My thoughts on not running Chicago in 2018

I’ll have to be honest that I sat around most of the day waiting to hear if I got into the 2018 Chicago Marathon.  After finishing 2017, I told everyone that I was retiring from marathons.  It’s been hard on the body, the mind, and the training was timely.  I could barely walk after the race and my knees were just fed up.  Crossing the finish line was a lot of work and the way I trained was just not right for me.  Don’t even get me started on what happened in 2016!  The support I had was immense as is common in the running community.  I needed to prove something to myself to do better than I did.  That’s primarily why I opted in to the 2018 lottery.

I woke up to many friends excited about getting in and as I watched the social media posts throughout the day, I was optimistic that I’d be toeing the line with them.  Then around 2:30pm, I got this…

2018 Marathon.jpg

At first, I felt like I got punched in the stomach and talked to a few friends and then immediately posted my disappointment on social media.  Taking a step back, I looked at the big picture .  I never thought I’d attempt to be a runner, let alone a marathon and was fortunate enough to run the Chicago Marathon twice.  I made some incredible running friends and felt like I was taking away their joy of getting in.  Reality and what is important should be my main focus.

So, where am I going with all of this?  2018 will be my year of taking my training seriously.  My goals:

  • Hire a running coach
  • PR my 5K
  • PR my half marathon
  • Run a 50 miler trail race
  • Travel a little more to destination races
  • Meet more running friends
  • Volunteer and/or support my friends at next years marathon




Another year as a BibRave Pro!

2018 will be my third year as a BibRave Pro and I’m lucky to be part of such a great family.  I probably still run today thanks to this group of supportive runners.  Aside from the online support, I’ve been fortunate to meet and call many of them my friends.  I hope that 2018 brings me closer to meeting many more in person.

So for those that don’t know what a BibRave Pro is, I’ll lay it out for you!  Simply put, it’s a great motivated group of runners and athletes that are active on social media and love everything about running, races, and gear.  We wear the orange, we run the races, we promote the events, we try out the gear.  BibRave Pros are privileged to have their race entries covered for promoting everything about the race, from the registration to the expos, to the finish parties!  Then, there’s the gear and equipment!  I’ve been lucky to test out some of the best gear out there like AfterShokz, Orange Mud, Under Armour, Garmin, BOCO Gear, Knuckle Lights, and tons more.  See my pics below for some more goodies that I’ve tested out.

Some of the gear I’ve tested!

Some of the races!

Join us on every Tuesday evening at 8pm CST for #BibChat on Twitter.  We discuss all of the intricacies of running and host some great companies with prizes each week!


Knuckle Lights COLORS – Review

“Disclaimer: I received a free pair of Knuckle Lights COLORS to review as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out to review find and write race reviews!”

If you run anytime at dusk or dawn or in low light conditions, Knuckle Lights COLORS is a must have piece of gear!  Many of my runs are in the early hours or more often at dusk since my days are pretty busy.  I was never one to “be visible” when I ran in low light conditions and I should know better being a paramedic!  Now that I’m older and wiser, I take safety a lot more serious.  Aside from wearing bright clothing, I wanted to try the Knuckle Lights out since many of my fellow running friends use them and had nothing but positive things to say.


Right out of the package, I was surprised just how light and comfortable they were.  The set of lights comes with AA batteries ready to go.  The hand strap is adjustable for just about any sized hand with a simple adjustment to the silicone strap.  Being only 3 ounces, they are perfect for any distance run or hike.  The power switch is in a perfect spot for your thumb and the lights come in three settings depending on your needs.

On my first use, I was pleasantly surprised just how bright the high setting was and comfortable to carry.  I used to run and bike with a headlamp and just didn’t like how it squeezed my head.  Plus, I had to move my head around to light up the area I was looking for.  With the Knuckle Lights, I could point and shoot a bright beam of light wherever I wanted.  The ease of use is a huge plus with a simple push of the button to change the setting.  I’m not sure how long the battery will work on high beams, but I’ve seen other BibRave Pros saying that you can get around 4 hours on high, 8 hours on low, and 12 hours on flashers.

