BibRave Pro


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Handwritten note!
Handwritten note!

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

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

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

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

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

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

Back of the box
Back of the box

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

Zensah thigh compression sleeve
Zensah thigh compression sleeve

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

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

Thigh compression sleeve, flat
Thigh compression sleeve, flat

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

wednesday linkup

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

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




a Rafflecopter giveaway

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

Photo Credit: Addaday

Kelly Starrett wrote, “All human beings should be able to perform basic maintenance on themselves.” This is one of my favorite quotes because it is empowering–I don’t need another person to take basic care of my body. Starrett knows what he’s talking about, too–he has a Doctor of Physical Therapy degree, started one of the very first CrossFit boxes, founded MobilityWOD, and has trained thousands of athletes in technique and body maintenance. He’s published two fantastically delicious books on taking care of soft tissue.

“All human beings should be able to perform basic maintenance on themselves” sounds pretty awesome, but if you’ve ever tried to give yourself a massage, or work out a deep muscle knot, you know it is a bit trickier than it sounds. It’s hard to hit the right spots with consistent pressure when your arms don’t bend that way. Enter the Addaday Pro Massage Roller: multiple ways to reach those muscles with just the right stuff. The right tool really makes a difference–just ask Erica at Another Half…Please?

The Pro model has five knobby things Addaday calls “gears.” Each of them moves independently, so you can move the tool in more ways than you could if they were connected. Each of the four bigger gears is like an orb with scoops taken out of it. This design does several things. The website touts that it won’t grab hair, but I think they’re discussing leg hair there. What I noticed is that unlike a flat massage ball, the shape of these balls made my muscles feel kneaded, not just pressed on.

If you have no idea what you’d do with this tool, Addaday’s got you covered. (Though Chadd over at Running for the Average Joe found the tool pretty self-explanatory.) The website has several very helpful videos with demonstrations of the various techniques in the Quick Tutorials part of the education section. When my Pro first arrived I watched all the videos and copied the techniques. If my muscles could talk, they would say, “nomnomnom!”

The Addaday Pro is lightweight and portable, but also sturdy. During the time I’ve been testing it, I’ve taken it across the country (yes, it is permitted in carry-on luggage–though some TSA people did ask me what it is, since they were curious). The compact size is definitely a plus, especially if you’re working in a tight space like Laura over at Presently Running, need to roll in your car (no, not kidding–click here), or if you have a trip to Portugal planned, like Christine at Dr. Runner.

Carry-on approved!
Carry-on approved!

By the way, if you do carry your Addaday Pro like this, attached to your backpack, watch out for your hair. Yes, the gears don’t grab hair; but the spaces in between the gears are super into ponytails. (Especially if you have long, baby-fine, straight hair like mine, apparently. Ouch!)

Most of you reading this are probably runners, and are now thinking of this as a running tool (yes, it is great to roll out your glutes and your IT band, and that little red knob is great on the bottom skinny part of your calf muscles). But look back to Dr. Starrett’s quote; it’s not about athletes, it says “all human beings.”  You think athletes are hard on their bodies? Try driving a desk for a living!

So I’ve also taken my Addaday to work. Sometimes my poor body has to endure a week of sitting at those awful hotel conference tables, in chairs designed to stack well (and not designed to care for a human body). While I constantly hydrate, and take advantage of the breaks to stretch and move, there’s nothing like a post-workday self-massage with the Addaday Pro.

Addaday reporting for work
Addaday reporting for work

The portability of this tool makes it extra useful. Don’t take my word for it, check out what Tom had to say over at Runs and Places. You can check out some other reviews by BibRave Pros Darlin’ Rae, The Caffeinated Runner, The Sunny Side, and See Jess Run.

I have a stable of self-myofascial release tools, including a Tiger Tail, Knotty Tiger, Curve Ball, The Grid, The Nano, The Roll 8, and the full set of Yoga TuneUp/The Roll Model tools. Each of them has their own special place in my routine–er, when I am not being lazy and I get them out and do my mobility work–so I was skeptical about the weird-looking Addaday Pro. I’m really thankful I had the opportunity to test it out, as it has been especially helpful during my travels during the past month. If you’re in the market for a tool, try this one!


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

What’s a Buff?? If you’ve ever watched the TV show Survivor, you see tribe members with these matching cloth thingies. Some of the skinny-minny women wear them as bandeau tops, while the men tend to use them as headgear. I only ever heard the show’s host mumble the name a few times, and I had no idea what he was talking about when he asked for their buffs. Um, they have to turn in their butts? The teams are getting a new bus? What-the-what?

