Nov 29, 2016

A Giveaway for Giving - Donate to Sophie and Madigan's Playground

Today is Giving Tuesday (as I write this), so I'm sharing with you a way I'm helping to give, and a way you can give to others. I recently announced that for the Dopey Challenge at Walt Disney World this January, I'll be running for a charity: Sophie and Madigan's Playground. When I announced my working with the charity, I offered up some additional reasons to donate, some perks for your donations. I also mentioned that I was working on a giveaway. I'm happy to now share that giveaway with you.

A quick bit about the charity

Sophie and Madigan's Playground is a 501(c)(3) charitable organization created to honor the lives of Sophie and Madigan Lillard. Their mission is an uplifting one, but not without a heartbreaking background.
On January 31, 2013, the Lillard family of Myersville, Maryland was struck by unthinkable tragedy when a horrific house fire claimed the lives of their daughters Sophie and Madigan, killed the family's four pets, destroyed their home and virtually all the family's possessions, and hospitalized the surviving family members.

As Sophie and Madigan's parents struggled to cope with the loss of their daughters, they looked for a way to honor the memory of Sophie and Madigan and pay tribute to the joy Sophie and Madigan brought their family and friends during their too short lives.

Having lost all their possessions, the Lillards were left with no physical reminders of Sophie and Madigan...none of the toys Madigan and Sophie played with, the clothes they wore, their hand drawn pictures and art projects, their favorite books, handmade jewelry...the list goes on and on. The Lillards were struck by the harsh reminder of how important memories are, especially those memories that a family creates together.

At the same time the Lillards were coping with this horrible loss, they were touched by the outpouring of support provided by the greater Frederick County, Maryland community that was rocked by the tragedy.

The Lillards realized that by creating a memorial park and themed playground, they could create a place that honors Sophie and Madigan in a way that reflects their personalities and spirits, while at the same time provide the community with a place where children and their families could build memories together that last a lifetime.

The Lillards created Sophie and Madigan's Playground in June 2013 to honor the lives of Sophie and Madigan by providing opportunities for children and their families to play, learn, and create lifelong memories together.
Having two children of my own makes the mission of this charity personal to me. I think giving other children and families happiness is a great way to honor the memory of Sophie and Madigan.

The Fundraising

In racing for Sophie and Madigan's Playground, I have a fundraising goal for $1,100. You can help by donating on my runner page. While the good this money will do for the mission of the organization is reason enough to donate, I'm going to offer you additional incentives, in a Kickstarter "perks"-like fashion. Based on levels you donate, I'm going to offer you some extra rewards as my personal thank you.

Every $5 == Giveaway Entry
First and foremost, I'm offering a giveaway to any donors of at least $5. For each $5 you donate, you'll earn an entry for a giveaway package, to be drawn in conjunction with Walt Disney World Marathon weekend. That means $5 gets you 1 entry, $10 gets you 2, and so on (maths people). Here's what you can win so far:

BibRave Trucker Hat + BibRave Tattoos
I'll start you off with the first items donated to me, from the team at BibRave. As you know, I'm an ambassador for BibRave and BibChat as a BibRavePro. I've had a lot of great opportunities teaming up with this fantastic group of people. They were the first to offer up items for my raffle. Thanks to the BibRave team, you can be sporting this awesome BibRave Trucker Hat as well as some BibRave temporary tattoos. (Image from

XX2i Gift Certificates
Next up, one of my favorite brands, which you've seen featured many times on this blog: XX2i. This awesome eyewear brand has given me several gift certificates good for a free pair of sunglasses of your choice! Pick the frame and color you want most. Since I have several of these, I may use some as early giveaways as we build towards our giveaways, so the earlier you donate, the more chances you'll have to win a pair. You could choose from many that I've written about (shown below): France1, USA1 (my wife's favorite), Bermuda1, Australia1 (my goto running glasses), Brazil1 (my goto everyday), or one of the frames I haven't personally tried out yet.