Some additional features:

120 TOTAL LUMENS — The extra bright lights emit a wide flood beam, providing a steady, even light in front of you that does not bounce, even with your arms moving.
2 LIGHTS PER SET — The units connect together magnetically. The soft silicone straps are easily adjusted to fit any size hand and even over gloves. The units are almost unnoticeable at less than 3 ounces each.
3 POWER SETTINGS — High, Low and Blinking.
BATTERIES INCLUDED — Each unit operates on 1 X AA battery
WATERPROOF — The units are fully waterproof and can be used in any type of weather, and will operate in below freezing temperatures down to -20 Celsius.

If you’re interested in getting yourself a pair, the lights retail for $39.99, and you can save 15% using the code “BIBRAVEPRO” at the Knuckle Lights website.

Join us for @BibChat on Tuesday, December 5th at 8pm CST for your chance to win!

Please read the reviews from some of my fellow BibRave Pros:
Katie, Vanessa, Casey, Sam, Mike, Heather,

BOCO Gear 360 Visor and Hat

“Disclaimer: I received a free BOCO 360° Visor® and Run Hat to review as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out to review find and write race reviews!”

If you know anything about me, then you know I have an extensive collection of hats and visors.  Close to 200 hats hang in my garage awaiting their turn to sit on my head!  I was eager to try out the BOCO Gear 360° Visor® and Hat.  Their website lists some impressive organizations and companies that use their line of hats, visors, and other gear like IRONMAN®, Ragnar, Hoka, GU, Cervélo, and Clif Bar.

Considering I pretty much live outdoors and ALWAYS wear hats, I’m always looking for something that fits well, looks cool, and will last with my lifestyle.  Hats get tons of wear and tear with me and once I find that perfect fit, I wear it until it pretty much falls off.  I was pleasantly surprised at the bright bold orange colors on the BibRave 360° Visor® and hat right out of the package.  They were both lightweight yet you could tell were made with quality.

The 360° Visor®

  • Lightweight wicking materials outside
  • Wicking internal sweatband to move sweat from your forehead
  • Soft brushed elastic back for comfort and fit
  • Relaxed fit front panel for a better performance and comfort
  • Curved bill
  • Machine washable

For the most part, I used the 360° Visor® on each and every run for the last month and that included some aggressive hiking and rainy day runs.  The visor held up extremely well and did not lose its shape or even fade after a few washes.  I became notorious for my orange visor on my runs and races.  I really like how it feels on my head and the feel does not “squeeze” and give me a headache after longtime wear.  The hat was my go-to for mountain biking and didn’t disappoint.  I wore it both forward and backwards (when I decided to bike fast and hard!”

Check out the great selection of hats , visors, and gear as well as their social media links:

Please read the reviews from some of my fellow BibRave Pros:
Amanda, Amy, Amy S, Angie, Bradley, Connie, Dane, Fallon, Gina, Heather, Jeannine, Jessica, Jonathan, Kolbe, Lindsey, Lisa, Mai, Mark, Matthew, Meredith, Nora, Vanessa

Garmin Forerunner 935 Review

“Disclaimer: I received a Garmin Forerunner 935 Multisport GPS Watch from Garmin to review as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out to review find and write race reviews!”

I’ve been using the Garmin Forerunner 935 religiously for the last month and have learned so much from the time I started.  My training has been adjusted by the data obtained from the watch.  There is so much data that is recorded and shared with the Garmin Connect app every time it syncs.  It took just a short while to understand what all of the numbers mean and it was pretty user friendly.  While I kept a dozen or so widgets on the Forerunner 935, I’m reviewing a few of my most used features below.

