A prior edition of my gift guide focused on safety. This one is all about the essentials: stuff all runners (and other distance athletes) need. While we don’t all come up with the same solutions, we all face similar problems. Whether it’s too much humidity or extra clothes in winter, chafe happens. For men, there’s the dreaded nipple chafing (though chafe happens in some much less pleasant places, from what I’m told). For the vast majority of women, there’s also bra chafing and that problem when your thighs get chatty with each other. Then there’s the grumbly in your tumbly, which might demand food immediately, but then want to chuck it right back up if you’re still running. Finally, there are the things you always need but don’t always remember you need. Here’s my roundup:
Nip Chafing in the Bud
See what I did there? Or not. (Maybe it was funnier in my head.) Squirrels Nut Butter. It’s a miracle. It’s the Alice in Wonderland version of a body slide product: not too waxy, not too melty. You have a variety of options including a stick (less messy), tin (reusable?), and a compostable tube. There’s also a vegan version. As long as you’re shopping for what they call “adventure lube,” you might as well get some Happie Toes, which is a lovely product to moisturize and protect your feet. I like to put a little bit on my feet before bed.
If your chafing is of the covered-by-your-undies variety, there’s nothing better than Boudreaux’s Butt Paste. Yes, friends, this is a diaper rash cream. It comes in a variety of formulas and package sizes, all of which are equally good as far as I’m concerned. I tend to buy the smaller package, which is less cost-effective but more likely to be carry-on friendly. BONUS: you can buy this at the drugstore or grocery store, making it a thoughtful buy if you’re shopping at the last minute.
Especially pertinent during winter: chapped lips. (In case you’re not a runner, running often requires you to use both your nose and your mouth to breathe, and in the winter that’s a recipe for painful chopped lips.) Of course you can also get sunburned lips if you go out in nice weather with bare lips. Yucky. Most folks are not picky about their lip balms, and I’ve got one stashed in each of my running belts/bags, so this is potentially another good “oops forgot to shop but thought about it” stocking stuffer, as there are all sorts of options at the drugstore. Avoid the oversized cutesy containers, and “pot” or tin style packaging (harder to use while running). My absolute favorite–it’s a splurge at more than $20–is Fresh Sugar Lip Balm. https://www.fresh.com/us/lip-care/sugar-lip-balm-H00006232.html It is also available at Ulta, Sephora, and a variety of other retailers.
Snacks For Days!
Okay so technically not a snack, but Run Gum is definitely something your run-love needs. Think all the caffeine of a cup of coffee to make you go, but NOT the part of the coffee that makes you, um, “go.” Also way more portable than coffee in terms of carrying stuff with you when you go for a run. Like it’s light enough to stuff in even the smallest pocket, or tape to the back of your bib. (You can even recycle the gum and the package if you buy a Terracycle box.) I’m still completely confused as to how it works, but you can click here to shop Run Gum on my groupshop. Otherwise, check out www.rungum.com or look for it at Target and Walmart.
When I first started running, there were not many options for gel, which we called “goo” (based on a similar-sounding brand name). You’re supposed to consume 8 oz. of water with most of them, which was hard to do, and so many of them just made icky lumps in my tummy. One brand made gels in flavors I found delicious, but which inevitably made me puke later. Then I found Honey Stinger (and I’m now a proud member of the Hive!). Honey Stinger makes honey-based gels that I found WAY easier to eat and digest. I’m also a huge fan of the Honey Stinger waffle as a pre-race snack (there are gluten-free ones too!), especially where it might be an hour or more between when I leave home/hotel and when my corral gets near the starting line. Pro tip: use medical tape to put the waffle on the back of your bib to avoid mashing it up. Honey Stinger makes a full line of hydration products, chews, and some super yummy nut bars. Check your local running store or head to https://honeystinger.com/
If you’re not sure what your run-love likes, or they are new to sports and don’t know what they like, head to The Feed and buy them a gift card. I’ve been Fueled By The Feed for about a year (see forthcoming post on their awesomeness). The Feed carries a wide range of brands (including Run Gum and Honey Stinger) and you can shop by brand or type of product. Several categories have a budget-friendly sampler pack where you can try the top sellers (say, the top nine hydration products). Once you’ve made a purchase, The Feed will send you discounts for the products you’ve purchased, and suggest others that you may like. In addition to fuel and supplements, The Feed also carries a selection of gear, and issues a series of customizable water bottles.
Things You Always Need (But Don’t Always Remember You Need)
There are cheap fabric-tubes that brands give away, and then there is Buff. If you’ve seen the TV show Survivor, you’ve seen each tribe with a distinctive Buff design that they wear as a hat, headband, tube top, and more. I’ve written all about Buff before (check out my review here), including the fantastic UV-protection Buff (all about that here), and the half-sized Buff (I love that too). I prefer a full-sized Buff for any event where I need to tame my mane, as I make it into a cap under my hat or visor; a half-size when I run with a ponytail; and the headband for hot yoga. Buff also makes other functional protective products, including a balaclava.
Gloves. At bigger races, runners often line up quite some time before the race actually starts. This is practical–if 20,000 people all wait until 6:50 to try to get in line, the race cannot start at 7:00–but also annoying when it is cold outside. Many runners wear “tosser” clothes to the start line, with the intent to peel off their top layer of sweatpants, jackets, gloves, etc. either at the stating line or during the first mile. (Larger races have volunteers collect tosser items, which are then laundered and donated to charity partners. Since many runners buy tosser shirts and sweats at Goodwill, you can think of this as recycling?) While many runners wear very nice insulated gloves for long winter runs, few runners keep their gloves much past the starting line from spring through fall. Those 99 cent stretchy gloves you find at Target or the dollar stores? Fantastic tosser gloves. (If your run-love is a social media maven, they can snip the tip off of one index finger so their phone will work.) Also great are the oversized oatmeal-colored cotton gardening gloves from the hardware store.
NoSo Patches. I had no idea I needed these until I found them. You know how fancy outdoor fabrics, or even nylon camping gear, sometimes hits a bad snag? I have a lovely winter Columbia jacket, the kind with an outer shell and a zip-in fleece, and there’s nothing wrong with it…but it has developed a small chafed spot that’s turning into a hole. (To be fair, I got this jacket in 2002.) My inner environmentalist wasn’t excited about tossing a jacket that still has a lot of use left in it, and my ever-present fussbudget couldn’t find one I liked better anyway. NoSo was born of a similar incident (the founder tore a brand new jacket). I love that it is a woman-owned company and that the products exist to help you use your gear for longer. Just like the name says, you don’t sew the patches–they stick on, and you set them with heat. My jacked only needs one patch (I picked an X-shaped patch inspired by “Starry Night” since my jacket is blue and grey) but I bought four. Just in case. https://nosopatches.com/
What Is YOUR “Must Have” Essential?
Are you a runner or other distance athlete, or buying gifts for someone who is? What’s on your list?
Pelton has been dripping news about their forthcoming rower, so the fact that it exists is not a surprise. What is a surprise? OMG, the price tag!
Introducing Peloton Row
Today I got an email announcing I could order my very own Peloton Rower. I love how the email is titled “Everything to Know About Peloton Row” but there’s nothing in the email that even hints at the price (minus “click here to pre-order”). So spoiler alert: you don’t need to know the price of Peloton Row? Turns out it costs $3195 PLUS another $44/month for the app. OUCH. For an additional $75 you can get a row mat and a branded water bottle. You can also “bundle and save” if you choose the more expensive packages. As of today, the website lists a $3520 package with a workout mat, dumbbells, and a heart rate monitor. For another $50 you get that plus yoga blocks and a yoga strap.
Now I can’t deny the Peloton rower meets the Peloton aesthetic, much like every new Apple gadget has similar design elements. I’ve seen some photos of the “stowed” position of the rower (where it is standing on the front end while not in use) and while it looks a bit nicer than my Water Rower does while standing on end, it doesn’t seem to have a smaller footprint (or to look any less out-of-place).
I Love My CityRow Water Rower
I already own a rower, so I’m not in the market for another. Even if I were, I’m not sure I’d even consider the Peloton due to the price point. I greatly prefer the feel of water resistance and am very happy I went with Water Rower. Yes, I bought the CityRow branded model (R.I.P. CityRow Portland). I think I paid $1295? The “regular price” had been $1495 until CityRow launched the Max Rower with an integrated screen (the Classic has an adjustable arm to hold a tablet or phone though I’m planning to remove that) at the “regular price” of $2195. Clearly at least CityRow is paying attention, as you can now buy the Classic Rower for $1000 and the Max is $1495–less than half the price of a Peloton Row.
After exploring rowers I chose this one because I wanted the specific combination of features (lower to the ground rail, better model “computer” than is on the comparable basic Water Rower model). Since I either screencast apps from my iPhone to my Apple TV or use an app that is available on Apple TV (CityRow is not, presumably because they want you to buy the rower with the integrated monitor), I consume my content from the giant screen I mounted on my wall. I can use it with any app (and there are a bunch to choose from: CityRow, Rowhouse, Apple Fitness+, Asensei, Regatta, ic.row, EXR, ClubRow, Live Rowing…and since I don’t own Peloton equipment, the app fee is less than half the price charged to a Peloton Row owner ($44/month) since if you don’t own Peloton equipment the price is $12.99/month. Sure, I’m not on the leaderboard or whatever, but I don’t much care.
