A Belated Christmas Gift & A Product Review: H20 performance hydration pack

“Belated Christmas gift?!  What?!  It’s not even Christmas yet!”  I know, I know.  I guess technically the gift wasn’t belated.  It was received on Christmas Eve.  TWO YEARS AGO.  But it got pushed to the back of the closet and forgotten about, and I just found it a couple of days ago!

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Christmas 2012 my niece got me the H20 performance hydration pack from Outdoor Products.  I was so excited to get it, but I tucked it away because I wasn’t training for anything right then that would warrant using it.  Then when I started running longer runs again, I completely forgot I had it!  This week I was pulling out stuff to donate and found it in my closet, and I think I was even more excited than when I opened it two years ago!  I used it on my 12 miler Sunday.

When you unzip the pack, you see that the two-liter bladder is velcroed into place under an insulated divider, leaving a place in the pack to put personal items.

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That’s all great except for two things.  First, the divider doesn’t go all the way to the bottom of the pack, so if you put a phone or something in it and it goes down past where the divider stops, it’s in direct contact with the bladder.  If the bladder sweats or leaks, well, that could lead to bad things happening.  Second, anything you put in the pack is inaccessible without taking the pack off.  Again, not a huge deal, as most people would use the pack for phone, keys, etc., that you wouldn’t need during the run anyway, but Sunday, I wanted to carry a couple of gels with me, and I had no convenient place to put them.  It just would have been nice if there had been a small pouch on one of the shoulder straps or something.  Again, not a huge deal.

When you put the pack on, there are a couple places to adjust to make sure you get a good fit.  The shoulder straps adjust to make sure you get proper placement on your back, and then there’s a sternum strap so that you can adjust how snug the pack fits to you.

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You can see from the first photo that when I adjusted it down to fit me, I had a lot of loose strap dangling.  I didn’t think it was that big of a deal until I started running.  There were 20+ MPH winds blowing, and every now and then it would catch those straps just right and it was like being whipped!  I need to do something about those.

So even though I’ve mentioned a few things I wasn’t 100% crazy about, overall I LOVED it.  Comfort-wise, it was worlds above the Fuel Belt I’ve been using for long runs.  For the most part, I forgot it was even there, and for me to say that, that’s HUGE.  I’m weird about having stuff around or against my body while I’m running, and this thing didn’t bother me at all.  I can’t believe this has been in my closet unused all this time!!!

What’s your preferred method of hydration during long runs?

Do you carry your own water during races or just take advantage of the aid stations?

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Product Review: Bia Sport GPS

I first heard about Bia Sport during their Kickstarter campaign a couple of years ago.  It sounded like an awesome alternative to my Garmin.  I didn’t come off the money to be an original backer, but I’ve been keeping my eye on the company ever since, knowing that my Garmin Forerunner 305 would eventually bite the dust and I’d be looking for a replacement.  The initial backers are now starting to receive their units.  Since it’s been so long since they initially backed the product, I guess in the meantime some people had to buy new GPS watches because I’ve seen the Bias popping up for sale.  Thanks to Kristi who pointed it out to me, I bought one on eBay for $125–half of what the backers had paid for it.  It was brand new, but the backer had in the meantime bought and fell in love with her new Garmin and didn’t need the Bia anymore.  Well, I didn’t NEED it either, but for $125 I couldn’t pass it up.  If nothing else, it’s nice to know I have a backup for the days I pick up my Garmin on my way out the door for a run only to turn it on and be greeted with the low battery warning because my dumb ass forgot to turn it off before I stuck it in the drawer.

It came in this cute little box with the watch, one strap, the Go Stick, and the USB charger for the Go Stick.



There was no instruction manual, which I found odd, but after some googling and reading posts from other users on their Facebook page, I found the answers to most things I wanted to know.

I’ve used it for a few runs now, and it definitely has its pros and cons.

Pros:

  • Size and weight.  It’s smaller and lighter than what I’m using now, and I like that.
  • It’s cute!

  • The SOS feature.  When you set up your user profile, you can program in cell phone numbers that an SOS message will be texted to if you push and hold the button on the watch.  From that text, the recipient can find your location and come save your ass.  In future software updates, the emergency services notification will also be added.
  • The run data automatically uploads to your My Bia Sport account wirelessly.
  • You’re connected to GPS in NO TIME.  Seriously, like MAYBE three seconds.
Cons:
  • There’s no lap feature.  Their latest backer update says that it was supposedly pushed to all units last week, but as of today I haven’t seen any sign of it.  At the end of a run, you have your total time, total miles, and average pace displayed, but you have no splits.  That’ll be okay for me on most runs right now since I’ve shifted my focus to low heart rate for a while.  I won’t need that info when I’m just out running to be running, but I hope to see the feature added soon.

