The Endurance Meg Holiday Wish-List

The holidays are coming! Eek! My list hasn’t even been tackled yet. Double eek!

If you are like me, you already know what to get your significant other who 1) likes to ride his bike, 2) is in grad school and 3) lives in a snowy, cold place. Ok, so I have this one a little easy. But other than buying him a case or two of Pamela’s lemon shortbread cookies and a 5lb bag of Snowshoe Brew, I might be at a little bit of a loss. Endurance athletes aren’t really all that hard to shop for, if you have a billion dollars to spend on them. I thought I’d make it a little easy for those quirky endurance athletes on Santa’s list this year, no matter what your budget.

$5-35

  • Energy-o-rama: A nice variety of energy treats will bring a smile to their face. It will also give them an opportunity to restock their supply for the upcoming season or give them something new to try. I bought Baberaham a grab-bag of energy foods a few years back that had all sorts of awesome stuff, and it gave him an opportunity to try new things that he otherwise may never have tried before. My pics: Kona Kola Nuun, a flask of First Endurance Liquid Shot, a Larabar or two (coconut cream pie and pb&j, perhaps?), and some Honey Stinger chews.

  • Gift cards! Good places include:
    • All3Sports so they can put it towards some new tri gear
    • iTunes so they can jazz up their music collection
    • or Road Runner Sports so they can get a fresh pair of kicks or a new outfit.

Now if only Active.com had gift cards, too…

  • Chamois cream – whether they use it already and have a favorite, or they haven’t yet dabbled in the down-under cream, a new tube or tub might get them rolling. If you don’t know where to start, check out my chamois cream review from a few months ago to narrow down some options. Want to give them comfort without getting too personal with their privates? You could get them a can of TriSlide or a few bottles of the TriSwim shampoo and body wash.
  • Snapfish their season! My mom makes me really awesome collages every year. This year, after Rev3 Cedar Point, she made me the collest race recap ever. It had photos from their day as spectators, the course, and me on the run and at the finish.  You can make all sorts of cool things with Snapfish, like calendars and stationary. Think about a two-in-one type of present: make them a calendar that they can use to log their training!

$35-50

  • New headphones– If they are like me, they go through headphones faster than they go through swim suits. OK, maybe that is because I don’t swim as much as I should… but I digress. H2O Audio has a pair of waterproof headphones for $45, and there’s these new tri-geek-gadget headphone covers called Yurbuds that lots of people talk about. The warranty of the Yurbuds is 90days which is longer than some headphones last…
  • Underwear– No, not underwear like your mom gets you at Christmas. How about: a new sports bra? or windproof briefs? or a pair of compression shorts? Seriously, serious underwear. And if you think its weird to give your Secret Santa who also does marathons a pair of windproof briefs, then you obviously don’t know him that well… unless you live in Florida.
  • Cross training gear– Get a medicine ball, Bosu ball, or a yoga mat. I’ve always wanted one of those at-home pull-up bars because I never can predict when the mood will strike and I’ll want to do Feats of Strength. It could be in the middle of eating pasta (but it’s usually NEVER in the middle of eating ice cream).
  • A nice bottle of whiskey– I know I’m not the only endurance athlete that likes whiskey. Right? Right?!? Phew, at least I know Maggs does. My recommendation? Well, I have a lot of recommendations in this price range. But, particularly, I *love* Eagle Rare for a bourbon, Macallan 10yr Fine Oak if you like single-malt, and I’d personally love to try Hirsch 10yr in honor of my new coach, even though he’s not from Canada.

$50-100

  • New bike shorts– Who doesn’t need new bike shorts, anyway? Or tri shorts? or running shorts? Heck, it’s cold now; get ’em a pair of tights, like these ones from Louis Garneau.
  • Miscellaneous gear– Do they have a nice bike pump? How about an at-home fix-it kit? Baberaham helped me put one together before I moved since we’d no longer be sharing gear. It included: a multitool, several new tubes, Bontrager tire levers, CO2 containers, a 3-4-5mm Y-type allen wrench, and all sorts of other useful stuff. Trigger Point is a sure-win for endurance athletes, since they are tools to aid recovery. Go to their Individual TP Products tab on the left to see the Quadballer (if you are gonna get one thing from Trigger Point, it should probably be this). If they are more run focused, get them gear to keep them running safe after dark, like a nice headlamp, a decent runnable reflective vest, and a hat/gloves designed for running.
  • Sweet clothes– Whether its running clothes or every-day normal clothes, which for some reason endurance athletes don’t usually have a lot of, it’s safe to say that most everyone will appreciate the finer stuff. Take merino wool, for example. It’s warm, but very fashionable. Check out Icebreaker for some extraordinary active wear (that will seriously keep you warm with less layers and weight than polyester) and also for some stylish stuff, too.
  • A few good cookbooks and some cooking tools– Get them started off on the right foot for 2011 with a few healthy-eating cookbooks and some new utensils they probably don’t have. There’s plenty of cookbooks to choose from, but make sure your choice is personal. If they are new to following a gluten free diet, get them something like Gluten Free Gourmet Cooks … series by Bette Hagman might be nice. I personally love the Comfort Foods book, but Baberaham isn’t such a soulful food person. And, if they don’t already have one, get them something nice for their kitchen to cook food in. I love my new Calphalon stainless steel multi-purpose saute pan. It has a lid, which is one giant step up from what my last saute pan had. Also check out their knife collection; everyone should hvae three good knives in their kitchen: a santoku or chef’s knife, a paring knife, and a bread knife.

