Aug 17, 2016

Tropicolored Running: The Color Run Baltimore Recap and Review | BibRavePro

Disclaimer: I received entry into the Color Run 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 BibRave.com to review find and write race reviews!

After a delay of the even from the spring to the late summer, I finally had my opportunity to run the Color Run Baltimore. This was not my first time doing a Color Run, but I was really looking forward to taking a break for a fun run. The Color Run likes to be known as "the Happiest 5K on the Planet" through a goal to celebrate "healthiness, happiness, and individuality" with a lot of color mixed in. With that goal in mind, I have to say I had an overall happy and fun experience.

The Delay

I want to start with something that doesn't really happen with races. The Color Run Baltimore was originally scheduled for May 21st. You may remember the giveaway of Color Run swag I had for you back in the spring. Unfortunately, there were "extenuating circumstances surrounding legal proceedings in the city and an overwhelming strain on the police force". This caused the race to be moved to August 13th. Foremost with any race has to be safety. Given the situation, they made the tough decision to move the date. I feel they handled a difficult situation as best as they could. Your registration was automatically moved to the new date, but you also had the options to switch to another date for the tour. While there are a variety of dates around the country, the next closest to Baltimore was Washington D.C., which was the week before and therefore already past. I'm sure they had an option if none of the other future dates did not work for you, but it wasn't directly addressed in their emails. For myself, the August weekend still worked well for me, so I didn't need to do anything about my registration.

The Swag

The Color Run offers several levels of registration. This is a nice way to do it. If you just want to enjoy the race, they have the Classic Color Runner, which includes your bib, a sweatband, some tattoos, a t-shirt, and your finishers medal. Don't want to bother with race morning pickup? You can select the Classic+, which gets you the Classic Kit delievered right to your door ahead of the race. I did not get this with my registration, but for things I will mention later in the post, would have really appreciated it. The third option is the Deluxe Color Runner Kit, which includes the Classic Kit, the shipping, and some additional swag. In the Deluxe kit, you also receive a hat, a lei, and some TCR sunglasses.

I received a swag pack, the same as the one I gave away, which was also very similar to the Deluxe kit. The swag was all pretty nice. The shirts were very soft and comfy, something I love from a race shirt. The sunglasses were alright, better than your standard cheap type you see in that style, where anyone slaps their logo on. They've held up to my 4 and 2 year olds wanting to wear them, so that says something for them. The finisher's medal is good as well, a nice addition from the last time I ran the Color Run (which had no medal).

I did not have my packet mailed to me, so had to do race day pickup. Pickup was very easy, one set of lines for your bib then onto the next tables for your swag. There was one hiccup. Parking was a little at a premium at the park, so I was parked a little further away. This meant no time to take everything back to my car. The race only allowed for clear bags to be brought into the complex. All communications leading up to the race mentioned that you could buy a clear drawstring bag for a small fee that would go to the children's charity. Unfortunately, there were no bags. They did the best the could by offering simple shopping bags for free to hold your stuff, but it made for a slightly awkward running experience. Had we known, we would have brought our own, however planned to buy one to support the charity. I guess next time, bring one to be prepared.

The Race

The race course wound around the grounds of the Camden Yards Sports Complex. The course looped around Oriole Park at Camden Yards as well as M&T Bank Stadium. The route was all paved parking lots and sidewalks. This made for some hot running. The day would top out at 98 °F with 97% humidity. We had some shade, depending on the side of the stadium we were on, but the heat was rough. We carried water with us, plus there were several water stops on the course. After running the initial bit, we decided to walk the rest and play it safe in the heat. The number of color stops on the course was really great. Each station had a different color, followed by the last having several. The amount of color you'd get in each stop really would depend on the volunteer at that time, though if you didn't get enough for your liking, you could simply ask for a little more (which I did on one occassion. They were good about not being overzealous, for those that may not have wanted to get quite as colorful. Despite the heavy heat, we had a fun time. For a race like this, it is what you make of it. The one improvement I would suggest to the course would be some more music. The start line and finish line had music, which at times you could hear when the course wound close enough. Simply running some speaker lines out to the course and pumping the same music would be enough to keep it fun and lift some spirits, in conditions like these. The "party-like" atmosphere they keep would be a good fit for this as well.