  • During the run, I like to see my average pace, but the watch only displays your cumulative time, your miles, and your current pace.  And the current pace is VERY inaccurate.  During a run, it shows everything from a 4-minute to an 18-minute mile.  If you’re using the watch to race and you’re chasing a specific pace, you’d better be damn good at math or have a pace band because there is no way you’ll be able to pace yourself using the Bia.
  • The distance measuring doesn’t seem to be consistent.  I have a tried-and-true 3-mile course.  I’ve run it no telling how many times.  Start at the corner in front of Lowe’s, one lap around the park, down the street a bit, into a cul de sac and retrace.  It’s always 3.0 by my Garmin and was even 3.0 the first time my Bia measured it.  The next time I ran it with the Bia it measured 2.91.  I did nothing different at all.  Could have just been a fluke.  I’ll know more about this the more I use it.
  • There are still some quirks with the upgrades.  They are done automatically, and when I finished my run Saturday, my watch displayed a message that said, “Get ready to upgrade.  Keep your Go Stick close by!”  A few minutes later, my watch displayed Error 34.  Their latest backer update states “On April 10th we made (another) total amateur mistake with our first over-the-air update.  About 15% of customers got the now famed “Error 34″ message while the update to their watch was installing.  Turns out the update file got a teeny tiny bit larger, but the timing window we gave for that update to install didn’t.  Good news is that this problem has zero effect on doing workouts with your Bia, but Doh!  Let’s just say, that won’t happen again.”  Well it happened to me on April 19th, so I’m not sure what to make of that.

I get that this is a fresh-off-the-ground project and there are bound to be unexpected issues crop up.  That’s a given with technology!  So I’m not terribly upset about any of these things.  They seem to be working hard to resolve the problems.  And the fact that I only gave $125 for it makes it even harder to get upset.  haha  Now if I’d given the full backer price, I might be a little less patient.  For now I have kind of “it’ll do” feeling about the Bia.  When more of the updates go live, I’ll do an updated review!

Vega Sport Review

We’ve all heard about Vega by now, right?  I discovered them a few months ago when I was looking for a quality plant-based protein powder.  I’ve been using their original formula chocolate and berry protein powder in my whole fruit smoothies for a while now, but I’ve always been curious to try their other products.  I’ve secretly been hoping that Vega would send me some of their stuff for free to review and give away (like they did so many of the other bigger and better bloggers!), but, alas, it never came to pass. So a few weeks ago I shelled out $34 (sale price + shipping) of my hard-earned salary and bought a sample pack myself.

Obviously a stock photo.  I did not take the time to arrange the items in an orderly fashion, take a picture, and crop out the background.  I promise this is not my photography.

It included:

  • 2 pre-workout energizers.  Acai berry and lemon lime
  • 2 recovery accelerators:  Apple berry and tropical
  • 3 performance protein powders:  Chocolate, vanilla, and berry
  • 2 endurance bars:  Acai berry and mocha
  • 2 endurance gels:  Orange zest and raspberry
  • 2 protein bars:  Chocolate coconut and chocolate saviseed
  • 2 electrolyte hydrators:  Pom-berry and lemon lime

My opinions:

  • I hated the pre-workout energizers.  They did not energize my workout, as the name would have one believe.  I used them before my mid-week mid-distance run.  I’m tired when I get off work and need a boost to get through those.  These don’t really make me feel any more energetic.  Besides that, they don’t mix well, the shit settles to the bottom if you don’t stir it constantly, and both flavors tasted horrible.  I usually really like anything lemon-lime flavored, but this just tasted like Lysol floor cleaner.
  • The apple berry recovery accelerator tasted GREAT, and the tropical wasn’t half bad either.  I drank the apple berry immediately after a 12-mile long run and the tropical after a 14-miler.  The purpose of the recovery accelerator is to speed muscle recovery, reduce inflammation, and shorten rest periods between workouts.  I gotta say, they’re onto something with this one.  I woke up the next morning with fresh legs, ready to go again.  I liked it so much I ordered a big tub of the apple berry.  I’ve used it after every long run since and I’ve been shocked by how NOT sore I’ve been.
  • The performance protein powder was a definite winner.  It tasted great, even better than the Vega Sport original protein powder that I’ve been using for a while, and it seemed to blend better too.  All three flavors were fantastic.  I ordered a tub of the vanilla.  
  • The endurance bars are a blend of complex carbs (30g) and protein (8g) for sustained energy, but I don’t like eating anything during a run.  Gels and shot bloks, sure, but not a bar.  So instead I had them before a run.  I had one as breakfast before a long training run in place of my regular Clif bar.  Even though they had fewer grams of carbs than the Clif, they sustained me well and were gentle on the belly.  The texture of the bar was light and gooey, not sticky and dry like some of the other plant-based bars I’ve had.  The acai berry, unlike the pre-workout energizer of the same flavor, was delicious.  And the mocha flavor, which I had as an afternoon snack before a mid-week 7-miler, was THE BOMB.
  • The first thing I noticed about the endurance gels was the sheer size of the things.  They are SO MUCH BIGGER than a Gu or a Clif Shot that I’m used to.  It made me kind of nervous about trying to slurp down that much stuff during a run.  Turns out it wasn’t an issue.  The consistency is quite a bit thinner than a Gu, so it was much easier to consume on the go.  Two more bonuses for me was they were much easier to open than Gu, and they didn’t hurt my sensitive teeth like Gu.  And they were extremely easy on the gut.  No issues there at all.  The orange zest flavor was awesome. It reminded me of orange slices candy.  I love those things!  And the raspberry wasn’t half bad either.  I had the orange one at mile 5 of a 14-miler and the raspberry one at mile 12 of a 15-miler (I didn’t want to take them both out that first time until I knew how well they got along with my digestive tract.)  There were no issues either time.  I’ll be replacing Gu as my go-to gel!  I ordered a big box of the orange zest.
    • The chocolate coconut protein bar was the best protein bar I’ve ever had.  Hands down.  Like Mounds, only with no guilt.   The chocolate saviseed was great too.   The only thing keeping me from ordering a full box of these is the price.  They’re kind of steep, even on Amazon.  I’ll have to stick to my PureFit vegan protein bars for now.  They’re not quite as tasty, but they’re an affordable plant-based option.  Plus they’re a great company who supports animal adoption and spay/neuter programs, so I feel great about supporting them anyway.
    • The electrolyte hydrators were just okay in my opinion.  The pom-berry flavor tasted kind of … mediciney?  I don’t know, but it wasn’t my favorite.  The lemon-lime definitely tasted better than the lemon-lime flavored pre-workout energizer, but still not great.  I think I’ll have to stick to Nuun for the hydration.

