Shokzstar Welcome Kit Unboxing!

AfterShokz was incredibly generous with the 2021 Shokzstar Welcome Kit! Once I received it, I immediately dove in, watch me unbox all the awesome!

Inside the 2021 Welcome Kit was:

  • Waterproof Bag
  • Stainless Steel Water Bottle
  • Double-wall Stainless Mug
  • AfterShokz Cooling Towel
  • AfterShokz Limited Edition Socks!
  • Solar Red Aeropex Headset
  • White Open Move Headset
  • Active wear Belt (to hold your phone and a small amount of consumables)
  • Shokzstar Sticker
  • Handwritten Welcome Note

I’m so happy to be on the team for 2021 and ready to share all the Shokzlove I can! In fact, if you’re looking to save 15% off various headsets, be sure to visit my affiliate link:

AFTERSHOKZ LINK TO SAVE 15% OFF

Product Review: Chirp Wheel(s)

Disclaimer: I am not a licensed physician or medical professional. I make no medical claims, the following is based off my experience with the Chirp Wheel. Please note individual results will vary.

If you’ve been following me along on Instagram you’ll recall I had some lower back pain and a linger chronic soreness. Out of sheer desperation I convinced my teenage daughter to step on my back.

The moment she applied the slightest amount of pressure to my spine just above my hips, my back let out a sonic boom of relief! I had been nursing my lower back for over a month, and it wasn’t until she cracked my back that I could put it to words. It’s like getting a finger cramp, and then cracking your knuckle and freeing the locked joint.

Anyway, after that moment I became slightly addicted to having my kids step on my lower back for relief. After the third day, however, my kids were kinda grossed out and refused to humor my requests. Also, I suppose from being stiff for so long, my lower back muscles had a soreness that needed stretched and not stepped on. I needed something better than our foam roller.

Enter: Chirp Wheels

That’s when I remembered seeing ads for the Chirp Wheel. I was intrigued and decided to look into it more. I find that you’ll discover really raw feedback on social media. The comment section usually produces gold, especially when a product doesn’t live up to the hype.

Chirp had nothing but glowing reviews and comment after comment users mentioned how these wheels “saved” their backs. I guess I was sold, because I purchased the Chirp Wheel combo pack almost immediately.

I recall posting about my purchase on Instagram and I mentioned how I was going to combine the wheels with yoga to help improve my back… Well here’s a newsflash: I didn’t. I decided to really put these wheels to the test I’d use them exclusively. No yoga. No stretching.

Chirp offers three (3) wheel sizes. For the sake of discussion, I’ll refer to them as “The Big, Medium, and Small Wheels”. You can buy the wheels individually or save and bundle them together- that’s what I did!

I like to Chirp in the mornings right after I get up, I find it really helps start the day and makes me all loosey-goosey. And to really help drive things home, I chirp in the afternoons to help relive any tension in my back.

So what are the wheels, and what’s it like?

The Big Wheel: the largest of the wheels offers maximum stretching and minimal tissue manipulation. I like to roll out with the big wheel first thing in the morning to help stretch my back and increase my flexibility.

The Medium Wheel: the medium wheel offers a moderate stretch and a slightly deeper tissue manipulation that the larger wheel. I find this is the wheel I use to get those pops between my shoulder blades.

The Small Wheel: the small wheel offers very little stretch and 100% deep tissue manipulation. I find this is the wheel that gets right into those trouble spots and finds all the pops!

The Results!

Since the 24th of December I’ve been using the wheels twice daily. After the first week I felt improvement and noticed I could bend over with little soreness. At 2 weeks I noticed that my lower back muscles were no longer sore, and in fact, all of my lower back issues had nearly vanished.

We are now on week 3, and I can’t tell you how relived I feel to not have to nurse my lower back any more. Even crazier is how I gained my focus back. I was always so hyperaware of my lower back all the time that I couldn’t focus on tasks without thinking of a way to avoid pain or spasms. It really is awesome how a simple wheel changed my life.

Hey thanks for reading, if you’ve been inspired to try it for yourself CLICK HERE to get yours!

Product Review: BUFF DryFlx+ Collection – Combat the Cold!

Disclaimer: I received the BUFF DryFlx+ Collection products to review as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review, find, and write race reviews!

