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Apr 23, 2017

RumbleRoller Gator review

About six weeks ago I received the Rumble Roller Gator for review.  As many of you may know, I'm a huge fan of foam rollers.  Over the years, I've graduated from a simple foam roller to a much more structured foam roller.  While more expensive (typically $40-$150), a quality foam roller last a lot longer and give you better massage than a regular foam roller.  I've used numerous over the years as seen below.
You can see my obsession with foam rollers and there are lots of choices on the market
The RumbleRoller rollers are very solid, high quality rollers that should last you for your running career.  I will say that these rollers are not for the faint of heart as they really dig into your muscle, as they should, compared to a simple foam roller.
Big knobs versus small knobs
As shown above, in comparing the original RumbleRoller to the Gator, the knobs on the original are much larger.  They provide a much deeper massage into the muscle.  While i think the original is a great roller, many probably cannot handle how it feels until you get used to it.  The Gator is much better in this regard.

While the Gator also has knobs that give a nice massage, they don't dig into you so hard.  You can really slow down on the roller when using it so that you can work on a particular area.  The Gator is also better suited for home use and is not really travel friendly like the Original.
Smaller knobs
The roller itself has the same high quality materials from the original roller.  I think that it will stand up for years of abuse.  I've gone through numerous other brands and RumbleRoller has yet to wear out on me.  To give you an idea of use, I use a roller before and after every run and I also use it every evening before going to bed.  I also use it each morning that I don't run and sometimes more after marathons or longer races.  I use it even if NOT injured.  I'm sure I use a roller much more than your average runner but I also feel it helps keep me running healthy.
Quality product
RumbleRoller suggests rolling normally or holding the roller stationary while shifting your body (Cross Friction as they call it) against it to create shear forces.  This allows the roller to help pull tissues apart.  In my opinion, this helps you recover quicker.  I've always felt that the roller helped me get out the following day even if I didn't feel like it.
Close up of the knobs
If you have not used a foam roller before and are considering getting one, I think the Gator is a great option to try out.  For me, there are not a large amount of products that I feel I can't live without for running.  A Roller is one of them.  Interested in learning more?

Check out their Website.

Check out their Facebook page.

Check out their Twitter page.

Check out their Instagram page.

Have a great day and....Keep Running!!!!

Disclosure:  I received a Rumble Roller Gator in exchange for this review.

Mar 19, 2017

Seamus O'Possum's 30k Race Review

Short Version
Finished in 3:12:46 (official time); new PR since this was my first 30k race
Overall Place:  43/91
Men 40-49:  18/37
Men Overall:  32/50

Timed race #121

It was a long day for me.  I drove the longest I've ever driven race morning - over 3 hours!  Ran the race and then drove home.  The course was super muddy and made it challenging.  The park is pretty nice although I didn't bring my camera with me for this race.  It's probably not a race I'd run again.  Not that it wasn't organized but there wasn't anything special about it to bring me back.  If you have not run it before, it's one to run though and I'm happy that I did it.


Long Version
Registration/Packet Pickup/Start Area
My day started by leaving my home at 3am to get there in time for packet pickup and the race.  It took me three hours to get to the race.  I could have left at 4am and had plenty of time to get there but the weather was looking iffy so I decided to leave extra early.  I didn't need to since I ended up being the first one there (ha, figures!).  Registration was on Ultrasignup and very easy and I registered for the lowest price of $65 on New Years Day.
Delaware State Park, Delaware, Ohio
Packet pickup was very easy as this was a small race so I got my packet in literally minutes and then went back to my car to take a quick nap and stay warm before the race started.  The race did have a nice fire going by the start though.  You could also pick up your packet the day before, at the local brewery, if you were coming in from out of town.

Packet pickup was right at the start area so I was ready to go after picking up my packet.  I literally sat in my car until 5 minutes before the start which was nice since it was a little chilly out but otherwise a perfect morning for a trail race.  The race gives their money to the Special Olympics, a great cause, and they had a local athlete get us started.

This was a 30k race that was mostly on trails.  The trails were not extremely technical but there were technical parts on the course.  The first 10 miles were all on trails with the out and back.  It was interesting because there was a place where you needed to tear out a page from a book to prove you had been there.  The race never asked for it but it fun to do that.  There should have been a volunteer there though to tell us what to do.  I asked some runners that had run it before.  At least have a sign that says turn around and go back.  There were some volunteers before heading to this portion and they also helped you get back on track to head back to the starting area too.

