Unless you are brand new to the blog, or have been living under a rock for the past few years, you know I’m currently a proud member of the BibRave Pro Team. (The “currently” should be read as “let’s hope they decide to keep me”!) Sure, getting to test sweet new running gear and scoring comp entries to races is cool, but what all of us love most is the BibRave community. Most of us have Tuesday night’s Twitter #bibchat penned into our calendars (that’s every Tuesday at 5 pm Pacific), and we love those race meet-ups with people we only “know” online.
For this post, I’m pleased to announce the newest addition to the BibRave community: The BibRave podcast! You can find the show notes here, but I really encourage you to subscribe to the podcast in iTunes and leave a review. (Both of those things tell iTunes “hey, we like this!”) While you’re at it, why not do the same for the podcast I co-host, Runner of a Certain Age?
To celebrate the inaugural BibRave Podcast, co-founder Tim Murphy agreed to a brief interview.
Bain: Why did you start BibRave?
Tim Murphy: The inspiration came from a race where my wife, Jessica (co-founder), spent a ton of time, money, and energy training and traveling for a marathon in Washington, DC (which no longer exists, BTW). [Bain’s comment: I can guess why!] The race was a total disaster and we kept saying, “I wish there had been a place to read about this beforehand, or to let other runners know about it afterward.” That was definitely a key moment for us. And since then we’ve had so many GOOD race experiences that we were like, “OK, there has to be a place people can learn about the good ones and the not-so-good ones.”
Bain: I can definitely identify with that! (Haven’t we all run a race where the advertising sounded great but the race was…not so much? Or a race where the timing was right and that’s the only reason we signed up, but it turned out to be incredible?) What role do you see the BibRave community playing in the running community?
Tim: The BibRave community has become an incredible source for information about all things running and racing–events (good and not-so-good), electronics, nutrition, hydration, headwear, footwear, eyewear–the list goes on. That info is valuable to new and seasoned runners alike.
Bain: Why a BibRave podcast?
Tim: I’ve personally been listening to more podcasts lately, and the medium is at a good place with growing mainstream adoption. Podcasts have been around forever, but I feel like they’ve really hit critical mass in the past few years. I actually wish we would have started one sooner!
Additionally, I like the idea of having a place where BibRave can join in on the content side of things. We host #BibChat every week, which is a ton of fun, but we don’t create much in the way of longer-tail runner content. We can’t let the BibRave Pros have all the content creation fun!
Bain: Thanks for your time, Tim. I look forward to more episodes of the podcast.
By the way, if you want to hear more from Tim and Julia (the community manager and Pro Team wrangler), check out Runner of a Certain Age Episode 75, the I’m a Raver Edition! Show notes are here. Don’t forget to subscribe to the BibRave Podcast in iTunes (something to listen to during your next run?) and join us for #bibchat this Tuesday. For more information on joining the BibRave Pro Team, check out the application and information page.
Don’t forget to follow me on BibRave.com (I’ll follow you back because I’d love to hear about your races) and review all of your races to help other runners.
Disclosure: this post is not in any way sponsored, endorsed, or otherwise connected with Monthly Java. I paid for my own subscription. I chose to write about the Arizona Monthly Java because I love coffee, not because Monthly Java paid me. (Though if they wanted to pay me to write for them, I wouldn’t be opposed!) If you check out Monthly Java, would you let them know you found them through my review? They might not notice, but it can’t hurt to let them know, right?
While procrastinating–wait, I mean researching!–on social media, I happened to run into Monthly Java. It’s a subscription coffee box and like other subscription coffee boxes, it sends you coffee each month. Unlike other boxes, a Monthly Java box contains coffee from local roasters (not big, well-known ones), and each box has two bags from different roasters in the same state. The roasters package the coffee, so it comes to your house in the same packaging as if you’d bought it directly from them (not in some Monthly Java branded package). That means you might get a pound (16 oz) or you might get 12 oz (which seems to be the most common package size on shelves right now), depending on how the roaster packages their beans.
My first box had two coffees from Arizona roasters. Also included were two bookmark-sized brief dossiers on the roasters, some supplemental material from one roaster, and a handwritten thank you note. I liked the low-key, no-fuss packaging. (Hey, I subscribed for the coffee. I don’t need or want ridiculous packaging–I want my money going into the coffee.)