Maybe you have a few more clues and knew that he was saying BUFF. (That wouldn’t have helped me, as I would have been all like, “um, what’s a ‘Buff’?”). If you were in my boat, THIS is a Buff:

UV Half Buff as packaged
UV Half Buff as packaged, in Inked Yellow

Basically it is a piece of fabric shaped like a tube that doesn’t have any seams. You may have seen something like this, or even used something similar, but if you haven’t used a Buff, you don’t know what you are missing. Case in point: I belong to two distance running clubs that sell knock-off buff-like items emblazoned with the club logos. I found them hot and sticky to wear in even the slightest humidity. They reminded me of some of the polyester duds I sported in the ’70s. I couldn’t figure out how Buff was popular if it just trapped the sweat inside and made your skin itchy. But that was NOT a real Buff!

I picked a half-Buff, in part based on my past experience with the wanna-be-buff. (The other part is that this Buff provides UV protection, and I am uncertain I could get a full-sized Buff to sit still instead of gliding right off of my slippery baby-fine hair.) Turns out the REAL Buff is NOTHING like the pretender I’d previously tried.

Test Runs. To test the Buff, I took it on several runs. Primarily I used it as a hat-liner and head-band, sweeping all of my hair off of my neck and face, and once covering my ears (which I’d forgot to put sunscreen on). I also tried it out as a wristband for sweat-blotting. Not only did the Buff absorb sweat and quickly get it off of me, it also air-dried fairly quickly. Once I washed it out with shampoo, rinsed it, and hung it on the shower rod to dry overnight. It was soaked through when I hung it up, even though I’d wrung it out. It was 100% dry when I got back to it in the morning.

Construction. The Buff is seamless and has no edges. The material is a stretchy, soft knit. There is nothing to catch, snag, run, pull, or otherwise fall apart. Granted I’ve only washed mine about four times, but the print colors have not run or faded. Further, the good folks at Buff confirmed that washing does not affect the UV protection.

Fit and wear. I am not brave enough to attempt to wear mine as a Survivor-style bandeau. (It’s also not in the “ways to wear” suggestions!). I’ve got a big ol’ melon, and the Buff went all the way around, no trouble. When it was on my wrist I just double (triple?) looped it, and it stayed. I could also see myself wearing it as a headband (folded over a few times), or as a wind-protection layer around my neck when it is colder. Each time I’ve taken it off and washed it, the Buff has returned to its original size/shape.

Does this Buff make my head look fast?
Does this Buff make my head look fast?

Perhaps the best part? Even after multiple wears with just a rinse (as opposed to a washing machine wash), it does not stink. I sweat when I run, so this is a major bonus.

In addition to the UV Half Buff, there is also a UV Full Buff. Other Buff products include the regular ol’ Buff, wooly winter Buff, balaclava, Buff for Fido, and all manner of other cool stuff. For a limited time, you can score a discount with code BIBRAVE10–you’ll save 10%.

Buff was really generous and gave many of the BibRave Pros a chance to try out their products. (They also sponsored a #bibchat!)  To read more opinions, check out these blogs:

Disclosure: I am a BibRave Pro and received a free entry to the Foothill 5k Challenge in exchange for helping to promote and review the race. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro HERE and check out BibRave.com to review find and write race reviews!


That’s the single word that sums up the entire Foothill 5k Challenge this year. Before I became a BibRave Pro, I’d never heard of this race and I’d never heard of Back on My Feet, the charity beneficiary. The fact that there is an elevation gain of over 1000′–and what goes up must come down, so that gain isn’t evenly spread out–might have scared me off. If you’re contemplating this race, don’t make the same mistake!

I made it to the start...now what did I sign up for??
I made it to the start…now what did I sign up for??

The website says, “participants are welcome to run or hike” and they mean it. There is plenty of time for everyone to finish. Also, it might interest you to know that the first person to cross the finish line was a 15-year-old who did the whole thing in just over 20 minutes, but the second person to cross the finish line–just about a minute later–is 59! You definitely want to be there in 2016.

Such tidy penmanship in the chalk
Such tidy penmanship in the chalk

Just over 300 people finished this low-key event in Glendale. Now that I’ve done it, I’m surprised there weren’t twice as many people there. Since I don’t live nearby and was occupied with a conference in Los Angeles on Saturday, I didn’t attend the Saturday packet pickup hosted by Run With Us (one of the race sponsors). Early Sunday morning I packed up my stuff, donned a running kit, and headed over to the Glendale sports complex. Timing being everything, my tiny blue rental brought me to the parking lot just in time to take the last space in the lot (everyone behind me was sent back to overflow parking). I popped out, doused my very-pale-self with sunscreen, and headed in.