It’s the most wonderful time of the year! Actually I lied, this time of the year is when I struggle the most with choosing to #optoutside. The days are short, the air is crisp and hurts my face (don’t let the beard fool ya), everything is cold, and all I want to do is sleep.

Needless to say, if there is ever a time where I need motivation to get out the door, this time of the year is prime for said motivation.

That’s where BibRave comes to the rescue and introduces us to awesome brands (like BUFF) that are focused on making our time outdoors more comfortable. And that’s exactly where the BUFF DryFlx+ Collection comes in clutch!

When I received my BUFF DryFlx+ gear that was all the motivation I needed to shake me from old man Winter’s grasp!

Breathable Fabric = No Overheating

When the temps dip into the 30°F (-1°C) range and below, protection from the cold becomes essential. However, I find that on a mild day, I warm up too quickly and my clothing choice (headgear specifically) becomes too much. Likewise on a bitterly cold day, protection for my ears and neck are crucial yet somehow I always end up overheating and becoming uncomfortable with sweaty gear.

If you visit Bibrave’s BUFF link, sign up for the newsletter and receive 15% off!

Cold and Sweat can spell disaster if not properly addressed. This is where the BUFF DryFlx+ Collection really shines!

Neckwarmer and Hat!

I received the DryFlx+ Neckwarmer and Hat, an awesome combo for the outdoor runner! According to BUFF, the DryFlx+ construction boasts:

  • 4-Way ULTRA STRETCH
  • Moisture-management
  • Thermal Insulation
  • 100% Seamless Woven Design
  • Reflective Elements

The fabric is breathable and light, yet provides warmth to the areas that need it the most. I have found overheating isn’t an issue when I layer up with the DryFlx+ products.

Combat the COLD!

The neckwarmer is made from a one-piece design, and has engineered holes that allows you to breathe through the mask.

(Image: BUFF)

I’ve been using the combo hat and neckwarmer for well over a month and these two items have been added as permanent fixtures in my cold running arsenal.

The hat design is similar to the neck warmer (without engineered holes) and fits my head well. Typically when I overheat the hat is the first thing to go, however I find that this hat is breathable and eliminates the need for removal. This is awesome news if you’re like me and don’t like having to carry things on the run- especially gear that you should be wearing.

Eliminate your fears of being cold, grab the BUFF DryFlx+ collection of products and build your cold running kit today! But, don’t just take my word for it, here’s a few other Pro’s take on the product line:

RunCanvas | TheLateRunner | FitXBrit | Throwing Star | Running on Pixie Dust | Fun Size Athlete | Seventh Trail Sister | Running with Attitude

Top Nine! A Year in Review.

Celebrating my Top Nine photos from 2020! It looks like I need to wear more variety in my running shirts… and ironically, most of these photos are from the same timeframe. Guess I had an amazing August-September!

I was catching up on the BibRave podcast over the past couple of days and wanted to share my rose, bud, and thorn as well. For those unfamiliar with this concept: the Rose is something from the past year you are proud of (some event or thing that really bloomed for you). The Bud is something that you are cultivating that is growing and you’re excited about. The thorn is something that did not bring you joy, or something that genuinely disagreed with you.

Rose: this might be an unpopular opinion, but the pandemic was my rose this year. It taught me how to cut out toxic relationships and provided me with a true understanding of what it means to take care of oneself and family. Our calendar was wiped clean, I found myself unemployed, yet I wouldn’t have traded that situation for the world. My family and I feel so much closer ever since.

Bud: this year I’ve had the pleasure to work with some amazing brands, and it looks like it’s only going to get better in 2021! I’m so excited for the future and looking forward to cultivating new friendships and experiences along the way. A large part of my 2021 mantra is to “run happy” through life. I’m so pumped to kick things off I’ve already started putting my mantra into practice!

Thorn: here’s a heavy dose of irony. Social media (since I shared this on Social Media). I kinda agree with Tim Murphy (BibRave) and have to say I’m not sure I like where some of these platforms are headed. I try to keep a positive mental attitude and follow accounts of likeminded people- and most recently I’ve been keeping an eye on how much time I spend in various platforms, making sure I disconnect and let my brain reset.

That was my year in review, how about you?

I’ve got back problems…

Maybe not.

Over the past month I’ve been nursing some tenderness in my lower back. Some days it’s manageable without any pain medication, and other days it takes all I can just to walk without looking like I’ve been hit by a truck.