The After Party

While other races have a great pre-race experience in expos, one of the things they do well at the Color Run is the post-race party. They usually team up with some companies, so there are plenty of snacks (like KIND bars) and water. They always have a stage with a DJ set up for a colorful party. They throw out Color Run swag into the crowd as well as color packets. Then they'd build to a countdown to throw the color into the air. It can be a lot of messy fun.


In addition they have photo spots set up where you can get your picture taken with various backdrops and props, themed to the race theme, such as a giant Color Run Pineapple. These were obviously available for before or after, as well as some well received water balloons. If the free snack items weren't enough, there were several food stands available, everything from pulled beef and sausages, to orange aide, lime aide, and the favorite of the day, Hawaiian Shaved Ice.


While I didn't run the race for time, I'm sharing my tracking with you to see the course.

Race Review (tl;dr)

Easy flat course for a fun 5K. Room for improvement, but a good all around experience.

Race grade: B

Check out my review on BibRave

Final Take Away

Did I have a good time?
Yes. We enjoyed ourselves in the heat.

Was it hot?
Soooooo hot.

Would I do it again?
Yes, so long as I have good company again to enjoy it. I'd like to try one at a more enjoyable temperature.

Do you ever run more 'fun runs'?


#BibRavePro

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Aug 15, 2016

Performance Glasses for Intense Life: XX2i Australia1 Review | BibRavePro

Disclaimer: I received the XX2i Australia1 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 BibRave.com to review find and write race reviews!

As a kid growing up needing glasses, I always wanted so badly to get to wear some "cool shades" like everyone else. Then, the day came in high school when I got contact lenses, and finally I wasn't on the outside looking in. While I no longer wear contacts every day, I do wear them every time I run. I'm more comfortable that way, and I can then also wear some sunglasses by my favorite brand: XX2i. As a BibRavePro, I've had the lucky opportunity to review the France1USA1 and even the casual style of the Bermuda1. I consider it a very lucky opportunity I've had, and is perfect for me since I love my sunglasses. I recently went on vacation to Florida, and my wife and I both rocked a pair of XX2i every sunshine filled day. When I returned home, I had a brand new pair courtesy of XX2i to try, their newest pair, the Australia1.


What makes these different?

If you follow my blog, and have read the reviews, you may be wondering why review another pair. The reason why is there are a decidedly unique pair from XX2i, different from anything I've shown you so far. XX2i has created a performance pair of glasses that can truly take anything you can throw at them, with two key features. First, they offer an interchangeable temple arm and strap system, ready for your intense activities. With a simple press of a button on each side you can remove the temple arms and click in the comfortable and adjustable strap, keeping your glasses secure no matter how you bounce and shutter. They'll even stand up to a truffle shuffle. Second, they offer a removable padded insert, for added protection against the elements. The insert is also very easy to add and remove from the frame.

How do they feel?

I really like this frame. The frame is a wraparound style, which is one of my favorites. In this pair, the wraparound gives you a wide field of vision, by wrapping the polarized lenses out around the side. The glasses included their 8k optical technology, which means you get the best polarize lens clarity. Ignoring the technical name, I can say everything simply looks good. While the adjustability of these frames comes from the switchable and insertable pieces, they do lose some of the other features you may remember from the other frames. Mainly, you lose the adjustable nose pads. Frankly, this is a simple case of not really being feasible, if you want to have the padded insert. For me, the nose of the frame still fit just fine without any adjustment needed. This may not be the case for everyone, but luckily for you, like all XX2i frames, they have a 365 day return policy for you to find out. I found the frame overall to fit me very comfortably with the normal temple arms or the adjustable strap.


When testing these frames, I knew I'd have no shortage of times to try out the base glasses. However, I was really struggling for a situation where I could really put the strap and padded insert to a test. They seem like they'd be awesome for some water based or winter time activities, but I don't really have access to the water sports or winter right now. Then, as fate would have it, I had a race delayed from the spring that came up this weekend which was a great opportunity to test out both the insert and strap. Enter the Color Run. It may not be normal adverse weather, but flying color powder on a hot sunny day was a perfect test, which the glasses passed with flying colors (pun intended). The sun was beating down and the color was everywhere but my eyes stayed unstrained from the sun and untouched by the color (which got everywhere else). The padding was comfortable, though a little warm. I could feel some sweating from it, though none ended up in my eyes nor did it fog up the lenses. Frankly, it was 110° with the heat index, so everything was sweating.