  • A different bottle of whiskey? This is probably the best bourbon I’ve ever had:

$100 or more

  • While this is more the special person(s) [eg significant other, son/daughter, or kiss up to your boss because you majorly screwed off this year] gift, it’s still one that is difficult to tackle for most people. In fact, I can think of a million things to get my running buddies, but we can’t spend this much moolah on each other (if we spend anything at all, because- alas – we are either all or recently recoverying grad students). So, if your special person(s)’s an endurance junkie like me, here’s a few gifts they might just eek about in glee.
  • New kicks ($100-150)- This is something that I know I can always get great use and appreciation out of. If you go this route, get ’em a new pair of their ol’ standbys. Don’t change it up, and if they aren’t happy with their current shoe, don’t make the decision for them. Instead, offer to take them to their favorite running shop and buy their new pair of shoes after trying them on.
  • A new bike trainer ($150-1200)– Even for people who can train outside year-round, having a bike trainer gives an athlete the freedom to train when they want to, whether its 5 in the morning or 9 at night. I have become very fond of using the trainer, because I don’t have to worry about bundling up, being seen by cars, or even wearing a shirt (yes, I wear a sports bra… sheeeesh). CycleOps is *the* name when it comes to quality bike trainers, and they make such a wide range that it can fit almost any budget. Now if only I could get my hands on a Powerbeam Pro…

  • GPS watch ($150-300)- If they don’t already have one (which I’m 99.8% certain most dedicated endurance athletes do at this point), upgrade their Ironman Timex watch to a shiny new Garmin 305.
  • TYR Torque swimskin ($250)- For those tri-geeks out there- Got a significant other that aspires to qualify for Kona, or is doing any southern, warm season triathlons in 2011? This swimskin is WTC and USAT legal, and it has a wee-bit of compression to help keep things tucked in and streamlined. I had a few close-calls in triathlon over the last two seasons, where I wasn’t sure if the water would be cool enough for my wetsuit. It wouldn’t otherwise be a big deal, but my two-piece tri kit can act like a chute in the water. Plus, I hope to do some warmer-weather races in 2011, and having a swimskin would help me in my weakest of the three sports.
  • Cover (some or all of) a race entry fee ($80-600)- Nothing says “I love you” than encouragement, and what better way to encourage your special person than by being an enabler?! I love enablers. They make me happy because they are just listening to the person they care about and helping them get to where they need to go a little easier.
    • Want something a little better than just covering their race entry fee? Register for two people; make it a special day! Of course, that other person is you. Not only will you be showing your support of your favorite endurance athlete, but you’ll also be saying “I’m with you on this one!” And, if you reallllly care about that person… make it a Rev3 race. 😉

Of course, there’s lots of things you can get for an endurance geek. I’d like to think we’re the easiest people to shop for. But if you’re stuck, hopefully this list of ideas will help. You could also try to win a box of LARABARS for whoever is on your list, and I won’t tell… Hurry tho, the contest ends on Monday.

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A treat for my feet: Everstride Pro Therapy Foot Treatment Review

After Rev3 Cedar Point,  I had a serious case of bitching blisters. I made a stupid rookie mistake, except I wasn’t a rookie. See, I forgot to spray the insides of my running shoes with TriSlide before putting them on. I had sprayed my bike shoes before the race, I lubed up the wetsuit, and I even laced the running shoes with a ‘pre-lim’ spray before throwing them in the transition bag. But when it came time to put the shoes on in the changing tent, my TriSlide was nowhere to be found. I didn’t think much of it, since I had raced all season in these shoes and had never had a blister. But then I realized why I hadn’t had a blister: because I had lubed up every time.

Needless to say, after the first few miles, I started to feel my feet burning a little. Then stinging. Then, I felt like I was walking on this:When I got to the finish line, I couldn’t take off my shoes by myself. I didn’t want to. I was afraid of what I might find.

Finally, a volunteer sat me down and pulled them off, and the skin on the inside of my foot was no longer attached to my foot. It was gross. And, worse than that, I had never had a problem with blisters before. But, as it turns out, once you get them they have a nasty habit of coming back. It’s like herpes, only not contagious.

Which reminds me of the site I saw at a hotel I stayed at recently:

Please note: these aren't my belongings

Anyway, back to the big picture: Feet.

When I got back home, I found a package from EverStride waiting for me. I slapped on some Pro Therapy foot treatment once the wound had covered over with neoskin (that’s sciencetalk for “new”) and slid my feet into socks. I did this for about a week, and things appeared to be much better.

Now, again, back to the herpes-and-blisters comparison, my blisters weren’t totally gone after the Neosporin treatment and Everstride Pro Therapy. I had to stop wearing a different pair of shoes (the predecessor version of the ones that gave me the terrible blisters) because they, too, caused irritation. But, now that I have been running around in Kinvaras, my feet feel much happier.