Sleeping Patterns – Being a career firefighter, my sleep patterns are anything but normal.  While on duty, I’m lucky to get 4-5 hours of uninterrupted sleep.  After using the watch and syncing it to my iPhone and the Garmin Connect app for the last month, I’m seeing the times when I move throughout the night and jump into deep sleep patterns or movement.  It was eye opening to see how much light sleeping or moving I’m doing throughout the night.  Once synced with my iPhone, the chart shows how much movement I am having throughout the night.  I was pretty shocked to see how much unproductive sleep I was getting and wondering why I was so tired in the mornings.  While setting up the watch, you can tailor it to your specific needs and wants including how much sleep you expect each evening.  If you reach your goal, the Garmin Connect app checks it off of your list and then compares it on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis.


Training Status/Productivity – The Forerunner 935 has opened my eyes to how ineffective or effective my running and productivity really is.  It’s letting me know when my training was sufficient for my body needs and when I need to rest.  I learned when my body needed rest and actually how much rest depending on the quality of my workout and activity.  The watch would tell you exactly just how many hours you should let your body recover.  I found it to be very accurate compared to how my body or my legs felt.  Knowing when I was improving or needed to push myself just a little harder to get the results I was looking for.  This is one of the main reasons that I LOVE this watch.

IMG_7466.JPG  IMG_7369.JPG

Heart Rate – Having SVT, I monitor my heart rate quite a bit throughout the day.  I love the option of the optic heart rate and 4 hour HR history on the Forerunner 935.  Any time I run, I’m using another heart rate monitor around my chest to sync to the watch.  It synced right away by putting the monitor a couple of inches away from the watch and connects automatically when the run begins.  Setting the maximum and minimum HR levels also allows me to work in the correct zones for training or fat burning.  The additional HR monitor is not necessary as the optic reading on the back of the Forerunner 935 is pretty accurate.  It’s also great to see which HR zones I am working in and where I should be.  Many of my workouts have been in Zone 3 and 4 and shows me that I need to adjust and increase my cardio-respiratory endurance.


HR Zones.jpg

All in all, I am really impressed with the features and ease of use in this Forerunner.  My previous watch was so archaic compared to the 935.  I look forward to continuing my experience with the Forerunner and applying the results into my training especially when marathon training comes up.  I’ve purchased a few of the QuickFit® bands in a plethora of colors and they were super easy to switch out.  You can see more details/features here or purchase one for yourself!

Please read the reviews from some of my fellow BibRave Pros: Angie, Brenda, Casey, Emily, Gina, Heather, Jenna, Lindsey, Lisa, Mai, Mark, Meredith, Ryan, Samantha, Vanessa

New Years Eve 5K

“Disclaimer: I’m promoting the New Years Eve 5K as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out to review find and write race reviews!”

Are you looking for a fun short 5K race before you begin your New Years Eve festivities?  Chicago Sport & Social Club is hosting this year’s 5K and it will start and end at the Theater on the Lake.  The scenic 5K loop runs along Lincoln Park and the Lakefront.  All runners will receive a custom winter wearable and finisher toast and will be greeted with hot chocolate and warming blankets at the finish line.  There’s no better way to start your day and earn your right to party into the New Year!


5k registration fees
$35.00 – Nov 14 to Nov 27
$45.00 – Nov 28 to Dec 15
$55.00 – Dec 16 to Dec 31

Packet Pick-Up
Saturday, December 30
Fleet Feet Sports, Old Town (1620 N. Wells St.)
11am – 5 pm


Race Day
Race Village – Theater on the Lake
2401 N. Lakeshore Drive
7:30am – 8:30am

The New Year’s Eve 5K is proud to support Special Olympics Chicago as the charity partner.

Event Times
7:30am – gear check opens
8:30am – group stretch & warm up
8:45am – start corral opens
9:00am – 5k race begins
9:30AM – post race celebration
12:00pm – celebration ends

Orange Mud Adventure Pack 12L

I’ve been using the Orange Mud products for quite some time and own half of their products.  The latest item that I’m loving is the 12L Adventure Pack.  This pack caught my eye as I was planning a running/hiking trip out east in Maine.   I needed something to carry my water and gear that I planned to bring along for full day hikes.