These performance glasses come at a price above some of the others from XX2i. Frankly, that is to be expected for a high end design such as this. They current sell for $124.99, but you can save 50% with the code XX2iRocks. Yes, that's half off these premium glasses. One of my favorite things about XX2i that I feel I need to mention is the deal you get with every pair: 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

Once again, XX2i has impressed me with another pair of glasses. Simply as glasses, I find them comfortable, I love the look of the matte black with the polarized lenses, and they give a crisp, clear, and wide field of vision. Add in the replaceable strap and the removable padded insert, and you go beyond simply glasses. If you're looking for a pair that will stand up to any of life's adventures, no matter how intense things get, these are the pair for you.

#bibchat

This week's #bibchat will of course feature XX2i. Stop by on Tuesday, August 16th 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.

Discount

Want a pair of your own? Need a pair to stand up to your active life? Inspired to take up something intense thanks to the Olympics? Well you're in luck. Use the code XX2iRocks to save a huge 50% off at www.xx2i.com. Yes, that number is in fact half off your order, so don't delay.


What's your favorite style of sunglasses?


Aug 12, 2016

Five Foods of Disney | #FridayFive

I'm back with another post for the Friday Five linkup. This week's topic is food and drink, a subject I very much enjoy. I recently took a trip to my favorite place, Walt Disney World. While I haven't had a chance to post anything on the blog yet about the trip, I thought I'd take the time to share 5 quick pick of Disney food and drink this week. Enjoy!


1. Giant Jar of Soda - Whispering Canyon Cafe


I'll start with a little something to drink. Ok, maybe not so little. If you ever get a chace to, Whispering Canyon Cafe at Disney's Wilderness Lodge is a very fun time. Our server thought I "looked thirsty" so I got this giant mason jar of soda. I of course took it as a challenge, so pushed through and finished it, of course. If you do dine here, be sure to ask for ketchup.

2. Chicken Tikka Masala - Yak & Yeti Restaurant


Next, I'll share my dish from a restaurant from Disney's Animal Kingdom that I feel is sometimes overlooked, but delicious: Yak & Yeti Restaurant. I always love the Thai Chili Chicken Wings as a starter. This time, for my main dish I went with the Chicken Tikka Masala. It was fantastic. It had a bit of a kick (but in a way I liked) that goes great with the naan bread.

3. Dinner and a Show - Teppan Edo


If you'd like some tasty food cooked right in front of you, I recommend checking out Teppan Edo in the Japan pavilion of Epcot. It's your traditional hibachi grill, so you get some great food cooked by the chef at your table, with a little flair. They'll have a little fun when they cook, depending on what you order you might get the dancing chicken or the shrimp in the hat. I went with the beef & chicken combo, which provided a lot of food for a good price. My usual favorite is a grilled swordfish steak, but wasn't available this trip.

4. German Feast - Biergarten Restaurant


One place I've wanted to eat for a while is Biergarten Restaurant in the Germany pavilion at Epcot. It usually just works out that it's not something that interests the group. This trip, that didn't matter as my father-in-law and myself decided we would go anyway just the two of us. Biergarten offers a buffet of traditional german fare, including bratwurst, pork schnitzel, spätzle, apple strudel, and a surprisingly good lemon cheesecake. As you can see, I tried a little of it all, much more than I listed here. I paired it with a flight german beers, which I followed with another stein to go with it.

5. 10 o'clock Ice Cream - Everywhere


Lastly, we have to finish with a family tradition I talked about on the DisDads podcast: 10 o'clock ice cream. It goes like this: you're on vacation, so at 10 am, you can have ice cream. Simple. Direct. Delicious. The key is finding the ice cream carts that are open, but the important part is there are ones open to get your Mickey Premium Ice Cream Bar on. As you can see, a tradition loved by all.

What do you like to enjoy on vacation?


Linking Up

Check here for some links out to others sharing, staring with our three lovely hosts: CourtneyCynthia and Mar. Check their posts (Eat Pray Run DC, You Signed Up for What?! and Mar on the Run to see the full set of links). I will add some others, usually randomly, as I read them to share the love. Go visit and keep reading!

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