Chicago Marathon: 2021 Experience

The 2021 Bank of America Chicago Marathon…where to begin? Of course, it was incredible but I think that would be an expectation. I ran this once before, in 2017, but I was so in awe back then since it was my first ever marathon and I just wanted to finish the race. This time, I was determined to pay attention and enjoy the nuances more all while still running competitively in order to achieve some goals I set for myself.

I arrived into Chicago in the early afternoon on Friday, driving in from Milwaukee, but I didn’t hit the expo that day. I did pay a visit to the Museum of Science and Industry and had the opportunity to enjoy their Marvel Comics special exhibit. That really was a treat and I highly recommend checking that out if you have the chance before the exhibit closes.

After a later than anticipated start on Saturday and a visit to the Shedd Aquarium, I made my way over the the marathon expo, waited in a forever long line to check vaccination status, and then picked up my bib and shirt, etc. I roamed around the various vendors for a little bit, not too long, grabbed some KT Tape, drank a Goose Island sample, and made my way out to make sure I got to my 5pm dinner reservation on time. After eating a fabulous meal at Volare Ristorante Italiano, it was back to the hotel to lay out flat me and hope to get a good night’s rest. (Full disclosure: I slept horribly, unfortunately)

RACE DAY!! It finally arrived! Felt like forever since I began the training cycle for this moment and yet it was time. After not sleeping well, I made another “error” by setting my alarm too early so I was up at 4:45am. For some reason, I thought it would take me longer to get to the start line since I was staying a little farther away than I did in 2017. So, I got dressed, had my protein shake and overnight oats, drank some water, and headed downstairs to the hotel lobby hoping to either catch an Uber or be able to utilize the hotel ride service, even though I didn’t call in time the day before to schedule myself on it. After half a cup of coffee, I secured a ride down to Grant Park and made my way, very very ahead of schedule, to gear check. Let the day begin with some dark pics and a selfie!

Thankfully, I came across a fellow BibRave runner and we chatted until the start time, getting some water from the Gatorade booth and making a final visit to the Porto’s. We also managed to find another BibRave runner and got to chat it up with her for awhile, which was really nice meeting them in person after so many social media exchanges. Now the time for stretches and breathing exercises before starting the slow, long walk to the starting line!

I’d like to say that this was a race where it all came together for me and the goals I had set were all reached and there were smiles all around…but, are you crazy?! It’s a marathon! Ha ha, and it knows how to humble you and make you respect it like no other race I’ve done. The race started in a yellow alert status meaning less than ideal race conditions but be careful and you’ll be ok. I personally started really well, maybe too well. My body felt good and I had a good pace but I wasn’t pushing it. I could feel it getting warmer and took my first water at the Mile 3 aid station, something I usually don’t do until Mile 6 on long runs. At Mile 5, a hearty shoutout from a fellow BibRaver, who was volunteering, gave me a very early energy boost. I mean, I literally felt the excitement rise up in me. And then there were all the spectators along the route. I feel I should address them all right here because they were amazing! So much support, so many funny and motivation signs, so many cheers and shouts, just an incredible feeling/moment/image for 26.2 miles throughout the city of Chicago. They truly know how to make you feel good even when things may not go right.

Above is a rare photo of me actually smiling while on the course and running. I never do this. One of the things I told myself heading into this race was to make sure I was smiling more and enjoying the experience and giving those on-course photographers smiles and not look-like-I’m-dying faces in their photos.

Now, back to the race. Somewhere in the early teen mile markers, the race went into a red alert status which meant dangerous weather conditions (the humidity had increased) and be extremely wary of dehydration and cramping and your body, in general. But I was still doing OK. I wasn’t feeling the humidity, I felt hydrated enough, and my legs were still holding strong. It wasn’t until Mile 18 where I started to feel soreness in my feet and my left lower back extending into my glute starting to talk to me. I’d say it was here where my race goals began to lean in the direction of harder to reach. But I kept plugging along. There were more stops for water and I began taking in Gatorade. I had had some pickle juice at Mile 8 (a decision I later felt was incorrect timing by me) and my Honey Stinger waffle.