Chalk arrows led the way to everything at the start/finish area
Chalk arrows led the way to everything at the start/finish area

Registration and packet pickup at the event took place on one of the baseball fields. There were maybe ten people in line ahead of me when I arrived, and the volunteers doled out shirts and bibs with speed and cheer.

Day of race, Packet Pickup
Day of race, Packet Pickup

They had even connected the safety pins in groups of four (to pin the four corners of your bib). While there wasn’t an official, organized bag check, I had plenty of time to walk my shirt and bag back to my car before the race started. Some other runners handed theirs to family or friends. It was a pretty small field, and I think a few people might have stashed their bags under the Bimbo or YogaWorks tables near the start/finish line.

Near the registration tents, race sponsor Mizuno had a table showing off their newest kicks. I visited my new friends, the Mizuno Wave Enigma 5, since I was wearing my trail shoes. Mizuno had a deconstructed shoe with the layers separated so you can see and better understand the engineering of the soles. (I love that kind of stuff.) They also had wristbands with “Every Mile Changes You” and I added one to the morning’s arm party.

Gorgeous shoes showing off the Mizuno Runbird
Gorgeous shoes showing off the Mizuno Runbird










Break it down: the components of the Mizuno sole
Break it down: the components of the Mizuno sole
Mizuno Wave Enigma 5  you read my review, right?
Mizuno Wave Enigma 5
you read my review, right?










The sun wasn’t quite out yet, but it was easy to tell it was going to be a humid day. Due to the nature of the course there were no aid stations–there’s literally no place to put them–though the apex backed into a road where volunteers had bottled water. The announcer directed runners to the water and Gatorade table near the finish and encouraged everyone to hydrate.  Most of the runners that didn’t have hydration belts or packs grabbed a bottle of water to take out on the course.

Hydration station, pre-race
Hydration station, pre-race

Before the race, a large number of runners gathered on the baseball diamond. They put their arms around each other and I got a solidarity vibe from the crowd. While I was not close enough to overhear all of the discussion that took place, I did hear someone announce that one specific runner couldn’t be there and ask those running to remember him on their run. My impression that this is a standard Back on My Feet running group ritual was confirmed later as I walked over to the starting line and heard a recent arrival ask his friend, “oh rats, did I miss the circle?”

In addition to thanking the sponsors, and thanking the runners for coming, the announcer took a few minutes to remind everyone of the purpose of Back on My Feet. (If you’re not familiar with Back on My Feet, take a look at the greater Los Angeles area website. Similar to Girls on the Go, Just Run, and Running For A Better Oakland, Back on My Feet uses running as a medium to teach and cultivate goal-setting, commitment, and other life skills leading to self-reliance and independence.)

Camera-shy but microphone-bold
Camera-shy but microphone-bold

As the announcer explained, “the purpose of Back on My Feet isn’t to turn homeless people into runners, but to use running to help those who find themselves homeless learn to see themselves as hard-working, self-reliant individuals.” When I look at all the positive things running has brought to my life, and to the lives of my friends, it makes perfect sense to me. Looking around the group of runners, you couldn’t tell which runners were formerly homeless, currently homeless, or never homeless. There were many people in shirts with the Back on My Feet logo, including the shirts from last year’s events; there were also groups of people in matching team shirts too.

The starting line had one long corral; runners were asked to self-seed based on their expected speed. As more people hopped into the corral, I continued to move back. Minutes before the start, race director Lesley Brillhart took over the microphone to make a few safety announcements: watch for single track areas, pass on the left and announce yourself first, take the switchbacks carefully, alert course monitors to any injuries, and during the two-way traffic sections keep to your left. (Yes, left. It sounded off to me when I heard it, but once I was up on the hills and understood the course better, it made perfect sense.)

View of the starting line, before the runners lined up
View of the starting line, before the runners lined up

The race team set the runners off in three large groups, separating each by about two minutes. Once I got up onto the dirt, I was very glad they had done this, as most of the trail was fairly narrow. Even before I hit the dirt, I saw the faster runners like little white dots streaming across the browns and greens of the San Gabriel Hills.

Runners first circled around the sports fields and then took a hard right to start climbing. Despite the scary-sounding 1000′ elevation gain, the majority of the climb was a gentle up, with an occasional downhill. It would have been pretty easy to stay 100% focused on the trails, but it was just wide enough to comfortably walk while enjoying the scenery. I stopped to take many pictures on the way up. Race volunteers served as course monitors along the route (and as your traversed the course you realized each of them had to hike up to their designated spot).

