Race Review: Nationwide Children’s Hospital Columbus Marathon

I’m not sure how to describe the Columbus Marathon where I ran the full marathon this year. It will be a bittersweet race memory for me because I was injured and not able to give my best effort on the course. But it will always make me smile because I was so moved and motivated by all of the Children Champions that represented one of the 26 miles throughout the course. They were out there, cheering, holding foam fingers waiting for high fives and full of energy themselves. How can you not get a boost in your step when seeing that at each mile? It was an amazing experience to be a part of and I encourage any runner to put this race on your schedule and run either the half or the full. Now, onto my reviews of the individual categories of my personal race experience.

Expo Quality: The expo was in a convention center location but I made the mistake of parking on the opposite side of the building so that made for a long walk to the expo itself. The acquisition of my bib and race shirt was seamless with no wait. There was time to meet up with a couple of IG friends as well since no time was wasted in lines. I was a little disappointed that there were not more vendors there, some specific ones come to my mind but it didn’t make the expo a total loss. Also, there was some very nice race merchandise.

Parking Access: Parking garage for the expo which was useful. No need for parking for race day; just walked over from my hotel. Only negative was having to valet for the time I was there at the hotel where I was staying.

Course Scenery: Lovely streets and neighborhoods with a lot of crowd support along the way. Not full like a WM race but certainly plenty of people cheering the runners on; very nice to have them out there. I would have given this five stars BUT, and this is kind of a petty but, I wish instead of running around the Horseshoe (OSU’s stadium), it would have been really sweet, if possible, to run through it in some way. But, overall, the course was one of the nicer ones I’ve had the privilege of running.

Elevation Difficulty: No major hills but plenty of subtle up and downs throughout the race. But, like I said, it was minimal elevation on each of them. But when you’re running 26.2, any elevation in those closing miles is rough, haha.

Aid Stations: Great. Plain and simple. Water/Gatorade was never filled too high in the cups, I never spilled on myself and I never felt like over hydrated myself which can happen sometimes. The volunteers were fabulous and supportive as well as helpful. Great atmosphere at the stations!

T-Shirts/Swag: Nice race shirt with a city backdrop on the front and a listing of all the neighborhoods and at what miles you run through them on the back. Different colors for the men and women as well. Nice assortment of goodies along finisher’s way after crossing the finish line as well. A bevy of eats which were so needed! And the finisher’s medal is well done too.

Race Management: Constant communication over several months leading up to the race was helpful to know what policy changes may or may not occur (like COVID protocols) and what to expect on race day. But the best news that was relayed to race participants was the names and photos of all those Children Champions who were representing all those miles. The uplifting was beginning well before the day of the race.

So, that’s my review and I’ll say it again, you should pay a visit to Columbus and run this the Columbus Marathon. Also, take a few days to check out the city; it has a lot to offer and it did not disappoint.

Happy running!!

Race Review: Cedarburg Half Marathon

I randomly chose to run the Cedarburg Half Marathon just at the end of February. I figured I was running a half in Illinois at the end of April so another one at the end of May wouldn’t be too taxing on the body. I wanted something closer to home where I could sleep in my own bed and get up and go on race morning. This ended up being a diamond found in the rough. I thought everything was well done by the race organizers and they pulled off a great event.

Expo Quality: OK, so I give this a middle of the road score but not because it was a negative. It was just small and really just a packet pickup located outside of the Cedarburg High School. So, nothing special but besides your bib, the bag contained several coupons for local business and I can appreciate that since Cedarburg is a nice community which has some fabulous businesses to visit.

Parking/Access: No problems whatsoever parking (also at the high school where the race started and finished) when I arrived and it was very smooth departing after finishing the race. No issues at all and I personally love that about any race. Less complications for me at the start of a race, the better.

Course Scenery: A really nice mix of neighborhood street running for the first three miles and then almost all of the rest on a bike trail that went out and back for a finish at the high school. The neighborhood was nice and shaded and provided subtle ups and downs (nothing major and this was the only real elevation on the course) and then the trail, of course, offered up some nice nature views. It made for a pleasant run the whole way.

Aid Stations: A couple that you passed twice each way. Fully staffed and did not run out of water. My only complaint was that the cups were filled a little high which caused some spilling on myself.

