UV Reflective Half BUFF

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Disclaimer: I received a UV Reflective Half BUFF® 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!”

UV REFLECTIVE HALF BUFF®

Shorter than the Original BUFF® , the UV Reflective Half BUFF® offers style, sun protection plus reflective strips for added visibility. It wicks away perspiration to keep you comfortable in the gym, on the road, at the yoga studio, or on the trails. Cyclists especially love the way it sits comfortably under a helmet without bunching.

BUFF® is a well known name in headwear and hats and with a vast assortment of shapes, styles, and colors for any activity you do.  I’ve been a fan and have quite a collection of their products.  Most of the time, I am wearing the headwear as a headband.  That’s where that Half BUFF® comes into play.  It is less bulky and still accomplishes what I wear it for during the heavy workouts or warmer weather.

The Reflective Half BUFF® comes in three colors: Citron, Black, and Waterfall and for only $15, how can you not have one?  And what about the reflective strips?  Many of us get out early before heading to work or just begin our day with a little positive motivation and those dark hours can be a tad dangerous depending on where you run.  It’s nice to have a safety factor of reflective strips on the BUFF®.

I’ll be testing it out soon with a few early morning trail runs and bike rides!

NuGo Dark Bars

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Disclaimer: I received a NuGo Dark assortment 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!

I was given a great opportunity to try the NuGo Dark bars and received an assortment box full of 12 bars.  My box contained Chocolate Pretzel, Chocolate Coconut, Chocolate Chocolate Chip, and Mint Chocolate Chip.  They were delivered here a little chilled since our current weather is a little frigid.  That’s perfect because that’s how I prefer them anyway!

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Look at these incredible benefits:

  • Gluten Free
  • Non GMO
  • High Protein
  • Vegan
  • Kosher
  • Real Dark Chocolate
  • Flavonol Antioxidants

I’ll admit that I was skeptical when it came to many of the bars on the market.  I’ve had so many that were bland and tasted chalky.  I am so glad that I found these bars.  They are by far, the best bars I have ever eaten.  So much so, that I’ve already ordered a few refill boxes.  Anytime I’m feeling like having a snack, these are tops on the list to prevent me from eating junk food.
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Where else can you find a company that uses REAL dark chocolate that have infinite benefits?  Right here at NuGo!  I’m still in shock how much it tastes like a candy bar instead of the healthy protein bar it is.  Many have asked what my favorite flavor is and to be honest, I’m a fan of all of them but the Peanut Butter Cup and Spicy seem to find there way into my stomach most often.

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NuGo offers plenty of flavors and bars and the dark flavors include Chocolate Pretzel, Chocolate Coconut, Mint Chocolate Chip, Chocolate Chocolate Chip, Mocha Chocolate, Peanut Butter Cup, and Spicy Chocolate.  Almost all of the bars have 1-2 grams of fiber, 10 grams of protein, and 14-15 grams of sugar.
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So why REAL dark chocolate?  Great question and you can check out the link on their website chock full of information HERE.  Mainly for me, the real dark chocolates have non fat cocoa solids and not full of saturated fats.  This helps with my elevated cholesterol!  Plus, it’s heart healthy with antioxidants.

You can try them for yourself to see just how delicious they are and purchase them online at  https://www.nugonutrition.com. Use the code BIBRAVE1 to save 15% off the dark bar boxes valid through February 8th, 2017!

Please join us on Tuesday January 31st at 8pm CST for #BibChat and your chance to win some!  And don’t forget to follow them on social media Twitter and Facebook and Instagram!

Also, take a look at some of the reviews from my fellow BibRave Pros: Angie, Brad, Gina, …, …, …, …, …, …, …

Orange Mud Ambassador

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I’m so excited to be part of the Orange Mud team for 2017 after getting such a great email.  I’ve always been a huge fan of the gear and clothing and rarely run/hike/bike without it and that’s apparent if you’ve followed me on Instagram or Twitter.

2017 is going to be a great year and I cannot wait to finish healing to get back out there and live life to the fullest.  I already have a bunch of races scheduled for the year and a ton of traveling.

Things I’ll miss about 2016 and things I won’t!

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I’ll be honest, this past year has had its ups and downs but I wouldn’t change it for the world.  I think that bad things that happen only make you stronger and wiser.  I know that I’ve learned a lot about myself and what makes me happy.

Running has had an enormous effect on my life and who I hang out with.  Not only have I enhanced my health and have more optimistic views but I have met some great people along the way.  Thanks to BibRave, I have been introduced to some of the most motivating and kind people.  I looked forward to hanging out with them at the races!  What a great family BibRave has become.