Admittedly my rower did not come with white-glove set-up service like Peloton, but honestly it was a pretty easy set-up. The most difficult part was getting the rower parts up the stairs. As for accessories, I don’t need a $75 mat and water bottle combo. Under my rower is a thicker yoga mat that I got for free (rower is doing just fine on that, mat does an excellent job of protecting the floor from my sweat, which is the entire point) and I need another water bottle like I need a hole in the head. (Note this doesn’t mean I won’t ever buy another one, since The Feed keeps putting out cute customizable ones every season). If I wanted to upgrade my mat to a nicer one, comparable to Peloton but without the Pelo branding, I’m confident I could do so for much less than $75. (I bought a much nicer mat to go under my bike, and it wasn’t $75.)
What Makes Peloton Row worth $3100+?
After looking around the Peloton Row website, I’m unconvinced the Peloton Row offers double the value or features of the rower I own–or any other rower, for that matter. The website touts five features that make it a “game changer,” but I personally do not find these all that compelling.
The first three are things I theoretically care about, but already have covered. (1) “Form Assist” is something I got plenty of at in-person rowing classes; you can create the same for yourself using a $10 door mirror from Target and a few classes on the CityRow app (where every class begins with a form review). (2) “Form Rating and Insights” gives you a rating after every class (based on how close you are to an optimal stroke) and promises that you can “explore your Form Insights dashboard to see your form improvement over time, understand your common form errors, and receive tips on how to improve specific elements of your stroke.” Personally, I honestly don’t see that rowing is that complicated–my instructor was complimenting my form after 2 classes. (3)”Personal Pace Targets” are a way for you to set a target pace for each of the four levels of difficulty the Peloton class cues (easy, moderate, challenging, and max). I am very comfortable rowing by feel, by my heart rate, by number of strokes, or by distance covered (the latter two both appear on my “computer”).
The other two features are not that important to me, though I can see how they could matter a lot to someone else. (4) “Hardware that Combines Form and Function” really ought to describe every rower? Peloton explained this “eye-catching piece of equipment” (and yes, it is pretty) has a 23″ screen with “studio-quality sound” that swivels (which is handy for when you get off the rower to do weight work, stretching, etc. or take a non-row mat class). CityRow Max has a 19.5″ screen, but I didn’t even bother since I use my wall-mounted TV. Peloton also brags that the seat/handlebars are “optimized for comfort and efficiency” (I haven’t tried it, so I can’t compare) and that the “electronically controlled resistance is nearly silent—making every stroke smooth and even.” Okay, but isn’t it my rowing form that should keep strokes smooth and even? (I haven’t tried every rower, but I’ve never had a jerky, uneven experience?) Also, “Row can be stowed vertically with an included Upright Wall Anchor so that it doesn’t take up much floor space when not in use.” This is true of most rowers, and as far as I can tell they all have a similar footprint when standing. In addition, other rowers do not require a wall anchor (the water in the Water Rowers provides a solid base).
Finally, (5) “On Screen Metrics and Leaderboard.” You already know I don’t care about the leaderboard. Peloton touts that “Row tracks your pace, strokes per minute, total output, distance, and more” which is…just like the CityRow app and many other apps. I haven’t tried mine with a separate heart rate monitor (my Coros watch can track that for me) though I know other apps and rowers can communicate with a heart rate monitor.
Oh wait, one more thing: apparently there are Peloton users in-the-know are part of a bunch of online forums and trade insider information (which I assume is strategically leaked). A few of them told me that initially, the Peloton rowing content will ONLY be available on the Peloton rower–not in the app–which I’m guessing is to encourage those who do not own a rower to buy the Peloton one?
Who Is The Target Audience?
Whenever new fitness equipment debuts, I always ask “who is this for?” Like what segment of the market does this [thing] appeal to?
The target is pretty clearly not Very Serious Rowers, as in my experience they all want what they have in their prep school/collegiate training rooms (and as far as I can tell, that’s the Concept 2 which of course they refer to as an “erg” and not as a “rower”). Even if the Serious Rowers don’t want a Concept 2, there are multiple other very nice rowers available from Echelon, NordicTrak, Hydrow, Ergatta, and more, the vast majority of which do not approach $3195 + $44/month, even for the fancier models. The ones Forbes reviewed in August 2022 range from $499 to $2495. The target is pretty clearly not me, since I not only have no desire to “upgrade” my current rower (again, I love my Water Rower), but when I acquired an indoor bike earlier this year I went with a very nice Schwinn (for about half the price of the Peloton).
I’ve concluded the target audience for this is limited to (1) Peloton diehards who will buy every new equipment they release (I’m sure you know people who feel the same way about Apple, or Magic the Gathering, or some other product line) or people who are already into Peloton who want a rower on the same ecosystem as their other equipment, and (2) casual rowers who only like rowing and have wanted to get into the Peloton ecosystem and who have lots of excess spending cash. (One of my brothers falls into both of those categories; he and his wife built a home gym in their house during the pandemic and despite all the money they have spent, in the long run it is less expensive than the dues they would pay to have a club with the specific equipment they want.) Plus it’s likely you’ll keep that $44/month Peloton subscription once you’ve purchased the Peloton Row; my CityRow model can’t “talk” directly to some apps (like oh, say, the one for Peloton) but I’ve been very happy with the CityRow app. Like Peloton, CityRow has strength classes, yoga, pilates, and more.
To be fair I have not tried the Peloton Row, so I don’t know how it feels. Maybe it will turn out to be a smash hit with all the prep school kids on the crew team, or college rowers? Maybe it cradles my butt like a baby, or makes me look cooler? I have no idea.
What Do You Think?
For me, Peloton is a fascinating company to follow. (I’m still sad they killed FlyWheel, but at least I never bought the FlyWheel bike–which would now be bricked.) Would it have been as successful as it is now absent the pandemic? Will the mainstream media continue to follow the company’s ups and downs?
Have you tried the Peloton rower? Who do you think will buy one? Got a “Peloton hack”?
The fall 2022 Nourished Festival is coming! This one will be online, and you can register for FREE (my favorite price). The Festival includes all kinds of classes and lectures, including cooking demonstrations, so you will have plenty of opportunities to ask questions about gluten-free and allergy-friendly food. There’s also an online expo. During the Festival you can pop into expo booths virtually to learn about each company and its offerings. Sometimes they have coupons or other discounts or show specials; many also have contests and giveaways.
Why Attend the Nourished Festival?
If you’re gluten-free or have food allergies, or are cooking for someone who is, this is a great way to see what’s new in the world of allergy-friendly foods.
Even if you don’t have a food allergy there are lots of reasons to attend the Nourished Festival online. First, you’ve probably got at least one friend who has a food allergy, whether you know it or not. Learning about food safety for those with food allergies, as well as allergen-free substitutes, will help you be prepared when someone coming to dinner discloses that they have a food allergy. Second, you’re likely to discover some tasty food for you! You don’t have to have allergies to enjoy allergy-friendly food. Third, it’s fun to watch cooking demos—and you can see EVERYTHING online, which isn’t always the case at live cooking demos. If you have kids you can use the demos to help spark their interest in food and cooking. If you find cooking intimidating, you can watch the demos to see it doesn’t have to be difficult.
As a Nourished Festival Influencer, I had the opportunity to attend a virtual meet-and-greet with some of this year’s sponsors. In addition to sponsoring the Nourished Festival, all of these organizations have great educational materials and other resources. Here’s what I learned:
Title Sponsor: Gluten Influence Group
Gluten Influence Group (GIG) is a title sponsor of the Nourished Festival. GIG’s mission to make life easier for everyone living gluten-free, and they’ve been doing it since 1974. They provide support, education, information on food safety, and more to those living gluten-free. They also have support groups all over the country, and all who are gluten-free (whether due to a medical diagnosis or by choice) are welcome. GIG’s generationgf program helps kids who are living gluten free, as well as their parents. They publish a magazine for kids and parents and hold an annual teen summit. Outside of support direct to those living gluten-free, GIG provides education for medical professionals, interested individuals, and dieticians. They host numerous free online seminars and sponsor other events. GIG has several other related projects. GFCO.org certifies products gluten-free (it’s a certification that means something!). They also have a restaurant certification, the Validated Gluten Free Safe Spot, so you can eat out with confidence. One of GIG’s newer projects is gigcares.org which helps those in need of gluten-free food with access—the cost is often prohibitive, especially now that we’ve got inflation issues. They will have contests, in-booth Q&A, free downloads including the Basics & Beyond, and information on how to get involved in their programs and groups.
Title Sponsor: Hodo Foods
Hodo Foods is based in Oakland, CA (my California neighborhood!). Hodo Foods was founded by a Vietnamese refuge—back in the day when refugees from Vietnam arrived by boat—who arrived to the US and couldn’t find the tofu products he was used to eating. The company originally began making tofu for the local farmers’ markets and is proud to continue to manufactures in the U.S.A. You can find Hodo Tofu in several Michelin starred restaurants. Recently they have started to make new tofu products for the American market, which includes new flavors and textures. (I’m partial to the spiced tofu cubes, which I put into rice and bean bowls.)
As you may know, tofu is made from soybeans, a particular mineral, and water. You essentially make soy milk, then add a coagulant—like you would for cheese. Hodo uses only non-GMO North American soybeans, and they still use cheese cloth to form their tofu. Contrary to what you may have heard, tofu isn’t supposed to be bland or bitter, it’s supposed to have a nice nutty flavor. Hodo also makes a product called yuba. Yuba is made from the thick “cream” of the soy milk. Hodo is the only manufacturer of fresh Yuba sheets in the US. Tofu and yuba are good choices for people who are not allergic to soy, but who are gluten-free or have other food allergies (since both are free of several top allergens including nuts, dairy, fish, eggs, and sesame). Hodo also makes a plant-based egg scramble, which is handy if you are vegan or have an allergy to eggs. (I haven’t tried it yet. Drop a comment if you have?)
