September 2015


Welcome to the September coffee link-up! If you’re following the loop, hopefully it has been fun so far.

Growing up, I didn’t drink coffee. I suspect this is because in those pre-Starbucks days the only coffee I really had access to was either at Denny’s (one of the choir hangouts) or at home (that coffee came pre-ground in cans). Since the coffee I love now is typically some medium to dark roast bean, ground just before the coffee is made, no surprise, right?

Why yes, I would drink it with a mouse, I would drink it in his house!
Why yes, I would drink it with a mouse, I would drink it in his house!

Dad drank coffee, Mom didn’t. Each morning, Dad made a pot of coffee and drank it while reading the newspaper, sometimes with my brother Bruce’s pet cockatiel sitting on his shoulder. (He was like slacker pirate, mug of coffee not grog, cockatiel not parrot, glasses not eyepatch, and a bathrobe instead of swashbuckling clothes.) I was the first up, since I had to leave for the bus at 5:30, so I’d read part of the paper with him while I ate  breakfast. Even now that he is retired, each morning Dad makes a pot of coffee and reads the paper, though now he fills a thermal carafe (adding milk and a wee bit of sugar) to take outside to the patio in the summers, to let the dog play while he reads the paper. He’s since moved on to buying locally roasted, quality beans (thankfully!) so in theory the coffee is better.

On a typical morning I make coffee in my itty-bitty 4 cup coffee pot using four generous scoops of beans, ground just before dumping them into the filter. I heat up a cup of milk (sometimes unsweetened coconut milk) and add some quality cocoa mix to my mug before I add the milk, stir, and add coffee. By the way, old-fashioned coffee cup sets crack me up–they are like little thimbles!–I prefer my big ol’ Whirley Mug Company travel mugs. Anyway, my current cocoa love is Dagoba’s xocolatl, which has cacao powder, dark chocolate, cane sugar, chili, and cinnamon. Spicy and warm for fall. During the rest of the year I like some cocoa powder and a little sugar, with Penzey’s cinnamon. Sometimes I’ll make a pumpkin pie spice latte, using milk, pumpkin pie spices, and a dash of extra cinnamon with a grating of nutmeg. That demands whipped cream, of course.

I remember the day I first figured out why I didn’t like Dad’s coffee. Dad was visiting–I think he was in town to run the Portland Marathon with me–and I made a pot of coffee. Dad poured a cup, put in a splash of milk and sugar, took a sip, and then made the most hilarious “ewww!” face. “WHOA!” he said, “did you use the whole pound of beans in this?!??” (This, I learned, is not that unreasonable of a question: for a 10-cup pot, my brother Alex uses half a pound of beans.) Turns out I like my coffee strong, since I’m adding a lot of stuff to it and typically take it with me to work in the morning so I only get one cup. (One more reason to love my giant mugs.) Dad, on the other hand, likes to drink cups and cups and cups of coffee while he reads the paper. If he made the coffee as strong as I do, he’d be wired for a week!

Coffee in the airport
Coffee in the airport

For as much as I say I love coffee, it’s not that I can’t live without it. I’ve gone whole weeks without a single cup and while that makes me sad, it didn’t make me sluggish or give me a caffeine withdrawal headache. I suspect I have the gene variant that quickly processes caffeine, since on the weekends I’ll enjoy my mocha, finishing the pot of coffee, and then take a nap with my cat. I do really enjoy something about the combination of flavor, warmth, and texture that is unique to coffee. Breakfast tea with milk is nice, but it isn’t coffee. Chai is delicious! Also, not coffee.

I don’t have a lot of “food rituals” and often find myself traveling and eating out, or eating somewhat oddly because it is a race weekend. When I’m home, I love my little coffee ritual, and I especially look forward to the weekend coffee. When I put whipped cream on it, my cat likes to “share.”

He looks innocent while sleeping, but he wakes up when he hears the whipped cream can!
He looks innocent while sleeping, but he wakes up when he hears the whipped cream can!