2017 won’t start exactly the way I wanted with my current injury but having the support of friends and family is making it easier.  I cannot wait to get back to my passion and career of firefighting as well as running again.

2016 loves – Battlefrogs, Spartans, firefighting competitions, yoga, BibRave races and goodies, finishing my first marathon, reuniting with long ago friends, off roading with the Jeep, Monterey California, Colorado hiking, Cubs World Series, GoRuck with friends, new black firegear, removing some heavy life baggage

2016 dislikes – Low back pain, shoulder tear, knee surgery, negativity, horrible eating habits, that heavy life baggage, end of Battlefrog, not running in the snow, 20 pounds of ick, sadness

2017 goals – meeting new running friends and BibRavers (a few specific!), traveling, California trip, Colorado trip, Chicago Marathon, Maine trip, Texas trip, Boston trip, low body fat, healthy eating lifestyle

What are you most grateful for this past year?

What are you happy to see behind you?

What are your 2017 goals and aspirations?

Quad tendon tear from the start

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September 26, 2016: While hiking in Colorado at Maroon Bells, I was trying to get that perfect picture and since no one was around back where I was, I decided to set up the tripod and camera timer to take it.  The camera only had a 10 second timer as the longest setting and I had to hit it and run to get up on the large rock for the photo.  When I jumped up onto the rock, I felt a snap and instant pain as I pushed and twisted to get up.  The next few hours were painful and walking was a struggle.  I eventually made it back to the tour bus and back to my hotel in Snowmass.  Ice was applied for remainder of night and I was flying back home the next morning.
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October 1, 2016: Saw Dr Nemickas and had x-ray performed to find Right quadriceps probable partial tear.  Discussed options and further tests to have MRI performed prior to Chicago Marathon.  MRI shows small joint effusion present.

October 3, 2016: Follow up with MD after MRI and results were read to find to show intrasubstance signal change noted withing quadriceps tendon.  At this point, we opted to try cortisone injection for pain relief. (Ethyl Chloride anesthetic followed up with 2 ml Celestone 6mg/ml and 3ml of 1% Lidocaine).
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October 9, 2016: Against my doctor’s advice, I decided to run the Chicago Marathon.  I’ve been trying to get in for a while and when I finally did, I get injured!  Thankfully, the doctor gave me that Cortisone injection to buy some time so I could attempt my first marathon.  I didn’t have a great race of course because of the quad tear but the pain didn’t really affect me until mile 7-8.  I should have been smart about not running but that’s the stubborn man in me.
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November 9, 2016: Went for further testing at 3T Imaging for Dynamic Ultrasound with results as follows: Right quadriceps tendon subtle disruption 3mm x 2mm x 1.5mm involving central one third of tendon along deep border at insertion into superior pole of patella.

November 18, 2016: MD scheduled surgery after realizing that I could not get up from flexion greater than 90 degrees without substantial pain or assistance.

November 29, 2016: Surgery was scheduled for 10:30am and I was requested to be there by 9:30am.  The surgery was scheduled at the Hawthorn Surgical Center and the staff was great.  I was placed into the pre-op area and placed into a gown, socks, and ugly surgery hat.  I was given an IV with Normal Saline at TKO and awaited the visit from the MD and Anesthesiologist.  I was checked on frequently and all “unknowns and uh-ohs” were discussed per procedure.  I was also going to have a nerve block to assist with post op pain and the anesthesiologist was discussing this with all of the equipment at the ready.  Next thing I know, I was already done with the surgery.  The only problem is that I am a huge post anesthesia baby and don’t come out quickly.  The nurses stated that it took me awhile and I had tons of involuntary twitching while they were trying to wake me.  After finally becoming lucid enough to go home, I was assisted to the car and off I went crutches in hand.
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November 29, 2016: Received Game Ready Cold Compression Unit as this was scheduled prior to the surgery to be in hand a couple of hours after the surgery.  The machine rep came out and showed its operation and we put it to good use.  See my review on the Game Ready here!
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November 30-December 6: Continued with pain meds and Advil.  Sleeping was horrible as no position was comfortable.  Game Ready used every day multiple times for extreme relief.  Each day has gotten better and weaning myself off of pain meds.
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December 7, 2016: Visit with Dr. Nemickas PA Chuck to have the initial immobilizer removed and bandages taken off.  They believed the wound to be healing nicely and explained what they actually saw during surgery which made more sense than the post op notes.  I was fitted with the TROM brace and told to keep it locked out at 90 degrees but only weight bearing at 0 degrees.  I was also given the suggestion to do some passive range of motion up to 90 degrees depending on pain tolerance.  They did not want me to do any active range of motion as of yet.  I was asked to be re-seen at the office in mid January after more progress and scheduling of PT.  Every week, I was to be given another 10 degrees of flexion up to 90.  Physical Therapy is to begin on December 28th.
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December 8, 2016: I slept initially with the brace and then had some discomfort around 2am and decided to sleep with the brace off.  (Probably not a great idea)  But, I had some much needed good sleep and no pain through the rest of the night.  Woke to shower and put brace back on.  Slight pain and swelling around 3pm.