Last week I felt like my hips were locked, and no matter how much stretching I did, I couldn’t seem to get a good satisfying “crack”.

And here’s what happen next:

Since the initial pop, I’ve been trying to not crack my back everyday, but rather stretch out my back in various ways to help alleviate the tightness.

And as curiosity has a way to get the better of me, I went ahead and decided to see what the fuss is all about over these “Chirp” wheels.

When they arrive, expect a full review.

Race Registration: A Christmas Story Virtual Run

Disclaimer: I received entry in the Christmas Story Virtual Run to review as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review find and write race reviews!

It’s that time of the year again! Last year I missed out on the opportunity to participate in the Christmas Story Run in real life, so when I saw the event went virtual I jumped on the chance!

This Christmas classic is a MUST in our house, and there isn’t a year that goes by where we don’t watch it at least 5 or 6 times!

Join me and the BibRave team as we tackle the optional 5K or 10K distance (you’re preference at checkout)!

Check out the registration details here: https://www.achristmasstoryvirtualrun.com/ as well as the awesome swag!

I’m excited to get running, join me and let’s #runwithralphie

Race Registration: AllState Hot Chocolate 15k, Columbus!

Disclaimer: I received free entry into the AllState Hot Chocolate 15k to review as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review find and write race reviews!

The AllState Hot Chocolate Series has a very special place in my heart. The 15k was my first official race I registered for when I started running. I had no clue how long a 15k was, but it sounded like a nice number at the time. Little did I know how awesome this series was going to be, and how much it would mean to me!

My mom and I both registered for the 15k distance not knowing what we were in for, but it didn’t matter because the swag was so cool! I just remember being overly excited for hot chocolate and being able to collect my first medal honoring my achievement.

On the day of the race the weather was uncertain and gray, and as we made our way to our corral it started to lightly rain. I remember questioning what we had gotten ourselves into! What followed was a race that produced memories that will last a lifetime. Mom and I shared in a memorable and somewhat miserable first race experience.

However, that distance forever changed how I viewed running- it showed me what I was capable of achieving and more so how I can overcome any obstacle as long as I believe in myself and just focusing on keeping moving forward.

Mom and I having a blast!

Over the years I’ve had the pleasure of running in numerous races and being able to travel to awesome cities. No matter what, I always make sure I register for the AllState Hot Chocolate series races! They remain to this day my favorite all around race experience.

Running through the years!

Also, traveling for work I’ve had the opportunity to run in new areas outside of my normal everyday comfort zone. Three years ago I traveled to Ohio and on a whim decided to pack running gear and hit the streets. It turned out that my favorite place to run in my travels was Columbus Ohio!

Columbus has so much to offer and during my travels was one of the most friendliest cities to run in. The amount of sidewalks and walkways provides endless opportunities to explore all the city has to offer. I would run every morning before sunrise and every evening after sunset just to soak it all in!

Just look at that sunrise!

And what destination is complete without a recommended food guide! Stay tuned for more to come later, but I just had to share that I’m registered to run in the virtual AllState Hot Chocolate 15k for Columbus!

Condado Tacos! A must place to eat!

Race Registration: Race to Wrigley 5K!

Disclaimer: I received free entry into the Race to Wrigley 5K to review as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review find and write race reviews!

Funny story, I’m a huge National Lampoon movie fan, mostly Summer Vacation, European Vacation, as well as the crown jewel Christmas Vacation. I’m such a fan of those movies in general that since I was young I have had an affinity to Chicago sports teams. I should preface this also by saying I’m a horrible sports fan. I couldn’t tell how well (or bad) the teams are doing, I just like them due to their connection to my favorite childhood movies.

Every year for Christmas I don my vintage Chicago Bears hat (to match Chevy Chase’s from Christmas Vacation) along with my custom “Griswold” Blackhawks Jersey. I wear the Clark Griswold uniform with honor.

Clark Griswold (Chevy Chase) wearing Chicago Bears Hat, Image Source: Web

However, I often forget people don’t make the same connection. Over the years when I’m out in public rocking my Chicago Bears hat, I’ll have actual fans of the team give me a thumbs up, or make some comment about the team. To which I nod and agree with what their saying, haven’t having the slightest clue what their talking about.