Weird side note here: on long runs, I find that I don’t get hungry or I don’t feel like ingesting food even though every rational thought says I should and would need food.

Back to the race and my pursuit of glory, haha. The struggle started to hit at Mile 21, especially with my left side. And then I had some side cramps, something I never ever get when running, so that was just bizarre. Mile 23 led to some right quad spasms which slowed me some. But I managed another smile at the photo stop!

As I hit Mile 25, there was one more, last second energy boost provide by yet another BibRaver who was volunteering his time! Thank you so much! And then it was the finish! I’m proud to say I crossed the finish line in a time of 4:03:35! I had three goals going into this marathon but only achieved one of them. Goal #1 was to better my 2017 Chicago Marathon time which I did and by a very decent margin. Goal #2 was to get a sub-4 hour time. To be so close and not get it will sting for a while, for sure. A couple less walking water stops and I might have hit that goal. Goal #3 was to set a marathon PR which I knew coming in would be a long shot but sometimes that’s what your goals are supposed to be, otherwise they wouldn’t be special. But, bottom line, I’m a Chicago Marathon finisher for the second time!

A lot of good feelings finishing this race and some great photos as well to document it. So happy to have met some of my fellow BibRave members and gotten to talk to them. Happy that I came out of this marathon without any major injuries and my health intact. Just happy in general. And I made sure to celebrate that night after driving home.

Happy running everyone!!

Virtual Race Review: Air Force Marathon Half Marathon

Disclaimer: I received an entry into the Air Force Marathon to review as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review find and write race reviews!

So this year I was supposed to run the half marathon distance of the Air Force Marathon in Dayton, Ohio on the Wright-Patterson base BUT, of course, thanks to the ongoing pandemic issue, the race sadly was moved to a virtual format. I appreciate everything the Air Force Marathon race organizers did and attempted to do to hold the race as scheduled even if in the end it wasn’t to be. They were very communicative throughout the entire process. I never felt like this was a surprise thanks to their constant updates. I hope to have another opportunity to run their race some day since it was looking to be quite the event!

I chose to run my virtual half marathon a week after the actual race would have taken place. It just worked out better for me that way. My run went well and I paced myself relatively well without stressing too much about time. Now, it certainly would have been a different scenario if it was live person race but it wasn’t. The organizers will be sending out race packets next month so I will look forward to my swag including the race medal to arrive then.

I think the socks would have been a hit at the actual race, lol.

Now it’s on to other challenges and other goals to chase. But I will be looking at the Air Force Marathon race in the future again. You can count on it!

Happy running!

UPDATE: Air Force Marathon

Disclaimer: I received an entry to the Air Force Marathon to review as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review find and write race reviews!

So, my training for the Air Force Marathon half marathon has not been for naught! It just wasn’t utilized the way I expected it to. A few weeks back, the race went to an all virtual format. So…..that meant no traveling to Dayton, Ohio anymore since the race couldn’t take place in its normal course, the Wright-Patterson Air Force base. Federal regulations being stricter than normal city ordinances and whatnot made the race impossible to take place. So, I’ll be running my virtual half marathon sometime in the near future. But that doesn’t mean I sat on my butt this past Saturday, September 18, what would have been race day.

No, I chose to do a monster training run of 20+ miles to really tire out these legs, ha ha ha. The weather was nice and perfect for this type of run. My pace was right where I wanted it and my legs never died on me. It makes me extremely optimistic for when I take the plunge on my half marathon for the Air Force Marathon!

Stay tuned as I do my best to earn this medal!

Happy running!

Air Force Marathon Training

Disclaimer: I received a race entry to the Air Force Marathon to review as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review find and write race reviews!

The month of August has begun and my training runs for the Air Force Marathon continue each day. I will be running the half marathon distance in the race that takes place on September 18, 2021 in Dayton Ohio. I’ve been really looking forward to this race for a number of reasons, including the fact that it will be a travel race for me and it’s always exciting to visit somewhere new.