On first inspection, the Adventure Pack was the perfect size and I was happy about the size of the storage area.  Besides water, I planned on carrying some photography and GoPro gear, light jacket, snacks, and other small items.  The pack itself was extremely comfortable and easily adjusted to fit me and how I prefer a snug fit.  Completely loaded with gear and water, the Adventure Pack was super comfortable to wear even while climbing aggressive rocks.

I tested this pack thoroughly through some technical climbs and tight spaces as well as on my long trail runs and mountain bike treks.  Not once did I have any issues with the weight or shifting or thought that it may affect my performance.  The quality of the pack was notable and I appreciated the details put into it.  I carry the large iPhone 7 plus and it fit well into the front small pockets and can be cinched snug.  Not one time did my phone come loose during the testing.  The 2 liter bladder fits in its own Velcro pocket and was snug enough that it didn’t slosh around.

With upcoming trips out west and longer trails and hikes, I plan on getting the 20L Adventure Pack for carrying even more while still having a choice in size for the water bladders.

Here’s a quick video of the type of hiking I did with my Adventure Pack!

Meditations in Motion

Running and life: thoughts from a runner who has been around the block

Track or Cushion

A topnotch site

Kellogs On The Run

Always running towards goals and dreams

Black Bean Queen

Running, vegetarian food, & navigating married life


A Wisconsin Mom training for a Triathlon & Adventures along the way!

Libertyville Running Club

If it ain't fun, you're doing it wrong!

The Jedi Mind Trick

Styling, Fashion, Fitness, Rants, Sports, and Quotes

Never A Dull Bling

The trials and tribulations of a 40-something novice runner

Run, Eat, Ralph

Running things and eliminating caloric deficits. Usually with pizza. And beer. And donuts.

AM Runs

The road to ultra... through a life lived with passion and compassion!

Running for My Life

Going through the Rolling Hills of Life


Getting to Life's Finish Line One Mile at a Time

Catherine Chicotka

A beauty, fashion, and travel lifestyle blog


I'm am learning to be a true runner.

The Swag Mama

Scoring sweet swag, reviewing awesome products and living the rad mom life.


A Blog for the Girl on the Run

Type 1 Running Shoes

Running with type 1 diabetes

Jolie La Vie

Ridding Ourselves of Excess Weight

runHARD – alwaysFINISH

Follow my journey in running, hiking, biking, and the outdoors!

See Amanda Run

Follow my journey in running, hiking, biking, and the outdoors!

Runner in Progress

All things running. The good, the bad and the ugly.

Follow my journey in running, hiking, biking, and the outdoors!

Emily A Nickles

Follow my journey in running, hiking, biking, and the outdoors!

Road Back to Boston

Follow my journey in running, hiking, biking, and the outdoors!

50 in 50 Marathon Quest

A fun look at life and running in the Pacific Northwest and my journey to run a marathon in every State.

Organic girl's Blog

My Life..My Words..

My Kind of FIT

...He's along for the run

See Sam Run

My journeys as a beginner distance runner

A Girl on a Search for Adventure

A blog about my travels and running adventures

Running Fast, Lifting Heavy

Running, Lifting, and Everything In Between

m a r g i n a l i a

notes from a creative writing PhD candidate

B In Transition

| Transition + Realign + Transcend |

Old Soul Marathoner

Adventures of a running-obsessed college girl with an old soul.


Follow my journey in running, hiking, biking, and the outdoors!


Follow my journey in running, hiking, biking, and the outdoors!

Kolbe Writes.

Writing, running, teaching.


Follow my running journey as I train for upcoming Races

Running Through Life

Journey's From The Road


living, loving, and running are what keeps me alive