So I have been using the Everstride therapy, now that my feet are all healed up, as a preventative measure. I’m hoping that by keeping my feet hydrated and happy (which is more difficult now that its cold out and I’m going to be swimming in the pool more…) will help to keep the blisters at bay.

The Everstride foot treatment has a pleasant, although slightly medicinal smell. I used it on my hands once or twice instead of regular hand lotion, and it left my hands feeling a little sticky. I guess I probably should have put on gloves and went to sleep. That reminds me of the book “Of Mice and Men”… Anyway, it’s meant for the feet, but it could be used as a hand treatment too. Get a pair of those el-cheapo-cotton elastic gloves (the ones I love to run with!) and it would be a great treatment for dry, chapped hands as well.

Everstride also makes an anti-chafing sport stick, kinda like BodyGlide. Only it has things like witchhazel and prickly pear extract, which help give your skin a little tingly sensation. It can also be used for helping restore cracked skin, too!

Do you have a problem with blisters? If so, what do you use to treat them?

My favorite fall running gear

The temperatures are dropping and the November winds are gusting. Yes, it’s not yet November. But it’s the U.P. And that means, gusts of up to 50mph.

Oh yes, I will miss this place when I move. But until then, I am really excited about doing some serious trail running. I absolutely love the sound of leaves crunching under my feet. I love the smell of the dirt, the clear, cool air, the everything that comes with a late October run in northern Michigan.

But, of course, autumn running means I can no longer run in just a sports bra and shorts, unless I am confined to the treadmill. And although that can be fun, I’m just not ready for that yet. Where I live, there is really no shot in heck that the weather is going to deliver any sort of Indian Summer-like awesomeness. And that’s ok. I’m ready for the cold.

Of course, my excitement has something to do with some new additions to my wardrobe and gear stack.

For starters, I am getting by (both running and every-day) with my new favorite long-sleeve top: the lucy Distance 1/2 zip. The bright color matches the awesome Northern sky, and it brightens up my day now that all the leaves have fallen from the trees. Not only that, but the shirt comes equipped with so many cool features, it’s hard not to notice. For example, the sleeves have thumbholes, which I’ve come to the conclusion make for awesome cool-weather tops. The fit is perfect; it is the longest top that I own for running, but its not baggy whatsoever. The Distance Zip has the classic lucy fit, which for me is like a glove. This top also has a stash pocket and venting, so my temperature stays pretty well regulated. It even has a hood, something “bonus” that I’m digging after coming off my previous fave, the Propel jacket. All in all, this is another hit for lucy activewear.

lucy Distance 1/2 Zip

While I’m on the subject, I’ll point out my love for layering, too. My favorite base layers are the Icebreaker GT Dash crew and the lucy seamless Motion top. Not to mention, I’m proud of my friends in Team Mega Tough for rockin’ their Icebreaker tops in their ultras this season. The Dash crew has yet to get stinky, and it is washed a lot less than anything else I own. In fact, I think the last time it was washed was in August, and that was at least four long runs ago. And yes, at this exact moment, it is sitting in the bottom of my locker…

The Icebreaker Dash Crew makes 50miles look gooooood

Another new fave of mine are the Saucony Kinvaras. Yes, they are hunter orange. Yes, this was a strategic color choice. I love running on the ORV trails around the Keweenaw, but unfortunately these trails are often used by hunters. So, I went with the obvious choice: Hunter’s orange. Actually, Saucony dubs this ViZi-PRO, which is good for road running, too- keeps the cars alert of your whereabouts. I’m looking forward to owning a pair of the ViZi-PRO Elite arm warmers, just in time for rifle season, of course. Anyway, the shoes are rad; lightweight, minimalist shoe, but I don’t feel like I’m barefooting it whatsoever. My feet feel happy and comfortable, and I can rock these shoes without socks (and without blisters!). I use them mostly for shorter runs and intervals, since my body likes a more stable shoe for the long haul; but I have taken them out on a few long runs to see how they fly (and boy, do they fly). I’m tempted to try them in a marathon next year… they’ll at least make a debut on my feet for a half marathon sometime in 2011.

Saucony Kinvara... in hunter's orange

And lastly, I am digging my new Nathan handheld, the Sprint. This little darling is perfect for longer races. For long training runs, I’m going to stick with my Nathan Quickdraw Elite and Nathan Storm waist pack, but the Sprint is my go-to race gear. I had some issues earlier this summer with lugging around my number belt, my Trail Mix belt, and having stuff in my jersey pockets… so I simplified things for Rev3 FullRev in Cedar Point to now only carrying a handheld. For fall running, it’s going to be great, because I’m building back up with a lot of 1-2hr runs where I don’t always use all the hydration that can be carried with  my waist belt.

So that’s that. What are some of your favorite things to use while fall running?

Endurance Meg’s Chamois Cream Review

I started biking about two and a half years ago. My friend, Ben, convinced me the day before to roll out on a long ride with him. He was signed up for the Copper Country Color Tour – a 50, 100, or 200K ride that cruised the leafy-tree-lined roads of the Keweenaw during peak color-change. Of course, I didn’t have a pair of padded shorts, or a road bike, so I borrowed my boyfriend’s spandex and rented a bike with clipless pedals and a pair of shoes from Downwind Sports. And, of course, we went big- signed up for the 200K – and had a sort of epic-fun day.