Cartel Coffee Lab
The Roaster. Funny thing, I was already familiar with Cartel, a roaster based in Tempe, AZ, because they have a cafe in the Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport. (Thank god they do. The first time I flew through Phoenix there was literally NO coffee in the nearby terminals. While there’s a Starbucks in the airport now, I prefer the Austin/Portland model of putting local businesses in the airport.) Cartel included the “Cartel Coffee Lab Brew Guide” which lays out the optimal amounts of coffee and water, as well as the process, for making coffee in the Aeropress, Hario V60, Clever, or Chemex. (I have a no-frills $10 4 cup and an Aeropress, but didn’t get around to trying it in the Aeropress.) The website contains all sorts of information about Cartel and coffee in general. Cartel also included a decal, because they think I’m cool enough to have something to put decals on.
The Facts. The bookmark dossier indicated this Cartel coffee came from Coban, Guatemala from a farm at an elevation of 1400-1600 meters. (It’s not in the online store right now, but other beans are.) The beans were processed using the “washed” process. Since I had no clue what that meant, I visited the Cartel site for an explanation: “Washed coffees are popular where there is an abundance of fresh water. The cherries have an outer layer mechanically stripped off and the inner pulp is allowed to ferment for a prescribed time. The fermented pulp layer is then removed with fresh flowing water.” During my time in Guatemala, I’m pretty sure I saw the residents of El Durazno using this method on their small family plots; they had received clean water only a few months before I was there, and had previously used water carried by hand from a river.
Appearance. Cartel’s beans came in a lined brown bag with a card of coffee info held to the front of the package with a rubber bracelet type thingy (which, it turns out, was just a bit too big to be a bracelet–but it worked great for holding the info card to the mason jar I stored the coffee in.)
When I opened the package and took out the beans, the first thing I noticed is that the beans were a lighter shade of brown than most beans I buy. In addition, the beans had a dry, not oily, appearance and feel. When I put them in my coffee grinder, a few pulses revealed an even lighter interior bean color.
Taste. The bookmark’s tasting notes said “dark chocolate & cranberry.” I’m not sure I got the cranberry, but the aroma was definitely chocolate. I used my usual five scoops per pot (four cup pot, so 1 scoop per cup + “one for the pot”) method. Unadultered, the coffee had a medium level of intensity, and low-to-no feel of acidity. If you are a coffee purist you could drink this straight and be happy. If you are a coffee snob (like me) but like to mess with your coffee (say, by adding milk and a smidge of high-quality hot cocoa mix), that works out very well too.
The Roaster. I had never heard of Peixoto Coffee before, and the bookmark only told me that they source beans from a family farm and are the fourth generation in their coffee-growing family. (How cool is that?) So I went to the website, which has gorgeous pictures of the coffee fruit, and the story of the Peixoto family legacy. (Side note, ye gods do I love the internet. I can get a DIY PhD in coffee right in my living room.) One of the benefits of buying from a family operation like Peixoto Coffee is that the supply chain is short–they grow, roast it, and sell it. That means all of your dollar is paying for the coffee (and the work it took to produce it), instead of intermediate distributors, warehousing, etc. Any coffee Peixoto roasts that doesn’t come from their own farm–such as their Ethiopian beans–is Direct Trade (which is sort of like Fair Trade but with higher standards). Like Cartel, Peix0to also has retail locations, and you can buy online.
The Facts. This particular Peixoto coffee is the yellow catucai, from the Peixoto family’s coffee farm, Fazenda Sao José da Boa Vista, in Alta Mogiana, Brazil. The website has some pictures to give you an idea of what the farm l0oks like, and one of the sliding header photos on the main page shows yellow catucai–the coffee fruit is actually yellow! The beans were processed using the “natural” process. Since I had no idea what that meant, I relied on the Cartel site’s description: “Natural coffees do not use any water and are therefore associated primarily with producing regions that tend to be dryer. With naturals, the fruit is left to shrivel like a raisin before being removed through milling.” Hm, maybe this is the process I observed in Guatemala?
Appearance. Most notable to me, the beans are irregular sizes. You know when you open a typical bag of coffee, all the beans are basically identical? These beans are a mix of the size you expect to see plus all sorts of smaller sizes. I didn’t even need to put them through the grinder to see they had a lighter interior than many beans I use. They had a medium brown external appearance, mostly dry but with a little bit of oiliness. (The oiliness is evident in the empty bag.)