Overall the course was not extremely hilly.  There were lots of little rollers but nothing really that steep except where you run by the dam wall and had to run up it and down it but it was nothing really.  The course was extremely muddy and there were bits of snow but overall the course was clear.  As we ran more, the course become more muddy.  There was no avoiding it and my shoes were wet after about 3 miles for the duration of the race.
Course info
There was a 10 mile option and a 30k option.  If you ran the 10 mile, you ran the first portion of the out and back course and finished.  If you were running the 30k, you went past the finish line after 10 miles and continued to run another 8 mile out and back.  I really enjoyed the first 10 miles of the race and hesitated as I came back in to just stop there but I came here to run 30k.  Had I lived in the area, I would certainly run the 10 mile option again.
Map - out and back for 10 then out and back for 8
The second out and back portion took you through some trails, running on the side of the road for 1.5 miles or so and around a parking lot in the park, crossing a river (which was very low this year) and then up to a dam wall where you ran that for about a mile or so.  It was all grass and you could tell that people run there regularly.  The dam was pretty cool actually.  I wish I had brought my phone to take a picture of it since it was so large.  Here's a picture I found online:
Dam at the State Park
As I mentioned, this was really the only hilly part and you can kind of see below how the elevation dips and goes up around 13-14 miles.  We basically ran to an aid station and then turned around.  I will say that there were lots of signs and ribbons to help us stay on track but the area after we ran by the dam to the aid station and back was quite confusing.  The race should have had someone there to direct people as there was one area that you crossed and people were going in different directions.  I followed the runners in front of me but it almost seemed like I missed part of the course.

While it was cool to run along the dam wall, it was freaking cold in this section.  It was really windy and next to the freeway so I was happy that I decided to keep my jacket and gloves with me.  I also put them in the car and would have been freezing had I done so.

As mentioned previously, we ran about 1.5 miles along the park road.  While you could have ran on grass, it was difficult because it was tilted to one side so I ended up running on the cement, as most other runners did too.  About mile 14, my IT band started to give me issues.  I have no idea why other than I ran the race much faster than I've been training.  Also, the mud made for difficult footing and could have made the IT band angry.  You can see that I slowed down quite a bit after mile 14.  

After I finished the race, and it showed me at 17.5 miles, I figured either I missed part of the course at that second turn around or the course was short.  In reviewing other runners results on Strava, it appears that I was in line for distance with all the other runners so I don't think I missed any part of it.

The theme for the race was definitely mud!  This is the muddiest race I've ever run.  For those of you in Michigan, I would compare it to The Legend half marathon when it's really muddy but much more muddy.  It seemed we were constantly running through thick pasty mud that was wet and slippery.  I actually really enjoyed it.
Aid Stations
The aid stations were fantastic.  The volunteers were awesome and asked us what we wanted as we ran up to them.  They were friendly and helpful.  The aid stations were stocked similar to an ultra race with lots of regular food and not just gatorade and water and GU.  In fact, I didn't see any GU which is fine by me.  I'd rather have regular food like an ultra.  I only took some pretzels but they also had cookies, candy, pickles and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.  Really well done!

Finish Area
The finish area was the start area.  In addition, it was also an aid station so for those that ran the 30k, you started there, hit it at about mile 10 then finished there.  The finish was perfect since it was right next to the parking lot as well so you were nice and close to your car.  There was an after race party at Stass' brewery with chili and beer but I missed it since I opted to head home after the race, given my three hour drive.

The race did a great job with amenities.  For your registration (which the race sold out by the way), you received a well marked course except for the part I mentioned at the dam.  They had great aid stations.  You received a Winter hat, a car sticker with the race logo on it, a custom bib (the M below was for sweatshirt size)
Car sticker, Winter Hat, Custom Bib
You also received a custom race shirt that is a nice design and color.  For me, I don't prefer the REALLY huge logo, not because of how big it is, but because of how it will likely make you hot when running in it given how large it is.  It would have been much better if they just made a nice 3x3 inch logo on the chest.
Race tech shirt
Instead of finishers medals, you received a finisher sweatshirt that you received after you were congratulated for finishing by the race director.  They also have a tradition where you sign the pole of the race finish line so I'm permanently affixed to the race.  Ha!

The sweatshirt appears to be made quite well and is very comfortable.  I'm wearing it now as I right this race review.  While the logo is large on this too, it's not a big deal given you won't be running in it and the logo is really cool looking too!
Sweatshirt as finisher's gift
Outside of the portion of the course that was confusing, the race was well organized.  The website has any answers you had, the start was easy to find, the course overall was marked well, the volunteers did a great job and knew what to do.

Overall, it was a nice race.  The course was overall a fun run and you could really run it fast as it was not extremely technical.  I'm not sure I'd drive the same day there and back.  It would have been more fun had I been able to stay for the after party that was at Stass' brewery rather then heading on the road home.
If you are interested in running it, check out the Possum Races website.  They also have a 50k option coming up in May.

