Things I Love

I have pretty much winged it in terms of running gear, and through trial and error have found certain things that I have come to love. I’ve not been asked to review these items nor have I been compensated for profiling them here. Not to say I’m not open to the opportunity. Have a product you’d like me to review? Send it my way and I will give an honest appraisal on this site. Just don’t wait for me to have a million followers before you ask me to review your products. I may just be out of your league by then.


Product Reviews

Spydergrip 2.0

June 14, 2017 11:15 pm

For the past few weeks, I’ve been having fun exploring ways to use my new toy, the Spydergrip. Haven’t heard of it? You can get the scoop…at least from my perspective…right here! Full Disclosure:  I like my Spydergrip so well, I am a Brand Ambassador! Ambassador or not, I leave my honest and unbiased review below:

Running with my favorite new toy

I first learned about the Spydergrip when I saw someone wearing one on an Instagram post. I was immediately intrigued, because I was in the market for a new piece of running gear to carry my phone and other necessities (ID, car key, a little cash, etc.), and it was different than anything else I had previously used. Touted as device-universal and sweat resistant, I thought I’d give it a try. Up until this time I had been using one of two waist belts I own, but lately—especially with long runs, I’ve had a lot of problems with them riding up, and I found myself constantly needing to adjust them, which is quite annoying, especially during a race. I had already (as the website suggests) ‘ditched the armband’ years ago, as I had trouble with the several armbands I tried not working out for me for various reasons.

My Spydergrip arrived by regular mail within just a few days of placing my order. In fact, it came a day earlier than promised, so I could test it out the following day on a planned 30-mile bike ride. The adjustable Velcro straps do, as the website claims, help provide a universal fit. I was able to adjust it to fit my small frame nicely, and also tested it out on my husband, who is 6’ 2” and has a broad chest size. He was able to adjust the straps so it fit him just as well. The main part of the Spydergrip is black, and the straps come in gray or a few fun colors. I chose gray (tempting as the Pink Recluse was!) because I figured it would go with anything. Fashion first, you know! The straps themselves are made of reflective material because really, safety first, and fashion second, right?

The Spydergrip easily fits my iPhone 6 while still in its bulky protective case. With any of the armbands or waist belts I have used, I had to take the phone out of its case for a better fit. Score 1 for Spydergrip! How nice not to have to remove my phone from its case every time I go out for a run. I can just pop it in my Spydergrip and go. Within the main pouch there is a second, smaller pouch (about 2/3 the size of the main one), with its own Velcro seal. I love this feature compared to my waist belt, which only has one compartment. This way, when I take my phone out of the Spydergrip for that mandatory mid-run IG pic, I won’t risk losing any of the other items I am carrying. Score another point for Spydergrip! The main pouch itself has a very sturdy Velcro closure, keeping all my items secure.

The Spydergrip is lightweight and fits nicely across my back.
From the side, you can barely even notice it!

There are three holes at the top of the main pouch, which allow the user to thread his or her wired head phones between the pouch and the outside. I especially like this feature, as I can coil the excess wire inside of the pouch, leaving just enough exposed to comfortably bring the buds to my ears. This eliminates the problem of getting caught on the wire during the arm swing while running, which happens to me all too often with my phone in my waist belt or as it was previously dangling under my arm when I wore an armband. These three holes are lined with a rubbery type of material, which keeps the wire from slipping in and out. The entire pack is very lightweight and fits nicely against my back. I honestly don’t even feel it when I wear it.

With its slim design, I can easily layer over it in the colder months. That way, if I decide to take off my outer layer, I won’t have to take off and re-fit the Spydergrip itself.

At this point, there are only two downsides for me using the Spydergrip. For one, I do like to take my phone out and snap a few pics on my runs, especially during particularly scenic races. With the phone in a pouch on my back, it’s a bit of a hassle to take it out. Also, I keep a safety whistle and pepper spray on me whenever I run or bike alone, which is most of the time. I keep these items easily accessible by clipping them to the front of my waist belt. I will have to find a new way to carry them without having to hold them in my hands and obviously, I wouldn’t want them in a back pouch and out of reach.

Gardening fun!

Overall, I’d say I’m in love with my new ‘toy’. So much so in fact, I’ve used it for all sorts of activities; not just running. Seriously, any time I want to listen to music without having to carry my phone or deal with a loose, dangling wire, I can just slip my phone into my Spydergrip and away I go!

Great for biking!

Interested in trying one out? You can use my Promo Code ACCIDENTAL for $10 off of your order! Check it out and let me know how you like it!

My new favorite lawn-mowing accessory!

Asics Gel Kayano Running Shoes

October 23, 2016 2:51 am

Obviously, this will be one of your most important running gear purchases, so take your time, do your homework, and buy a good pair. In fact, ALL of your shoes should be good shoes. After all, your feet will be carrying you around for a long time! Do remember that expensive does not necessarily mean good, safe, or healthy for you. Do your research. Try on not just several, but lots of pairs, and find out what works best for you. Many running stores will evaluate your run and help you determine which type of running shoe is best for you. Also make sure you have the right fit. Do not worry about what the number says. Worry about what your feet say when you try them on. It just so happens that my very first job at the age of 16 was working in a small family-owned shoe store; the kind with a personal touch. I’m by no means an expert, but I do know the importance of a good pair of shoes.