AfterShokz Trekz Titanium
Another of my favorite products that I use almost every run are my AfterShokz headphones. I love these headphones because they give me my music (without wires) on my run but also keep me safe with their unique, advanced, open ear design. You can read my full thoughts from my review written earlier this year but the tl;dr version is best way to have your music without compromising your safety. AfterShokz has provided me a pair to give away to you, in the same color I rock regularly: Ivy (green / black). Plus, they're bluetooth, so if you have a phone that ditched the headphone jack, they've got your back.

The Square: Clean Bottle
The next product I have for you is pretty unique in that you can't currently buy it, only back it on Kickstarter. It's The Square. It's a large, 32 oz bottle. It's square, so it won't go anywhere if it falls. It's got a convenient handle built into the top. Plus, one of my favorite features, the bottom also screws off for easy cleaning. I hate trying to get the bottle of a water bottle clean. It's even BPA-free and comes with a lifetime guarantee. You can win one here with your donations to Sophie and Madigan's Playground or go back the Kickstarter right now. Or do both. (Image from

Donated by Me:

I wanted to throw in a couple items myself to the raffle, to share with you more of what I love. To start, I'm going to throw in some of my hydration of choice: Nuun. I'll be giving you an assortment of 4 different tubes, including a tube from my stash of can't be bought Kona Cola. I'll also throw in an individually packaged trial of Plus for Nuun, great for adding some carbs to your hydration for your longer runs.

Walt Disney World Mystery Item
Lastly, I'll be giving you a little something from the Disney Parks. While I'm in the magical happy place of Walt Disney World for the races, I'll also pick up one last item to add into the raffle. What will it be? You'll have to wait to find out.

Want to win? Go donate now!

The Other Perks

I've already written all about the perks you can get for your donation. These are little ways for me to say thank you to everyone, since only one person can win the big giveaway. Below is the quick version, or read the full post.

$1: Website Thank You
Every donation will come with a heartfelt thank you on my website.

$10: Social Media Shoutout
The next reward is also electronic, but I'll shout my thanks to the internet beyond my site and into the world of Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and even reddit if I need to!

$25: Disney Trading Pin
I'm going to offer you one of my own assorted pins, as a thank you for a donation of $25.

$40: Postcard from Walt Disney World
For the next level of donation, I'm going to offer you one fun bit of mail, a postcard direct from Walt Disney World, sent with my personal handwritten thanks.

$150: Pick a Race Costume (first 2 donors)
One thing I love about runDisney is the number of race costumes. For this perk, you pick what my costume will be and I'll find a way to make it work. This offer is up for grabs for up to 2 people who donate at least $150. Of course, I'll also throw in ALL the other perks above and plenty of thanks (and photographic evidence!).

How to Donate

Donating is easier than obtaining a FastPass for Frozen: Ever After! All you need to do is head over to my runner's page and selecting "Sponsor Me". Then, all you have to do is fill out your information and decide how much you want to donate. Submit and you're done! You've helped me and, more importantly, you've helped out Sophie and Madigan's Playground.

Now, some of my perks require me sending you a little something or needing your social media account. So, for all of these, you'll need to drop me a line. You can choose to send me a message via Twitter, Facebook, or an email via john at Since I don't control the page you donate through, this is the easiest way to ensure I get your information.

Thank you for reading all the way through and thank you so much to all of you who donate!

UPDATE: I'm also linking up with Running with SD Mom and Erica Finds for the Wednesday Giveaway Round Up, so go check out their other giveaways for chances to win.

Nov 26, 2016

Down Under: AERODAKS Running Briefs Review | BibRavePro

Disclaimer: I received the AERODAKS Running Briefs to review as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador, tell them I sent you), and check out to review find and write race reviews!

Ok, this post is going to have some straight shooting talk. We're going to need to approach a topic you don't often engage in. We're going downtown, we're talking underwear. More specifically: running underwear. Everything else you wear for running is specialized: your shirt, your shoes, your shorts and tights, your socks, even your hat and your sunglasses, but what about your underwear? Everything deserves that high level of attention. Everything.