Taste. The bookmark’s tasting notes say “chocolate, mandarin, hazelnut” (the package says “sweet, milk chocolate, hazelnut”). I can definitely understand the milk chocolate–both from the color and the scent of the beans–and the nuttiness. I’m not sure I get “mandarin,” as I didn’t detect the tart citrus taste I expect to go with that word. To the extent “mandarin” is supposed to mean a very slightly sweet, “bright” note, that I do get. Unadultered, this coffee was medium in terms of color (using the exact same process I have described above). It wasn’t 100% acidity-free, as it did have a little citrus-like aspect to it, but the brew also wasn’t so acidic that you could feel it in your teeth. (Monthly Java does advertise that it chooses light to medium roasts, so if you fear the dark, you can still enjoy Monthly Java.) If you’re a purist, this is a fine choice all by itself. It also made a great base for my preferred coffee drink.
What do you think?
Have you tried Monthly Java or another coffee subscription service? (If not, would you?)
I’ll be the first to admit that a Monthly Java subscription isn’t cheap. Pricing for a single month is $48, paying three months at once brings the cost to $46.56 per month, and the six month plan works out to $45.60 per month. Yet even on the most expensive plan, I would save money–$48 would maybe cover a venti Starbucks mocha for ten days, yet Monthly Java brings me two bags of beans for that cost. Even adding in the most decadent cocoa mix I might use (approx. $10, lasts a month) and the cost of milk, making my drink at home still puts me ahead.
Disclosure: Amphipod provided the prize for the giveaway in this post, because I am a BibRave Pro. Amphipod did not exercise any editorial control, or provide any content, for this post. All content reflects my own research, experience, and opinions. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro, and check out BibRave.com to review find and write race reviews. It’s a great way to help race directors see what is working and what needs improvement, and to help other runners find out what a race is really like.
You are just a big bag of water.
Let’s talk water. Did you know that about 60% of your body’s weight is water? Think about that for a minute: a 200 lb. man is 120 pounds of water. You’ve got water in your cells and water in between your cells. Basically you’re a carbon-based container of mostly water.
You are what you drink (water). Everything your body uses to run contains water. Your blood, which carries oxygen and nutrients to your working cells, is 83% water. Your body fat, which you might be burning as fuel, is 25% water. Your muscles that propel you along at 75% water. Even your bones are about 22% water.
You run on water. Again, literally. Every system in your body needs water while you are running (and while you are not!). Water dissolves and transports various substances, moving nutrients into cells and waste products out of cells and eventually out of the body as urine and feces. Water plays a role in the synthesis of proteins, glycogen, and other nutrients. Water keeps you moving by lubricating your joints, and serves as a shock absorber for your eyes and in your spine (and for your fetus, if you’re pregnant).
The Sweaty Life. If you lead an active lifestyle you’re more than familiar with water as a temperature regulator. Exercise heats the body, which sends water outside of the body to the surface of your skin, so that it can evaporate and cool. The more you exercise, the more efficient your body becomes at cooling itself. Translation: you start to sweat earlier, and likely sweat more. Since each body is different, some of us sweat more than others. Sweat isn’t the only way you lose water while exercising though.
You lose water 24/7: It’s not just about sweat. Breathing also requires water, as your nose and mouth hydrate dry air on the way in, and release vapor (water in gas form) on the way out. The harder you work out, the more demand your body has for oxygen, the harder you breathe. Tissue in your nose, nasal passage, throat, bronchial tubes, and lungs is more sensitive when it is dehydrated. As a practical matter, that can trigger asthma, allergies, and COPD; if you have none of these, it still means you’re more likely to be irritated by pollen, dust, and fumes.
Sleep is dehydrating! Just think about it–you go 8 hours without taking in any liquids, but you continue to breathe, losing water. Maybe you sweat a little at night.
Dehydration is BAD. You’ve probably read that dehydration–not enough water in the body–contributes to heat stroke and heat exhaustion, as reduced water reduces your body’s ability to regulate body temperature. It’s worse than that. If you are down a mere 0.5% of your body water, you have an increased strain on your heart. (Think about it: less water, less blood volume, sludgier blood, takes more effort to pump it through your body.) At 1% loss of body water, your aerobic endurance suffers. At 2%, your muscular endurance declines; basically if you hit 2% as a runner, you are nowhere near the top of your game. At 4% you have not just reduced aerobic and muscular endurance, but also reduced muscle strength and reduced motors skills–and you’re at a risk for heat cramps. Seriously, you’ve got to keep that water loss below half a percentage point.
As a runner, you MUST be on top of your hydration game.