I discovered a lot from that one day of riding, including a passion for road riding and the way seven hours of riding can lead to an odd craving for pickles and Snickers. I also learned the importance of having a good pair of shorts and anti-chafing cream.

Known to the masses by many a name, chamois cream (or butt cream, butt lube, anti-chafe cream, butter, etc. etc) is an important staple for any newbie rider, but its also key for many riders in keeping comfortable (even when they’re on their 8000th mile of the season). Yes, you can get used to riding without chamois cream. But why not just use it and save yourself the pain and suffering? Saddle-soreness is mitigated with the use of chamois cream, and it can also provide anti-microbial and cooling effects. Besides, if reduced chafing on the inner thighs isn’t enough, chamois cream alleviates chafing on the, um, unmentionable areas, too.

I am a huge proponent of chamois cream use, but I know of a few tougher-than-nails people that don’t use it very often. If I am going out riding for more than half-hour, I am lubed up (ok, call me a wuss… I don’t care). But the truth is, I didn’t realize its importance until I started Ironman training, and I realized very quickly that comfort in my nether-regions wasn’t entirely due to having the wrong saddle or the wrong shorts. Using the right chamois cream made rides much more tolerable and now I don’t want to cry after every 100-mile ride (at least, not because of that).

Earlier in the season, I contacted practically every butt cream company I could find. The mission: to test out chamois creams and provide my readers with a thorough review, a side-by-side comparison of the biggest names in the business. The tubes and jars started rolling in, and I must admit I was a little overwhelmed. I had a lot of biking ahead of me…

Here’s how the review worked.

Step 1. Read the ingredients. Is it something I would have bought anyway?

Step 2. Look up the price on Google Shopping. Write down the lowest price equivalent (not on eBay) listed. Again, is it something I would have bought anyway?

Step 3. Try out the chamois cream on a trainer ride that lasts between 45min – 1.5hours. Note the thickness, scent, feel, etc.

Step 4. Try it out on a longer ride (at least 2hours, but more like 3-4). How did it feel?

Other:

  • Wash the bike shorts in between rides.
  • Use the same pair of bike shorts for each comparison (Craft Active)
  • Use approximately the same amount (a dollop on the end of my index finger)
  • Apply directly to skin, not chamois pad.
  • If the trainer ride didn’t go well, I didn’t wear them on a long road ride

Note: I didn’t get every anti-chafe product out there, and although I have a few bottles, I’m not including the anti-chafe sprays or sticks in this review. There are some really slick (har, har) products out there, like SBR Sport’s Tri-Slide, that can be used as chamois lubes, but I wanted to (fairly) review products that were explicitly intended for the same use (that is, lubing up the crotch/chamois).

And the results? I made a table to describe each product in detail. See below for more information.

*becomes less viscous after application, as it warms up to body temp
DNW = did not wear

And to preface my review, I use a lot of the same words that have some weight-

Parabens – a common ingredient in chamois creams that fend off bacteria, but might be linked to breast cancer.

Chamois– (pronounced shammy) if you haven’t caught on yet, the chamois is the pad inside bike shorts that provides cushion and reduces friction between the saddle and your crotch.

Tingly– Yes, I mean tingly. Think Icy-Hot (only not *always* as strong).

My first chamois cream was Paceline Product’s Chamois Butt’r. Baberaham bought me a tube from the Bike Shop soon after I had major issues on a long ride. Although it was my first, it wasn’t my first love. Although it did the trick, I’d still complain after about two hours. Granted, it could have been because I was just a beginner biker, but at the end of rides I was not very happy. I also found it to be sticky. On longer rides, I felt like someone had put gum in my shorts. More recently, I used it on a hilly 30-mile ride, and must have missed a spot (by the way, blisters are rarely, if ever, good). Good news about Chamois Butt’r is that I can get it through my local bike shop and its not very expensive. Overall, I give this chamois cream a C.

My pops bought me a jar of Assos from Machinery Row in Madison the day before IMoo last year, mostly because I just wasn’t confident that the Chamois Butt’r would survive for 112 miles (or, rather, that I would). Assos has the reputation as one of, if not THE best chamois creams out there. I didn’t read the ingredients, but I tried it out while sitting in the hotel room to make sure I didn’t have any allergic reaction to it. I knew to expect a tingling sensation, but boy-o-boy did I experience one. It was a little exhilarating, to say the least. I really liked it, so I rolled the dice and used it on race day. I am very glad I did. For the entire 5hours and 49minutes in the saddle (not to mention the hour fifteen in the water beforehand…), the cream stayed put, and the tingling managed to keep things cool even though the temperature was busting into the 90s. The Assos cream has been my go-to cream, and I have set it as the gold standard of chamois creams in my little collection. It does contain parabens, which is a downside. And, of course, its on the more expensive side, which in part is why this awesome cream only gets an A- in my book.