Title Sponsor: B Free Foods
B Free Foods wasn’t able to attend the meet-and-greet I attended, but B Free is also a title sponsor. They make an entire range of gluten-free, wheat-free, dairy-free breads and other baked goods. All of B Free is kosher certified and some products are also wholegrain certified. Think bagels, rolls, pizza dough, wraps, buns, and more. They have a new pita pocket out, and they are available at Costco! You can buy direct from B Free online, where they have a subscription option and the opportunity to building your own bundles, and in addition to Costco they are available in Publix and Kroger stores. The B Free website has some very basic educational materials about Celiac disease and gluten-sensitivity, as well as recipes and cookbooks (e-books).
Title Sponsor: the EZ Gluten Test Kit
Elisa Tek is another title sponsor. If you’re not familiar with them (I was not) they make the EZ Gluten Test Kit to test foods for gluten. They also provide testing services for brands (like in a lab) to verify that brands are gluten-free. It’s important to know how a brand verifies that their products are gluten-free—and they should be transparent about who does their testing (third party verification?), how often they test, etc. Elisa Tek also helps educate kitchens about the importance of making food gluten-free when requested. (If you are gluten-free, you’ve probably been at the restaurant that brings out the salad with croutons and then just takes them off when you remind them remind them you’re gluten-free. Clearly not acceptable if you have Celiac disease!) will have a presentation about what gluten is, where it comes from, and other basics that you might not know and be too timid to ask.
Sponsor: Canyon Bakehouse
Another sponsor, Canyon Bakehouse, makes delicious gluten-free breads! The company was started by a mom who has Celiac disease. All Canyon Bakehouse products are dairy, nut, soy, and sesame free. I do eat gluten, and as a result I feel very qualified to tell you that I’ve tasted Canyon Bakehouse bread and it is the real deal. I solemnly swear if I put a regular gluten bread and an equivalent Canyon Bakehouse product on a plate, most people would be equally pleased or prefer the Canyon Bakehouse option. They make both shelf-stable (like “fresh bread aisle” products) and frozen foods. Canyon Bakehouse has several new items out, including a new brioche style dinner roll (look for it in the fresh breads aisle). Their booth will have a giveaway with swag, so be sure to stop by the expo. The website has hundreds of resources including recipes and e-books, including stuff for those newly diagnosed who need to avoid gluten. (Also coupons—super handy right now as food prices are rising, and gluten-free food is NOT cheap.) Their social media is monitored every hour, so if you need advice or have questions, that’s an easy way to reach out.
Register for FREE!
If you’re already booked the weekend of October 15-16, don’t worry. Register anyway. Pop in when you can. If you completely cannot—like you’re getting married that weekend—register anyway. Last year some of the presentations were recorded and available afterwards, plus you want to get on the sponsor’s radar (because coupons and free stuff). In 2023 plans are in the works for two fall Nourish Festivals—one at the Lake County Fairgrounds in Illinois, the other at the Meadowlands in New Jersey—in a new hybrid format! There will still be 24 classes and while those of us who can’t attend in person will miss out on the yummy samples, we won’t miss out on the contests, education, and coupons.
Disclosure: I am a happy paying member of Ridwell.I am extraordinarily annoyed at every waste management company’s attempts to stop Ridwell from recycling items they refuse to/are to lazy to recycle (which also stops Ridwell from redistributing still-useful items). Some of the companies have threatened to sue or actually have sued.
Maybe you’re like me: I try to avoid excess plastic with my purchases when I can, I try to patronize businesses that try to avoid plastic, I don’t use the plastic produce bags. Yet neither of us can avoid generating any plastic waste at all–and for us (for me, at least) it’s not a realistic option. We can’t choose how our prescriptions are packaged (we can’t even avoid the totally unnecessary plastic birth control pill dispensers). We can’t choose a “plastic alternative” if we need to use an ostomy appliance or get a blood transfusion or need to be intubated. We can’t opt out of plastic
KNOW THE RULES! I’ve lived in multiple houses, dorms, and apartments in Michigan, Pennsylvania, Vermont, Texas, California, and Oregon. In each place the rules for recycling varied wildly, sometimes differing dramatically from one town to the next one a few miles over. If you have access to curbside recycling (I remember in one place it was optional and cost extra–WTF??) I hope you’re both using it AND using it correctly. For most of my life to determine whether I could recycle a plastic I had to look at the logo with the arrows and see what number it was; mostly, #1 and #2 were a go, and the rest were a no.
Imagine my surprise when I moved (back) to Portland, only to discover that in Portland, the numbers are irrelevant and it is the shape of the container that matters!
According to the official website for the City of Portland, “When sorting your plastics, ignore the recycle symbol and number: Plastics recycling in Portland is based on the size and shape of the item. Please rinse containers. They do not need to be perfectly clean, but should be free of food residue and dry before they go in your bin.” Um, really? Yes, really.
Oregon Metro explains it this way: Ignore the numbers. Ignore the arrows. Sort by shape. These items are OK in your recycling container–rinse thoroughly.
Plastic bottles, jugs and jars 6 ounces or larger, any container with a threaded neck (for a screw-on lid) or neck narrower than the base. This includes milk jugs, peanut butter jars, and bottles that held personal care and cleaning products (shampoo, laundry soap, etc.).
Round plastic containers that can hold 6 ounces or more, with a wider rim than base, and typically contain products such as salsa, margarine, cottage cheese, hummus, etc. (no drink cups).
Planting/nursery pots larger than 4 inches in diameter and made of rigid (rather than crinkly or flexible) plastic. Remove any loose dirt.
Buckets 5 gallons or smaller. Handles are OK.
(Incidentally: the fact that I can put something into my recycling bin does not mean it is, actually, factually, really, truly, recycled. Given the absolutely abysmal rate at which plastics are recycled–check out what Consumer Reports has to say about how little plastic was recycled in 2018–I doubt it’s very much. It didn’t get better when China started to refuse loads of plastics from the U.S. It didn’t get better during the global pandemic. I’d love Waste Management, my curbside provider, to provide data on when, where, and how much of the collected plastic is recycled. Unfortunately, that transparency remains lacking.)
What I Can Recycle in NE Portland
Okay, so both in Portland and the Oregon Metro area, I can avoid using a decent amount of recyclable plastic. I use shampoo bars, Blueland hand soap and toilet cleaner, and Dropps laundry products and dishwasher soap; I put my plastic deposit containers into a blue charity fundraiser bag and take them to a Bottle Drop drop-off location (like at the grocery store).These cover the main categories of what I can put into my recycling bin. I’m a bit stuck when it comes to some of the things that come in plastic tubs.
What I CANNOT Recycle? Everything else. According to Metro, that’s:
Any plastic that is not shaped like a bottle, round tub, bucket, or jug :
NO plastic bags or plastic film of any type: pallet wrap, bubble wrap, stretch wrap (think: Amazon bubble mailers, the air cushions in packages)
NO plastic caps or lids
NO plastic 6 pack can holders (all types, including rigid plastic)
NO plastic take-out food containers and disposable plates, cups, and cutlery
NO prescription medicine bottles and other plastic containers under 6 oz (think: no contact lens solution, no travel-sized anything)
NO disposable plastic or latex gloves
NO bottles that have come in contact with motor oil, pesticides or herbicides, or other hazardous materials
NO hoses, ropes, or cords
Some of these things are avoidable, but others are not. Just try to buy a loaf of bread (the regular sliced kind, not the fancy artisan rock-hard-in-two-days kind) without a plastic bag. Or a jug of milk without a cap. It’s not like you can order online and avoid bubble wrap or “plastic pillows” entirely.
Ridwell: Supplemental Recycling
Since I can’t avid plastic bags or film, plastic lids/caps, and many of the other items, what’s a smart woman to do? Join Ridwell.
Ridwell is essentially a supplemental recycling service. Every two weeks they pick up plastic film (that’s bubble wrap, bread bags, etc.), batteries (which should never go into a landfill or dump as they release chemicals that form a hazardous toxic soup), light bulbs (samesies!), and “threads” (clothing, fabric, shoes). These are part of my core service, and I paid around $100-125 for an entire year of service (26 pickups). I have a porch box, and a (washable, reusable) cloth bag for each of the core categories. If I have more stuff than my porch box can hold, I can add a bag for $1. I also have the option to add a (separate) bag of plastic clamshells (like strawberries come in at the grocery store) for $1, a large bag of styrofoam pieces for $9, or fluorescent light tubes (starts at $4).
In addition, each pickup has a “featured items” category. A few things I remember in that category: crayons, Halloween candy, corks (like from wine bottles), metal bottle caps, plastic bottle caps, prescription medicine bottles, holiday lights, winter coats, electronics, school supplies, sports equipment, bicycles and bike equipment, diapers, bread bag tags, toiletries, kids books, non-perishable food. There have been more. It includes many hard to recycle plastics. Many of these items are not recycled, because they are still reusable; so they are distributed to non-profit partners in my area.
Ridwell sends customers a newsletter with information on what percentage of the core categories gets recycled. There’s also a blog with articles about Ridwell’s activities, and my account page links to a page about the Ridwell partners in Portland, such as PDX Diaper Bank, Children’s Book Bank, and WashCo Bikes.
So, for example, in May I got an email that informed me: ” You packed our warehouse sky high with clean, compressed #1 PET plastic. Together, we diverted over 112,000 lbs (>56 Tons) of clamshell plastic waste from landfills. Instead, the clamshells were recycled by our partner, Green Impact, and given a second life as 2 million new containers, protecting your favorite berries and snacks. This is all thanks to 25,000 Portland members, like you. Happy Clamiversary!” It also had a link where I could learn more about Green Impact. This is one of many such emails I have gotten from Ridwell. Transparency matters. (Too bad Portland’s contracted waste haulers are too busy protesting Ridwell to let their customers know where the recycling actually goes, eh?)
