Product Review: Orange Mud Gear Vest Pro

Disclaimer: I received an Orange Mud Gear Vest Pro to review as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out to review find and write race reviews!

Call me a believer in a product I didn’t think I needed and certainly never had a want for before having the opportunity to test it out. It’s a hydration vest. “Why would I want one of those?” “I can map out running routes to come across water fountains.” “I can bring a sport belt with water bottles attached to it if I want.” “This vest thing is going to be cumbersome and annoying bouncing around my body.” These are all phrases and questions I said at one time or another. This product review will explain why I was wrong and, to be frank, an idiot thinking that this was a piece of gear I didn’t need.

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I will address each of my questions above to answer why an Orange Mud Gear Vest Pro is a great item to own. Yes, I can map out running routes that take me past multiple water fountains, but wouldn’t it be nice to venture down new paths without being concerned about where necessary hydration will come from. And this vest makes it possible to carry plenty of water for marathon training runs. The included bladder fits 35oz of liquid and you can add a 500mL bottle and a 600mL bottle to the front pockets on the vest.

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Why wear this when I can wear a sports belt that hold water bottle as well as everything else I may need: driver’s license/ID, energy chews, reserve battery charger for phone, energy waffles, etc. If you check out the picture above here, you will see the answer for my ID and charger. A zippered pouch right in the middle that is out of the way but completely secure leaving me no worries of anything falling out or being in the way if I am trying to pull out energy chews/waffles. And where am I putting those items? The two pictures below show the front access pockets that can be used for those items. In the first photo, I am using one of the extra water bottle pockets to store my energy waffle. The second picture shows one of two over the shoulder velcro pouches that held my energy chews. Both easily accessible and my fuel remained intact and not mushed down.

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ADDED BONUS MOMENT: On the top clip in the front of the Orange Mud Gear Vest Pro is a whistle. Yes, I said whistle. When using this vest in the early mornings or late evenings, what better option to include in the makeup of the vest itself. Scare away coyotes (or other aggressive animals) while using your pocket space for pepper spray if desired.

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The final question/concern was why would I want something bulky filled with water bouncing around as I ran? The fact is that it IS NOT bulky and bouncing around your back. Honestly, every time I have worn the hydration pack, I haven’t even noticed it being there. It isn’t on too tight but it also doesn’t flop around when running or when trying to get a sip of water. It has been the perfect complement to my runs and other gear options I take with me on long runs. I truly do love this product and am glad I had the opportunity to test it out.

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Still on the fence about trying out the Gear Vest Pro? Give them a try while saving some of your money by using code “BIBRAVEGVPRO” to get 15% off any Orange Mud product! And have faith in what you are buying! Orange Mud provides great customer service and backs their products. Manufacturing defect? Lifetime replacement. Have an accident with your pack? Leave it on the top of the car and take off? They understand and will offer a replacement at a “fair charge.” Also on their website are guidelines and suggestions for proper care and cleaning of their packs and bladders.

I hope you have found this product review of the Orange Mud Gear Vest Pro to be helpful and useful in guiding you to getting your own hydration pack if you were in the market for one. Solid product, solid company!

Should you have any questions or comments, please feel free to drop me a line and I’ll be sure to get back to you!

As always, happy running!

2017 Review of My Running

This has been an interesting year for me in my running world. There have been some great highs with amazing experiences to go with them, but there also have been some lows that did take away from how great this year could have been for me. I look back at everything with a slight frown because deep down I know what could have been instead of what it was and that is frustrating to say the least. What follows here will be a brief synapsis of the running adventures I had in 2017.

The first race I participated in was my annual Samson Stomp and Romp Run/Walk 5K at the Milwaukee County Zoo. I love this race and it’s how I’ve started my year off for the last 5 years. The one major reason I sign up for this race (other than getting to run through the zoo because that is awesome!) is that the cost benefits programs the zoo provides for their visitors and kids. 2017 marked one of my best ever 5K times as well in this race (I believe I run faster because typically it is so damn cold at this run) with a time of 23:05. My goal is to get a top 5 age finish so I can take home a cool trophy. (It’s a mini gorilla!)