The micro-view, looking down on the trail
The micro-view, looking down on the trail
Vegetation around the hills
Vegetation around the hills
That tiny bright green spot in the center? The start/finish line!
That tiny bright green spot in the center? The start/finish line!

Near the end of the climbing section there was one bigger, steeper hill; at that point you’d gotten out of bed and schlepped all the way up, so no matter how steep it seemed you just kinda had to keep going.

The final climb
The final climb

As I was making my way up I caught glimpses of the start/finish line, which seemed impossibly far away. On the trail I saw  men and women of all ages and sizes, running, walking, and hiking. The views from the top were beautiful.

Veni, Vidi, Vici!  Now, where's the way down?
Veni, Vidi, Vici!
Now, where’s the way down?

On the way down I paused to read the plaque about the history of Glendale (it’s not like I was going to hike back up to read it after the race). Just because YES, I AM that kind of nerd.

I will stop to pet cute dogs during a race, and apparently I will also stop to get my history on!
I will stop to pet cute dogs during a race, and apparently I will also stop to get my history on!


View of Glendale (adjacent to the plaque)
View of Glendale (adjacent to the plaque)










Finishers were welcomed back, and the hydration station was just past the finish line. YogaWorks led a post-race stretch session, and Bimbo bakeries handed out bagels (enough that many of us took home a whole package).



Deep, static stretching is for AFTER an event, not beforehand.
Deep, static stretching is for AFTER an event, not beforehand.

Then the winners were announced in a low-key awards ceremony.

Five of the six award winners (top three men and top three women) who scored Run With Us gift certificates and other goodies
Five of the six award winners (top three men and top three women) who scored Run With Us gift certificates and other goodies

I headed back to my car to finish chugging down another bottle of water and grab a wipe for my face. While I had set my phone to get me directions to the after party, it basically wasn’t necessary–pretty much every car from the event was in one big caravan to the Golden Road Brewing Company.

The bar and part of the open-barn structure at Golden Road Brewing
The bar and part of the open-barn structure at Golden Road Brewing

As a race sponsor, Golden Road offered $1 off each of their beers. In addition, 15% of all sales went to Back on My Feet. True confession: I don’t like beer. (No, it’s not “you haven’t tried the RIGHT beer,” because I dislike hops.) Fortunately they had a guest cider on tap, which I enjoyed with a breakfast burrito from the brunch menu.

It pretty much does not matter if you can actually read this, since you could have just pointed randomly and had tasty food appear
It pretty much does not matter if you can actually read this, since you could have just pointed randomly and had tasty food appear

With excellent food and drink, attentive service, and a brunch filled with runners, you can’t lose! The raffle drawings were held outside, though the tickets had a name and phone number on them in case you missed it. Since I was already pretty well sunned, I chose to sit inside.

Excellent advice from the author of 1984
Excellent advice from the author of 1984

Don’t fear the elevation.

If you ran this year, what did you think? (Have you left a review on BibRave.com?) If you’re interested in running this race next year, keep an eye on the Foothill 5k Challenge website.

My new trail attitude
My new trail attitude!

Disclosure: I received samples of Everlast Vegan Protein because I am a BibRave Pro and because I am a fitness professional member of IDEA. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro here. Read and write race reviews at BibRave.com!

As many of you know, I eat vegetarian and have been trying to reduce my egg and dairy intake. As part of my quest to keep a healthy, balanced diet I’ve been in search of a vegan protein powder. Since I drink Shakeology daily, I don’t need a protein powder with added nutrition–I’m just looking for the protein, thanks. I jumped at the chance to try Everlast Vegan Protein!

After I received the samples, I bought the full-sized bag, so you can enter to win those samples. (There is a great sale on right now–the regular price is $68.99, the sale price is $39.99–plus I saved 5% with code TRAINWITHBAIN and scored free shipping and a shaker cup.)

Everlast Vegan Protein
Everlast Vegan Protein

Everlast Vegan Protein currently comes in one flavor, “light vanilla flavor.” It has no dairy, no gluten, no sugar, and no soy. If you have severe allergies, you should know it is made or packaged in a facility that also handles products made with milk, eggs, wheat, and soy (and the package has the required FDA allergen warning on it).

Ingredients. Many protein powders either have a bunch of weird or unnecessary additives. Yes, protein powder is a highly processed food, but I still like to know what is in it and make the best possible choices.