Have a great day and....Keep Running!!!!

Disclosure:  I paid for this race with my own funds.  All opinions are my own.

Feb 26, 2017

Panasonic Wings Wireless Bluetooth Headphones review

A few weeks ago I received a pair of the Panasonic Wings Wireless Bluetooth Headphones for review.  Here's what I received:
Panasonic Wings
Headphones, charging cord and soft case

First a few of the features of the headphones:

  • Ultra-light Bluetooth sport clips for high-impact training, indoors and out
  • Premium 9mm neodymium drivers for full rich bass and natural treble and voices
  • IPX 4 waterproof shielding for water and sweat resistance
  • 3d Flex design and quick-fit adjuster bend to your ear and keeps headphones in place during vigorous training
  • Quick charge:  up to 70 minute playback with 15 minute charge (6hrs full charge)
  • Connects to iPhone 7, syncs seamlessly with iPhone/iPod/iPad and Android devices
  • Includes ultra-soft S/M/L earpads, USB charging cord and travel case

The headphones themselves are very light and have a couple adjustments you can make on them to fit well.  As you can see below, the cord itself has an adjustment at the back of your head to fit this how you wish to be comfortable.  I personally didn't feel the need to adjust this but it is nice to have that option for people that like the cord a little tighter or don't want it hanging on the back of their neck.

In addition, the headphones themselves have flexible tubing that allow you to pull the piece that goes over your ear towards your head.  This is needed to keep them from moving around.  I found that once I had the headphones adjusted, they did not move around while I was running.  I also used them to lift weights and it's kind of nice having them be wireless and my phone does not have to be close to me.  I found that I could move about 25 feet away from my phone without any interference with the music.  I also tried them with my iPad just to watch a movie on Netflix and they worked great for this too.
Fully adjustable

Given the adjustments for volume and on/off are at the side of your head, it did take a little getting used to which button was what since you can't see it.  It took me a few runs to get used to this especially for changing songs.  You need to use the same buttons as the volume to change song.  After a few runs, it was fairly easy.
Adjustable volume and on/off
I used the earpad size that is set up with the headphones but they are very easy to change sizes.  The headphones are very comfortable to wear for long periods of time and, since they don't move when running, you don't notice them much.  I will say that the earpads do go into your ear which provide excellent sound but they do tend to cut out most of the exterior sounds.  While that is great for listening to music, you really need to be more aware of your surroundings while running outside.
Headphones have 3 sizes to choose for the earpad

Charging was very easy.  All you do is pull up on the access to the USB charging plug on the headphones and plug the other end either into a computer or a USB charger (as seen below with my Apple charger)  I do like the fact you can charge the headphones for 15 minutes for a quick charge in case you are running low and didn't realize it when you needed them.
In regards to fit, the one drawback that I had with these is the ability to use them when it's really cold outside.  Not that the headphones didn't function in the cold weather, but they are not comfortable at all while wearing a beanie.  The beanie pushes the headphones too hard in your ears.  I tried to find a comfortable fit but just couldn't get it.  For those in cold weather climates, this means you probably won't be using these while running outside.  As a bonus, the last couple of weeks have been amazing in Michigan with temps in the 50's and 60's so I got to use these more than I thought I would outside.  They are great on the treadmill though and when you are just wearing a regular hat.
Not the greatest with a beanie
Overall, I think they are good option for warm weather running or use inside and it's awesome to not have to worry about a cord getting in the way.  I can get my music started from my phone and put the phone away for the duration of the run which is very convenient.

Interest in learning more?

Check out the Panasonic website for more information.  MSRP is $99.99.

Have a great day and....Keep Running

Disclosure:  I received the Panasonic headphones in exchange for this review.  All opinions are my own and I was not required to give a particular opinion other than an honest one.

Dec 31, 2016

2016 review with exciting races coming in 2017

Well another great year of running.  I ran less but still got in 1,500 miles.  I raced less (16 races and only one marathon and 6 half marathons).  I blogged much less this year and did less race reviews and less product reviews.  I didn't take the opportunity to review every product put in front of me like I had in the past and I stopped writing reviews on races I've already ran in the past.  I didn't see the purpose in writing a review again since it's obvious if I signed up again that I liked the race.  I only posted 19 times this year including today's post.  I used Instagram much more than anything this year.  I had more fun and really enjoyed the year of training and running.

The upcoming year will be filled with more running thanks to a couple challenging races including a very hilly (over 5,000 foot of gain) marathon in New York and a very hilly 50k in the U.P. (my second).  It will also involve much less beer (I know crazy!) as I try to get in shape for these very difficult races.  I look forward to what the year has in store for me in regards to running and wish you a very Happy New Year.

Have a Great Day and....Keep Running!!!!


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