By the way, if Ridwell operates where you are, I think I still have a few opportunities to give you one month of free Ridwell. Drop a comment, and then shoot me an email.
Other Supplemental Recycling in Portland: James
Maybe you can’t get Ridwell where you live. I hope you have another option like James’ Neighborhood Recycling Service. James is a Portland resident who works in certain neighborhoods here. He runs a pick-up service and operates at community events. James can take all sorts of plastics for recycling, including things like cassette tapes, empty contact lens blister packs, styrofoam, straws, plastic utensils, and more. He takes electronics like batteries, lightbulbs, power cords, laptops, and more. James also accepts some other unusual, hard to recycle items including: wine corks, cereal bag liners, toothpaste tubes, floss containers, toothbrushes (non-electrical), inkjet and toner cartridges, pumps (from lotion, hand soap, etc.) and spray nozzles from non-hazardous products.
If you’re not in Portland, try running a search for local recycling options, community recycling, or similar. You might even have a zero waste group in your area that operates on Facebook, NextDoor, or another social media platform.
Plastic Film Recycling–Near You?
Avoiding plastic film is really difficult. (Bread bags, bubble wrap, etc.) Check out Plastic Film Recycling for more information and resources. To find a drop-off location to recycle plastic film, try the drop-off directory. (I found 160 locations near me, searching by zip code.) The directory also has a page for what falls into this category (yes to product wraps, air pillows, and plastic mailers) and what is excluded (no to frozen food bags, “compostable” bags, and six-pack rings).
If it seems like a pain in the butt to make a special trip for a handful of bread bags, why not reach out to your neighbors? If you have kids, they could turn it into a community service project with their Brownie Troop, Cub Scout pack, church youth group, school, or other organization.
Disclosure: I am a paying member of Caveday. The link in this post is an affiliate link; while using it does not cost you more, it may result in a reward for me.
I’m not sure about you, but I feel like the pandemic broke my focus. I’m not talking about productivity–the cult of peak productivity, much like the cults of inbox zero and work-life balance, promotes an unattainable ideal.
It’s not like there are more distractions (email and social media have always been there) but more that I’ve become more distract-able. Perhaps the lack of in-office interactions and sounds led my brain to be on higher alert for the in-home ones, or the initial days of the pandemic trained me to always be on the lookout for the next update regarding the virus or the vaccines. Maybe not seeing people in person made me crave more online interactions. Whatever the cause, the ability to sit and work on one project continuously sort of evaporated. How is it that I spent hours in the library reading hundreds of pages during law school, but suddenly I had the attention span of a gnat?
No attention span = not a good look for someone whose work requires focus and presence. After adding more quiet, device-free, screen-free time to my day, I started looking for tools to help my focus during the work day. There isn’t a quick fix, of course. In my experience, mental focus is like a muscle that needs a workout to build strength and endurance. I’ve found two tools that work like dumbbells.
What Is Caveday?
A recent New York Times article described Caveday as “paying strangers to watch you work.” (You can read that article HERE if you missed it.) This hasn’t been my experience at all. Sure, you’re joining a Zoom call and most members choose to keep their cameras on, but it’s not so much that anyone is watching you–I mean I’m sure as heck not watching anyone else–but that you’re all there working together. Think of it like a virtual office or a timed team exercise.
A “sprint” lasts one hour. You can sign up for one or more sprints, with the “three sprint cave” being a popular option. The entire schedule for the week (and a decent amount of schedule beyond the week) is on the booking section of the Caveday website. I typically sign up for two sprints back-to-back and then have a planned break (out of the cave), as I’ve found three caves back-to-back is pretty draining for me. Since I have calls and meetings, I plan my caves around those each day. If your schedule is more rigid, you might choose to sign up for the same schedule each week (you have the option to make a repeat booking of the same time and day).
You DO need your own Zoom account, tied to the email you used to register with Caveday, but it does not have to be a paid account. Sign into Zoom first, then click the link to join your sprint.
How it starts. When you arrive, the sprint’s guide will welcome you and offer tips to first-timers. Members typically change their screen name to “First Name | Location | Project Description.” Next, some sprints have a breakout room where you can check in with a few other participants; typically there is an ice-breaker question as well as the opportunity to share what you are working on. Breakout rooms are optional. If there isn’t a breakout room, or you decide not to participate, you’ll likely have the opportunity to check in via the chat function. The guide will count down to the beginning and will generally choose a gesture to begin the cave, such as a high-five to your camera or a clap. After that, you’re “in the cave.”
How it goes. While you are “in the cave,” you work on your one project. No one is watching or paying attention (though most of us stay on camera) but the designated guide is there if you have technical difficulties or other questions. Do your one thing.
How it ends. At the end of the designated sprint–usually 50ish minutes of work time–there’s a pleasant chime or musical sound, and the guide will encourage you to share your accomplishments in the chat box. The guide will typically also lead the group in a stretch or other movement. I think this is pretty brilliant, as I’ve found I need to get up and move (especially in the afternoons) to continue to turn out good work. There’s a short break (just enough time to hit the bathroom or refresh your drink) before the next sprint, so you do have some extra time to move around. Some people leave, some people arrive. Lather, rinse, repeat.
Principles of the Cave.
Eliminate distractions. The idea of the cave is to monotask. Put away your cell phone, turn off email notifications, close the extra tabs on the browser. Whatever distractions are available to you, handle them before the cave. Set up everything you need so you are ready to go.
Arrive on time. There’s something to be said for everyone starting together. It’s like you’re all on a team, just doing different aspects of the project. I feel oddly more committed to a cave when I’m there from the very beginning, from the check in. If you arrive late, the guide can choose not to admit you.
Do ONE thing. Well, one thing at a time. (I’ve often had two tasks to work on, each anticipated to last less than an hour, but I do them one at a time.) The idea is monotask. (After all that glorification of “multitasking,” it turns out multitasking is a myth.) People work on all sorts of things from discrete, defined, quantifiable tasks (“write x pages/words”), to a step of a bigger project (“outline argument for brief”), to an activity (“clean the upstairs bathroom”). Some people have a list of things that need to be done and they work through the list, one at a time. You can use the time to do pretty much anything.
Move when you break. We all know that sitting for hours on end is not in our best interest. I’m betting most people don’t act on that advice. (Same with the advice about taking time to look into the distance for 20 seconds after a long period of staring at a screen.)
Caveday: Why I Like It
It’s a game. For me, this makes working on something more like a game with rules: eliminate distractions, show up, commit to an hour, do one thing. I’m sure a lot of people are thinking, “um, can’t you just do this anyway?” Sure, theoretically. But there’s something about getting together with other people who are doing the same thing–one hour of focused work–that changes the game for me. It sounds dumb when I say it out loud. I don’t care. It works for me.
It’s like external self-discipline. Someone else is in charge of watching the clock and reminding me to stop and move. It’s not like anyone else is going to check up on what I got done though–but I do like to have a “win” to put in the chat box at the end of the sprint.
It’s flexible. I’ve been known to work non-traditional “office hours.” Caveday operates across time zones. This coming Thursday, for example, there are sprints scheduled from midnight-thirty to 6 p.m. (ending at 7 p.m.). It’s pretty easy for me to book two for the morning and two for the evening, guaranteeing four hours of focused work.
It’s something different. I like that it gives me the opportunity to interact with people who are working on something completely unrelated to what I’m doing. People make friends via Caveday and there is a robust community forum. One of the forum sections is “asks and offers” and people trade expertise and experience there. Maybe you need someone to test your app, for example. I’ve also learned some tricks and tips from other members. (It’s how I found brain.fm for example–separate post forthcoming.)
Bonuses. Caveday is also experimenting with “community caves” (that’s a scheduled small group cave without a guide) and “solo caves” (a sort of on-demand experience). There are even designated “procrastination” caves where members work on something they have been putting off or avoiding.
Special Offer: If you use this link here you can choose from one of three offers. (1) A free three-sprint cave. (2) $1 for one month of membership. (3) Three months for $40.
It is the end of summer, and my favorite fall weather is on the way! While I don’t miss paying tuition, I do miss back to school shopping…maybe I’ll treat myself to a new backpack. If you’re not training for a fall marathon, or if you had to drop out of the marathon you hoped you’d run (darned COVID-19), the end of summer is the perfect time to seek out a new challenge. This year it seems like everyone and their brother is hosting a fall charity challenge. I’ve gathered up a few of them that might interest you (and maybe your dog, too?).
The Challenge: 10,000 steps per day
The Cause: Funds raised during support Cerebral Palsy Alliance Research Foundation (CPARF), the foremost nonprofit in the world focusing on research and innovation for cerebral palsy.
The Cause: Stop Soldier Suicide provides a proactive approach, meeting individuals where they are. The team provides personalized care and continued case management, with met health support, housing assistance, resources, and referrals among other services.
The Cause: End hunger. Funds raised go to Feeding America, which delivers more than 4 billion meals each year to people facing hunger in communities across the country; they are continuing to meet the increased need brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic
The Cause: Funds raised go to Pancreatic Cancer Action Network which provides support and education to individuals facing pancreatic cancer, and leads large-scale, groundbreaking research initiatives to change the way pancreatic cancer is detected and treated
The Challenge: run, walk, or cycle with others to reach one million miles
The Cause: Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation’s mission is to change the lives of children with cancer through funding impactful research, raising awareness, supporting families, and empowering everyone to help cure childhood cancer.
The Cause: The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society is the largest funder of cutting-edge research to advance cures. LLS is the leader in advancing breakthroughs in immunotherapy, genomics, and personalized medicine.