How do you like your coffee? Do you have a certain recipe you follow with your add-ins, or do you drink it black? Tell me, and then head over to Coco’s post on Why Starbucks Is My Home Away From Home.  If you follow the link at the end of each post, you’ll make your way through the entire loop.

Just in case you’re impatient or get lost in the loop, the other links in the loop this month are An Eventful Weekend, Torani Sugar Free Coffee Syrup, Thunderstorms and a Warm Cup of Coffee, Free Coffee (a giveaway for national coffee day), Coffee Brain or Beer Brain, and Fancy Coffee.

Disclosure: I received a free UV Buff to review because I am a BibRave Pro. (Per usual, all opinions are my own–you should know by now I don’t need any help with that, I’ve got plenty of ’em!) Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro here. Read and write race reviews at! It’s a great way to choose between conflicting races, and help other runners.

If you didn’t figure it out from my post on the UV Half Buff, I pretty much loved it. Cliff’s Notes version: it wicks sweat, dries quickly (even when washed in a sink), holds shape/size after washing and wearing, and makes a fantastic hat liner. The folks at Buff were kind enough to let the BibRave Pro team test out a full-sized UV Buff as well. Naturally in BibRave orange, because #OrangeIsTheNewFast!

Like the UV Half Buff, the UV Buff blocks 95% of UV rays. Since endurance athletes notoriously suck at reapplying sunscreen, this is an important tool in the protective clothing aresenal. If you run wearing a visor–you know, leaving the entire top of your head, where you never put sunscreen, exposed to the sun for hours–you really ought to get a UV Buff to wear under your visor. You can’t see your scalp, so I’m pretty sure you’re not regularly checking it for suspicious spots, and that could endanger your health. (Read an article quoting University of South Florida doctors, or read about melanoma of the scalp and how deadly it is, and then go buy a UV Buff to go under your visor already.)

Just like the Half Buff, the full-sized version is seamless, soft like butter, and the patterned ones have a continuous pattern. Oh, and it seems to me there are more pattern choices for the full UV Buff than the UV Half Buff (though I’m notoriously bad at math, which is why I’m thankful for accountants and calculators). That’s important for us, the fashioned-challenge runners, who have a hard enough time getting dressed without worrying about whether we’ve got the back of the pattern in the front or vice versa. All you have to do is decide if you want printed side inside or outside. Of course if you go with BibRave Orange, there’s no pattern to worry about (and no inside and outside either!).

Also great for visibility–who can miss that orange? #OrangeIsTheNewFast

One thing I like about the full-sized Buff, it’s more versatile than the Half Buff. Since you have more fabric to work with you, can do things like make it into a hat, which is my favorite way to wear it. Basically you slide the tube over your head so about half is on your head and half is stretched into the air, make a twist in the fabric at the top of your head, and then pull the remaining fabric back down onto your head.

UV Buff, wrapped as a hat
UV Buff, wrapped as a hat

In case this seems difficult to figure out, the card that comes with the Buff includes pictures of different ways to wear it. There’s also a scannable QR code that takes you right to the videos on the website.

Back of the Buff card/packaging
Back of the Buff card/packaging showing different ways to use Buff

I wish I had brought my full-sized Buff with me when I ran the Mile in the Sand. I could have pulled it up over my mouth and nose to keep the sand out! I’m also looking forward to wearing the bigger UV Buff around my neck during sunny winter runs. (Did you know you can get a sunburn in the winter? Have you seen the “ski goggle tan-beards”?)

Full-sized Buff in Cali pattern
Full-sized Buff in Cali pattern–many colors, many possibilities

I’m such a fan of the expanded possibilities of the full-sized Buff that I bought a second one with a zany pattern. (It’s called Cali, in case you are interested, and while that one isn’t a UV Buff, it rocked as a hat-liner.) From the Buff website, here are the benefits of the UV Buff:

  • Blocks 95% of UV rays*
  • Soft, breathable Coolmax® Extreme fabric
  • 100% seamless
  • 12+ ways to wear
  • Polygiene® Active Odor Control
  • Moisture-wicking
  • Thermal protection from cold & wind
  • Quick-drying
  • 2-way lateral stretch
  • One size fits all adults

But hey, don’t just take my word for it. Rachel, Chadd, and Laura also blogged about their thoughts.