Now, as for my training…well, it’s been going up and down for the majority of the summer. I’ve been doing my best in keeping a variety of methods with preparing my body for the half distance. These include yoga, strength training, and, of course, runs of various distances. One thing I have NOT been doing a good job with: stretching and foam rolling. I can’t say that that has led to my issues in this cycle but I am confident that it didn’t help my situation. I had hoped performing yoga (and even that ended up getting missed for a few weeks) and doing more core strength work would help, but it only does so much.

So, on Father’s Day I ended up suffering a left hamstring pull or strain. Not sure how since I am very very good on being hydrated but I guess that day I just wasn’t enough. Maybe it was because I was rushing the run, I don’t know. What I do know is that my left hammy nagged and nagged for 10-12 days following where it limited my activity and none of my runs were in that time frame. Once it started feeling better (and that coincided with increased foam rolling…shocking, I know, haha) I picked up my miles for a week. Why just a week you ask? Well, because that’s when my RIGHT hamstring acted up, also for no real reason. It wasn’t as bad the left leg and I was able to smooth it over sooner. But then there was a camping vacation that took me away from training in general. I did get a couple long runs in there but it was still a pretty decent amount of time off.

So, as August starts to hit its stride, my hope is that I can get into a better flow of running and getting in those miles. But, even as I type that, I am cognizant of both my right and left toes hurting for an unknown reason. Not blister-hurt. More like they don’t want to flex and offer up some pain to the touch. Ugh….Anyway, I shall persevere and be ready to at least enjoy my time in Dayton.

Would you like to join me? Visit the Air Force Marathon website and register for your preferred distance! It isn’t too late and it you have already been training for a longer distance, you’re ready. If not, they offer up a 5K and 10K as well! Use code AFMBR21 to save 10% on your registration! I would love to see you there! And if you have any questions, please ask me and I will do my best to answer them.

Happy Running!

BRP Summit Review

This pandemic marches on but so do we all. And that’s why this year’s BibRave Pro Summit was a welcome reprieve from the same old weekend routines. Even if it was done virtually, it was still a blast connecting with the many runners and creative producers of our group as well as the management team. Many of these individuals are people I’ve never met in real life but some of the interactions you have make it seem like you run with them every week. It truly is one of the best reasons to be a BibRave Pro.

The summit took place from March 26-28 with various Zoom events and discussions taking place. I’ve included a screenshot above just to show the wide variety of discussions and “meetings” that took place. And this doesn’t even include the DEI session, which was extremely engaging and informative or the Saturday night trivia game that had everyone on teams and conversing in breakout rooms to come up with answers. There was also a Saturday morning runners scavenger hunt supported with audio clues that guided you on your quest. Simply a fun and interactive weekend.

I would be remiss to not mention the wonderful sponsors of the BibRave Pro Summit including Knockaround Sunglasses and Science in Sports Endurance Sports Nutrition. And I have been happily wearing the specially designed for the summit Blue Light Blockers that Knockaround created for us.

Now, the next time you see me or one of my awesome BRP’s sending out the all call that BibRave is looking for new Pros to represent the brand, fill out an application and see if you make it in. There is just so much fun to be had and with a great group of people. And these are just the virtual gatherings. Wait until things get back to normal and we are together in person again…woo, look out!

Happy running everyone!

BUFF DryFlx+ Product Review

Disclaimer: I received an BUFF DryFlx+ Hat and Neckwarmer to review as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review, find, and write race reviews!

What can I say? I love love love BUFF products and am a believer in how effective they are for all my outdoor activities. The new DryFlx+ collection is no different. Its tech specifications are really impressive for wearable technology and the colors mesh really well.

So let’s begin with the great technology the hat contains. It’s extremely light, just over an ounce in weight, so it doesn’t feel heavy on your head during a run. Also, it uses 4-way ULTRA STRETCH material which adds to the comfort; it never feels tight or constrictive. There is a seamless woven design so nothing is scratching at your scalp when in movement. The hat has thermal insulation to keep your head warm but also moisture management so you’re not sweating buckets down your face. (I’ll get more into that down in the review) And one of the most important features is it contains reflective elements so if you’re running at dusk or dawn, you be sure you’ll be spotted by any motorists or bicyclists.