The Cause: September is Muscular Dystrophy awareness month. A caring and concerned group of families started Muscular Dystrophy Association in 1950, and continues to relentlessly pursue their promise to transform the lives of people living with muscular dystrophy, ALS and related neuromuscular diseases, through research, care and advocacy.
The Cause: “Riding to fight kids’ cancer.” Funds raised go to the Children’s Cancer Research Fund, a national nonprofit dedicated to ending childhood cancer. Since 1981 CCRF has contributed over $200 million to research, support programs for children and families, and education and awareness outreach.
The Cause: Epilepsy Foundation of America supports the more than 3.4 million people living with epilepsy by funding epilepsy research and providing education including but not limited to seizure recognition and first aid training.
Disclosure: I bought these products with my own money, because I wanted to try them. I’m writing about them because I like them. Affiliate links are clearly identified. (If you use one, there’s no cost to you; I may receive a small compensation.)Also HEY! Look at me getting a “Plastic-Free July” post out during the month of July for the first time ever!
Replace Disposables with Reusables: The Zip-Top Bag
Single use Ziploc-style bags may seem innocent, but they produce a TON of waste. One source does the math like this: “The average United States family uses 500 Ziploc bags each year. With 325,719,178 people living in the United States as of July 2017, and an average family size of 2.8 people, that means that the United States alone uses an average of 58,164,139 Ziploc bags per year.” (internal citations omitted) The number might be even higher; this blog cites the EPA for 100 billion such bags used per year. This isn’t to pick on Ziploc–a brand name owned by Dow Chemical–because Glad’s Flex n’ Seal, and Hefty’s Slider Freezer, and Target’s Up and Up, and every other brand of single-use zipper-top bag is just as bad for the environment. It’s not just their creation–plastic bags are made from crude oil, the manufacturing process can include trips through multiple countries, and their production and transportation create greenhouse gas emissions. While zipper bags are theoretically recyclable–the Ziploc bag website loves to tout how they can be recycled–you can’t just throw them into the recycling bin (if you even have recycling bins). The percentage of bags recycled is super tiny, maybe as low as 0.2% of bags used.
Stasher. Single-use plastic baggies–whether zipper type or not–are simply not your best choice in the vast majority of circumstances. (Nothing is an absolute in this world.) I’ve started to use Stasher bags instead. Stasher is made from food-grade platinum silicone, and made to meet the higher EU food package standards. In addition to food storage, you can use Stasher bags to cook (they are safe for the microwave, stovetop use like sous vide, and more). Stasher holds up to the freezer and the fridge. I prefer to wash mine by hand in hot, soapy water (I got a drying rack with the discount bundle I bought) but you can also put them in the dishwasher.
While some will argue silicone is plastic, it is made from silica (you know, like sand) and not from fossil fuel materials. Stasher bags are reusable and have sturdy seals (but don’t turn them inside out–it puts too much stress on the seal). Even if your puppy manages to get a hold on one and chew up the seal, you can still use the bag for storage (you just can’t seal it up). Once your bag is totally useless (maybe the pupper did more than chew up the seal?) you can even send it to Stasher for recycling through their partnership with Terracycle. No plastic baggie company does that.
Stasher comes in a variety of shapes, sizes, and colors. Some bags stand up, others do not; some Stasher bags are more like bowls. You can find them online, in stores like Target, and in some grocery stores. The only downside is that Stasher bags cost a lot more than plastic baggies (but they also last a lot longer too!). My first was a snack sized bag in blue, and I paid about $10. (That was five years ago; I still have it.) You can get a better deal by choosing a set, or subscribing to their email and stalking the sales. Stasher donates a part of each sale to non-profits like Surfrider, and the Emeryville-based employees pitch in to community service projects like the Save the Bay waterways cleanups.
Ready to try Stasher? Use my affiliate link HERE to get 20% off of your first order.
Beyond Stasher. There are multiple other brands of reusable bags you can try beyond Stasher. Not all are created equal–some are less sturdy construction, others cannot be recycled. Investigate before you buy.
Replace Disposables with Reusables: The Shopping Bag
Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you probably know that single-use plastic shopping bags are a major source of pollution. What you probably don’t know is that paper bags actually aren’t that much better. The BBC points out some fun facts in this article, including that it takes more energy to make a paper bag, the extra weight of paper bags uses more fossil fuel to move them around, and paper bags need to be reused four times to make them more environmentally friendly than a single-use plastic bag–and it might not be durable enough to last that long. The Flexible Packaging Association reached similar conclusions–which you might expect, since they make plastic bags. The Columbia Climate School also reached similar conclusions about paper versus plastic, and noted that cotton tote bags aren’t that much better. One thing everyone agrees on: reusing a bag of any kind is better than getting a new one.
The key to choosing a shopping bag, then, is to pick one you will re-use. (That’s in addition to choosing one that will last a long time, and not end up in a landfill.) For most people convenience is a key factor–it’s one reason I try to keep a stack of reusable bags in the trunk of my car–so my advice is to pick bags you like and can put in a handy place. If you don’t drive to get groceries, putting the bags in your trunk won’t help.
Chico Bag. My favorite bags since the early 2000s have been Chico Bags. Initially I purchased a few of the originals, and later I received several co-branded bags as swag. It’s now 2022, and I still have the first bag I purchased. I like that I can throw them in the washing machine (but I won’t gross you out with any data on the germs and such living on your unwashed reusable bags). I’m also particularly fond of their built-in stuff-sacks (you don’t have to fold up the bag, you just stuff it into the pouch) and carabiner clips; I’ve stashed Chico Bags in my backpack and briefcase, and I’ve clipped them to my backpack, handbag, wristlet, and zipper pull.
Original bags, like the kind I have, are made from a durable polyester in bright colors. I think I chose from 4 or 5 colors and paid $8ish for my bags; currently there are 10 colors and one bag $10 on the website. (Go in with some friends on the 25 pack for $200.) The reviews for the original bags have many from others who have had their bags for 10, 12, or 15 years or more–so you don’t have to take my word for it, or rely on Chico Bag’s estimate that one Chico Bag can replace 1,040 single-use bags. The fabric used to make rePETe Chico Bag products is made from recycled plastic bottles (the PET kind, get it?). Chico Bag has come a long way since I first bought their bags. They now make may products other than shopping bags: sling bags, shoulder bags, travel bags, backpacks, reusable snack and sandwich bags, and more.
One of my favorite things about Chico Bags is that they have committed to reducing post-consumer waste through the Zero Waste Pay It Forward program. When your bags are broken (or you’re bored of them) you can send them back to Chico Bags. If they can be reused, they will be given to someone who can use them; if they are truly dead, they will be repurposed or recycled.
Replace Disposables with Reusables: What’s Next?
There are still a few disposable things I’m not willing to swap for reusables. (Toilet paper is one, though I might change my mind.) Where possible, I’m trying to “vote with my dollars” by purchasing durable, reusable items that will last me a long time.
Do you have a favorite disposable/reusable swap? What should I try next?
So far, my holiday gift guides have all revolved around running, sports, and fitness. But what do you get for your favorite person who is owned by a cat? Obviously, something for the cat.
Gifts the Human and Cat Can Enjoy Together
Anything from Purrfect Play. https://purrfectplay.com/ My old cat, Mr. Potter, preferred the wool ping pong balls (they are solid, not hollow). I remember once when Mom was visiting, they played a game for hours: Mom would roll the ball into Mr. Potter’s cardboard box, and Mr. Potter would roll it back out again. My current master, Professor Nick Sterling, rather prefers the wool dust bunnies. There’s usually one under the bed, and one under the dining room table, thought which is where changes every so often. I don’t have a doggo, but I assume the products for puppers are equally awesome. Purrfect Play specializes in toys made of natural materials that are made in the USA. Basically Pam is terrific, her products are quality, and she gives 5% back to animal shelters. So you pretty much cannot go wrong. Support a small business and get the kitty in your life (or your friend’s) some toys.
Gifts for the Cat Who Just Needs to Get Stoned
Anything from Space Kitty Express. https://spacekittyexpress.com/ Got a cat? You need some Space Kitty Express toys. Especially if your cat doesn’t seem to care for catnip. Before I got Mr. Potter, I assumed all cats liked catnip. Nope, not him. Not regular catnip. Not organic catnip. I even went so far as to get fresh catnip for Mr. Potter, and his response was to pick it out of the bowl and throw it on the floor while berating me for trying to make him eat vegetables. But then my friend Cherylanne and her cat Phasma turned me on to Space Kitty Express. Professor Nick Sterling is partial to silvervine, which I use to refill his Kick Stick, though he also likes the special blend. I also like to give him silvervine sticks, in the hopes he will stop stealing my pens. (Not yet. I’m optimistic though.) He also enjoys the refillable fuzzy mice, while I enjoy one less toy that will end up in the garbage when it loses its scent (because I just refill the mouse, and the Professor acts like it is brand new. If you have any doubt that there are acceptable alternatives to catnip, just check out the Space Kitty Express instagram feed. (Pro tip: that’s also a great place to go if you are having a bad day.) Another small business that deserves your love.