The Century Riding Cream by Sportique is interesting, to say the least. It’s really thick, and somewhat difficult to squeeze out of the tube, but that might be a good thing. It is a little more tough to put on, but once its there, it stays put and doesn’t leave a nasty residue behind on my chamois pad. The scent is pretty strong and spicy. It lingers, too, and I could smell it even after a few hours in the saddle. A downside to this cream: B doesn’t like when I use it because of the smell. The cream isn’t tacky or sticky, though, and I love that the ingredient list has so many things that I can recognize, including olives. Also, it tingles (which I like). I’m a fan, indeed, but I still find myself reaching for the Assos instead (maybe because its easier to apply?). I give this cream an A-.

Booty Balm is nice, but another tricky one to apply. The balm in the jar is solid, and I have to scrape to get to get it out. Like the Century cream, though, once its on, it stays put and isn’t tacky. It doesn’t transfer at all to my chamois pad, either. According to the website and rep, it’s designed to “work with the heat of your body” – and it does become much more compliant once its applied and worked in a little (otherwise, though, it can be sort of chunky if I don’t rub it in; but it doesn’t take long to rub in!). The scent is not overwhelming and quite pleasant (think lemon and summer), and there isn’t any tingling sensation (likely because its specific for women; the Ballocks cream is the men’s version). It’s a little on the expensive side, but a little goes a really long way. I give this an A- as well.

Beljum Budder is something I first became aware of because Selene Yeager talks about it in her Fit Chick section of Bicycling Magazine (My First Ironman, December 2008). I then saw it on Loopd.com, but I never did try it until Beljum sent me a tube per this review request. I was expecting it to be a step up from Chamois Butt’r, with some tingling like Assos, because it contains witch hazel. It didn’t tingle, though, but I was impressed with how smooth and silky it was. It literally sparkles, and it goes on thin without leaving a residue. It’s easy to apply, and it isn’t tacky either, so I didn’t stick to my chamois. It was moisturizing, too! The price-point is pretty pleasing. Since it’s probably ok to not ride every ride with the tingling sensation of menthol or wintergreen, this cream is pretty high on the list. I give it an A.

Dave Zabriskie’s brand, DZ Nuts, recently released a women’s specific version of their chamois cream called Bliss. The neutral scent and thick cream are pleasant to put on, and it’s nice to know that companies are taking notice of women’s needs. The cream was easy to apply and stayed put without transfering to my chamois, and I didn’t notice any hot spots after a few hours of riding. However, I wanted to reapply or wished I would have laid it on a little more thick, but I didn’t want to use too much because its so dang expensive. I think I’ll buy the regular DZ Nuts next time and leave the Bliss for women who don’t want the tingles. Bliss gets an A-.

Udderly Smooth makes a chamois cream, along with a plethora of other farm-hand products that are amazing at relubricating skin (…udder, get it?). Their line is creamy and thick, and really gets into and moisturizes dry skin.  Unfortunately also loaded with parabens. The chamois cream smells like baby powder, but it stuck to my chamois (and took a few washings and scrubs by hand to get it all out). It was also a pain to get off my skin because it was a little greasy. It is, however, the most economical (and readily available) chamois cream, because its stocked at stores like CVS and costs a quarter of the price of most other chamois creams. Because of the stickiness and the parabens, Udderly Smooth Chamois Cream gets a C-.

One of my new favorite creams is Friction Freedom, which is practically the same as Assos – only without the parabens. It feels the same, smells the same, but it costs a little less and is safer. I wore this in the half at Rev3 Quassy, and it worked like a charm. My only qualm is that I needed to reapply it to my bike shorts during a 70mile ride, but that could be because I was wearing bike shorts on my tri bike… But I now reach for the big Friction Freedom tub before I reach for Assos, which is really saying something. I give it an A.

So which one do I like best? Well, that doesn’t really matter. It’s important to remember that not everyone likes the same thing, and what works for me might not work for you. The intent of this review isn’t to tell you what chamois cream to buy next, but to give you my take on the side-by-side comparisons so you can make a more educated decision next time you try a new chamois cream. So take this review for what it is, my opinion and my analysis of a wide range of products. I tried to be systematic about it, but it’s hard for me to quantitatively assess something so qualitative as the happiness of my … well you get the point.

I’d like to thank the following companies for sending me their chamois creams (and other products) for free, so that they could be included in this review: Sportique, Chomper Body, Beljum Budder, Udderly Smooth, DZNuts, and Friction Freedom. Although they sent me their creams for free, they didn’t pay me to review their products, and the text written in this post are my own thoughts and assessments.

lucy activewear- review

I finally own a washer and dryer. I bought them used off craigslist when we found out our new place had hookups. Let me preface this by saying that I love living in the Upper Peninsula. Among other things, housing is cheap and used stuff is practically given away. So I now am able to wash (and dry! although I hang dry all my running gear) my clothes more frequently, no longer have a clothes pile of stench brewing in my bedroom, and can run more regularly in my favorite clothes.