Now let’s talk neckwarmer features! As you can see in the previous two photos, it can be worn up to cover the nose or just below it and it doesn’t wiggle or shake down your face; it stays pretty snug. Similar to the hat, this also has the 4-way ULTRA STRETCH and seamless woven design for comfort and flexibility so constrictions are not a problem. It only weight two ounces so, once again, it isn’t weighing down on your body. Along with the reflective elements, the BUFF DryFlx+ neckwarmer provides thermal insulation and moisture management. Now to explain how both items manage to perform this great feature.

The above photos show exactly how they provide breathability. The hat and neckwarmer both have engineered holes, marked on my gear with the lime green lines, to allow air to flow through and out, allowing you to not sweat but still keep warm for the hat and allowing you to breathe through your mouth and nose with the neckwarmer all the way up on your face. It really is the best feature of this product! It just makes wearing them outside in nasty cold temperatures a whole lot better. I’ve already worn them in 25 degree weather with a wind chill factor that brought it down to 16 degrees. And, since I live in Wisconsin, you can bet that I will be wearing this when I head out in those below 10 degree days!

Another good reason to love this product, and BUFF in general, is that as an engaged partner of UNICEF, the company has committed to donating 2% of their global yearly profits to projects helping combat COVID-19.

I invite you to take a look at some other reviews from my BibRavePro companions to see what they thought of the BUFF DryFlx+ collection! As always, any comments or questions can be left below if you like and Happy Running!

OTHER REVIEWS

http://www.fitxbrit.com/on-the-run/2020/12/31/cover-your-head-running-in-the-cold

https://www.runningonpixiedust.com/2020/12/buffdryflx.html

https://funsizeathlete.com/2020/12/30/bibrave-product-review-running-winter-warmer-with-buff-dryflx-collection/

Product Review: Knockaround Fast Lanes Sport Sunglasses

Disclaimer: I received a pair of Knockaround Fast Lanes Sport Sunglasses to review as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review, find, and write race reviews!

I am a frequent wearer of sunglasses on my runs and bike rides so when the opportunity came to test out the Knockaround shades, I couldn’t resist, because let’s be honest, who doesn’t want a new pair of sunglasses? And I enjoy seeing if new styles and brands (to me) are better than others that I own. I received the Fast Lanes Sport in the Clear Grey and Green Moonshine color style. First thing I noticed: how lightweight the frames felt on my face. Perfect for any activity, especially running. They also did NOT pinch the side of my head, which always an uncomfortable possibility with a new pair of sunglasses.

One of the worst feelings while running or biking is when you can feel your glasses slipping on your face. It’s horrible and annoying, and even worse when biking since it might not be an easy fix while zipping along the trails. Knockaround solves that with their rubber nose pads which basically helps the shades grip your nose. Bottom line, whether running or biking or kayaking or whatever, these sunglasses aren’t going anywhere!

How about some other awesome features from Knockaround? An option you can get is polarized mirror lenses. You also get UV400 protection in your lenses, gotta protect those eyes! Another feature that I truly love about these shades is how lightweight, as I mentioned above; now the “how” they are so lightweight: Knockaround sunglasses are made with a super light polycarbonate material. They’re like air! OK, so now what if you have really different tastes than everyone else? Maybe you don’t want to go with the flow and desire a style all your own. Well, Knockaround has you covered and then some!

So many options for you to play with in their custom shop! Make the front different than the left arm and then make the right arm different than the left! Go Crazy! Tinker with the lenses and for the final touch, check out the different colors of the “K” logo! Boom! You’ve got your very own custom Knockaround sunglasses for an amazingly affordable cost!

So, what are you waiting for? Get to the Knockaround website and order your pair or pairs now! Be sure to use code “BibRaveKnocks5” and save 20% off your entire order! But make sure you have everything you want in that cart, that discount is a one-time use per account deal! Ride or run into fall with some sweet new shades!

As always, feel free to comment or ask questions below! And check out some of my fellow runners own reviews of these sweet sunglasses right below here!

Lisha Runs Life

TriCityRunning

Running with Attitude

Marathons & Memories

Running for My Life

Happy Running!!

How Does One Train for the Unknown?