Bag, back view
Bag, back view
  • Pea protein
  • Carrageenan
  • Sea Salt
  • Natural flavor
  • Rice protein
  • Hemp protein
  • Stevia glycoside

The protein blend includes yellow pea protein, rice protein, and hemp protein.  This mix avoids the most common allergens (e.g. soy) while delivering a protein that covers a complete BCAA profile. (Branched-Chain Amino Acids–BCAAs–are the building blocks of protein: leucine, isoleucine, and valine. You can read more about what BCAAs do on the Precision Nutrition site.)

What about the non-protein ingredients? Sea salt is exactly what you think it is. The term “natural flavor” is regulated by the FDA, and is used on the labels of many food products and supplements–and since this protein powder has a flavor, the label has to identify it. If you really want the technical definition, here it is, direct to you from the Code of Federal Regulations:

The term natural flavor or natural flavoring means the essential oil, oleoresin, essence or extractive, protein hydrolysate, distillate, or any product of roasting, heating or enzymolysis, which contains the flavoring constituents derived from a spice, fruit or fruit juice, vegetable or vegetable juice, edible yeast, herb, bark, bud, root, leaf or similar plant material, meat, seafood, poultry, eggs, dairy products, or fermentation products thereof, whose significant function in food is flavoring rather than nutritional.

Since this is a vegan protein, you know the flavor isn’t from meat, seafood, poultry, eggs, or dairy products. (I know, you’re thinking, “why not just say ‘vanilla’?” My guess? That’s complicated, as in there are separate sections of the Code of Federal Regulations with specifications for vanilla. Title 21, Part 169, Subpart B defines:  § 169.176 Concentrated vanilla extract; § 169.177 Vanilla flavoring; § 169.178 Concentrated vanilla flavoring; § 169.179 Vanilla powder; § 169.180 Vanilla-vanillin extract; § 169.181 Vanilla-vanillin flavoring; and § 169.182 Vanilla-vanillin powder. Vanilla is derived from a variety of orchids from the genus vanillia; different flowers grown in different parts of the world produce different flavors. If you want to keep the taste of your product consistent, ideally you’d use the exact same type of vanilla flavor…but vanilla is a picky little diva of a flower that can only be grown in certain places. Any change in the flowers could change the flavor, which means re-sourcing the vanilla. Re-sourcing the vanilla could mean changing from one type of regulated flavor to another–for example from extract to powder–which would require a change in the label, which would lead to a delay in production. In other words, major pain in the butt.)

That leaves carrageenan and stevia glycoside. The dairy industry has worked hard to demonize carrageenan through production of commercials about nut milks. (Backstory: the biggest dairy producers and processors convinced some legislators to introduce a bill that would limit use of the word “milk” to dairy products; they are unhappy that in the current nutritional climate, many people are turning to soy milk, almond milk, rice milk, and similar beverages. When this bill failed, they started to run commercial advertising to influence public opinion by providing just one tiny slice of information about non-dairy milks. Basically, sore losers.) Carrageenan is derived from red seaweed. The Irish began using it in food hundreds of years ago (if not earlier–there’s only so much history we can trace). The Food Babe points to it as one of the most evil things in food, but she relies on animal-only studies that studied poligeenan (which is a different substance) and studies that used huge amounts (more than you’d consume even if you ate all-processed, all the time). (You can read one simple counterpoint to the fear-mongering at the International Food Information Council site. Click the links, use Google Scholar and PubMed, and understand the science.) Carrageenan serves two functions in a protein powder. One, it preserves the nutritional value of the protein. Two, it allows the protein to suspend evenly in liquid, instead of clumping up and floating to the top or sinking to the bottom.

Finally, stevia glycoside. Steviol glycosides are the compounds in the Stevia rebaudiana Bertoni plant–at least ten of them–that make the plant sweet. Pure stevia actually has a bitter aftertaste, which is why commercial sweeteners containing stevia usually don’t contain much stevia–and why Truvia (which is like 95% erythritol, a sugar alcohol) is being sued for misleading consumers. The difference is important; stevia, which has been used for over 100 years as a sweetener, does not have an impact on blood sugar, while some sugar alcohols not only impact blood sugar but also affect gut bacteria and may cause intestinal upset in sensitive individuals.  You can read more than you ever wanted to know about stevia from the International Stevia Council. (Yes, it is their job to make stevia sound awesome. Feel free to cross reference with Google Scholar and Pub Med.) Oh, and the amount of stevia added is just enough to make Everlast Vegan Protein not-sour, not-salty. This isn’t a sugar bomb “tastes like a cake mix” product.