Luckily for my wardrobe I had stocked up on running clothes prior to owning a washer and dryer. In the days when I had trek it to the laundromat with five hundred pounds of denim, lycra, and wool, I managed to buy enough running clothes to run in something clean for approximately two weeks. Yes, I have at least ten pairs of shorts, four pairs of capris, and too many running tops to count. My rate-limiting-factor, at least during the pre-washambrian era, was underwear. My stints between laundroramas were about five weeks, though. Do the math… I definitely re-wore my favorite items (particularly my Saucony Run Lux shorts and Empress top that take refuge in my locker at the gym) more than I would like to mention. But, all is fair in love and war (and that statement has nothing to do with anything I am talking about)- and with the arrival of Dame Washer and Sir Dryer, I could breathe a sigh of relief (and send the shorts I still have from high school off to Goodwill).

A few weeks ago, I received an email from lucy activewear asking if I’d like to review some of their new products for the spring. New running clothes? For free? That are stylish? What girl could say no (even this girl that has so many running clothes they are pouring out of their cubby)? The bag of goods arrived promptly after I agreed to “give ’em a shot”- and off we went for a jog or two. Or maybe ten… since it’s been over a month since I got the package! I have definitely had a chance to run, wash, repeat with all the items that came in the minimal-packaging from the west coast.

Note for my dude readers: Not all is lost by reading this review. If you’re shopping for your mom for Mother’s Day or your girlfriend because you did something wrong, you might want to read ahead.

Here’s a little info on the stuff I got, and what I think about it-

High Hurdle Capri Skirt– These are actually somewhat hidden on lucy’s website. My first impression of a capri-with-a-skirt-over-it was: “Oy”. I (no offense intended) first associated this item with ‘something a running mom might wear’- not that such a thing is bad for me to wear, but I definitely am one to prefer sports-bra-and-low-rise-shorts running. I have gotten into wearing running skirts as of late, though, and I do like a select few pairs of capris, so I thought- what the heck. I’d at least give them a try.

The fit was quite welcoming, and I was warming up to the capri quickly. I found myself wearing the “skirpris” to work on the weekends. I felt confident wearing them, too- I felt like I was showing off my legs without actually showing too much of my legs. And the skirt was key- no way in heck I’d be wearing capri tights to work and having everyone stare at my seriously-tight-pants (wondering why I didn’t have undie-lines… or whatever they may be wondering). A sweetly located (and seriously huge) pocket on the left leg makes this a great bottom to wear in a race too (stash the gels, yo!):

I definitely pull these skirpris out on cooler mornings and evenings. Having a bit more coverage helps me get through my workouts a bit easier. Plus, I feel alright about running through town, not worrying about whether my old capris wore a hole right through the butt seam (um… don’t ask). Kudos for lucy for having a very well ventilated skirpri, that didn’t give me any weird rubbing or hot spots. The pocket is big enough to fit my digital camera (Lumix DMC-TS1). The material is lucy truetek, which is an extra durable, moisture-wicking micro-fiber jersey with high compression.

My only issue with the skirt-capri is that it rides down. I know this is probably an atypical problem- most people have issues with stuff riding up. But since I like to run commando in my running duds, I like my duds to be, well, snug. These weren’t so much. The longer I ran, the more the movement of my knees pulled the capri-part-of-the-ensemble down, and away from being snug. I never felt like the waistband was going to drop below any region that I didn’t want exposed, but I got a little annoyed by having to tug on the waistband to get them more-snuggable. Perhaps lucy knows about this issue, and that’s why the skirpris are hidden on the website?

Propel Jacket – This jacket is the cat’s meow. I wear this jacket all the time (not just when I am walk/running like the website says its ‘intended for’). It fits absolutely perfect for me, which isn’t always easy because I’m not the most femininely shaped gal out there. My shoulders are broad, my rib cage is big, but my chest is small, and my waist is lacking any shape besides flat (which I don’t consider a bad thing). I got the jacket in Grass, size small, and it looks goooood. What is my obsession with green?! 🙂

The full-length zipper on this jacket is lined with reflective fabric, which makes me a smidge safer when running at dawn and dusk. The material used for the jacket is lucy tech, which is a “heavier” (and I use that term loosely) fabric that seems to be able to withstand just about anything. The jacket really is lightweight, even though the feel of the material would make you think it should weigh a lot. Does that make any sense?

The pockets are streamlined to be hidden, but I can run with my keys in my pocket without them bouncing around a whole lot. The arm length (and this is where a lot of people are really picky about their running jackets)- are PERFECT. They are long enough to cover my hand, if I so choose, and they have a “thumb loop” which is actually a thumb-less mitten. The end of the sleeve covers my entire hand minus my thumb. Amazing. And again, the length is perfect, it doesn’t make me feel like I am stretching the jacket at all to put the mitten on, and putting my thumb through the loop is natural. If I don’t want to wear it with my thumb through the loop, the length of the sleeves are just long enough that they don’t annoy me to push them up a bit.

I wear this jacket practically everywhere. To work, to run, on the plane, at a friend’s, everywhere. And I sometimes don’t notice when I had worn it the day before and spat on myself and then wear it to a friend’s for dinner. Or maybe I do, and just don’t care enough to be separated from it long enough for it to get washed. Ok, maybe that’s a little too over the top.

Qualms with this jacket? Nada. There are no tags to bother me, the zipper doesn’t rub my chin, and the fabric is stretchy and smooth (and a great color). Love it.