Several years before I started running, I read a review about that year’s best running shoes. It was part of a whole ‘best of the year’ series in a health and exercise magazine. One of the shoes that was highlighted as best for marathon running was the Asics Gel Kayano. It caught my eye because I had been wearing Asics athletic shoes for a good 8 to 10 years at that point. They just fit the shape of my feet very well. I snapped a picture of the write-up about the shoes, and kept it on my phone. The October, 2016 issue of Chicago Athlete mentions these shoes in its Fall 2016 Shoe Guide, and points to a more detailed review of these shoes here.

When I signed up for my first marathon, I decided to give these shoes a try. I found them online, on sale, and with a 30% off coupon to boot. Sold! I bought the shoes in two sizes, just to make sure I had the right fit. I wound up loving the shoes, and have bought several new pairs since. I love them so much, in fact, that I have two new pairs waiting to be worn. So far, Asics Gel Kayanos have taken me through four marathons, seven half marathons, and a few other smaller races without so much as a blister. I tend to find what I love and stick with what works. Are there better shoes out there for me? Maybe, but as in life, if you find something that makes you happy, stick with it.

Shoes

The Original SPIbelt

August 15, 2016 2:59 am

In the faSPIbeltll of 2013, just after completing my first marathon (and apparently declaring myself a “runner”), I came across the SPI (Small Personal Item) belt in an airport shop. New to running, I had never seen something like that, and just made the comment that I thought it was a cool idea. That Christmas, my husband bought one for me along with some other running gear. I like the SPIbelt fairly well. I have the smallest version, whose pocket, according to their website, expands to 6.5″ x 3″ x 2″. This is more than enough room for my iPhone 6S (in its somewhat bulky case) as well as a few other small items. When out on practice runs, the only thing I carry in it is my cell phone. During races, I also have my ID, a credit card, my car key, and a $20 bill (to buy beer at the post-race party, of course!). The small version holds all of these items without a problem. I have the red one as posted in this photo. There are several sizes and patterns available.

One thing I have noticed is that on longer runs or races, the belt itself tends to stretch out and I find myself tightening it prevent the pack fSpibelt with Accessoriesrom bouncing around. This may be because I have now had it for over two years, and maybe it’s time to buy a new one. Maybe the waistband itself is starting to lose some of its elasticity. I don’t actually wear it around my waist, but rather lower down at the top of my hips. I find when it is around my waist (which is what happens on these longer runs), it tends to bounce a lot more, making my run uncomfortable.

Since ‘the incident’ (which I will talk about in a later post), I love that I can keep my whistle and pepper spray clipped to the belt where I can easily access them should the need arise.

Garmin Forerunner 220

March 15, 2016 3:02 am

My Garmin

I used to track my runs using Strava on my cell phone. I love the app and it is still what I use, as you see posted on this site. However, I do like to pay attention to my pace, as I am still trying to figure out exactly what that is. I found it difficult to do so using my phone. For one, I didn’t want to carry the phone in my hand, so I used an armband to carry it. I tried several bands and found them to be too bulky for my arm. Most had velcro closures and would sometimes pop open when I inadvertently flexed my massive bicep while running. I would literally use a large metal binder clip to prevent that from happening, which would then of course dig into my arm. Not good. It was also logistically difficult as I was constantly twisting the band on my arm and pressing the home button on my phone to see my pace, which was hard to see when running. My son showed me how to keep the screen on and active, but of course on my longer runs I would run out of battery and not capture the entire run. UGH!

That same Christmas after my first marathon, my husband bought me a Garmin Forerunner 220 watch. I love having it on my wrist so I can watch my pace as I go, though it’s easy to get too focused on the numbers and not pay attention to the run…another thing I am working on. Hopefully once I get more comfortable pacing my runs, I will not rely on looking at the watch as frequently as I do.

The watch itself is okay, but definitely too large for my wrist. My son has the exact model, and it definitely looks better on a man’s wrist. The watch works great and has a good battery life. I used it for the 2014 Chicago Marathon and wasn’t sure it would last that long, so as a backup, I also had Strava running on my phone. The battery not only lasted, but also had plenty of life to spare. I could have run another 20 miles…or maybe not. It tracked my time pretty accurately, though in some parts of the city, I lost my signal or it would come up with crazy pace times, like under a 4 minute mile (yeah…no). I now trust the watch and use it exclusively to track my runs. It’s easy to plug in to my computer and upload the file to Strava. It does so very quickly.

Overall I like the watch, but the next time I am in the market for one, I will look for one with a better fit. I would also prefer a watch that I can use while cycling. I do use the one I have, but it is constantly beeping because it is sensing my speed on my bike as a PR if I have previously run that same route. One last thing I am not thrilled with is how easily the face became scratched. I travel frequently and at first kept the watch in my purse while on the road. Fairly quickly the watch face got scratched, which was a big disappointment for me.

 

Trek 7.4 FX WSD Womens Hybrid

September 15, 2014 3:04 am

Growing up I never had a new bike. As the 4th of 5 children, I got what I got. So when it came time to buy myself a bike, I did a lot of research before making a purchase. Much of my research included feedback and advice from my eldest son, who is an avid cyclist. He was fortunate to ride in the Little 500 Bike Race at Indiana University during his sophomore and senior years and knows a thin2012 Jerseyg or two about bikes (not a bad framing job, if I do say so myself).2014 Jersey

The bike I chose was the Trek 7.4 FX WSD Womens Hybrid. I love everything about it, including, of course, it’s awesome teal color! At only 5′ 3″, the bike is a good size for me. The price included the “Gold Star Service” plan, which means free tune-ups for the next 10 years. I don’t ride very often, but I was able to justify  the cost, considering that with the amount of use it will get, it should last me a good number of years.
Trek Bike

 

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