Not only will UV Buff be sponsoring the upcoming #bibchat–join us on Tuesday, September 22 at 6 p.m. Pacific time and you might win a prize–Buff has generously continued the BibRave discount code! Use BIBRAVE10 to save 10% on your purchase from Buff USA. But don’t delay–the code expires September 30!

Have you tried the UV Buff? Have you tried any full-sized Buff?

Disclosure: I received a free Plantronics BackBeat Fit to review because I am a BibRave Pro. (Per usual, all opinions are my own–you should know by now I don’t need any help with that, I’ve got plenty of ’em!) Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro here. Read and write race reviews at!

Prior to testing the Plantronics BackBeat Fit wireless headphones, I’d never run with Bluetooth headphones. I’m not sure why I thought I wouldn’t like wireless headphones, especially since I’d pretty much stopped running with music due to corded headphone issues. The ear buds that come with the iPhone/iPod are pretty from a design standpoint, but had a tendency to jump out when I run (plus if you sweat on the ones with the volume control thingy on the cord, you can kill them–Awesomeness alert: the BackBeat FIT is 100% waterproof. You can even fully submerge them. Tunes while swimming, anyone??). I’d switched to Yurbuds since they are a huge improvement in terms of both of those issues, but now those are my at-work earbuds. It’s probably my naturally graceful movement, but once I’m geared up to run they were sure to snag on something–hat, watch, Road ID, Handana–and yank a bud out of my ear.

Running without music is a drag sometimes. When I’m running alone and not at a big event, I need more motivation than I can get from just running. Otherwise it is just too easy to sit on the couch. So when the BibRave Pro team had the opportunity to test the Plantronics BackBeat Fit, I decided to give them a spin. Worst case scenario, I’d decide they are not for me and give them away. (No such luck for you, dear reader, as it turns out I love them.)

When the box arrived, I felt like it was just like Christmas! I knew exactly what was inside.

Santa Cruz? We're practically neighbors!
Santa Cruz? We’re practically neighbors!

I forgot to mention that long before Bluetooth, when most of us didn’t have cell phones and Apple hadn’t invented the iPod, back in the days before we were worried that the Y2K bug was going to cause the end of the universe, that’s when I first learned of Plantronics. The context was that I was a student at Coach U., where all of the classes are conducted telephonically via bridge lines. In order to avoid the creaky neck caused by spending hours and hours holding the receiver with your head and shoulder so both hands are free to reference materials and take notes, the Coach U. team recommended all students buy a headset for their phones. (This was a radial notion at the time.) The brand Coach U recommended as the top-of-the-line, best investment was Plantronics.

Now I have a Plantronics headset in my office for conference calls and depositions. From the context I always associated Plantronics with businesses and offices, so hearing a connection to running was quite the surprise to me.

Handwritten note!
Handwritten note!

The Plantronics team included a handwritten note inside. I really love that kind of personal touch–it makes me feel like there are people on the other side of the box and the product, instead of a monolithic corporate entity. (I have no idea whether Plantronics is a huge company or a tiny one. All I know is that I associate the name with quality headsets.)

I’m also a giant nerd, and I’m interested in packaging and presentation. Instead of ripping open the package and extracting the contents, I’ve got to examine all the elements first. Notice the sticky-note on the box not only has the social media information and a QR code, it also has a color photo of the two most important items in the box, the headset and the carrying case. (The box also contains a charging cable and instruction booklet.) The carrying case is reversible neoprene: turned one way, it’s a storage unit for the headphones, cable, and instructions; turned the other, it’s an adjustable armband to carry your phone (keys, cash, etc.) while you run.  Also, the note is color-coordinated with the box and contents in Lime Burst (the headset also comes in Electric Blue). Enough already, let’s open the package.