My kitchen is the laboratory: Touch Test. Okay, so this might not technically be a test, exactly, but in my experience the texture of the mix affects the final product. The protein powders my brother used in high school were gritty and felt like they contained bits of ground-up gravel in them. The resulting sludges had a sandy texture to them, and any un-mixed lumps brought me right back to falling off the swingset and doing a face plant in the sandbox. Yuck. Birds need to eat gravel and grit, but I surely don’t!

Thankfully, there is no sandy, gritty stuff in Everlast Vegan Protein powder. The dry texture is more like a weightier powdered sugar, or a very soft and creamy powdered makeup. While in the sealed bag, you can almost knead it like bread dough.

pint glass with full scoop of Everlast Vegan Protein
pint glass with full scoop of Everlast Vegan Protein (just pretend you can’t see parts of my kitchen, okay?)

My kitchen is the laboratory: Mix Test. The first test I perform on any drink or protein powder is a mix test: I take the full serving size, put it into a pint glass, and add either water (for fruity-flavored supplements) or skim milk (for protein powder), then stir with a spoon. I don’t always have a shaker cup with me, and sometimes you need to adjust serving sizes to get an optimal mix. Yes, I realized while I was stirring that it is a little ironic that my first test on a vegan protein powder is to mix it with dairy milk. Oops.

The majority of the protein powder mixed thoroughly and dissolved. In hindsight, the amount of space the protein powder took up in the glass means it is unlikely I got the recommended 8 to 12 ounces of liquid in there. Oops. There were a few globs of not-quite-dissolved powder; when I tasted them, they were smooth, like a thick pudding (not at all gritty like my brother’s high school sludges). The resulting protein drink was smooth and had a nice texture. To my surprise it was also very filling, even though a single serving is only 110 calories (plus the approximately 90 calories in the 8 ounces or so of skim milk I put in there).

The flavor was light, as described on the package. It didn’t scream VANILLA! like some vanilla-flavored things. Personally, I consider this a major win, as my search for a protein powder is in part so I can add it to recipes and shakes where I don’t want it to overpower the other ingredients.

One serving mixed with skim milk (opacity = evidence of complete mixing)
One serving mixed with skim milk (opacity = evidence of complete mixing)

My kitchen is the laboratory: Blender Test.  At IDEA World last year, I stopped by the Ninja Kitchen booth, had some delicious green juice, entered a twitter contest, and won a Ninja Ultima! The blender is now my go-to appliance (because it works like a ninja, and because it is so easy to clean) and I use it pretty much every day to make a breakfast smoothie using the single-serve Nutri Ninja cups. Since the mix test above convinced me that I needed more liquid for a full scoop of Everlast Vegan Protein, I made one of my usual recipes and added a half scoop (without changing anything else about the recipe). I was a little afraid that I should have added the liquid first–some of the powder hit the bottom of the cup, and I wasn’t sure whether the Ninja could get it fully mixed-in, given the softness of the product.

Fortunately the Ninja worked like a champ, and the Everlast Vegan Protein blended into the smoothie 100% (no unblended bits). The smoothie tasted pretty much like I expected it to taste, with a subtle hint of vanilla in there. I could definitely tell I had added more protein, as the smoothie had a little more weight to it, and I felt sated longer than I usually do after a smoothie.

The not-so-good. The only downside to Everlast Vegan Protein is the packaging. (I was going to add the flavor–there’s a thing called “flavor fatigue” if you always have the same thing–but the flavor is so light that you can add anything to it, or add it to anything, and come up with a million tasty flavors.) I like that the packaging is minimal, just a single, theoretically re-seal-able bag. I’m trying to cut down on how much trash I generate, and since I own plenty of portable containers and such there isn’t any reason why I should need individually-wrapped servings. I like that it’s not a giant plastic canister like most other brands of protein, as those take up way too much space in my kitchen and are usually about 25% larger than necessary.

I count the packaging as a downside, because the ziploc-style re-seal-able top is incompatible with the product. When I tried to re-seal the bag, the single set of grooves refused to mate and seal; both sides of the bag had the fine dust of Everlast Vegan Protein thoroughly filling in the groove. No matter how much I tried, I couldn’t get the bag to seal shut again. This led me to dump the bag into a Tupperware-type square container with a tight-fitting lid. Unfortunately, the fluffy texture of the powder meant that even though I tried to prevent any giant dust-poof (if you’ve ever poured flour into a storage jar, or tried to seal a flour bag shut, you’ve met the dust-poof), the product got all over my counter and myself. Oops. Now that it is in the container, and I’ve washed and dried the scoop (which I put into the container with the handle OUT of the product), I’m good to go.