Quick-Zip Tank– My first thought when pulling the QuickZip out of the bag was: “Padding? Really?” I took the bra-lining-padding out (very easily, I might add), and tried the top on. It fit – as did the other things – perfectly. I liked the “sneaky cleavage” that the top offered. It looks like there are two different pieces, and the bottom layer is peakin’ through the top, but its really all one piece. The mesh bra is smooth and not abrasive, and wicks moisture really well. The material is mostly moisture-wicking lucy tech- with a coolmax and mesh lined shelf bra.The print is cool, too- digitized print- from a distance, it looks like a pattern (maybe islander? maybe artsy?) but up close its just a bunch of squares. The length and the fit are very flattering. I like that the top comes below my hips, and it compliments the skirpris well. It isn’t super-tight below the ribs, which is also nice when I am feeling like I ate too much pizza the night before. And the support-area isn’t so tight that it makes me feel like I am getting the air squeezed out of me, but its tight enough to keep me from being uncomfortable. I like to call that “Just-tight-enough.” I definitely don’t need to wear another bra under it, the shelf bra is plenty for this 34A gal.

I think this will be a great training top for riding my bike this summer. If I didn’t already have an amazingly flashy-and-fast race top, and it had a pocket in the back- I’d consider it. I’ve worn this top on several rides under my jersey, and I haven’t noticed any issues with under-arm rubbing. I haven’t taken it out on any long runs yet, though… Maybe this weekend!

Propel Run Skort– This might very well be one of the best running skirt I’ve found. It fits so snug, doesn’t move around at all, and the liner shorts are like spandex race bottoms that are a bit longer to prevent my thighs from starting a fire by friction (13.5inch inseam!). There are pockets on both the right and left sides of the shorts under the skirt, and the right one is inverted (which is perfect for carrying gel wrappers or – in my case – an inhaler). The inverted one is actually to make this skirt usable for tennis too, but since I don’t play tennis… I will just use it for my inhaler. The left one is big enough to fit an entire EFS Liquid Shot bottle in it, which I found amazing.

The first time I tried out the skirt was the day it arrived- and it just so happened to be hill-repeat-day on Ingot Street. I trolley-la’d over to the Fairgrounds feeling pretty prim and proper. I mean, the skirt has ruffles for cripes sake! I had no idea. But, the snug fit and lightweight material made me forget quickly that I was wearing a skirt. The skirt material never hindered my stride, and I was able to rock some pretty serious sprints with it. It’s made out of something called lucy truetek™, which wicks moisture and has UPF 50. Can you tell? My skin is still see-through.

I like this skirt so much, that I ran the Salt Lake City Marathon in it. True, I didn’t have my Saucony race kit yet, but the skort was pretty flashy. I am proud to say that my inner thighs came out totally unscathed. Sweet! So light, so fast.

I didn’t even need to use them, but the Propel skirt comes with drawstrings in case the waistband needs to be tightened. Like I said, I didn’t have the skirt move on me whatsoever, so I just tuck the drawstrings inside the skirt. The material for all the lucy items that I received is smooth, wicking, and incredibly comfortable. I was hesitant to dive into their products, so I am incredibly grateful that they were willing to send me some of their new products to try out. To my relief, the stuff has held up thus far well in the washer. I even had to wash the jacket twice before wearing it, because the not-so-new washing machine didn’t quite get all the detergent off (and speckles of detergent made it look like I spat all over myself about six times. Maybe I did?). I even throw the stuff in the dryer too, set to low heat, and nothing seems to be affected. Elasticity is maintained in the skirt, the jacket still fits perfect, and the seams are all still tightly sewn up.

Their line is definitely driven with the female athlete in mind, and their product spans all levels, from entry-level jogger to yoga instructor. Although most of their items are affordable, I’m not too geeked about paying nearly $40 for a seamless racerback bra. But! I can vouch that $44 spent on the Propel Skirt is totally worth it! And 88 bucks isn’t too bad for a jacket like the Propel Jacket, considering that last year I bought a Sugoi Helium jacket (retails at $100) that is like wearing a garbage bag.

For the cost-conscious gal, lucy.com has a lot of items that are on clearance, including casual wear! They stock tunics! And the tunics are cute! Who’da thought.

AND! Get this: lucy activewear sells other stuff, not just clothes, including hydration belts! You can get the Nathan Quick Draw in the same shipment as your next bra. That’s pretty cool.

All in all, I think lucy makes a great product that can actually withstand the rough lifestyle of a competitive athlete (and still look cute). The flat-seams that all the items I received have keep the pieces fitted, but also help it have a longer life.

Disclaimer: lucy activewear sent me these items free of charge to review on my blog. I did not receive any money for this review, and I am reviewing their products honestly.

Come see how good I look

City Light crew sock. One of four pairs of socks I own that I am not allowed to use for running (under my own discretion).

Zoolander is probably one of my favorite movies. Ok, it’s a little dumb. And it might be one of two movies that I find Ben Stiller entertaining and annoying at the same time. But dumb is good. It’s a movie where I don’t have to think, I can just laugh and cling on to the catchy phrases for weeks to come.