Clark Griswold (Chevy Chase) wearing Chicago Blackhawks Jersey, Image Source: Web

But. I do love baseball, and every baseball fan knows Wrigley. So how awesome was it for me to find out about the Race to Wrigley 5K? Not only are we talking about the iconic Wrigley Field, but also my connection to my favorite movies based around the misadventures of Clark W. Griswold Jr.!

Sorry to interrupt the story, but did you know that your race registration helps benefit Cubs Charities, which aims to provide health, fitness, and education to those at risk! Make your donations HERE!

What was I saying? Oh yeah! Ever since I was a kid, I couldn’t wait to drive across the country with my parents on a wild adventure to an animal themed theme park. I was especially looking forward to Dad ramping the car off an incomplete exit ramp, crashing our station wagon, and then sharing a beer in my quest to manhood all while wearing a Cubs t-shirt.

I mean c’mon, it’s every boys dream.

Okay, so maybe it’s not the same, and maybe it’s really hard for me to put to words why I like Chicago’s sports teams, but the bottom line is that if you’re a Chicago Sports fan, what’s not to love about the Race to Wrigley?

Sign up: https://www.race-cubs.com/events/register/2020-race-to-wrigley

Check out this year’s awesome swag! Sign up, get your swag and start your next family adventure off!

Product Review: Science in Sport Hydro Tabs!

Disclaimer: I received SiS Hydro Tabs to review as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review, find, and write race reviews!

With the summer running season here, hot, and beating down on us, proper hydration is crucial for any running plan!

Summer Running

During exercise your muscles generate heat, and your body sweats to help maintain and regulate your internal body temperature. The hotter the temperatures are in your environment, the harder your body (aka Heart) has to work to keep it cool.

Replenishing lost fluids during summer activities is vital to your running performance and health.

Disclaimer: I’ve been consistently running for a little over 6 years, so I’ve got around 6 summers of improper running in the sun and heat to know a thing or two about hydration (and lack thereof).

First, proper hydration needs to start BEFORE you run, and I’m not talking about 10-15 minutes before heading out the door. I’m talking drinking enough fluid throughout the day to ensure you are properly hydrated.

Not sure if your properly hydrated? According to THIS Runner’s World article here’s a good test to see how well you’re doing.

Another good way to determine hydration status is a sweat test, says Chrissy Carroll, R.D., USAT Level I Triathlon Coach. “Weigh yourself, without clothing, before and after a long run. If you’ve only lost 1 to 2 percent of your body weight, you’re in the hydration sweet spot. If you’ve lost more than 2 to 3 percent of your body weight, try hydrating a little more during your long runs.”

Just how much should you drink? According to THIS Runner’s World article:

“…properly hydrated by drinking about one ounce per 10 pounds of body weight two to four hours before you head out…”

What you drink matters!

So by now you might be thinking “I’ll just chug a gallon of water” to help combat dehydration. Well, I’m here to tell you to wipe that thought from your brain! Consuming too much water is a thing.

And that thing is Hyponatraemia. Hyponatraemia means “low blood sodium” and is caused by excessive water consumption. Too much water lowers the concentration of sodium in the blood and can be extremely dangerous. In its mild form, some side effects include bloating and nausea. However, in extreme cases it can lead to brain seizure and death.

That’s why it’s important to drink a blend of water, electrolytes, and minerals to replenish and hydrate your body.

But, holy smokes, what should I do? This all seems complicated.

Science in Sport Hydro Tabs make it easy!

That’s right! The folks at Science in Sport have developed Hydro Tabs to make hydration easy and a real no-brainer.

One (1) bottle of water (500mL) and one (1) Hydro Tab are all you need! You can check out the recommendations from the professionals HERE.

According to SiS: “SiS GO Hydro meets your sodium requirements at a specific concentration (30mmol/L) that is scientifically proven to produce superior hydration compared with water alone. It was developed to keep the British Sailing team optimally hydrated at the 2008 Beijing Olympics. Simply drop a tablet into water for effective hydration, with virtually no calories, before and during sports.

The biggest winner for me, is the value. Compared to leading brands, SiS Hydro Tabs come in a 20-count tube (compared to the 10-count of the competition) and cost around 55 cents per tablet!

You can save even more, by using discount code BIBRAVE20 to get 20% off at checkout (discount code only good for Hydro Tabs).

SiS Hydro Tabs taste great!