December 9, 2016: I was given a small TENS unit to use at home and put it on twice to help contract the quad muscles during exercise.  The unit goes on for 10 minutes at a time and I had it set at 25ma which goes on for 5 seconds and off for 10.  During the 5 seconds on, you’re supposed to hold your flex to activate the quad to “reteach” the muscle how to activate properly.  I didn’t have much discomfort and used it twice.
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December 13, 2016: Things were going well.  I was up to just over 60 degrees of passive flexion and more than likely overdid it.  I awoke at 2am to throbbing pain and had to wear the brace again to get back to sleep along with pain meds.  Lesson learned to be smarter about the plan.  Also, found out I got into the 2017 Chicago Marathon!
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December 15, 2016: Having friends in high places…I get to keep the Game Ready for 2 more weeks for free!  That is unbelievable and I am grateful!  Today I start my immobilizer at 30 degree flexion for the next 2 weeks before hitting 60.  Nights are still painful but most of the day is good.
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December 25, 2016:  Brace is now set to 40 degrees and pain is pretty minimal.  I’m able to get 90 degrees of passive range of motion and able to do leg lifts with little dip.

December 28, 2016:  Had my first physical therapy visit and everything went well.  I was first tested on my range of motion to see if I could hit my 90 degrees.  Then, I was shown some basic exercises according to a timeline schedule.  We worked on heel slides, abduction/adduction lifts, some hamstring exercises, electric stimulation, and then finished with cold compress ice therapy.  The PT also worked on methods of showing me how to minimize my scar to eliminate the scar tissue.  Everything went well so we decreased PT to once a week.
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January 3, 2017:  Had my second physical therapy visit and I’m definitely seeing some strides for week 5.  I’m supposed to be in the brace at 70 degrees for every day use and I feel it tight at the last few degrees.  The PT is actually pretty easy for now but tiring and I know we have to follow a strict plan by the orthopedic surgeon but I’m impatient.  We worked on hamstring stretches, heel slides, sitting abduction/adduction with therabands, balance boards, shuffling with therabands, and then friction massage on the scar.  It looks pretty good not that I’m self-conscious about it!  I still use the e-stim at 44 and the the Game Ready to minimize the swelling.  All in all, things feel great and I’m eager to test it out further!

January 5, 2017:  I went to the gym do do some stretches and walk on the treadmill for about 1 mile and a half at 3 degrees incline at 3.5mph.  It seemed pretty easy but a tad tiring since I haven’t run in months.  I walked it in my brace and then followed it up with chest work on the Hammer Strength.
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January 6, 2017:  So after seeing my PT for a day of cardio and weight training, she went to discuss my progress with the surgeon and I got my good news…NO MORE BRACE!  I’m now allowed to go past 90 degrees but no lunges, squats, or eccentric contractions as of yet.  But that’s huge for now.  We worked on scar tissue massage and some theraband work.
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January 9, 2016:  Worked out at the gym and walked the treadmill for 1 mile and then the bike for 2 miles.  Treadmill felt okay but the bike tested my leg out and I had a little pain at flexion on the top of the cycle.  I moved the seat back on the recumbent bike to minimize that pain.
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January 10, 2017:  Went to the gym again this morning to walk on the treadmill for a mile and my leg seemed to have given out from fatigue twice towards the end of the mile.  I switched to the bike again and only did a mile and a half there with a little more pain than I would have liked.  I finished the rest of the time at the gym working on shoulders and chest.