Water intake isn’t the whole story. You can drink boatloads of water, but unless you give your body some electrolytes, that water might just pass right through, useless. Electrolytes are compounds that dissolve in water and keep an electrical charge, allowing them to regulate the flow of water (and other substances) in and out of cells. Electrolytes form the salty grit on your face if you’re a sweaty runner (and even if you are not, since they regulate the release of water from the cells of your body). Electrolytes include: calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, chloride, manganese, sodium, and potassium.
Carbohydrates love water. You’ve probably read that for most athletes, the notion of “carb loading” before a race to replenish glycogen stores is neither necessary nor particularly helpful. But wait, there’s more: carbohydrates love water, and for every gram of carbohydrate stored in your body, you’ve also got 3-4 grams of water hanging out. (This is why low-carb, high-protein diets initially show a quick weight loss–depleting the carb stores means water goes away, plus a high protein diet contributes to fluid losses to remove urea from the body.) This is also why most electrolyte drinks have some amount of sugar or carb in them. Like to eat pasta? You’re welcome.
It’s harder to judge dehydration that you think. By the time you’re thirsty, you’re already partially dehydrated–and now you know how bad even half a percent of body water loss is. Urine color is favored by some, but you’re unlikely to see your urine on race day (I don’t know about you, but I’m NOT looking into that porta-potty!), and a number of popular supplements and foods (beets!) can darken your urine and give a misleading impression.
Top Five Tips for Building Your Hydration Strategy
Know your body. Learn to recognize the pre-thirst indicators of dehydration in your body, monitor your water loss through sweat, pay attention to how you feel during training runs and workouts. So many factors affect your hydration needs–body weight, body composition, environment, medication usage, diet, and more–that the best advice is to learn and listen to your body.
Practice good hydration when you’re NOT running. Eat lots of fresh vegetables and fruit (they are good sources of water, as well as electrolytes and other vitamins and minerals). Sip on beverages throughout your day. Like coffee, tea, soda? Current research shows they aren’t automatically dehydrating, but they are not as hydrating as other choices.
Pre-hydrate before a workout or a run. Drink a glass of water first thing in the morning to make up for water loss while you’ve slept. (Adding a lemon to it makes it taste nice, but it’s not going help you lose weight, burn fat, “detox,” or any other popular yet silly-and-unscientific claim. Watch your teeth if you take that option, lemons aren’t kind to tooth enamel.) If you’re taking a heated class like hot yoga, tank up before you go.
Test your hydration products BEFORE race day! Nothing new on race day. Seriously, you don’t want to discover that your tummy doesn’t like XYZ Hydration Brand at mile 4. Anything you’re going to use at a race, take it for a test drive. Find out what hydration the race plans to have on the course, so you can evaluate whether to use what they provide or bring your own exclusively.
Carry hydration–and emergency cash. I need sips of fluids more often than every two miles (how aid stations are frequently spaced at races) to stay fresh and properly hydrated. Once I ran a race where the second aid station, manned by well-meaning but clueless high school students, completely ran out of water and electrolyte beverage! Fortunately I had my emergency fiver, and ran into a nearby CVS.
Enter (to win) the Amphipod.
To help you up your hydration game, I’ve got an Ergo-Lite Ultra Amphipod to give away, courtesy of Amphipod. (Amphipod provided this exclusively for this giveaway; it was not sent to me for testing purposes.) It’s brand new, never-used, and only came out of the box so I could take a few pictures of it.
All of the BibRave Pros who tried out the Amphipod liked it, even those who had previously shied away from hand-helds for various reasons. Like Running for the Average Joe, most of us hated the idea of running “while holding something.” But as he pointed out, the Amphipod isn’t something you hold, it’s something you wear. Dr. Runner liked the one-way drinking valve (you have to suck on it or squirt to get the water out).
The thumb holed was a hit with Runner Transformed, who liked the more ergonomic fit. Run Away with Me liked the softness of the fabric (we all agree that chafing from stiff fabric is BAD). If you look at the various photos accompanying the reviews, you can see that the Amphipod works well on either hand, something Samantha Andrews liked.
The products are durable, and might just save your hand if you crash on the trail, as My Name Is Dad learned. Unlike some bottles, it’s also easy to clean, as Fun Size Athlete noted. That said, if you leave it in a hot car, the sleeve might discolor the bottle (as Darlin’ Rae learned). Maybe wash the sleeve first?
All of the Pros liked the amount of storage in the pocket, and The Caffeinated Runner found it had enough room to carry doggy essentials when running with her pooch.