I’m in love with the Lemon Hydro Tabs, and feel like that team nailed the flavor profiles. The taste isn’t sharp or stingy on the throat, especially after running over an extended period.

The also make a Caffeinated Cola flavor that I’ve used during my Sunday Long runs that help keep me hydrated and keep me moving!

Overall Opinion

The Science in Sport Hydro Tabs are a must! I’m giving these a 5 star rating, given the premium quality and affordability of the product. I’ll be sure to have a nice stock of tabs, especially the lemon flavor, year round!

Product Review: MetCon START Pre-Training

Disclaimer: I received MetCon Start to review as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review, find, and write race reviews!

Some Perspective

I feel like I need to “set the stage” if you will to give you a glimpse of my current mindset and also how MetCon START has really helped me re-develop my running routine.

The pandemic has been weird. Like most people, I found myself unemployed and on a forced 50+ day vacation from employment. I’ll admit, while stressful, the time off was actually a bit of a blessing in disguise. I was given an opportunity to “reset” so to speak and get my head right.

Over the break I ran based on how and when I wanted. It was beautiful and intuitive, I ran without much thought or stress and it became a daily habit everyday around 8 or 9AM.

Fast forward to present-day; I’m back to being employed (and feeling so so grateful) and also oddly enough finding myself wondering when I’m going to find time to run.

Which brings me to the point of this review.

MetCon START, to Start the Day!

Now gainfully employed I have three options when it comes to running. One, run in the morning; Two, run at lunch; Three, run in the evening.

The most painful of these (because I enjoy sleep) is getting up early to run. So naturally I’m left to run over my lunch or in the evening.

It’s July and that means Pennsylvania is swelling with heat and humidity. So those lunch runs I love- well, not so much unless I want to shower three times in a single day. So that means evening runs will have to suffice, right? Wrong. The evening is when the day is at its peak heat, so if I thought running over lunch was too hot, I guess running in the evening is off the table too.

Morning runs it is! Insert groans here.

Actually, it’s not that bad and MetCon START has made the process a little more “user friendly”. Just one (1) scoop 15 mins before my run, and I’m good to go!

My Routine…

User preferences will vary, but on days where I run in the mornings I get up, get dressed and immediately consume around 12-16 oz of water mixed with one (1) scoop of MetCon START.

I typically chase START with a bottle of water to just prepare my body with fluids, since I’ll most likely sweat out most of it. And that’s it. Sounds too easy… right?

My Thoughts

I’ve been using MetCon START for two weeks now. One container has approximately 30 servings which means just enough for a month’s supply.

When I started using the pre-training mix I avoided consuming any other caffeinated drinks in the morning. MetCon states that START has the equivalent boost of two (2) servings of your typically coffee beverage. I’m not one to have any sensitivity toward caffeine, but to be safe I would try to limit my intake of any supplemental caffeine in the mornings.

4:30AM wake-up calls for a little boost!

START has a nice subtitle boost of energy that I have found was sufficient to sustain my needs for my morning 3 mile run. Unlike other brands I have tried, START has a gradual release of energy, versus an all-at-once hit. I prefer the gradual release and absorption, again it’s not a huge pump like other brands.

The taste is fairly mild, and has a citrus finish. It’s not harsh on the tongue or back of the throat, START mixes easily and goes down without fuss. I have hastily consumed START on occasion (waking up late but still wanting to get in the miles) and can happily report no stomach issues or cramps.

Overall Opinion

At $49.99 and roughly 30 servings, I feel the price isn’t horrible. Along those lines, I feel like when it comes to energy mixes, you get what you pay for, and MetCon is at the higher end of quality and performance.

** Speaking of price, you can Save 20% off your purchase by using discount code BIBRAVE at checkout! **

The mixture blends well and goes down easily, no clumps or gross flavor profiles. I’ve consumed this on the go with no GI issues and enjoy the gradual release of energy.

I have found on longer runs (in the heat and humidity of Pennsylvania) around 5 miles I start to see my energy fade and need an additional boost.

On the weekends, I’m typically up a little later in the day (around 7:30AM) and consume additional caffeine (coffee) in the mornings before mixes up START and heading out. I have found consuming coffee in addition to START has not had any negative affects, but it’s not something I would do daily.

For what it’s worth, I’ve used and enjoyed START and will continue to kick off my days with a little scoop to help give me that “boost” I need!