So, “what’s the dealio, yo?” Well, yesterday, when I got a boatload of new-clothes goodies in the mail, I decided to play “Come see how good I look!”. I will admit that spending several hundred dollars on new clothes is probably not in the best interest of a grad student. But, when you live several hundred miles away from a mall and the only shopping you do is for groceries and the occasional bike part, a splurge every once in a while probably balances out (I can honestly say that I haven’t been in the door of a Macy’s in over four years). After my ride yesterday afternoon, and a quick shower, I tried on everything outta the box (as any girl should when delivery of new clothes occurs). Since I was in such desperate need of some nice, casual clothes, I didn’t feel so bad about making room in my drawer by pulling out ratty old race shirts. I have  committed to donating approximately three thousand pounds of race shirts, sweaters and jeans from high school, and shirts that I have and have never worn (except to try on) to Goodwill when Baberaham and I move out of our apartment. So, as soon as the 2010 Spring/Summer line came out at Icebreaker, I was all over it. Good news, the clothes (all eight items) came in a box the size of a shoebox. Way to be environmentally conscious, IB!

It’s that damn Icebreaker, and it’s so hot right now! Icebreaker.

Amazon Scoop, Butterfly Line (Superfine 150 Print)

Along with throwing another GT item in my training-clothes drawer (I got the GT Dash long sleeve, in thistle; absolutely gorgeous color), I also decided I needed some jazzy short sleeve casual shirts.  I really like the feel of the Superfine 150 tops, and I am now actually afraid that I won’t be able to wear a “normal” cotton shirt again. The tops fit through the waist, and are even a little on the long side. The Amazon Scoop neck is a little wider (more like a boatneck) than deep (no cleavage here!). It might fit differently for more (ahem) well-endowed-in-the-chest women.

Tech Tee Lite, Sunrise (Superfine 150 Print)

The Tech Tee Lite is more like an athletic fit, and it has a really rad pattern across the back. I really like the tight-fitting of the sleeves. I don’t have to worry about raising my arm and my armpits showing (I loathe cap-sleeves), nor do I have to worry about readjusting the shirt because the sleeves are too tight. I wouldn’t put myself in the scrawny-arm category, so I am quite satisfied with the fit of these sleeves.

Next thing, after trying it all on, was to go to Icebreaker.com to see where my new wears came from. Such a sweet feature! Practically all the Icebreaker gear come with a tag on the inside with a “BAACode”- where you can plug in the code online and see where the wool that made your apparel came from.

My Amazon scoop top came from one of three sheep stations on the South Island.

Abbie is an ambiturner.

She looked left!

Abbie approved, and she couldn’t help but snuggle up next to me in my new shirt (and show me her Zoolander skills). For those of you who have never met Abs, you should know that she is not the most social of butterflies and usually avoids sitting near me at any cost (but for some reason she really enjoys the company of Baberaham who takes pleasure in making her life miserable). Nonetheless, having her approach me in my new soft shirt must have been a seal of approval.

Lastly, I got my first long-sleeve dress shirt, merino wool Meridian in Fiesta. The color is quite pink, and it matches the colors online. In fact, all the tops are practically the same shade as that online. No disappointing “Well I thought it was more pink than that!”- Not that I really want more pink (I’m not so much a pink-girl). But I really like the color. It’s earthy and the top fits nearly perfect. Again, its long through the waist. The sleeves are long and the edges and seams are very delicate. The top is a little see-through, so I will definitely have to throw a camisole under it.

The longsleeve Meridian in Fiesta makes for a nice, professional v-neck top.

I'm really worried that merino wool undies will spoil me ...

I also got my first pair of merino wool undies, the Nature bikini. It came in a box with a really awesome photo of New Zealand. Man, I miss that place.

Here’s to having a little piece of New Zealand with me every day. On my feet, my bum, or my torso. Woohoo! Seriously, there has to be more to life than looking really, really, ridiculously good looking.

Make ’em say mmm…

Here are a few of the things I’ve been enjoying as of late.

Baberaham brought me some Taza Mexican chocolate for Valentine’s Day. It is so crumbly and delicious. I have considered making hot chocolate with it, but I am enjoying eating it too much …

I am loving the Chomper Body muscle butter. I just threw on a dab of it on my legs, right after the run/shower combo. It feels amazing. At first, it just felt moisturizing, like a really good lotion. And then, the tingles came. Not tingles so strong as say, Icy Hot or the like. More like someone with a mouthful of ice-cubes was blowing softly on my skin. Very nice. More to come later on that, as well as their Booty Balm, embrocation (Crank) and body glide (Silke).

And I also am pretty geeked about Sportique’s line of products. I tossed a bottle of their Massage Oil in my purse and took it with me Wednesday to my massage therapy appointment with Mel. She was excited to use it, and it smelled really nice (a sweet blend of apricot and citrus). She liked using it, and it didn’t leave me feeling greasy or in need of a shower. It also felt like it got in deep into my skin, warming me up. I like!

I suppose its time to go work on loosening my quads with my Quadballer. Maybe a little massage oil will help get the knots out… Speaking of which- its time to do some before-bed trigger point and hit the sack! Nighty night!