Since I went all-in and bought the two pound Everlast Vegan Protein bag, I don’t need the samples. Since I have a bit of a drinking vessel habit–seriously, I can’t resist a cute water bottle or shaker cup–I don’t need the shaker cup either. (Trust me, it pains me to give this one away, but I’m trying SO HARD not to turn into my packrat Nana.) This giveaway features TWO prizes! Prize #1: two samples of Everlast Vegan Protein. Prize #2: two samples of Everlast Vegan Protein plus an Everlast shaker cup.



a Rafflecopter giveaway

P.S. remember there is a great sale on right now–the regular price is $68.99, the sale price is $39.99–plus I saved 5% with code TRAINWITHBAIN and scored free shipping and a shaker cup. (That code is good on anything on the Everlast Nutrition site, and does not expire.)

P.P.S. Want to see what the other BibRave Pros thought about Everlast Vegan Protein?

Disclosure: I am a BibRave Pro and received these shoes for testing and review purposes. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro HERE and check out BibRave.com to review find and write race reviews!

This is my first test drive of a road shoe, and the first time I’ve tried a Mizuno. (Frankly, prior to this shoe, I 0nly associated Mizuno with cycling and soccer. Turns out they make running shoes, too. Who knew?) To road test this shoe, I wore them to work for three days–mainly because I couldn’t wait to wear them, but also because I hate to run in a brand-new-to-me shoe right away–and then took the shoes for two runs. On Thursday, July 2 I ran somewhere between 3 and 4 miles at the RoadRunner Sports (San Carlos) Adventure Run; on Independence Day I ran the Alameda Mayor’s R.A.C.E. 5k. That’s not much mileage, but the timing of the shoes’ arrival, the holiday weekend, and end-of-month work obligations mean that’s all the time I had.

Gorgeous New Kicks!
Gorgeous New Kicks!

Aesthetic Appeal. Let me start with the obvious: these shoes are pretty! Yes, I know that’s far from the most important factor when choosing a shoe. It was, however, the first thing I noticed when I opened the box. With an increasing number of shoes that look like the entire My Little Pony gang vomited rainbows on them, I was really pleased with the aesthetics of this shoe. The pair I received are primarily a plum-purple  with aqua and silver, plus a little white on the sole. (Mizuno calls this “Wild Aster-Silver-Waterfall”)   The flat shoelaces are in matching colors, which is a cool design element. Again, I know that looks are about the least important factor when choosing a running shoe, but I do love a good-looking shoe; bonus points if it doesn’t make my size 10.5 feet look more enormous than they actually are.

Compared to My Usual Shoe. To understand where I’m coming from in reviewing this shoe, I’ve spent the past two years primarily running in Brooks Pure Cadence 2. (Yes, I know the 4 has been released. I stockpiled.) Brooks classifies my old shoe as good for mild pronation, the Mizuno classifies the Wave Enigma 5 as a neutral shoe. Road Runner calls the Pure Cadence a Level 3 Performance Stability shoe, and the Wave Enigma as a Level 4 Neutral shoe. When I used the Mizuno website’s “Find Your Perfect Shoe” it recommended the Wave Enigma.

I find all of this very interesting, as in my experience the Mizuno Wave Enigma 5 is a lot more shoe than I’m used to running in. Specifically, the sole is quite a bit stiffer, more cushioned, and more supportive. If I had to guess which was a more stabilizing shoe, I would have picked the Wave Enigma! I definitely appreciated the extra cushioning beneath my feet while running on the road. Mizuno’s website states

The Wave Enigma 5 is perfect for higher mileage runners. This neutral running shoe is built for runners who are training for longer races, as well as runners who could use a little extra cushion on recovery days.

My feet did feel a bit warmer on the soles after running, probably because I was lazy and didn’t apply Body Glide like I usually do, but they were much fresher at the end of my run. I definitely appreciated that extra cushion (hey, I’m not 20 anymore!) and can see why these might be a better choice for higher mileage runs.

First Impressions. The Mizuno Wave Enigma 5 is a little bit heavier–according to Runner’s World, my old shoes weigh in at 7.5 ounces, while the Mizuno site states the Wave Engima 5 are 8.8 ounces. When I first unboxed the shoes I was concerned they felt stiff and chunky, but that was just in my hands–I didn’t notice any weight or chunkiness while running. (By the way, the video on the Mizuno website says the Wave Enigma 5 is 10.5 ounces, but the guy is clearly talking about the men’s shoe.)