What do you have for me and the boys?

AERODAKS are underwear engineered for running comfort. The idea was born by a co-founder while running the Ultra Trail 100 race in Australia and wanting something he couldn't find: "Briefs that are actually comfortable to run with and keeps you dry and reduces chafing. Briefs that are actually made for running." They've worked to create an ergonomic design with micro-mesh fabric to make a unique product designed specifically for running. The fabric is breathable, moisture wicking, quick drying, and durable. The design is comfortable, with no side seams, an adjustable drawstring and double mesh (where it counts).
(Image courtesy of

Ground level

I want to start by laying out the ground level for me. For starters, I'm traditionally a boxer briefs guy, in my daily life and for running. I use athletic ones for running, but nothing actually design for or by runners. Second, I'm a bigger guy. I'm not your "traditional" runner build. I'm not saying I'm huge, but I'm not saying I'm in shape and just not a "normal" runner. I'm need to (and am working on) losing weight. But I am who I am. My body type just does play into testing something such as this product more than other products. I felt important to set this understanding first.

How do they feel?

While I'm not going to be switching away from my daily boxer briefs, trying these running briefs on were comfortable. They're very lightweight and breathable with a comfy fit. All the marketing about the fabric and the design holds up in the fit. Even being on the top end of the sizes the offer, they still fit me comfortably.

For my running, I actually had two different results. First, I ran with them in a more traditional outfit, under my running shorts. On that run, the underwear themselves performed well. They were comfortable, kept everything in place, and breathed well. While the underwear performed well, things weren't all perfect. Unfortunately, something you often have to deal with as a bigger runner is rubbing, and then the possibility of chafing. However, my thighs were not so lucky. I wear some looser shorts, so with just the briefs, there was some rubbing of my legs together. Now, it didn't get to the level of chafing, but had that potential. Now, just to reiterate, where the underwear was concerned, zero chafing.

This was a little bit of a let down, because the product themselves worked well, but in this case, they just didn't seem to work for me. As fate out have it, some cooler weather presented me with another option to test out, which i hadn't fully thought of on my own. On another run, I wore my AERODAKS running briefs in conjunction with my 2XU Elite MCS Compression Tights. You see, one of my pain points when wearing tights is that the boxer briefs are a little uncomfortable underneath. It's always chore to get them on without bunching at the bottom a little and other small annoyances. However, while I can acknowledge that going commando in tights is a legitimate option, I just can't bring myself to do so. Enter the AERODAKS. When paired with my tights on the run, I had an all around good experience. The underwear breathe, move with me, and keep everything where it should be. With the tights covering the areas outside the realm of the underwear, there was no other friction to cause discomfort, for an all around great feeling run. I found the way in which these underwear would work for me.

The Takeaway

I can say that I'm on who's never put much thought into my running underwear. I thought enough to pick some "athletic underwear" from the store, and it worked well enough so I just went with it. My experience with these running briefs shows me the value in paying attention here as well. Sure, when you are just out on a random Tuesday run, any "tech" shirt will do, but when you're running 13.1 miles on race day, you pick your high quality gear. Why doesn't a very important are get that same attention? While the briefs are not for me all the time, these will be getting a lot of use (with washes in between of course) all winter when I run in my compression and thermal tights. I do prefer these over my boxer briefs in this case and solves an annoyance I already had but never addressed. Despite being a big guy, the briefs still worked out for me. I would like to see what they could do if they put their attention to making some boxer briefs, but their story was about solving their need, which in turn solved one of mine. Don't over look this area any longer when it comes to gearing up.


This week's #bibchat will of course feature AERODAKS. Stop by on Tuesday, November 29th at 9pm EST to join in the good times that is bibchat. Interact with the team, with other BibRavePros, and all the other like minded runners that participate each week. You can plan on a giveaway as we always do, so there's always that added bonus for showing up.

Do you have special runderwear? What do you wear?