Disclaimer: I received an entry to the Garmin Kansas City Marathon to review as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review find and write race reviews!

What do you do when you’re training for a race that in all likelihood will not take place on the date you are preparing for? This is the question I am asking myself (and attempting to prepare for) in regards to the Kansas City Marathon. It has yet to be canceled for this year and is scheduled to take place on October 17. Of course, I am still pessimistically hopeful that the race will be run and have been staying active throughout the spring and summer. And what do I mean by staying active? Maybe you think I just mean running and building up my base miles. Well, yes, I have been doing that although I have remained at a plateau for a few weeks now and hope to break that soon.

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But I’ve decided to change the norm for myself with my training and preparation. I wanted to give my body and overall fitness and athletic overall, if you will. So, in May, I bought myself a bicycle and started riding for the first time in 30+ years. It’s one of the main reasons my weekly running totals have plateaued; I’ve substituted runs for rides and I’m having a blast doing it! It’s a totally different way for me to get in some cardio AND is letting me give my legs and feet a subtle break from the concrete pounding they take on the roads. There have been a couple of weeks where I have matched running miles with biking miles and have added a brick workout per week to my training schedule.

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But that isn’t all that I added to my list of different ways to get my heart pumping and other muscles engaging. At my gym, I’ve used the rowing machine a few times and, when camping, I took my kayak out for a few lengthy paddles. Let me tell you something, you have no idea how exhausting paddling a kayak can be until you’ve done eight miles on a windy day out on Green Bay, lol. But, damn, is it ever a great way to build more cardio endurance.

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And speaking of the gym, I still go there frequently, now that quarantine is over and places have reopened. But I’ve been having a dilemma about my workouts lately. How much is too much? Or, to be more specific, should I be using less weight and more reps to tone my body rather than higher weight with normal rep amounts which may cause unnecessary bulk up? I have been adjusting my lifting sessions to reflect these thoughts and have dropped weight down. I mean, too much muscle isn’t the best when attempting long and grueling runs. So, with my training for this marathon, I have been altering a lot at the gym, also employing my resistance bands more often as well.

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But where does all this leave me? I’m still wanting and hoping to run the Garmin Kansas City Marathon in October so I keep plugging along with runs. And now bike rides. And weight training. And the occasional paddle. Will it all help out for a better end result? Who knows. I just hope I have the chance to see, as far-fetched as that may be right now. Such uncertainty really messes with one’s mind and the ability to focus on the prize. But what a lovely prize it will be if I have the chance to perform.

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Would you like to join me in the waiting game? It isn’t too late. Register for any distance at the Garmin Kansas City Marathon and use code BIBRAVE2020KCM and earn 15% off. And here’s a safety clause for you: should the race be canceled, you will have three options. One, you can defer your entry to 2021. Two, you can participate and run it virtually. Or, three, you can have your entry fee convert your registration fee to a donation to the Greater Kansas City Sports Commission & Foundation and receive a charitable contribution receipt as well as 25% savings towards registration for the 2021 Garmin Kansas City MarathonNot bad, eh? Maybe we can run this race together this year or next year. I’d love to see you there!

Please feel free to comment or ask questions below. I’d love to know how any of you out there train for the unexpected or if you have made alterations to your lifestyle during these crazy times.

 

As always, happy running!

Product Review: BUFF Pack Run Cap

Disclaimer: I received a BUFF Pack Run Cap to review as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review, find, and write race reviews!

I’m not the biggest fan of wearing hats while running and typically prefer BUFF’s other headwear options. The reason why: it never fails that while wearing a hat, like a trucker hat, sweat manages to drip down into my eyes and down my face. Not a fan of that at all, so I avoid wearing hats. I’m starting with this point because the Pack Run Cap NEVER allowed any sweat into my face on the days I wore it running and there were some incredibly humid and nasty hot days I that I chose to wear it. How does it do this? It has a reliable and low profile sweatband wrapped around the inner part that does its job and then some.

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Now, you might think if the cap is absorbing all that sweat then it must be getting damp, heavy and not pleasant to wear anymore. Not so! I’ve never had a hat breathe as well as the Pack Run Cap when I know I’ve been sweating in sweltering heat and it remains light as can be. Again, how? Fastwick fabric side panels wick the moisture away and your head can breathe.