Here (hear?) they are!
Here (hear?) they are!

The front piece of the box opens like the cover on a book. It reminded me of the Lifesavers “A Sweet Story” packages my parents used to get for us kids at Christmas. Anyway, peek inside!

Pretty, right? The picture doesn’t quite do it justice, the color is much nicer live. Also, you can’t tell, but the piece connecting the two earbuds is flexible like a cable, not stiff like what I suppose are now “old-fashioned” headphones like the kind that came with the Walkman.  Awesomeness note: this makes them super adaptable to different sizes of heads, and you can wear them under or over headgear!

Charging is simple. First pull out the small tab to slide the cover off of the plug receptor. Plug the charging cord into the receptor, and then connect the other end to a USB power source (e.g. computer, wall-wart). Rings around each bud turn red when the power is connected, and blue when charging is complete. Final step, pair the headphones with the iPhone. Boom.

Back of the box
Back of the box

Ready to go! I read the instructions, and you’d think I could have figured this out since there are only really two buttons, but some days I am short a few clues. I put the headphones on and hit the button, but nothing happened. I tried the other button. I tried both buttons. Cut to the chase, you don’t just hit the button, you hold it down for 2 seconds. The headphones then speak to you (“Power On”). If you tap the button, they will tell you how much charge is on them. Awesomeness note: there is an 8 hour battery charge life. That means you can psych up before the race, run a marathon, and still have tunes to enjoy with your post-race beer!  To adjust the volume, you can either use the button on the headset, or you can use the volume controls on your phone. (Bonus: my iPhone shows that the headset is connected and shows the power level.)

One thing I really love about the Plantronics BackBeat Fit is that these are NOT noise-cancelling (“block out”) headphones. Wearing noise-cancelling headphones while running is a major safety hazard, because they are designed to block out all of the ambient noise, anything not coming from the sound source. When you’re running, you need to hear the world around you! Not being able to hear traffic, other runners, and race officials/volunteers is downright dangerous. Awesomeness note: the BackBeat Fit delivers quality sound while still allowing me to safely hear important environmental clues. Or as the website puts it, “Eartip design directs audio into ear but lets you hear a bit of your surroundings.”

I’ve now taken these out on short runs like the Road Runner Sports Adventure Runs, and on long runs like the Rock ‘n’ Roll Virginia Beach half marathon. So far, I love them! There are a few features I haven’t tried yet.

  • Phone usage. Use the buttons to switch between music and phone calls without fuss.
  • Armband case, because I’m either holding my phone in my hand (Adventure Run uses a map) or it is in one of my skirt pockets, so  my biggest problem is what to do with the headphones when I’m done running. I tried hanging them around my neck, but if I bend over I lose them (which could be perilous in a porta-potty!). After one run I put them around my neck, and secured them with a Buff. Another time I put them into a free pocket.
  • Apps. Plantronics has some apps in the app store. According to the website, “Our apps help you get the most from your headphones by explaining features, updating to the latest firmware, and even locating your lost headphones.”

If you haven’t tried the Plantronics BackBeat Fit and are in the market for wireless headphones or Bluetooth headphones (these are both!), I highly recommend these headphones. I love them so much I’ve committed to a year of membership in Rock My Run, now that I know I have reliable, non-tangle, headphones.

But hey, don’t just take my word for it! Take a look at reviews by some of the other BibRave Pros!


Disclosure: I’m part of the 2015 Rock ‘n’ Blog Team.  Each team member received a 3-pack TourPass (I used mine to upgrade to the TourPass Unlimited) and other perks in exchange for promoting the Rock ‘n’ Roll race series. All opinions are my own (and I’ve got plenty of them!).

Rock 'n' Roll Virginia Beach bling!

The Rock ‘n’ Roll Virginia Beach event celebrated a 15th birthday this weekend! It was my first time at the event, and I am very thankful to my friend Meghan (and her husband) for letting me crash at their house (thereby saving the entire cost of a hotel), and to Southwest Airlines (for having an awesome loyalty program that let me use my points for the flight to Norfolk). Even with the Tour Pass to eat the race entry fees, flights and hotels are not cheap!