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Ok, I tried to be mature, but all post I fought back using Austin Powers euphemisms, so I have to at least leave you with a gif (AERODAKS NOT pictured below)

Nov 20, 2016

Styling and Profiling: XX2i Brazil1 Review | BibRavePro

Disclaimer: I received the XX2i Brazil1 sunglasses to review as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador, tell them I sent you), and check out to review find and write race reviews!

If you're familiar with my blog, you know how I love me some sunglasses. You'll also know my brand of choice is XX2i. As a BibRavePro, I've had the lucky opportunity to review several pairs of their sunglasses: the France1, USA1, Australia1, and the Bermuda1. I recently received a new pair from their line of casual sunglasses to put to the test, the Brazil1. Read on to find out how these new frames stood up to the test.

So, what are these glasses?

The Brazil1 is from the line of casual glasses from XX2i. They first made fantastic performance sunglasses (see: France1USA1Australia1). Then, they took that same technology and materials and applied them to sleek and stylish designs for your everyday wear. The Brazil1 gives you a sleek and simple frame with just the right touches to make it stand out. Here's how they describe them:
With its extremely versatile and stylish frame, the Brazil1 is sure to be the first casual sunglass you grab as you’re headed out the door. Decorated with small silver accents and a unique keyhole shaped nosepiece, the Brazil1 turns head with sleek lines and simplicity. Available in Matte Black, Matte Tortoise, White & Black, and Crystal Black, the Brazil1’s classic color combinations make it a standout piece without speaking too loud. Using the same advanced materials as XX2i’s performance models, the Brazil1 comes standard with polarized lenses that employ 8K optical technology, ensuring the utmost frame durability and lens clarity. All XX2i shades come with a 365 day money back guarantee and a lifetime frame and lens warranty. Learn more at

How do they feel?

I like everything about this frame. The shape of the frame fits me really well and wears comfortably. I like how the shape looks on my face, and is very much a style I like. I received the Matte Black, which is my go to choice for sunglasses. I love how they look with the little touch of silver, giving them just a little something. The frame feels like but still sturdy. I don't feel a worry they're going to break. Well, I worry I might break them, but at my fault, not theirs (luckily, the lifetime, no questions asked warranty quells any worry I may have). I also can't say enough about their lenses. They call them their "8K optical technology" and whatever they do, they look fantastic. The world just looks nicer with them on, haha.

Now, I did mention that they fit my face just right. While the performance line has adjustable temple tips and adjustable nose pads, the casual line does not. My wife like the look of these glasses, and loved the lenses, but on her face, the bridge and top of the frame just didn't fit her right. They were not quite comfortable (I could tell she wanted them to fit well so she could steal them though). Luckily, they also offer a 365 day money back guarantee, so if she had bought them, she'd still be alright.

I put these glasses through their paces, first out and about in Virginia. I used them for driving to and from work, out on walks, bright and not so bright days, and they worked great. Then, I recently took a week long trip to Florida (Walt Disney World, to be precise) and used these glasses every day. The Florida sun was no match for these glasses. I was also able to throw the zip case in my backpack to store them in and the soft microfiber bag in my pocket for quick on and offs (and many cleanings of the two year old's fingerprints). I even wore them for most of the 12 hour drive back home. The whole trip they were comfortable, did their job as sunglasses should protecting my eyes, and frankly, I feel they just look good (which is really the second most important job for sunglasses.

Special Sale (Limited Time)

For a very limited time, you can save 60% off the MSRP of $99.99 with limited discount code: BRAZIL1. The code is valid only from now till midnight Tuesday (November 22nd), so act now to save. That's HUGE savings off these great glasses that really are worth every penny. You may be cool now, but are you "two year old in sunglasses" cool? Don't forget, that comes with the tank protector case (perfect for a less gentle person or parent with a destructo kid), a soft carrying bag (that is microfiber and therefore doubles as a lens cleaner), free U.S. shipping, the 365 money back guarantee, as well as the no questions asked lifetime warranty.

The Takeaway

These glasses are now my go to pair for everyday wear. I feel good in them, they look great, and the lenses are awesome. While I'm not one to mind wearing performance sunglasses all the time, it's nice to have a separate pair for just that purpose. These sunglasses give me that everyday wearable pair that add that little bit that only a good pair of sunglasses can.