T-Shirts/Swag: Along with the local business coupons, the event gave out a really nice race shirt; quality material, fun design. And the organizers even gave the option to me at pickup to exchange the size if I needed to. Plus, there was a nice medal at the finish line. The post race party included music from a DJ, plenty of water, bananas, granola bars, and, get ready for this, a pancake bar free for all the runners. How awesome is that?!

Race Management: Great job with a local event! They communicated very well leading up to race day and had the race results ready to go about an hour after the final finisher. And the group they used for the race photos did an excellent job; I loved how crisp and sharp my pics looked; for once, I’m not looking like a gargoyle, haha.

Just a couple of the pics the Big Dipper Media Co. took on the course. There were several others and are some of the sharpest I’ve seen in some time. I’d highly recommend this race if you are in the Wisconsin/Illinois/Iowa area next year.

Happy running! And feel free to comment or ask questions! 😊

Illinois Marathon, I’m Coming for Ya

Disclaimer: I received a race entry to the Christie Clinic Illinois 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!

I’ve been training and preparing mentally to run the half marathon in Champaign, Illinois this coming weekend. We’re just a few hours away from the start time and I am ready to go. I’ve been looking forward to this race for a while now for one particular reason: the chance to PR my half marathon time. I ran the full marathon here back in 2018 and, at the time, PRed my marathon time by over 25 minutes!! Now the question will be can I do it?

I’ve mostly been training in cool to cold weather. The only time it hasn’t been a cold and windy run was a couple of times when the weather was moderate and a bit warmer than 60 degrees and then the few times I ran on the treadmill. There have been some other obstacles during this training period. A small head cold that lingered for way too long, some allergies when that warmer weather hit and some plants started blooming and then a recent pain in my jaw which turned into a root canal. Lucky me, right? But I’ve plowed along the way and got in my runs, even scaling back on weekly mileage while adding some bike riding and swimming to give my body some new experiences while training for a race.

Of course, here we are, just over a day away, and there’s talk of severe weather possibly effecting the start of the race or the entirety of the race itself. Obviously, this does not please me or anyone else for that matter. Very frustrating that Mother Nature may quash everyone’s fun and goals but, of course, that would be out of my control. I will simply look forward to this goal race and hope that it goes off without a hitch.

Happy running! And make sure you go after your goals too!

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!

Race Review: National Sweetest Day Run

So after running my first trail race in 3+ years in September, I thought why wait to do another one? I knew a friend who had signed up for this race, which had 5K and 10K options as well, and was doing the half marathon, so I was excited to sign up and run a race with her. This trail race, like the one I ran in September, did not disappoint. No Killer Hill’s this time but everything about it was pretty good. I’ll outline it all right here.

Course Scenery: The trails were beautiful to run on. This course was more dirt trail than grass field running, which I prefer. Many trees were in full fall foliage colors while the several pines had dropped needles throughout the trail making feel softer, if only to the imagination. There was some water that we ran around but it wasn’t easy to see much of through the trees. I also liked that this course stayed on trails and never crossed over any park roads. There were also some rustic old barns and sheds (probably used as county park facilities now) scattered along the course. Just gave it a nice feel.

Elevation Difficulty: Like I said above, no Killer Hill’s but, whoa, there were many ups and downs, several that were sharp inclines and steep declines where you had to be careful with your gait going down. And the one killer that did come, of course, was at the end of the half marathon portion of the course. No lie, it was a brutal, steep incline that led up to the final half mile remaining. My calves still remember it well, haha.

Aid Stations: Due to the COVID-19 virus and safety precautions, there were no water stations on the course and you were encouraged to bring your own water.

Expo Quality: No expo for the same safety reasons. Bib and packet pickup were accomplished one hour prior to the race at the race location itself.

Parking Access: Easy to find and right next to the starting point of the race. My only beef was that it was a county park but charged $5 for the parking. Not a fan of having to pay to park for a race.

T-Shirts/Swag: Nice long sleeve tech shirt and a cool looking medal for finishing. I COULD have gotten an age group medal too but I came up just short by one place. Boo!

Race Management: Another great job by Silver Circle Sports with organizing this race and keeping everyone safe with social distancing prior to the race. The packet pickup was quick and efficient. The race announcer had a lot of energy (and we needed it, so damp and chilly that morning) and made people laugh before their waves took off on the course. Great volunteers offering support and guidance on throughout the course as well. This group knows what they’re doing. I would recommend running any of the races they sponsor; they truly do a good job.

Any questions or comments, feel free to drop me a line!

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: 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!