Gifts for the Discerning Decorator
The Scratchy Ramp. https://scratchypaw.com/product/scratchy-ramp/ Mr. Potter LOVED to scratch, and he took great pains to extensively “personalize” the first sofa I had. (This is why I chose denim slipcovers–easy to mend with old jeans, and automatic shabby chic cred, right?) I thought I’d try to make Professor Nick Sterling at home in the new house by getting him a ramp (he previously used a stack of boxes as stairs up to the bed) but he was NOT at all interested in using this ramp to get up to the bed, so I thought it was going to be a fail. Turns out he just needed to be incentivized to scratch on it (I sprinkled it with some catnip alternatives from Space Kitty Express). I also learned he prefers horizontal scratching (whereas Mr. Potter preferred vertical scratching). Currently the ramp is flattened out and held aloft by a cube storage unit from Target in front of a window, great for birb-watching and hissing-out the neighborhood cats. It’s scratched on daily and shows no wear after a year. The new model has a replaceable carpet deck. They also have a 30-day return period, so if your cat hates it (unlikely), you can send it back. I don’t know if it is still going on, but I saw there was two-for-one sale last week, so you might look.
Gifts for Felines with Cattitude
The handsomest cats wear bow ties. Try Business Catual https://www.businesscatual.com/ or Sweet Pickles Designs http://www.sweetpicklesdesigns.com/ for a variety of fetching kitty bow ties. (You can probably put them on a smaller dog too. I won’t tell.) Bonus: both are based here in Portland, Oregon. For kitty’s sake, please choose a breakaway collar. If your cat is exceptionally clever, he may invite you to play a game of hide and seek with collar and bow-tie as the “hider” and you as the “seeker.”
Gifts for the Cat Who Has Everything
A charitable endowment. If the cat already has everything, you can also donate cash or presents to your local animal shelter. I’m currently partial to the East Bay SPCA because that’s where I met Professor Nick Sterling, but there are any number of pet, cat, and kitten rescues that could use your help. Many keep a wish list on Amazon. You can also check your local pet shop for a pet “gifting tree” or other opportunities to donate goods to a local shelter or rescue operation.
What are your best finds for the owned-by-a-cat-people in your life? Bonus points if your recommendation is from a small business!
Disclosure: I attended the free online Gluten Free Festival as a blogger; bloggers were given access to special sessions to chat with company founders as well as previews, press releases, and samples from some companies. Because the festival was online, I did not have the opportunity to taste or try products during the festival, but I have since been able to try a few (at my own expense).
Food festivals are really fun! This year I went to my first online food festival. It’s not nearly as fun as wandering down the expo hall trying yummy new things, but I’d definitely do it again.
A Few General Observations…
Cooking Demos Online Are Awesome! Ever feel like you can’t see what the cook is doing when you’re at a live demo? Not a problem with an online demo. Disappointed that you don’t get to see the final product at a live demo? Not a problem when it’s pre-recorded–you get to see the actual thing you just saw made, not one made yesterday for show. Extra fun, the person doing the cooking can use the online chat during the demo (it’s pre-recorded, so they can comment/answer questions in the moment). My favorite was gluten-free pizza with Jenny Ching from Laulima Kitchen (she teaches gluten-free cooking and has great resources). The expo is live, and I think you can re-watch the classes? Click here through December 3, 2021.
Non-GMO Obsession, WTH?? Companies continue to be obsessed with sporting the Non-GMO label, even if they make a product that does not contain one of the few crops that are available in the United States in a GMO format (sugar beet, potato, canola, corn, soybean, summer squash, cotton, papaya, apple, alfalfa). If you pick up a product that is NOT one of those items–an orange, asparagus, rice, flour, spices, salt, vitamins–it is already guaranteed to not have a GMO ingredient inside. When I wrote to one vendor expressing my disappointment in their use of the Non-GMO butterfly of deception label, specifically citing the widespread slavery involved in cultivating the biggest brands of cane sugar available in the U.S., that vendor wrote back that they use cane sugar because it is “less likely” to be GMO. This shows the total ignorance of this individual (there is no GMO sugar cane at all, anywhere–the only form of sugar that could maybe be GMO is sugar made from sugar beets), and she did not even bother to address the slavery issue. I’m not naming names, but I’m also not buying that company’s cookies. A full explanation of what’s wrong with the Non-GMO Project is too big for this blog, but suffice to say it’s disingenuous and scammy to sell your non-GMO “certification” for use on products like salt and water. I was very disappointed to see at least 19 companies making non-GMO statements–even a CBD company when HELLO there is NO GMO-format hemp!–and another six with the Non-GMO Project’s trademark, which many in the food communities refer to as “the butterfly of deception.”
Gluten-Free Products Aren’t Just For Celiac Disease. It hadn’t occurred to me, but certified gluten-free products are often attractive to people without a gluten allergy. Gluten-free baked goods (or baked good substitutes) are often suitable for people following a paleo or keto diet. Many products that are gluten-free are also free of the top allergens (soy, peanuts, tree nuts, milk, eggs, fish, shellfish, wheat) and therefore friendly to people with other food allergies. I don’t have food allergies, but I was there to learn more about what products are available and what techniques and knowledge I need to host my friends with allergies and keep them safe.
Bain’s Best of Gluten-Free Festival Awards
Not that anyone asked, but here are my picks for best-of-the-fest. All would make great gifts, all would be appreciated by gluten-free guests, and all are safe for people with Celiac disease. Bonus: all of these are small companies you can feel good about supporting this year.
Best Product for Allergy-Friendly Travel
Going to Germany but don’t speak German? Can’t find “I’m allergic to Shellfish” in your Berlitz book? Never fear! The Allergic Traveler has customizable wallet cards and luggage tags available in 20 languages, so you can easily communicate to your server, bar tender, or other restaurant personnel exactly what you need. They also contain a cross-contamination statement. $12.95 for a set of two. www.allergictraveler.net These would also make a great gift to help keep your friends and family safe.
Best Breakfast Bagel, er, Pagel
Bedrock Bakers is a Certified Gluten-Free, Paleo, Vegan, Kosher baking company whose signature item is Pagels. I got to “meet” the founder during the festival, and he basically started experimenting with paleo baking and really wanted a bagel. He describes the pagel as “a clean, premium bread product.” A plain pagel contains cassava flour, almond flour, potato starch, organic tapioca syrup, yeast, and sea salt. They also come in “everything,” sesame, and cinnamon raisin. The products are shipped frozen and come with instructions (basically you can re-freeze or they last in the fridge for 5 days). Oh, and did I mention you can get a subscription?? And that English muffins just launched? And that there’s a recipe for French toast using the cinnamon pagel?
You bet I ordered some pagels to try out for myself (and maybe share with my friends who choose a low-carb lifestyle), though if you know me you also know I’m going to keep eating bagels. So far I’ve only tried the cinnamon pagels–tasty! A pagel is smaller and denser than a typical kettle-boiled bagel. It arrives by FedEx, semi-frozen, with instructions to slice and re-freeze promptly. My first pagel taught me that if, like me, you prefer your bagels basically blond with a tiny amount of toasting to make only the top layer crispy, that’s NOT how to cook a pagel–toast that baby much toastier. The second pagel was perfection (toasted all the way through), and I doused it in butter. I’m not sure if it is the resistant starch, but I felt full for a MUCH longer time than I do with a plain bagel.
It honestly had not occurred to me that my friends with Celiac disease have to avoid gluten in places I don’t even think to look for gluten, including spices (which do not naturally contain gluten, but might be processed on “shared equipment,” meaning equipment that is also used for wheat products). (Did you know there is gluten in some cosmetics and lipsticks??) If you don’t know whether your favorite spices are gluten-free, contact the company and ask. Or try the spice blends from Camino Spice. Divine Inspired Spice contains cayenne, cinnamon, cumin, a curry blend, ginger, turmeric, clove, and nutmeg–sounds yummy, right? The Not So Spicy variation has no nightshades, which are harder to avoid than you’d think. Add a few ingredients to Not So Spicy–cardamom, black paper, cayenne, and nutmeg–and you get Epiphany Spice Blend. Camino Spice isn’t just a company for spice mixes, though the story about the original spice mix is a good one!
During the festival I ordered a gift pack with all three of the Camino Spice blends, but I haven’t been able to test them out yet. I like to open spice blends, give them a sniff, and then experiment with them. The website also has a few suggestions if you need a place to start.
In addition to their spice blends, also check out the Last Best Chocolate Bar, spiced pumpkin seeds, and Epiphany Mexican Hot Chocolate. There are a ton of great gift options, with several gift packs such as the Divine Trio of spice mixes, but I suspect any of these products would make a great gift. https://www.caminospice.com/ and if you happen to live in Montana, available at select stores.
Best Cozy Pandemic Calm-er
One of the very best things about winter is a good cup of hot cocoa, especially if you live in a place where it gets cold. You may also know I am a HUGE fan of putting good cocoa into my coffee. Celestial Cocoa is only sold online, which is why you haven’t heard of it yet (or at least I’m assuming you haven’t–I hadn’t!). Again, if you’re not required to live gluten-free to stay healthy, cocoa is a place you might not think to look for hidden gluten.
Celestial Cocoa’s 18 different cocoa mixes are made in a dedicated gluten-free facility. Options include Hot Cha Cha Chocolate (Powdered Milk, Non-Dairy Creamer, Sugar, Cocoa Powder, and Cayenne Pepper) and Peppermint Twist. I couldn’t wait to try, so I ordered these flavors. They have adorable 4-serving gift bags that would make great stocking stuffers, and 12-serving and 20-serving bags (for bigger stockings?). https://www.celestialcocoa.com/
Have You Attended A Gluten-Free Festival?
If you haven’t, keep an eye out for both future online (or hybrid-model) festivals and (hopefully) the eventual return to “in person” festivals celebrating allergy-friendly foods.
Regardless of whether you’ve been to a festival, what are your hot tips for gluten-free gifts this year? Got a lead on a cool small business that makes products safe for those with Celiac or other allergies? Share!