Since there was a nationwide “slow down” on Friday (something about East Coast weather), my flight–like every other flight–was late. There was just enough time to drive to Meghan’s and catch a nap before we were up (before the sun!) to drive over to the Mile in the Sand. As we parked at the convention center, there was a veritable downpour.

Fortunately, it only lasted a minute or two–just enough time to wet down the sand, but not long enough to make mud. (Now that I’ve run the event, I know I should have wished for a bit more rain.) We met up with friends and walked down to the beach. Hooray! My first time in Virginia Beach! At first glance, it actually looks quite a bit like every other beach with significant tourist traffic: boardwalk lined with hotels, with the next street up covered in casual and fast food, and shops selling t-shirts and inflatable beach toys.

It was a novelty to see the sunrise over the ocean (since I now associate sunsets with oceans) as I walked over to pick up my Mile in the Sand bib. The wind was whipping through the kiosk tents so hard that the bibs were clipped together with binder clips, and it almost took two people to wrangle one. After running from 17th to 20th to 19th for various pictures–Meghan knew all but two people running the event–everyone piled onto the sand into a single, giant corral. While there were some mile times posted in a corral-like fashion, that didn’t really dictate where people ended up standing.  I’m betting this is largely due to the fact that running in the sand is an entirely different beast–making it hard for us non-sand-runners to estimate–but more on that in a moment.

The giant corral was released to the race course, a simple out-and-back, in waves. This was a great idea, as there were a ton of people on the beach, and releasing all of us at once would have given Competitor Group’s insurance underwriters all fatal heart attacks. (The potential for tripping hazards was huge.) I’d put myself in the 10 minute corral, thinking it was just a mile and I could bust it out.

Runners on the Sand

Right. So remember how I said running in the sand is an entirely different beast? Yeah… So I’d decided to run barefoot, after assurances from the locals that the beach is raked daily, and knowing in general that I hate having sand in my shoes. Tevas in one hand and the other on my head to steady the hat, I took off from the corral. I was prepared for the softness of the sand, which means you have to pick up your feet a bit more, and when you land the ground is unstable. (It had not occurred to me until I was running that the real trick is to run more on your forefoot/toes than on the midfoot and heel. Because sand.) I was not prepared for the lateral movement every time my feet landed. On the one hand I was thrilled I’d chosen not to wear running shoes–part of the structure of which is to prevent lateral movement–but on the other hand I felt like a tool for not considering movement in every plane while choosing a corral.

Another thing I failed to consider: “over-spray” sand from runners sprinting past me as the breezes came across and directed the sand into my face. This changed my breathing strategy (in through the nose, out through the nose, lips sealed tightly) which slowed me down even more. Wait, make that two other things. Since the great contact lens incident (long story) last year, I’ve been wearing glasses. (I miss running in my Oakleys so, so, so much.) Even with no rain and no perceptible ocean spray hitting me, my glasses accumulated a ton of salt. So much that at the end of the race it looked like I was wearing scratched Plexiglas-ses instead of clear ones. The boardwalk drinking fountains provided a convenient rinse.

While it was fun, definitely a novel experience, I was definitely over it by the time I hit the end of the mile and collected my medal (and water and chips). Then I turned back to the kiosk where I’d picked up my bib in order to pick up my beach towel. That’s right, beach towel–no race shirt here. From there I returned to watch the final finishers, every last one cheered in by the staff, volunteers, and a pretty big crowd. One was a member of the local running group, the Running Turtles, and other turtles ran back to help bring her to the finish and make sure she was okay. Another was Derek, a member of Team RWB who has made it his goal to complete a 5k every month this year.


Pretty awesome, right? After we cheered in the finishers, we headed over to the beer garden. Rock ‘n’ Roll’s beer sponsor, Michelob Ultra, always has one beer for each runner after the race. I don’t drink beer, but I was happy to retrieve mine and hand it off to one of the Running Turtles. (Hey, it’s part of my registration fee!) Dusted off my feet, put on my sandals, and we hiked back over to the Convention Center for the Expo, since I still had to pick up my bib for the half.