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Jumping forward to March will also jump us to when my 2017 plans changed ever so slightly. Plans for run streaks or monthly challenges kind of went away during the Lucky Leprechaun 7K race. During this race, I pushed myself (nothing crazy) but more that my legs on that day were ready. The end result was a hamstring that I guess you would have to call strained. It wasn’t a muscle pull in the way it would hurt but it also didn’t go away. It changed my daily workouts for a chunk of the year as I avoided “leg day” all the way until November when I slowly got back into some light weight lifting. But my runs suffered throughout the year. Any short runs or races I was unable to really push to hard because the hamstring would never loosen up. And on the other side, it usually took the first two to three miles in any long run for the pain to subside or at least fade into the nether regions of my mind so I could continue to push the rest of the long distance. This was the lowest point of the year, even though I didn’t really fully know it until each week turned into months into the remainder of the year.

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The middle of April, and by extension due to some email tag, early May, brought me into the world of BibRave and becoming a BibRavePro. I had applied before but hadn’t heard back right way and still continued to engage in the great running conversations that take place 8pm CST on Twitter every Tuesday! I was so happy to become a Pro and be able to offer advice and represent the group at races. The first race I was able to wear my BibRave gear proudly at was the RAM Racing Bigfoot 10K/5K Trail run in Wisconsin and I had a blast. Another part of the program is being able to test out various running related products and then blog about, chat about and compare notes about via all the social media outlets available to you. It’s been such an experience to learn new techniques and ideas about running as well as new products, like the AfterShokz Trekz Titanium headphones which now allow me to listen to music while still hearing my surroundings. This was one of the products I was able to test and it truly was life altering when it came to running outside.


After that there were other various runs throughout the spring and summer as well as some new additions to my wardrobe. I had made a giant mistake with my running career concerning sneakers, as in the first real pair of running shoes I had I managed to run…906 total miles in. Yeah, so I wasn’t aware for some idiot reason that that was not a good thing. So the early spring brought me new sneakers as well as late summer. I don’t think I’ve ever bought four pairs of sneakers in the same year, ever. First up were some new Brooks Adrenaline GTS 17’s and a pair of Hoka Bondi’s. In the photo on the left below, the shoe with its tread showing is the 900 miler…I don’t know what I was thinking! The late summer/early fall pickups were a pair of Brooks Adrenaline GTS 18’s and a pair of Brooks PureCadence 6’s. So far, I’d say my impression of the two new fall shoes is a good one but more testing is needed.



Most of my late summer and early fall, other than the race here or there, was for training for the biggest running event of my life: the Chicago Marathon! I was amazed I as selected and quite intimidated by the training I had to do. There were a lot of long, hard runs in some not-so-pleasant weather but who knew that I would end up helping myself. Race day came and I was prepared as best I could be, especially for the unseasonably warm/humid weather that Chicago experienced that day. My 20 mile training run consisted of 90+ degree temps and some nasty humidity that I trudged through that day. Who knew it would come back to benefit me during the race. My body was ready for it and for that I was proud of myself. I wrote a previous blog about my experience so check that out for more on the run, but I will say that running the Chicago Marathon was an amazing life experience that I’m not sure I can ever repeat. All of it was incredible.

There was a race after that weekend, a 10K, that I competed in and did well considering it was a week post first ever marathon. But that would be the end of the race circuit for me. I had a few more options I had been hemming and hawing on, but ended up not committing to them. I continued running but without purpose and that was difficult. Even when on a short vacation in a warmer climate, I ran but there was nothing there emotionally. I was running for the cardio, for the contrast to eating and drinking not so healthy foods. But with no upcoming race I wasn’t finding a competitive spirit inside…and the hamstring was still bothering me. It took a some time but on December 11, I called it. I ended my running for 2017. Pulled the plug to give the leg and hamstring a break. The pic below shows where I finished for the year in mileage. It’s an improvement over 2016 but well short of the 1,000 mile goal I had set for 2017. I am hopeful that taking these last 3+ weeks off will have helped and maybe did some healing work for my hamstring. 2018 so far has me doing my second marathon in April. I have to be ready. I have to start training in the near future. But I can only hope the leg cooperates with my plans.

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So there is 2017 in a small nutshell. I hope I made the right decisions with shutting down at the end of the year. I hope I didn’t make the wrong choices to continue training and running in preparation for Chicago. The long term might be very very bad. I hope for a better 2018 and I hope to reach my goal, once again 1000 miles, this year. And if I can exceed it, well all the better. 2017 wasn’t a failure by any means. In totality, it was an amazing success with future potential all over it. I’m just harder on myself sometimes, but, hey, that’s what makes us stronger runners, right?

