like me, this tool is a godsend because I can quickly look at previous races to see whether I’ve run them before, and track my progress.

A feature I haven’t used much is that it allows you to find other athletes and tag them as “rivals” to compare your accomplishments to theirs. So far, I’ve only added my good friend Vicki. There’s a similar feature to “follow” other athletes.

So if you want to use this free tool to track your races — and to visually see your progress all in one place — go check out Athlinks today.

How do you track your races? Would you be able to say how many you have run and at what pace? (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.)