This week's #bibchat will of course feature XX2i. Stop by on Tuesday, November 22nd at 9pm EST to join in the good times that is bibchat. Interact with the XX2i team, with other BibRavePros, and all the other like minded runners that participate each week. You can plan on a giveaway of these great glasses, as always, so there's always that added bonus.

What's your go to sunglasses?

Nov 6, 2016

Right on the Tight: LEGEND Compression Performance Socks Review | BibRavePro

Disclaimer: I received the LEGEND Compression Performance Socks to review as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador, tell them I sent you), and check out to review find and write race reviews!

As runners, our most important parts are our legs and are feet. Not coincidentally, those are the areas that get the sorest AND also need the most recovery. One thing I've always loved for both are compression socks. So when the opportunity arose to test out a new brand, I'm jumped at the opportunity to sock it up.

Who's the LEGEND?

LEGEND Compression Performance Socks are socks designed to "enhance power and endurance while supporting the shin, ankle, achilles, calf and arch of the foot." Now, in today's running work, a lot of companies make some form of compression sock. Not all socks are created equal. What makes LEGEND Compression Wear different is that the team has pulled from years of experience with medical grade compression products. They've applied that knowledge here to create a graduated compression product.

How do they feel?

I really liked the feeling of these particular socks. I like a good tight compression feeling. When I first received these, they touted them as #rightnottight, which made me wonder if they would be as firm of a compression as I've found I like. I have to say with these, I was not disappointed. They have a good firm compression on my calf muscle, without being overbearing. I also liked the band around the middle of the foot that provide a little bit of compression but also held the sock nicely in place. They offer "15-20 mmHg level of graduated compression", though I don't know exactly what that means, that level of compression feels good in my book.

When selecting my pair, I used their sizing guide, which to me fit true. I'm often on that border between L and XL for socks like this, and XL / XXL for other times, so finding the right fit for me is something I'm used to considering. The large pair fit my feet and calves just right.

I do want to share one little thing that was a welcome change. While the compression was just as tight as others I like, they were significantly easier to get on my foot and over my heal. That is one thing that bothers me so much about these kinds of socks, some are just a trial to get them on your foot, and then back off. This suffered from no such problem while not loosing any compression. Whatever they did, keep doing it.

I gave these a try both out on a run and back around the house for recovery. While I like compression on my longer runs (maybe somewhere after the 5 mile mark I almost always do), I always love compression for recovery. On the run, the were comfortable, the tops stayed up and the bottoms stayed in place. Pretty much everything you want in socks. They also performed just as well for recovery. Where it is from the pounding of a run, the workout of a cross training day, or just too many hours in a car, these socks felt good on my legs and helped them feel better, faster than they otherwise would. Sometimes my wife laughs at me when I'm wearing them around in the evening, but they feel good, so I'm not bothered by it.

The Takeaway

I'm a person that loves compression. That means for good compression, I may like a lot of brands. But I'm also a little more critical of what I'd call "good compression". These definitely fall into that category. Their team's strong background in medical compression technology seems evident in its design, but it is a great runner's product. Comfy, easy to get on, and still a snug fit makes for a great pair of socks in my book. That is precisely what the LEGEN Compression Performance Socks are.


Want a pair for yourself? You can save 15% at LEGEND Compression Wear with the code bibsave15. Just enter the code at checkout. Perfect to gift yourself a little something or some early shopping for Christmas.

More Reviews

You don't have to just take my word on it. See what my fellow BibRavePros have to say about it.



This week's #bibchat will be featuring LEGEND Compression Wear. Stop by on Tuesday, November 8th at 9pm EST to join in the good times that is bibchat. Interact with the LEGEND team, with other legendary BibRavePros (see what I did there?), and all the other like minded runners that participate each week. Plus, you can always count on a giveaway on BibChat. All you have to do to win is participate.

Do you run in compression? What about recovery?