Disclosures: I paid full-fare for this race and all associated expenses. Yes, I went into this race under-trained which was 100% my own fault. I’m not upset that I took a DNF (despite the 3:14:11 that shows in the race results). I AM pretty salty about some of the apparent mismanagement of the event itself, as well as the blatant lie that was the “3.5 hour course limit.” The TL; DR here is that if you are a slower runner–someone who either plans to walk large segments, is at or near a 16-minute mile pace–and want to do the full distance I absolutely DO NOT recommend this race because your chances of getting to finish are zero.
The ongoing global pandemic rescheduled thousands of races, from local favorites to the iconic Boston Marathon. While this created conflicts for some, it created opportunities for others. When I learned in April that Napa to Sonoma–one of my favorite half marathons, one that in years past sold out promptly–was moved from summer to December, I asked a friend to join me on a December getaway. I last ran this race, then owned by Destination Races (more on that later) in July 2014 and sang its praises in my subsequent blog review. I just knew we’d have a blast based on my past experiences with Destination Races in the past in general, and Napa to Sonoma in particular–gorgeous course, generous 3.5 hour course limit… Yeah, hold that thought.
Napa to Sonoma is Spendy
Let me start by explaining that this is an EXPENSIVE race. My bib was $195. (Compare a pre-sale not-Vegas Rock ‘n’ Roll half marathon at $65, or the local-to-me Appletree Half at $70-95 depending on when you register.) In order to avoid crowds at the Saturday packet pickup, I also opted to pay $25 to have my bib and shirt mailed to me. (Worthy.) I also paid $19.99 for a photo package from Finisher Pix. (In hindsight, a Bad Idea.) Add a donation to the American Cancer Society (the official charity partner) and a $20.47 Active processing fee (I’m an Active+ member, but they only gave a $10 discount) and I put down $270 before I even booked airfare, a rental car, and lodging.
To be fair, the $195 plus processing fees covers more than many half marathons. In addition to the usual shirt and medal, runners are shuttled to the starting line because this is a point-to-point course. After the race there is a wine tasting festival with live music, and each runner is given a wine glass. (Based on Instagram posts from prior years, it looks like they bought the glasses in bulk a few years ago; the glass we received this year looks just like the one from years past.) This year the fee also included use of a coaching app called Bird, free to all runners. (While I did not make full use of Bird, I imagine I would in the future–but that’s a post for another day.) That said, $195 plus fees is on par with what Disney charged for the 2021 fall half marathon–still very expensive.
What’s the Motiv?
No More Destination Races. Next, I should note that Destination Races (who I knew as the owner/operator of Napa to Sonoma and other runs in wine country) was acquired by Motiv Running. Or perhaps Motiv just bought their races, I don’t know exactly. What I do know is that Motiv Running, in turn, is owned by a big conglomerate named Black Shamrock Partners (formerly known as Consumer Concept Group). I was familiar with Motiv because they began to buy up a bunch of races that had been local to me before I moved from California to Oregon in 2017. All I really knew is that they were a big Denver-based conglomerate of some sort, and based on the rate they were buying up events in California I assumed they had some sort of venture capital or other outside funding. According to this 2018 press release, at that time they had already purchased a bunch of races the company referred to as “investments,” including “the Sydney Marathon, Love Run Philadelphia Half Marathon, Napa-to-Sonoma Wine Country Half Marathon, The Surf City Marathon and Half Marathon, The Wildflower and Malibu Triathlons as well as the Denver Oktoberfest.” You can see a list of some of their current “investments” on the Motiv website linked above. (I’m sad to learn they now own Portland’s Shamrock Run.)
In hindsight, I probably should have paid more attention to Motiv between its creation in 2015 and the buying spree they took up during the next two years. (If I had, I might have chosen a different race.) Instead of taking a hard look at the changes to the races, I was wowed by their roster of “content creators.” (The content creation seems to have fallen by the wayside, since there are no articles or commentary on the Motiv website right now.) Initially the company seemed to be all about preserving the “local race” experience–ironic, since it was in fact eating up actual local race companies–but the more recent press releases I found are all extremely corporate “identifying opportunities for growth” and not about presenting the best possible running experience. Priorities noted, Motiv.
Let’s Talk Pre-Race Weekend
Communication prior to the race seemed excellent. Emphasis on the “seemed” part. About ten days prior to the race I received an email with a very clear schedule of events, including information on the on-course amenities (water, nuun, Base gel) and a link to the detailed final participant information (where to park, etc.). The email also included links to pre-order race merchandise and wine developed for the race by Meadowcroft wines.
As I mentioned, I paid to have my packet shipped to me. Communication there was also excellent (I received tracking emails before the packet arrived), and everything arrived in November–plenty of time in advance of race day. Bonus: I got to run my race shirt through the wash.
Ominous Weather! As race day neared, I received multiple emails warning me that the weather forecast was for rain, and advising me to dress in layers, consider bringing a cover-up layer to shed after the start, and to pack dry clothing to change into after the race. At least one email also mentioned the cooler temperatures (race day high temp: approx. 47 degrees). I had planned ahead with layers for race day–long sleeved shirt, quarter-zip, jacket–and plenty of medical tape and Squirrel’s Nut Butter (to prevent blisters on my feet). I also packed a full set of dry clothes, including shoes and socks, for after the race.
Comedy Tonight! The first moment of “oh this is ridiculous” was the night before the race. I went to lay out my race kit and discovered that I had left my bib on my dining room table in Oregon. After putting it there so I could not possibly walk out of the house without seeing it. After planning for weeks to use it as a bookmark in the book I would take for the plane. D’oh! But hey, at that point it was way too late to do anything about it, and I just figured it would all work out.
Race Day: Let’s Start At The Very Beginning.
Parking and Shuttles. I personally thought communication about parking and shuttles was fairly clear, but others may disagree, and it doesn’t seem like Motiv followed through on their shuttle plans properly. In any case, this is a point-to-point course with runner drop-off but NO PARKING at the starting line. As I did in 2014, I chose to park near the finish line and take one of the shuttles to the start. There were three identified parking locations (not including plentiful on-street parking).
It was raining on race morning, as we got up in the dark and made our way from the Air BnB to Sonoma. Sunrise was supposed to be 7:17 a.m., and the last shuttle was supposed to leave at 6:20 a.m. in order to make the 7:00 a.m. start time, so we planned to arrive between 5:45 and 6:00 a.m., aka Ouch O’Clock. I had intended to park at the Sonoma State Historic Park, but the address provided (and which I pumped into Google Maps) did not lead to the parking lot, so I ended up on the street, which was fine. There were shuttles waiting right across the street from us, waiting to transport us to the starting line. Since masks were required on the shuttles–I’m fully vaccinated and have my booster, but I expect races to follow best practices vis a vis preventing COVID-19 transmission–we planned to use the shuttles.
The LOLs Continue! As I got my post-race gear bag out of the car and took out my rain poncho, I realized…it wasn’t a rain poncho at all. I’d somehow managed to pack one rain poncho (the kind you buy at Disney World when it rains on race weekend) and one…shower curtain liner. I still have no idea how a newish, clean shower curtain liner ended up in my closet packed with my rain ponchos, but I just laughed–after leaving my bib at home, I guess anything is possible!
Step Two: The Starting Line
First, The Good. The race begins at the Cuvaison Carneros Winery in Napa. I have mostly good points for the starting area. (1) The bag drop truck was easy to find–you had to walk past it to get to the waiting area–and there were plenty of clear plastic bags, bag tags, and markers available. The area to stuff and mark your bag had one of those square canopies over it so the supplies stayed dry. (2) There was another canopy nearby with coffee and enough cups for everyone. (3) I went to race day packet pickup and explained I’d made a mistake and left my bib at home, and they quickly assigned me a new one. (4) There were plenty of porta-potties.
Now, The Bad. (1) It wasn’t a great idea to leave the paved but lumpy path from the bus to the runner holding area at the winery, up a hill, completely in the dark (no lights at all and with sunrise more than a full hour after the first arrivals). I’m not sure who failed to think that through, but runners did stumble and fall. (2) Since the race organizers had repeatedly emailed the runners to warn us it was going to rain, I thoroughly expected that the race’s starting line would also be prepared for rain, with some dry pre-race accommodations–inside the winery, under some big rental tents, or otherwise a cover to keep runners dry. Nope. I get that you can’t control the weather, but after all of the extensive email advice about dealing with weather I expected the race would also make accommodations of some sort. (3) The speakers on the P.A. system were terrible. Even 10′ away they sounded like an adult character from “Peanuts” talking through a broken Fisher-Price toy. It was difficult to hear and understand the pre-race announcements, to the point where my friend with less race experience could not tell what was going on; I was barely able to piece it together based on the hundreds of races I’ve done. (4) There were a few of those outdoor gas-powered heater-trees (like you see at restaurants) but there were not nearly enough for all of the runners–by the time I arrived, there wasn’t space near enough to get warm. (This was fine by me–I brought plenty of clothing–but distressing to some of the runners who waited more than an hour for the race to start.)
Finally, The Ugly. The published starting time for this race was 7:00 a.m. I heard a garbled announcement that I interpreted as a 15-minute delay, and later heard “7:30 or 7:35” and–based in part on lack of movement back down the hill towards the starting line–assumed that was further delay. I’d left my Coros back in Oregon (charging in my office) so I don’t know what time we moved down towards the starting line but some people had been waiting long enough to need to pee again and with the porta-potties way back up the hill and no indication when the race might really start there was quite a bit of peeing in the vineyards of Cuvaison! As a slowpoke I was near the back, so couldn’t hear anything from the speakers at the starting line itself. Eventually, runners were released in groups–a smart move, to prevent bottlenecks and crowding–with a minute or so between groups. Group 6 (mine) crossed the starting line at 7:42 a.m. but I wasn’t worried since there was a published 3.5 hour time limit and there were PLENTY of people behind me–not to mention those still arriving at the bottom of the hill as shuttles continued to drop off runners after the start. (Listen, I don’t know what the problem was here, but this race has been going on for like 10+ years; to have the shuttles turn into such a cluster was pretty much inexcusable.)