Per usual, pretty much no line to pick up my bib. As I wandered through the Brooks gear at the Expo, I paused to take a selfie!

Left Shark!

We were hungry after the mile on the sand (mainly because we got up super early and hadn’t eaten breakfast), so we didn’t spend too much time at the Expo. Just enough for me to stalk some shoes, snap pics for a few tweets, and buy another Buff. (I’m in love with Buff.) Then it was off to #EatAllTheFoods.

To be continued…with the Rock ‘n’ Roll Virginia Beach half marathon! In the meanwhile, see what Kathryn over at Dancing to Running thought of the Mile on the Sand!



Eeek! I wrote this post months ago and thought I had published it…must have been runner’s brain. Disclosure: I’m a member of the 2015 Rock ‘n’ Blog Team. In exchange for helping promote the 2015 Rock ‘n’ Roll race series, I received some swag and a discounted Tour Pass. To save $15 on any race in 2015 (other than Vegas), use code TrainWithBain. To bring the cost of the Las Vegas half or marathon down to $145, use code TrainWithBainLV.

This is my second year doing the Rock ‘n’ Roll Portland course. In 2013 I ran a PR on a course I swear they made by linking up every hill in the immediate downtown-to-SE area. I used to live in Portland, I know it is flatter than that course! This year it was a new course and a very different trip (I usually try to go for a long weekend, but this was strictly overnight). I flew in early Saturday, returning to my favorite airport: live music, local eats, art…and everyone’s favorite airport carpet!

The old PDX carpet
The old PDX carpet
The NEW PDX Carpet!
The NEW PDX Carpet!

At the expo, I spent a good deal of time with the super nice people of Portland Running Company talking about the Garmin Forerunner line. I’ve been trying to decide what to do about tracking my running since the Nike+ app decided to stop synching with the website and Bia closed their doors. Ultimately, I decided I really don’t want a heart rate monitor on my running watch (I already own one, and don’t need another), and they only had the 220 with HRM. After the expo I did track down a 220 without the HRM at another running store nearby (the better to buy it on sale, not pay sales tax, and get it during the rebate period).

Most brilliant display, hands down, goes to Toyota.

Toyota basically made a mini-expo right in the middle
Toyota basically made a mini-expo right in the middle

They made an interactive set-up out of multiple vehicles and assorted iPads and techie stuff. Each car had an activity with it, including one that was a photo booth! (The kid in the picture above this paragraph is looking for accessories.)

No, you don't get to see the selfies.
No, you don’t get to see the selfies.

Each vehicle also had information about the car, geared towards potential buyers. Once you completed all three activities (there was a “tour pass” you got punched at each station) you could return to the tent and collect your prize: a car charger with adapters for various phones. Brilliant, since Toyota is a car company and you’ll keep this gadget in your car and see it daily.

I also finally tried on some Altra shoes. Since I have a shoe problem, I try not to put them on my feet unless I could buy them. Most running shoes that fit my feet are over $100, and I currently have three pair in rotation (well, one is in reserve right now), but since they had “open box” shoes for $59 (and remember, Oregon has no sales tax), and they had many in 10-11 sizes, I decided to try them on. I’ve been eyeing them for awhile, wondering how much different the zero drop base would feel since I’m already running in Brooks Pure Cadence most of the time. Answer? A LOT DIFFERENT. Apparently I got a dopey grin on my face, probably because it felt like I was walking on pillows! I haven’t taken them out for a run yet (um, they look so clean and tidy…) but I will, soon.