    Three Reviews Thursday

    1.   Several weeks ago, a rep from Zipfizz contacted me and asked if I would like to try their product and do a review.  Free stuff?  I believe I will.  From their web site:

    Zipfizz is an all-natural, great tasting energy drink-mix powder 
    that delivers a powerful charge of micronutrients to the body’s fuel 
    system. It contains no ephedra or other artificial stimulants. Most 
    people experience an immediate, revitalizing burst of energy after 
    taking Zipfizz.

    They sent me a water bottle with their logo on it as well as six tubes of their various flavors:  berry, citrus, grape, orange soda, pink lemonade, and their limited-edition orange cream.  I was really curious to try it because they claim that one serving contains 41,667% of your vitamin B12 RDA.  That’s like a WHOLE LOT MORE than a 5 Hour Energy Drink.  I was afraid this would have me bouncing off the walls
    The flavors?  Not good at all.  The only other energy drink I’ve ever tried is 5 Hour, so that’s all I have to compare it too.  Now that doesn’t taste good at all either, but at least you can chug one shot pretty quickly and it’s over and done.  Not Zipfizz.  You have to mix one tube of powder with a whopping 18 oz of water.
    The effects?  To be completely honest, I’m not sure.  The only time I ever drank it was in the afternoon before a run.  I had good runs with it, and I had bad runs with it.  But I have good runs and bad runs WITHOUT it, too, so I can’t say that it gave me any energy or performance boost.
    Would I buy it?  No.
    2.   Last week, PureFit contacted me and asked if I would be interested in trying their nutrition bars.  After reading about their product, I was more than happy to oblige.  Their products are vegan, gluten-free, and all natural with no hydrogenated oils, artificial sweeteners, or trans fats.  I’m on board with that!
    They sent me their sample kit containing one of each of their five flavors:  granola crunch, almond crunch, berry almond crunch, peanut butter crunch, and chocolate brownie.
    The only ones I’ve tried so far are the berry almond crunch and the almond crunch, and I was pleasantly surprised with both.  I really liked the taste.  The only thing that I wasn’t 100% a fan of was something about the texture.  It was soft and gooey, and it had a pleasant chewy texture, but it felt kind of sticky going down.  I had to take a drink of water with almost every bite to help wash it down.

    Would I buy them?  Most definitely.

    3.   This third item wasn’t solicited in ANY WAY.  I happened upon it at Walmart last weekend and bought it myself.

    I’ve used the Febreze Sport laundry additive for stinky technical gear and it worked really well, so I was hoping this stuff could help my shoes out.  Yeah, I said it–MY SHOES STINK.  Like yours don’t.  I squirted them down real good after I bought this Saturday afternoon and left them to dry.  I gave them a sniff Sunday morning and while they were definitely better, it still wasn’t quite pleasant, so I gave them a second dose.  After that, they passed the sniff test.  Until I put them back on Monday.  After wearing them for just a little while, the stank was right back.  I guess once something is so far gone, there’s just nothing that can be done anymore.  I think the shoes are goners.

    P90X review

    I apologize in advance for any typos in this post. After all, it’s not easy to type with your toes. I’ve been reduced to this because today my arms are dangling at my sides like two useless, sore spaghetti noodles. I finally took my P90X DVDs out of the plastic last night and hung in there as long as I could through the chest and back workout. (Pushups, anyone?) I’ll be the first to admit that I have SQUAT for upper-body strength, so I was happy that I even made it halfway through before making many modifications for sissies. I’ve gotta say, all in all, I was impressed with the quality of workout that you are able to get in your home with very little equipment. It will make for a nice addition to my routine for something to do on my cross- and strength-training days. If I’m forming an opinion off the first DVD, I’ll give it a “Money Well Spent” rating. And I’m cheap, so the producers should be very proud of themselves. I usually reserve that rating for necessities such as soap and Oreos.