Step Three: It Was A Dark And Cloudy Morning…
The Course is Beautiful. Even in the rain. Due to the point-to-point nature and limited road options there are a few features that most runners find somewhat unfortunate. For example, the course starts on a downhill leaving the winery, turns, and then immediately begins a hill climb. Another example is the transition from well-maintained, flat asphalt to a road made almost entirely of potholes; this transition happens exactly at the point you move from Napa County to Sonoma County (and you can tell because it is spray-painted on the road). Pretty minor annoyances though when you consider how gorgeous the wine country is! Even with grey skies, wrapped in a shower curtain, I loved being out on the course. How often do you get to run on a semi-closed course (the race had half of the road, vehicles had the other half) in such a beautiful place? Sure, I liked it better in the sun we had in July 2014 but I still loved the scenery.
On Course Support Was Solid. The pre-race emails identified the aid stations by mile marker and on a map of the course. In addition, the emails spelled out which aid (water, hydration, gels, bars) would be available where, and the brands, so there was no excuse for arriving unprepared on race day. I knew my tummy liked nuun, but I also brought my Orange Mud pack and filled my bottle with Hydrant. I packed Honey Stinger chews, also friendly to my tummy, for fuel. At mile 8 there were gels, bars, hand warmers, rain ponchos, and other assorted supplies. The hand warmers and rain ponchos would have been a million times more useful at the starting line so I’m not sure what the race director was thinking.
About that 3.5 hour course time limit…it’s a lie. Or at least VERY misleading. The website with the race FAQ states: “The half marathon course limit is 3.5 hours. You must maintain a pace of 16 minutes per mile to finish the race.” If you do the math, this is accurate. As far as my experience of 100+ half marathons has taught me, the course time limit is measured from the time the last runner crosses the starting line. If you’ve run a Run Disney event, you know those last runners as “the balloon ladies,” runners who carry balloons and keep a strict 16 minute pace. Other races use literal “balloon ladies” (the last runner carries balloons), though some just have a final pacer. That is NOT how this race works…
…which I learned when I was swept nearish to Mile 10, around 10:30 a.m. Instead, the 3.5 hours is measured from the published start time for the race–not even when the first runner starts! So the 3.5 hours began to run about 45 minutes before I did. The poor runners who got stuck in whatever problem the shuttles had? Some of them did not start until 8:00 a.m.!
Again, I knew I wasn’t properly trained for this race (all on me, 0% on Bird), and it was cold and wet. (A pre-race email advised, “Respect your limits. Cold temperatures restrict blood flow, which can cause muscles to contract and even cramp.”) According to the one timing mat (okay, bib scanner thingy) I was a 17:00/mile at the 10k mark–definitely behind pace, but only by 6 minutes at that point. I passed mile 8 and the aid station and was well into mile 9 when a truck pulled up and a race official told us that they “have to get the runners off the course by 10:30” and so the shuttle bus behind us was going to pick us up and “bump us forward.” Since I know how much work goes into planning a race and how stressful race day can be, I will not give a race official any smack talk on race day. So I got on the bus.
There were already a dozen runners on board. We picked up another dozen as we passed the markers for mile 10 and 11. Frankly, at that point I was disappointed–I paid $195 and had certainly not had 3.5 hours on the course–but the weather was crap and I was developing a weird, new blister in an inexplicably puzzling location on my right foot, plus again with the not giving smack to the race officials–but I determined that I’d have a good time anyway. I made new friends on the sag wagon and we all cheered each time a new person boarded.
Honestly I don’t know if they ever intended to “bump us forward” or if that was a lie too (given I boarded around 10:30, which appears to have been the actual course cut-off, 3.5 hours from the published start) but they took us all the way to the finish area. The bus dropped us off one block from the finish line (which we all then ran across and yes I accepted a medal, and no, I’m not adding this to my Half Fanatics record since I did not finish). My friend Melissa later told me that after she crossed the 12 mile marker she heard there was a head-on collision at the intersection just before that, which may explain why we were sent to the finish line. Or maybe not? The starting line was such a mess I’d believe almost anything.
Step Four: The Finish Line
Finish Line Food Was NomNom. I picked up a bottle of Oxigen water (the one time I drink bottled water because that’s all they had), a banana, Bob’s Red Mill peanut butter coconut bar, squeezable apple sauce pouch, and a bag of Sonoma Creamery cheese “crackers.” Despite the encouragement to “take as much as you want” I knew the people who were not scooped up by the sag wagon would also want snacks, so I limited my grab to one of each. I saw the nuun truck was nearby with four flavors on tap and made a note to head back. Then I went to find the gear check truck, which was all the way across the entire park–literally as far from the finish line and chute as possible.
Naively, I Expected A Changing Tent. In every race where I’ve been advised to pack dry post-race gear, there’s been a changing tent. Most races do not have such a thing, so why did I expect one here? Motiv told me to! For example, the December 7th email contained the following advice: “Check some warm gear. Be prepared for outdoor conditions at Cuvaison Winery before the race starts. Wear your warm clothes to the start and then check them at gear check, which closes at 6:45am. We’ll transport your gear check bag to the finish line so you can get out of wet clothes immediately after the race. It’s important to change the clothing closest to your body to stay warm and dry. Plus you’ll have a much better time at the post race wine festival.” Also this: “Make sure you change out of cold or wet clothes before attending the wine festival.” This seems to imply there will be a place to change clothes, no? Actually, NO. There was no place to change clothing. No tent, shelter, building, or other area to change clothes. I suppose I could have stood in the rain and changed outside in the park, but then I didn’t want to get arrested. So I enjoyed the post-race wine festival in my wet racing duds, shower curtain, and an added heat sheet.
Wine Festival! In July 2014, the wineries were distributed towards the edges of the downtown Sonoma plaza/park. This ensured that the line for one winery didn’t impede traffic flow. This time, all of the wineries were crammed into the center of the plaza. Since it was still raining, and there were zero other covered places to stand, people tended to jam themselves under the little tents that had the wine. While there were some larger wineries, I was thrilled to see smaller winemakers present as well. I did go back to get some more nuun, and I also took the opportunity to try the other Sonoma Creamery cheese crisps. Michelob Ultra was in a beer tent and since I dislike beer I wasn’t going to go there until I saw that Michelob Ultra now makes hard seltzer. Surprise! It is actually delicious. I tried two flavors (because I’d also been sipping wine and I had a brief but winding drive back) and the spicy pineapple is my favorite. I’m looking forward to finding this locally.
The only completely covered place that wasn’t crowded to the gills was the merch tent. Pre-orders were ready and waiting for pickup. I scored some new goodr, which I clearly needed because I only have like 20 pair. It was still raining, I was still wet, and after grabbing a cup of coffee we headed to Sonoma’s Best for a grab-and-go breakfast (mocha and an egger) before heading home to showers, a nap, and the Air BnB’s hot tub!
What Others Said
The following are direct quotes from the race’s Facebook page, posted in response to a race-day announcement that the company knew about the delay. I have used the initials of the names as used on Facebook (which may or may not be a person’s legal name). So far, there are no response from the race.
“Really disappointed in this race. Reeked of greed with no regard for the safety and well-being of the runners. Between the poor transportation, late start leaving underdressed runners standing in the cold rain for an hour waiting to start, and having cars driving both ways on the course, you’re lucky someone didn’t get seriously hurt. And a $200 ticket price? No thanks. Never again and will never recommend to anyone.” B.J.
In response to B.J., above, J.G. wrote: “well said. A total slap in the face.”
“Last shuttle arrived at 8 am to start after waiting an hour in the rain. Just to be told “run that way” no warm up no excitement no start line experience.. Doomed to get picked up by a van to drive us to the finish because “despite the late start” they had to open the roads. I feel cheated out of what should have been a great experience.” J.P.
“Ran this one in 2017. Enjoyed my time there, but the race was not well-managed. Would not recommend.” A.T.B.
“This was such a disorganized mess of a race. No lighting on the walk to the top of the hill waiting area. Tripped on a wire the guy was installing at the starting line as I had to use phone flashlight to try and see. Delayed start waiting 30+ min in the cold after having warmed up AND my checked bag was lost. I love this race but this was just too much. Hoping my bag gets found!!!!” W.J.
“This is the worst company – all they really care about is signing you up for next year! They actually pretended there was NO wetgear concern at all[.]” J.D.
“Stood in the cold rain for 30 minutes trying to get a shuttle… now the shuttle driver is blasting the A/C… is this a joke? I’ve run many many races… so far this one is a double thumbs down[.]” J.G.
Pre-race: Good communication, timely packet mailing. Misleading published start time and course limit. Misleading statements about changing clothes after the race.
Race Day, starting line: The shuttles were inexplicably a hot mess. Do not wait until the last shuttle, please. If you do, don’t demand a late start. It is obnoxious. If it rains, expect to get soaking wet at the start, and possibly stand around for an hour in the rain–plan ahead for this.
Race Day, post-start: Do not believe the published course limit. You absolutely do NOT have a full 3.5 hours unless the race starts on time AND you are the first across the starting line.
Course: Beautiful! Lovely! Amazing!
Post-Race Festival: Have fun!
I’m not sorry I went to this race, but this will be my last year running it. The experience doesn’t justify the cost for me (and I can run other races and enjoy wine country).
Did you run Napa to Sonoma 2021? What did you think?