Since I neglected to snap a pic of the shoes, here's the event shirt
Since I neglected to snap a pic of the shoes, here’s the event shirt

Also at the expo, the Church of Scientology. Ah, Portland. I guess it was to be expected, given that the currently unaccredited Delphi High School–a breeding ground for future Sea Org members–isn’t far away, that Portland is home to a pretty, renovated, historic building turned into an Ideal Org, and that Multnomah County is home to all sorts of fun suits against Scientology/ No, no thank you, I do not want to take a fake “stress test” with your non-scientific gadget that originally used Campbell’s soup cans and must carry a label stating it is not a medical device in multiple states. Thanks for keeping it weird, though. (P.S. The OTO wants the boat back, okay?)

Seem to have lost the Scientology photo. So here is me with a giant panda!
Seem to have lost the Scientology photo. So here is me with a giant panda!

The remainder of the day (and there wasn’t that much left) was a mini-nap with two cute chihuahuas, dinner, and an evening in Portland with some of my Portland peeps, doing stuff I love and miss doing.  Sunday morning came way too early. Yikes.

I’d planned to run, but then discovered my friend Holly was doing the event too. I see her once a year (or less) so I wasn’t about to run just to run–WAY better to hang out with her and walk.

Why yes, we ARE near corral 17!
Why yes, we ARE near corral 17!

Only it turns out that woman walks fast. So fast that I was actually sorer from walking than I was from the last event I did running! Very glad the weather was cool and I had my compression tights on for support. The course was not the same as the one I did in 2013, but instead spent more time in the neighborhoods.

NE Portland selfie
NE Portland selfie

We almost went by my old building, just missed it by two blocks. Spring in Portland is gorgeous, and I really enjoyed retreading my old stomping grounds. Except for the big hill.

Thought Portland was flat? You've been lied to!
Thought Portland was flat? You’ve been lied to!

We finished in a relatively un-speedy time, crossed some of the old PDX carpeting made into the finish line, and grabbed snacks and beverages. To my absolute delight, the finish line concert was still going strong! As a slower runner, I am frequently crossing the finish line within a song or two of the concert ending, sometimes after it is over. Not this time–I got to sit on the grass, refuel, and rock out!

Portugal, The Man
Portugal, The Man

Near the end of the concert, I met up with fellow BibRave Pro Allison. This was my first event after joining the Pro team, so it was great to get to meet another Pro in real life! Turns out Allison also lives in an area without a lot of Pros, so it was her first meet-up too.

#BibRave Pro team in PDX
#BibRave Pro team in PDX

Just like every trip back to my adopted home, I didn’t want my time in Portland to end. After a shower, and snacks with friends, it was time to hit the airport. Luckily there is now a Cafe Yum! so I grabbed a Yum bowl to accompany my Coffee People mocha, and headed home.

Bling and bib in airport-carpet colors
Bling and bib in airport-carpet colors

Rock ‘n’ Roll “Groupie” Bling unlocked! Stay tuned for Rock ‘n’ Roll San Diego, where I run another Remix and pick up the “Roadie” bling.


Disclosure: I received a free Zensah thigh sleeve to review because I am a BibRave Pro. (Per usual, all opinions are my own–you should know by now I don’t need any help with that, I’ve got plenty of ’em!) Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro here. Read and write race reviews at! The giveaway at the end of this post is not sponsored by Zensah.

UPDATE: I forgot to add that YOU can score 20% off Zensah products through 9/22 with code ZSBIBCHAT20!

Unlike the Zensah calf sleeves, the Zensah thigh sleeve comes as a single, not as a pair. On some level this made immediate sense to me. If you’re going to wear compression on both thighs, wouldn’t you just grab compression shorts or tights? Since runners often wear single-sided compression (just one calf) to protect a recovering injury, packing the thigh sleeve one to a pack instead of two seems logical, though I guess you could buy two and wear both.

Zensah thigh compression sleeve
Zensah thigh compression sleeve

The packaging depicts two runners, each wearing a thigh sleeve. (The calf products are featured on a similar graphic element on their packaging and on the website.) I’m not sure it’s possible for the average runner to actually run wearing the thigh sleeve. This is for two reasons.  One, the top of the sleeve tends to roll down, peeling off of the thigh. Two, because it is a compression product, the top of the sleeve produces the thigh version of the “muffin top.” Since I am an average (yet tall and not waif-like) woman, I don’t have the mythical “thigh gap” (and don’t want one, as it would look unhealthy); I run wearing shorts to prevent thigh chafing, and use Body Glide when I have shorter shorts. When the sleeve top rolls down, it exposes the interior exposed elastic, which then grips onto the opposing thigh. Further, the muffin-topping action produces increased chafing. (This isn’t unique to this product–I had the same problem back when I wore a Body Media device, which has an elastic band that goes around the upper arm.)