Compared to the Prior Model. While I didn’t wear the Mizuno Wave Enigma 4, information from Runner’s World (which will feature the Wave Engima 5 in the Fall 2015 Shoe Guide), Mizuno, and Road Runner commented on the following as features new to the Wave Enigma 5:

  • Design of the sole. Per Mizuno, “New u-shape full-length parallel wave provides the Mizuno trademark responsive feel.” According to Road Runner, “New forefoot outsole pattern with deep flex grooves works with articulated forefoot Wave plate: Offers optimal blend of pliability and propulsion at toe-off.”
  • Cushioning materials. The video on the Mizuno site explains the sole has a combination of new “u4icX” (that’s “euphoric X”) and “u4ic” (“euphoric”) midsole foam, and they work in cooperation with the internal cushioning under the heel. Road Runner calls this “lightweight, resilient cushioning.”
  • New materials on the upper (the shoe part that goes around your foot, as opposed to the sole). The main part of the shoe is a mesh, which allows for some breathability. Upgraded upper materials, including extra breathable mesh, provide a glove-like fit.

Mizuno Wave Enigma 5 continues to feature the Wave and Smooth Ride technology used in earlier models of the shoe.

You can see the foam sole construction
You can see the foam sole construction

Fit. I used the Runner’s World shoe finder to compare my old shoes and the shiny new Mizunos, and according to the fit profile, they should fit about the same. The main difference between the shoes is the drop: Brooks Pure Cadence 3 has a drop of 5.0 mm while the Mizuno Wave Enigma 5 has a drop of 12 mm. (Note that I was unable to find the data for the now-discontinued Pure Cadence 2.)

I had the opportunity to read a few reviews before I got to take these shoes for a run. A few of them commented that “my toes went numb” or something similar. I’ve got the solution to that problem: loosen the laces! The appearance of the shoe is a little deceptive, because the wider lace eyelets make it seem like the laces are the right tension when you take them out of the box. Trust me, you need to loosen them up MORE than just a wee bit before you slip them on. I didn’t, and I had a similar sleepy-toes on just my right foot during my first run. Afterwards I loosened the laces up, and did not experience this problem again.

The heel fits securely. I have average heels (not narrow ones) and haven’t experienced any slipping. The throat (where you put your foot in) and tongue of the shoe are pretty much perfect; unlike most other shoes I’ve tried with a similar design, the tongue stays put. (The tongue sliding over to one side is a total pet peeve of mine–I just hate how it feels!)

The arch has a reasonable amount of support and feels good. Lots of women’s shoes are a bad fit for my arches, I guess because the shoe designers think all women have narrow, petite feet. Sorry boys, I’ve got big clodhoppers. Thanks to Mizuno, the shoe meets my arch instead of stabbing me in the bottom of the foot. Honestly, you have no idea how exciting this is.

The forefoot is a bit more a snug fit than I’m used to, I’ll admit. As noted above, I had to loosen up the laces quite a bit. The design really does fit like a glove around the forefoot. My toes can still wiggle, but I definitely feel the shoe. On the one hand, this took a little adjustment as the piggies are used to have more room to go whee-whee-whee. On the other hand, the snug fit combined with a sole that is both stronger and more cushioned than I am used to prevented me from “gripping” with my toes as I run; the smooth transition of the sole over the toes actually prevented gripping action. (If you get blisters on the tips or front-bottom of the tips of your toes, or have sore toe joints after you run, you’re probably a gripper too.)  Since my biggest running problem (knock on wood!) is that I have to tape up my left second toe to prevent it from hyperextending when I run, this is a pretty big deal–no more toe tape!

Post run, tongues in place, feet quite happy
Post run, tongues in place, feet quite happy

Feel. Running in these shoes was a smooth experience. I did notice that my gait changed a bit–remember, I gained like 6 mm in drop. Specifically, I noticed my landing changed from straight-up midfoot to more rear-midfoot. I wouldn’t say “heel strike,” though I think that would be easy to do in these kicks. I suspect this contributed to my lack of toe-gripping action, so I’m going to call it good. In terms of feel of the road–can I just say I love that runners talk about this the same way ballet dancers do, a la “those shoes are so unresponsive”–I got just enough, but not too much. It’s not like running on a pillow, it’s like running without beating on your feet.

Reviews by Dudes. “That’s all well and fine,” you think, “but I’m a guy, and men’s shoes fit differently.” Never fear, I’ve got you covered. Or rather some of my BibRave Pro friends do.  Check out reviews of the Mizuno Wave Enigma 5 for men written by Runner and the Bride (actually, written by Runner), and DP on the Go.

Sooo…..tell me: are you loyal to one brand and model of running shoe? (Do you feel like you’re cheating on your brand when you test out something else?) Or do you run around with everyone?