Happy New Year to you all!!

And happy running!!

Please comment or offer up any thoughts if you like!

Air, Trekz Air, Headphone Extraordinaire

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

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Another great piece of technology put out by AfterShokz. They took the great bone conduction technology with the original and brought back with a slight difference: it’s lighter on the head. Amazingly lighter. As in you might not realize it is on your head. Or you might think that you have lost it while running because it feels like it’s gone.And nothing was lost with the quality by making it lighter. At least nothing that I noticed. I have read from others that they felt a loss of bass occurred with the change but I haven’t been able to hear a difference or a loss. You still get the great safety factor with the headphones resting next to your ear freeing you up to hear outside noises like cars or people making it a sage run ALL the time.

AfterShokz also kept the overall appearance similar, just thinner, if you will, around the back but the bone conduction headphone remained the same.

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I have to admit on my first couple of runs with the Trekz Air, the thinner wrap around was causing some trouble for me in its placement because it was now lighter and smaller. But a couple of adjustments (along with wearing a hat or headwear wrap) and I finally found a comfortable spot where it lays and doesn’t bother me. Comfort is big with all runners so I believe once you find a spot that suits you, you will be a happy customer!

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And now about that customer part! Place your order now at now and, when checking out, put in the code “TRUCKER” and you will get a free hat! I highly advise you to visit their site, check out their products and made a choice! YOU WILL NOT BE DISAPPOINTED!

If you have any questions or comments, please contact me and I would be happy to answer them for you.


Happy Running!

My Review of the AfterShokz Trekz Titanium Headphones

Disclaimer: I received a pair of AfterShokz Trekz Titanium headphones to review as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out to review find and write race reviews!

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I’m not sure where to start so I guess I’ll begin by saying these headphones are the absolute bomb! First, some back story about my experience with headphones. I always went the “cheap” route and purchased sports headphones from multiple companies that range from $20-$40 and usually were the wrap around the ear style. All had wires and all had wires that failed in either ear or, in one case, both ears. None lasted more than six months. One pair even only made it a couple of months before the right ear started to malfunction. Then, I bit the bullet on a pair of Bluetooth connection headphones, same wrap around the ear style with wires only connecting the two ear pieces. These lasted a year, but then the same thing happened; left ear silent. Can you say frustration?? And now here we come to the Trekz Titanium headphones and let this next photo tell you how I feel about them.

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There is so much I love about these headphones. First, comfort. They sit nicely on my head, even though when I first put them on I thought I was using them incorrectly. I had them flush to my head and they kept dropping down. I thought, “great, these things are going to go flailing off my head as soon as I start running.” But nope, they sit still as can be, no movement or bouncing at all. That was a great feeling since my previous “wireless, Bluetooth” models would never wrap around perfectly and I would constantly have to adjust them. No more of that with the Trekz Titanium!

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Second, and what could be the most important and what I love the most, is for you to check out where those phones are sitting in the picture above. NOT in my ears. Bone conduction technology that allows me to hear my music/podcast/whatever but also leaves my ear canals open to all the sounds around me. Vehicle traffic, check. Trains, check. People talking or asking me questions, check. Bicyclists on my left, check. The technology makes running (or whatever activity you may choose to do with these) as safe as ever. No surprises. I can’t emphasize enough how important I feel this is but also how cool this is. And it makes it a perfect solution to safety concerns with early morning or late evening running where paying attention to your surroundings is most important. For more precise info on their tech, check out here.

Third, wear these headphones and have no fear of weather (or yourself) Water proof and sweat proof add to the allure of the Trekz Titanium. Rain down on me all you want, my music plays on without worry! And, if you’re like me who runs mid-day instead of earlier when the heat might not be as strong, your sweat won’t short out your connection. What’s better than that? Also, it doesn’t matter where you are. I recently was on vacation in upstate Wisconsin in a state park and never lost my connection even when deep in the woods on the trails. (Can’t say same about my Pandora service…) But that just shows you that these are awesome no matter where you go and what you do.

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Right now, if you order a pair for yourself, simply enter the code “FREECASE” and get the above pictured case to hold your headphones and the accessories that come along with them. You can’t go wrong with the AfterShokz Trekz Titanium headpohones. Get yourself a pair, you WILL NOT be disappointed. By far, one of the best products for running I now own. Click here to jump to their site!

Please provide any comments or thoughts below if you so choose.