January 12, 2017:  I went to physical therapy to find a very disappointed PT.  My leg was pretty swollen from me overdoing it at the gym.  We couldn’t do anything that was planned and instead worked on some isometric exercises and reducing the swelling with KT Tape and edema sleeve.
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January 18, 2017:  I started the morning with physical therapy and went all out with some sweaty exercises.  I had no swelling throughout or even after the balance and strength exercises.  I iced up with the Squid anyway as I had my ortho meeting in the afternoon.  Happy to say that I had a pretty good appointment.  I was given the green light I’ve been waiting for!!  I can return to work on January 30th with no restrictions!  When asked about running, he suggested I wait a few weeks before pushing it and I get it.  While I’m ecstatic about getting back to my normal life, I never want to go through this again.  I won’t push it and will start out slowly.

Shopping for runners

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With the holidays coming up, I’ve been asked for gift ideas that a runner might enjoy.  Now, as many non-runners believe, what else does a runner need besides shoes?  That is exactly what I would have thought until I actually started running a few years ago.  To be honest, the list is endless.  I’ve put together a few items below that don’t even scratch the surface.  The following gift ideas are definitely something I could use (Hint, hint!)

Running clothes – These can vary depending upon the season and the area you live in but there are definitely running specific clothes.  From compression layers like the 2XU line to the running briefs like AERODAKS, there is something for everyone.  Prices can also range from smaller gifts like calf sleeves or arm sleeves up to the highest quality compression pants or jackets.

Headphones – Every runner is different in how safe they want to feel while they are out running and listening to music but there are some great headphones out there that are wireless and have an open ear design so that ambient noises can still be heard.  TREKZ Titaniums are a great example of great fitting headphones that don’t go into the ear yet still have incomparable music quality.
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Hydration Packs – This has become an extremely popular piece of equipment and a necessity for me for regular running, biking, and hiking.  Nothing on the market can compare to the Orange Mud line in every shape and size.  There are single bottle vests to double bottle HydraQuivers that are comfortable and carry much needed water without being cumbersome.
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Race Entries – What else says “I support you” more than finding an exciting race for the recipient?  Even better, signing up to run with them!  I know this runner would love it!  Running with friends, family, or loved ones is definitely a great way to bond.  Just make sure that you opt for a realistic or non-competitive race.

Shoes – While most runners are very specific about the brand name or type of shoe they compete in, gift certificates to running shoe stores or online gift cards are a great way to still support that special runner while getting them a vital part of their equipment.

BUFF® Headwear – Not only is this great for running, but you can wear it for virtually anything you do in the outdoors!  BUFF® headwear had an enormous selection of sizes and colors and have become a staple for most outdoor activities.

As you can see, this is a very short list of gift ideas but some great gear that most any runner would appreciate.

WHAT GIFT WOULD YOU MOST WANT OR NEED?

WHAT’S THE BEST RUNNING GIFT YOU’VE RECEIVED?

Game Ready Injury Treatment System

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Now I wouldn’t have even known about this gem until I hurt myself and ended up getting surgery.  My orthopedic doctor has been a huge fan of the Game Ready System and prescribes it to most of his knee surgery patients.  Though it wasn’t covered by insurance, the low cost of rental was way worth it!  I had a quad tendon tear and had it repaired and sutured together and reattached to the patella.  This had to be opened up so no small incisions from arthroscopy.  This meant more pain and more surface area that was prone to infection and longer healing.

So what is this system?

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Game Ready is a cold and compression therapy in a revolutionary treatment system that sets a new standard of care in injury and post-operative recovery.  You can simply and simultaneously apply active pneumatic (air) compression and adjustable cold therapies to reduce swelling, minimize pain, and speed and enhance your body’s natural healing abilities.

The unit was brought to my house a few hours after my surgery by the local rep and he set it up and explained the easy to use functions on it.  There were preset options that I used to give me 30 minutes of cold and compression and then 30 minutes of rest.  Of course, the settings can be tweaked depending on your needs.  There are also tons of attachments for the extremity you need work on.  That includes everything from shoulder wraps, to cryo caps for the head, C-T Spine wrap, elbow, hand, groin, hip, ankle, long arm, long leg, and traumatic amputee wraps!  They’ve got it all covered!

The system is being used by just about every major league and sport team as well as tons of high school and collegiate sports and sports across the world.  The whole list of users is HERE!

I’ve only been using it for two days and will continue it for about two weeks but can tell you that it has definitely kept my swelling down and that cryotherapy feels incredible.  It goes on pretty easy and my immobilizing brace can be placed over it as well.  I fill it with ice every couple of hours to maintain the 34 degrees I was prescribed.  I wish I owned this thing but that would mean I’d have to get injured too often!
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