Initially I wanted to get a picture of the thigh sleeve on my body, so you’d be able to see exactly what I mean. Given the location of the product, however, it is very hard to do so without getting some rather dicey real estate into the photo. (Also, let’s face it, none of you want to see my thigh-muffin.) Instead, I give you a photo of the sleeve, and one with the top rolling down a bit, so you can at least better picture what I mean.

Thigh compression sleeve, flat
Thigh compression sleeve, flat

If you have the very-low-body-fat-percentage type of build of a professional runner, you may not run into these issues. In fact, I think this product was designed with exactly that body type in mind. (I can’t confirm this, but it is my suspicion based on my experience of it.) I thought of this since I had an almost comical attempt to get the sleeve on and into place. I wondered if I had ordered the wrong size (double checked the chart and nope, per my thigh measurement I should have used the L/XL). If you click over to the Zensah website (link above) you can see that the models have somewhat chiseled legs (not a lot of body fat). This also means the thigh sleeve is probably not an option for heavy-set, larger-bodied runners.

That said, so far all of the reviews by customers on the website are positive, and the sleeve has performed as expected for them. As with any type of wearable, your mileage may vary based on the size and shape of your body.

Thigh compressions sleeve, top rolling down
Thigh compressions sleeve, top    rolling down

If you wear tights over the top of the sleeve, you may not experience these issues. Note that I haven’t tried this–it’s been hot and humid everywhere I’ve been since I got the sleeve to test–but it seems like it should work, though I imagine reassembling yourself after using a porta potty would be difficult. I’m going to give it a shot once the weather cools a bit.

I’m planning to buy 2.5″ thick elastic–the kind I used to strap over my Irish “hard” shoes to ensure a snug fit through the arch–and add it to the top of the sleeve, under the gripping elastic. That kind of elastic yields to no man or woman or thigh. While I haven’t had a chance to do this yet, and the average runner reading this likely doesn’t have the sewing background I do, I think it will help the sleeve work better for my thight.

Another fix would be to use a quality stretch kinesio tape (like Go Tape) to secure the top of the sleeve in place after putting it on. Since taping could potentially cause a restriction, like putting a rubber band over the muscle, I would not recommend running with the sleeve taped in this way.

A bunch of other BibRave Pro team members also tried out the Zensah thigh compression sleeve. Read what they thought about it:

Overall, I think this product has promise, but in its current incarnation it doesn’t work for me without some kind of intervention (e.g. my planned elastic fix, tape, tights, etc.). On the upside, the Pro team gave some feedback to Zensah, and they seem genuinely interested in improving the product. Still, I really like the calf sleeves better, especially because I now own two pair that are the white with red and blue. So when I inevitably lose one, I’ll still have a pair!

Speaking of sleeves, I won a pair of Zensah calf sleeves at the Berkeley Adventure Run at Road Runner Sports a little while ago. Sadly, I forgot to check the size and they are size S/M (I need M/L). Since I feel like a doofus trying to exchange an item I won over a month ago, I’m going to give it away here instead.

wednesday linkup

Important notes! This giveaway is NOT sponsored by Zensah in any way. (They just happen to have made the prize.) The prize is a set of black Zensah calf sleeves in size S/M. I will mail it to the winner–be patient! I have a crazy work month ahead of me, so the trip to the post office might not happen instantly.

Also, this giveaway is linked to the #WinAllThePrizes Wednesday Giveaway Roundup. Check out the rest of the goods at Running with SD Mom and Erica Finds… to enter to win all sorts of blogger giveaways.




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