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These two features have impressed me the most with the BUFF Pack Run Cap but they’re obviously not the only features of this cap. The upper panel provides up to 98% protection from UV rays. There is an elastic cord at the back for a surprisingly secure fit that never loosened while running outdoors. It also has a reflective tab on the back and reflective logo on the front that adds low-light visibility.

My experience using the BUFF Pack Run Cap was a positive one. I have to say that since I am anti-hat for the most part. For me, it was just so lightweight and it was as if I didn’t even have something on my head. That’s how light it really is! I loved that it was easy to fold up and simply slide into my pocket if necessary. I liked that the material was soft and had 4-way stretch ability so it didn’t tighten too much on one side over another.

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Now, if you don’t like the color of mine, BUFF has other options for you to peruse through. Also, if a full cap is not your cup of tea, they had the same material in a visor too. You can’t lose with the Pack Run Cap. Whether you like it hats or not, this is a nice option! Bonus, if you want 15% off your BUFF purchase, simply go to https://buffusa.com/bibrave and sign up for the BUFF newsletter and, boom, a discount for you! I highly recommend this product!

Any questions or comments, please feel free to drop a note below!

And, as always, happy running!

Product Review: Extreme Fit Compression Socks

Disclaimer: I received a selection of Extreme Fit compression socks to review as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review, find, and write race reviews!

I’m going to come right out and say from the start that I liked these socks. They performed for me the way I expected them to perform. I know that may seem like something that should be obvious with a product like this, but it isn’t a guarantee, ever. Let me begin my saying I thought the level of compression in their running-orientated socks was on the mark. The sock never felt too tight and hugged against my legs and feet the way I wanted it to do. They are also a very soft sock in the feel and it’s as if you don’t even have anything on your feet. Now, Extreme Fit does offer two levels of compression in their socks. They have socks with 15-20 mmHg compression and socks with 20-30 mmHg. Now, what those numbers represent is how much compression the sock will provide for your legs and feet; a tightness level, if you will. So, for runners you would go higher and if you were wearing the sock for traveling or standing at your job all day, the lower number would work for you.

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As someone who runs both long and short distances, I found their runner socks to be topnotch and on par, if not better than some other brands out there. Another great option in the runner’s line of socks were ones that had extra amounts of reflective marks on them. Perfect if you are the early riser runner or the dusk runner where it may not be as easy to spot you. And I’m talking some seriously good reflective material.

I’m also a big fan of how many styles Extreme Fit offers on their website. And how they package some of their socks into solo options, 3-packs and even 6-packs! So many options with colors and designs; they even offer some socks with copper-infused fibers inside of them. You would be hard pressed to NOT find a style or color of sock on their site.

And who says that their socks are only for running or walking? Do you work in a hospital? Hair salon? Travel frequently on airplanes or train for work? Do you need compression socks for grocery shopping? Daily chores? Extreme Fit can benefit you with their product. I’ve used them myself when riding my bike, and I’m just relearning how to do that after over 30 years of not riding one.

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And don’t think you’re limited to just socks with Extreme Fit. No way, no chance. They have calf sleeves. Arm sleeves. Ankle sleeves. Knee sleeves. Even specialized sleeves if you suffer from plantar fasciitis. They truly are in the business of helping their clientele feel better and perform better.

(Photo credit to https://www.extremefitusa.com/)

Extreme Fit is out to help you with their graduated compression options. Wouldn’t you like to reduce swelling and pain while energizing your feet and legs? All that and you’ll be supporting muscle recovery later. It’s worth it for your body and these socks are definitely a good option to try. And if you decide to TRY NOW, please use code BRP20 to receive 20% off your order of $50 or more. And they currently have a ton of options on sale so you will be making off like a bandit if you order now! Don’t hesitate, these are a great option if you require compression socks on your athletic journey. I’ve loved the pairs I’ve tested and have felt very comfortable in them as well as comfortable AFTER my runs or bike rides.

If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to send them to me. I’ll be happy to answer them for you!

As always, Happy Running!